(Photo Credit: AP)
By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith
The first two months of the season are over for the Boston Bruins, and David Pastrnak still hasn’t fallen off a viable pace to lead the league in goals. It’s always a challenge not to draw too many conclusions about the type of season a player is going to have just a few weeks into the season. The Bruins are nearly a third of the way through the season now, though, and Pastrnak still looks like he has a really good chance at capturing the Rocket Richard Trophy.
Pastrnak has played in all 25 games this season for the Bruins and is currently tied for second in the league with 19 goals. The only player who has more than Pastrnak right now is Patrik Laine, who has scored 21 goals for the Winnipeg Jets in 24 games. Laine is up by two goals on Pastrnak with one less game played, but it’s impossible to definitively declare anybody the favorite at this point.
What is clear, though, is that assuming Pastrnak remains healthy, he is going to be one of the players competing for that Rocket Richard Trophy. He had a great month of October, and he followed it up with an impressive November to remain among the goal scoring leaders. For the season, Pastrnak is averaging about 4.04 shots on goal per game and shooting 18.8%. He’s fifth in the NHL in total shots on goal with 101.
Pastrnak hasn’t missed a game yet this season, but it’s always safer to assume a guy will miss a couple here and there. It also makes for a simpler calculation if round numbers can be used. In this case, Pastrnak would play in 55 more games if he can reach 80 games. Given that Pastrnak played in all 82 games last season, it’s not a stretch to assume he’s going to prove durable of the course of this season.
If Pastrnak continues at his current rate of shots per game over the rest of the season, he’s going to finish the season with about 323 shots if he plays in 80 games. If he continues to shoot at 18.8% over the rest of the season with those same shots on goal per game totals, he’s going to finish with about 61 goals over 80 games.
That’s what he’s on pace for as of now, but there’s always the risk that a player will become more fatigued as a season prolongs and slow down a bit. In the last 10 non-lockout-shortened seasons, there have only been two 60-goal seasons. Alexander Ovechkin scored 65 in 2007-08, and Steven Stamkos scored 60 in 2011-12.
Pastrnak came into this season with a career-high of 3.49 shots on goal per game, and a career-career-high shooting percentage of 14.2%. He is far out-pacing his previous career highs in those categories through two months of this season, and it’s nearly impossible to envision him not setting a career-high in goals assuming he stays healthy.
There is some potentially bad news coming up for Pastrnak, though. Coming into this season, the lowest goal-scoring month for Pastrnak has been December with 0.29 goals per game. His two highest scoring months in terms of goals per game had been November and October, so it makes sense that he has gotten off to such a strong start.
Based on career precedent, Pastrnak is going to decrease his scoring rate in December, but his October and November of this season were so strong that it might not bump him off the pace for the goal-scoring lead too much. Pastrnak is setting himself up nicely for a run at the Rocket Richard Trophy, but he’s obviously going to need some help in the form of Laine and other top contenders going through some relative droughts.