Looking at the similarities in the way David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall play the game — with speed and creativity — Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy believed they could complement each other.
As the Bruins ran off five straight wins, he’s watched that play out.
In nine games since Cassidy shook up the lines, Hall put up a 2-8—11 line and has been plus-5 in 143 minutes. Pastrnak has gone 8-2—10 and has been plus-5 as well in 157 minutes. With seven goals and 89 shot attempts, the Hall-Pastrnak-Erik Haula line has been the Bruins’ most productive over the past 10 games, according to leftwinglock.com.
Hall and Pastrnak are not only on the same page, they’re on the same wavelength.
“They look for each other on the ice,” Cassidy said. “But they also have an instinctual sort of, without looking, knowing where they’re going to be because they think the same way.
“So Pasta gets the puck and he’s kind of going through his head, ‘Well, where would I go right now if I didn’t have it.’ So they can make some plays to areas that they’re half a second ahead of the defending team.”
Similar thinking makes decision-making easier, Cassidy said.
“When you think the same way in a fast sport, you can beat people to spots and the puck can beat people to spots,” Cassidy said.
Over the first 26 games of the season, Hall scored five goals with nine assists and was minus-3, searching for consistency. He didn’t find the net at all in December. Pastrnak went through a nine-game stretch in December where he didn’t score a goal.
But they’ve come to life since landing on the same line. Pastrnak had his 13th career hat trick last week against the Philadelphia Flyers. Hall scored the overtime game-winner Saturday against Nashville.
The communication when they’re on the ice is constant and healthy, a sign that things are clicking, Cassidy said.
“If you start getting results, you start feeling better about it and then you trust where each other are and [trust] one another and it just grows from there,” he said. “So I think we’re seeing a little bit of that. We’ve seen it with Pasta with a lot of different players, Taylor Hall over his career, so it’s nice to find them here together and doing it.”
Kuhlman claimed by Seattle
With competition getting thicker on the Bruins bottom six, Boston decided over the weekend to waive forward Karson Kuhlman with the hope that he would clear them and be able to play for AHL Providence.
But the Bruins knew there was some risk that the 26-year-old would be picked up by another team. That team was the Kraken, who claimed Kuhlman on Monday.
Kuhlman had a 1-1—2 line for the Bruins in 19 games, but the emergence of Oskar Steen and Anton Blidh made it difficult for him to carve out ice time. He hadn’t played since Jan. 10 against the Washington Capitals.
“There’s always a risk he could get picked up, you lose an asset, but that was the decision,” Cassidy said. “I credit Steen for coming in and pushing and doing a good job. [Kuhlman] on the other hand, when he went in he played well. He just played to his strength, tried to be a little more physical at times when he could. Steen was just a little bit ahead of him right now.”
Clifton back from COVID
Connor Clifton returned to practice after spending the past week in the NHL’s COVID protocol.
It was the second time Clifton was hit with the virus in a four-month span. He said beyond the sniffles, he was asymptomatic. Prior to entering protocol, Clifton was plus-4 over his last five games, thriving in a pairing with Derek Forbort.
“I was starting to feel good, play good, team was on a run — still are, luckily,” Clifton said. “Obviously, it [stinks] watching, especially when I just had COVID four months ago. So it wasn’t ideal. But it is what it is, sat out five days and I’m back now.”
Rask back in net
Tuukka Rask will make his second start of the season Tuesday against Carolina. In his debut, Rask stopped 25 of 27 shots in a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. In 17 career games against the Hurricanes, Rask is 9-4-3 with a .928 save percentage and a 2.27 goals against average ... Brad Marchand was named first star in the NHL’s three stars of the week. In four games, he posted a 6-4—10 line. He’s the third player in Bruins history to reach 20 goals in at least 11 seasons ... Trent Frederic and John Moore were both off the ice at practice recovering from upper body injuries.
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.