BRIGHTON -- Frank Vatrano's been a healthy scratch for the Bruins in each of the last two games, a continuation of a season that clearly hasn't gone his way.
Vatrano appeared to be coming out of his offensive lull a couple of weeks ago with his best game of the season against the San Jose Sharks. But he went right back to being a non-factor in losses to Los Angeles and Columbus, and hasn't played since.
So now Vatrano sits and waits for another turn . . . when -- and if -- it comes, considering he has zero points and a minus-2 rating in nine games with just 11 shots on net.
When it does, t’s likely to be in the same bottom-6 spot without power-play time. So Vatrano knows he needs to keep working and grinding to create his own offense with net drives and paying the price in front.
“I need to score goals. Make plays. Be hard on the puck,” said Vatrano. “The one thing I haven’t been doing is scoring goals, and that comes with more and more opportunity. I feel like I’ve been good getting in on the puck and being the best that I can defensively out there. [Scratching me] is obviously their decision and I’ll live with it. I’m a team guy and I want the team to win when I’m in the lineup, or when I’m out of the lineup.
“Everyone goes through it. For me it’s a little bit of a different situation and there’s a lot of young guys and stuff. Those guys are getting the opportunity and they’re doing well with it, so for me it’s just being ready when my name is called. Whether I’m in a fourth-line role or a third-line role with no power-play time while playing 10 minutes a night, you need to play the game that you know how to play. Obviously when you’re in a top-6 you’re out there to score goals and create opportunities for your teammates, and when you’re third or fourth line you’re in a bit of a different role.”
The hard truth is, Vatrano doesn’t have a goal in 25 straight regular-season games dating back to last season, and has just two points over that span. It’s becoming a legitimate question as to whether the 23-year-old is going to find his way out of the personal offensive struggles, or if some kind of change is going to be required for him to tap into the scoring potential he’s shown in the past.
In the meantime the Bruins will work with Vatrano and hope he can eventually work his way into giving them very much needed scoring punch from the bottom-6, and show he can turn his high-end shot-and-release into realized potential at the NHL level.