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David Pastrnak Could Get into First NHL Game Against Pittsburgh

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON - David Pastrnak has waited for the opportunity to suit up in his first NHL game with Boston, and that chance may come on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Pastrnak was recalled on Monday morning, and joined the team on the ice for pregame skate.

Head Coach Claude Julien deemed Pastrnak a game-time decision, as the Bruins have question marks with their lineup. While David Krejci and Chris Kelly remain out due to undisclosed injuries, Brad Marchand could be ready to return from his own undisclosed injury.

Jordan Caron was also recalled with Pastrnak. The transactions reunited three P-Bruins who have played together on Providence's top line this season: Caron, Pastrnak and Alex Khokhlachev, who remains with Boston on an emergency basis.

"I'm happy I got this opportunity to come here and it's - I don't know if [I'll] play, but practicing with those guys and everything it's great, so I'm just trying to enjoy it," a smiling Pastrnak said from the locker room following pregame skate.

Pastrnak found out he was getting his first NHL recall on Sunday, when he was set to play in Providence's afternoon game at the Dunkin Donuts Center, before he was given the news.

"They said I'm just going to go up to Boston and we'll see what happens," said Pastrnak, who didn't suit up in the P-Bruins game.

"So I've just been a little confused and surprised, you know?" he smiled. "So I never had this before, so I can't describe it."

After being one of the final cuts at training camp, Pastrnak has spent the last month and a half adjusting to the North American and becoming a point-per-game player at the AHL level.

Through 17 games, he leads Providence with 18 points off a team-leading 13 assists and five goals, along with a plus-12 rating.

His 18 points are tied for fifth overall in the AHL. The 18-year-old received AHL Rookie of the Month honors for October, tallying two goals and seven assists for nine points with a plus-8 rating in seven games.

"It was really good. I like a lot of guys there, all are good friends to me and it was fun to be there and I got a lot of experience from there too," he said.

Pastrnak still retains his option of returning to Sweden, but he's embraced the opportunity to grow his game in Providence.

He's also found chemistry with linemates Khokhlachev and Caron, and that trio could find themselves together on Monday night.

"We all three are different guys, and a different kind of style of player I think, and we played a long time together and we got used to it, and understand each other," said Pastrnak. "We know where we are on the ice and they helped me a lot down there in the beginning, and I appreciate it."

Whether those three are all in the lineup or not, the Bruins' 2014 first round draft pick is grateful for the chance to be up with Boston.

Pastrnak had an unlucky training camp, being out for the first half of it with a shoulder injury. He got healthy and suited up in preseason action, but was assigned to Providence on October 7, the day before the Bruins opened their 2014-15 season.

Having never played the pro game in North America, Pastrnak has used the past seven weeks to adjust to less time and space than over in Europe. He's also used it to continue working on his play without the puck.

"Probably improve my defensive zone," said Pastrnak, of what has improved the most since he arrived to New England. "And get more [simple] sometimes. You know, sometimes you can't always make a play, so sometimes just take it easy and that's probably the biggest skill that [they] teach here."

Back in September during the Bruins' rookie camp, Pastrnak genuinely admitted that he didn't realize how much his two-way play needed to improve. "I didn't know that before," he had smiled. "I know that now."

Assistant General Manger Don Sweeney and P-Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy had both talked about the risk-reward style to his game.

So, he worked hard in Providence, improved his defensive play, and earned the call.

What has Julien heard about Pastrnak's time there?

"Well, that he’s improved a lot," said the bench boss. "Understanding the game, the North American game. The way we plays here, whether it’s here [in Boston] or Providence, as you know, we’re pretty well similar."

"We know he’s a dynamic player, but it’s like a lot of players will tell you - well, here’s an example, I was listening to Martin St. Louis yesterday talk and how he said he was utilized a lot in defensive situations early in his career and until somebody gave him that opportunity to become an offensive guy, like he had been his whole career, he felt like he was a more complete player."

"I think, right now, that’s what David is trying to learn in Providence. We know how dynamically he makes things happen. He’s a skilled player, can score goals and we don’t expect perfection, but you have to be at least a little bit reliable, defensively."

"That’s what he’s working on over there and he’s gotten better, so that’s where we’re at with him and I guess, like you guys, I’m going to find out a little bit more about him if he plays tonight."

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