David Pastrnak keeps shooting, keeps scoring, keeps on keeping on, even with the Bruins’ top two centers, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, permanently off to the sidelines and luxuriating in their post-puck doctorates.
The two elite pivots are gone, but No. 88′s goals just keep coming.
Pastrnak, with an 11-13–24 goals line in 15 games on the heels of his career-best 61-goal effort last season, is scoring at a pace that would deliver another 60-goal season. The exact projection is 60.133 over an 82-game season, in case we have any analytics sticklers ready to demand full decimal point accountability. Uh, down, boys.
Now let’s hold it right there for a second. That’s a pace for another 60-goal season, two in a row, something done by a Bruin only by Phil Esposito in the ‘70s and not accomplished in the NHL at large in 30 years.
The last NHL playerer to put up 60 in consecutive seasons was Pavel Bure, the Russian Rocket, who posted 60 with the Canucks in 1992-93 and ‘93-’94. The second of those campaigns led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final against the Rangers, a playoff run in which the then 23-year old slammed home 16 more goals in 24 games.
“I thought he’d have a harder time producing,” mused Bruins coach Jim Montgomery, recounting a conversation he had with general manager Don Sweeney about Pastrnak on the flight home after Tuesday’s 5-2 win in Buffalo, “without Bergy and obviously Krejci to work with.”
In fact, added Montgomery, in exit meetings last spring, prior to the two elite centers announcing their retirements, he told Pastrnak to be ready for what would come this season.
Things, Montgomery informed Pastrnak, would be different without Bergeron and Krejci, along with their combined 1,168 career assists, scores of those attached to Pastrnak’s 301 goals prior to this season.
“We figured they were moving on, you know?” recounted Montgomery. “He just looked at me and said, ‘Yeah, I’m expecting it, don’t worry about it.’”
With a chuckle, Montgomery added, “That’s what he said to me! And now I don’t worry about it.”
Don’t worry, be happy … Pasta’s still got the party going.
Pastrnak, who scored the second goal in the win over the woeful Sabres, was not made available for comment after Wednesday’s workout in Brighton. Polite, amiable, and often humorous, the 27-year-old Czech winger has engaged substantially less frequently with the media as his profile as one of the game’s elite scorers has soared.
That’s too bad. Everyone would like to hear more from the club’s most prolific striker not to wear a No. 7 sweater, including those who cover the team on a daily basis, and especially his adoring fan base in Boston and across the league.
Fans love Pastrnak for his prolific scoring touch, his crafty puckhandling, his sense of humor, and his often avante-garde clothing choices, particularly the broad-rim hats.
Beyond Bure and Esposito (who twice had back-to-back 60-goal seasons, wrapped around 55 in 1972-73), only six others have had successive 60-goal seasons.
Wayne Gretzky, of course, put up the longest streak (four in a row). The Great One began that run with his record 92 goals in 1981-82. Brett Hull and Mike Bossy each hit the 60-goal plateau in three consecutive seasons. Mario Lemieux, Jari Kurri, and Steve Yzerman had two 60-goal seasons in a row.
It’s one of those accomplishments that looks even greater when considering the great scorers who never got there.
Exhibit A: Alex Ovechkin, who has 826 career goals, second only to Gretzky (894). Ovie has had an amazing career, but only cracked the 60-goal plateau once, when he potted 65 in 2007-08, prior to turning 23.
Gordie Howe, Mr. Hockey himself, scored 801 goals in his illustrious career. But No. 9 never scored more than the 49 he potted in 1952-53, the season he turned 25. Jaromir Jagr, with 766 goals, broke the 60 level only once, knocking home 62 in 1995-96, when he was 24.
Mike Gartner, 708 goals, no. Mark Messier, 694 goals, nope. Teemu Selanne, 684 goals, uh-uh. Selanne, as a 22-year-old rookie in Winnipeg, scored 76 in 1992-93. It’s a freshman mark that stands to this day. His next best season, 1997-98, he scored 52 with Anaheim.
Cam Neely, 395 goals, no sirree. Neely, bad to the bone, maxed out with three seasons of 50-plus goals, including back-to-backs from 1989-91.
Pastrnak’s run this season is all the more impressive because he has split time with two pivots, Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle, who are getting accustomed to his moves, while also growing into roles as full-time puck distributors on the top two lines.
“Pasta’s become more a puck possession guy,” said Montgomery. “I think it’s a little bit intentional, understanding that it’s going to take a while to create the kind of creativity that naturally happens when you play with a Krejci or a Bergeron, because they’re such intelligent hockey players. But he was already playing with [Zacha] and now we have [Brad Marchand] playing with [those two]. It makes us a little top heavy. But at the same time it gives us the creativity of them playing off each other.”
Entering Saturday night’s faceoff at TD Garden against the Canadiens, Pastrnak has 67 games to score 49 goals and place himself among the elite scorers in the game’s history. Another season of 60 looked like too heavy a lift. Suddenly, it could be in No. 88′s wheelhouse.
Framing the narrative:
David Pastrnak, with 11 goals in the Bruins first 15 games this season, is on pace again to reach the 60-goal plateau. If so, he would be the first NHLer since Pavel Bure (1992-94) to score 60 in consecutive seasons.
Pastrnak finished second in goal scoring last season with 61 goals, three fewer than Connor McDavid. This season, McDavid has scored only three.
In NHL history, Bure is among only eight players, including ex-Bruin Phil Esposito, ever to collect 60 goals in two or more consecutive seasons. Esposito is the only one to have two such consecutive streaks.
Mike Bossy, NY Islanders (career total: 573 goals)
1980-81 – 68 goals
1981-82 – 64 goals
1982-83 – 60 goals
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers (career total: 894 goals)
1981-82 – 92 goals
1982-83 – 71 goals
1983-84 – 87 goals
1984-85 – 73 goals
Mario Lemieux. Pittsburgh Penguins (career total: 690 goals)
1987-88 – 70 goals
1988-89 – 85 goals
Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins (career total: 717 goals)
1970-71 – 76 goals
1971-72 – 66 goals
1973-74 – 68 goals
1974-75 – 61 goals
Brett Hull, St Louis Blues (career total: 741 goals)
1989-90 – 72 goals
1990-91 – 86 goals
1991-92 – 70 goals
Pavel Bure, Vancouver Canucks (career total: 437 goals)
1992-93 – 60 goals
1993-94 – 60 goals
Jari Kurri, Edmonton Oilers (career total: 601 goals)
1984-85 – 71 goals
1985-86 – 68 goals
Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings (career total: 692 goals)
1988-89 – 65 goals
1989-90 – 62 goals
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.