Jakub Lauko is doing everything he can to make it hard on Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery to healthy scratch him.
The forward has been playing well when he’s in Boston’s lineup, and that trend continued Thursday when he dropped the gloves with Billy Sweezey during the Bruins’ 2-1 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at TD Garden.
With the Bruins trailing 1-0 in the second and Lauko not seeing a lot of ice time in the first due to special teams, Lauko saw an opportunity to try to spark his team by dropping the gloves with Billy Sweezey. It was a good fight and it got TD Garden on its feet and Nick Foligno fired up before Tyler Bertuzzi tied things at 1-1 with a power-play goal.
“I hadn’t played much in the first period because we had a lot of (penalty kills) and (power plays),” Lauko told reporters after the game. “The start of the second period I just felt like we were kind of flat. It was a great opportunity, great moment, get the guys going, get the crowd going. I think they scored there right after, so I think it paid off. I’m happy that we won.”
Lauko has been seeing extended playing time with Taylor Hall and Foligno sidelined with lower-body injuries and may be the odd man out once the Stanley Cup playoffs roll around. The 23-year-old is aware of the situation, but after his latest string of strong performances, it certainly will be no easy decision for Montgomery.
“I know how the lineup is looking here,” Lauko told reporters. “When Hallsy and Fliggy (are) going to be back, it’s going to be hard to crack the lineup. These games I’m trying to show everyone that if something happens or if coach is going to make a different decision, I’m ready and they can rely on me. I can be the player for playoffs. I can be a Boston Bruin for the playoffs.”
Lauko also has been a menace on the ice to his opponents. He’s drawn 11 penalties and can get under their skin without putting the Bruins in a vulnerable position. He stands up for his teammates, he can score goals and never gives up on the puck. Lauko brings a bit of fire to the fourth line and scrappiness it’s been missing.
Even if he doesn’t get the call for Game 1 of the first round, the Bruins likely will carry the forward their quest for the Stanley Cup begins, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see his name get called if there are injuries, suspensions or if Montgomery feels like the lineup needs a little pop.
It’s a good problem for the Bruins to have, but it does mean players who have made an impact and helped the B’s get to the playoffs will have to sit.
Still, it’s probably a safe bet that Lauko will continue to play some of his best hockey when he gets into the lineup over the final seven regular-season games.