Even with his Providence assignment to begin the 2021-22 campaign, Jack Studnicka earned important trust from the Boston Bruins coaching staff and front office.
Studnicka made a solid impression in his four preseason outings. He saw time on the second line in two of Boston’s six tuneups centering Taylor Hall and Craig Smith. Upon his return in the preseason finale, however, Charlie Coyle secured that coveted second-line vacancy left by David Krejci.
With the Hall-Coyle-Smith trio intact and growing chemistry between Nick Foligno, Erik Haula and Jake DeBrusk on the third line, the Bruins sent Studnicka to the Baby B’s where he’d play top-line minutes. Though he had high hopes of making the opening night roster, Studnicka kept his head held high following impressive training camp.
“Stay positive and be proud of what I was able to do in camp and just try to keep it going and play my game down there and wait for the next opportunity,” Studnicka told reporters of his mindset down in Providence. “I’m thankful it came pretty early.”
Studnicka’s latest AHL stint didn’t last long. Injuries to Smith and Foligno during Boston’s two-game road trip in Philadelphia and Buffalo prompted Studnicka’s trip up I-95 ahead of Sunday’s matinee with the San Jose Sharks.
Instead of slotting Studnicka on the second line in the fourth game of the year, Bruce Cassidy opted to use the 2017 second-round selection on the fourth line, centering Trent Frederic and Karson Kuhlman. This kept a de facto trio of Hall, Coyle and Tomas Nosek from the 4-1 win in Buffalo two nights prior intact.
Studnicka, nor fellow prospect Alex Steen — who tallied an assist on Jake DeBrusk’s tally — didn’t stand out to Cassidy in Boston’s 4-3 win over the Sharks. Yet neither young forward looked out of place, thus helping the Bruins secure their second straight victory against a previously unbeaten team.
“I think they came up and did their job,” Cassidy said of Studnicka and Steen following Boston’s third triumph of the year.
The Bruins held off a desperate Sharks comeback bid in the third. Now they’re looking for another well-rounded effort in their third straight matchup against an unbeaten opponent.
This time, they’ll slot Studnicka in that coveted second-line center spot to start Wednesday’s tilt with the 6-0-0 Florida panthers.
“Super excited,” Stutdnicka told the media of the opportunity. “They’re obviously off to a good start over there. It’s going to be a good test for us, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Even with Smith on the shelf, Studnicka will skate with some familiar faces in Hall and Coyle. Studnicka and Hall skated in the preseason and spent some time with Coyle during the pandemic-shortened season.
This time, Studnicka won’t shy away from creating scoring chances, be it for himself or Hall and Coyle. The young two-way forward will have a couple of vets to lean on with the speedy Hall and the well-rounded Coyle.
“I would say a year or two ago, I was someone who would defer. But I think I’ve grown as a player to just go in there and play my game. They’re really good players, so they’ll be able to read off that,” Stundicka added. “Maybe a while ago [deffering] was an issue, but now I’m just able to play my game and see how it goes.
“I’m playing with two veteran wingers and they know how to produce in this league. So hopefully, I’m solid defensively for them, and I’m hoping things go well.”
A productive night for Studnicka in South Florida will go a long way toward a victory and increase his chances at securing the second-line center spot in the long run.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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