Pastrnak happily eyes his first playoff appearance

Pastrnak happily eyes his first playoff appearance

BOSTON -- David Pastrnak certainly paid the price for his first Stanley Cup playoff experience. 

The 20-year-old was sporting a giant, multi-colored and stitched up gash around his left eye from a Victor Hedman high stick during Boston's 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. But he also had a giant, crooked smile on his face after scoring a pair of goals in the victory. 

"Obviously it's a new feeling for me, you know, so I'm really enjoying it," said Pastrnak, who led the Bruins with a plus-3 rating in the win and finished with seven shot attempts to go along with his 33rd and 34th goals, and 70th point, of the season. "It's a lot of fun, and it's exciting.

"You know, now we've got ourselves in a spot we can actually fight for home ice and a good spot in playoffs. We can play a little bit more relaxed and know that we've made it, so it's a lot of fun. It's still hockey. We'll try [to win], obviously and it's going to be a little tougher, you know. [But we're] going to be ready for it. It's my third year and it finally came, but it's the first of more to come."

Everybody should be excited at the prospect of what an electric offensive player like Pastrnak could do to elevate his game going into the postseason, and a top-notch, tough performance in a high pressure game like Tuesday night's was a good coming attraction. It was also a nice bounce-back from a subpar Pastrnak outing over the weekend in Chicago, where he was dropped from David Krejci's line and the 12:25 of ice time vs. the Blackhawks was his lowest total for the entire season. 

So it was clear interim coach Bruce Cassidy was looking for a response from Pastrnak after the rare soft, turnover-prone performance from his dazzling young forward, and let's just say he got the hard-nosed, intelligent answer he was seeking out from his Czech winger in the Tampa win. 

"I thought he was terrific," said Cassidy. "We sat down a little bit this morning, talked about his game. In Chicago, I thought he had his moments, and I thought he could've been heavier on the puck in certain situations to give us a better chance to defend when we did give it up. David is going to be a creative player. We want that in him. He's dynamic, he can be a game-changer, and we want all those things. We want him to want the puck, and those situations play to his strengths. 

"But he also has to realize those times in a game when it gets closed down against good players that check him well that, you know, you've got to put the puck in a good place if you've got to give it up. That was the only message [to be sent]. Listen, he's a gamer. He comes to play every night. He's a terrific kid, he's got great character, and he wants to make a difference. So we're just trying to temper some of those situations where, you know, there's just too much risk."

So message received and delivered from Cassidy to another key player for the Bruins, and once again it elicited a big-time performance in a game the B's absolutely needed to get to punch Pastrnak's playoff ticket for the very first time.

Bruins capture Game 4 with 3-1 victory over the Leafs

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Bruins capture Game 4 with 3-1 victory over the Leafs

TORONTO – It certainly didn’t look good for the Bruins in a pivotal Game 4 when it was announced during warm-ups that Patrice Bergeron would miss the game with an upper body injury.

But the Bruins managed to grind through some of the more difficult points of the game while keeping it a low-scoring affair, and then gashed the Leafs defense in the final 25 minutes of the game for a 3-1 win at Air Canada Centre.

The Bruins scored on the very first shift of the game with Torey Krug launching a long bomb shot from beyond the right face-off circle that managed to sneak by Frederik Andersen. That was the first in another long line of soft goals that have been surrendered by the Leafs netminder during the playoff series. Toronto took control for the rest of the first period while out-shooting the Bruins by a 12-7 margin and tied things up about seven minutes later on another effective shift from the newly configured Leafs second line.

Mitch Marner stripped a puck from Riley Nash by the side boards, and threw a cross-ice feed from his knees to Tomas Plekanec for the one-timer from the inside of the right circle. The score stayed that way for a long time thanks to some outstanding goaltending from Tuukka Rask, who stopped Leafs breakaway chances in both the first and second period while stopping 21 of the 22 shots that he faced.

It didn’t look particularly good for the Bruins when an icing was called toward the end of the second period at the end of a long shift for Boston’s top line, but they somehow turned it into offense. Nash won the D-zone draw to Adam McQuaid, who threw the puck up the boards to David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand breaking out for a 2-on-1 chance.

Pastrnak threw a slick, no-look pass to Marchand after drawing the defense to him, and Marchand buried his second goal of the playoffs for the go-ahead strike. The Bruins were at it again in the third period with David Krejci feeding Jake DeBrusk in another 2-on-1 for his second goal of the postseason as well.

At that point, the Bruins had their insurance goal and hunkered down to take the win and head back to Boston up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series with the hopes that Bergeron will return healthy for Game 5 on Saturday night.



Bruins announce that Patrice Bergeron will not play in Game 4

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Bruins announce that Patrice Bergeron will not play in Game 4

TORONTO – The Bruins will need to take a pivotal Game 4 without their best player as Patrice Bergeron is out for Thursday night’s playoff game at the Air Canada Centre with an upper body injury. Bergeron will be day-to-day moving forward, but that’s not going to help the B’s as they lose one piece of a forward line that’s dominated the Maple Leafs through the first three games of the series.

It’s really not a great sign when the Bruins had two days off in Toronto between Game 3 and Game 4, and Bergeron still wasn’t able to give it a go on Thursday night. Instead it will be Riley Nash centering the top line between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, and Tommy Wingels entering back into the lineup with No. 37 out of the lineup. There was a faint sign that something might be up with Bergeron when Riley Nash took some turns in his place at practice on Wednesday afternoon at Air Canada Centre, but no signal whatsoever that something was serious enough to keep him out of the lineup.

It goes without saying that the Bruins might be in big trouble if this Bergeron injury proves to be something that could cause him to miss multiple games in a best-of-seven series where the B’s currently hold a 2-1 lead. Bergeron had five assists and was a plus-4 rating in the first three games of the series with his line amassing 20 points in the first two games of the series.   

Here are the Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 based on pregame warm-ups at the Air Canada Centre: