BOSTON - As the Bruins reach their nine-day reprieve for the All-Star Break and subsequent bye week, there is not much to complain about.
Boston (29-10-12, 70 points) sits atop the Atlantic Division with a sizeable 8-point margin over the Tampa Bay Lightning and is just 1 point back of the Washington Capitals for the league lead.
Following their lengthy run to the Stanley Cup Final last spring, it has been about as successful a first half as the Black & Gold could have envisioned - not that there isn't plenty to shore up for the stretch run.
But for now, the Bruins can rest easy - except winger David Pastrnak and coach Bruce Cassidy.
Both are headed to St. Louis for this weekend's 2020 NHL All-Star Game, the second trip for Pastrnak and the first for Cassidy, who was selected given Boston's standing as the top team in the Atlantic Division.
Pastrnak, meanwhile, enters the All-Star Break as the league leader in goals with 37, three ahead of Washington's Alex Ovechkin and Toronto's Auston Matthews. The 23-year-old is one off his career-high of 38 set a season ago in just 66 games.
Pastrnak also sits fourth in the league in scoring with 70 points in 51 games, trailing Edmonton's Connor McDavid (76) and Leon Draisaitl (75) and Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon (72).
"I think he's stronger on the puck, whether that started this year, last year, you definitely notice it this year," Cassidy said earlier this week when asked to assess Pastrnak's growth this season.
"That's probably confidence in the league, knowing who he's playing against, knowing what he can get away with. Probably confidence in himself that, 'I'm gonna play a lot of minutes.' Some of it is physical maturity. He's still in that stage where he's getting stronger as a man.
"Obviously, his shot. He's hitting it cleaner than at points last year, but he did have an injury last year. I can only speculate whether that affected him later in the year or not. But that's definitely an area that he's more consistent in."
At A Glance
Here's a look at the schedule for this weekend's festivities in St. Louis:
Thursday, Jan. 23
All-Star Media Day (3:30-5:45 p.m. CT)
Friday, Jan. 24
All-Star Red Carpet (4:15-4:45 p.m. CT)
NHL All-Star Skills Competition (7-9 p.m. CT)
Pastrnak will take part in the brand-new Shooting Stars event, during which 10 players - eight NHLers and two women All-Stars - will shoot at targets from platforms set up in the stands roughly 30-feet above the ice surface.
Last season, in his first All-Star Weekend appearance, Pastrnak won the Accuracy Shooting competition, knocking down the five targets in 11.136 seconds. He was the first Bruin to win the event since Ray Bourque in 2000.
Video: Accuracy Shooting: Pastrnak's precision seals victory
Saturday, Jan. 26
2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game (7 p.m. CT on NBC)
Game 1: Metropolitan vs. Atlantic
Game 2: Central vs. Pacific
Final: G1 winner vs. G2 winner
(All games are 3-on-3 format)
By The Numbers
3 | Pastrnak is just the third player in Bruins history to score five consecutive team goals, with four against Anaheim on Oct. 14 and the game's first goal on Oct. 17 against Tampa Bay.
Video: ANA@BOS: Pastrnak scores four goals against Ducks
4 | Pastrnak also became the fourth player in NHL history to record 12-or-more goals in each of the first two months of a season, joining Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemeiux, and Mike Bossy.
5 | Pastrnak is the fifth player in Bruins history to hit the 25-goal mark in 27 games or fewer, joining Cam Neely (22 in 1993-94), Esposito (23 in 1973-74), Herb Cain (24 in 1943-44), and Cooney Weiland (27 in 1929-30).
6 | Number of consecutive games that Pastrnak factored into the game's opening goal (5-1-6 from Dec. 27-Jan. 7), tying an NHL record. He was the eighth player in NHL history to register such a streak and the first since St. Louis' Jori Lehtera in 2014-15.
7 | Pastrnak's assist streak from Dec. 17-31, a new career high.
12 | Pastrnak's point streak from Dec. 14-Jan. 9 (9-10-19 in that span), making him the only NHLer this season with two point streaks of 10-or-more games. He also had a 13-gamer (15-15-30) from Oct. 8-Nov. 4, making him the first Bruin to have two such streaks of 12-or-more games since Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito in 1973-74.
25 | Pastrnak became the first Bruin to be the first in the NHL to 25 goals since Esposito in 1974.
30 | Pastrnak scored his 30th goal on Jan. 2, his 42nd game, becoming the fastest Bruin to that mark since Neely in 1993-94 (27 games).
Video: CBJ@BOS: Pastrnak extends point streak with PPG
146 | Cassidy has led the Bruins to a 146-62-34 record in 242 regular-season games since taking over as head coach on Feb. 7, 2017.
300 | Pastrnak was the fourth Bruin to record 300 points before his 350th game, with a goal and an assist on Oct. 22 in Toronto, his 329th NHL contest, joining Ray Bourque, Bobby Orr, and Barry Pederson.
326 | The number of points the Bruins have compiled under Cassidy, the second-most in the NHL in that span. Tampa Bay is first with 345.
341 | Pastrnak became the second-fastest Bruin to reach the 150-career goal mark on Nov. 19 at New Jersey, doing so in his 341st game. Barry Pederson holds the record at 316 games.
Wait, There's More
- Pastrnak's Atlantic Division teammates include: Tyler Bertuzzi (Detroit), Anthony Duclair (Ottawa), Jack Eichel (Buffalo), Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida), Mitch Marner (Toronto), Auston Matthews (Toronto), Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay), Shea Weber (Montreal), Frederik Andersen (Toronto), and Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay).
- Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, now sidelined with a concussion, was selected to his second All-Star Game, but opted out of the festivities on Jan. 13, choosing instead to use the break to spend time with his family and catch up on some rest and relaxation before the stretch run.
- The host Blues will be represented by Ryan O'Reilly, David Perron, Alex Pietrangelo, and Jordan Binnington.
Video: Rask talks decision to skip All-Star