David Pastrnak

Talking Points from the Bruins' 6-4 Game 4 win over the Maple Leafs

Talking Points from the Bruins' 6-4 Game 4 win over the Maple Leafs

GOLD STAR: It took Bruce Cassidy shaking things up a little bit while dropping David Pastrnak down with David Krejci, but it got Pastrnak back playing his game and he scored his first two goals of the postseason. Pastrnak finished with the two second-period goals that gave the Bruins a lead they wouldn’t give up. He also led the B’s with six shots on net in his 16:33 of ice time. 

Pastrnak finished with eight shot attempts, three hits and played a little faster and stronger on the puck while finishing off the chances he got in the middle of the game. The backhanded saucer pass from Brad Marchand to Pastrnak for a power-play one-timer was exactly the kind of slick, productive playmaking the two are capable of at any moment.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins finally stung the defensive stoppers that had been so good in this series for the Maple Leafs. John Tavares and Jake Muzzin each finished minus-3 and weren’t able to hold back Patrice Bergeron and Marchand as effectively when they were paired with Danton Heinen instead of Pastrnak. 

It extended to the face-off circle as well as Tavares was just 6-for-18 on the draw and didn’t seem to get the drop on Bergeron as he has in certain moments earlier in this series. Some of it might have been about the line shakeup that Cassidy introduced at the start of the game and some of it was about Boston’s best players finally outplaying the guys trying to stop them.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins twice had moments when they could have buckled if the Leafs could have taken advantage of them, but the B’s held strong in those moments and controlled play. In the second period, Tuukka Rask allowed a soft goal to Auston Matthews that clanged in off his glove hand and tied it at 2, but right at that moment, the Bruins surged forward and got a pair of goals from Pastrnak. Then in the third period, Toronto had them on the ropes again after scoring a couple of goals and closing to within one score, but the B’s defense and Rask hunkered down and didn’t allow another goal despite being outshot 16-9 in the final period.

HONORABLE MENTION: Zdeno Chara was strong, solid and even got rewarded for his efforts with a goal in the third period that ended up being the game-winner. Chara finished with a goal and a plus-3 rating in 24:12 of ice time while putting yeoman’s work in the defensive zone with five hits and four blocked shots for a B’s group that blocked a whopping 25 shots. Chara isn’t always going to play these kinds of big-minute performances in the playoffs anymore at 42 years old, but he found a way to be very close to his best when the B’s needed him to be a stalwart shutdown guy. The goal in the third period that whistled past Freddie Andersen was just icing on the cake.

BY THE NUMBERS: 25 – The number of blocked shots for the Bruins, who doubled Toronto 25-12 in this category while really paying the physical price for the gritty, high-scoring victory.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I was putting pressure on myself to help the team this way, so it was big for me. I feel relieved...and awake.” – David Pastrnak, on scoring his first two goals of this postseason. 

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Highlights of the Bruins' 6-4 Game 4 victory over the Maple Leafs

Highlights of the Bruins' 6-4 Game 4 victory over the Maple Leafs

FINAL SCORE: Bruins 6, Maple Leafs 4

IN BRIEF: David Pastrnak had two goals and Brad Marchand a goal and an assist Wednesday night as the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 6-4 in Toronto to tie their first-round playoff series at 2 and send the teams back to Boston for a pivotal Game 5 Friday night. BOX SCORE 









*Great start by the Bruins perhaps spurred on by the old switcheroo from Bruce Cassidy, who moved Danton Heinen up with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand in a surprise move ahead of puck drop. It turned into a power-play goal early and then a 5-on-5 score for Brad Marchand that Heinen actually earned a secondary assist on. Marchand already has more shots on net (2) in this one than he did in all of Game 3, so at least some of Boston’s best players are responding to the change in the forward lineup. It was followed by David Pastrnak scoring his first two goals of the postseason in the second period to help extend the lead for the Black and Gold.

*Charlie McAvoy went out and made a big impact in the good start for the Bruins as well. After a blah early possession for the top B’s power-play unit, the second unit came over the boards and Charlie Coyle fed McAvoy for a top corner blistering shot as he crashed down close toward the net. Then it was McAvoy again with the centering pass from the corner to a wide-open Marchand backdoor for Boston’s second goal. McAvoy looked for a little more for offense tonight and it worked well for the Bruins. Through two periods he’s got a goal, two points and a plus-2 while pushing up close to 20 minutes of ice time.

*Finally it appears that David Pastrnak has awoken in this series. He scored his first two goals of the playoffs in the second period, and the second one was a trademark Pastrnak snipe from the face-off circle after a slick backhanded saucer dish from Brad Marchand on the power play. It appears that Bruce Cassidy switching things around with the lines finally spurred him into waking up offensively and becoming a factor in the series. Pastrnak has the four shots on net and two goals in 11 plus minutes of ice time through the first two periods and continues to skate with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. 

Game 5: at Boston, Friday, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Network, NESN
Game 6: at Toronto, Sunday, TBA
*Game 7: at Boston, Tuesday, TBA

*if necessary

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Should Bruce Cassidy be sticking with the Bruins' 'Perfection Line'?

Should Bruce Cassidy be sticking with the Bruins' 'Perfection Line'?

TORONTO – After accounting for one 5-on-5 goal during the first three games of the playoff series against the Maple Leafs, one might be tempted to think about breaking up Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Certainly they were kept intact headed into the series vs. Toronto based on the offensive damage they inflicted in the recent past, like the five goals and 13 points Pastrnak piled up in last spring’s playoff series.

But this postseason series vs. the Leafs is proving different on a number of coinciding fronts. The Leafs are a year older, mature and battle-hardened to be sure, and the additions of Jake Muzzin and John Tavares have brought experienced, two-way players capable of checking Boston’s top line much more regularly.

Given those developments, it would make all kinds of sense to move Pastrnak down to the Krejci line in place of a mostly quiet Karson Kuhlman, and perhaps elevate Danton Heinen to the trio with No. 63 and No. 37. Perhaps that may happen as soon as midgame tomorrow night at Scotiabank Arena during Game 4, but Bruce Cassidy vowed to keep his top line together to kick things off in an important game down 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

“Yes. It could change quickly. We met with them today and went over a few things and I think they recognize where they’ve left some offense on the table. It hasn’t been much of a line rush, offensive series,” said Cassidy. “It’s been a bit of a battle of two offensive lines playing good defensively where they can’t get it going offensively.

“They need to make more plays from below the goal line, protect pucks, and have more O-zone time. They’re so good reading off each other when it’s a shot/rebound, recovery and then separate and make a play. Most teams come back into their own zone, they have a plan, they practice it and they know where they’re going. Once the puck comes to the net all bets are off, and they’re so good if a team isn’t right on cue then they’ll make a play. I think we need to be a little more of that mentality of second-shot, second-chance opportunities that will break their defense down. If they can do that then I think you’ll see them getting more opportunities.”

Clearly there is a track record with the line given back-to-back 30 goal seasons for each of the three forwards, and given their track record against the Maple Leafs. But it’s also a little scary when you look at the postseason numbers: The Perfection Line has produced a grand total of one goal in the five playoff losses to the Leafs over the last two seasons, courtesy of NBC Sports Boston stats maven Dave Green.

There’s a time when a head coach might be showing too much loyalty to certain players and certain combinations of players and that can cause stagnation for a hockey team when it gets to this point in the year.

It’s also dangerous to be that boom-or-bust with your top players considering that the Bruins are 5-5 in those 10 playoff games against Toronto over the last two seasons and there’s virtually no chance to win if those three are together and not producing.

Perhaps it’s time for Pastrnak to move elsewhere in the lineup and for Cassidy to shake things up with his forwards while forcing Mike Babcock to decide how he’s going to deploy the Tavares line and Jake Muzzin with a diversified attack. It's a way to put the Leafs on the defensive a little bit more as they've been largely dictating how the series has played out, match-ups and all, to this point. 

If the head coach waits too long to do it then it might be too late in the series against a Toronto team that’s clearly better than last season, and — just like the B’s — knows how wide open the Eastern Conference might be with the Tampa Bay Lightning one game away from being eliminated altogether.  

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