Now is not the time to move David Pastrnak off the rejuvenated second line originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The decision to remove David Pastrnak from his usual first line spot to second-line right wing has not only jumpstarted his own offensive production in a huge way, it's also given the entire Boston Bruins forward group a much-needed boost of scoring depth.
Pastrnak's hot streak continued Thursday night when he scored twice -- once at 5-on-5 and another on the power play -- to help the B's bounce back from a horrendous 7-1 defeat on Tuesday night and defeat the Washington Capitals 4-3 at TD Garden.
"Today was a big character win for us coming off the game the other day," Pastrnak told reporters after the victory.
"It was a good opportunity for us to bounce back and that was our main focus. Washington is a really good team, and we knew it was gonna be a good challenge. For us, our main focus was to get back to work and obviously get back to the winning streak. It worked out today."
Ever since Pastrnak was moved to a new-look second line with Taylor Hall at left wing and Erik Haula at center, the superstar right winger's performance has risen a few levels.
Here's a look at his stats before and after the switch:
The chemistry between these linemates has developed at an impressive pace. It was on full display during the buildup to Pastrnak's first goal Thursday night. Hall fed Pastrnak with a perfectly placed pass to set up an easy scoring opportunity. Haula picked up a secondary assist on the play, too.
Pastrnak was playing at a 24-goal pace before the line change to begin the New Year. He's currently at a 39-goal pace and has a realistic chance to hit the 40-goal mark for the second time in his career.
The Bruins have accounted for 56.6 percent of all shots, 57.14 percent of all goals and 54.9 percent of all scoring chances during 5-on-5 action, per Natural Stat Trick, when the Hall-Haula-Pastrnak combo has been on the ice over the last 11 games. Those are really strong numbers and help illustrate how much the ice is tilted in Boston's favor when this line hops over the boards.
The Bruins did not have two good scoring lines from Opening Night through Dec. 31. This lack of depth was a major problem and one of the main reasons why they struggled so much against quality opponents during that stretch.
Since reshuffling the top-six forwards, not only has Pastrnak made a jump -- Hall and Haula have as well. Since Jan. 1, Hall has posted 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 11 games, while Haula has tallied nine points (two goals, seven assists) over that span. Haula's uptick has been a welcome sign for the B's after his dreadful start to the season.
It might be tempting to move Pastrnak back up to the first line given his phenomenal chemistry and production with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron over the last four years. When together, they're arguably the best line in the world.
But for the Bruins to be a true Stanley Cup contender and make a deep playoff run, they can't just have one awesome line and expect to win games in May and June.
They need at least two good lines for opponents to game plan against, and that's what they have with Pastrnak providing the firepower on the second line and Marchand having an MVP-caliber season on the first line.