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Mostly positives for rookie David Pastrnak in tourney opener

Bruins rookie David Pastrnak created some offensive chances against the Panthers’ youngsters Saturday.File/John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

ANTIOCH, Tenn. — Asked about the stick that caught him in the face in the third period, David Pastrnak just smiled.

The smile revealed the sharp points now at the bottom of an upper tooth on the left side, one that was half missing. Pastrnak had skated off the ice with his hand to his face and was tended to by a trainer on the bench. But undeterred, he returned to the Bruins’ first game of the rookie tournament at the Ford Ice Center outside Nashville, a game in which he was clearly the most exciting offensive player.

That was highlighted on a play less than a minute to go in the first period. Pastrnak stripped Aaron Ekblad, the first pick in the 2014 draft, in the defensive zone, then took the puck through the neutral zone as he started the partial breakaway. Though he wasn’t quite able to finish — a theme in the game — it gave some insight into what he brings offensively.

“When you are backchecking, then it’s easier to take the puck away and even easier to go to the turnover because you have the speed from the backcheck so nobody can catch you,” Pastrnak said. “So everything starts from backchecking.”


There were more positives for Pastrnak, but also a few not-so-positives, to be expected for an 18-year-old just getting his first taste of the game at this level.

“Certainly some offensive opportunities he created by his own, or from some other people, are fun to watch,” assistant general manager Don Sweeney said. “Some risk/reward, I will call it, in his game that at times will really translate, and other times he’ll understand that’s a young man’s play.

“But that’s what coaching and growth and development’s all about. But . . . really excited about the offensive plays that he did make and the effort that he puts in. He comes back on a backcheck, strips the puck, and then he goes the other way as well. So lots of good things to like about David’s play and lots of things to have some talking moments that I’m sure coaches will address with him.”


Pastrnak had a couple of other chances to impress, including a penalty shot in the third period and a chance during the shootout. He missed both, hitting post on the penalty shot and not converting after a half spin-o-rama by the blue line in the shootout.

“He’s a great player, a skill guy. He showed it today for sure,” goaltender Malcolm Subban said. “It’s great to see guys that they can exploit that skill, not too nervous. Most guys would be nervous in their first game, but he looked pretty comfortable to me.”

As the Bruins had indicated, Pastrnak was used at center, between Anthony Camara and Seth Griffith. Sweeney said they simply wanted to see him at both center and wing during the tournament, rather than putting him there to encourage greater defensive responsibility — though they’d like to see that, too.

“We’re not looking to protect anybody in these situations,” Sweeney said. “We’re looking to expose them to as much as we can.”

Slow start

There was, as Sweeney put it, one shot that Subban would have liked back. He allowed two scores in the team’s 2-0 loss to Florida, both in the second period.


The game started out slowly for Subban, who faced just three shots in the first. But it was on the fourth shot that he let in his first goal.

“It’s pretty tough, especially your first game,” said Subban, who made 28 saves. “You haven’t really gotten a feel for anything. So just trying to feel the puck. I guess that was the result, the first two goals that they got. The third period I felt a lot better, just got into the game a bit more, finally felt a little comfortable. But by the time that happened, the game was pretty much over.”

Taking a shot

There will be shootouts after each of the games of this tournament, regardless of the score at the end of regulation. The Bruins sent out Alex Fallstrom, Camara, Griffith, Brian Ferlin, and Pastrnak. Griffith was the only successful one. Subban allowed one penalty shot to get past him . . . Camara had a tough game, especially the third period, in which he committed three penalties (tripping, high-sticking, and cross-checking). “The hopes are that Anthony would play off [Pastrnak and Griffith] in straight lines, a little sandpaper to the line,” Sweeney said. “Probably not his best effort today, taking three penalties, but he hasn’t played a lot of hockey in the last little while. He came off of concussion stuff. You could tell that he was anxious to try and go out and make more things happen than maybe he should have, but that’s what this camp is all about so that he’ll feel more comfortable when it comes to main camp.” . . . Asked who else played well Saturday, Sweeney cited Matt Lindblad, Ben Sexton, Chris Casto, and Linus Arnesson.


Amalie Benjamin can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.