The Boston Bruins will be without game-breaking right winger David Pastrnak for at least a couple more games, so they will need to continue making adjustments without their biggest goal-scoring threat. Pastrnak leads the Bruins with 38 goals scored, 14 power play goals and still stands as the only Boston Bruins player with more than 300 shots on net despite missing time with injuries, including his current malady after falling awkwardly during a faceoff battle in Columbus.
David Pastrnak was not feeling great after this play. pic.twitter.com/ubMgvAxvjG
— Jamie Gatlin (@JamieGatlin17) April 5, 2022
So on a hockey club full of good two-way players that are unselfish with the puck sometimes to a fault, Pastrnak is the one guy that’s willing to squeeze off shots from any time or place. In his absence the power play has gone 0-for-25 and the offense overall has scored just 13 goals in six games for a 2.17 goals per game average.
That’s essentially a goal per game less than they’ve averaged all season with Pastrnak mostly in the lineup.
It’s clear they need to find answers on the PP with his one timer absent as a threat, and they could use a more assertive Taylor Hall on the second line skating with Erik Haula and with Curtis Lazar filling in on Tuesday night against the St. Louis Blues. Lazar said he was looking to play “predictable hockey with straight lines to win some puck battles” that can complement Hall and Haula with eight goals and 16 points in 63 games thus far this season.
“Of course, the line is going to be better with David [Pastrnak]. Any line will…we know that. It’s stating the obvious,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who zeroed in on the message to former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall while No. 88 is out. “But ‘you’re a good hockey player in this league and sometimes you need to drive a line for a while.’
“Sometimes that’s just the way it works. And Erik Haula for that matter. They were playing really good hockey. So just keep driving the line no matter who is there. You may have to change your mindset a little bit. Taylor was acting more like the playmaker with Pasta and it was really working out. You become a little more of a shooter at times and attack the net yourself. Take over those duties instead of looking at other guys to play like Pasta because that’s not fair. That’s the ask of Taylor right now. It doesn’t mean that it’s 1-on-1 all over the ice, but it’s just that when there’s a shooting opportunity look to score and get a puck on the net.”
As for the power play, it’s about overcoming an abundance of left-handed sticks and a lack of true shooting threat from the weak side with penalty kills blanketing Patrice Bergeron in the bumper with Pastrnak no longer there to shoot.
“In games, I truly believe teams know that David isn’t over there [at the left circle] and there isn’t a one-timer so their whole kill shifts over to the strong side that we’re running off. It closes off Bergie and gives Marchand less time and even the net-front gets converged on more quickly,” said Cassidy. “It’s still a work-in-progress. A lot of left shots that play the power play and not a lot of right one-timers, so that’s the loss with [Pastrnak] and we need to keep working on it to get it right.”
The good news for the Boston Bruins is that Pastrnak is expected back for the final few games of the regular season, and could be back as soon as this weekend in a back-to-back situation against the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens. But it’s not exactly a shocking development that they are missing in a very big way the production and threat of a prolific scorer that had scored 30 goals in his last 41 games dating back to a Jan. 1 turning point for him this season.