The Boston Bruins might only go as far as their young, skilled players take them this season.
Sure, the B’s have a solid core of veterans with championship experience, but you need depth to win in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and Boston’s young guns will have to supply that depth for the team to be successful.
So far, the kids have played well, and another one stepped up Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks.
Danton Heinen, a fourth-round draft pick in 2014, scored two goals in the Bruins’ 2-1 victory over the Sharks at TD Garden.
The 22-year-old center scored the game’s first goal — and the first tally of his NHL career — in the first period while the Bruins were shorthanded. He drove hard to the net and was rewarded with a juicy rebound that he capitalized on to give Boston an early lead.
Heinen scored again in the second period not long after the Sharks tied the game with a goal from former Bruins captain Joe Thornton.
Injuries have tested Boston’s depth early in the season, and Heinen was called up from the AHL’s Providence Bruins on Thursday morning. He’s a strong, hard-working forward with a good shot, and that’s exactly the type of player the Bruins could use on their fourth line.
Hopefully for the B’s, this two-goal game boosts Heinen’s confidence and allows him to earn a long-term place on the NHL roster.
Here are more notes from Bruins-Sharks.
— Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games with a concussion. He served as the backup against the Sharks and could start Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings.
— Anton Khudobin got the start in net, and he played much better against the Sharks than he did Saturday in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres. The Russian netminder made 36 stops (including 15 in the third period) on 37 shots for a .973 save percentage. Khudobin didn’t give up many rebounds, either, which is really important versus a Sharks lineup with a lot of physical forwards who love to crash the net.
— Heinen became the fourth Bruins player this season to score his first career goal, joining Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork and Charlie McAvoy.
— Thornton tied Edmonton Oilers legend Jari Kurri for 20th place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list with his second-period goal. Both players have 1,398 career points.
Thornton entered Thursday with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 15 career games against a Bruins franchise that drafted him No. 1 overall in 1997.
— The Sharks had six power plays, but the Bruins’ penalty kill was successful on five of them, including two with six minutes left in the game. B’s defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara led the team with 26:40 of ice time, including a team-high 8:21 of shorthanded ice time. He played tremendous on the penalty kill.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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