BOSTON — David Pastrnak might have gotten on the scoresheet Saturday, but the reality still is that he hasn’t looked himself lately.
And Bruce Cassidy might know why.
The Boston Bruins winger has been in a rut over the last few games, looking unusually taciturn in the attacking end. Often one to have little reticence shooting, Pastrnak has looked meek, passing up shots for unnecessary passes, while sometimes missing the mark by a mile when he actually does pull the trigger.
He was responsible for Boston’s second goal in its 3-2 double overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs second round, but it was more of a right place at the right time goal. Pastrnak was in a scrum in front of the net when Charlie Coyle threw the puck into the traffic from behind the cage. The puck appeared to catch Pastrnak’s skate and carom into the net.
While Cassidy was pleased that the goal came from Pastrnak crashing the net, he outlined what might be the problem for the winger.
“Well he got a goal tonight going to the net. I don’t know if he scored it or Charlie, whatever, but that’s a start,” Cassidy said. “Had a couple of good forecheck hits, so sometimes you’ve got to bring something else in this type of game. To me, I still think he’s indecisive, whether to shoot or pass. You see it on the power play, when it looks like he should shoot he makes a play, and when the opportunity to make a play is there it’s forced. So he just has to kind of fight his way through it.
“We’ve tried to play him with both (Patrice Bergeron) and (David Krejci), give him centers he’s comfortable with, and move him away for a little bit with Coyle,” Cassidy added. “But there’s only so much you can do with the personnel in terms of shifting him around. I think at some point it’s just a matter of keep playing your way out of it, and hopefully tonight is a start. He did get on the scoresheet, and from there hopefully it gets going.”
Pastrnak was out for a while in February and March after hurting his thumb falling at a team-sponsored event, but it’s unclear if that injury is part of what’s limiting his productivity.
Whatever the case might be, the Bruins need to find a way to get him going. While Pastrnak oftentimes serves as the spark on a line, at times recently it seems like he’s stagnating it. That’s a big, big problem for the Bruins, so their hope certainly must be that allowing him to just play through this dry spell will help sort things out.