BOSTON — David Pastrnak began Thursday night’s matchup with the Vancouver Canucks on the Bruins’ second line. He finished it on the fourth.
The young Bruins winger struggled mightily in his team’s 4-2 loss at TD Garden, prompting head coach Claude Julien to demote him twice during the game and limit him to 17 shifts, tied for second-least among all Boston skaters.
Pastrnak did record an assist in the loss but otherwise did not do much else to help the Bruins, which Julien pointed out in a brutally honest postgame news conference.
“I know he had an assist tonight, but I think he had about four or five giveaways there — unforced errors,” Julien said. “He?s playing against top lines, and we need players to be better in those areas. So, I tried to put a little bit more experience to play against that, and then put him in a situation where maybe he has less pressure and more room.
Pastrnak actually was credited with a game-high seven giveaways to go along with zero shots on goal. Julien dropped him to the third line during the second period — shortly before he and Ryan Spooner assisted on Jimmy Hayes’ 11th goal of the season — and then down to the fourth a period later, where he finished out the night.
(The 19-year-old actually enjoyed a solid game as a fourth-liner Tuesday in Montreal, tallying a goal and an assist despite seeing just 7:05 of ice time.)
For the Bruins, how to best utilize their 2014 first-round draft pick remains an unanswered question.
“I think that?s a decision as an organization you make along the way here: Can he play here? Can he play on our top lines? Can he play — where do we put him so that he succeeds?” Julien said. “So, we need to do the best thing for the player and that?s what we?re trying to do here, putting him with some good players and sometimes putting him on other lines where he?s got less pressure and probably can, I guess, use his skill level a little bit better.
“We?re doing our best here to try and give him an opportunity. He?s still 19 years old.”
But Pastrnak, who was playing in his second game since returning from an upper body injury, was far from the only problem for the Bruins on Thursday. The team as a whole struggled from a puck management standpoint and was unable to generate enough quality chances against Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom, who stopped 28 of the 30 shots he saw.
“I think we struggled with that through a lot of the game — really especially in the third,” Bruins forward Landon Ferraro said. “I don?t know how many times we iced the puck tonight. But that?s not on the (defensemen). That?s on the forwards, as well. They were moving it up, and we weren?t getting sticks on them.
“And just altogether, it wasn?t a very tidy game.”
Thumbnail photo via Elise Amendola/Associated Press