By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The 98.5 The Sports Hub Year-End Awards are presented at the end of 2018 to recognize the New England’s most successful professional athletes. Click here for all year-end awards from Boston’s home for sports.
The Boston Bruins found a new legitimate superstar in 2018. And his name, or preferred emoji, is Pasta.
This is nothing new, though, as the Black and Gold knew they had something special the moment David Pastrnak fell into their lap late in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft, and they saw that with a breakout 2016-17 campaign that featured the first 30-goal, 70-point season of No. 88’s career and earned Pastrnak a healthy extension (six years, $40 million).
But from Jan. 1, 2018 through the year’s end, Pastrnak produced at a downright ridiculous clip.
In 84 games since the start of the calendar year, Pastrnak has scored 43 goals and totaled 94 points in 84 games. The 43 goals are the fifth-most in hockey, trailing just Nate MacKinnon, Connor McDavid, Patrik Laine, and Alex Ovechkin. His 18 power-play goals over that span are tied with Ovechkin for the second-most, and only Laine (21) has more.
Pastrnak’s 94 points over that 84-game tear, meanwhile, are the 11th-most in hockey over that span, trailing names such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Claude Giroux. Just some casual perennial MVP candidates there, that’s all. Factor in Pastrnak’s postseason production, though, and his totals include an utterly absurd 49 goals and 114 points in 94 games.
Oh yeah, about the playoffs.
It was there that Pastrnak pulverized the Maple Leafs in a first-round series victory, recording five goals and 13 points in seven games, including a staggering six points in Boston’s Game 2 victory. That performance made him the youngest player in league history to record a six-point playoff game, beating a mark previously held by Wayne Gretzky (you may have heard of him), and was just a sign of what was to come in terms of Pastrnak’s goal-scoring prowess as an elite finisher.
But in case the playoff showing was not enough, the beginning of the 2018-19 season has seen Pastrnak truly elevate his game to legitimate superstar status for the Bruins. With 23 goals through 39 games, Pastrnak finds himself just six behind Ovechkin for the league lead, and currently sits in 12th among scoring by way of his 48 points on the year.
Pastrnak’s also 14th among all skaters in points-per-game, averaging 1.23 points per night.
Above all else, though, it’s been Pastrnak’s ability to carry Boston’s offense that’s made him the B’s player of the year.
Pastrnak has scored 21.1 percent of Boston’s total goals this year, and has had direct involvement in 44 percent of them. The Bruins as a team, by the way, are 12-3-1 when Pastrnak scores at least one goal, and 3-7-3 when he’s held without a point.
It’s scary to imagine where the Bruins would be without Pastrnak’s contributions this season.
So for all of that, it’s another round of pasta, and Bruins Player of the Year honors, for Boston’s beloved top-liner.
Honorable mention: For a player half the fanbase wants to trade, Torey Krug sure seems to do well for himself. Over the last calendar year, the 5-foot-9 defender has posted 12 goals and 60 points in 71 games. Those 60 points are the sixth-most among NHL defensemen over that span, and more than names such as Kris Letang, Victor Hedman, P.K. Subban, and Drew Doughty. Krug also remained a key playoff contributor, too, with three goals and 12 points in 11 postseason games before a fractured ankle took him out of the B’s second-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Krug has done his part to prove his worth for the Bruins on a crowded left-side d corps in 2018-19, too, with 23 points through 28 games this year. I know people will fight me on this point because they look at the minuses and nothing else, but there is almost no way the Bruins get this kind of production for cheaper than Krug’s $5.25 million cap hit. Trade this guy at your own risk.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.