It sounds like David Pastrnak is going to earn a lot more attention from the Tampa Bay Lightning moving forward.
Certainly, that’s something that should have already been happening given that Pasta led the NHL with 48 goals during the truncated NHL regular season, but the electric right winger’s power play goal and two-point night with 10 shot attempts in Boston’s 3-2 win over the Bolts in Game 1 was a dominant showing from Boston’s top line and top goal-scoring threat.
It was interesting that the Tampa defense didn’t crowd — or rough up — the 24-year-old winger, given he was just a couple of games removed from an injury that caused him to miss three playoff games in the first-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes. But it sounds like that won’t be a mistake repeated by the Lightning after Pastrnak freed himself up for a one-timer on the power play and cruised around making plays at the net with a great deal of ease.
“The one thing about Pasta is that his release is so fast… you look at the power play goal he scored last night. Now, (David) Krejci makes a hell of a pass to him, but that’s on and off the stick,” said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, with more than a hint of admiration. “A lot of the guys can’t do that. It looks like they can, but they can’t, especially putting [the puck] where they want to. So you have to be in position on him and you can’t fall asleep. Because that’s when those guys get you, especially that line.
On the power play and then that third goal [in Game 1] last night, if you give them an inch, then they take a mile. That’s what guys like Pastrnak can do. We’ve got to be a little harder on him and a little bit more positionally sound. You try to and keep those guys to the perimeter as much as possible.
One of the more successful gambits when it comes to stopping Pastrnak over the last few years has been rough physical treatment from teams with enough toughness to play that way. It certainly worked for the Blues against Pastrnak in the Stanley Cup Final last season, but that was also when he was compromised by a thumb injury that dogged him throughout the postseason.
The Lightning were also lauded for beefing up in the toughness department by adding Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, at a premium cost, at the trade deadline, so it will be interesting if they are deployed against the Perfection Line moving forward.
Tampa’s ability — or inability — to frustrate Pastrnak and deny him to his scoring areas is going to be one of the battleground areas for this series, and the Lightning were making that abundantly clear after Boston had its way with them in Game 1.