Bruins

Haggerty's Talking Points: Torey Krug's offense shines, David Pastrnak enduring first rough patch

Haggerty's Talking Points: Torey Krug's offense shines, David Pastrnak enduring first rough patch

GOLD STAR: Jonathan Toews hasn’t had a great season as evidenced by just five goals on his ledger for the year, but he had a nice little throwback performance against the Bruins on Thursday night. Toews stripped David Pastrnak of the puck in overtime and then scored on a breakaway at the other end of the ice for the game-winner in a neat little dispatching of the B’s in the extra session.

Toews finished with three shots on net, six shot attempts, three hits, a couple of takeaways and a couple blocked shots to go along with 17-of-28 face-off wins in 19:37 of ice time for the Blackhawks. It was a vintage Toews performance for Chicago in a win for the Blackhawks and it’s something that hasn’t happened nearly enough for him this season.

BLACK EYE: David Pastrnak is going through his first tough stretch of the season. He finished with more giveaways (three) than shots on net (two) and also took a pair of minor penalties while pretty clearly getting frustrated with the rough treatment he’s getting from opponents.

It was Pastrnak that went down in overtime with the puck – either by a trip from Jonathan Toews or a flop looking for a call depending on who you are talking to – and created the game-winning goal for Toews at the other end of the ice. Pastrnak has now gone two games without a goal for just the third time all season and is now falling off his 70-goal pace for the season while seemingly getting frustrated by being targeted by the other teams.

TURNING POINT: For the Bruins it was the ends and beginnings of periods where they lost their focus and lost the game. The Bruins allowed two goals in 37 seconds in the closing minutes of the first period to dig themselves a considerable hole against the Blackhawks, and then they coughed up another goal to Chicago in the first 17 seconds of the third period to go down by a 3-0 score.

People will want to talk about the play in overtime that lost it for the Bruins, but it was their wandering focus at points in regulation that ended up saddling them with the loss when it was all said and done. The Bruins eventually lost in OT, and they really deserved to lose based on the way they played for the first 45 or so minutes of the game.

HONORABLE MENTION: Torey Krug scored the game-tying goal for the Bruins in the closing minutes of the third period and deserves the credit for stepping up offensively when the team needed a big play.

Krug finished with the goal along with a team-high seven shots on net and nine shot attempts in 21:28 of ice time. Krug also threw a hit and had a couple of takeaways while generating secondary offense for the Bruins, given that both Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have slowed down a little bit in recent days.

It’s going to be interesting to see where Krug is at offensively by the end of the season based on a pretty decent start compared to the very, very slow ones he’s had in recent seasons while coming back from injuries.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12-0-5 – the Bruins continue to have gone without a regulation loss on the home ice at TD Garden after dropping another overtime decision, this time to the Blackhawks after crawling back from a 3-0 hole in the third period.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Complacency? I would say no. Lack of urgency some nights? I would say yes. We’re not pushing as hard as we need to to get to our level. Is that because of where we are [in the Atlantic Division standings], is that because of last year, is that because we feel like we’re a good enough team that we can flip a switch? Probably bits and pieces of all those things, I’m not going to deny it. Our job is to make sure we don’t get complacent. I don’t think we have been, to be honest with you. I think it would show in our record if we were.” –Bruce Cassidy, when asked if he needs to guard against complacency setting in with the Bruins based on their huge lead in the Atlantic Division.

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Bruins' David Pastrnak enjoying MVP-caliber season on NHL's best contract

Bruins' David Pastrnak enjoying MVP-caliber season on NHL's best contract

Don Sweeney has made several shrewd moves as Boston Bruins general manager, and signing David Pastrnak to a six-year, $40 million contract extension in 2017 stands above the rest.

It's become the best contract in the NHL among players who aren't on their rookie deals.

The Bruins exit their bye week Friday with a road game against the Winnipeg Jets, where Pastrnak will try to build on his league-leading goal tally of 37. He also ranks fourth in scoring with 70 points in 51 games. Barring injury, he'll almost certainly become the Bruins' first 50-goal scorer since Cam Neely in 1993-94.

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His advanced stats are stellar, too. The Bruins control puck possession at a high rate with Pastrnak on the ice. They own a plus-123 edge in shot attempts, a plus-63 advantage in shots on goal, a plus-67 lead in scoring chances and a plus-19 tally in goals scored during 5-on-5 play when Pastrnak is on the ice.

In a world where the best young players are getting as much as $9 million, $10 million, $11 million or more per season on their second contracts, Pastrnak is making far less than his counterparts. Pastrnak's contract ranks 74th among all players in salary cap hit at $6.67 million. His cap hit ranks 13th among all right wingers, 15th among players who've scored 20 or more goals and 15th among players with 50-plus points.

Speaking to reporters in November of 2018, Pastrnak had no regrets about the contract he signed.

Here's a look at all the forwards in the top 30 in scoring (as of Wednesday morning) who are 26 years old or younger and not playing on their rookie contracts. You'll notice that only three of the 16 players have a lower cap hit than Pastrnak, including none in the top five.

 

Auston Matthews is a tremendous player for the Toronto Maple Leafs who has scored 30-plus goals in all four of his NHL seasons, but is he really worth more than 1.5 times as much as Pastrnak? No, he certainly isn't. Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl is ultra-talented, but he plays two-thirds of his 5-on-5 minutes alongside Connor McDavid (the best player in the world). Draisaitl's cap hit is almost $2 million more than Pastrnak's. Mitch Marner is a damn good player who tallied a career-high 94 points last season, but he's not $4 million better than Pastrnak.

Pastrnak did not dominate in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, but to be fair, few of Boston's best players showed up in the last four games (of which the St. Louis Blues won three times, including a Game 7 victory in Boston). The star winger also didn't appear to be 100 percent after battling a thumb injury earlier that season. His overall playoff résumé is quite impressive with 43 points (17 goals, 26 assists) in 42 postseason games.

There's no doubt Pastrnak's contract has been a huge advantage to the Bruins, but it's not even the best story when it comes to the team's salary structure. Boston's top trio of Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, also known as the "Perfection Line", is signed through 2021-22 at a combined cap hit of $19.6 million (!), which is absurdly good value and should help the team remain a top Stanley Cup contender in the short term.

(Salary information via CapFriendly)

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NHL rumors: Bruins reportedly interested in Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon

NHL rumors: Bruins reportedly interested in Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon

As the Bruins look to bolster their blue line, they are interested in trading for San Jose Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun. Dillon is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and LeBrun notes that he's "going to be dealt" by the Sharks.

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Here's what LeBrun said about a possible Dillon-to-Boston deal:

He’s a No. 4 for some teams, a No. 5 for others. I can tell you half a dozen teams so far have shown interest – including, I’m told, the Boston Bruins. Obviously a rugged defensive-defenceman in Brenden Dillon would be a nice fit there in Boston.

Dillon, 29, has one goal and 11 assists playing on the Sharks' top defensive pairing alongside Brent Burns. He carries a $3,270,000 cap hit, but will become a UFA after the season.

The Bruins have struggled to find their physical game throughout the season. Our Bruins insider Joe Haggerty notes that Dillon would add exactly what Boston needs -- "physicality and snarl" to the blue line.

San Jose, sixth in the Pacific Division with 48 points, has a plus-38 advantage in shot attempts, a plus-15 in shots on goal and a plus-16 in scoring chances in 5-on-5 play when Dillon is on the ice, according to Haggerty. At that rate, Dillon could be worth pursuing if he came at the right price for Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.

Haggerty says that if Dillon can be had for strictly draft picks, then he's worth snagging. LeBrun noted that Dillon could be had for a second-round pick and possibly a prospect, likely an ideal price range for Sweeney.

While Boston could add defense, they'll also need to address their second-line right-wing situation. Adding Dillon and a legit winger for David Krejci's line could be a tall order for Sweeney ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline.