Bruins-Lightning Aftermath: The Better Team Won

Brad Marchand

As was the case in 2014, the President’s Trophy-winning Boston Bruins bowed out in the second round, this time to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The series ended with a 4 games to 1 victory by the ‘Bolts, who after stumbling in periods 1-2 of Game 1, turned around and carried play for pretty much the rest of the series.

The Lightning used a combination of superior speed, skill, toughness and disruption to prevent the Bruins from ever really mounting much of a serious challenge.

Boston could have won Game 2, but the goaltending from Jaroslav Halak was average, and after losing in OT given a major momentum swing with Brad Marchand’s late equalizer, the B’s were completely overmatched in sudden death and what could have been a 2-0 series advantage, swung decidedly into Tampa’s favor.

The Bruins were blown out in Games 3-4 and though they showed some real fight in Game 5, it wasn’t enough. As he had done for much of the series, defenseman Victor Hedman ended Boston’s season with an outside shot that got through Halak with Torey Krug battling in vain at the top of the crease.

Game over, season over. What next?

The loss of Tuukka Rask two games into the playoffs certainly didn’t help, but the B’s simply didn’t get enough from their entire roster against Tampa.

There were too many passengers- not enough big-game guys to make up for the ability for Tampa to get to the net and score a lot of goals on tips, deflections and redirections.

You can’t say enough about what Zdeno Chara has meant to the Bruins franchise, but he played too much and was exposed. Jon Cooper’s crew aggressively attacked him every time he had the puck and he simply couldn’t move quickly enough or get rid of pucks fast enough without costly turnovers. It’s tough to limit the captain and 1st ballot HHOFer’s minutes, but that needed to happen and didn’t.

The Boston defense as a whole was porous and simply not effective enough at both ends of the ice. With little offensive production and too many defensive miscues to overcome, the defensive corps wasn’t able to make enough plays in front of Halak.

As for Halak, he wasn’t good enough after a strong Game 1 performance. He gave his club a chance in Game 5, but Games 2-4 were average at best, and average doesn’t win championships. Without a strong defensive effort, it was going to be a long road to hoe for the veteran Slovak, and he needed to steal a couple of games to win the series. Didn’t happen, especially given a lack of offensive support.

Aside from Marchand, Boston’s offense was consistently inconsistent and there wasn’t enough scoring from the forwards. Ondrej Kase seemed to be around pucks for grade A scoring chances, but…no finish. Jake DeBrusk’s streakiness is an issue, because if he isn’t scoring, he isn’t doing much. David Pastrnak didn’t generate enough scoring given his talent. Patrice Bergeron was great defensively, but struggled to impose his will on the offensive side. David Krejci had a critical tying goal in Game 5, but was held off the scoring for a large swath of the series. Injuries impacted Boston’s depth up front and the team simply didn’t get enough from Nick Ritchie, Kase and others they counted on to be difference makers when it mattered.  And so on.

We could go on, and in the coming days, there will be more detail spent to looking at what went wrong and where to go from here. It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially given the way things ended in 2019, but there are positives to analyze as well. Don Sweeney and Company will take the time to assess and move forward. There is no other alternative given the circumstances.

Time to let the dust settle and see what happens next. More to follow…

Brutal

Not much else to be said after the Boston Bruins dropped back-to-back games to the Tampa Bay Lightning to fall behind in the series 2 games to 1.

Jaroslav Halak wasn’t great in Game 2, and was downright brutal in Game 3, getting the hook after four goals allowed.

But he had a lot of help- the team could have won Game 2, but squandered the opportunity and then was listless, with no push in Game 3, especially when falling behind early.

Sure, the on-ice officials certainly didn’t help matters with a ticky-tack call that led to a power play goal head coach Bruce Cassidy called out after the game. Then there was the egregious interference by the linesman on Jeremy Lauzon at the defensive blue line which led to another goal.

The Bruins just couldn’t get out of first gear, and Dan Vladar’s NHL debut in relief of Halak looked more like Malcolm Subban’s first taste of big league action as the team did very little in front of him and the ‘Bolts’ goals kept piling up.

The Boston PK needs help- it is too passive and the goaltending hasn’t helped, but the series will be over quickly if the B’s don’t A. find a way to stay out of the box, and B. employ a more aggressive scheme to disrupt and prevent Tampa from setting up- their offensive shooters are killing it. And, this is a team that doesn’t have Steven Stamkos in the lineup, either.

Boston needs to find a way to slow down Tampa’s speed game through the neutral zone and must get a better performance from the defense, which has been far too loose and ineffective in the last several games, including the third period of Game 1.

It’s just a 2-1 deficit but given the way the last two games have gone, it seems like much worse of a situation for the B’s. It’s time to see what the team can do to respond. Perhaps putting sparkplug Karson Kuhlman into the lineup and bringing Connor Clifton will give them some needed juice.

No place to go but up.

Anthony Kwetkowski: B’s-Lightning Series Analysis

Here’s a guest post written by Anthony Kwetkowski of Bruins Network where he takes on several areas of the Bruins-Lightning matchup and gives his thoughts on what could happen. The B’s are up 1-0 in the best-of-seven series, but things can change quickly. Our thanks to AK for contributing this piece.- KL

Style of Play:

As opposed to the Carolina Hurricanes, knocked off by Boston in five games, Tampa plays with similar speed, but also more precision and skill. Tampa, while able to play a similar run and gun style to Carolina,  thrives along the boards, working the puck inwards toward the attacking zone. In certain cases, this style will work with and against Boston— I’ll elaborate. For some of Boston’s slower players, Zdeno Chara and Nick Ritchie, Carolina’s runs and gun style really seemed to overwhelm and render them ineffective at times.

This precision style has a chance to be a better matchup for Chara and Ritchie because of their positioning and size. Tampa, as they work the puck inwards from the boards, will have to work a bit harder to get the puck through the likes of someone like Chara who’s as positionally sound as they come. Ritchie, who was simply ineffective against Carolina, is looking for a rebound series as he’s slated to play in Game One. He’s not nearly as sound as Chara, but he does possess good reflexes and hand-eye coordination, which might help him be effective in this series. Not saying these players will prevail, but I definitely see the line of thinking from Boston by inserting Ritchie again right now.

 

Skill:

In terms of pure, natural skill and talent, Tampa usually receives the nomination over Boston in these categories, but I think it’s closer than some suggest. While Tampa obviously has the ultra-skilled types in Kucherov, Stamkos*, Point, Hedman, Sergachev, Cirelli and more, Boston has their own ultra-skilled types in Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, McAvoy, Krug, Krejci and now Kase. Tampa’s deadline additions, Coleman and Goodrow, will certainly be useful in their quest to compete with Boston’s middle-six types in Coyle, Bjork, DeBrusk, Kase and Ritchie. However, I think Boston is actually on par with Tampa is regards to skill, they just possess skill in different areas.

Boston obviously has their heralded “perfection line” leading the charge, but what about David Krejci? He was arguably Boston’s best player in the Carolina series and that bodes very well for them. Krejci, in my opinion, has been playing like a No. 1 center throughout the playoffs thus far and that presents a problem for Tampa. Though shutting down Bergeron’s line can heavily influence a series, that’s not nearly as pressing if lines two and three are rolling on all cylinders. Krejci and Coyle have both been dominate, so that presents quite the mismatch for Tampa as Boston’s redundancy plan is currently in full effect.

Size:

With a defensive core largely compiled with players standing over 6’1”, Tampa has more size than Boston does. This is definitely part of the reasoning to roll with Ritchie in the lineup to start as well. I don’t think size is as important in this series as some are suggesting, Boston will have their hands full— they can handle it. How? Well, the same way they’ve been handling it, by grinding and hustling by the likes of Coyle, DeBrusk, Kuraly, Clifton, Nordstrom, Wagner, Marchand and McAvoy. These players stood out in the Carolina series and possess the necessary elements to combat Tampa’s size.

Goaltending:

Unfortunately for Boston, Tuukka Rask opted out of the playoffs in the middle of the Carolina series, citing personal and family reasons. Rask, who historically performs very well against Tampa, won’t be available for this series, leaving Jaroslav Halak as the No. 1 starter moving forward. While Halak ultimately got it done against Carolina, he needs to be sharper and has his work cut out for him against Tampa. I think Tampa definitely has the goaltending edge right now, especially since Halak was shaky and inconsistent against a lesser opponent in Carolina. I expect to see Tampa test Halak early and often, which might prove to be problematic in the series. Boston needs to try and limit the amount of rubber that Halak sees by clogging passing lanes and thwarting Tampa’s high-end precision plays.

Outcome:

Before Rask had opted out, I’d probably have decidedly picked Boston to win, but without him? I think there are concerns for goaltending. Could Halak return to mid-season form quicker than he’s on track for currently? That’s the million dollar question and if he does, then I think he can handle Tampa. It won’t be easy, though, especially if the teams have to play back-to-back games in G6 and G7. Goaltending aside, I think the Bruins have an overall edge to Tampa and will be performing better than some are giving them credit for. Remember, this is two seasons in a row now that the Columbus Blue Jackets have given Tampa fits. Tampa ultimately won this time around, but that high-end grinding game really wears them down.

Columbus plays a style similar to Boston, but with less talent and less efficiency, in my opinion. That’s why Boston beat a better Columbus team last year in six games. These grinding elements are persistent in Boston’s game and Tampa will absolutely have their hands full. If Boston can play to their potential and fire on all cylinders, I predict they will ultimately defeat the Tampa Bay Lighting.

*Steven Stamkos has been battling some injuries in recent months and who knows what his availability will be. As of this moment, he’s not expected to be ready.

Dominic Tiano: Bruins Playoff Scenarios

Amigo Dom Tiano is back with another great post about the playoffs and how the play-in and round robins affect the Boston Bruins. – KL

Pastrnak

With just one game remaining for the Boston Bruins before the real games begin, they find themselves in a position fans, and probably the Bruins themselves, didn’t expect after dominating the regular season standings before action was paused due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

After losing it’s first two games, the Bruins sit in fourth spot before hitting the ice in Sunday’s matchup with the Washington Capitals. Here’s a look at the standings:

Tampa Bay 4 points

Philadelphia 4 points

Washington 1 point

Boston 0 points.

Carolina .596 pts% (advances)

Islanders .588 pts% (advances)

Toronto .579 pts%

Columbus .579 pts%

Montreal .500 pts% (advances)

So, what are the possible scenarios facing the Bruins and what does the outcome of Sunday’s contest mean?

Scenario 1: Boston beats Washington in any manner:

Winning in overtime or a shootout will leave the teams tied with 2 points a piece and the tie breaker is regular season points percentage, which favors the Bruins, so they would end up third. Winning in regulation would give the Bruins 2 points versus the Caps 1 point, so any type of win gives the Bruins third place.

Win and they face the Islanders.

The outcome of the Leafs and Blue Jackets play in round has no affect on who the Bruins opponent will be.

Scenario 2: Washington wins in any matter:

Lose in any fashion and face Carolina.

So, the Bruins possible opponents come down to New York Islanders or Carolina. Pick your poison. We’ll know Sunday.

Some quick thoughts:

  • Fans are looking for excuses for the Bruins and there are many out there on social media. The fact of the matter is the Bruins were the hardest hit team in phase 3 with players going in and out as “unfit to play” and thus taking longer to find chemistry and gel. But is there enough time before round 1 begins?
  • I wonder about Tuukka Rask’s While he was mostly solid against the Lightning, I counted four times the puck went in and out of his glove. You have to wonder if there is some pain there.
  • Torey Krug. There is no questioning his heart and drive. He wants to win and it was never more evident when he dropped the mitts with Blake Coleman not only to come to the defence of a teammate, but provide the spark his team needed.
  • Matt Grzelcyk and the power play. If David Pastrnak’s blast that trickled through Andrei Vasilevskiy hadn’t been pulled from the goal line, this conversation would be mute. That was the powerplay with Krug serving his fighting major. With Gryz running the powerplay, he went down behind the goal line and tried to feed a pass through three Lightning penalty killers and it ended up going the other way. He just doesn’t see the ice as well as Krug and doesn’t posses the shot and passing skills as Krug.
  • The third line of Anders Bjork, Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk looked good for the most part. They were very good at puck possession and had some very good offensive zone time. If there is any change I would make there it is to put DeBrusk on the left side and Bjork on the right.
  • The second line continues to frustrate. As the game went on, Nick Ritchie got better and began to find some chemistry with David Krejci in his first game of the post season. Jack Studnicka looked good in his time there but it wasn’t a legitimate second line. Let’s not put any unnecessary pressure on the kid. Ondrej Kase is expected to make his debut Sunday and the Bruins and their fans better hope he finds instant chemistry because, with all due respect, Karson Kuhlman is not the answer.
  • Zdeno Chara looked slow even by his standards. He was susceptible to the speed game and on Wednesday Victor Hedman gave him lessons on how to use that enormous reach.
  • I’m a big fan of Jeremy Lauzon, but I wonder if it’s time for him to sit and give John Moore a chance. Lauzon lost positioning very early in the game and had to take a penalty and it prevented the Bruins from getting everyone into the game right away. He also lost coverage that resulted in a Tampa goal. Right now, Moore would be a better option at puck retrieval and moving up ice by skating or passing.
  • Brandon Carlo has been anything but the Brandon Carlo we’ve been accustomed to. He seems to have lost the confidence in his ability to skate with the puck and he isn’t the consistent shut down guy we’ve been use to seeing. He will need to find that and quickly.

 

 

Happy Canada Day

Things have been slow lately…

Working on a post about the NHL Draft lottery, but what’s the point? The system is what it is, but any lottery is going to have winners and losers, and only the NHL could come up with a scenario in which not one of the bottom-seven/non-24 playoff and play-in teams would end up with Alexis Lafreniere as the top overall pick whenever the NHL Entry Draft happens.

Is it even worth posting about? Not sure. But as a former member of the QMJHL club that finished dead-last in the league regular season standings but lost the draft lottery and dropped to the third pick in 2017, I know exactly what the Detroit Red Wings are going through.

In the meantime, Happy Canada Day to our great neighbors to the North and the very reason we have this game we love.

Dom, Reed and the rest of Canada- this whiskey’s for you!

Liked this graphic, so am borrowing it and the least I can do is link to the city of Kawartha Lakes’ website…

Canada Day

https://www.kawarthalakes.ca/en/things-to-do/canada-day-the-2020-way.aspx

 

 

 

Milestone: 500th post

When I started the Scouting Post (TSP) blog 5 years ago, I wasn’t doing anything other than finding an additional outlet to blog about hockey (mainly the Boston Bruins).

The 2015 NHL Entry Draft had just happened and the team was flush with a big crop of new prospects. Gone were Peter Chiarelli, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton. There was a new regime in Boston, headed up by longtime player and development chief Don Sweeney. The B’s had just missed the NHL playoffs for the first time since 2007, and would fall short again in this blog’s first year of active posting.

A lot has happened since then. That big crop of new prospects- some of them panned out, others did not. A few are still hanging around. Time is the final judge, and while there are some fans out there who insist that the 2015 Bruins draft was a failure, we’re pretty sure they haven’t spent much time here.

In the years since the B’s were a non-playoff club in 2015, they’ve returned to prominence, falling oh-so-short in 2019, but winning the President’s Trophy a year later, even though the global COVID-19 pandemic certainly created a storm with complete sports (and life) stoppage from mid-March to current times as we still wait for a return-to-NHL hockey plan unfold.

Two years into the blog’s existence, got a position with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers and three years later, still there, though the hockey season often prevents me from posting as much as I would like. One of the silver linings of the coronavirus craziness is that I’ve been able to spend much more time on here getting back to what I truly enjoy- talking about hockey, mainly the Boston Bruins- past, present and future.

And I’ve gotten a lot of help. Buddies Dominic Tiano and Reed Duthie, with whom I formed the 3 Amigos podcast team four years ago, have taken their time to write about timely topics and players from their area of expertise in Ontario, Canada. We’ve even added a fourth amigo in recent months. Thanks guys- couldn’t do it without you.

Through it all- you, the reader, are why we do it. None of us has made a dime off the blog. All content is free, without ads or any other interference. It’s an effort pure in its intent and execution. Sure, you’re not going to agree with all you read and digest here, but in the end- we’re out to inform and spark intelligent, reasoned debate.

So, to all of you who read, digest, and appreciate the efforts here- thank you. 500 posts took longer to reach than originally thought, but five years later, we’re still standing.

Reflections on Memorial Day 2020

“Boldness is the beginning of action. But fortune controls how it ends.”- Democritus

Because of everything going on in the country and world, have had more time to think and contemplate. Multiple tours overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan resulted in countless friendships and experiences, but also as is the nature of war and the profession of arms, the loss of some of those friends.

No matter how you choose to observe the Memorial Day weekend, which commemorates the fallen in our nation’s wars,  the purpose is to remember and honor those no longer with us. I captured these images a year ago when the National Memorial commemorating all military lives lost in operations conducted after 9/11 brought its mobile display to Ralston Arena, home of the Omaha Lancers. They are forever the ages depicted in the images below. They shall not grow old…

One individual in particular, Captain Joel Cahill, grew up right down the road in La Vista and graduated from La Vista High in 1989 before he embarked on a successful Army career that ultimately led him from the enlisted ranks to commissioned officer via University of Nebraska to Iraq for a second tour in 2005 with the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. He was one of my brothers on a close-knit brigade staff until duty called and he took command of Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment- the “Audie Murphy Company.” While leading his company from the front as he always did, Joel’s life was taken by a roadside bomb on November 6. Of all I knew who did not return home to their families, Joel’s loss makes the least sense- he seemed destined to wear general’s stars and was the best Soldier of all of us.

Some of the fallen here, I knew more than others. But all of them personally touched me in some way, shape or form.

Whether it was the driver who made sure there was a cold Red Bull waiting for me on every mission we went on as his vehicle commander and who we nicknamed “McLovin” after the Superbad character, which was a popular movie during the Surge deployment.

Or the fellow Citadel graduate who was a year ahead of me in 1st Battalion. Or the good friend who I bar-hopped with in Aggieville- Manhattan, Kansas- and deployed with to Bosnia as young lieutenants/peace keepers in 1997, only for him to return to active service a decade-plus later because he felt a calling to do his part- then lost his life in that volunteer service.

Or the former ROTC Advanced Camp platoon mate who I lost touch with after Fort Bragg in 1993, only to reconnect with him…when I saw his name announced as one of the deaths in a grim fight in Fallujah in November, 2004.

Or the young Civil Affairs soldier who was killed a short time into her deployment, but whose smiling photo on the wall of honor in our brigade headquarters haunted me well after we redeployed, a life taken far too soon. A scholarship in her honor provides young people from her home state of Wisconsin with opportunities to serve others as she did.

Or the seasoned NCO who could have saved himself from his burning Bradley, but instead doomed himself to certain death to free trapped men inside. A true hero in every sense of the word. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”- John 15:13

Or the fellow Pentagon staffer who handed off a project he had been working on to me as he headed off to Afghanistan for a tour, and then likely bigger things. And because of a fluke accident on that deployment, he is forever a major.

While not all of them died under enemy direct fire or from improvised explosive devices, their loss is no less devastating to their families and those who loved and knew them best. The fallen are all sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, uncles and aunts. They are all of us.

We may not all agree about the nature of their sacrifice, but none of us should ever forget what they gave up so that we could all have the freedom and choice continue our own pursuits.

– Kirk Luedeke, Omaha, NE; May 24, 2020

MemorialJoelCahillMemorialAlwynCasheMemorialJasonGeorgeMemorialChrisKennyMemorialRussHerculesMemorialNikkiFryeMemorialSeanSimsMemorialPaulVoelker

Strength, best wishes and prayers to Colby Cave

The Edmonton Oilers just reported that Oilers and Bakersfield Condors forward Colby Cave was admitted to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, and placed into a medically-induced coma for a brain bleed last night.

Cave, 25, signed with the Bruins as an undrafted free agent after completing his WHL career with the Swift Current Broncos, where he served as captain and his teammates included Jake DeBrusk. Cave spent parts of five seasons with the Bruins organization, mostly in the AHL with Providence, and playing 23 games with the Big B’s before the Oilers claimed him on waivers during the 2018-19 season.

Our sincerest thoughts, wishes and prayers go to Colby, his wife, Emily, and his entire family- immediate and extended for a full recovery. He is a class act, and we enjoyed talking hockey with him when he was part of the Bruins organization.

We’ll keep the story updated as information is made available.

Jeremy Swayman: Hobey Baker award finalist

University of Maine junior goaltender Jeremy Swayman along with with University of North Dakota forward Jordan Kawaguchi and University of Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Scott Perunovich were named Hobey Hat Trick finalists for college hockey’s top award- the Hobey Baker.

Swayman, who recently turned pro, signing with the Bruins in March, edged out fellow Hockey East Hobey hopeful John Leonard of UMass for the league’s player of the year honors. Leonard, a dangerous finisher who starred at Springfield Cathedral HS and played in the USHL with Green Bay before becoming a Minuteman, will leave school to sign with the San Jose Sharks.

The last Hobey Baker winner who played for the Bruins was Boston College defenseman Mike Mottau, who took the hardware in 2000, and skated in just eight regular season and playoff games for the B’s in 2011-12.

We recently did a comprehensive review of Swayman on this blog, and while he’s a long shot to come away with the hardware when the 2020 Hobey Baker winner is announced on April 11, he had an amazing season with the Black Bears.

Consistency has been the name of the game with Swayman, as he jumped from midget AAA in Colorado to the USHL to completing three superb NCAA seasons all in the span of just five years. He did it with just one year of junior hockey under his belt, which is a path less travelled for most goalies, who typically need more time developing at the tier 1 and tier 2 junior levels before making the jump to college. Now, with one year of NCAA eligibility remaining, Swayman is ahead of the curve again, signing a 3-year deal with the Bruins and getting his professional apprenticeship underway. This is one more indicator that despite the lack of pre-draft hype, the Bruins did a find job of scouting a player who should have been on more radars, or at least, should have gotten more attention than he did.

There are a lot of things to like about Swayman, but in watching more film, he excels at the concept of transition through SPOT (popularized  by Columbus Blue Jackets goalie coach Jim Corsi. Yes, THAT Jim Corsi.)- Square, Prepared and On Time. When it comes to the transition game in net, it’s about the goalie answering one critical question: how can I get there (to the right spot) on time to make the save? Playing an entire hockey game in net is like going SPOT to SPOT over and over again. The best goalies at any level are the ones who are the most skilled, athletic, and aware; consistently able to make the first save, and then at least one more, all while managing the controlled chaos around their net. Sounds easy, right?

At TSP, we tip our caps to the job Swayman has done this season at Maine and over the course of his college career. He’s going out a winner, regardless of who comes away with the big prize.

And also not to be forgotten- Daniel Vladar, who was having a tremendous season with Providence until the rug was pulled out from under him and the rest of his team as the AHL had to shut it down. And there is also Kyle Keyser, just a few months younger than Swayman, whose first pro campaign got derailed by injuries, but is also one of the more impressive in a long line of undrafted free agents the Bruins have signed in recent years.

Yes, when it comes to goaltending and the Bruins, it seems that the kids are all right.

 

Dominic Tiano: A Look Back at the Man They Call ‘Studs’

 

Jack Studnicka of the Oshawa Generals. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

(Photo credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Guest post by Dominic Tiano:

As most of you know, my priority is the Ontario Hockey League and the NHL Draft because that’s where my eyes are mostly focused. And when my fellow Amigos suggested that I compare what I said back in 2017 about Jack Studnicka to where he is now, I couldn’t resist even though I could have been way off the mark.

So, lets go back to March 5, 2017 when I first wrote this:

I don’t believe Studnicka is an offense first player, which I see tagged to him plenty. He puts as much attention to detail on the defensive side as he does on the offense. He plays in all situations and takes key faceoffs for the Generals. He’s quietly become the Generals’ top face off man at 53%. It’s his extremely high compete level that makes him pay attention at both ends.

Studnicka has good size – although adding bulk will be key for him. He is an excellent skater who has an explosive first step and decent top end speed who can change direction with ease. He possesses very good vision with high quality playmaking skills with an ability to set up his teammates. His shot is underrated in my opinion. His release is deceptive and accurate and he puts every shot on goal with a purpose.

Studnicka can be elusive in the offensive zone. He can break away from coverage almost undetected and put himself into scoring positions. He has very good puck skills and strong possession skills. Although he needs to add some muscle, he will not shy away from the hard areas. Once he gets stronger, it will become an area where he wins more often than he loses because of it – and his work ethic.

If anything has changed in three years its that he has improved even on the skills he was already good at. Yes, he was deemed as just an offensive player in many circles back then, but not to these eyes. What has impressed me most is that he continues to put the work in, even in areas he excels at. And that continued work defensively has only made him stronger in that area. He was one of the best penalty killers in the AHL and while he took care of his own zone, he was a threat to score while down a man each and every time.

While he was already a “polished” skater in the faceoff circle, that wasn’t enough for Captain Jack. Much like Patrice Bergeron – he has similar traits to the Bruins Alternate Captain – he continues to work at it to become even better. For Studnicka, like Bergeron, good is just never good enough.

All that hard work has paid off for Studnicka as he quickly moved up to the top of the Bruins prospect rankings, something I am sure even Jack didn’t think would happen this quickly.

If there is one area that I would have liked to see accelerated in this process, it’s adding bulk to his frame. While every part of his game – the IQ, vision, skating, 200-foot game, faceoff success, offense, penalty killing – are NHL ready, adding some extra bulk to his frame this offseason will prepare him for the long grind of the NHL season.

With the extra long offseason for Studnicka, the opportunity is there to put in the work. What we do know 100%, is that he will put in that work.