The Boston Bruins chase for history is reaching its final stages. With five games left in the season, the Bruins need to win three games to set a new record for most wins in a single season in NHL history, and eight points to set the record for most points in a single season as well. Everyone on the Bruins has been phenomenal this season, but the guy constantly leading the charge for them is David Pastrnak.
If it weren't for Conor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and his consistent greatness, Pastrnak would likely be the frontrunner to win the league's Hart Memorial Trophy. As previously mentioned, there are still five games left on the season, but Pastrnak has already set a career-high in goals (56) and points (103), and his 47 assists have tied his career-high. Pastrnak has been the engine churning Boston forward all season long.
The Bruins wisely decided to give Pastrnak a long-term contract this season as well, and signed him to a massive eight-year, $90 million deal that ensures he will be spending the foreseeable future with Boston. There were skeptics of such a deal being handed to Pastrnak, but over the first month of the deal, he has proven to be worth every penny so far.
David Pastrnak has been well worth Bruins massive extension so far
Boston handed Pastrnak his new deal on March 2nd, and with a month down, it's safe to say that the Bruins made the right decision. Over the 17 games since he's put pen to paper, Pastrnak has potted 14 goals while adding nine assists as well, which is good for 1.35 points per game. That's pretty phenomenal, but for “Pasta”, it's really just a continuation of his strong play.
Handing out a long-term deal with an average annual value of $11.25 million is a very significant investment of salary cap space, and there were some reasonable concerns surrounding such a deal for Pastrnak. He's often been great in the regular season, but his play in the postseason has left a lot to be desired, leaving skeptics to wonder whether he's built for the biggest stages and the brightest lights.
The 2022-23 season hasn't even made it to the postseason yet, but for Boston, they have been receiving tons of coverage all season long due to their pursuit of history. And even with all that attention, Pastrnak has been putting together easily the best season of his career. Translating that to the playoffs will be key, but there's been no signs of slowing down from Pastrnak so far.
A quick look back at Boston's two latest wins over the Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues shows just how impactful Pastrnak has been. Against the Penguins, he notched three of the B's three goals, including the game-winner at 17:34 in the third period. The Blues diverted a lot of defensive attention towards Pastrnak on Sunday afternoon, so he became the provider, picking up an assist on Tyler Bertuzzi's goal, and nearly picking up another on Dmitry Orlov's game-winner that was called back because of offsides.
The overarching concern before they took the league by storm this season was what their future would look like when longtime veterans such as Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Krejci decide to call it a career. Pastrnak has obviously become one of the top goalscorers in the league, but there were concerns whether or not he would be able to lead a team all on his own.
Slowly but surely, Pastrnak is putting those concerns to rest. Bergeron missed both of the Bruins games over the weekend, and the first-line wasn't very productive in his absence. And when St. Louis made a bigger effort to slow Pastrnak down, he focused on setting his teammates up, and while the defense crumbled late in this one, that wasn't exactly his fault.
In the same sense that the Bruins real work won't begin until the playoffs, despite all the attention surrounding their quest to make history, Pastrnak's chance to fully silence his critics won't come until the postseason gets underway. It's Stanley Cup or bust for the Bruins, and while they have been facing pressure all season long, it's about to ratchet up quite a bit later this month.
Pastrnak has been proving all season long that he is indeed one of the top players in the league, and he's got quite a bit of momentum as the postseason approaches. Carrying that over is going to be crucial, not just for himself, but for his team as well. Pastrnak has been worth every penny of his new deal so far, yes, but whether that remains true by the time the season is over will depend on how well the star winger performs in the playoffs for the B's.