Rather than tempt fate, it’s much wiser to reach for the tape, maybe ask the trainer to freeze that nasty thing or something, and just keep driving, being careful not to look back for fear of a kid from AHL Providence storming in. take the place of the open list.
“It used to be hard for me to make the NHL,” said Nosek, who was signed nearly 10 years ago by the Red Wings as an undrafted free agent. “So when I took my place, I told myself that I will do everything to keep my place, to keep fighting for my place. If it means playing with a minor injury, I’ll do it anytime. That’s what it takes for guys like me on the third or fourth line.”
Nosek had his fifth assist of the season on Saturday night as AJ Greer scored to make it 3-2 and the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 4-3.
Nosek didn’t begin to develop as an NHL regular until three seasons with the Red Wings, spending 90 percent of that time with the AHL’s Grand Rapids. His break came at age 24 in the summer of 2017 when the Golden Knights pirated him in the expansion draft.
During his four seasons in Vegas, playing for Gerard Gallant and then Peter DeBoer, Nosek lined up at center and left wing, building and maintaining a reputation as a reliable, smart face, checker and penalty killer.
It was that resume that caught the eye of Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, who made Nosek his high-budget rental (two years/$1.75 million) amid the club’s massive spending spree in the summer of 2021, which included such high rents. as Taylor Hall, Linus Ullmark and Nick Foligno, the latter of whom regularly mans Nosek’s fourth-line left winger these days.
The fit couldn’t have worked out better for both Nosek and the Bruins. His added value to the T in addition to fourth-line grinding duties has been on special teams, with coach Jim Montgomery regularly pairing him with Charlie Coyle on the first or second penalty-killing unit, warping Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Entering the matchup with the Leafs, the Bruins led the league with an 88.2 percent PK efficiency. They were 18-for-18 on kills in the previous seven games.
“I didn’t know how smart he was, with or without the puck,” said Montgomery, who wasn’t entirely familiar with Nosek’s game after arriving in his first season off the bench in Boston. “His offensive hockey sense and defensive hockey sense are very good and he supports his teammates really well.”
Much to his chagrin, Nosek has been forced to concede the responsibilities in front of him for most of January, with Foligno often stepping in to even force his draws. That critical role, especially on the PK, has been an important part of Nosek’s contribution.
Prior to Saturday’s opener, Nosek had won 58.3 percent of his overall faceoffs (second only to Bergeron’s astounding 61.9) and had won 56.1 percent of the 66 faceoffs he had taken on the PK. time Even the all-world Bergeron can only claim a 53.2 percent efficiency on PK puck drops.
Nosek is from Pardubice, Czech Republic, a town of about 90,000 along the Elbe River, approximately 75 miles east of Prague. It’s a place best known for its biggest name in hockey, Hall of Fame goalie Dominik Hasek, the explosives industry (the corporate headquarters of Explosia), and of all things, gingerbread. Pardubice has been in the gingerbread business for centuries.
“That’s right!” said an animated Nosek as a local scribe blandly brought up his city’s proud gastronomic heritage. “In all my time in North America, this is the first time anyone has ever mentioned ginger. Nice!
Nosek’s wife and two children are now back in Pardubice, making a special trip home to celebrate his wife’s grandmother’s 70th birthday. Until they return later this month, he’s living the life of an NHL bachelor, which often means dining on Chinese food and pizza.
Ah, thought Nosek, I’m trying to make healthier choices.
No one could be better than his choice to sign with the Bruins in the summer of 2021. He loves the city, the team, the role and above all, the opportunity.
“An Original Six team that has a chance to win every year,” he said of what attracted him to the Bruins. “And this feels like a really special team. I’m not in the NHL to chase scoring records. I’m here to win the Stanley Cup.”
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at [email protected]