Before the 2023-24 NHL season, a lot of hockey enthusiasts assumed that the Boston Bruins were due to regress. After all, the team had lost Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to retirement following their record-breaking 2022-23 campaign, leaving time to tell how Boston would fare without two of the top players in franchise history.
Fast forward to now and it's clear that the reports of the Bruins' death are greatly exaggerated.
With Christmas just days away, the Bruins sit 19-5-6 with 44 points, putting them one back of the New York Rangers for the Eastern Conference lead. But while a lot of players have stepped up in Bergeron and Krejci's absence to make the strong start possible, others need to pull their weight a bit more.
Here are three Bruins who are on the Nice List — as well as two on the Naughty List — this Christmas.
Nice List #1: David Pastrnak
There's little reason to be surprised about David Pastrnak being atop of the Bruins' Nice List this year.
After finishing second in Hart Memorial Trophy voting last season, Pasrtnak has picked up from where he left off. The Czech sniper continues to cement himself as a top-10 player in the league, leading all Bruins in goals (19), assists (24), and points (43) through 30 games.
Assuming his pace doesn't change, he's projected to finish with 52 goals and 117 points. While that goal total is nine fewer than he had in 2022-23, 117 points would be a new career-high after setting the mark at 113 last year.
The Bruins would be further down the standings without his outstanding performance, so it's nice to see Pastrnak getting the recognition he deserves. He owns the fourth-best odds to win this year's Hart Trophy, per FanDuel Sportsbook, only trailing the likes of Connor McDavid, Nikita Kucherov, and Nathan MacKinnon.
As Boston's mid-season MVP, Pastrnak deserves everything on his gift list this holiday season.