By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
How good is David Pastrnak, who recorded a hat trick and factored in on five of Boston's six goals in Wednesday's win over the Rangers, for the Bruins?
So good that the B's bounced Pastrnak between Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci's line throughout the night without any sort of dip in his game.
Not that that's unfamiliar territory for the 22-year-old wing.
"I mean, I had to bounce around two lines, but nothing that is new for me," Pastrnak said after the victory. "I’ve been playing on both of these lines for a while, so I know what to expect from all four guys."
But Pastrnak's effectiveness no matter the line has left Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy with a 'difficult' decision: When the puck drops on Game 1 of the team's first-round series of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, do you put Pastrnak back with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on the superhuman first line? Or do you keep him with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci on the Black and Gold's second line?
It's a decision that's clearly not final in way, shape, or form, as Cassidy is already doubting the possibility of this line sticking together for Saturday's meeting against the Florida Panthers.
Even after the line straight-up dominated the Rangers.
"I did like what they did together," Cassidy admitted of the Krejci-Pastrnak reunion. "I don’t know. I don’t know Saturday if we’ll stick with it, to be perfectly honest."
"Usually video will tell you a few things on maybe there’s some chemistry with certain guys that you don’t see during the course of the game, and you go okay well maybe this will work. So, we’ll see how it plays out," said Cassidy. "Somebody ends up on their wrong side, whether it’s [Marcus] Johansson or [Danton] Heinen as a winger with a left stick, so at some point we want to get solidified on that as well."
The benefits of moving Pastrnak down to Krejci's right seem obvious.
If the Bruins move No. 88 down, they will achieve the balance they did not have in last year's second-round bowout to the Lightning. Krejci, for what it's worth, has expressed his desire to have Pastrnak skate on his right wing at various points this season, and putting that duo back together would only add to what's been a tremendous season from the centerpiece of the Black and Gold's second line.
"He’s one of the best in the game now, so any time I get a chance to be on his line for any shift is obviously nice," Krejci said after the win. "He’s making so many good plays when he’s out there, so just trying to help him out."
"Obviously he’s a special player and any time you get that chance, especially with him and Krejci, you know it’s something that you kind of want to stick but at the same time you understand that it’s something that is out of your control," said DeBrusk. "But when we’re on the ice I try to get as many pucks back to them as possible; bring your attributes to whatever the line can do and he was making some pretty good plays tonight, he was the biggest reason why we won."
And by now it's clear that the Bergeron-Marchand combination can carry just about any player the B's plug on that right side. But Cassidy really does love that Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak combo. I mean, how could he not?
It's legitimately the most powerful line in all of hockey, and their chemistry is downright unmatched.
Fortunately for the Bruins, there's another week of games for the B's to figure it all out.
Here are some other random thoughts and notes from a 6-3 final at TD....
Cassidy takes exception to yapping Rangers
The rebuilding Rangers are a young team with a lot to prove. Both as a team and as individual players.
That led to one seriously chippy affair at TD Garden, complete with Lias Andersson trying to pick a fight with Patrice Bergeron as well as Brendan Lemieux jawing at Zdeno Chara. Something not lost on the B's bench boss.
"Listen, this is a time of year where you can’t get goofy either, so it has to be a controlled response, and I thought we did that by taking care of business on the scoreboard and then trying to assert ourselves physically throughout the period when the situation dictated," Cassidy offered after the victory. "They have a lot of young players there, a little bit disrespectful I think, at times, but if that’s their makeup, that’s their makeup. I don’t know them as players and if that motivates them."
Brendan Lemieux to Zdeno Chara:
"Just F*****' try me."
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 28, 2019
"[The Rangers] play with a lot of edge," Krejci said. "Their season is almost over, so they’re playing for the draft, for next year, but for us, our gameplan doesn’t change. We’ve got to go out there and respond. The first two periods wasn’t great, but our physical guys responded in the third period, and our skilled guys responded as well, so that’s something to build on."
The B's biggest response came late in the third period, as David Backes straight-up hunted Andersson down and bullied him into the boards with about a thousand crosschecks and shoves before things broke down into a five-on-five shoving contest.
"At the end of the day I thought we handled it well," said Cassidy.
Torey Krug is a damn fine American
With the assist on Pastrnak's second-period goal, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug passed Craig Janney for the No. 1 spot on the B's all-time scoring list among American-born players, with 284.
"It’s special for sure," Krug said after the win. "With the rich history of the Boston Bruins to be a guy like that is pretty cool, but I don’t want to stop there. Just continue to help the team and, you know, hopefully we can just continue to win and that’s something that can be, you know, pushed aside and I can think about later on in my career."
Home sweet home
With Wednesday's win, the Bruins have now 12 straight contests at TD Garden. It's their longest home winning streak since the 2008-09 season, which saw the Bruins post a 29-6-6 record on Garden ice. If you can recall, that year was a whole lot of fun before Scott Walker ruined everything in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
And it's kinda remarkable that the Bruins have a chance to beat that team's record, as they enter the final two home games of the year with a 29-7-3 record in Boston this season.
The Bruins are back at it Saturday afternoon against the Panthers.