David Pastrnak had one heck of a year for the Bruins in 2018.
The winger made a name for himself on Boston’s dominant top line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron throughout the regular season. Pastrnak amassed 81 points (38 goals, 43 assists) in 66 games for the Black and Gold, and those numbers likely would have been much higher had he not been sidelined for 16 games.
Pastrnak underwent surgery in February after falling and injuring his thumb.
However, as dominant as he was in the regular season, that didn’t quite translate to the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run. Yes, he had 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 24 playoff games, but there were times he didn’t look like the same Pastrnak fans were accustomed to seeing.
But Cam Neely believes Pastrnak is just going through some learning experiences through each playoff run.
“I go back to his first postseason against Ottawa and it wasn’t very good,” the Bruins president told NBC Sports Boston in an exclusive interview. “Then the following year he was strong in the first round against Toronto and maybe slipped a little bit in the second round. Then this past postseason, I thought he got better and then it got even harder in the third round. So these are learning experiences for these young players to really understand what it takes as you advance in the playoffs. Each round is different than the previous one.”
Something notable from the 2018-19 Stanley Cup was Pastrnak’s lack of shooting when he got the puck, which seemed a bit unusual for someone who potted nearly 40 goals in the regular season.
“… I look at Pasta and he’s grown from the first playoff experience to this last one, and I expect even more growth out of him moving forward,” Neely said. “I understand losing confidence, but I don’t understand losing confidence and not shooting. That’s what I’d talk to him about.
“For me, if you lose confidence, it means putting more pucks on net if you’re counted on to score goals,” he added. “But everybody’s different when they lose confidence and everybody thinks differently. Pasta came out and said that he wasn’t confident shooting the puck, so maybe he’d just give it to somebody else. From my perspective, you put pucks on net and then everybody has to turn around and find where the puck is. Maybe that creates two opportunities out of it. You could tell he was fighting it because he was struggling with the one-timer.”
There’s no denying Pastrnak’s talent and he’s shown he can be versatile on the top line as well as David Krejci’s second line. If the B’s can work on his confidence in shooting the puck, he’ll only prove to be more dangerous than he previously has been.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images