Bruins

Pastrnak showing something 'special' late in the season

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Pastrnak showing something 'special' late in the season

RALEIGH, North Carolina --  Every once in a while David Pastrnak does something outrageous to remind just how special he is as a hockey player, and the 21-year-old did that once again in the third period of Tuesday night’s epic comeback in Carolina. Pastrnak scored a hat trick in the final 10 minutes of the game and led a five-goal onslaught that brought the B’s all the way back from a three-goal deficit, and instead gave them a 6-4 win over the Hurricanes at PNC Arena. 

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Mix the three goals with a slick, no-look pass from Pastrnak to Brad Marchand for Boston’s first goal in the first period, and it was an electric night for No. 88 when it looked like it was going to be all kinds of forgettable after the second period. Some nights it’s the dazzling speed or the clever playmaking, but on this night it was hammering pucks past Cam Ward with the kind of shot and release reserved for natural goal-scorers. 

“Unbelievable. That kid. When he turns it on he is special,” said Brad Marchand of Pastrnak, who clearly turned it on scoring his 25th, 26th and 27th goals of the season during Boston’s late game outburst. “He just kind of took over in the third, but it was a phenomenal play on that first [goal].”

Redemption might have actually been the best motivator for Pastrnak as it was his power play misplay at the offensive blue line that turned a puck over, and gave a free shorthanded chance for Carolina that Brock McGinn put in 51 seconds into the third period. It’s certainly the mark of a maturing young player when they’re immediately looking to atone for their mistakes, and it’s the mark of a great player that they can do it with that kind of a three-goal exclamation point.

“That’s the sign of maturity and that he cares,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He probably figures that he let the team down, and now he’s got to go do something to pick them up again. He certainly did that. Good for him and we needed it. Let’s face it. Your top guys need to be your top guys, especially when you’re down a few. They came through again.” 

It still took another nine minutes for Pastrnak and the Bruins to get going, but then it was the right winger blasting slappers from both face-off circles before finishing things off with an empty net goal for his first career hat trick. 

“It was a weird game. There wasn’t much energy in the game, and we didn’t play well…or up to our standards. Then the [Matt Grzelcyk] goal happens and it’s 4-2, so that definitely got us going. We don’t quit. That definitely showed [in the game],” said Pastrnak, who led the Bruins with six shots on net in his nearly 18 minutes of ice time. “It was awesome for us. We had 2-on-1s on two shifts in a row after we got it to 4-4. I don’t get it. The whole night we don’t have the legs and look kind of tired. No energy. 

“Then we get a couple of goals and everybody is flying. Everything clicks for us. I guess we all wish we know how to turn the click. I think a big part is that we’re a good team, and we have a lot of good players.”

And Pastrnak is one of those best players in the middle of a late season hot streak with four goals and 10 points in his last five games along with a plus-4 rating and 21 shots on net. That's a bit of a change from last season when he was targeted with physical play, and wasn't quite as explosive late in the year as he was early on. 

That has not been the case this month. 

It’s been something watching Pastrnak and Marchand continue to do their thing at this point while missing their center, and even every once in a while erupt for something truly special as they did in a previously sleepy Tuesday night game in Carolina.

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Morning Skate: Try to keep up with Chara's offseason workout

Morning Skate: Try to keep up with Chara's offseason workout

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while watching Captain America’s entrance to Avengers: Infinity War on a 24/7 loop. It’s just that good.

*Cool Instagram video from Zdeno Chara that shows a peek behind the curtain of his offseason workout with crazy strength, balance and conditioning drills for a 6-foot-9 man on the wrong side of 40. It’s no wonder he’s a physical marvel still at his advanced age, and that the end of his Hall of Fame career doesn’t look like it’s coming anytime soon. Chara may be older, he may no longer be a viable Norris Trophy candidate and his body may be starting to break down just a little bit more given his age, but the man is a true freak of nature with his strength, size and conditioning. There are no two ways about that.

*Ryan Ellis has signed a long-term extension with the Nashville Predators for a cap friendly number as the Preds continue to build and sustain a long-term winner.

*Interesting piece on Buffalo Sabres head coach Phil Housley’s wife, Karin, running for a Senate seat in Minnesota.

*Pro Hockey Talk says that Ilya Kovalchuk is under pressure as he begins a big three-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings.

*Boy, it sure sounds like the Arizona Coyotes are in a heap of financial trouble as their fiscal losses continue to mount.

*For something completely different: Pretty interesting interview with Michelle MacLaren, the director from this week’s "Better Call Saul" that gives some good insight into the characters on the show, and the exciting direction its headed toward Breaking Bad-ville.

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Could Sekera injury spark renewed Oilers' interest in Torey Krug?

Could Sekera injury spark renewed Oilers' interest in Torey Krug?

The Bruins raised some eyebrows on July 1 when they signed defenseman John Moore to a long-term contract and thereby locked themselves in with eight NHL-caliber defensemen headed into training camp next month.

It sparked plenty of informed speculation that one of the D-men would eventually be moved, with Torey Krug the most likely candidate given his contract, value on the trade market and what the Black and Gold could get in return.

Either way, Don Sweeney said after the signing that having a healthy supply of D-men was a good situation for the Bruins just in case needs arose with other teams around the league. Well, the need around the league is getting greater with the news that Edmonton Oilers D-man Andrej Sekera is out long-term following surgery to repair his Achilles tendon. 

Sekera, 32, a left-shot defenseman who was limited to only 36 games last season, had been a top-4 mainstay for the Oil the previous two seasons. Sekera was being counted on to again be that kind of quality D-man again, but that looks very much in question right now.

That leaves the Oilers badly in need of a left-shot, top-four D-man with some offensive upside and leaves open the kind of job description that Krug could very neatly fill in Edmonton. This is after some very clear interest from Edmonton in the talented, productive Krug last season. It would bring about a reunion of the offensive D-man with the general manager who originally signed him with the Bruins as an undrafted defenseman out of Michigan State.

As has often been stated, the Bruins don’t want to trade Krug, 27, after he produced 110 points the past two seasons with only Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Victor Hedman and John Klingberg scoring more from the back end in that span. Still, they badly need a top-six sniper to even off their forward lines and bring some scoring depth to a team that was far too one-dimensional in the postseason against the Maple Leafs and the Lightning.

Could a strong trade package featuring Krug be enough to pry Ryan Nugent-Hopkins away from the Oilers after he showed some great things on the wing last season? Could he also be a top-six center candidate with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci entering NHL middle age? Could Edmonton’s desperation to turn things around be enough to really push Peter Chiarelli into desperation mode looking for a left-handed defenseman in light of Sekera’s injury?

These are good questions to ask as the Bruins ready for camp with an abundance of talented, proven NHL defensemen. They'd be dealing from a position of strength as teams, such as Edmonton, suddenly become buyers out of circumstance and desperation. Don’t be shocked if we haven’t heard the last of Krug-to-Edmonton trade rumors because the dominoes are beginning to fall and it continues to look as if it's a very real possibility.     

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