Another week of Boston Bruins hockey yields another undefeated performance.
Nearly two weeks after being the first NHL team to clinch a playoff spot, they became the first team to clinch their division, and the Presidents’ Trophy is certain to be next.
As usual, both goalies had their shining moments, including Jeremy Swayman’s performance in overtime against the Carolina Hurricanes and Linus Ullmark’s 40 saves on 41 shots against the Ottawa Senators to start the week.
But two Bruins skaters were the main competitors for player of the week this week for their offensive performances.
David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk have both been having amazing seasons. Pastrnak and DeBrusk are obviously vastly different players in terms of what they do well, but when it comes to value to the Bruins, both were nearly equal this week.
Both had a game-winning goal; DeBrusk also added a shootout winner. Pastrnak eclipsed the 50-goal mark for the first time in his career and did his thing as the team’s elite scorer, while DeBrusk continued to use his speed in both directions and also helped push the offense.
It was a difficult decision this week, but the player of the week award goes to David Pastrnak.
50 and more for Pastrnak
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Pastrnak scored three goals this week (leading the team) to reach and surpass 50 goals in a season for the first time in his career.
It felt like a foregone conclusion, but it’s still significant for those of us who grew up in the “why can’t we ever have nice things” era of the Bruins, where they traded away snipers and refused to sign big-name free agents that excelled at putting the puck in the net.
Not since Cam Neely did it in 1993-94 have the Bruins had a player reach 50 goals, so it’s excellent to see Pastrnak eclipse that mark.
Pastrnak’s second-period goal was the eventual game winner against a feisty Montreal Canadiens team that made things difficult for the Bruins Thursday. DeBrusk and Pastrnak combined for 10 of the Bruins’ 21 shots against the Canadiens, but Pastrnak’s found twine.
He continued to be the tip of the spear in Boston’s high-efficiency offense, contributing 10 high-danger scoring chances which led the team according to naturalstattrick.com.
That performance paled compared to his game against the Hartford Wha-excuse me, Carolina Hurricanes Sunday.
In a game where the Bruins rested Hampus Lindholm, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, Pastrnak scored two crucial goals to help Bruins build a two-goal lead they would need (choke away) to eventually win in a shootout.
This game carried psychological importance for a Bruins team that hadn’t won in Carolina since the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.
Pastrnak’s first goal, accidental or intentional, made Freddie Andersen look ridiculous and highlighted the fact that if the Bruins face Carolina in the Eastern Conference final, they should have the advantage in net.
His second goal, which helped the Bruins retake the lead on the power play, came in classic Pasta fashion.
With the Bruins’ power play still struggling, it was a positive sign that they can still score with the man advantage, not just give up shorthanded goals.
But the way it came, with Pastrnak finishing it, was significant because it showed that the Bruins were trying to get back to basics.
They got back to short, quick, high-percentage passes to establish their offensive attack and move the Hurricanes out of position and quickly got the puck to Pastrnak at the elbow.
Looking at the big picture shows just how vital Pastrnak is to the Bruins’ style of play. The team has played more and more games of late where they lose the possession battle if you look at shots surrendered and possession metrics like Corsi-for.
But the Bruins are no longer a team that emphasizes that type of puck possession. Their skilled defensive corps and dominant goaltending allow them to sacrifice some of that suffocating defense for a quick-strike offense that almost always wins the battle of high-quality scoring chances.
But you can’t win that battle if you don’t have a player that can convert those chances into goals, and Pastrnak is that guy. The team generated a whopping 30 high-danger scoring chances this past week while Pastrnak was on the ice at 5-on-5. Hampus Lindholm was behind him, with 22 high-danger chances generated while he was on the ice.
Without Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk would never have been in the position to win the game with his shootout winner. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve recognition.
Honorable Mention: Jake DeBrusk
If we’re being honest, had Pastrnak not reached the 50-goal mark this week, or had his best game not come against the Hurricanes, DeBrusk probably would’ve been the player of the week. He was on fire, using his speed to generate offense and negate his opponents’ opportunities.
This is a prime example from Tuesday’s win over the Ottawa Senators.
Jake DeBrusk's backcheck denies Claude Giroux a clean scoring chance. pic.twitter.com/ljATJ2CIfC— Bear With Me (@BearWithMe_Pod) March 22, 2023
His goal against the Montreal Canadiens was another example of how well DeBrusk has been using his speed this season and was especially satisfying to watch, but his game-winner versus Ottawa was extra special. Brad Marchand’s pass was a work of art, but DeBrusk still had to catch that pass without a clear line of sight to Marchand, moving at a high rate of speed and making that fake with lightning quickness.
His game against Carolina, culminating in a shootout winner, was dominant as well. He generated numerous offensive opportunities, including three high-quality opportunities on his own, which led the team.
Both DeBrusk and Pastrnak have Bruins fans a window into the future when Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron are no longer members of team, and it doesn’t look half bad!
Connor Clifton - 1
Taylor Hall - 1
Garnet Hathaway - 1
Charlie McAvoy - 1
David Pastrnak - 2
Jeremy Swayman - 2
Linus Ullmark - 2