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  • David Pastrnak making most of early opportunity

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    David Pastrnak making most of early opportunity

    Anthony Travalgia October 21, 2016

    For years now the Bruins have been looking for a consistent winger to line up to the right of first line staples Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Despite the Bruins 2016-17 campaign being just four games old, the Bruins have finally found that winger.

    After skating with Marchand and David Backes through the first three games as Bergeron nursed a lower body injury, David Pastrnak remained on the top line when Bergeron returned to the lineup in Thursday night’s home opening win against the New Jersey Devils.

    The 20-year-old Pastrnak has four goals and three assists through four games including his secondary assist on Bergeron’s game-winning goal Thursday night that came from working hard to win a puck battle in the corner behind the Devils’ net.

    “Yeah. That’s something we were talking about the whole game, to try to cycle the puck behind the net,” Pastrnak told the media following Thursdays win. “We kind of didn’t do it until the last shift. It was a good goal, big goal by Patrice [Bergeron] for us, and then the two points are our two points, and we’re staying 100 [percent] at home games now.”

    Through parts of two seasons with the Bruins, Pastrnak has struggled with injuries and inconsistency, but at times has managed to go on runs that showed his potential. His impressive start to the season has been a welcoming sign for the Bruins, a sign that maybe his confidence is at an all-time high.

    Pastrnak doesn’t think so.

    “I don’t know. It feels the same [confidence]. It doesn’t matter. Obviously, it helps a little bit if you’re making points, but in the middle of the season it can be like I won’t score in ten games,” Pastrnak said in regards to having more confidence this season. “For me it’s just game by game and trying to get better, and enjoy and have fun out there. I think when I have fun; then I’m at my best.”

    Pastrnak is certainly having fun as he sits second on the Bruins with seven points. But after getting Bergeron back, Pastrnak hopes the fun is just beginning.

    His game hasn’t changed all that much, but you’re starting to see Pastrnak do more of the little things. As seen Thursday on Bergeron’s game-winner, his work away from the puck and along the boards when he does has the puck on his stick is creating space for his linemates.

    “Yeah, of course. He’s been tremendous from game one, you know, his compete level but also the way he creates space for himself and for us and he’s using his speed as well. And that’s a perfect indication on that play that he used his body but also he used his speed to kind of create some space for himself and keep the puck in their zone,” Bergeron said of Pastrnak.

    This past Monday in a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets, Pastrnak skated in his 100th career NHL game. With each and every passing game, head coach Claude Julien is seeing a more improved Pastrnak.

    “Yeah I think that David has been really good for us, you know since the start of the year. And again, I can’t say enough, and again I feel like I’m repeating myself when I say that he is a much more confident, stronger individual and he is certainly even understanding the game even more,” Julien said postgame on Thursday.

    “The hope plays have diminished quite a bit, and it’s more about making strong plays and making the right plays. So he’s just a young player that has matured into the player that we think he was going to be and he’s heading in the right direction right now.”

    After watching Marchand, Bergeron and Penguins star Sidney Crosby dominate for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey, Pastrnak knew he would have some big shoes to fill playing alongside Bergeron and Marchand.

    “Yeah, I wanted to wear 87 for my first practice, but then I decided no,” Pastrnak said with a smile. “Obviously they have great chemistry between each other… I think we had a good start with Marchy [Marchand] and then Backes. So, it was important for us to be able to come back, and it was a huge comeback for him [Bergeron]. So we are happy.”

    The Bruins are not expecting Pastrnak to play like Crosby, but they certainly wouldn’t mind if he did.

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