ST. LOUIS — David Pastrnak was on pace for his best season yet when he went to the All-Star game in San Jose a year ago.

Fast-forward to 2020, and it’s the same story, but perhaps with more appreciation.

The Bruins’ 23-year-old star has 37 goals in 51 games, his 70-point mark just 11 shy of his career high he achieved last season in just 66 games. If all goes well, he should eclipse that with ease, and soon.

There was plenty of hype around the rising star a season ago in this spot, but in the same city where he played in his first Stanley Cup Finals just seven months ago, Pastrnak’s star has grown to another level.

“It’s impressive, he’s worked on a lot of different parts of his game,” said defenseman Torey Krug, who has connected more than once with Pastrnak on his 16 power-play goals this season. “People probably think he just works on his goal scoring but he’s become more and more mature and defensively sound. We need that as a young guy on this team, to be an All-Star, and a leader as well, it’s good to have.”

Pastrnak’s defensive improvement isn’t why he was named the captain of the Atlantic Division or why he’s become one of the most dangerous scorers in the league, but it’s what stands out to his teammates the most as far as his development goes.

“My main focus every year in summer training is to be faster and stronger,” said Pastrnak. “But hockey-wise, you improve through the season. I use the summer to get faster and stronger, those are my two main focuses. It’s hard to practice defense in the summer.”

The goal scoring, though, is one of the reasons the Bruins are poised for another deep run if he continues to play the way he has, and that’s recognized in the locker room.

“It’s impressive just in general, he’s leading (in goals) right now and has been for a while,” said fellow 23-year-old Jake DeBrusk. “The things he does it almost looks a little too casual and then he top-shelfs one. His finishing ability here has been very noticeable. It only takes one chance for that guy to score a goal.”

His teammates aren’t the only ones with a strong appreciation for how Pastrnak’s game has developed, even since last season; especially those who have to face him often.

“His creativity, you never know what to really expect from him,” said Jack Eichel, whose Sabres see the Bruins four times a year. “He’s got a very elite shot, can score from anywhere. He competes hard and if you put those things together, there’s some serious chemistry with those three guys on that line and it makes it tough to play against them.”

Pastrnak’s shot and ability to score nearly anywhere on the ice is even tougher for opposing goalies; he’s made their lives more difficult for his nearly six seasons in the league.

“Great player, probably one of the best one-timers in the league, so I think that’s the biggest challenge,” said Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. “Each shot is unbelievable. He’s just trying to shoot from everywhere. He’s so fast so sometimes I don’t have time to get into position and he takes advantage.”

The All-Star break is a time to sit back and appreciate the best talent in the league. Pastrnak has become one of the premier players in the NHL and the rest of the league is starting to recognize that as well.

Leading the league in scoring will do that.

“I’m not racing anybody, I’m just playing hockey,” said Pastrnak. “I want to help my team win. I don’t care what’s going to be the outcome of my goals or points at the end of the year. Just focusing on the team. It’s fun to score goals, it’s fun to score points for me, that’s what I’m being paid for, that’s my biggest strength.”

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