Can Studnicka stick with Bruins? – Lowell Sun


He’s getting a Black and Golden opportunity to show what he can do on the ice. But the question remains, can Jack Studnika stick with the Boston Bruins?’

The verdict’s still out, however with the season opener two weeks away, that answer should come sooner than later.

The Bruins are currently looking for a player with Studnika’s makeup, a crafty playmaking pivot that can help fill the void left by David Krejci. The Bruins assistant captain returned home to the Czech Republic over the summer, following an illustrious 15-year run in Boston.

The vacancy sign was hung prominently as camp opened, especially with the most likely replacement candidate, veteran center Charlie Coyle, still on the mend from off-season surgery, leaving the door wide open for the youngster.

“You don’t like when someone gets hurt like Charlie,” said Studnika, 23, a second-round selection (53rd overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft. “We’re hoping he gets back soon, but I’ve been given the opportunity to play with high end players.”

The 6-foot-2, 196-pound rookie has certainly been put through the paces, centering NHL All-Star Taylor Hall and savvy veteran Craig Smith on the second line.

He also didn’t hurt his chances by picking up his second point of the exhibition season Saturday night, assisting on a Brad Marchand goal in a 4-3 loss to the Rangers, giving him added confidence.

But there’s still been plenty of on-the-job training, following a 20-game stint with the Bruins varsity last season.

“I’ve been learning a lot,” said Studnika. “Every time something doesn’t go right on the ice you ask a question and try to learn. It’s been really good for my game.”

In order to make this year’s squad, Studnika is going to have to earn his keep. This year’s Bruins roster features an unusually veteran heavy cast up front, leaving little room for newcomers.

After subtracting the virtual locks (Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak, Taylor Hall-Charlie Coyle- Craig Smith, Jake DeBrusk-Erik Haula-Nick Folgino), you’re left with a scant few openings. Studnika is currently battling it out with the likes of veteran center Tomas Nosek, tough-as-nails journeymen Chris Wagner, Curtis Lazar and feisty enforcer Trent Fredric.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has indicated that if Studnika is to fit, the preferred spot would probably be somewhere among the top two lines, leaving many to ponder the endless lineup possibilities.

One things for sure, with rumors of Coyle’s imminent return, Studnika is determined to give Bruins management a difficult decision to make when it comes to finalizing the roster.

“That’s my goal,” Studnika said. “At the end of the day I’m not going to worry about that, I’m just going to play hockey and put my best foot forward. Obviously, there’s always room for improvement. Up until this point, I’m satisfied with the majority of my hockey. There so much room to grow no matter who you are. I’m always going to be looking to improve, but hopefully there are some conversations that are being made.”

That said, Studnika is staying focused on the opportunity presented to him, taking it all in stride.

“Right now, I’m trying to simplify,” said Studnika. “For now, it’s about building trust. I’m trying to play an honest straight-line game, play good defense with the wingers I’m playing with, and when the opportunity arrives just try to make the play happen.”

Bruins management certainly wouldn’t want anything less.

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