WILMINGTON – It’s so far, so good for Bruins rookie Frank Vatrano.
The 22-year-old rookie has points in each of the three games since being called back up to the B’s lineup, and has helped inject a little offense into a Boston group that desperately needed a jump start during their five game losing streak. It’s been a welcome trip back to Boston for the rookie after he torched the AHL for 23 goals and 37 points in 23 games over the last few months prior to breaking back into the NHL lineup amidst the playoff hunt.
“Everyone lives for this part of the year,” said Vatrano with a big smile. “This is playoff hockey. It’s what you work hard all summer for. We’re working hard to secure our spot, so this is an exciting time to be around the rink.”
Vatrano has a goal and three points in those three games with eight shots on net, and has been a pretty good all-around performer in his 11 plus minutes per night in a third line role.
Vatrano admits that he’s feeling a little more comfortable this time around.
“It’s good. I feel my game already evolving more so than it had been last time,” said Vatrano. “It’s just doing the little things right: holding onto pucks, and just keep playing hard. Playing with different guys on different shifts has helped me. Like I said before, I really think my overall game is evolving a lot better this time.”
It should be interesting to see Eriksson and Vatrano team up on the third line tomorrow night in New Jersey as potential playmaker and play-finisher after they combined for one of the rookie’s seven goals this season in the loss to the New York Rangers. Eriksson has the passing skills and intelligence to pull it off and a close-to-fully confident Vatrano will be looking to create more offensive plays when their line has the puck in the offensive zone.
At least that’s how it should work in theory anyway.
“Before I was skating the puck up to the blue line, get over and then just throw it at the net. Now I know how to use my speed, throw it behind the net where I can go get it, and use my speed again for much longer,” said Vatrano. “I think that’s something I’ve brought into my game that’s helping me more this time around.”
It’s worked thus far with the former UMass standout a point-per-game forward through his first three games back for the Bruins, and no reason to think he won’t keep providing some instant offense for the Black and Gold.