David Pastrnak walks line between dazzling offense and poor defense


David Pastrnak walks line between dazzling offense and poor defense

BOSTON – The good news is that David Pastrnak pulled off another highlight-reel goal in Sunday’s loss to the Edmonton Oilers when he toe-dragged and snapped in his 12th score of the season before knocking down all the Oil defenders in front of the net like bowling pins. The 21-year-old winger is on pace for 45 goals and 75 points on the season, and has made a mini-four game goal-scoring slump a distant thing of the past.  

This is all good for an undermanned Bruins team that badly needs Pastrnak’s offensive skills and game-breaking ability with so many other playmakers out of the lineup.


But Pastrnak was also a minus-2 in the Sunday night loss to the Oilers, had some really careless turnovers as the game wore on, and is tied for second-worst plus/minus on the Bruins with a minus-6 rating on the season.

It raises an interesting dilemma for a talented youngster that the Bruins invested $40 million into with a huge long term contract just a few months ago.

During his recent five-game stretch without a goal, Pastrnak was a plus-1 player with 10 shots on net and didn’t have as many glaring turnovers that led to offense for opponents. By his own admission, Pastrnak was playing it a little more conservatively and taking playing a solid 200-foot game into more account with the Bruins looking to tighten things up across the board.

Then he loosened things up and got a little riskier with the puck in the last few games, and -- lo and behold -- he’s got goals in two straight games while on pace for a career-high offensive output if he can remain healthy in this season of injury. It’s something Pastrnak admitted that he’s currently battling with and trying to find that balance between productive, mandatory offense and good-enough defense to allow Boston to play winning hockey.

“It was slow for a couple of games. I don’t know. Every year you’re going to go through those stretches where need to learn to stay focused on your game. When you’re on top of your game then you are getting goals,” said Pastrnak, who then referenced a stretch in late October when his defense and puck management became a topic of conversation. “The thing is when stuff was going bad with me defensively, all of my focus was on playing defense instead of offense. I don’t know if I need to get these things done together. I know that my strength is [in the offensive end] and I need to do my job in the D-zone. I should be able to do my offensive stuff every game.”

Clearly there are areas where Pastrnak needs to pick his spots, and perhaps curb some of the risky and overly fancy plays in the latter part of tight games where the Bruins are protecting a lead. It’s called situational awareness, and it’s something that will come with experience for a conscientious player in Pastrnak who wants to eventually play in all situations, and is getting entrusted more and more at the end of games. That’s something the Black and Gold did very well as a team during their recently, dearly departed four game winning streak.

But at the same time, a 45-goal pace is a 45-goal pace for Pastrnak. Nobody should do all that much to throw off an electric offensive talent that’s got the goods to carry the Bruins offense during a hot streak, and continue growing into the bright future of the Bruins franchise along with young D-man Charlie McAvoy.  


Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

USA TODAY Sports Photos

Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

GOLD STAR: Jaden Schwartz stepped up and won the game for the Blues with a couple of really good plays in the third period and overtime. He took advantage of a line change and a lax Bruins defense to snap a shot past Anton Khudobin from the face-off circle in the third period that tied up the game, and then went on a one-man rush in overtime before blasting a puck past Khudobin for the game-winner on a beautiful individual play. Schwartz finished with the two goals that represented all of the St. Louis offense, four shots on net, a hit and a takeaway in 20:02 of ice time while logging a plus-2 rating as well. The Blues clearly needed somebody to step up to the plate with Vladimir Tarasenko and the Schwartz was with St. Louis on Wednesday night.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins were quite literally black and blue after a physical, punishing game with the St. Louis Blues. A number of players took heavy hits against a St. Louis team that felt free to throw hits and take runs with Zdeno Chara and David Backes out of Boston’s lineup among other players, and that culminated with Brayden Schenn drilling David Krejci in the second period. It was a hit that earned Schenn a two minute penalty for charging midway through the period, but shouldn’t result in anything more for the Blues forward. The hit wasn’t late, his skates were on the ice when he made contact, and Krejci was crouched down when Schenn made impact on a heavy check with his elbows tucked in, so it looked like a relatively clean hit that isn’t going to be on the radar of the NHL’s Player Safety Department. That physicality for the Blues really seemed to slow down the Bruins a little bit as things went on over the 60 plus minutes of the overtime game.


TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually only got outshot by a 15-13 margin in the second period, third period and overtime, but it was clear that they slowed down in terms of attacking and creating chances as things moved on in the game. By the latter half of the game the Bruins were simply trying to hang on to their one-goal lead, and then after that simply trying to hang in there for the point earned by getting to overtime. They managed to do it, but it was a different wave of momentum in the game once the Blues tied things up in the third period on Schwartz’s first goal. After that the Bruins were scrambling and hanging on, and did just enough to hang in there for a single overtime point for the second game in a row.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Donato made it two goals in two games when he stepped into a loose puck created by an Alex Pietrangelo turnover that bounced off referee Brad Watson after he attempted to throw a puck up the middle of the ice. Donato pounced on the fortuitous bounce and rocked a puck on edge past Jake Allen for the game’s first goal and another affirmation that the 21-year-old can both shoot and score. Donato was pretty quiet after that goal, of course, with a couple of shots on net, but it seemed like a big, heavy hit on him by Dmitri Jaskin in the second period kind of quieted the youngster down a little bit. Still, you’ve got to love the production from a player just getting his feet wet at the NHL level.

BY THE NUMBERS: 100 – The number of points for the Bruins after falling in overtime by a 2-1 score to the Blues, and in getting to the century mark the B’s clinched a playoff spot for the second season in a row.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s step one. Going into the season we wanted to make the playoffs and be a Stanley Cup contender. Right now we got in and we’re going to be a contender, right? Now it’s about being in the best position possible going forward.” –Bruce Cassidy, to reporters in St. Louis about clinching the playoff spot on Wednesday night.


Bruins celebrate playoff berth with hilarious video about fans

File photo

Bruins celebrate playoff berth with hilarious video about fans

With a playoff berth in-hand, the Boston Bruins celebrated on Instagram with a playful video about their fans.

The short video put their fans into categories: the hugger, the faithful, the screamer, the loose cannon, the comfortable commentator and the emotional trainwreck.

No matter how the devotees enjoy Bruins games, they can all unit over their hockey team. Here's the vide for your enjoyment.

It's playoff time. Diehards unite. #InOurBlood

A post shared by Boston Bruins (@nhlbruins) on