A big storyline surrounding the Boston Bruins’ season understandably has been the success of the young players. And while there is no shortage of examples of youth playing at a high level, Danton Heinen might be one of the most pleasant surprises for Boston.
That was put on full display in the rookie’s performance in the Bruins’ 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena.
Heinen provided an assist on Sean Kuraly’s go-ahead goal in the second period, and he added what proved to be the decisive tally in the third. All the while, he has been an important — and stable — presence during his time on the top line with Brad Marchand suspended.
“Yeah he’s not bad,” Bruce Cassidy joked to NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley following Tuesday’s win. “Danton can shoot the puck, and that’s one of the skills that we’re encouraging more out of him. I think he wants to defer a lot and make plays, which is fine when they’re there. But he can beat goalies clean from distance, so we saw that again (Tuesday night). And the more he uses it the more dangerous an all-around player he’s going to be.”
There is no shortage of high-level rookie forward talent in the NHL this season between Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders and Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks, among others. But for what he is asked to do, the 22-year-old is providing just that, while sitting fourth in points (12-25-37) amongst rookies.
Though it is tough for an NHL-level talent not to be successful while skating on a line centered by Patrice Bergeron, things could continue to trend upward when Heinen returns to the third line — a place he’s visibly comfortable with — alongside Riley Nash and David Backes.
Many people were ready for what Charlie McAvoy was going to bring to the Bruins in his rookie season. Heinen’s campaign instead began with him going up and down I-95 during the month of October.
Now, not only is it clear he’s made himself a fixture on the NHL roster, but it’s clear he is an integral fixture on the NHL roster.
Here are some other notes from Bruins-Red Wings:
— The Bruins have won 12 straight games against Atlantic Division opponents. Their last division loss was Nov. 11 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
— Tuukka Rask earned a point for the 21st straight game. He’s the 11th different NHL goaltender to attain at least a point in 21-plus games, and the fourth in Bruins history.
— Frank Vatrano left Tuesday’s game with a lower body injury and is doubtful for Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers. Noel Acciari (lower-body), Anders Bjork (upper-body) and Kevan Miller (upper-body) all were out Tuesday and did not travel with the team.
Thumbnail photo via Jean-Yves Ahern/USA TODAY Sports Images