Boston Bruins: Only one man can save the B’s at 5-on-5 after Devils loss

The Boston Bruins need David Pastrnak back. And soon.

It was a tough loss for the Boston Bruins on Saturday after they dropped their second game of the 2020-21 NHL season to the New Jersey Devils in Overtime, a 2-1 loss that highlighted just how big a loss David Pastrnak is.

Sometimes you don’t know what you have until it is gone and that’s certainly the case for the Bruins, who sure are missing their most potent offensive weapon right now. Pastrnak underwent hip surgery and labral repair during the offseason, and he was projected to return in mid-February although he could be back sooner after joining practice in a non-contact jersey this week.

And the Bruins better hope that Pastrnak is back sooner rather than later because, without him, their offense looks seriously out of whack. They have played two games so far this season, both against the Devils, and although they finally won a shootout in their season opener after failing to do so in seven attempts last year, there wasn’t much else to get excited about.

Both of their goals in regulation on Thursday came on the power play, while Boston’s only goal in today’s 2-1 loss came thanks to a Patrice Bergeron shorthanded effort. So, in two games, the Bruins have failed to score a goal at five-on-five against a defense that ranked 29th in Goals Against Per Game (3.25) in 2019-20.

That is nowhere near good enough for a team with the weapons that the Boston Bruins have at their disposal, even without Pastrnak on the ice. After all, they still had the likes of Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk, Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith in the lineup, and that should be more than enough to get the job done on any given night.

David Pastrnak (88)

David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

David Pastrnak is the Boston Bruins’ Only Hope

It wasn’t as if the Bruins didn’t get pucks on net today as they fired 28 pucks at Mackenzie Blackwood, while they outshot the Devils 37-22 on Thursday. However, secondary scoring at 5-on-5 outside of their dynamic top line has long been a problem and we are seeing that play out right now.

Even Marchand and Bergeron struggled to get anything going at 5-on-5 in today’s showdown, although the two did combine for Bergeron’s first goal of the season, and first as Boston Captain, which came shorthanded. But it was obvious that this team lacked a real spark without Pastrnak.

They just couldn’t get anything going in the first two periods of the game and, even when they did begin to wake up in the third period, they were guilty of overplaying the puck on too many occasions. As a result, the New Jersey Devils, who have looked good in these two games, bided their time before pouncing in overtime with Damon Severson executing a sublime no-look pass to put Yegor Sharangovich in on a breakaway and the rookie snapped it low past Jaroslav Halak to score his first-ever NHL goal in some style.

That’s exactly what happens when you leave the door wide open as the Bruins did, and that’s also why they need David Pastrnak back as soon as possible. Pastrnak is just a beast at five-on-five and he boasts one of the most unique and deadliest shots in the NHL, so his return would spark this sluggish offense back into life.

I mean, the stats speak for themselves. Pastrnak had 48 goals in 2019-20, tied for the most with Alex Ovechkin, with 24 of those goals coming at 5-on-5. He had 48 5-on-5 points last year, while he has 104 goals and 114 assists for 218 points at 5-on-5 in 390 career NHL games, in addition to a career CF% of 55.0 at five-on-five.

Now, granted, the Bruins looked terrible in general at 5-on-5 today, making slopping plays in their own zone, they couldn’t transition out of the zone and the bottom of the lineup just doesn’t strike fear into teams offensively, so all of those flaws need to be eradicated if the B’s are to top what is an incredibly stacked East Division.

However, you can’t even begin to downplay just how crucial David Pastrnak is to this team, especially at 5-on-5, and his return can’t come soon enough for the Boston Bruins who look a shadow of themselves offensively, while both Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand also need their dynamic linemate back and firing on all cylinders. Today’s nightmare proved just how important Pasta is to this franchise.