Morning Skate: Lineup change time for Preds?

Morning Skate: Lineup change time for Preds?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering who Mr. Met might flip off today.

*The media that covers the Predators on a regular basis is clamoring for lineup changes after falling 0-2 in the Stanley Cup Final against Pittsburgh, but it’s not the changes that you think.

*Speaking of the Penguins, the legend of Jake Guentzel continues to grow as he keeps scoring goals for Pittsburgh and has vaulted himself into the Conn Smythe discussion with his productive play.

*On the other side of things, PK Subban has vowed that Nashville is going to win Game 3 at home after dropping both of the games in Pittsburgh to kick off the Stanley Cup Final.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has some thoughts from Pekka Rinne after the Nashville goalie blew up, and was yanked from Game 2.  

*While the en vogue theory has the Washington Capitals trading Alex Ovechkin this summer, there really aren’t that many teams that could make it work financially.

*If there is one team every Bruins fan should be watching closely this summer, it’s the Anaheim Ducks and the ridiculous surplus of defensemen they have on their roster. With youngsters Shea Theodore, Brandon Montour and Josh Manson all pushing through to the NHL, that leaves the Ducks with proven NHL products Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm and Kevin Bieksa, who they’d probably like to move on from. Chances are they’re not going to find a taker for Bieksa, and this summer might be the time when Anaheim has to pry free one of their coveted young D-men in exchange for a young impact forward of some kind. It remains to be seen if Ryan Spooner, or a younger guy like Jake DeBrusk, could get Anaheim interested in making a move. It also doesn’t seem likely that the left-shooting Fowler – the guy the B’s would really be interested in – will be the one that ultimately gets moved after a phenomenal year in Anaheim. Somebody should be on the move at some point from the Ducks, however, and the Bruins should be ready to make their best deal possible when/if that time comes.

*For something completely different: As teased up above, Mr. Met is being reprimanded for flipping off the fans and getting caught on video.


Heinen beginning to look like a keeper for Bruins


Heinen beginning to look like a keeper for Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – While it’s still early in the careers of all the young Bruins rookies making their way this season, it sure looks like 22-year-old Danton Heinen is among the B’s youngsters that are here to stay. The former University of Denver standout didn’t make the cut at the end of training camp this season and he failed early last year when it was clear he wasn’t ready during an eight-game audition with the big club.

But Heinen continued to look ready while scoring a pair of goals and three points in the three games on a pivotal road trip through California last week, and is now tied for fifth on the Bruins in points despite missing four games in the AHL. In all, Heinen has four goals and 10 points along with a plus-4 rating in 15 games this season, and is on pace for a really strong 21 goals and 52 points in his first full year.

This has been a really nice step forward for Heinen after being a point-per-game player for Providence during their playoff run last spring.


“Last year’s playoff did a lot for him. When I saw him playing there, he was a different player than when he’d left [Boston],” said Bruce Cassidy. “There was a willingness to stay in the battle and his growth when it comes to winning pucks…you’ve seen it here. A lot of the things he’s down well are his second and third efforts on the puck where last year I thought he was pushed off the puck pretty easily [at the NHL level].”

There could be a period when his offense slows down or some other part of his game drags his minutes down, but right now he looks like he’s well on his way to establishing himself in a key role with the Black and Gold. The difference has been Heinen increasing his speed and also adding a little more tenacity to the skill and offense package that he was always bringing to the table.  

“I don’t want to say that because when we get our guys healthy then we’ll see where we’re at,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked if Heinen was a keeper at the NHL level at this point. “But I think he’s certainly shown he’s a much more consistent player than he was last year. He’s probably a bit ahead of the other younger guys because he has gone through a bit of it [at the pro level]. The fact that he’s been able to play in a lot of different situations, play left or right wing, and moved up in the lineup while being very effective with [Sean] Kuraly and [Tim] Schaller down in the lineup, as a coach it’s to have a guy like that who can move around and fit in a lot of different places.

“So he’s certainly helped himself [to stay in the NHL]. I think it’s too early to say if he’s here for good, but I don’t envision him leaving [Boston] anytime soon with the way that he’s played.”

Only time and consistently good play will allow the playmaking Heinen to truly lock up his spot on the NHL roster, but it’s increasingly difficult to envision any scenario where the fifth-round pick isn’t playing an increasingly important role for the Bruins. 


Bruins' Backes returns to ice after surgery for diverticulitis


Bruins' Backes returns to ice after surgery for diverticulitis

BRIGHTON -- In a development that was certainly much sooner than originally anticipated, David Backes has returned to the ice just a matter of weeks after having 10 inches of colon removed during surgery for diverticulitis. It remains to be seen how gradual a process it will be for the 33-year-old to actually return to game action given his original timetable for recovery was eight weeks following the early November procedure, but it seems like it might end up being ahead of the two months Backes was initially expected to be sidelined. 

For his part, Backes was happy to be back skating with his teammates and pushing his recovering body after feeling pretty sluggish for the first few days following surgery. He confirmed he’d been skating for a couple of days while the team was on the West Coast, but Monday was his first team doing anything post-surgery with the rest of the team. 

“It’s good to be back with the guys and to be around the room, and to have seen the kind of resiliency that these guys showed on the road trip. The back half of the road trip was impressive,” said Backes, who has an assist in five games with the Bruins before succumbing to the surgery. “To be on the ice and moving around after sitting around doing nothing for too long where you don’t think you’re going to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it feels good. 

“The doc’s advice is that if it doesn’t hurt then I can keep moving forward and add more of a workload on, so that’s the update for today. It’s still non-contact, but we’ll keep moving along and hopefully I’ll be back doing what I love to do on a regular basis. I haven’t been notified that the timeline has changed at all, so I’m just going to keep putting in the work. The more I seem to do the work the better it is, and I seem to be able to do a little more each day. So those are all positive signs.”

For the Bruins it’s clearly a morale booster to see the big power forward back doing regular hockey activities, and serving notice that he’ll be bringing his size, strength, leadership and physicality back to a B’s team that definitely needs him. Clearly the return of another high-end forward would also immensely help a Bruins team that’s still very undermanned up front, but it would appear there will be some other B’s forwards getting back prior to Backes. 

Brad Marchand and Ryan Spooner appear poised to return to full practice on Tuesday with a possible return to the lineup not too far beyond that after all three injured forwards took part in Monday’s optional skate at Warrior Ice Arena.