A day after David Pastrnak rolled out emoji-laden sticks and a LeBron-inspired goal celebration on a national stage, No. 88 can call himself an All-Star for the first time. He snagged the lone Bruins invitation to this year’s NHL All-Star Game later this month.
The 22-year-old right winger is one of six Atlantic Division forwards headed to San Jose for the game on Sat., Jan. 26, the fourth contested as a trio of 3-on-3 games between the league’s divisions. Atlantic captain Auston Matthews was chosen by a fan vote, but the Maple Leafs’ star’s roster was filled out by the NHL hockey operations department.
Joining Pastrnak and Matthews up front are Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, Matthews’ Toronto teammate John Tavares, and Buffalo captain (via North Chelmsford and Boston University) Jack Eichel. The remaining four spots went to the division’s bottom four squads: Defensemen Thomas Chabot (Ottawa) and Milton’s Keith Yandle (Florida), and goaltenders Jimmy Howard (Detroit) and Carey Price (Montreal).
Because of the limited roster sizes and the league mandate all 31 teams be represented, just nine teams nabbed multiple All-Star spots and just one — host San Jose, through forward Joe Pavelski and the defensive tandem of Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns — took three. The NHL did add a”Last Men In” fan vote this year, with Patrice Bergeron the Bruins’ representative among the eight Atlantic teams, but he faces long odds against the likes of Toronto’s Mitch Marner, Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner and Tampa’s Brayden Point.
Marner and Point are the only two of the league’s top-10 scorers not named on the initial rosters, and Skinner’s 26 goals make him one of only three players — joining Alex Ovechkin, who is skipping the All-Star Game for rest, and Tavares — who had more goals than Pastrnak entering Wednesday night.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 3, 2019
Pastrnak’s 24 goals and 50 points lead the Bruins through 40 games, with the latter tied for eighth league-wide. His goal and assist on Tuesday at Notre Dame Stadium, the former followed by a puzzling homage to King James, made him the first Bruins player since Marc Savard in 2006-07 with 50 points through 40 games. Another goal on Thursday night against Pacific-leading Calgary would, as pointed out by longtime Bruins writer Mick Colageo, would put him on pace for Boston’s first 50-goal season since Cam Neely’s in 1993-94.
Pastrnak first All-Star nod is a fitting reward after a breakout 2017-18, when he led the B’s with 35 goals in the regular season and racked up 20 points in 13 postseason games. Pastrnak is one of 10 first-time All-Stars pending the remaining fan vote, which runs for a week beginning at noon on Thursday. (BU product Clayton Keller is as well, representing Arizona.)
Chicago’s Patrick Kane made his eighth All-Star team, most among players selected this year.