With Patrice Bergeron out the window, Boston Bruins Head Coach Jim Montgomery is confident he can rely on excellent two-way play from Pavel Zacha in 2023-24.
The six-time Selke winner, Bergeron, provided some of the best two-way play ever in his 19 seasons with Boston. Now that he is gone, Zacha has some big shoes to fill all over the ice. Bruins’ Captain Brad Marchand conveyed his high hopes for Zacha and Charlie Coyle‘s two-way play last week. He even compared both of them to Bergeron.
“They’re both really good two-way players; I think that’s something that maybe they’re both underrated in a bit and how defensively responsible they are. They’re good positionally, good on the back check, in the corners, winning battles. So, they both have an element of Bergy’s game where, you know, they can create a lot of offense from their defense responsibilities, and it’s something we’ll be relying upon.”
With Zacha taking on new responsibilities in 2023-24, Montgomery expressed his confidence in the former New Jersey Devil to the media following day three of the Boston Bruins training camp.
“Continuing his ascension into what we believe is an excellent, you know, two-way pivot that can add offense and then play real good defense. I mean, we have a lot of belief and confidence in him, and I think where his game’s at, you could tell today the way he practiced that he has a lot of confidence in himself as well.”
The Brno, Czechia native played his best season to date in 2022-23 with the Bruins, notching 57 points. In the 2023-24 season, the Bruins will rely heavily on Zacha to be productive, assist the leadership room, and provide Bergeron-esque two-way play. Showing signs of a significant improvement in his game over the last few years, Montgomery expressed what differences he has seen since the beginning of training camp thus far.
“I think how much he hangs on to pucks now, and I think how quickly he wins one-on-one by closes on people and wins one-on-one foot races. I think when you see a guy want the puck all the time and that’s what he, you know, clearly doing to me out there — is a confident hockey player.”