Bruins

Heinen expected back in B's lineup vs. Habs

Heinen expected back in B's lineup vs. Habs

BRIGHTON, Mass -- After spending one game up in the ninth floor press box watching the Bruins beat the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night, it’s expected that Danton Heinen is going to get right back into the lineup on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens.

Heinen had one goal in his previous nine games before the healthy scratch in his first slow point of a strong rookie season. The young winger had perhaps drifted a bit away from the battles he was so intently engaging in earlier in the season. So, the hope from the Bruins is that Heinen will have a little extra jump to his game when he draws back in for the Black and Gold. That could only be enhanced by watching his lineup replacement, Brian Gionta, stand out in his spot on the third line Thursday against the Penguins.

“[Guys] will be in the lineup and then out of the lineup at times if they need a break,” said Bruce Cassidy. “[Gionta] showed some good speed last night reloading well on fore-checks, creating loose pucks with a good stick and his foot speed and making some plays around the net. The benefit is that he’s got that many years in the league, so the obvious things aren’t going to faze him where a young guy might get rattled.

“But that’s stating the obvious for the most part. We like the way our young guys have played. We’re just trying to make sure of proper growth, and that’s what happened [on Thursday] night with Danton Heinen. He watched upstairs and he’ll probably go back in [against Montreal] so we’ll see where we’re at.”

Heinen, 22, certainly sounded like somebody ready to jump back into the fray with a refreshed perspective and the hope is he’ll respond in the same way that fellow rookie Jake DeBrusk did earlier in the season.

“Obviously lately hasn’t gone great for me personally, but it’s a tough league. You have some downs, and you try to limit those as much as possible and stay as consistent as you can,” said Heinen, who is still among the NHL’s top-10 in rookie scoring with 38 points. “That’s my goal, to stay positive and keep on working hard. We had a big win [against Pittsburgh] and hopefully, that can get us rolling again.

“It’s just little things. If you’re doing the little things right then the big things will take care of themselves. [The healthy scratch] certainly makes you hungrier to get back in there when you see the guys battling and having fun out there.”

With Noel Acciari missing practice Friday for a maintenance day, there is perhaps a chance that Gionta could move to a different place in the lineup after playing so well in his B‘s debut on Thursday. Cassidy also said he was leaving his decision on a starting goalie up until a few hours before the rare 5 p.m. start against the Habs, so here’s the projected Bruins lineup vs. Montreal with no Saturday morning skate:

Marchand-Nash-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Nash

Heinen-Backes-Wingels

Schaller-Kuraly-Gionta

 
Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Miller

Holden-Carlo

 
Rask

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Bruins go home empty-handed on NHL Awards night

Bruins go home empty-handed on NHL Awards night

The Bruins didn’t take home any hardware at the NHL Awards show on Wednesday night in Las Vegas, but appropriately one of their youthful players was recognized among the league’s best and brightest. Rookie D-man Charlie McAvoy was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie team along with New Jersey Devils D-man Will Butcher, forwards (Islanders) Mat Barzal, (Canucks) Brock Boeser and (Coyotes) Clayton Keller and Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros.

The 20-year-old McAvoy finished fifth in Calder Trophy voting as well behind Barzal, Boeser, Keller and Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor, but the rookie D-man didn’t get any first-place votes on ballots across the PHWA (Professional Hockey Writers Association). 

Patrice Bergeron finished third in the Selke Trophy voting behind Selke winner Anze Kopitar and Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier while going for his record-breaking fifth Selke Trophy. While it might be a little shocking to see No. 37 finish third based on his season and his overall two-way prowess, he did miss 22 percent of the regular season (18 out of 82 games) and some voters may have dinged him a bit because of that. 

Likewise, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy finished a distant second in the Jack Adams Award voting behind Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant. In any other season, Cassidy’s job leading the Bruins to 112 points in his first full year behind the Boston bench would have been a shoo-in for the coaching award. Instead, it deservedly went to Gallant after guiding the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to a playoff spot and eventually all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. 

Don Sweeney also finished fourth in the GM of the Year voting just behind the three finalists for the award, a clear recognition from those around the league for the job he’s done turning things around in Boston over the last few seasons. Zdeno Chara (Norris), David Pastrnak (a first place Lady Byng vote, no less), Bergeron (Byng and Hart Trophy), Tuukka Rask (Vezina), Jake DeBrusk (Calder) and Brad Marchand (Selke and Hart Trophy) all received at least single votes on award ballots in a pretty strong Black and Gold representation across the board. 

A positive thought for all the Bergeron backers that felt he got robbed this season: It was the NHL-record seventh consecutive Selke Trophy finalist appearance for Bergeron on Wednesday night, and there certainly should be several more chances for No. 37 to win again and add to a resume that looks more and more Hall of Fame-worthy with each passing season.

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Cassidy says Kovalchuk would be 'nice addition' to Bruins

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File photo

Cassidy says Kovalchuk would be 'nice addition' to Bruins

As the free agency period of July 1 inches closer, the hype machine for 35-year-old Ilya Kovalchuk will grow more and more frenzied for teams like the Bruins.

And coach Bruce Cassidy gladly added to it on Tuesday in Las Vegas, telling reporters assembled for the NHL Awards that the Russian winger would be “a nice fit” for the Black and Gold. 

“Yeah, that would be interesting . . . you never want to speculate,” Cassidy said to reporters in Vegas during his press availability as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award. “You can’t get too far ahead . . . he’s a top-six guy, he can play left and right wing, he’s a big body. He’d be a nice addition. I am sure any team would say that right now. 

“He’s going to make your team better, and I think that’s what you always look at as a coach, and fitting [talented players] in is the easy part. The tough part is getting those types of players.”

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The Bruins will be among a handful of teams vying for Kovalchuk, who spend the last five seasons playing in the KHL after bolting the New Jersey Devils and the NHL after the lockout-shortened 2013 NHL season. Even at his advanced NHL age, the expectation is that Kovalchuk can still have an impact offensively even if he’s not exactly the same player who posted 37 goals and 83 points in his last full season in Jersey six years ago. 

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound winger still has the big shot, the scoring ability, the size and the game-breaking skills that made him a former first overall pick in the NHL draft, and it may just be that he has more left in his tank than the younger Rick Nash. Clearly there was a concussion that played a big part in Nash’s time in Boston, but he also didn’t look like the explosive scoring ability was still there like it was in the Columbus/New York power forward’s younger years. 

The Bruins haven’t yet locked in a time when they’ll make their pitch to Kovalchuk’s camp, but it’s expected to happen ahead of the July 1 opening of free agency. Kovalchuk's representatives have already had meetings with teams on the West Coast like the Kings and Sharks. It’s expected that Kovalchuk, 35, be looking at a shorter-term deal making something close to the $6.67 annual salary he was being paid by the Devils when he departed the NHL. 

If Kovalchuk were to land in Boston, he’d fill a need for secondary scoring behind the big guns of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.He would allow the Bruins to keep their top forward line intact while filling a hole on the second line right wing alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. 

With the news that next season’s salary cap is going to be in the $79-80 million range, the Bruins will also have somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million in cap space for their offseason shopping list. That should give them plenty of room to sign Kovalchuk to a short-term deal and still address the other openings on their NHL roster, including third-line center and a backup goaltender. Still, Kovalchuk would be the big fish, and that’s why the talk about him is front and center.

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