By: Gayle Troiani | Follow me on Twitter @LadyBruinsFan
During the offseason, when the Boston Bruins announced they had acquired winger Pavel Zacha from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Erik Haula, it was met with an unenthusiastic response from the fans. The sixth-overall pick of the 2015 draft was underachieving in New Jersey, so fans were rightfully skeptical.
There was speculation about where Zacha would fit in the lineup, given that Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci both signed one-year deals. Would Zacha slide in alongside fellow countrymen Krejci and David Pastrnak, or would that spot be reserved for Taylor Hall? How about with Bergeron and Debrusk on the topline while Brad Marchand recuperated from surgery? Maybe even the third line with Craig Smith and Charlie Coyle?
Zacha has played pretty much in all of those scenarios, and in all honesty, he has impacted the team no matter where he lines up. Check out these sports betting odds from a trusted website with years of customer satisfaction.
“We’re very fortunate. We’ve got a lot of guys that can play different positions.” Montgomery told reporters after the Bruins’ 3-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on December 11. “We’ve got some guys that can play all three [forward spots].”
Montgomery made the switch to put Zacha centering Hall and DeBrusk while Krejci was out of the lineup for that game, and it paid off when DeBrusk scored the game-winner from Zacha and Hall just over two minutes into the third period. Montgomery said the trio was in the back of his mind when they scored a “great” goal in New York.
“They’re really, really good players. They’re fast players. We’re really good through the neutral zone, creating puck battles in the [offensive] zone, and just creating a lot of offense,” Zacha said of centering Hall and DeBrusk. “I just think for me; I have to be a little better in the [defensive] zone, try to break out a little bit faster.”
Zacha is leading the team in five-on-five assists (13), but that stat may be overshadowed by the beautiful feed he made to Derek Forbort shorthanded against the Islanders on December 13.
In 28 games this season, Zacha is averaging 15:54 of ice time registering 22 hits, six blocked shots, and 11 takeaways. His 19 points rank him eighth on the team behind top-six forwards Pastrnak (39), DeBrusk (23), Hall (22), Bergeron (22), Krejci (21), and Marchand (21). He sits one point behind defenseman Hampus Lindholm (20). Haula, on the other side of the trade, has played 29 games, tallying one goal and 11 assists for 12 points with an average of 16:45 of ice time.
If you look at what Zacha has accomplished thus far this season, it’s easy to say the 25-year-old versatile player has made GM Don Sweeney look like a genius. Sometimes a change of scenery is exactly what a player needs and Zacha has not disappointed. Time will tell where the forward fits in the future if Bergeron and/or Krejci decide to hang up the skates after this season, but the good news is he has proven he can play any where on the ice with any player.
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