Coming into his sixth campaign in the National Hockey League, Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak had increased his goal totals in each of the last three seasons. He has broken the 30-goal mark each year with 34 in 2016-17, 35 in 2017-18, and 38 last season.
This season, Pastrnak is having a career-year at 23 years old and is becoming one of the league’s most gifted goalscorers. Leading the league with 48 goals for the team with the best record and most points in the NHL, Pastrnak is having an MVP type of year and should get major consideration for the Hart Trophy at the end of the season.
Pastrnak Started Hot
Pastrnak came out of gates hot, scoring 12 goals in October and November. He had a four-goal game at home Oct. 14 against the Anaheim Ducks. On Nov. 26, he scored three goals in a win over the Montreal Canadiens.
After scoring just five goals in December and eight in January, the march to 50 goals was in jeopardy until the calendar turned to February. Pastrnak scored 10 goals last month, including his second hat trick of the season against the Canadiens. He also had three goals in a three-game trip through Western Canada, which included a game-winning goal in overtime Feb. 19 against the Edmonton Oilers.
Barring some crazy circumstances, he is two goals away from joining the Bruins’ 50-goal club and will be the first to do it since current Bruins President Cam Neely did during the 1993-94 season.
Linemates Play Big Role
Pastrnak has benefited from playing alongside linemates Patrice Bergeron (30 goals and 25 assists) and Brad Marchand (28 goals and 58 assists) as the trio are the Bruins three leading scorers and top line in the NHL. He also has benefited from playing a key role on the league’s second-ranked power-play unit.
Marchand (20 power-play assists) is five assists shy of tying his career-high of 63 he had last season. He has a reputation of being a dirty player, but recently he has become a playmaker and Pastrnak has benefited.
Pastrnak has scored 42 percent of his goals on the power play. He has 20 power-play goals with defenseman Torey Krug being the assists leader on that unit. Krug has 26 assists on the power play, with many coming by setting up Pastrnak in the left circle for his one-timer.
In having a career-year, a goal scorer comes up with big, timely goals in all areas of the game. Pastrnak has scored 10 game-winning goals. He also has nearly split his goals between home and road games.
He has scored 28 goals at the TD Garden while scoring 20 on the road. He has 14 of his 20 power-play goals at home and has split his game-winning goals with five at home and five on the road. The Bruins have 43 wins and he has scored in goals in 33 of those games.
Other Hart Trophy Candidates
Pastrnak has company in the race for the Hart Trophy, though. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl leads the league with 110 points, 12 clear of teammate Connor McDavid. Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon has 34 goals and 56 assists for an Avs team chasing the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in the Central Division race for the top spot.
Boston is creating separation from not only the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division standings but also the Blues in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Pastrnak has played a big role in the Bruins sitting atop the league standings with 13 games remaining in the regular season. Without him, they are in the playoffs, but not in the position of being a favorite to return to the Stanley Cup Final.
However, the way this season will end for the Bruins is still going to be determined. Pastrnak has put himself in position for a long and successful career in the league, but the season he is having is worth the six-year, $40 million contract he signed prior to the 2017-18 season. A Hart Trophy at the NHL Awards in June is well within his reach.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.