Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 3-2 OT win over the Rangers

Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 3-2 OT win over the Rangers

GOLD STAR: David Pastrnak just continues to dazzle and impress with his performances night in and night out. This time around, it was Pastrnak scoring the tying goal in the third period for his 24th of the season. Then, No. 88 again dangled through Rangers defenders in overtime before setting up a wide-open David Krejci in the slot for the OT winner. Pastrnak and the Bruins clearly weren’t at their best for most of the game, but they made plays when it mattered in the third period and OT. Pastrnak also finished with 10 shot attempts, two hits, two takeaways and a plus-2 in 21:42 of ice time. Still, it was the OT offensive zone rush that will be on the highlight reels and it allowed the B’s to skate away with the two points.

BLACK EYE: For such a big, strong winger, Chris Kreider was pretty close to invisible on Friday afternoon at TD Garden. Kreider was a minus-1 and finished with just one shot on net for a Rangers attack that could have used him in the first few periods. Then Kreider got blown up with a huge hit from Charlie McAvoy in the closing minutes of the third period in a little BU-on-BC crime to add insult to injury prior to Boston winning in overtime. Certainly, Kreider is a guy who should be on Boston’s radar given his size, strength and skill level as a free-agent-to-be, but games such as Friday's shouldn’t get anybody excited about the prospect of him wearing Black and Gold at some point soon.

TURNING POINT: The Rangers had six power plays and more than 10 minutes of power-play time, but they did nothing with it. The biggest turning point for the Bruins was killing off a four-minute power play for the Blueshirts after Par Lindholm was whistled for a double-minor high-sticking call with seven minutes left in the third period. The Bruins killed it off with some help from Jaroslav Halak and the TD Garden crowd got riled up with each passing clear. Once the Bruins had successfully killed off the four-minute PP without any damage to preserve the tie at 2, it helped push things to overtime, where Pastrnak and Krejci did their thing.

HONORABLE MENTION: Halak deserves plenty of credit for keeping the Bruins in the game when they weren’t doing much of anything in the first 40 minutes. Halak made 10 stops in the first period when the Bruins basically disappeared in the second half of the period. He made another 10 stops in the second period until Sean Kuraly scored and finally got the B's going. Halak was at his best in the third, though, when he stood tall on the Rangers' four-minute power play where they couldn't get anything through the Bruins backup netminder. Halak finished with 26 saves and outdueled Henrik Lundqvist.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 – the number of players in NHL history with 12 goals in each of the first two months of the season, with Pastrnak now joining a list that includes just Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky. That is big-time company.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We had some passengers, not a trait of our team, but tonight, we did. So, we mixed it. I thought Jack [Studnicka] could give us some energy. He wants to prove he can play at this level, so you’re going to get the effort no matter what; we’ll fix the mistakes along the way. The effort was there on [the Sean Kuraly] goal.” –Bruce Cassidy, on moving forwards around in the line combos including Jack Studnicka with some "passengers" up front on Friday afternoon.

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The final piece of the NHL superstar puzzle for David Pastrnak lies just ahead

The final piece of the NHL superstar puzzle for David Pastrnak lies just ahead

David Pastrnak brought the smile and the energetic charisma during Friday night’s Skills Competition at NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis. Then on Saturday, Pastrnak brought the dazzling hockey skills to become only the fourth Bruins player in franchise history to win All-Star MVP with his four goals and six points in the 3-on-3 tourney at Enterprise Center.

It was all the more impressive as it was in a losing effort with his Atlantic Division squad falling to the Pacific Division in the final game.

The 23-year-old Pastrnak joins Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque and Bill Guerin in a very select Black and Gold group and adds another NHL milestone to a career that’s already building up with impressive accomplishments at such a precocious hockey age. Pastrnak was appropriately humble and thankful afterward while making a nod toward an accomplishment that will make for a nice trophy in his Pasta mancave someday.

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“It was a blast here,” said Pastrnak, who joked before the game about wearing the “C” on his jersey and how heavy it was going to feel for the first time. “I would expect someone from the winning team should be MVP, but if I was voted in by the fans I appreciate it. I appreciated the love. We were here this weekend for [the fans].”

Certainly, Pastrnak deserves accolades for the way he turned a wide-open 3-on-3 competition among the world’s best hockey players in his own personal skill showcase. He’s that good at making breathtaking offensive plays when he’s got the time and space to operate, create and execute what he wants to do in his beautiful hockey mind.

But as much as the All-Star MVP served as icing on the midseason cake for a player in Pastrnak that’s on a pace for 60 goals and 113 points this season, there is still a lot for the young Bruins right winger to prove moving forward. He was an All-Star last year too and on a pace for massive offensive numbers before an off-the-ice mishap after a team function led him to tear the ligaments in his thumb, and never allowed him to get back to that level when he returned ahead of the playoffs.

Pastrnak played just 15 games after the All-Star break and managed totals of nine goals and 19 points in 24 playoff games along with an even plus/minus rating, a stat line for the postseason that seemed okay all things considered. But he was a boom-or-bust player that ended up going scoreless in 12 of those 24 playoff games and finished a minus-7 in the Stanley Cup Final with just two goals and four points, and only one of those points coming during 5-on-5 play.

Pastrnak at times shied away from contact, he flailed at many of his one-timer chances that he would normally bury during the regular season and he seemed to pass up shooting opportunities that were there for him at times. The young winger admitted after the series that A) his thumb was bothering him still and B) he learned some lessons about toughing up mentally in situations where he was being challenged to elevate his game.

“It was definitely tough. I wasn’t feeling great, but that’s why this was such a good group because we were always picking each other up. It was obviously challenging for me, but I had 25 guys to help pick me up just like I would do the opposite [for them],” said Pastrnak, back in June after the Cup Final was over in comments that bear repeating given how much of a target he’s going to be for opponents moving forward this season. “It was the mental stuff, you know? In this kind of life, even if you don’t want to see stuff, read stuff and blah-blah with the media, it’s tough. You’re always going to see it. And that’s fine, you know?

“I will take a lot of positives from this. I’m just going to get stronger mentally. It was a good experience. It’s a big mental experience. I gained a lot this postseason. The mental stuff is what I learned the most. [I learned] that it doesn’t [expletive] matter if you play a bad friggen’ game. It’s the playoffs. Or if you have a bad shift. It’s the playoffs and you just need to come back to the bench and make sure you’re ready for the next shift no matter what happened behind you. It’s the tough part of hockey sometimes when you get stuck on something instead of looking forward, and focusing on the next shift. Sometimes you get stuck on thinking what happened before and that brings you down kind of.”

It's all normal stuff for a developing NHL superstar and all the great ones go through it. But it’s time for Pastrnak to make that next step and be the dazzling, game-breaking force he was at NHL All-Star weekend when he’s playing against tough, physical opponents in the postseason that are determined to stop him.

The only way the Bruins are going to beat teams like Tampa or Washington the playoffs, in this humble hockey writer’s opinion, is if they get true scoring depth or if a player like Pastrnak goes supernova offensively against teams that are deeper, bigger and stronger than the Black and Gold lineup-wise.  

Pastrnak is the ultimate X-Factor given his skill set and his utter explosiveness, and his commanding lead in the goal-scoring department over players like Auston Matthews, Alex Ovechkin and Connor McDavid shows his ability to take over games. The true superstars do it when it matters most in the playoffs, and that is the true final hurdle for Pastrnak to surpass in a career that’s already portending hockey greatness at 23 years old.

The stage is set with the Bruins in first place and just 31 games remaining in the regular season, and now it’s up to Pasta to be Pasta at the most important time of year.

Hagg Bag: At break, readers agree it's time for B's to get tough

David Pastrnak named MVP of 2020 NHL All-Star Game

David Pastrnak named MVP of 2020 NHL All-Star Game

The Atlantic Division may have come up just short in their quest to win their first NHL All-Star Game title since the league moved to a 3-on-3 tournament format for the big event. But David Pastrnak still took home one of the biggest accolades of the evening.

Pastrnak was named the All-Star Game MVP thanks to his strong performance on the ice.

Pastrnak edged out Leon Draisaitl, Matthew Tkachuk, and Anthony Duclair for the award which was voted on by NHL fans. Here's a look at the NHL's poll, courtesy of their official Twitter account.

Of course, a notable name is missing from that list: the San Jose Sharks' Tomas Hertl, who scored five total goals including the game-winner for the Pacific Division. Nonetheless, Pastrnak is going home as the MVP and become the first Bruins player to take home the award since Bill Guerin in 2001.

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Pastrnak had a hat trick in the Atlantic's first game, a win over the Metropolitan Division, and finished the night with four goals and two assists in the two games. Certainly, his performance was MVP worth even if there were a couple of other deserving candidates.

Hopefully, Pastrnak playing in the All-Star Game helps to keep him locked in moving forward. He has been one of the league's best scorers this year and is on pace to shatter his career-high in goals and points if he stays healthy.

The Bruins will need him to keep producing if they want to hold on to win the Atlantic Division.