BRIGHTON – In each of David Pastrnak’s first four seasons with the Bruins, he’s legitimately taken a big step forward with each passing year from starting off as the youngest player in the NHL as an 18-year-old Czech kid fresh out of the Swedish League. It was that again that case in his fourth year with the Black and Gold as Pastrnak led the team in goals (35 goals, for the record) for the first time during the regular season, and then went absolutely nuclear in the playoffs with six goals and 20 points in 12 games for the Bruins.
Certainly, Pastrnak’s three-goal, six-point effort in Game 2 against the Maple Leafs is something that’s going to be remembered in Boston for a long, long time as another chapter in a 21-year-old crossing into the threshold of NHL superstardom.
“We’ve had some good memories in our time together since the season has ended, and remembering special moments throughout the year. If you look at the playoffs, I think Pasta’s six-point night against Toronto in the playoffs is something that’s a special moment that you don’t get to see or be a part of very often,” said David Backes. “I think we’ll look back on this year and say that [game for Pastrnak] was a very special moment.”
Amazingly enough, the top five current scoring leaders in the playoffs are all from eliminated teams in Pittsburgh and Boston, and Pastrnak is one of those five players just behind Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby for the league lead. Clearly, the 21-year-old would have loved to keep going in the Stanley Cup playoffs rather than preparing to head over to Denmark to join Team Czech Republic in the IIHF World Championships, but it was also a pretty darn good season for a player just coming into his own as an NHL superstar.
With the offseason officially started, Pastrnak planned to take some time, decompress and get some separation from this season before thinking about next year, and another full year as one-third of the league’s best forward line along with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Perhaps even bigger and better things lie ahead for Pastrnak, and for his two veteran linemates where he’s become the third piece they were looking for the last couple of seasons.
“They are great players, and we’ve played together for a long time. So, obviously, the chemistry only gets better when you play with somebody for a while, right?” said Pastrnak. “Especially with those two guys, they’re trying to get better every day and they just drag me with them. So, it’s been a pleasure for me to play with them, and I’m excited for next year.
“[The taste of the playoffs] is definitely something that’s going to keep me going. I want to bring it home [to Boston]. It’s all mental, you know? The points come when you’re playing well and you’re not thinking about it. I just go out there and do my best. I’m a good offensive player, so I know that the points will come if I take care of the other stuff like the D-zone, and taking care of the puck.”
So what does Pastrnak plan for an encore next season as he continues that ascension toward NHL stardom at such a young age?
“I need to sit down and think about it a little bit and talk to my coach [in Czech Republic]. He probably has plans for me about what to get better at. I’ve been with him for a few years so he knows me and I know him, and he knows my weaknesses,” said Pastrnak. “We have a meeting, he lets me know and I just do it.
“Hopefully [Pastrnak’s line with Marchand and Bergeron] keeps getting better and better, you know? We'll work on some new plays in the summer, and have a new playbook [next season].”
There’s some true nightmare fuel for the NHL. Pastrnak is going to be even bigger, faster and stronger next season as he continues to enter his prime as an NHL player, and the NHL’s best trio of forwards could be even better next season as a result of that. Much of that is about the greatness of Bergeron and Marchand obviously, but a rapidly growing part of is a burgeoning superstar in Pastrnak that took a massive step forward this season.