DETROIT - For the past two seasons, Jake DeBrusk has earned the honor of riding shotgun on David Krejci's left side. When the Bruins take on the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night, DeBrusk will be absent for the first time in the 2019-20 season. In his stead, Peter Cehlarik will look to provide an offensive spark.
With Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk firmly entrenched as the two top six left wings, Cehlarik has seldom seen an opportunity to play on his natural side.
"We talked about if there was a top six left wing injury, that he'd be a good fit for there," said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. "More so than where we put him earlier. We want to reward the best player in Providence, but I think this is the best fit for him."
Video: Cassidy Gives Updates Before Friday's Game in DET
In just seven games in Providence, the 24-year-old has posted six goals, four assists for 10 points. That mark is tied for first on the time, and his 1.42 points per game lead the way by a considerable margin. However, to stick in the NHL, Cehlarik has a few areas he needs to improve.
"Managing the puck, we've talked about that," said Cassidy. "He has to make the plays that are available to him, when they are available to him instead of forcing it in there. Sometimes you have to chip and chase. I think Anders [Bjork] has learned that. All the guys that have stayed here eventually learn that there is a time to make a play, there is a time to advance the puck - go get it.
"That's the biggest thing we've had with Peter. And we'd like him to - when plays are there to be made if he is going to play up in the lineup, then play to his strength and make the similar plays he can do in Providence. Obviously, it's going to be a little more difficult but that is kind of our ask if in a situation tonight, he's going to play on the power play. He's a good net front guy, around the front of the net. He has quick hands so hopefully some pucks find him there too."
Cehlarik understands his opportunity and looks to make the most of it.
"I'm going to work on executing the plays that are there," said Cehlarik. "I think the last game I left some on the table. I need to connect. Otherwise I want to play harder, going to the net [harder], and more of a net presence."
Video: Cehlarik reacts to being on a line with Krejci
After claiming wins in five consecutive games, the Bruins fell to the Canadiens on November 5th for just their second regulation loss of the season. Now the focus shifts to beginning a new streak.
"I think we are really excited to get back at it tonight," said Charlie McAvoy. "[We] played really well for a long streak there. Unfortunately, the win streak is over but now we get to start a new one. We're excited to go tonight against a good opponent, just focus on ourselves and make sure we're all pulling the rope in the same direction."
Cassidy noted an area where the forwards can improve in the defensive zone.
"D-zone coverage," said Cassidy. "I thought we got beat the other night with our wingers, not enough patience…We weren't strong enough on the top half of our D-zone so that's an area that we talked about a lot. And it's a staple of our game, we're pretty good at protecting the house. We usually have numbers there. I'd like to think it was just a one-and-done, but we'll see tonight."
Ultimately, the Bruins are simply looking to play the way they know they are capable of.
"I think it's going back to what we do best," said Patrice Bergeron. "Playing with some layers, being stingy defensively and then worrying about the rest. I think when you take care of details, the rest of the game takes care of itself. Yeah, I think going back to that and I think then offense will open up if we play the right way."
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Marchand - Bergeron - Pastrnak
Cehlarik - Krejci - Heinen
Bjork - Coyle - Senyshyn
Wagner - Kuraly - Ritchie
Chara - Clifton
Krug - Carlo
Grzelcyk - McAvoy
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