David Pastrnak is having a career year at age 23. The Bruins superstar has 25 goals in 31 games and is on pace (66) to nearly double his career-high of 38 in 2019-20.
Wednesday, Pastrnak will suit up against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals for the second time this season. In the team’s first meeting of the season in late November, Pasta scored his 17th goal of the season, beating Braden Holtby on a sharp angle.
Since then, Pastrnak has scored eight more times and leads Ovechkin by four in the NHL’s goal-scoring race. Pasta, however, feels like his lead is tenuous.
“Four goals for Ovi is nothing,” Pastrnak said to NHL.com on Tuesday. “Obviously, he’s an unbelievable goal-scorer, and he’s been doing it for a lot of years. We all know what he’s capable of.”
Pastrnak is referring to Ovechkin’s eight 50-goal seasons and eight Rocket Richard Trophies as the league’s league-leading goal scorer. Ovechkin is also one of the greatest scorers of all-time on the powerplay despite everyone in the arena knowing where he’s going to shoot, his office from the left circle.
“I’m happy for guys who get those results,” Ovechkin said of Pastrnak. “The league’s changed. You can’t be always number one. At some point, somebody is going to get you, and you just have to try to do your best thing that you can do.”
Pastrnak is having so much success this season due to his continued maturation, his line’s dominance (he skates with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand), and the Bruins’ overall excellence. The forward is also an excellent skater in the prime of his career who has both great hands and a booming, accurate shot.
Pastrnak recently scored this demoralizing goal on Carey Price with a slap shot. Afterward, he confidently raised his arms into the air like Yes, you may now cheer for me now.
During a November game against the Habs, he scored a hat trick in less than 30 minutes of hockey.
Pasta’s also scoring ridiculous between-the-legs goals like this.
The Capitals-Bruins matchup will be nationally televised on NBCSN and is this week’s Wednesday Night Rivalry game. The budding goal-scoring rivalry between the two players is one of the main storylines headed into the game.
Pastrnak: 25 GOALS
Ovechkin: 21 GOALS
The crease will be a scary place to be! pic.twitter.com/RqHgzWTfsr
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) December 11, 2019
“I feel like Ovi likes these kind of matchups,” Nicklas Backstrom said.
And Backstrom would know. Backstrom has assisted on 254 of Ovechkin’s 679 goals (37 percent). The Swedish center has had a front seat to Ovechkin’s dominance over the last decade-plus and watched Ovi constantly find another level during big games, including the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run in 2018.
On top of that, the Capitals and Bruins are number one and number two in the league standings.
While the Bruins can’t catch the Capitals with a win and it’s unlikely Ovechkin will leapfrog over Pastrnak in goals, the game will serve as an important barometer for two of the best teams in the league, who are also budding a decent rivalry.
Headline photo: Sportsnet