Why Pastrnak (hat trick) wasn’t Bruins’ most important scoring wing in 8-1 win

Matt Kalman
November 26, 2019 - 10:20 pm

David Pastrnak got his sixth regular season NHL hat trick in the Bruins’ 8-1 rout of Montreal, but those weren’t the most important goals Boston scored at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

No, the most crucial goals for the Bruins’ fortunes were not the three scored by Pastrnak or the one scored by Brad Marchand.

We know the Bruins’ Achilles heel: secondary scoring from the wing. It’s what led general manager Don Sweeney to trade for Marcus Johansson at last year’s NHL trade deadline and may have been what cost the Bruins putting up a better fight against Tampa Bay in the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs (considering Rick Nash was playing through concussion symptoms).

Well consider the Bruins’ win at Montreal a blueprint for how Boston can make it deep it into June again, and how Sweeney can avoid mortgaging more of his future to bolster the wing.

Of course all Bruins wing scoring starts with Pastrnak, and he was at his best again, running his NHL-leading goal total to 23. Two goals came on shots from the perimeter, and his third came on a redirection from the slot – proving something Bruce Cassidy said about the growth of the 23-year-old’s game after practice Monday.

“I think he’s stronger on pucks, second effort … he’s been stronger using body position around the net. … He’s scoring more goals I think from on top of the crease in the dirty areas. Not just relying on his shot or off the rush. I think that’s one area his game has improved in terms of the offensive side of things.”

And then there’s Marchand, who benefited from a heavy Charlie Coyle forecheck before scoring his goal.

But the rest of the wings kept pace with Pastrnak and Marchand for one night. Coyle, playing wing on a line with rookie Jack Studnicka, in his NHL debut, and Jake DeBrusk, had one goal and two assists. DeBrusk scored for the second straight game.

Anders Bjork scored after a steal and indirect pass from Sean Kuraly. Bjork’s beat Montreal goaltender Carey Price over the glove side to make the score 5-1 and end Price’s night. Danton Heinen scored from in front of the net, set up by Studnicka’s first NHL point to provide the 8-1 final.

Imagine a Bruins team with a healthy Patrice Bergeron, plus David Krejci and Charlie Coyle down the middle behind him, and then the likes of DeBrusk, Bjork and Heinen confident and scoring regardless of which center they’re playing with. Imagine Studnicka proving he can center a third line in the NHL, allowing Coyle to continue to produce on the wing, maybe even continuing to help Studnicka out as his right wing.

These are the fantasies that help Sweeney sleep at night, when he might just as often be kept up with the nightmare of packaging picks and prospects for another post-concussion Nash or late-regular-season Johansson. The NHL trade deadline can be a dicey proposition, and if the Bruins can get some semblance of the production they got from their wings in Montreal (not to mention an eventually healthy Karson Kuhlman and Brett Ritchie) on a consistent basis, these Bruins might relieve some of Sweeney’s pre-trade deadline responsibilities, as well as drive the Bruins deep into the postseason.

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