Putting Pasta on the third line is failure for Bruins

Evan Marinofsky
May 01, 2019 - 9:07 am

The Bruins are one turnover away from putting out "Wanted: the real David Pastrnak" signs all over Causeway Street. 

In Game 2, when Charlie Coyle carried the puck around the Blue Jackets' net, threw it off Pastrnak's skate and past Sergei Bobrovsky as Marcus Johansson crashed the cage, a glimmer of hope emerged from a temporary black hole. 

But that all went away in the Bruins' 2-1 loss in Game 3. 

Prior to Tuesday night, Bruce Cassidy rolled Pastrnak on the third line in practice next to the dynamic, trade deadline duo of Coyle and Johansson. Boston's bench boss wanted to rejuvenate a dormant Pastrnak by moving him down two pegs for the game. 

There was no change in Pastrnak's play.

"He's trying to get inside, trying to score goals," said Cassidy after Game 3. "Play his game. Can still be a good 200-foot player in other areas." 

In Game 3, the best scoring chance of the newly-formed line came from Coyle in the first period. The pass came from Johansson. Pastrnak had no impact on the play. 

The numbers don't help Pastrnak either. Of all six line combinations Cassidy rolled on Tuesday night, the Johansson-Coyle-Pastrnak line ranked second in time-on-ice at 9:19. 

Get ready to dive into some advanced statistics. Remember to hold your nose if need be. 

During five-on-five play, their Corsi For percentage was 62.50 percent, which ranked them second; their 50 percent Fenwick-For ranked them third. Their Expected Goals-For sat at a lowly 0.12, which ranked them fourth and their Expected Goals-Against weren't great either at 0.44 -- second-highest on the team. Their Expected Goals-For percentage ranked dead last at 20.83%. 

Numbers, numbers, numbers.

"We lost two games in a row," said Pastrnak. "It's tough. I don't really want to talk about myself. It's a team sport. I'm not focusing on whether I score a goal or not. A lot of tough things. I'm doing my best."

The eye test also didn't benefit Pastrnak. In the middle of the second period, his leg buckled under him after taking a hit from Dean Kukan.

Shortly after, the NBC Sports cameras caught him getting chased down by Artemi Panarin in the neutral zone and turning it over at the opposing blue line. 

By the third period, Pastrnak was back with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand -- his normal linemates. 

"[Pastrnak>'s going to play with [Bergeron> at some point during the game," said Cassidy. "It's inevitable generally speaking unless everything's going perfect. It's something we decided in the third. Have a little more push, maybe they'll sit back a little bit. Give them a little more ice. Becomes a speed game through the neutral zone." 

When No. 88 headed back into the top trio, the attention focused back to Marchand, Bergeron and the rest of the top-six struggling mightily. 

"It's tough," said Jake DeBrusk on what it's like when the best guys aren't producing. "Obviously this time of year, other teams see that as well and they see how dominant they were in the regular season and pre-scout them, just like we pre-scout their lines. Obviously they'd like to get it going, myself included as well." 

DeBrusk got it going Tuesday night when he squeaked one through Bobrovsky to cut the Columbus lead in half. Pastrnak never had that moment. At a closer look, he never even came close -- when he was with Coyle and Johansson, the line had no High-Danger Scoring Chances at 5-on-5. 

As the page turns to Game 4, the biggest question that surrounds the Bruins is where Pastrnak slots into the lineup. 

And whether he slots in at all.