David Pastrnak is in truly elite company after latest hat trick vs. Canadiens

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

David Pastrnak did more than just score a hat trick on Wednesday night against the Canadiens. He added to what's already a truly historic pace.

The Bruins winger crossed the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career, becoming the first Bruin to do it since Glen Murray in 2002-03. He's also the first player since Gordie Howe to record two hat tricks against the Canadiens in the same season. Talk about building your legend in Boston.

But Pastrnak isn't just making history for the Bruins. He's joining elite company across the National Hockey League. The whole thing. Every season ever.

Per data from Hockey Reference, Pastrnak is just the 30th player ever to score at least 173 career goals before age 24. He turns 24 in May, so he has the rest of the current season to add to that total. The full list is a who's who of hockey gods - Gretzky, Lemieux, Jagr, Yzerman, Sakic, Bossy. But Pastrnak is just the fifth active player to accomplish this, joining Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, and Ilya Kovalchuk. (This will be more fun to revisit when he hits an even 200 goals.)

It's hard to compare Pastrnak's production to that of players from higher-scoring eras in the '80s and early '90s. If you look just at the post-lockout era from 2005-06 to today, Pastrnak's scoring to this point in his career becomes much more impressive. Only he, Ovechkin, Crosby, and Stamkos have scored 173 goals or more before age 24 in this era.

Pastrnak is also the 15th player this century to score 40 goals in a season at age 23 or younger. If and when he hits 50 goals this season, that list shrinks to Pastrnak and just five other players: Ovechkin, Stamkos, Crosby, Kovalchuk, and Leon Draisaitl.

Rarefied air, and it smells like pasta.

"He's really become an elite player in the league," said linemate Brad Marchand, who set up his first goal Wednesday night with a ridiculous pass. "The fact that he's able to continue to find ways to score when teams are really zoning in on him, it's really impressive. There's very few guys in the league that can do that. He consistently puts up with the abuse and guys shadowing him, and his ability to find ways to score in different situations, it's very impressive."

Pastrnak likes hitting the 40-goal mark, but he still cares more about the team winning the game in the end.

"Well obviously I'm happy for [scoring 40 goals], it's something that i haven't accomplished yet in my career. so I'm obviously excited, but I couldn't have done it without my teammates," Pastrnak told reporters after the game. "So, big thanks to them and, you know, just keep it rolling."

If Pastrnak keeps up this scoring pace in the playoffs, it would make a massive difference for the team from a year ago.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].