(Photo by AP)
By Court Lalonde (follow @courtlalonde)
When the Boston Bruins drafted Peter Cehlarik in the third round of the 2013 entry draft, we all probably thought nothing of it. The scouting report on him was high offensive potential, can score but not a sniper, makes his linemates better, and hockey sense was above average. We see scouting reports on players that look very similar that never crack an NHL line-up. Cehlarik made his National Hockey League debut on February 11th, 2017 against the Vancouver Canucks. He was on a line with David Krejci, David Pastrnak and right from the drop of the puck looked like he had played with them all year. Krejci finished that game with two assists, Pastrnak with a goal but Cehlarik was held pointless on the scoresheet.
Cehlarik started the season with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League and was a key component to his hockey club’s success. In 40 games with Providence, he has 18 goals, 15 assists, 33 points, and a plus-nine rating. Any Providence fan would tell you they’re happy he is up with the big club but misses watching him in Providence. That’s the grind of being a fan of a farm team, you start to connect with a player and then he is gone. If he continues to play well with the big club, the odds are they have seen the last of him in Providence.
He broke out against the hated Montreal Canadiens with two assists, one of those coming on the power play. That was a huge statement game for the Bruins and Cehlarik; he let his team know that he deserved to be in the NHL with his play on the ice. The Bruins made a statement by shutting out the Canadiens, a bitter division rival and coming together as a team to win a hard game at home. That game we got to see his confidence grow every time he had the puck on his stick by not just dumping the puck but skating with it. He was making the players around him better and was complementing both Krejci and Pastrnak by creating scoring chances.
His defensive game could be improved upon, but he is getting better every game. It was painfully obvious against the Anaheim Ducks when he gave away the puck a couple of times. We also could tell by the fact that he lost some ice time. He has averaged about 13:58 minutes a game so far but only played 11:35 against the Ducks. It’s a learning curve for him, but I believe he will get better because he has the intangibles to do so. Bruce Cassidy played him less when the game got tight last night, which is ok because he is learning. He is only 21 and has a lot of growing and maturing to do with his NHL game.
Last night we all thought he had scored his first NHL goal, only to have it called back because the play was ruled offside. It must have been a disappointment to believe you have scored your first goal and then have it taken away from you. It didn’t seem to faze him, he continued to make crisp passes and almost completed a great play over to Pastrnak, but Peter Budaj just got is leg out in time. We all have the feeling that he will score any game now but it sure is nice to watch him play.