BRIGHTON, Mass – Call it the “Kid Line”, the “a Danton, a Donato and a JFK Line” or just about anything else you want. Just also make sure you call them a young, eager trio looking to lock things down on a Bruins third line that’s been in flux all season.
After struggling for most of the season, in their past three games, Danton Heinen has goals in two of them, Donato has a goal and three points and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson has a couple of points while also managing a positive plus/minus rating.
They have kicked in some supporting offense, played with speed and skill one would expect from their youthful backgrounds and give hope that the Bruins are going to eventually find some stability on that third line.
“[JFK] does want to pass first, and Ryan wants to shoot first. So they could end up being a good mix. They’re both young guys that should be comfortable with one another. Young guys come in and tend to want to appease the older guys first, so there shouldn’t be any of that,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “Ryan has been tried on the second line and could slot in there again. JFK has always been looked at a little lower in the lineup.
“We’d like it to work out where they could play together, and so far they’ve had some moments. I like Danton’s accountability. He returns to the defensive zone quickly and puts things in order. I like Danton in that area no matter what line he’s on. He’s going to play it the right way. For him, it’s just a matter of where the best chemistry is to get his numbers up.”
If Donato, 22, JFK, 22, and Heinen, 23, can find some consistency, it would certainly take one thing off GM Don Sweeney’s checklist while looking for a veteran third-line center like rumored Minnesota target Charlie Coyle. It could also really give the B’s offense a nice, multi-faceted attack, particularly if both Donato and Heinen can find their best offensive game and Forsbacka Karlsson can give them the defensive balance any good line needs.
“[Heinen] is very dependable, and the same with JFK. It’s what he’s known for: Being a 200-foot player. And Danton does the right things that he’s asked to. So for me being on that line I just kind of learn from those guys,” said Donato. “But they’re also young guys, so it’s nice to have that feeling that you’re not the only young guys on the line. You’re not the only young on the ice reading that play.”
That’s certainly the nice thing about a “Kid Line.”
Will the Bruins be able to ride with a potential third line that only boasts one player with even one season of NHL experience?
It would seem to be a tall order, but the talent is clearly there at both ends of the ice. They’ll get a good test on Friday night in Pittsburgh when they’ll surely see plenty of Sidney Crosby & Co. with Pittsburgh getting the last change. That could begin to tell the tale as to whether Boston’s “Kid Line” will stand the test of time.
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