The Boston Bruins are off to a strong 8-5-0 start to the season, but that hasn’t come without some concerns.
The depth scoring for a while was a major issue on the team, however these last two games have perhaps seen a page get turned. Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak had slow starts, but the two have quickly put those behind them and look back to their normal selves.
What remains a major concern is the back end. More specifically, the personnel and the defensive pairings. There has been no consistency at all between the three defensive lines, as Bruce Cassidy and Co. continue to try and find the right six guys and pair them correctly.
We know Charlie McAvoy is the No. 1 defenseman and he’s playing like such. I would say Brandon Carlo has been the second-best (outside of the Oilers game) with Matt Grzelcyk right behind him. But after that, it’s been a carousel of defensemen in and out of the lineup and frankly, there is one defenseman that isn’t getting enough playing time that deserves more and that’s Jakub Zboril.
Jakub Zboril should solidify a role in the lineup
It’s been no secret to Bruins fans that Mike Reilly has struggled this season and finally, the coaching staff seemed to agree, scratching him for both games this weekend in favor of Zboril.
Zboril had previously skated in just one game, the 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, before this past weekend, so he knew he had something to prove. And he looked like one of the better defensemen on the ice for the Bruins.
In the two games played this weekend, the 2015 first-rounder registered an assist, a +1 rating and three shots on goals with an average ice time of about 16:35 between the two. Most importantly, he’s making a lasting impression on Cassidy, who had this to say of him after Saturday’s game.
"“I’ve got to tell you, Jakub’s worked hard to be ready. Yesterday, he was ready to play, and that’s a good sign for him. He’s a good pro and in years past I’m not sure he would have done that, and hopefully that translates again tonight. That’s why he’s going back in. He’s not one and done, if he can stay ready and sharp, (he could) go take someone’s job.”"
Take someone’s job he might just indeed. The most important thing about Zboril’s performances won’t show up on the scoresheet and that’s how he handles the puck. He looked comfortable carrying the puck up and the ice and breaking the puck out, something that Reilly in particular has not done well this season.
I would say it’s the best Zboril has looked so far at the NHL level and after seemingly like he would be the No. 7 or 8 guy, he is slowly wokring his way into the equation where I wouldn’t be comfortable if I’m Reilly, Derek Forbort or even Connor Clifton.
On practice Monday, Zboril skated again with Clifton as well as Reilly. The on Tuesday, Cassidy dropped this little tidbit that could give some insight on the defensive plans for this weekend.
If Zboril can play efficiently enough on both the left and right side, that versatility could very easily help him get into the lineup more often. It’s clear that Cassidy is liking what he’s seeing from Zboril and is making accommodations to get him into games.
With Zboril going to the right side potentially, that likely means Clifton will sit out, and rightfully so. After being a clear-cut favorite as the No. 3 man on the right side, he hasn’t shown he necessarily deserves the spot every night.
Regardless of whether it’s the left or right side, Zboril has done everything right so far this season and looks the part out on the ice. Get him some more action in games.