The two-assist night brought Zacha up to 19 points (three goals and 16 assists) through his first 28 games with the Bruins after seven seasons with the Devils. His 16 helpers are tied with Hampus Lindholm for the second-most on the Bruins (David Pastrnak leads the team, with 20). Zacha’s first 15 even-strength points, meanwhile, rank third among all Boston skaters, trailing only Taylor Hall (18) and Pastrnak (21).
And forget just Boston, the 25-year-old Zacha has actually emerged as one of the top even-strength producers in all of hockey out of the gate this year.
Among the group of 250 NHL forwards with at least 300 minutes of even-strength ice time this year, Zacha ranks 56th in points-per-60, at 2.50. That’s more than players such as the Rangers’ Artemi Panarin, Toronto’s John Tavares, and the Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov among countless others. Zacha is also one of just 56 players among that group averaging at least one primary assist per 60, and his 2.17 total assists per 60 is the seventh-best figure among that group of 250.
“It’s been good, I think,” Zacha said of his passing game. “The guys are coming in [with] speed [and] getting open .. When they’re there [and] they’re open, I’m trying to find them. And so far they’ve been there every time, so it’s been good.”
Not bad for a guy who’s bounced around the middle six and played both center and wing. Not that Zacha is going to complain about that aspect of his role either. Zacha has repeatedly made it known that it doesn’t necessarily matter where he plays because he knows his role on this team. (That’s something you’ll hear from everybody within that locker room this season, I believe.)
But for Zacha, it actually feels like that’s the case.
“Whatever position you play, the trust from the coaches that they can put me on a center on a wing helps my game, [as does] getting more and more ice time and I’m just happy to play there,” Zacha said. “I feel like it’s whatever they need me. I think every line that I play on [has] great players. They could play first or second line on other teams.”
But Zacha’s as much a part of that as the others he’s citing for his success.
Through the first third of the 2022-23 season, the Czech-born forward’s longest point drought is three games (twice), and the Bruins are 15-0-0 when he records at least one point. And barring something absolutely unforeseen, he’ll completely shatter his previous career-high of 36 points, which was set in his final season in New Jersey.
“I’m getting the opportunity to show, finally so it’s been fun to play,” said Zacha.
Not bad for the return piece in a one-for-one, pump-and-dump trade featuring Erik Haula.
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 4-3 shootout win over the Islanders…