By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
What’s left to say about David Pastrnak? I mean seriously.
Through the first 24 games of the new year, and following Tuesday’s three-goal performance, Pastrnak has a league-best 23 goals. Assume this pace holds and Pastrnak is gonna flirt with 80 goals. (I’d love to tell you that this pace is completely unsustainable and it’ll taper off, but have you seen this guy this year? I feel like I’m begging for an “Old Takes Exposed” retweet if I sit here and tell you that Boston’s chipped-tooth scorer is going to slow down.)
And in a year full of otherworldly showings, Tuesday may have been Pasta’s best performance yet.
Skating without top-line center Patrice Bergeron, Pastrnak drew the penalty that got the Bruins on the board by way of Jake DeBrusk’s power-play goal, and rifled a one-timer through Carey Price on the B’s second power-play chance of the night. That goal, of course, came from Pastrnak’s office to the right of the goaltender. It’s become a damn-near unbeatable part of the ice for Pastrnak, putting him up with Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos as straight-up lethal snipers when up a body.
Then came Pastrnak’s second goal.
Just look at the way he drives towards the nets and uses his speed and strength to get a strong look and outright beat Price to make it 4-1 in favor of the B’s. I’m not sure that Pastrnak has the goods to pull off that kind of move without losing the puck or hearing footsteps of defensive pressure this time a year ago. This is part of the size-and-strength package that Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has talked about again and again with Pastrnak.
David Pastrnak, en fuego ???? pic.twitter.com/DAFDWmVfXa— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) November 27, 2019
And on Boston’s third goal, Pastrnak got just enough of his stick on a net-front chance generated off Brandon Carlo’s shot.
Three goals. And three completely different goals, mind you.
“He shoots when he’s supposed to,” Cassidy said after the win, Boston’s fourth straight. “He’s still making plays, he’s not cheating. He’s not scoring goals just by avoiding defensive responsibilities.
“I think he’s playing the right way while he’s doing it.”
And Tuesday’s effort also put Pastrnak in some downright ridiculous company, as over the last 30 years, only Brett Hull and Mario Lemieux have scored more goals through the first 24 games of a season than Pastrnak has out of the gate in 2019-20.
The kid’s a freak. And you have to love it.
Here’s some other thoughts and notes from a blowout win over the Canadiens…
Jack Studnicka has strong finish to NHL debut
It looked like it was going to be a rough debut for Bruins prospect Jack Studnicka.
Leveled along the boards twice in the first period, it seemed as if the 20-year-old was destined to spend his night bracing for contact that was (or wasn’t) there, and was not ready to make moves to extend or create plays on his own. But Studnicka finished his night strong, coming through with the primary helper on Danton Heinen’s goal to make it an 8-1 final.
“As the game went on I got more comfortable,” Studnicka admitted. “I don’t think my polish was where I wanted it to be or expected it to be. Boys made it easy on me. We scored a couple early goals and we just kept going from there.”
Another positive? Studnicka looked more than fine at the dot, with wins in eight of his 12 faceoffs in the victory.
Studnicka will likely get a second chance to show the B’s what he can do on Wednesday night in Ottawa.
Sean Kuraly sees power-play time, has career night
Bruins center Sean Kuraly made his first real power-play chance of 2019-20 count on Tuesday, coming through with the beautiful feed to Jake DeBrusk to put the Bruins on the board in the first period. And it took all of eight seconds! (Spread that production out over a per-60 and Kuraly is the greatest power-play threat the Bruins have ever seen. Sorry Pastrnak.)
But it was just the tip of the iceberg for Kuraly, really, as he matched a career-best with three points by the night’s end.
????#NHLBruins forward @kurals9 after matching his career high with 3 points in the win over Montreal: "I just wanted to have fun, enjoy the game, skate...When my details are good I think the rest kind of falls into place." pic.twitter.com/Tc7XFu6rWe— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) November 27, 2019
Skating on a line with Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork (giving the Bruins a rare all-lefty forward line), the trio finished as the Black and Gold’s top forward line from a possession standpoint (not saying much in a score effect lopsided contest), and seemed to play the full 200-foot game that Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy hopes translates back down to a sluggish line four.
The Canadiens are sinking like a stone
Things are getting ugly for Claude Julien’s Canadiens squad. After beginning the year grabbing an impressive 24 of a possible 38 points, Tuesday’s defeat at the hands of the Black and Gold made it five straight losses for the Habs, and was without question their ugliest yet. That’s saying something, too, as this five-game slide has seen the Canadiens outscored by a ridiculous 25-12 margin, their man advantage click on just two of their 15 chances, and their penalty kill post a 68.8% success rate. Yikes.
Now, this shouldn’t totally shock you. While many of us were letting our eyes pop out of our heads at the struggles of the Lightning and Maple Leafs out of the gate, the Canadiens and Sabres were probably the true mirages of the Atlantic Division.
This is a Montreal squad that has spent recklessly — they have buried over $5 million in salary in the AHL and have spent like straight-up weirdos on their backend — and pays Carey Price $10.5 million to be their starting goaltender. Their forward group, with the exception of a select few, is a big bowl of ‘meh,’ and the team follows.
This slide feels like a natural readjustment of sorts, all things considered.