David Pastrnak has lots of tricks up his sleeves. Sometimes, like Friday morning for instance, the Bruins’ leading scorer forgets some of them are up there and he’ll even surprise himself.
During a late power-play drill at practice, Pastrnak was in his accustomed spot on the right elbow when he locked eyes on Brad Marchand across the slot. Though it appeared he would send the puck across to the captain for a one-timer, Pastrnak’s “pass” ended up in the back of Linus Ullmark’s net.
It was a bit of no-look sorcery that would have made Larry Bird blush.
Noted Bird fan Jim Montgomery, who was overseeing the drill, could only shake his head as he broke out into a wide smile.
“I just giggle at some of the things he does because it’s so creative,” the coach said. “But then you watch him right after and he giggles, too, because he wants to know how many people saw what he just did to a Vezina Trophy goalie.”
Catching up with Pastrnak after practice, he at first didn’t recall the play, then, through laughter, claimed it was a pass after all.
“It happened at practice today,” he asked. “Oh yeah. It was on the PP, you mean. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was actually passing and it went in, so I guess catch by surprise, Linus. I was trying; I knew [Marchand was going] back-door low, so I was just shooting it there and I guess it was too close to the net and went in. Lucky. Missed shot.”
Passing has become a major weapon in Pastrnak’s arsenal. One of the purest goal scorers in the sport, the man who potted 61 goals last season picked up two helpers in Thursday’s 3-0 win over the Sharks and now has 20 to go along with 13 goals.
Pastrnak said he hasn’t focused more on becoming a proficient passer, though a tweak in the power play has something to do with it. Previously Patrice Bergeron, a righthand shot, served in the bumper role that is now occupied by Pavel Zacha, a lefthand shooter.
“I mean, I know I can do both, so it’s not a concentration for me, but the whole power-play unit has shifted on the other side,” he said. “It’s because of the lefty bumper now, it’s more running on my side than it used to last couple of years. And so yeah, that could be one of the reasons, but other than that, I’m still looking to shoot and create opportunities.”
During the Bruins’ recent three-game skid, Pastrnak said the club looked to get back to basics as it looked to get on track.
“I mean we obviously have to take a couple, maybe three to five steps backward and focus on the details, and it’s up to us leaders to make sure the whole team is going back to the details and kind of get back to what keeps us winning games,” said Pastrnak, one of the alternate captains. “It’s not pretty sometimes. So yeah, definitely the details, stop pucks, and have good forechecks because I think we are a really good forechecking team, and we create a lot of opportunities from that. So, when you keep winning, sometimes you can get away from the details, but it’s never bad to go through some challenges and it’s only going to help us as a group.”
From spectator to player
It’s homecoming weekend for Matt Poitras.
The Bruins’ rookie center grew up in the Toronto area and was planning on a dinner out with his family Friday ahead of Saturday’s tilt with the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena.
“It’s pretty surreal just to think last year during Christmas break, me and my dad went to watch a game there and now I’m going to be playing there. It’s pretty crazy,” said the 19-year-old.
Still on his entry-level deal, Poitras had no plans to go on a ticket-buying spree.
“Tickets are real expensive. I looked into it, but, yeah, it’s real expensive,” he said. “I’m lucky my family members were able to get tickets earlier on.”
Marchand object of ire?
Maple Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren has been out since suffering an ankle injury during the clubs’ first meeting Nov. 2 when he hit the boards awkwardly as he battled Marchand for a puck. Some Torontonians believed Marchand had malice on his mind during the play. The NHL did not agree, though some retaliation could be on the menu Saturday. “Same way we did in Florida [when the Panthers targeted Charlie McAvoy for his hit on Oliver Ekman-Larsson],” said Montgomery. “We’re going to make sure we’re all in there together if anything does occur, but we’ve got a hockey game and we’re pretty close in the standings — two teams that are expected to be near the top of the division. So, this is a big game going into Toronto on a Saturday night. We’re focused on our task at hand.” ... Friday was the 99th anniversary of the Bruins’ first NHL game, a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Maroons at Boston Arena in 1924. Smokey Harris and Carson Cooper had the Boston strikes.