Bruins notes: Montgomery is confident goals will come for Pastrnak


BOSTON -- Bruins superstar right wing David Pastrnak has not made the kind of impact in this first-round playoff series against the Florida Panthers that you'd expect from a 61-goal scorer and a likely Hart Trophy finalist.

He has scored twice -- once in Game 1 (on the power play) and again in Game 3 -- with zero assists after leading the B's with 52 helpers in the regular season. Pastrnak has been held without a single point in three of the last four games.

One goal and zero assists in 72 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time through five games isn't going to cut it. Pastrnak tallied 12.85 shots and 12.24 scoring chances per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in the regular season, per Natural Stat Trick. He's at 10.79 shots and 11.62 scoring chances per 60 minutes in Round 1. His shooting percentage was 14.2 in the regular season and it's 11.1 in the playoffs so far.

"You know, the puck’s not going in for him right now. It’s just a matter of time," Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said after his team's 4-3 overtime loss in Game 5 on Wednesday night. "I thought he worked really hard, I thought he won a lot of battles, I thought he was more involved, maybe than he was the first two games at home. But it’s just a matter of time, he’s just too good."

Pastrnak played 23:47 of ice time in Game 5, which was the most of any Bruins forward. He logged 5:52 of power-play minutes. Despite an abundance of ice time, Pastrnak tallied 11 shot attempts but only four hit the net. 

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The Panthers have made a strong effort to be physical with Pastrnak and hit/slash him whenever possible. How much is that having an effect on Pastrnak? It's tough to say, but it's obvious that the confidence and aggressiveness he showed offensively during the regular season has not shown up in the playoffs so far.

The Bruins can win this series without Pastrnak playing at an elite level. They still own a 3-2 series lead and have enough scoring depth -- plus other advantages -- to eliminate an inferior opponent like the Panthers.

But for the Bruins to win four rounds and beat the league's best teams later in the playoffs, they will need Pastrnak to be much more productive and consistent offensively.

Here are some other notes from Bruins-Panthers Game 5 and the playoffs as a whole.

-- Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron made his series debut in Game 5 and played fantastic. He scored a power-play goal in the third period and led all Bruins forwards with six shots on net. Boston had a 28-7 lead in shot attempts and a 14-4 edge in shots on net during Bergeron's 13:43 of 5-on-5 ice time.

Bergeron missed the first four games of the playoffs after suffering an upper body injury in the regular season finale versus the Montreal Canadiens on April 13.

"I felt good," Bergeron said after Game 5. "Obviously needed a few shifts to get back into the rhythm. Getting back into the playoffs is a different animal than getting back into the regular season. The pace is a lot higher. But that being said, I felt pretty good."

-- Matthew Tkachuk is an easy player for opposing fans to hate, and he does cross the line at times -- like his cross check to the ribs of Garnet Hathaway in Game 4 -- but there's no denying his superstar talent. Tkachuk's power forward-type of style is built for the playoffs, and he's been the Panthers' best forward in the series.

He is coming off back-to-back seasons of 40-plus goals and 100-plus points. He has posted seven points (three goals, four assists) through five games in Round 1. The only matchup in which he was kept off the scoresheet was Game 3. His overtime goal in Game 5 was the difference.

All three of Tkachuk's goals in the series have come right in front of the net. The Bruins need to do a much better job defending him in those high-danger areas and not letting him get prime position.

-- The Bruins have not played well at home in this series, losing two of the first three games at TD Garden. In fact, the Bruins' defeats in Game 2 and Game 5 represent the first time all season they have lost consecutive matchups on home ice.

Even though Boston's struggles at home are definitely troubling, they're also part of a larger trend around the league. 

Here's an interesting note from NHL Public Relations recapping Wednesday night's action: "League trends continued as we saw the 11th overtime game and road teams improved to 23-14 – tied for the most road wins at this stage of any postseason (23 in 2012). The records for most road wins in the opening round (30) and a single playoff year (47) were also established in 2012."

The Bruins are 2-0 on the road in this series, so that should give them some confidence entering Game 6 at FLA Live Arena on Friday night.

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-- The decision to play Jakub Lauko over Trent Frederic was an interesting one by Montgomery, to say the least. Frederic didn't score a goal or pick up an assist in the first four games of the series, but he was consistently engaged physically and wasn't a liability defensively. He also goes hard to the net and battles for pucks in the greasy areas. 

Lauko has zero goals and one assist, which came on Taylor Hall's empty-net tally in Game 4. He also has registered zero shots on goal in three games and took two penalties in Game 5. His second penalty led to a power-play goal for the Panthers that gave them a 3-2 lead in the third period.

Lauko isn't a bad player by any means, but Frederic is tougher, more skilled offensively and a little more reliable in regards to playing physical and not taking bad penalties. Re-inserting Frederic into the lineup Friday night would be a smart move.

-- If the Bruins advance to the second round, they will play the winner of the first-round series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs lead the series 3-1 entering Thursday night's Game 5 in Toronto. The last time the Leafs had a 3-1 lead in the first round was 2021, and it didn't end well for them. The Montreal Canadiens won three straight games, including a Game 7 in Toronto.

This year's Leafs team is much improved, but there are always going to be questions about their playoff mettle until they win a series. Toronto's last playoff series win was 2004. The Red Sox still had an 86-year World Series drought at the time.

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