BOSTON — Danton Heinen’s sophomore season hasn’t gone the way he or the Boston Bruins would have liked, but the 23-year-old finally might be turning a corner.
With secondary scoring tough to come by, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy shuffled his lines during Wednesday’s loss to the New York Rangers and kept them that way for Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. The shakeup left Jake DeBrusk on the third line, David Pastrnak on the second and Heinen on the top unit alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
The move raised some eyebrows, as Heinen entered the game with just seven goals and seven assists through 50 games in the follow up to his 16-goal, 31-assist rookie campaign. But Heinen, who scored in Wednesday’s loss to the Rangers, responded by logging a goal and a helper in Boston’s 5-4 overtime win at TD Garden.
The tally gave Heinen three goals in his last five games, and was the latest sign of life from a player who’s starting to resemble the one who burst onto the scene last year.
“Definitely nice to see them go in,” Heinen said after the game. “It was a lot of fun playing with (Bergeron and Marchand) tonight, and just going to keep on working, build off it.”
Having endured a few healthy scratches, Heinen has seen his confidence ebb and flow as the season has progressed. But Saturday’s performance, as well as the opportunity given to him, might be just what Heinen needs.
“Confidence is a funny thing,” he said. “But felt good tonight and yeah, I think you automatically get a little bit of confidence when you see them go in. So yeah, I’m going to try to build off of it, keep on working.
” … I think for me it’s, you know, not trying to put too much pressure on myself, because when I’m doing that I’m not at my best and it’s tougher for me to get my confidence back. So for me, I just try to not put too much pressure on myself, just work hard and let things take care of itself.”
It remains to be seen if this is the end of Heinen’s look on the top line, or whether Cassidy continues rolling with his new-look lineup.
For now, the Bruins coach is just happy to see Heinen have a big game.
“I thought he was really good. He complimented that line well,” Cassidy said. “He made some plays off the rush to get the puck to (Bergeron) there off the rush and drive the net, kept some pucks alive, shot the puck when it was his opportunity to do that, finished an ice play by going to the net.
“Defensively, I didn’t see any issues either, so I thought that worked out real well for him and the group.”
Ultimately, Cassidy just wants his young players to stay the course when things aren’t going well.
“Heinen, the message with him is you can’t lose your overall game if the puck’s not going in the net. Similar message to what DeBrusk is getting now.
“It’s not happening for him offensively, gets you to work hard on the things you can control, and then hopefully you get some rewards down the road.”
Here are some other notes from Bruins-Kings:
— Bergeron was honored in a pregame ceremony for playing in his 1000th game Tuesday against the New York Islanders. The 33-year-old responded by scoring the game-winner in overtime to give Boston a 5-4 victory.
“To get the win was very special,” Bergeron said after the game. ” … It was very special to have the family on the ice and my kids, I was definitely trying to enjoy it. I doubt 1,000 more, so I was trying to soak things in.”
— Defensemen Charlie McAvoy scored the first goal of the game, giving him two for the season. It was his first since Oct. 13 against the Detroit Red Wings.
— The Bruins now are 6-8 in 14 overtime games this season.
— Pastrnak extended his point streak to seven games with his assist on David Krejci’s third-period goal.
— The victory gave the Bruins 68 points for the season, moving them into third place in the Atlantic Division. Although both the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens have 68 points and a ROW of 29 through 55 games, the Bruins own third since they have the better head-to-head record between the two teams.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images