You cannot stop David Pastrnak. You can only hope to contain him. Or, in the case of the New York Rangers on Sunday night, you can do neither.
With a five-assist outing against the Blueshirts last night, Pastrnak boosted his league-leading point total to 23, leaping ahead of the second-place trio of Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid and John Carlson, each of whom has posted 21 points thus far. And Pastrnak has been so good that if he has a multi-point game against the San Jose Sharks Tuesday, he would have sole possession of the best opening-month point total in the past decade. Of course, Pastrnak couldn't do it without the help of his dominant linemates. Brad Marchand (20 points) and Bergeron (11 points) have combined with Pastrnak to form the most dominant line in hockey, responsible for 23 goals and 54 points for the Bruins.
This isn't the first time Pastrnak has burst out of the gate, however. His 16-point run last October was, at the time, the second-best output by a Bruins player in October, only beaten by Patrice Bergeron's 19-point performance that same season. Now, Pastrnak is the only Bruin over the past decade to crack 20 points in October.
But a hot start doesn't mean a whole lot if you can't finish strong, and that's the challenge for Pastrnak. Is he the favorite to finish No. 1 in scoring? Likely not, as McDavid has another Art Ross Trophy in his crosshairs and history has indicated that few who start this hot are able to maintain it beyond the midpoint of the campaign. Need proof? Here's a look at the best October's over the past decade and where each player finished in the regular season scoring race:
2017: Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning – 24 points in 13 games
After an injury marred his 2016-17 campaign, Stamkos hit 2017-18 running and posted the offensive output of the past 20 years. Stamkos was especially electric on the power play, scoring four of his six goals and 10 points with the man advantage, good for first in both categories. Stamkos' 18 October assists remain the most by a player in the past decade, with Mikko Rantanen (2018) and John Carlson (2019) coming close behind with 16 apiece. Despite the hot start, Stamkos finished 12th in scoring that season with 86 points. His 27 goals were the second-fewest of his career in a full season.
2009: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals – 23 points in 14 games
He finished three points short of Henrik Sedin in the Art Ross race in 2009-10, but Ovechkin's hot start was the prelude to a 50-goal, 109-point season and his third consecutive Ted Lindsay Award – then known as the Lester B. Pearson Award – as the most outstanding player as voted by the NHLPA. 'Ovi' had 14 goals in October, the most in the season-opening month of any player in the past 20 years. Ovechkin upped his game in November, too, scoring 11 goals and 25 points before passing the monthly point leader torch to Jeff Carter, David Krejci and Nicklas Backstrom in December (21 points each). Fun fact: according to available data, Ovechkin's 85 shots in October are the most of any player.
2018: Mikko Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche – 21 points in 12 games
Rantanen's career-high 30-goal, 87-point season, totals he reached despite missing eight games, was spurred on by his early season success. Playing on a line with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, Rantanen finished 17th in league scoring and second in Colorado. Nikita Kucherov led the league by season's end, turning a 12-point October into a 128-point campaign, the best offensive output of any NHLer since 1996.
2013: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins – 21 points in 13 games
Crosby is the only player on this list who has finished October as the top scorer and gone on to win the scoring race. He posted 21 of his 104 points that season in October, finishing the month ahead of then-Toronto Maple Leaf Phil Kessel by three points. November saw a different Penguin take control, as Evgeni Malkin led the way with a whopping 21 assists and 25 points in 15 games. The Penguins joined the Boston Bruins as the lone Eastern Conference teams to record at least 50 wins that season, but Pittsburgh was knocked out in the second round of the playoffs by the New York Rangers. Crosby hasn't led the league in scoring since, but he hit the 100-point plateau in 2018-19, the sixth time of his career.
2010: Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning – 19 points in 10 games
Making his second appearance on this list, 'Stammer' was unstoppable early in his third campaign. Not long after he had registered his first 50-goal season, and on the heels of being left off the Canadian Olympic team that won gold in Vancouver several months earlier, Stamkos started the 2010-11 season with a nine-goal, 19-point output in October. By season's end, Stamkos finished fifth in league scoring with 45 goals and 91 points. His chemistry with winger Martin St-Louis was almost unmatched. Only Vancouver Canucks wonder twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin (104 and 94 points, respectively) had better offensive output as a duo.
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