My most recent piece, which broke down a unique aspect of Patrice Bergeron’s offensive game, got some pretty positive early returns, so I thought I’d take a shot at analyzing the most dynamic player the Bruins have had in about half of a decade – David Pastrnak.
How this guy fell as far as he did in the 2014 draft is mind-boggling. The pure skill and creativity he possesses are unmatched in this lineup, and he really began turning a corner last year when he came into camp having spent an entire summer strengthening his base. His lower body is incredibly explosive. Check out one of his highlight reel goals from last year.
Watch below as he accelerates to full speed in one move, going inside out on a forechecking forward in the neutral zone. It takes him two steps to go from a light cruise to full song. Then, he has the presence of mind not to jam the shot into the defender. Rather, he makes a quick move inside of Michael Del Zotto, and fools Jakob Markstrom.
In the goal below, he again reaches full speed quickly, but rather than doing so off of a quick move with the puck, watch his strides between the bluelines. He makes the change in speed as soon as the penalty killer activates to put pressure on the oncoming Torey Krug, so by the time he can recover, Krug now has an option to his right on the rush.
He recognizes how to pick his spots too. Watch him identify the loose puck, and decide to win the race. He comes almost out of nowhere to beat a pivoting Ron Hainsey to the puck but doesn’t try to take the shot immediately upon picking it up or trying a wrap around.
Instead, he carries the puck a step or two deeper than a goalie would typically expect a shot to come from and notices Frederik Andersen beginning to cheat across the crease in anticipation of what he thinks is a wrap-around attempt. Seeing this, Pastrnak deftly chips the puck over his shoulder short side for the tally.
His game is much more than his straight-line speed, however, and he isn’t an offense-only type of guy. I imagine this is the result of playing so much time alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Watch the defensive play he makes to create this important goal in the ridiculous comeback the B’s had against Carolina last year.
He does his job at the blue line covering for a changing defenseman, holding the puck at the blue line not once, but twice using nothing but his stick. The second time, he creates a turnover and activates from that position on the blueline. The wrister he takes after that is just absurd. Scott Darling has lost his posts just a bit, and Pastrnak fits a cannon of a wrist shot into a tiny space short side. What makes this possible is the slight change of angle he creates for the shot with a small curl and drag release, incredibly deceptive for goaltenders to try and handle.
I’m not even going to analyze this next one, the hand-eye coordination he displays here is off the charts. Enjoy.
Pastrnak’s vision has become a little underrated due to the highlight reel goals he has a propensity for producing. Watch this transition play.
Rather than ripping off a one-timer, Pastrnak recognizes that David Krejci has found an open space in front of the net. He adjusts his release point to uncork a shot-pass instead of a big one-time shot. It is pinpoint, tape-to-tape, and just hard enough to keep its momentum once being tipped, but not too hard to prevent Krejci from controlling the tip.
Watch Pastrnak take the extra second of time in the goal below to create the perfect scoring chance.
Instead of trying to surprise the goaltender by jamming the puck short side, Pastrnak has the presence of mind to hold onto the puck for an extra second or two with three Maple Leafs converging on him, and pull Andersen out of position. This allows him to chip the puck into the top corner short side.
No analysis on the last one either. This is just dirty. The guy is an absolute human cheat code.
David Pastrnak represents much of the new-age NHL; he attacks you with speed, smarts, and a willingness to try something you normally would see in pond hockey on the biggest stage. It doesn’t always work, but he creates so much offense on his own that it doesn’t really matter. I seriously cannot figure out how he is only making $6.67 million against the salary cap for another 5 years.
Wait, Bergeron is getting paid HOW MUCH?