Patrice Bergeron excited for Pavel Zacha’s opportunity in Brad Marchand’s absence

Bergeron excited for Zacha’s opportunity in Marchand’s absence originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Bruins will enter the 2022-23 NHL season with the difficult task of replacing Brad Marchand’s offensive production for at least a month.

Marchand is not expected to return until late November or early December as he continues to rehab from offseason surgery on both hips.

It’s hard to overstate Marchand’s importance to the Bruins. He has led the Bruins in scoring for the last two seasons and five of the last six. His defensive abilities are fantastic, too, making him the best all-around left wing in the sport.

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Marchand’s absence will certainly be an adjustment for the Bruins early in the upcoming campaign, especially for No. 1 center Patrice Bergeron.

“It is going to be an adjustment. The two of us — it’s second nature at this point,” Bergeron told reporters after captain’s practice Monday. “You just read and react from one another. I think we know where each other is going to be on the ice at pretty much all times. It does make things easier.

“That being said, you’re playing with some great players with a lot of talent and great vision and hockey sense. It’s for me to adjust, but also for us, whoever I’m playing with, to talk and communicate and find ways to make that transition as seamless as possible.”

One of those new linemates will likely be Pavel Zacha, who could slot into the first-line left wing spot next to Bergeron and right winger Jake DeBrusk to begin the regular season.

Bergeron likes what he’s seen from Zacha so far.

“He’s a great player, a very smart player. I think (that’s) something I knew even before he came in,” Bergeron said. “He plays the game the right way and is always well-positioned.

“He’s got a great shot. Even from talking with him, I think he wants to become a bit of a shoot-first mentality a little more than what he’s had in the past. I think he’s a great player and I’m excited to get to know him on and off the ice. Young guy who has a lot of potential and can become a great player in this league.”

Zacha is entering his first season with the Bruins after being acquired via trade from the New Jersey Devils in July. Marchand’s absence is a great opportunity for Zacha to establish himself as a key part of the Bruins’ offense — a group that was inconsistent last season and finished 15th in goals scored.

Playing alongside the league’s top two-way player in Bergeron should help make Zacha’s on-ice transition to the B’s a smooth one.

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