Attacks are taking shape in hockey Boston for the start of the upcoming overseas NHL season. A huge opportunity awaits Pavel Zacha, who should play in an elite formation alongside captain Patrice Bergeron.
Under normal circumstances, Zacha would likely slide to the third line, but the Bruins are currently without star Brad Marchand, who is unlikely to return from hip surgery until late November or December.
So there is a temporary vacancy on the left wing of the elite offense next to Bergeron. It was speculated that Taylor Hall would take the place and that Zacha and David Krejčí would be reunited with Pastrňák on the second line, which would be a rarity.
But new Boston coach Jim Montgomery seems to have other plans. At the beginning of training camp, he sees Zach in the first formation, who should play with Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk.
Marchand has already advised the Czech forward on how to play alongside Bergeron. “Just wait for the pass. You don’t have to go back, he’ll do it for you,” he laughed.
“Bergy wins a lot of pucks back, creating chances; he’s very good at that,” he continued more seriously. “So you always have to be ready for a counterattack when the opponent is on the puck.”
“Zacha will be fine,” Marchand thinks. “He’s a great player, very smart. He’s similar to Bergy in that he can read the game well, so I’d say he’ll fit in well with the others.”
Coach Montgomery noted that he would like to have Zacha as a support for the team. The Czech center, who normally also plays on the left wing, came to Boston only in the summer, in exchange from New Jersey for Erik Haula. He subsequently signed a one-year contract for $3.5 million. He will become an unrestricted free agent when it expires.
With Marchand’s absence, much of the responsibility for the offense will fall on the second offense, in which Montgomery sees Hall, Krejci and Pastrnak.
This is not a surprising choice. With Pastrňák, Krejčí shone at the last World Championship, where the Czechs won a medal after ten years, and with Hall, he ran amok for a while before his surprise departure to Olomouc.
In his last year without Krejčí, Hall struggled with productivity in the five-on-five game for a long time, only the connection with Pastrňák at the turn of the year helped him. So history has shown that any combination of two of these three works.
“I don’t even need to play much with Paste for us to understand each other,” Krejčí recalled. “Last season I played with him until the world championship, where he came after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, and it felt like we played together the whole season. It works for us. We don’t need to train together much, we just go to work and do, what we can do.”
Hall feels the same way about Krejčí: “He’s one of those guys that’s really easy for you to play with. I think we hit it off together. I’m really glad he’s back. Great hockey player. Very smart. Very good at defending, while He is underestimated in this area of the game.”
If the combination of Hall, Krejčí and Pastrňák looks as good on the ice as it does on paper, the second Boston formation could be the main offensive force of the team at least in the first months of the regular season.