8.5 C
New York
Friday, December 8, 2023

David Pastrnak’s 60-goal pace has surprised Jim Montgomery


“He just looked and he goes ‘Yeah, I’m expecting it. Don’t worry about it.'”

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 28: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins celebrates after scoring a penalty shot awarded after he was slashed by Jake Walman #96 of the Detroit Red Wings during the third period at TD Garden on October 28, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Red Wings 4-1. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
David Pastrnak is on pace for 60 goals and over 130 points this season. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Plenty has changed with the Bruins’ forward corps over the last few months.

Gone are two franchise fixtures down the middle in Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Top-six stalwarts like Taylor Hall and Tyler Bertuzzi left via trade and free agency. 

As expected, Boston’s overall offensive output has taken a dip so far this winter. The Bruins are averaging 3.33 goals per game, good for 13th in the NHL.

At 5-on-5 play, Boston’s expected goals-per-60-minutes rate of 2.6 ranks 20th overall, per Natural Stat Trick.

But one thing that hasn’t changed is David Pastrnak’s propensity for stuffing the stat sheet.

Through the first 15 games of the 2023-24 campaign, Pastrnak has lit the lamp 11 times and posted 24 total points. He’s currently on pace to score 60 goals and finish the year with a career-high 131 points.

As noted by Kevin Paul Dupont of The Boston Globe, the last NHLer to post consecutive seasons of 60+ goals was Hall of Famer Pavel Bure with the Canucks from 1992-94.

Only eight total NHLers have ever reached that feat: Bure, Phil Esposito, Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux, Jari Kurri, and Steve Yzerman.

Pretty good company to be in.

Of course, it’s no surprise that Pastrnak is capable of hewing through even the stoutest defensive structures in 2023-24.

Fresh off of a 61-goal campaign last winter, Pastrnak can do damage in the offensive zone thanks to a booming one-timer, deceptive wrist shot, and a loaded arsenal of dekes and dangles that can turn the best netminders into a sprawling mess between the pipes.

But to keep up such a torrid pace without two proven offensive conduits in Bergeron and Krejci has even surprised head coach Jim Montgomery.

Granted, Pastrnak regressing to, say, 40-plus goals still stands as an impressive season. But Boston’s bench boss believed it was all but inevitable that Pastrnak’s totals were due to dip given all of the turnover around him.

“I thought that he would have a harder time producing without Bergy and obviously Krejci to work with,” Montgomery acknowledged on Wednesday. But I do know, at my year-end meeting with him — I said, ‘There’s gonna be a lot more put on you next year.’

“Because we figured [Bergeron and Krejci] were moving on. And he just looked and he goes ‘Yeah, I’m expecting it. Don’t worry about it. That’s what he said to me. And now I don’t worry about it.”

Even without Bergeron directing traffic at the “bumper” position on the power play, Pastrnak has still doled out plenty of damage on the man advantage (10 power-play points).

But eight of his 11 tallies have come during even-strength play, with the chemistry sparked between Pastrnak and his fellow Czech countryman in Pavel Zacha last year carrying over into 2023-24.

In the 73 minutes of 5v5 ice time that Pastrnak, Zacha, and Brad Marchand have skated together this year, the Bruins have outscored opponents, 6-2. Zacha, tasked with stepping into a top-six center role this season, is on pace for a career-high 27 goals and 66 points this season.

Even though Pastrnak is often at his best when he’s firing salvos of screaming shots at the net, he’s shifted his approach into more of a playmaker through the first month of the 2023-24 season.

With Boston’s ability to consistently orchestrate scoring chances on the rush diminished amid their exodus of high-end forward talent last summer, Pastrnak has augmented his game to mesh with the Bruins’ revamped roster.

“Pasta’s become more of a puck possession guy,” Montgomery said. “I think it’s a little bit intentional, understanding that it’s going to take a while to create the kind of creativity that naturally happens when you play with a Krejci or a Bergeron, because they’re such intelligent hockey players.

“But he was already playing with [Zacha] and now we have [Brad Marchand] playing with [those two]. It makes us a little top-heavy. But at the same time it gives us the creativity of them playing off each other.”

The Bruins still have work to do when it comes to getting their offense humming at a steady rate this winter. Firing more pucks on net from the blue line will be a welcome sight, as will additional contributions from lineup regulars like Jake DeBrusk. 

But so long as Pastrnak is hopping over the boards for Boston, Montgomery and his staff have an O-zone cheat code ready to work his magic on just about every shift. 

Source link

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles