BOSTON - Peter Cehlarik had never played North American hockey prior to this season. The first four years of his professional career have been spent in Sweden, where the game is played on larger rinks and defense takes priority.
As a result, the 21-year-old Slovakia native was not quite sure how his initial campaign across the Atlantic would go. But after 40 games with the Providence Bruins, he appears to be adjusting just fine.
Cehlarik was leading Providence with 18 goals and second with 33 points when he was recalled by Boston on Tuesday morning after Austin Czarnik was placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. It was the first career recall for the 2013 third-round pick.
"I'm really excited to be here," Cehlarik said following Wednesday's practice at Warrior Ice Arena. "It's a dream to be here. If I get a chance to play, I'm going to do my best to help the team."
The 6-foot-1, 194-pound winger had never before scored more than 11 goals in a season. Cehlarik explained that he has felt freer offensively this season, despite playing on a smaller ice surface.
"From the beginning of the season, I have just been trying to learn the system of the game we play and adjust myself to the small rinks," said Cehlarik. "I think I learned pretty quick and I think my offensive game took off, as well this year. I try to do the right things every day and try to help the team.
"I think I like American Hockey more than I thought before. You get scoring chances more than back in Sweden where it was a more defensive league."
Interim coach Bruce Cassidy has not committed to a lineup for Thursday against San Jose - which will be his first at the helm - so it is unclear where, or if, Cehlarik will slot in. Cehlarik skated with Tim Schaller, Dominic Moore, and Riley Nash on the Bruins' fourth line during Wednesday's practice. He played the left wing alongside David Krejci and David Pastrnak on Tuesday.
"I'm not going to look around, I'm just going to play a hockey game," Cehlarik said of his approach should he play against the Sharks. "It's still a game. I will try to do the right things, keep my feet moving and make some plays. Just do my thing."
Video: Cassidy takes over at the helm
Chara Misses Another Day
Captain Zdeno Chara has been under the weather the last two days and missed practice on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
"He'll be a game time decision [Thursday]," said Cassidy. "He's a proud guy, I wouldn't be surprised if he walked through that door ready to play, but I have not spoke to Zee."
Opposing View: San Jose Sharks
The Sharks (33-17-4, 70 points) have been one of the elite teams in the Western Conference to date, holding a four-point lead in the Pacific Division with a game in hand over Anaheim and Edmonton. After dropping their previous contest to Buffalo in overtime, the Sharks will skate into Boston looking to take a bite out of the B's.
Brent Burns has blown all other defensemen out of the water with 57 points (22 goals, 35 assists), which is also good for third overall in the NHL points race. He has put 209 pucks on net, ranking second in the NHL, with a plus/minus rating of +17.
The Sharks carry a strong top-six forward group, led by Joe Pavelski (18 goals, 29 assists), Logan Couture (19 goals, 18 assists), and Joe Thornton (three goals, 30 assists).
With breakout backstop Martin Jones, the Sharks last line of defense has been a strength all season. Jones, who made his first NHL All-Star Game this season, holds a 27-15-0 record with a goals against average of .917 and a save percentage of .917.
Bruins fans may remember Jones, who was briefly acquired by the Bruins, then traded for a 2016 first-round pick and prospect Sean Kuraly before last season.
The Sharks are 15th in the league in goals for (2.70 goals per game) and third in the league in goals against (2.31 goals per game).
Khudobin Recalled; McIntyre Assigned to Providence
The Bruins switched goaltenders again on Wednesday, with Anton Khudobin recalled and Zane McIntyre assigned to Proivence. Khudobin was on the ice for practice Wednesday morning.
McIntyre played 28:46 in relief of Tuukka Rask on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, allowing two goals on 12 shots.
Wednesday's Practice Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Backes
Matt Beleskey - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano - Ryan Spooner - Jimmy Hayes
Tim Schaller - Dominic Moore - Riley Nash / Peter Cehlarik
Brandon Carlo, Torey Krug, John-Michael Liles, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller, Kevan Miller, and Joe Morrow.
Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin