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Jack Ahcan’s season debut was stronger than you think

Dec 4, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Jack Ahcan (54) watches a play against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 4, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Jack Ahcan (54) watches a play against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /
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Freshly called up from the AHL earlier that day, Jack Ahcan didn’t know until right before the game on Saturday that he would be making his season debut with the Boston Bruins.

Charlie McAvoy was a last minute scratch as he dealt with a non-COVID illness and was ruled out on Saturday. As a result, Ahcan drew into the lineup as his replacement.

Going against the defending two-time Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, the 24-year old didn’t just hold his own. He was pretty damn good.

He started the game paired with Derek Forbort, but coach Joe Sacco moved him around a bit in the lineup, skating 15:31 of ice time. To the eye test, he had a good debut. To the numbers, he was better than good.

The Bruins excelled against the Lightning with Ahcan on the ice

The best part about Ahcan’s debut is you didn’t hear his name a ton. Which means he wasn’t making mistakes and standing out in a negative way.

But according to the statistics, the undrafted prospect from Minnesota had a pretty impressive game from an analytical point of view.

Obviously, Ahcan wasn’t doing it all himself. There were four other skaters wearing the black and gold with Ahcan on the ice. In fact, Ahcan only finished the game with two shots on goal.

But Ahcan certainly did not hurt the Bruins in their OT loss. He helped contribute to the offensive onslaught that we saw against the Lightning. He wasn’t a liability in his own zone, the most important thing for a young player coming in on short notice with minimal NHL experience.

Ahcan was buzzing around the offensive zone at times, controlling the puck quite easily and working his way in and out of the Lightning defenders. He also had a wicked slap shot that sent Erik Haula ducking for his life. Out of his own zone, Ahcan hit his outlet passes and was able to stretch the ice at times with strong passing out of the defensive zone.

The play that stood out the most was early in the first period when Ahcan bodied off Corey Perry who was trying to drive to the net. Winning a physicality game with Perry is no small task. Perry’s listed at 6-foot-3, 206 pounds while the Bruins defender is marked at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds. Despite his size, he likes to play the body and it was evident on Saturday.

Oh, and let me remind you – Ahcan was coming off of a five-day shutdown in Providence where the team did not play or practice together. So he was stepping in having not played in a game since Saturday, Nov. 20.

He was sent down to the AHL in Sunday, but it could be strictly for paper purposes and might return before the Bruins head out West for Wednesday. With Jakub Zboril possibly sidelined, the Bruins could use another body on the back end, especially if McAvoy is still feeling the effects of whatever kept him out Saturday.

Next. Recap - Bruins fall in OT to the Lightning. dark

The young blue liner passed his first test up in Boston this season. If injuries start to pile up in Boston, expect to see more Jack Ahcan in the future.