David Pastrnak in 2022
Key stats: 72 GP, 40G, 37A, 77PTS
Additional stats: 25 even strength goals, 26 PP points, 58 CF% (5v5), 55.1 xGF
Reader rating: 8.4
Writer rating: 8.3
Now that Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci’s returns are official, the status of David Pastrnak’s contract negotiations with the Boston Bruins is one of the top things on the minds of fans just behind eat, sleep, and maybe one more unmentionable human yearning.
That’s because Pastrnak’s 2021-22 season is another example of why he is the team’s present and future.
The 26-year-old Czech right wing tallied his fourth-consecutive season in which he contributed at more than a point-per-game pace. He reached 40 goals for the second time in his career and led the team in power play goals by nearly double the amount of the next player on the list (Bergeron).
He did all this after suffering a devastating personal loss in the offseason, the tragic death of his newborn son, Viggo.
Aside from demonstrating his mental toughness, Pastrnak’s 2021-22 season also showed that he is more than just a talented finisher or the beneficiary of playing with Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Instead, he showed most of his critics that the simple act of just being on the ice, both at even strength and on the power play, makes his teammates better.
The prime example of Pastrnak’s influence on his teammates this season came, as it usually does, on the power play. Though his 15 goals on the man advantage were only the third most he’s scored in a season, the Bruins’ success without him all but disappeared.
Pastrnak scored a whopping 30% of all Bruins power play goals. That a higher percentage 115-point scorer Johnny Gaudreau, who had 11% of the Calgary Flames’ power play goals, and right up there with Alex Ovechkin, who scored 33% of the Washington Capitals’ power play tallies in 21-22.
The more alarming number for those who worry that Pastrnak might not re-sign after this next season came when he was out with the injury he suffered late last season.
After Pastrnak left the Bruins’ April 4 matchup versus Columbus with an injury, the team failed to score a power play goal in all eight games he missed. They went 0 for 24 on the power play and lost five of those eight matchups.
The most impressive aspect of Pastrnak’s success on the power play is that opponents know what’s coming, and they are still powerless to stop him.
Yes, the creativity of Marchand and Bergeron, who are usually with him on the ice helps, but Pastrnak’s ability to hit the net with his cannon of a one-timer and the threat he poses on the ice helps them as well.
Pastrnak has an incredible ability to find open space on the ice and lose penalty killers while the puck is on the opposite side of the ice from where he is. He does it time and time again.
While Marchand or Bergeron are moving the puck in the far corner, Pastrnak loops out wide of the faceoff circle he usually occupies, or high in the offensive zone, only to glide back to his favored spot completely unguarded.
When he’s not open, he sneaks down closer to the goal for a rebound or a seam pass.
With Pastrnak on the ice, opponents who dedicate a more aggressive effort to defending him leave Bergeron, Marchand, or McAvoy with more room to create. That is precisely why the team struggled so mightily on the power play without him.
The only criticism you could make of Pastrnak were his more frequent pointless streaks.
The shocking part is just how short those droughts were. Pastrnak only ever went four games in the last five seasons without registering a point! Four games! That’s incredible.
Unfortunately, this season, Pastrnak did that on three different occasions, which exacerbated the Bruins’ scoring woes.
However, he made up for that by notching second most multi-point games of his career with 25, trailing only his 29 multi-point games from 2019-20.
Another critical factor in Pastrnak’s 2021-22 season was his role in jump-starting Taylor Hall, which helped the Bruins climb back into the playoff picture after a mediocre start.
Bruce Cassidy placed Pastrnak on a line with Hall in January. By the end of the season, he’d factored in on 52 percent of Hall’s points, either by assisting on a Hall goal or scoring off a Hall assist. Hall’s .44 point-per-game pace without Pastrnak in the lineup nearly doubled to .8 ppg with him in it.
If we’re judging by Pastrnak’s advanced metrics, he fluctuated from last year slightly. He fell back on his defensive numbers but significantly increased his even-strength and power play offensive numbers, which the Bruins pay him and should continue to pay him to do.