By Andrew Thompson Twitter: @godwentwhoops
Boston Bruins Danton Heinen has been a bubble player for the Black and Gold. He’s found himself vacillating between Providence and Boston. Play in Boston while the team has injuries, and then get sent back down to Providence once those injured players returned. He was among the final cuts at this year’s training camp.
With David Krejci’s most recent injury, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy had to make a few changes to make up for his absence. That left a spot open for Heinen on the right wing of the Bruins third line (along with Tim Schaller and Sean Kuraly). The 2014 fourth-round pick was given another opportunity to earn himself a more permanent position in Boston.
Heinen may have finally earned himself that spot after his performance against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. Heinen tallied the first two goals of his NHL career in a 2-1 win over the Sharks. He earned first-star honors while playing just 8:39 on Thursday.
Heinen earned his first career goal while on the penalty kill. Nothing like a short-handed goal to start your scoring career on the right foot. Heinen’s second goal showed what the Bruins can do when they play to their strengths and keep up with an aggressive forecheck. If the B’s can continue to play at this level, they’ll quickly claw themselves out of the mediocre place they’ve been since the start of the season.
Bruins alternate captain David Backes was thrilled for Heinen’s accomplishment. “Quite a storybook day for him and we’ll humble him back down tomorrow but he can certainly enjoy the night,” said Backes. “He deserves it. He worked his butt off tonight.”
Heinen is making a case for himself as a middle six winger who isn’t afraid of taking the shot. In just four games with Boston, he’s tallied five points (two goals). That puts him in fifth place among the B’s for scoring. That’s rather outstanding work for a ‘part-time’ player.
“He’s kind of realizing his role, he’s accepting it and it hasn’t affected his offense, obviously,” said Coach Cassidy of Heinen’s first-star performance. “He’s embraced the penalty kill, he’s embraced playing on a different kind of line with (Tim) Schaller and (Sean) Kuraly and those type of players, who are more north-south than a (David Krejci or David Pastrnak).
“That is the biggest thing I like about him. He’s learning how to be a good pro.”
No matter where he’s playing, Heinen has done a solid job for the Bruins organization. Thursday’s play may have given him the boost he needs to evolve into a full-time NHL player. While it’s likely that Heinen will be sent back down to Providence once Krejci returns, his continued hard work shows that he won’t be down in Providence for long.