David Pastrnak’s performance at the World Junior Championship earned him another look at the NHL level. The early returns have been impressive, as the young winger netted his first two NHL goals and helped the team string together a few much needed victories.
Since Boston acquired Nathan Horton in the summer of 2010, the team has consistently had a power forward opposite Milan Lucic on their top line. Following the departure of Jarome Iginla this past summer, the Bruins have struggled to generate a consistent offensive attack.
Over the last five years, this organization has emphasized the importance of consistency. That extends beyond their performance on the ice to the roster and coaching staff. Due to their inability to replace Iginla, they have shuffled through countless line combinations, leading to mixed results.
Until recently, they had tried to keep pairs of forwards together to maintain chemistry, namely the duos of Lucic and David Krejci, Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg, and Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Things had gone so far off the rails around the turn of the year that the team had to take drastic measures. These duos were temporarily dissolved, successfully sparking a flame in the team.
Now, the Bruins are on a three game winning streak and have restored their previous line combos. That’s resulted in rookie David Pastrnak getting a chance on the first line with Lucic and Krejci.
Pastrnak’s quickness and creativity have, for the time being, revitalized the Bruins top scoring line. The real question is whether or not he can maintain this going forward.
While he doesn’t fit the mold of a Nathan Horton or a Jarome Iginla, Pastrnak does fit the team’s need to a T. A major weakness for the Bruins last season was team speed. Despite pushing the Montreal Canadiens to a game 7, the dreaded Habs had just too much speed for Boston to handle.
Pastrnak instantly makes the top line much faster, giving them a new dimension and making them a very serious threat to opposing defenses. If he can settle into a permanent role on the top line, he’d help to complete the second and third lines as well. Reilly Smith could return to play on Patrice Bergeron’s right wing opposite Brad Marchand, while Loui Eriksson would join Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly on the third line.
Essentially, Pastrnak could energize the top scoring line and allow the Bruins to tap into the chemistry that they’ve built this season. By establishing consistency in their forward lines, the Bruins should be able to trend back towards the playoff caliber team that we’ve all been expecting.
Do you think David Pastrnak will be able to fit in on the top line for the rest of the season? Will his emergence be the key to the Bruins turning their season around? Let me know what you think on twitter or in the comments below.