David Pastrnak

NHL Top 10: Who are the league's best right wings right now?

NHL Top 10: Who are the league's best right wings right now?

Arguably the most explosive talent in the NHL resides at the right wing position where the top two players (David Pastrnak and Patrick Kane) are on pace to easily cross 40 goals and 100 points this season, and the third player is last year’s Hart Trophy winner.

There’s also the amazing young talent at the NHL’s right wing spot with players under 25 years old that include Pastrnak, Brock Boeser, Andrei Svechnikov, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Travis Konecny.

In other words, this is a stacked list that doesn’t even include Patrick Laine. These are the top-10 right wings in the NHL right now.

Click here for Joe Haggerty's full right wing rankings

David Pastrnak's swagger is back, and Bruins are reaping the benefits

David Pastrnak's swagger is back, and Bruins are reaping the benefits

BOSTON — Watch out, NHL.

It’s official: David Pastrnak has reached supernova status once again. The Bruins superstar winger extended his lead in the goal-scoring department by tallying a hat trick and pacing the Bruins to a 5-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night at TD Garden, giving him 35 goals in 45 games this season.

It was actually the “David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk Show” as the B’s left winger had the other two goals that accounted for all five Boston scores on the evening, but it felt like No. 88 was willing his team to victory in true superstar fashion at a time when Boston needs some wins.

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The 23-year-old Pastrnak is truly collecting some elite, mind-popping numbers, whether it’s the NHL-leading seven hat tricks he’s amassed over the last two seasons, the streak of 12 straight games with a point that ties him with the legendary Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito as the only B’s with multiple 12-game point streaks in the same season, or the six goals scored in four games while tearing it up in January.

After scoring 12 goals in each of October and November before “slumping” to five goals in 15 games during the month of December, Pastrnak has already scored six goals less than two weeks into the month of January.

Perhaps the most fun is now watching Pastrnak and Auston Matthews go back and forth for the goal-scoring title as the Leafs star was closing the gap on the B’s right winger until he exploded for the three goals on Thursday. Pastrnak says he’s not keeping a close eye on the individual stats, but he certainly has to know where he and Matthews stand headed into their nightly games.

Pastrnak entered Thursday just a goal ahead of the red-hot Matthews, but now he’s again widened that gap after his NHL-best third hat trick in a season that’s barely halfway over.  

“It’s been good, you know? I don’t overthink anything and just play the same way. I focus on the things that help the team most and don’t put any pressure on myself. I just play my game,” said Pastrnak. “For me it’s just trying to get [my shot] past the first guy and I work on it every practice. I don’t think about it. It’s nice. It’s what I’m here for and the kind of player that I am.

“[Matthews] is a great goal-scorer, so it’s nothing new. It’s not anything I’m focused on. Obviously I see it because NHL Network is on in the room and he’s scored some nice goals. But it’s a team sport and none of these things matter. It’s getting the two points that matters.”

It does appear that Pastrnak hasn’t just magically started scoring goals again, though.

Teams had begun to shut off the young winger on the power play by denying him his shooting spot from the faceoff circle, and shadowing him a bit on the man advantage while forcing other players to beat them. Well, that just forced Pastrnak to set up a little deeper in the offensive zone where he’s not firing one-timer rockets from the top of the face-off circle on direct feeds from Torey Krug.

That was the case for his second goal in Thursday’s game as Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff, and then Torey Krug fed it to Pastrnak for the smoked one-time goal just five seconds into the power play possession. Pastrnak then scored the game-tying goal in the third period when he went hard to the net and flipped in a quick David Krejci dish after DeBrusk crashed the net for a short-side drive that created a loose puck rebound.

As with most of Pastrnak's hat trick nights, it was a pretty good display of all his different offensive abilities to create offense and score goals that have catapulted him into the role of most dangerous game-breaker in the league.

“Look, even if there’s a guy standing next to him, I’ve got to get the puck to him to put it on net and let him shoot for [Bergeron’s] stick or shoot to score, or go through the seam to Marchand,” said Krug. “I’ve got to give him a chance. He’s got however many goals and a ton of points, and he’s electric with the puck. I’ve got to give him a shot with the puck no matter what is happening.”

Because make no mistake about it: Pastrnak busted up a competitive Winnipeg Jets group on Thursday night and even scored on a make-shift shift with the fourth line while Chris Wagner was briefly pulled from the game by the concussion spotter.

“Typically, Bergy’s [Patrice Bergeron’s] line, they’re going to give you offense. Pasta [David Pastrnak] ends up finishing some shifts on the other lines and ends up scoring, kind of extending his shift. Wags [Chris Wagner] got pulled off by the spotter and we happened to throw Pasta out there and the puck finds him [when he’s hot] so it worked out well for us in that regard,” said Bruce Cassidy.

“I think the last two games you’re seeing more up and down the lineup whereas the few games before that it was a struggle for some guys. But it’s a long year and you hope they’ll come out of it and it looks like, at least in the short term here, we have.”

Certainly Pastrnak has the hot stick and the goal-scoring swagger back after a relatively slow month of December, and that should put everybody on notice that more video game numbers and Bruins records will be broken in the weeks ahead by arguably the best pure goal-scorer the Bruins have had in their franchise’s history.

David Pastrnak responds to Auston Matthews' challenge in NHL goals lead race

David Pastrnak responds to Auston Matthews' challenge in NHL goals lead race

David Pastrnak is saying all the right things. He just wants to help the Boston Bruins win and doesn't care how many goals he scores.

He also doesn't play in a bubble.

So, the Bruins winger knew that Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews tallied two more goals Wednesday night -- giving him 12 goals in 11 games -- to cut Pastrnak's NHL goal-scoring lead to one entering Thursday night.

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"Well, obviously I saw it," Pastrnak said Thursday night after Boston's 5-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets, via the Bruins. "You know, there’s NHL Network every day in the room. So you see it. [He’s scoring] some nice goals. Good for him."

Better for Pastrnak: The 23-year-old racked up three goals Thursday night -- his seventh hat trick in the past two seasons -- to bring him up to 35 on the season and take a four-goal lead over Matthews.

Sounds like Matthews' run gave Pastrnak a little extra motivation, even if he won't admit it outright.

"Don’t overthink anything,” Pastrnak said when asked about the key to his success this season. "Just playing the same way and focusing on the stuff that I (need to)."

A Bruins player has never won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading goal scorer since the award's inception in 1999.

But Pastrnak currently is on pace for 63 goals, which would be the most of any player in a single season since Alexander Ovechkin in 2007-08.

His 35 goals in just 45 games put him in rare air, as well.

Pastrnak now has six goals in his last four games, so this should be an exciting race between he and Matthews for the NHL goal-scoring crown.