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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Talking Points from the B's 3-2 win over the Golden Knights

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Talking Points from the B's 3-2 win over the Golden Knights

Here are my Talking Points from another dramatic Bruins win that had most of its thrills while most of us in Boston slept . . .

GOLD STAR: David Backes responded to the physicality that the Golden Knights were throwing at the Bruins during the game, and then he responded when he was a surprising choice deep in the shootout against Vegas. Backes scored on a straight wrist shot against Marc-Andre Fleury to secure Boston’s seventh win in a row, and responded to the challenge as perhaps an unlikely choice in the shootout. Backes also finished with five shot attempts, four hits and a blocked shot in 12:31 of ice time along with 3-of-4 face-off wins in a solid all-around game for the veteran. Backes got the winner in the sixth round of the shootout.  

BLACK EYE: It was not a great night for Noel Acciari, who finished a minus-1 with just a couple of hits in 16:34 of ice time. Normally Acciari is more of a physical presence for the Bruins, but it wasn’t as much the case on Wednesday night with Chris Wagner and David Backes really bringing the physicality for the Black and Gold. In addition he just had a single shot on net and lost 5-of-7 draws in the face-off circle in an overall blah game for the fourth line energy player. All’s well that ends well obviously for a Bruins team that ended up taking the decision in the shootout, but the fourth liner has been better most nights this season
TURNING POINT: Credit Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy for going the unconventional route in the shootout and choosing David Backes after Marc-Andre Fleury had turned aside shot attempts from guys like Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Most of the Bruins players were trying to attack MAF with a speedy attack that didn’t have much luck, and Backes seemed to change all of that up. He skated toward the net at his own pace and then snapped a wrist shot past Marc-Andre Fleury for the game-winner to secure the two points for the Bruins.

🏒BRUINS TRADE FOR CHARLIE COYLE

HONORABLE MENTION: So that’s goals in five straight games for Jake DeBrusk, who is very clearly feeling it confidence-wise right now. He took a David Krejci pass from the sideboards, spun off Shea Theodore in the slot and then roofed a shot past Fleury for his 19th goal of the season. DeBrusk is now one goal short of putting up 20 goals for the first time in his career, and has two shots on net in five-plus minutes of ice time while working pretty well together with his usual trigger man in Krejci and the hard-working Karson Kuhlman on the other wing. DeBrusk then scored again in the shootout with a nasty shot off the post, though his score was cancelled out when William Karlsson scored at the other end for Vegas.

🏒BRUINS 3, GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (SO)

BY THE NUMBERS: 12 – the number of consecutive games where the Bruins have points as they continue to roll and climb up in the playoff standings while heating up at the right time of year.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It was one of those games where it’s getting around that time, and getting toward the trade deadline. So it’s time to pick it up.” –Jake DeBrusk to NBCSN, on the playoff vibe around a 3-2 shootout win over Vegas. 

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Highlights from Bruins' X-X Golden Knights

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Highlights from Bruins' X-X Golden Knights

FINAL SCORE: Bruins 3, Golden Knights 2 (SO)

IN BRIEF: David Backes scored the winner in the sixth round of the shootout to deliver the Bruins their seventh straight win, and fourth straight win of this five-game road trip that started in Southern California and concludes this weekend in St. Louis.

BOX SCORE 

BRUINS RECORD: 36-17-8 (80 points), 2nd in Atlantic Division

FROM JOE HAGGERTY:

So that’s goals in five straight games for Jake DeBrusk, who is very clearly feeling it confidence-wise right now. He took a David Krejci pass from the sideboards, spun off Shea Theodore in the slot and then roofed a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury for his 19th goal of the season. DeBrusk is now one goal short of putting up 20 goals for the first time in his career, and has two shots on net in five plus minutes of ice time while working pretty well together with his usual trigger man in Krejci along with the hard-working Karson Kuhlman on the other wing.

Danton Heinen had four shots on net in the second period alone after the Bruins as a team had only six shots on net in the first period. Heinen continues to be active and in the middle of everything offensively for the Black and Gold while skating with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on Boston’s top line. It was Heinen that carried the puck into the offensive zone and threw a cross-ice pass to Brad Marchand for a top corner blast from the slot for a go-ahead goal in the third period. 

It was a pretty clean game for the Bruins, with just a tripping penalty for Heinen in the first period. Otherwise, there were a couple of chances for Boston’s vaunted power play without it actually leading to any offense for the Bruins. In fact, the Bruins had just one shot on net in three power play chances against the Golden Knights, and that’s been a big part of Vegas holding down Boston’s offense to this point.

⬇️ HIGHLIGHTS ⬇️

DEBRUSK STRIKES AGAIN

HALAK STANDS TALL

MARCHAND LETS IT RIP

BACKES' SHOOTOUT WINNER

UP NEXT
SATURDAY: at St. Louis, 4 p.m. (NESN)
TUESDAY: vs San Jose, 7 p.m. (NESN)

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