Boston Bruins: How will the Bruins handle Dominik Kubalik?

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 05: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins skates against Dominik Kubalik #8 of the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period at TD Garden on December 05, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 05: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins skates against Dominik Kubalik #8 of the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period at TD Garden on December 05, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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The core of the Boston Bruins line-up knows the Chicago Blackhawks’ core well. However it’s a rookie we think needs special attention.

While the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks both have players that would’ve lined up against each other in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, the newest face on the block, Dominik Kubalik instils more fear in us, as somewhat of an unknown entity, than the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith.

There’s no doubting that the trio mentioned can all still get the job done; Patrick Kane sits tied for ninth in scoring league-wide this year with 65 points and Jonathan Toews is still the match of Patrice Bergeron at center, on his day.

In fact, going into this season, you’d have looked at this fixture and it’s Toews and Kane immediately coming to mind, such has been the surprise break-out from Kubalik.

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Right now, he sits fourth in team scoring and is looking on-track to overtake the far more well-known Alex DeBrincat in the near future, sitting just 3 points back at present.

The Czech winger was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings last season at the cost of a 2019 fifth round pick and after signing his first NHL contract in May 2019, has gone on to show up the team that drafted him.

Most commonly on the ice with Jonathan Toews alongside him, he’s shown to be a great skater and scoring has come naturally to him in his rookie NHL season. Right now, he has 21 goals and 11 assists for a points total of 32 in 51 games.

All of this despite an average ice-time this year of just over 13 minutes and only seeing 1:25 on the power-play per game, averaged across the season.

Of course, those numbers are skewed with the Blackhawks not knowing the capability of the player early on. In recent games, his ice-time is upwards of 15 minutes, though the power-play looks still remain limited.

For the Boston Bruins, stopping him may actually prove a simple task. He currently is in a three-game scoring slump, his last goal coming on January 19th versus Winnipeg. In terms of counteracting him, it’s going to be interesting to see who Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy decides to counteract his line with.

With Jonathan Toews typically by his side, you might expect to see Patrice Bergeron in action, however, that’d leave the Patrick Kane line with more freedom to roam. In that regard, you’d imagine the Boston Bruins send Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak out to deal with them.

This means it’s got to be either David Krejci or Charlie Coyle centering the unit tasked with handling Kubalik and Toews. Or it’s not been unusual to see Sean Kuraly used for a hard-match, especially in an opposition barn.

If it’s Krejci, expect to see Karson Kuhlman chasing back on him, otherwise the fourth line is somewhat guesswork lately and the third line actually seems ill-prepared for a tough match-up.

Expect more of the same from Charlie McAvoy, who would’ve had a great boost to his confidence with his performance against the Canucks and will likely see Kubalik a fair bit too.

Looking at his goal scoring, the key is going to be maintaining a tight gap and not allowing breakaway passes to hit him. It seems to be the most common way he’s been grabbing goals this season and actual seems simple enough to stop.

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If we play the same style of hockey with the high-pressure checking we utilised so effectively against Vancouver, I have no doubt the Boston Bruins can stifle Kubalik and the rest of the Blackhawks’ offensive threats.