Patrice Bergeron knows what it’s like to be David Pastrnak.
Like Pastrnak, Bergeron was once a wide-eyed, 18-year-old rookie who was young, talented, and eager to prove his worth in the National Hockey League.
Now a seasoned veteran in his own right, and one of the unquestioned leaders on the Bruins roster, Bergeron has welcomed Pastrnak under his wing, helping the 18-year-old Czech make the leap to hockey’s biggest stage.
“It’s definitely something I still remember from my first few years — how the older guys kept me under their wings and helped me a lot and taught me a lot of things on and off the ice,” Bergeron said. “I want to do the same thing for the younger guys, and Dave is definitely one of those guys — the youngest.”
As he has matured with the organization, Bergeron has been looked to as the mentor for young, highly touted draft picks. Forwards such as Jordan Caron, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin, and now Pastrnak have tagged along as Bergeron’s inquisitive shadow, learning from one of the league’s most respected players.
The youngest player in the NHL, Pastrnak made the jump to the Bruins after leading AHL rookies with 18 points (5-13—18) in 17 games with Providence. His debut came in Monday’s loss to Pittsburgh, and he skated alongside Bergeron for four shifts during the third period.
In Wednesday’s practice, Pastrnak shared the gold jerseys with Bergeron and Marchand, the trio flashing the chemistry that was apparent two days earlier.
“Marchand and Bergeron are great players who I could never have believed I could practice on the same line as those guys,” Pastrnak said. “Today I did, and I enjoyed it. They are really good players, and it’s fun to play with them.”
Coach Claude Julien said the best way to fuel Pastrnak’s growth is to flank him with talented players like Bergeron and Marchand, and allow the veterans to ease the transition.
“When you put a guy like him on [Bergeron’s] line, there’s going to be a reliable guy that’s going to help him grow as well,” Julien said.
“[Bergeron] was that age, too, when he started in Boston. He had somebody help him along the way, so he’s certainly capable of doing that now.”
Not a bad position
At a time of year for reflecting and giving thanks, the Bruins are getting in the Thanksgiving spirit by reflecting on the first quarter of the season and giving thanks that things are not worse.
Despite a number of injuries to key players, the Bruins sit only 6 points out of the top spot in the Atlantic Division with 23 games in the books. More importantly, the team is on the mend.
“I’m not standing here saying I’m satisfied,” said Julien, “just saying that with what’s happened to us, it could be worse.
“We’ll take it for what it is and we’ll keep working away here at our team.”
“It’s an 82-game season, and it’s not always going to be nice and pretty,” Bergeron said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen.
“It would be nice to have a better start, but that being said, it’s part of the game and it’s about how you battle through it and how we get better through that stuff.”
On the board
A player’s first NHL goal is always a moment to remember. When it comes against the team that drafted you, there is surely an added sense of pride and accomplishment.
Such is the case for Joe Morrow, whose first professional tally came against the Penguins, the team that selected him with the 23d overall pick in 2011.
“It was nice to see him score, especially against the team that drafted him,” Julien said. “That’s always a little special moment for a player to go out there and score against the team that drafted him. Not out of revenge, but it just feels good.”
The 21-year-old defenseman from Sherwood Park, Alberta, was traded from Pittsburgh to Dallas before coming to Boston as part of the Seguin swap.
Kelly gives it a go
Forward Chris Kelly returned to practice, having missed two games with an upper-body injury suffered in last Friday’s shootout victory over Columbus. Kelly took light contact and, according to Julien, will be assessed by the medical staff prior to Friday’s game against Winnipeg . . . Captain Zdeno Chara (knee) and fellow defenseman David Warsofsky (groin) both skated prior to practice . . . With Kelly’s return, David Krejci was the only forward not on the ice.
Andrew MacDougall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.