Bruins need more from David Pastrnak after awful Game 2 performance vs. Hurricanes

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Bruins need more from David Pastrnak after awful Game 2 performance originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Bruins need a massive improvement from David Pastrnak or their season could end as soon as Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

Pastrnak has been the most disappointing Bruins player in their first-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes, which Boston now trails 0-2 after a 5-2 loss Wednesday night.

In fact, the first period of Game 2 probably was the worst 20 minutes of Pastrnak's Bruins career.

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It started when he collided with Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta and wiped out a Bruins power play. Boston had a great chance to score the opening goal or at least build some momentum with that power play. Pastrnak wasn't trying to injure Raanta by any means, but he clearly didn't do enough to avoid him.

He also exited the zone too early on the Hurricanes' first goal. Pastrnak was skating up ice before the Bruins had clear possession of the puck. Carolina ended up controlling it and scored a few seconds later.

The second goal is where Pastrnak really cost the Bruins. Instead of taking a hit to clear the puck out of the defensive zone, he tried to avoid contact and allowed Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin to grab the puck with ease. Slavin skated around Boston's net and helped set up the goal with a secondary assist. It was an absolutely soft play from Pastrnak.

It's quite possible Pastrnak is not 100 percent healthy. He missed a couple weeks in April after suffering an undisclosed injury against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 4. But if Pastrnak is healthy enough to play, he has to give the Bruins something.

Zero points and lackluster effort defensively won't cut it. And a couple times late in the third period he had the puck near the blue line and just turned and fired a shot toward the net with no purpose whatsoever.

“He’s a star in this league,” Cassidy said of Pastrnak. “He’s going to have to play through some of the physicality, maybe the threat of intimidation, the smack talking. Whatever’s going on out there, you’ve just got to play through it. All the good players in this league do.”

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It's difficult to win in the playoffs when your most skilled offensive player isn't producing, and it's especially tough when you're playing against an elite defensive team like the Hurricanes.

Carolina ranked No. 2 in goals against, No. 4 in scoring chances against, No. 3 in shots against and No. 2 in shot attempts against at 5-on-5 in the regular season. The 'Canes also led the league with an 88 percent success rate on the penalty kill.

It's massively important for Boston's top forwards to step up, and Pastrnak is at the top of that list with a team-leading 108 goals over the last three seasons. To be fair, the Bruins need a lot more production from a ton of players to turn around this series. Brad Marchand has been a non-factor offensively, too.

The Bruins reunited Pastrnak, Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the top line in the third period Wednesday night. Head coach Bruce Cassidy should keep that trio intact to start Game 3 on Friday. That's probably the best way to help ignite Pastrnak's game.