David Pastrnak making the most out of his opportunity in Boston
The Bruins snapped their mini two-game losing streak Friday night at TD Garden behind the game-winning overtime goal by defenseman Dougie Hamilton that lifted the B’s to a 2-1 victory.
Although Tuukka Rask stood tall yet again since being pulled against the Maple Leafs a few weeks ago stopping 35 of 36 shots, David Pastrnak made himself visible against the Winnipeg Jets.
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After only playing a little under eight minutes in his NHL debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins Monday night, Pastrnak was let loose by head coach Claude Julien Friday night. The 18 year-old tallied a little bit over 17 minutes of ice time and riffled off a team high seven shots. He also saw a team-high 3:44 of ice time on the power-play.
Pastrnak played alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand for most of the night and created chances for his linemates as well as a spark for a team that has had trouble creating scoring opportunities.
While Pastrnak had 18 points in 17 games for the Providence Bruins, it was time for Julien to put his most skilled player in a position to succeed and on Friday night that was alongside Bergeron and Marchand.
“I liked him,” Julien said after his team’s 2-1 comeback win in overtime. “He’s got speed, he’s got energy, he makes plays. I mean he was throwing pucks at the net-we talk about throwing pucks at the net. He had some good chances, but also he made some plays. Defensively, I haven’t seen him be a real huge liability. So, he’s done a good job improving himself. The coaches have done a great job at Providence of helping him grow in that area and that’s why I’m able to use him from start to finish. So, I like the dynamic of his game and he’s an exciting player to watch.”
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It was a tough decision to begin the season whether Pastrnak was going to make the opening night roster due to his ability, but management figured it was the right move to let him develop down in Providence. After tallying 18 points in 17 games during his first month of North American hockey, Pastrnak received the call to the big club and hasn’t disappointed in his first two games.
Reilly Smith, whose spot Pastrnak has taken on the Bergeron line, admits he is playing like he belongs there.
“He’s a really skilled player,” Smith said. “I was talking to some of my friends who are playing in the American [Hockey] League and they say he puts on a show every night there. So, it’s to be expected that when he comes up here he’ll do good things. He showed it tonight for sure.”
Even Rask is impressed with Pastrnak’s ability to read different plays and create different opportunities for his teammates.
“He’s a really skilled player,” Rask said after his 35-save effort. “He makes plays around the net and I find myself a few times in the game being like wow, you know, how did he see that? And you know, he’s a really skilled player.”
Pastrnak may have not recorded a point in this contest, but he is showing his ability on the ice whenever he touches the puck. He’s quick and just looks comfortable out there. The moment isn’t getting to him.
“It can get better every game, you know,” Pastrnak referring to his comfort level. “Every game I think I will feel better and better.”
Although Pastrnak lead the team in scoring with seven shots, he didn’t mind not finding the back of net, as long as his team got the two points in the end.
“Yeah, but it doesn’t matter,” Pastrnak said. “We scored two and we won so that’s enough. That’s the most important thing.”
The B’s may have found their dynamic player with life after Tyler Seguin, who leads the NHL with 18 goals on the young season. Pastrnak did exactly what is expected of him in his first two games. He played hard, he wasn’t a concern on defense, he created scoring opportunities for his linemates and he didn’t back down from his opposition.
If Pastrnak continues to get minutes and play alongside Bergeron and Marchand, the points will come and they may come in bunches, just watch.