If the Boston Bruins still were playing regular-season games against the Ottawa Senators of the world, David Pastrnak would be given a long leash to work out his problems.
Alas, the Bruins are in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and Pastrnak’s time on the top line has run out — for now, at least.
In case you haven’t noticed, Pastrnak has looked terrible in Boston’s series with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he didn’t look much better against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round 1. The star winger has recorded just one point in his last three games, and it was a deflection goal that he barely did anything to earn.
Pastrnak’s struggles go beyond the box score, too. From ugly turnovers to uncharacteristic tentativeness with the puck, the 22-year-old looks lost.
Whether he’s been on Boston’s first line or second line, Pastrnak has been an outright liability in the Bruins’ second-round series, which is tied 1-1 with Game 3 set for Tuesday night in Columbus.
When that game arrives, Bruins fans should expect to see Pastrnak on the third line. During practice Monday morning, Pastrnak made his debut on the third unit alongside center Charlie Coyle and forward Marcus Johansson.
Yeah, that’s a weird sight.
To Pastrnak’s credit, he said all the right things following Monday’s practice.
There are two ways to look at Pastrnak’s demotion (let’s call it what it is).
1. Boston’s best player is playing his worst hockey of the season at the worst possible time.
2. The Bruins’ third line just added a perennial 30-goal scorer to its ranks.
If the Bruins want to reach their ultimate goal, they’ll need Pastrnak to get back to playing like his usual self — and in a hurry. Yes, Boston has received a huge secondary-scoring boost in the postseason, but the B’s only will go as far as their best players take them.
Game 3 between the Bruins and Blue Jackets gets underway Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET.