Pastrnak insists he's healthy, but he needs to start scoring if that's the case

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BRIGHTON, Mass – David Pastrnak insisted he’s 100 percent and that nothing is ailing him physically in these Stanley Cup playoffs.

“I feel good,” said Pastrnak, who said "yes" when asked if he’s feeling healthy and feeling 100 percent.

Certainly, that’s good news for the Bruins, if it’s true, but if it is, then it begs the question of what exactly is going on with Boston’s biggest game-breaking force. Pastrnak did have one two-goal game in the first-round series against the Maple Leafs, but aside from that offensive outburst, he’s been eerily quiet. He has just the two goals and six points in eight playoff games.

Pastrnak had just a single shot on goal and was a minus-1 in the overtime Game 1 win over the Blue Jackets on Thursday night and had just a couple of shots on net in the Game 7 win over the Maple Leafs on Tuesday. It’s appeared at times that Pastrnak isn’t getting as many shots to the net as he usually does – whether they’re being blocked or just missing the net – and that his strength on the puck isn’t what it usually is either.

“We’re not that down on Pasta. Obviously, with the goals, he’s got the two-goal total from the one game, and some of that is the way things go sometimes or the way teams are checking him,” said Bruce Cassidy. "Eventually, I believe he’ll score. That’s where he’s made some of his best contributions, so we’ll see where he ends up [in Game 2] and we’ll go from there.

“I find that he’s a little more hesitant than he usually is from just ripping it when he’s on the elbow on the power play. I think they’re getting in his shooting lane and there are some opportunities to go backdoor to [Marcus] Johansson or Jake [DeBrusk], or [Brad] Marchand. Last night, we just missed one where he made a hell of a play to Marchie and he just went wide. It might be about what’s available and the shooting volume being down. So, we’re going to keep encouraging him to pound the puck on the net because there aren’t a lot of bad things that happen when you shoot the puck on the net.”

Whether it’s due to injury or the way he’s being defended, there’s little doubt that Pastrnak isn’t exploding for offense as he usually does at a time when the B’s desperately need him. It hasn’t reached a point of frustration for him, but Pastrnak understands that he’s got to figure it out for a team that needs the 22-year-old.

“It’s a tough league. You can’t score every time. You’ve just got to find another way to help the team,” said Pastrnak, who had 38 goals and 81 points in 66 regular-season games this season. “Maybe I would like myself to shoot a little bit more. I’m passing on some shots. But that’s normal sometimes. Sometimes I think the pass is better and I just need to get back to shooting it more.

“I’m just preparing the same way for every game like I did during the regular season. We’re winning and that’s the most important thing. I’m just trying to help the team any way that I can.”

It wouldn’t be surprising to one day learn that his surgically repaired thumb is giving Pastrnak problems, though he’s never going to be one to admit it while the playoffs are ongoing. Instead, the Bruins will just have to hope that Pastrnak eventually snaps out of whatever funk he’s been dragged into thus far in the playoffs, and that they can continue to win playoff games while he figures it all out.

It's nice that the B's third and fourth lines have shouldered more of Boston's scoring burden the past few games, but they're not going anywhere unless Pastrnak begins looking like the explosive, game-breaking, regular-season version of himself. 

If Pastrnak never gets to his level for whatever reason, then it’s going to be awfully difficult for the Bruins to live up to everything they can be in a Stanley Cup playoff run that’s got some pretty lofty potential this spring. 
 

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