Bruins

Bruce Cassidy offers his explanation as to why struggling Danton Heinen stays in the lineup

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Bruce Cassidy offers his explanation as to why struggling Danton Heinen stays in the lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. – For those wondering why Danton Heinen hasn’t received the healthy scratch treatment, Bruce Cassidy has an explanation.

Six million dollar man David Backes served as a healthy scratch earlier this week against the Flyers, hard-hitting Noel Acciari was removed from a very effective fourth line as a healthy scratch against St. Louis on Thursday night and Ryan Donato will be the odd man out against the New York Rangers on Saturday night against the Rangers. But Heinen has managed to avoid it since earlier in the season despite one point in his last five games, two points in the entire month of January and a clear lack of confidence with the puck on his stick.

Nowhere was that more obvious than in the win over the Blues when Heinen had time, space and a clear shot at the net from the high slot, and instead of shooting couldn’t get the puck off his stick fast enough in a prime scoring area. Despite those struggles and with just five goals and 12 points in 46 games this season, Heinen is sticking in the lineup because he’s not hurting the team in the 200-foot game.

“As long as he helps us win he’ll stay in and we’ll allow him to play through it. Unless we find a player that’s better or more suited, then we’ll always take a look at that,” said Cassidy. “That could be from within if a player grows his game and passed him. But right now he’s still a positive for us. We met yesterday and I think in his puck battles he needs to be a little more determined.

“He’s relied on his stick and his IQ over the years, and I think his body positioning now needs to become more of a factor. You can see that with [Peter] Cehlarik lately that his game has really grown in that area from the last time we saw him. So that’s where Danton can improve some of his puck possession play and maybe that’s where he can grow his offense a little more.”

Perhaps that is a possibility for Heinen if he goes to the danger areas with more regularity and then wins battles there. But there’s also a clear and present loss of confidence for a player that had a chance at 20 goals and 50 points last season, and has clearly taken two steps backward after 16 goals and 47 points in 77 games last season. 

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Karson Kuhlman questionable for Leafs game after missing Bruins practice

Karson Kuhlman questionable for Leafs game after missing Bruins practice

BRIGHTON – The Bruins are getting a little banged up as they now get a little deeper into the regular season.

Bruins right winger Karson Kuhlman was missing from Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena after getting hit in the leg with a Jake DeBrusk shot during Saturday night’s overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kuhlman was limited to 9:19 of ice time in the overtime game and has gone scoreless in the first nine games of the season while playing mostly a top-6 role for the Black and Gold.

Likewise, David Krejci was missing from Monday’s practice and will again be out Tuesday night against the Maple Leafs that will make his third consecutive game missed since suffering an upper-body injury in last week’s win over Anaheim.

Both Joakim Nordstrom and Par Lindholm were wearing no-contact jerseys in Monday’s practice as well, and the Bruins had the bare minimum 12 forwards to practice with after a day off the ice completely on Sunday.

“Kuhlman is day-to-day and we’ll see how he responds [on Tuesday]. So that we’ll determine in the morning,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Lindholm looks good to go. Nordstrom probably not as far along as [Lindholm] as far as being good to go, but that’s a decision we’ll make tomorrow. Krejci won’t play [on Tuesday] and we’ll see how it works out for later in the week.”

Both Krejci and Nordstrom are out for the Leafs game and it looks like Lindholm is going to be able to play, so the health of Kuhlman is the one unknown headed into the B’s next game.

The good news for the Bruins is that they continue to stay healthy on the back end, and perhaps the injuries upfront will force the B’s to finally call up Anders Bjork from Providence as a reinforcement after a hot start for the P-Bruins. Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Monday’s practice ahead of the Tuesday night rematch between the Bruins and Leafs this time at TD Garden:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Coyle-Ritchie

Heinen-Lindholm-Backes

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

 

Rask

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Brad Marchand puts opponent in headlock, opponent calls it 'a great play'

Brad Marchand puts opponent in headlock, opponent calls it 'a great play'

Lost in the big divisional games over the last few days for the Bruins against the Lightning and Maple Leafs was a small moment toward the end of Thursday’s shootout loss to the Bolts that could have meant an extra point for the B’s.

During the closing seconds of overtime, the Lightning had the Bruins scrambling in their own end and Brayden Point collected the puck along the sideboards after already putting up a couple of points in the game. Brad Marchand then opted to put Point in a headlock and lock down any chances of the Lightning ending the game ahead of the shootout with only a couple of seconds remaining in OT.

There was no penalty, and even if there had been there was really no downside to doing it since Marchand would have been free and clear to take part in the shootout, as he did, even if a minor penalty had been called on him. It was a smart hockey play from a smart hockey player that’s always looking for an edge and doesn’t mind going the outside-the-box route that includes throwing a headlock on the occasional opponent.

Obviously it didn’t work out as the Bruins ended up losing 4-3 to the Bolts in the shootout, but interestingly enough even Point was giving the habitually line-stepping Marchand credit for “a great play” after it was all over.

“I’m going for the puck, really it’s a great play,” said Point of Marchand, who has four goals and 12 points in eight games this season to go along with the one headlock. “There’s not much time, he breaks up a potential chance for us and he still gets to shoot in the shootout. There’s no real consequence for that, so really it’s a good play.”

With a pair of points earned in the last couple of games, the Bruins have a few more big games this week against the Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues. It remains to be seen if No. 63 has any more “really good plays” in his bag of tricks after the savvy, on-brand headlock from Marchand during last week’s tangle with Tampa.

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