With the possible exception of the Las Vegas Golden Knights’ historic run from fresh franchise to Stanley Cup Final, nothing and nobody was more brilliant in the Stanley Cup Playoffs than Boston’s David Pastrňák.
Though the 22-year-old right winger played in just 12 games as the Bruins came up short in a second-round series with Tampa Bay, he managed six goals and 14 assists to total 20 points. It’s hard to say a kid who scored 35 goals and 80 points in the regular season found another gear, but Pastrňák may have made the leap from rising star to 2019 Hart Trophy candidate — no small notion considering his linemates, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, generally garner much more attention than their young cohort.
The Bruins’ next big thing reached such status with a stick that, too, may be destined for wider fame. Only six players in the league used the Bauer Nexus 2N, an addition to the Nexus line that won’t be available to the general public until this summer.
Pastrňák is in good company. There are some more-than-solid players among his fellow 2N users, including Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov, the Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews and Minnesota’s Nino Niederreiter.
They all use a stick plucked from the Nexus line, which Bauer bills as a mid-kick point stick designed to promote accuracy and easy loading.
The rest of the league hasn’t yet caught on. Though use numbers compiled by geargeek.com show Bauer, at 32.7 percent, has nearly as large a share of the NHL stick market as league leader CCM (34.8), there are 17 models (from five different manufacturers) more popular than the 2N.
Pastrňák’s history, though, suggests change will come.
The 25th overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft has made a habit of stepping up quickly, joining the Bruins in November of that season after scoring 28 points in 25 games for Boston’s AHL affiliate, Providence. The next season, in 51 games interrupted by a trip to the World Junior Championship, then 19-year-old Pastrňák notched 15 goals and 26 points.
In 2016-17, his 34 goals and 36 assists nicely set the stage for the giant steps forward that came in ’17-18.
Even if mimicking Pastrňák’s equipment choice gains popularity, one aspect of his approach might go unmirrored.
Don’t Go to the Tape
His story has changed for the reasons why, but one thing meets universal agreement: Pastrňák’s tape job is ugly.
A year ago, he told reporters curious about his candy-caned blade and butt, “Three strips on the bottom, three strips on the top … it brought me luck all season.”
After becoming the youngest player in NHL history to record a six-point playoff game, he told another tale about an equally sparse, if less purposeful, tape job.
“The more tape I have, the less puck control I feel,” he said. “Since I was a kid, I’ve been taping my stick myself. Usually in Czech, we have to pay for our tape. I usually had to save some money and use the least tape I could.”
Never mind that Pastrňák signed a six-year, $40 million contract extension in September. Apparently, he’s as good with a buck as he is with a puck.
Author bio: AJ Lee is Marketing Coordinator for , an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life. AJ picked up his first hockey stick at age 3, and hasn’t put it down yet.