SOUTH BEND, Ind. — He doesn’t know the place he stands on the checklist. He can let you know who’s first, as a result of anybody with even a rudimentary data of latest hockey historical past acknowledges it’s often the identical man, however Bruins proper winger David Pastrnak insists he’s unaware of how he suits among the many NHL’s goal-scoring leaders.

Ought to we inform him he’s within the high 5 now, after he jumped on a power-play feed from heart Patrice Bergeron to attain his crew’s first objective of a 4-2 victory towards the Chicago Blackhawks within the 2019 Winter Basic earlier than 76,126 at Notre Dame Stadium?

Possibly not. However we undoubtedly ought to let you know. As a result of Pastrnak is maturing into one of many elite scorers within the league, and apart from the Bruins followers who know him nicely as “Pasta,” his title doesn’t but resonate across the league like an Ovechkin or Kane or Kucherov.

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“That’s one factor you simply don’t take note of,” Pastrnak instructed Sporting Information. “You simply keep away from issues that sort of deliver you down and simply play your recreation. I don’t evaluate myself with Ovi and people guys. These guys are a special stage.”

“Ovi” does not likely require a primary reference, however simply to be full we’ll point out that 33-year-old Alexander Ovechkin ranks first within the NHL in targets scored with 29, simply 5 forward of Pastrnak. Pasta is also tied now for the league lead in power-play targets, matching the 11 scored by Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine.

Pastrnak is the youngest participant within the high 10, which appears incongruous given he already has two 30-goal seasons on his resume. He’s far forward of the tempo he set the previous two seasons, although, and his manufacturing cause why Boston stays within the Japanese Convention playoff hunt with Bergeron and star defenseman Zdeno Chara lacking roughly half this season with accidents. This victory moved the Bruins into third within the carefully contested — within the center, a minimum of — Atlantic Division.

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“Pasta’s been on an absolute tear,” left winger Jake DeBrusk instructed SN. “Every thing the man shoots goes in. That’s at all times good to see.”

At his present tempo, Pastrnak will flirt with the 50-goal mark, which is an extended leap from the extent he maintained in his first two seasons spent completely within the NHL. The Bruins haven’t had a participant attain 50 since Cam Neely in 1993-94. Solely 4 gamers not named Phil Esposito have ever accomplished it with the Bs.

“Sturdy on the puck is the largest factor with David,” coach Bruce Cassidy instructed SN. “He’s maturing extra bodily. It’s permitting him to win extra pucks, keep on extra pucks, keep on the puck longer, separate from individuals. I feel early in his profession he was in all probability extra of a rush man, and he nonetheless is, however now he can do it each methods. If now we have to chip and chase it and create off the cycle, he can do this higher. And I feel that’s a credit score to the work he is put in through the summers, and simply the conventional maturing course of.”

This New Yr’s Day showcase provided Pastrnak a possibility to make a nationwide impression, and he did that each with the objective he scored and the celebration he delivered afterward. He skated towards the boards flapping his arms, a gesture many within the hockey world, together with Bergeron and Cassidy, perceived to be a nod towards Washington Capitals star Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Pastrnak mentioned no, in truth it was one thing he was borrowing from LeBron James.

“I don’t know. I suppose he had his factor. Good for him,” Cassidy mentioned. “I’m glad he had an opportunity to do it.”

Precisely how a lot the Bruins have been lacking throughout Bergeron’s absence was on full show through the course of the Winter Basic’s 60 minutes, however by no means extra so than on the sequence that allowed Boston to tie the sport on an influence play late within the second interval.

A mishandled puck by the Bruins close to the blue line set Chicago’s David Kampf on a breakaway towards a doable shorthanded objective, however Bergeron dashed again and lifted Kampf’s stick to save lots of goaltender Tuukka Rask the trouble of getting to make a cease. Only a second later, Pastrnak put a puck on Cam Ward’s web, and the rebound deflected proper into Bergeron’s path. His one-timer made it 2-2.

“I noticed that Pasta was beginning to cough up the puck, so I’m attempting to get again straight away,” Bergeron instructed reporters. “I needed to catch the man and make a defensive play. As soon as he went on his backhand, I knew he’d return to his forehand and I simply lifted up his stick. After that, I noticed them go for a change, and I feel somebody broke his stick. That was sort of the play, and I felt like we had a bonus there. It wasn’t essentially fairly, however we’ll take it, as a result of I assumed it was a objective we would have liked heading into the third interval.”

Though each of Pastrnak’s factors on this recreation got here on the facility play, the road he varieties with Bergeron and veteran left wing Brad Marchand was persistently spectacular in its play towards the Blackhawks. Quite a lot of hockey followers had the chance to see one of many league’s finest trios.

“Clearly, Bergey and Pasta are two of the perfect gamers within the league,” Marchand mentioned. “Each evening we will be good. Typically we’re not nice. However now we have plenty of enjoyable on the market collectively.”

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