The Boston Bruins aren’t exactly revelling in the notion that David Pastrnak is out at least two weeks after thumb surgery, but there has been a silver lining thanks to the play of Danton Heinen.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy seemed to have gotten out in front of the Pastrnak problem after moving Heinen to the top line three games ago. That put the 23-year-old from Langley in the company of Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Pastrnak, pre-surgery, was down on the second line.
It paid off.
Heinen has six points in his last four games, including three points Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks. He tallied a goal and assist in Boston’s 6-3 win, a vital victory because it snapped Chicago’s seven-game winning streak.
Now naturally Heinen’s benefits have come due in most part to his new linemates. In the 49 games ahead of his promotion to the top drawer, he had just 13 points in 49 games.
But now, his fantasy value has hit a surge. Even against the Colorado Avalanche on February 10 he recorded four shots on goal across 11:33 of ice time.
So, the point here is that Heinen is responding to the big assignment and should put together more points as the Bruins start prepping for the stretch.
And it’s more than a bit overdue, with Heinen not exactly having the finest sophomore season after a 47-point rookie campaign.
Did Cassidy’s move make the kid take a good and proper look in the mirror? It looks that way. Boston has to be hoping that this is the spark Heinen needs to get his game in gear, as he can be one heck of a hockey player when properly motivated.
Sure, he’ll still have to pace it pretty good here to reach last year’s totals.
But the bump helps on all fronts, especially with the Bruins sitting third in the Atlantic Division with a 32-17-8 record. They’re just a point behind Toronto in the Atlantic, with the Habs three points behind them. Both Montreal and Boston are rolling, with the former posting a 7-1-2 record across their last 10 games.
The Bruins are 6-1-3 in the same span, winners of their last three.
They strap in against Anaheim next and Heinen will be back on that top unit. If he keeps playing like gangbusters, the Maple Leafs will have themselves a proper challenge for that coveted second-place finish behind the impossible Tampa Bay Lightning.
(Photo credit: NHL)