The Boston Bruins are getting production out of all four of their lines for the first time in what feels like forever. Rather than the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak doing all of the heavy-lifting, the team has been winning games based on an all-around effort. When the Bruins are at their best, this is the formula the team has typically used in the past.
The start of this change came when head coach Bruce Cassidy opted to change the configuration of his lines following the lengthy, impromptu break that took the Bruins (and most of the NHL) out of action for a few weeks.
One of the biggest changes made to the lineup was the move of David Pastrnak onto the Bruins’ second line with Craig Smith shifting to the team’s first line. While that move has benefited the team as a whole, it’s finally starting to pay dividends for Pastrnak as well following a two-goal performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
It’s been an uncharacteristic season for Pastrnak who has been bitten by a streak of bad luck throughout the 2021-22 season. Missed opportunities and hitting a lot of posts have been the story for the Bruins’ best goal-scorer who now sits at 11 goals and 24 points in 31 games this season. In general, those are still very respectable numbers for most players in the NHL. Pastrnak, however, has proven to be capable of more than most players in the NHL are capable of.
What’s perhaps most jarring about this season for Pastrnak is how long it took him to finally eclipse the 10-goal mark.
Pastrnak’s Slow Start Marred the Bruins Season
In the 2016-17 season, it took Pastrnak just 13 games to reach the 10-goal mark. He did so in 15 games during the 2017-18 season, nine games in both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons and 13 in the 2020-21 season. This season, however, it took the 25-year-old 31 games to reach the 10-goal mark.
If the Bruins are going to have any chance at competing this season, they’re going to need Saturday’s game against the Lightning to be a turning point on the season for Pastrnak. While it’s been said before that Smith’s success is crucial to the Bruins’ success, that was with the understanding that the team is going to need him to succeed in addition to Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy having good seasons.
As mentioned, Pastrnak hasn’t looked bad this season; he’s just looked unlucky. That’s definitely something the team can overcome in the long run, which bodes well for their long-term outlook on the season. It’s been a weird year altogether and with the team’s schedule not doing them any favors, the team is going to have to continue finding ways to win and put their stars in positions to succeed.
Pastrnak Has Been Crucial in Elevating the Bruins Second Line Production
Fortunately for the Bruins, Pastrnak’s move to the team’s second line has not only finally yielded results for himself, but also for linemate Taylor Hall. Prior to the Bruins’ return to game-action on Jan. 1, 2021, Hall was having a very slow start to the season. In 26 games. the veteran winger would score only five goals and 14 points. Since Jan. 1, though, Hall has scored two goals and six points while recording points in five consecutive games.
Getting production up-and-down the lineup has been beneficial for the Bruins, but getting consistent top-six scoring has been invaluable for the team. Even Erik Haula has gotten in on the fun with one goal and four points in his last four games.
A full balanced attack will always be the goal, but the driving force behind any successful team will always come from the top. It’s safe to say that Pastrnak should be classified right up there at the top, not just on the Bruins roster, but on the planet.
While his inclusion on the team’s second line has helped balance the team’s attack as a whole, it’s also allowed him to thrive with three goals in his last two games. His production and contributions to the line outside of the stat sheet are important, but his goal-scoring will always be his most important trait as a player. This is why the 2022 calendar year has been an encouraging one thus far.
At the end of the day, nobody should have been too worried about Pastrnak finding his scoring touch. Still, after a third of the season had elapsed, it was certainly becoming more of a concern with each passing game. Ideally, this won’t be a discussion that’s needed again in the future, but only time will tell.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.