Even when things are going well for the Bruins, there always seems to be some sort of drama following them around. The team boasts a 20-3-6 record and sits atop the Atlantic Division. In addition, Bruins forward David Pastrnak leads the National Hockey League in goals scored. Therein lies the problem.
Pastrnak has been on an unbelievable scoring tear so far this season. He has contributed 25 goals and 18 assists in just 29 games played. Of course, the 23-year-old Czech phenom is certainly one of the main reasons for the team's success, coupled with the play of Boston's elite goaltending tandem.
Opposing teams are scratching their heads trying to figure out how to stop Pastrnak from lighting them up. Of late, those efforts seem to have placed a target squarely on Pastrnak's back.
Now, the Bruins have a problem. The team can ill afford to see its star player injured either by a questionable hit or in an ensuing scuffle. Pastrnak himself has seemed eager to jump into the fray and defend himself in the last few games. This simply cannot be allowed to continue.
The question becomes, who then should be charged with protecting Boston's goal machine? There is no simple solution.
Taking One For The Team
If, for example, one of Pastrnak's linemates decide to defend him, that means another first or second-line player or one of the team's top defensemen is being put at risk. One Bruin who never has been afraid to mix it up in defense of a teammate is Kevan Miller. However, Miller has yet to play this season, and head coach Bruce Cassidy said recently that Miller suffered another setback in his recovery from injury.
Defenseman John Moore played his first game of the 2019-2020 season Thursday night following offseason shoulder surgery. In fact, Moore did get into a tussle in the game in defense of Pastrnak. However, Cassidy and Moore himself acknowledged after the game that it probably was not the smartest move to make for a player just returning from a serious injury.
In the 2019 playoffs, veteran forward David Backes took on a bit of an enforcer role. However, with a history of concussions, including one that recently kept him out for several weeks, Backes is not likely to be asked to step into that role again.
Ritchie To The Rescue?
At least for Saturday's game against the Colorado Avalanche, it seems that the Bruins are turning to Brett Ritchie to try to protect their star players. Ritchie has been in and out of the lineup with a nagging infection. However, Cassidy announced Saturday afternoon that Ritchie would play, and hinted that the winger's size and toughness were being called into play.
Pastrnak and linemate Brad Marchand have shown that they are both more than willing to stand up for themselves. However, with that duo providing a large percentage of the Bruins' scoring, the team would be wise to look for another solution.
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