Boston Bruins superstar winger David Pastrnak seems to be the latest to enter head coach Bruce Cassidy’s suddenly crowded dog house.
Last week, Cassidy called out his leadership core. On Tuesday night, following a 5-4 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils, he did the same with his younger players, and on Wednesday afternoon, the reigning Jack Adams Award winner didn’t hold back when discussing the reigning co-Rocket Richard winner, David Pastrnak who has no goals in his last four games and just two in his last eight. When asked whether switching Pastrnak to center David Krejci’s line and slotting winger Craig Smith into Pastrnak’s slot on ‘The Perfection Line’ was done to help Pastrnak snap out of his funk, Cassidy didn’t pull any punches assessing the recent play of his star winger and even Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to an extent.
“Well, I mean he has to find his way, he plays 20 minutes a night, I mean I can move him around with everybody but part of it is I don’t think he’s in the interior nearly as much as he needs to be,” a once again blunt Cassidy said David Pastrnak, who has led the team in goals for three seasons straight and is doing so again this season. “A Lot of kind of poke and go stuff; a lot of outside, looking for one-one-one moves. He certainly has them but defenders know that he’s gonna try that, so they’re a little more aware. So he just has to get a little dirtier with his linemates.”
By no means are Pastrnak, Bergeron, and Marchand the main issue with the team’s scoring woes as of late. Marchand had a goal and an assist in the win over the Devils and Bergeron had an assist, but David Pastrnak was a minus 2 with four shots in 26 shifts and 24:03 TOI. But the frustrated Bruins bench boss has clearly been trying to light a spark under the collective derrière of his team as no one has been exempt from criticism. However, while he called on his top line to maybe stop trying to be so perfect and pay the price a bit more, Cassidy did point out that puck luck has not been kind to his top trio.
“They’ve had some tough luck,” Cassidy acknowledged. “Bergy’ hit a bar yesterday; ‘Pasta’ on the powerplay the other day, so they’ve been a little bit. …had a little tough luck with their shots but I think they gotta get back to scoring some greasy goals. They typically will do that eventually and find their way.”
So, again will part of helping them find their way be keeping David Pastrnak with Krejci and Nick Ritchie when the Bruins begin a two-game set against the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday at TD Garden?
“I’ve moved them around but I like Krejci and Ritchie and Smith,” Cassidy said. “They’ve strung together some decent outings here. So, I’d like to. …sort of. … we’ve been searching for that for a while so we don’t want to disrupt that.
So, that was the thinking halfway through the game [Tuesday]; we’ve had a few penalties, some guys were getting moved around so, sometimes that sparks ‘Krech’ and ‘Pasta’ and I think ‘Bergy’ and ‘Marsh’ are always going to be a good pair so we put ‘Smitty’ up there and gives them a shooter but I like to keep it the way it is right now because like I said, simply because of the way Krejci’s line is starting to produce.”
As far as Cassidy is concerned, it’s up to Pastrnak and his linemates to start finding the back of the net more and not to him.