With the announcements on Monday, November 24, of the call-ups of David Pastrnak and Jordan Caron coupled with the later announcement that the Boston Bruins had assigned forward Seth Griffith to the Providence Bruins, fans everywhere are wondering if head coach Claude Julien will play the 18-year-old Pastrnak in his first NHL game.
After practice, which saw Brad Marchand on the ice for the complete morning event, Julien was asked right away if he was going to play the first-round NHL Draft pick. And with typical Julien-ness, he said there would be a few game-time decisions including both Pastrnak and Marchand. The only certainty was that Chris Kelly was definitely not playing in the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After Monday’s practice, Pastrnak was asked about how he was feeling and if he thought he was going to play.
“I’m happy I get this opportunity to come [to Boston],” he told the press crowding in around him. “I don’t know if I will play, but to practice with those guys [the Boston Bruins] is great, so I just try to enjoy it.”
When asked about being told he was being called up, it was perhaps the first time that the media has seen the effervescent forward at a loss for words.
“It was surprising. I’ve never had this before…,” he responded. “I don’t know, I can’t describe it.”
Of course a call-up does not mean that he will play, but he’s clearly happy to be even given a chance to practice with the team. And if he does play, number 88 will be easy to spot on the ice as his hair flies out from under his helmet and his smile never goes away.
Julien was asked Monday morning what he had heard about Pastrnak’s play in Providence.
“Well he’s improved a lot. Understanding the game, the North American game,” Julien responded. “The way we play here, whether it’s here or Providence, as you know we’re pretty similar.”
Providence Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy has no doubt kept the Boston club informed of Pastrnak’s progress. And he’s seen some good things in the young forward’s play.
“He’s a guy that it’s with the puck where he’s gonna make hay,” he told reporters in Providence after the Providence Bruins beat the Portland Pirates back in October. “He’s still a threat every time he’s on the ice and I think he’s building better habits into his game defensively.”
And improving his defensive play is what he says was the biggest adjustment he had to make since coming to North America.
“[I’ve had] to improve my defensive zone and get [simpler],” he responded when asked about the transition to the North American game. “Sometimes you can’t always make a play, so sometimes just take it easy.”
Whether he plays on Monday against the Penguins or not, he continues to be alert and soak in every experience so he can grow as a hockey player. And the Boston Bruins have to be excited about his attitude in addition to his skill.