Bruins

Heinen finishes up strong in his role as Marchand replacement

Heinen finishes up strong in his role as Marchand replacement

DETROIT – Charlie McAvoy gets a whole lot of the attention when it comes to Bruins rookies this season and rightfully so given what a game-changing force he is on the back end.

But the Bruins have another one of those kinds of players up front in 22-year-old Danton Heinen, and the Bruins rookie winger was at it again on Tuesday night with his 12th goal of the season for the game-winner in Boston’s 3-2 victory over Detroit at Little Caesar’s Arena. 

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The game-winner was a nifty goal from Heinen where he snapped a shot top corner under the bar after getting served a perfect cross-ice dish from Sean Kuraly. 

Heinen is tied for ninth among NHL rookies with 12 goals on the season, and his 37 points rank him fourth among NHL rooks behind only Mat Barzal, Brock Boeser and Tampa’s Yann Gourde. 

Heinen has helped turn the B’s third line into a legitimate threat for the bulk of the season, and he stepped in and played well over the last five games in Brad Marchand’s spot alongside Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.

Clearly it was something Heinen enjoyed, even though it will now be over with Marchand returning for Wednesday night’s game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. 

“I had a lot of fun on that line, you know? Going back to the other line, I’m just going to try and do the same things. No matter where you put me in the lineup I’ll be playing with great players,” said Heinen. “One thing I’ve focused on a lot is being consistent and not taking any nights off. You’re not going to have your best every night, but [when you’re not at your best] still contribute in other areas and be strong defensively.”

The Black and Gold finished with a 4-1-0 record in those five games with No. 63 on the sidelines, and Heinen continues to display an amazing, impressive consistency in his first full NHL season. 

“It’s a good problem to have when guys can step up and fill in,” said Bruce Cassidy of Heinen, who finished with two goals, five points and a plus-1 in the five games playing in the Marchand spot while he was suspended. “The first game against Anaheim I thought we ran into a little bit of trouble…it’s going to happen. But I think since then he’d done a really good job up there. 

“He is young. I think [the consistency] is the biggest challenge they have in-game and in-season, and he’s a pretty smart guy so he’s generally in the right spot. For him it’s just his pace and making sure he’s looking after himself every day and that he has his legs. And then be strong on pucks. You can see him shoot it. You can see him make plays. So for him the physical part has stuck around for most of the year, and he’s been a good pro. It shows and he’s really earned his minutes.”

Not only has Heinen earned his minutes and his gig with the Bruins, but he’s also earned his standing with the best rookies in the NHL this season amidst a crop of very talented first year players doing their thing.

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Bruins closing in on Nash with many details to iron out

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Bruins closing in on Nash with many details to iron out

TORONTO – It sounds like the Boston Bruins are on the verge of a fairly substantial trade if they can iron out some of the details both big and small.

According to multiple reports and sources, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is closing in on a trade for New York Rangers winger Rick Nash ahead of Monday afternoon’s trade deadline. The 33-year-old Nash has 18 goals and 28 points in 60 games this season for the Blueshirts, and really has been in decline over the last couple of years in New York since scoring 42 goals and 69 points back in the 2014-15 season.

Still, Nash has quite the resume as the first overall pick in the 2002 NHL Draft and a guy that’s scored over 400 goals and nearly 800 points in his 14-year NHL career while starring for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rangers during that time. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder would bring the size, heaviness and experience factor that the Bruins have been looking to add to their wing ahead of the stretch run and playoffs, and certainly could be energized down the stretch while potentially playing a second line role with a center like David Krejci.

Don Sweeney indicated prior to the reports surfacing that the Bruins could be more invested into the rental market this season, given their strong campaign, than they originally thought they’d be when the season started.

“We’d like to think that the group can continue on along the path that they’re on, but if you can add to it and help it…the rental market depends on what you’re going to give up, and what that impact of that player is necessarily going to be and how they’re going to fit into the group,” said Sweeney. “The chemistry piece is an important piece in and around the trade deadline, so that’s something we have to be cognizant of.”

There are, however, a couple of issues for the Bruins and Rangers to work out before it’s a done deal. One is the massive cap hit for Nash that would still be well over $3 million even if the Rangers agree to eat half of his remaining contract, and that would leave the Bruins to need to clear some space with a corresponding deal elsewhere. There’s also the matter of ponying up assets in exchange for Nash, who it’s believed would cost the Bruins a first round pick and a solid prospect that is not yet on the NHL roster.

That means the Bruins would able to avoid potentially dealing Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk or Danton Heinen from their NHL roster, which it wasn’t expected they would need to move in a rental deal for Nash. But it does mean the Bruins likely would be parting with a blue chip prospect still in the development stage, whether it’s Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Jakub Zboril, Zach Senyshyn or even a college hockey prospect like Trent Frederic.

That’s a big price to pay from Boston’s future to be sure, but it would be done based on Nash being an impact player this season for a Bruins team that looks like they might have a pretty good postseason run in them.

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Rough stretch of hockey for Brandon Carlo

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AP Photo

Rough stretch of hockey for Brandon Carlo

GOLD STAR: Nazem Kadri really stepped up for the Maple Leafs without Auston Matthews, and showed his goal-scoring prowess with a couple of power play strikes. The first was a great tipped pass from JVR to Kadri waiting all alone in the face-off circle, and the second was a give-and-go with Mitch Marner where the Leafs agitator finally slammed it home from the high slot for his 23rd goal of the season. Kadri was a minus-2 in the game as his line had their struggles against the Patrice Bergeron line, but he was great at the offensive end with the two goals, a game-high eight shots on net and a couple of takeaways in a pretty active 17:49 of ice time. Kadri certainly showed that he needs to be accounted for during the PP where he twice stung the B’s.

BLACK EYE: Brandon Carlo had a pretty tough night finishing with just 13:32 of ice time while he was on the ice for three goals against. A couple of them were on the penalty kill, so Carlo only finish a minus-1 for the game, but the 21-year-old is a minus-5 on the current road trip and has been struggling this week as the Bruins roll into the NHL trade deadline. After being on ice for the two goals against with the shots coming from his side in the first period, it appeared that Carlo lost his confidence and wasn’t trying to make plays for the rest of the night. So at points Carlo hit the pine as Bruce Cassidy was rotating through the other 5 D-men, and the Bruins coaches are left with something to think about as they write out their lineup for Sunday afternoon in Buffalo.

TURNING POINT: It came down to the final two minutes in the game when Ron Hainsey scored the game-winner for the Maple Leafs on a long bomb from the point with Zach Hyman grinding in front of the Boston net. In fact Hyman was grinding so much that he pushed Charlie McAvoy directly into Tuukka Rask as he was tracking the puck, and knocked him off balance where he couldn’t make a play from the deep perimeter. The goal was ruled a good one on the ice, and a coach’s challenge for goalie interference somewhat surprisingly didn’t go Boston’s way. It looked clear-cut that McAvoy was shoved into his goaltender, but apparently the NHL is determined to make everybody unsure of the new goalie interference interpretation. The challenge from the Bruins was overruled, and the Leafs won the game on a controversial call.

HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron was outstanding in the game, which made it all the more perplexing when he walked out of the Air Canada Centre following the game wearing a protective right boot. Bergeron finished with a game-high 19:15 of ice time among the forwards, notched a couple of assists and a plus-2 rating, had six shot attempts, two hits, two takeaways and won 15-of-22 face-offs while also playing the final 1:23 of the game. It appeared that Bergeron’s right foot was hit by a shot earlier in the game where he was able to finish out the game, but clearly it was bothering him a bit after it was all over. It’s a credit to No. 37’s toughness that he was able to play so well during the game while in clear discomfort.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1-2-1 – the Bruins’ record against the Maple Leafs team they may likely end up seeing in the first round of the playoffs. The Bruins lost all three games where Toronto was without Auston Matthews, believe it or not.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I was pushed into [Tuukka]. I don’t know what goaltender interference really is, and I know I’m not the only one. I’ve seen it work in our favor, and I’ve seen it work against us now. There doesn’t seem to be a fine line.” –Charlie McAvoy, who is both convinced Toronto’s game-winner was goalie interference and unsure of exactly how it’s going to be called in the future.

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