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Bean: Why did we think Pastrnak wasn't a good postseason player?

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As David Pastrnak scored one goal, assisted another and provided a critical screen on a third in the Boston Bruins' series-clinching Game 5 win over the Washington Capitals, I had a dumb thought. 

"What if David Pastrnak is good in the postseason? He’s underwhelmed in postseasons past, but are we overlooking just what a game-changer it is for the Bruins if Pastrnak is Pastrnak?"

I didn’t know when thinking this thought that it was dumb, but trust me, it was. 

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Why? Because David Pastrnak is good in the postseason. Really good, in fact. There have been nights -- stretches, even -- where he’s been minimized, but I was shocked to look at the numbers and see that Pastrnak is more than a point-a-game player in the postseason (59 points in 57 games). 

That’s better than Brad Marchand (98 points in 126 career playoff games), Patrice Bergeron (115 points in 154 career playoff games) and even David Krejci (117 points in 150 career playoff games). On paper, Pastrnak is the most reputable offensive playoff performer on the Bruins. 

So why does it feel like he isn’t? If memory serves, he was quiet against the St. Louis Blues in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final (he was held without a point in four of those seven games) and ran hot and cold before that (points in two of his previous five games). 

What gives? 

He’s streaky. Very, very streaky. Off the top of your head, you can probably remember that Game 1 win in the second round against the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018, when the Bergeron line tortured Brayden Point and Co. Pastrnak had four assists. There was also his six-point performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round that year. 

 

Those numbers obviously help make up for whatever goose eggs he’s had. Here’s the breakdown of Pastrnak’s 57 playoff games.

Games with one point 17
Multi-point games 17
Games with no points 23

One way of looking at that is that the most common result is Pastrnak not getting on the score sheet, but that’s not really true. It’s been far more common that he has a point (34 games) than not.

Here, perhaps, is why it might feel like Pastrnak isn’t dominant in the playoffs: He’s kept up his streakiness in recent years, but you don’t get the huge four or six-point games (which makes sense because those don’t happen in the playoffs).

Extra Pasta

Percent of Pastrnak's postseason games with at least one point
59.6%

In his last three postseasons (39 games, including those stupid seeding games last year), Pastrnak has had just one three-point game, so the Pastrnak mania we experience in the regular season obviously isn’t as common. 

Also, Pastrnak has performed worse -- still good, but worse -- in the last three postseasons. He’s had 35 points in 39 games with the following breakdown:

Games with one point 10
Multi-point games 12
Games with no points 17

Not bad, but not as good as his career numbers. Maybe some of that was his hand injury in 2019 or whatever made him miss three games of the first round last year. 

This postseason, Pastrnak is off to a strong start. Six points in five games is more in line with his career stats, but it’s not like Pastrnak is some postseason dog. The only thing left to be desired is consistency and, of course, lifting the Cup.