WILMINGTON, Mass. — Rookie forward David Pastrnak gave the best performance of his young career in Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers with the first two goals of his Boston Bruins career.
The Bruins have been searching throughout the season for a long-term right winger to use on the top line alongside David Krejci. Jarome Iginla was in that spot last season, but he left in free agency and none of the players who’ve received ice time in the role have impressed on a consistent basis.
Pastrnak is the best choice for this position if the Bruins plan to address it from within the organization. After scoring his first career goal during a first-period power play, Pastrnak doubled Boston’s lead with a 5-on-5 goal assisted by Krejci. Pastrnak made a nice drop pass to Krejci, then went to the net and shot a one-timer past Flyers goalie Ray Emery after receiving a slick pass from the veteran center.
“He’s really skilled, but we all knew that in training camp,” Krejci said Monday. “He’s just getting more comfortable on the NHL level. You know, two goals, I’m sure it helped him. So it’s fun to play with him. … He’s only 18 but he’s got skill like a 30-year-old, so it’s fun. He knows he has to get better in some areas but we all do. As long as he’ll be working on those things, then he’s going to have a good career.
“We’re still trying to kind of find the chemistry, still trying to understand each other, where we go on the ice, but it comes with experience, it comes with more games.”
Even though there’s only a small sample size — 21:48 of ice time at even strength — Saturday’s game was enough to suggest that Krejci and Pastrnak could be a productive duo offensively for the Bruins.
“It was first game last game for us together, so just taking time to get used to each other and find each other on the ice and I think it will be (better) every game,” Pastrnak said.
The Czech winger brings several skills to the ice that Boston needs more of in its forward group. He has top-end speed, a great shot that’s accurate and features a quick release, good offensive awareness and isn’t a liability defensively. The 2014 first-round draft pack also has been a solid puck possession player to start his career (115 shots for, 75 against, 61.17 Corsi-for percentage).
Pastrnak can play in nine games before the Bruins must decide to burn the first year of his entry-level contract and keep him at the NHL level, or send him to the Providence Bruins for the remainder of the campaign. Thursday’s matchup with the New York Rangers would be Pastrnak’s ninth game, so a decision should be made soon.
So far, the results have been impressive.
“He’s played well,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “I really liked his last game, not just because of the goals, but how he’s playing. He’s going to the net, going to the corners, doing a lot of things. Defensively you can see he understands what he has to do. He’s certainly treading in the right direction.”
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images