Bruins

Danton Heinen "wanted to be an offensive guy," now Bruins need him to be more of that guy

Danton Heinen "wanted to be an offensive guy," now Bruins need him to be more of that guy

Danton Heinen knows that his numbers dipped from his rookie season to this past year’s sophomore campaign where he posted 11 goals and 34 points in 77 games. Still, the 24-year-old earned a big pay raise with his two-year, $5.6 million contract signed earlier in the week to avoid salary arbitration, so he knows he’ll be sticking around in Boston for the next couple of season.

Heinen will also be looking to regain some of the offensive mojo that he lost from the first half of his first NHL season when he scored 11 goals and 33 points in his first 43 games. Since then Heinen has just 16 goals and 48 points in his last 111 games, and he finished with a very quiet two goals in 24 games during Boston’s Stanley Cup playoff run.

So the young winger knows he’s going to need to start gaining a little ground back offensively headed into his third NHL campaign and regain some of that hungry swagger that he seemed to have coming right out of the game in his rookie campaign. The Bruins will need it after watching Marcus Johansson leave in unrestricted free agency with some pretty big job openings on the right wing side on two of Boston’s top three lines.

Certainly, there are young players that will get cracks at top-6 winger positions headed into next season, but Heinen is a guy that has the potential to clinch one of those gigs if he can find his offensive confidence. The responsible two-way play is definitely there and he’ll play no lower than third line wing on next season’s Bruins team, but the feeling is that there is certainly a higher ceiling for a player that left college hockey after two dominant seasons at the University of Denver.

“I’m going to continue to work on [the little details] because I think if you’re good at the little details good things happen, and you’re put in better spots on the ice. I’m going to continue to work on those details and then when you get chances, grade-A looks or [chances to] be an offensive guy that’s kind of… do your follow up there. That’s the kind of player I see myself being,” said the 6-foot-1, 188-pound Heinen. “Coming into the league, I wanted to be an offensive guy. I wanted to, you know, create more, and I’m going to keep on working at doing that, trying to produce more for the team.

“I think I also need to, you know, kind of get in a mindset where I’m shooting more and am more confident in my shot because, you know, different opportunities I might pass up or whatever. I believe in my shot, and I believe I can score. I think it’s just continuing believing in that and working on it.”

To Heinen’s point, his shots on goal dropped from 135 in his rookie season to 114 shots in the very same 77 games played last season. Some of it is about firing more pucks on the net and seizing the good scoring chances when the puck is on his stick. Some of it is about getting stronger in the battles areas of the ice and simply going there more often than he does right now.

The Bruins have certainly placed the investment in Heinen that they believe he’s going to take the next step offensively after carving out a nice, little third line winger niche for himself over the last couple of seasons. Now it’s up to the 24-year-old nice kid from British Columbia to seize the opportunity he’s been given and unlock some of the hidden parts of his two-way game that never fully emerged in a sophomore season where he was invisible on the ice a little too often.

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Maple Leafs captain John Tavares out for upcoming games vs. Bruins

Maple Leafs captain John Tavares out for upcoming games vs. Bruins

The Bruins have a big week ahead of them with three games against Tampa and Toronto starting with tonight’s tilt against the Lightning at TD Garden, but things just got a little bit easier for them.

The Maple Leafs announced that John Tavares will be out for the next two weeks after suffering a broken finger in Wednesday night’s loss to the Washington Capitals. That means the Leafs captain will be out for both Saturday night’s home tilt against the Bruins and the Tuesday night finale to the home-and-home series at TD Garden.

Tavares has three goals and seven points in eight games thus far this season, but it’s still a massive loss for Toronto even if he isn’t off to the hottest start among Leafs forwards. Unfortunately, it may not be too much of an advantage for the Bruins with top-6 center David Krejci also banged up with an upper body injury and out for at least Thursday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Krejci’s availability for both games against the Maple Leafs is also in question after being forced out of Monday afternoon’s win over the Ducks, and being forced to sit out a divisional game against Tampa Bay tonight.

Tavares had just one goal and two points along with a minus-2 in four games against the Bruins last season, and traditionally it’s been Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner that have done most of the damage offensively vs. the B’s in recent seasons.

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Bruins center David Krejci (upper body) out tonight vs. Lightning

Bruins center David Krejci (upper body) out tonight vs. Lightning

BRIGHTON, Mass. — The Bruins will continue the juggling act that’s been going with David Krejci (upper body) for much of the early season as the top-6 pivot is out for tonight’s important divisional game vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Krejci exited Monday’s win over Anaheim after two shifts in the second period, and then left midway through Wednesday’s practice ahead of the showdown with the Bolts. Krejci’s absence obviously has a cascading effect among the rest of the forwards as Charlie Coyle will be bumped up to second-line center, and Par Lindholm will draw back into the lineup as the third-line center between Danton Heinen and Karson Kuhlman.

Otherwise, second-year D-man Connor Clifton will also come back into the lineup fold for the Bruins vs. Tampa after serving as a healthy scratch while Steve Kampfer replaced him on the B’s back end on Monday.

“I think I had been okay. I hadn’t been at my best. We were winning games and I’m back in tonight. So I’m worrying about that,” said Clifton. “You want to play your best. It’s early and I’m cleaning things up, but I expect to be ready to go tonight.”

Tuukka Rask will get the start in net as Cassidy and Co. may begin deviating from the strict goaltending rotation sooner rather than later with some important games coming back up for the Black and Gold.

Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings with Brett Ritchie serving as a second-line right wing while Anders Bjork continues to tear it up for the Providence Bruins:

FORWARD LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk Charlie Coyle Brett RItchie
Danton Heinen Par Lindholm Karson Kuhlman
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk Connor Clifton

GOALIE

Tuukka Rask

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