Pastrnak on first playoff experience: ‘It's still hockey, right?'

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BRIGHTON, Mass. – David Pastrnak has experienced plenty in his three seasons with the Bruins at both the high and low end of the spectrum. The 20-year-old was the youngest player in the league as an 18-year-old Czech rookie fresh out of the Swedish League, and this season he participated in the World Cup of Hockey for his home country before topping 30 goals and 70 points in a breakout offensive season.

The lows were a little more subtle last season when he fractured a foot blocking a shot, then spent most of last season trying to get bigger and stronger on the puck to fight through the NHL battles on a night-to-night basis. 

All of that has turned him into an experienced 20-year-old who's been around the block in the league a couple of times, but he’ll also be in store for something new this week with his first taste of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let’s just say he’s looking forward to puck drop on Wednesday night against the Ottawa Senators, but also trying not to make too big of a deal about it.

“It’s exciting that it’s behind the corner now. I’m really looking forward to the game,” said Pastrnak. “But it’s still hockey, right? That’s what I’m focused on: just playing my best hockey. I just want to help the team, but it’s one of those things where there’s going to be over-thinking.”

Is Pastrnak better prepared now than he might have been if this had happened in Year 1 or Year 2 of a career that’s on a straight shot to NHL stardom?

“Probably. It’s just another year of experience, which is good,” said Pastrnak, who was skating with Ryan Spooner and Drew Stafford with David Krejci missing his second straight day of practice. “Every day I’m still learning, but I definitely feel more prepared than I would have last year [in the playoffs].”

Clearly the skills are on full display for Pastrnak with his top-level shooting, passing and skating game that saw him finish second on the team behind late-season Hart Trophy candidate Brad Marchand in goals (34) and points (70) in 75 games this season.

“I think other teams should be more worried about Pasta than me,” said Marchand, with a trademark smirk. “That kid is dynamite, so it’s fun to watch. With Bergeron’s line we’re usually up against top lines and top pairings, so it’s the same [attention] that we’ve been seeing for years. It really hasn’t changed.”

Perhaps expectations should be tempered a bit for Pastrnak in this first go-around with playoff intensity and physicality, but he got a taste of it when he and Marchand were both targeted by other teams down the stretch as the hottest things going for the Black and Gold. 

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