Before Brad Marchand began his hot streak at the start of 2017, David Pastrnak was the one carrying the Bruins’ offense at a time where it was struggling to score goals. When Marchand began his hot streak at the start of the new year, Pastrnak was in the midst a career-long goal drought of 17 games from mid-December to late-January.
They’ve had their shares of ebbs and flows, but both Pastrnak and Marchand are now thriving under Bruce Cassidy. Whether they’ve played on the same line or on a different trio, the two continue to find success with both joining the 30-goal club this season.
Only one player is being considered for the Hart Trophy in 2016-17. The other, assuming he continues his upward trend, may call himself a future MVP. With that in mind, here’s a look at the Bruins’ three stars from their three-game swing in Western Canada:
From one career streak to another, one might suggest that Pastrnak has been an up-and-down player. Even during his 17-game goal drought that ended against the Red Wings on Jan. 24, Pastrnak was still finding production both on the stat sheet — with 10 assists in that span — and away from the puck.
In an attempt to balance out his lines, Cassidy placed Pastrnak on the second line with David Krejci. The 20-year-old and his fellow countryman have given Cassidy a good 1-2 combination on the second line.
How much has that change paid off for Pastrnak? The 2014 first-round pick is in midst of a career-long 11-game point streak, which includes a five-point effort during the Bruins three-game trip to Western Canada. Pastrnak’s empty-netter and second of the night on Wednesday night clinched his first 30-goal season and snapped the Flames’ 10-game winning streak — a franchise best.
His play helped the Bruins notch a few wins early in the season. His progression has paid off on the stat sheet. All that’s missing from Pastrnak’s early resume is his first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With each week, Marchand continues to make his case to win the Hart Trophy.
Against the Flames, Canucks and Oilers last week, Marchand let his game do the talking. From his hat trick in Vancouver — the first Bruin to score three in a game since Jimmy Hayes back on Dec. 29, 2015 — to following up with a goal and an assist in Calgary and matching fellow MVP candidate Connor McDavid with a three-point night in Edmonton, Marchand is continuing his tear through the rest of the National Hockey League.
Through 71 games, Marchand has already notched career highs in points (79), power play goals (8), power play points (21) and game-winning goals (7). He is one goal away from his career high 38th goal and one point shy of his first 80-point season. Those are just a few stats that will help Marchand in his MVP quest.
Like Marchand did with his impressive week, David Backes led by example.
Sure, the term-length (five years) and dollar value ($30 million) of the contract he signed in the offseason might not be justified from a statistical standpoint, but his toughness and leadership go beyond the 15 goals and 19 assists through 63 games played in 2016-17.
Case in point, on Wednesday night in Calgary, Backes was assisted by Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara to the locker room following a nasty first-period collision. Favoring his leg as he appeared to hobble off the ice, it appeared Backes would be done for the night — and possibly beyond that.
In a surprise to many Bruins fans, Backes returned — in grand fashion. In his second shift back, the former Blues captain notched a crucial goal in the second period to give the Black and Gold a 3-2 lead. Backes and company did not look back en route to the 5-2 victory.
His offensive production may not resemble his days in St. Louis, but Backes’ demeanor and attitude are a couple of traits that the Black and Gold will gladly take any day of the week.