Sunday night’s showdown against the Carolina Hurricanes will be one worth remembering for Boston Bruins star David Pastrnak.
The talented 26-year-old winger became the sixth player in Bruins franchise history to reach the 50-goal mark with his first-period tally and later added a power-play goal in the second frame.
But aside from shouldering the scoring load, Pastrnak had another responsibility in Boston’s 4-3 shootout win at PNC Arena.
With Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Hampus Lindholm not making the trip due to nagging injuries, there was a clear leadership void that Pastrnak was forced to fill. It might not come to him as naturally as scoring goals, but after being surrounded by Boston’s veteran core for nine seasons now, he understands what needs to be done to successfully play the role.
“You recognized that a little bit,” Pastrnak told reporters of the trio of players being absent from the lineup, as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “Been learning from those two guys you mentioned and (David Krejci) and (Tuukka Rask) for many years now. Just been learning from them every day. So you recognized when they are not here that you have to take the step forward a little bit. Not on the ice, but off the ice. That’s the one thing that they do, they lead on and off the ice. That’s what you want to do when they’re not here.”
Pastrnak started to wear the alternate captain sweater at times last season, but it’s been more of a permanent fixture on his jersey during this campaign.
After signing an eight-year contract extension earlier this month and with Bergeron’s retirement always looming in the background, Pastrnak could find himself more and more in a leadership position moving forward.