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How David Pastrnak is taking “Ovechkin’s Spot”

A look into Pastrnak’s powerplay success

NHL: Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Data from or self-tracked

David Pastrnak had 16 goals at 5-on-4 in the 2018-19 season, landing him third in the league behind Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos at 18. However, both racked up significantly more minutes than Pastrnak. Ovechkin’s 350 minutes at 5-on-4 led all NHLers, and was close to double Pastnak’s 203. Stamkos’ 279 minutes ranked him 13th as well.

Pastrnak’s 4.73 goals per hour led all powerplay regulars (at least 100 minutes) at 5-on-4 in 2018-19. To put that to scale, that’s more than double John Tavares who sat 42nd.

When the Bruins are set up in the 1-3-1, Pastrnak is standing at the top of the left circle.

With Bergeron as the bumper, and Marchand and Krug being formidable playmakers, the natural flow of the Bruins’ powerplay is to set up the right-handed players in Bergeron and Pastrnak. As visualized below, Pastrnak takes about a third of the shots when he is on the ice, with almost all of them coming from his spot in the formation.

As mentioned in the Krug article the other day, Pastrnak’s mobility on his off-wing makes him a more dangerous threat. However, he is the shooter instead of the playmaker. He is actively trying to create passing lanes for his primary playmakers in Marchand and Krug.

Pastrnak takes far more one-time shots on the powerplay than any other Bruin. Unfortunately, the NHL doesn’t track one-time shots, so we can’t compare that to the rest of the league. However, these shots were incredibly important for Pastrnak’s goal total this season. Of his 16 5-on-4 goals, 11 of them came from one-timers.

Pastrnak just has a goal-scoring sense. The Bruins are just starting to gather into formation with Krug streaking down the right side. One of the biggest weaknesses of the Flyers penalty kill this season was the conservative nature of the D1. In this case, it was Andrew MacDonald who should’ve been more aggressive defending Krug. Even though the Flyers are collapsed, there is a small passing lane that is about to open up. Pastrnak sees this coming and quickly move laterally, shooting in-stride to an empty net.

In the clip above, Pastrnak is constantly moving, trying to assist the puck carrier. He initially tried to find a lane for Krug, and sniffed out the eventual passing lane before Marchand even got the puck back.

Whether or not Pastnak’s incredible goal scoring rate can carry over to the 2019-20 season is yet to be seen. His 22.5% shooting percentage at 5-on-4 isn’t crazy for a player of his caliber. As long as the Bruins can continue to get Pastrnak his looks, he should continue to produce.