David Krejci hasn’t exactly had a long track record with Jack Studnicka.
Sure, the veteran pivot has taken part in many rushes alongside the 21-year-old forward since Boston returned to the ice over two weeks ago. But drills and scrimmages held within the friendly confines of Warrior Ice Arena are a far cry from the true determinant of on-ice chemistry — one forged shift after shift in the heat of competition against an opposing club.
When viewed through that lens, Studnicka stood as almost a complete unknown next to Krejci — a surprising development, given that Krejci logged at least 10 minutes of 5v5 ice time with 14 different line combinations throughout the 2019-20 season.
Granted, Studnicka was only up for a cup of coffee in the NHL ranks this past year. In just two games played, the B’s top prospect was primarily relegated to a bottom-six role — ultimately only logging 10 seconds of ice time next to Krejci.
Yep, 10 total seconds together during the regular season.
And yet, whether it be due to Studnicka’s own merit following a strong camp, or the absence of other top-six options such as Ondrej Kase, the 175-pound youngster entered Phase 4 as the leader in the clubhouse when it came to serving as Krejci’s wingman for Boston’s latest playoff push.
Even with the lack of valuable reps in game situations, Krejci — often subjected to a carousel of wingers to his right year after year — was quick to sign off on the latest candidate following Phase 3 camp.
“Obviously I like what I see,” Krejci said of Studnicka. “Seeing his improvement from last training camp to this one — he’s quick, he’s fast. He's got good hands. He thinks the game really well. We had some good reps and practices the last couple days. So it's been good. But the biggest test is the game."
Fair to say, Studnicka passed his first exam with flying colors.