I probably wasn’t the only one who was skeptical about Jakub Zboril slotting in on the Bruins defense, even with his success and optimism coming out of training camp.
But after last night, there’s much less to worry about with the third defensive pair. Zboril, despite the nickname “Zee”, is never going to replace Zdeno Chara — no one is. But the young defenseman performed admirably in Boston’s opening game against New Jersey on Thursday night.
As did Trent Frederic, a fourth-line forward and last-minute insertion into the Bruins’ lineup. He only registered 10 minutes and 44 seconds of ice time, but a minute of that came on the penalty kill. The fourth line played sparingly, but Frederic still had a pair of shots on net and registered a takeaway defensively.
Zboril, meanwhile, had the fourth-most ice time among Bruins’ defensemen in the season opener and featured on both the power play and penalty kill. He also had two shots on net and factored in a hit.
The stats are far from eye-popping. However, there is reason to be impressed by one thing — special teams. New Jersey was 0-for-5 on the power play and though Zboril and Frederic weren’t directly the reason why, they contributed positively along with the rest of the penalty killing unit when called upon.
And for Zboril to even fill in on the power play is big and signals that the coaching staff trusts him to help power the offense as well as potentially defend against odd-man rushes.
It may only be just a start but it’s a positive sign when the two first-round prospects have earned their team’s trust off the bat. Some tinkering can be expected and it’s entirely possible Zboril and Frederic may alternate in and out of the lineup as more players become available. But for now, it seems these two may be sticking around, especially with a strong follow up performance on Saturday.