By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Danton Heinen’s under-the-radar effectiveness has earned him perhaps the silliest nickname in Boston, and a favorite of the Felger & Mazz program. To them, he’s “The Quiet One.” But there was nothing quiet about his one-on-one battle victory with Jake Gardiner in the third period of Tuesday’s meeting between the Bruins and Hurricanes.
In fact, it brought the Garden to its feet just seven seconds later on Charlie Coyle’s game-winning goal in a 2-0 final.
“It ends up being the difference in the game,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Heinen’s win at the Boston blue line to spark the play the other way. “Who knows how it would have went if we didn’t win that battle?”
For Heinen, who was benched in the second period of last Friday’s comeback win over the Rangers due to poor play with and without the puck, winning that battle was about redemption and making the difference in a game of bounces.
“I kinda felt like I needed to redeem myself there,” Heinen admitted. “I had the puck earlier in the shift, and I kind of got lucky there, and [Brad Marchand] and Coyle made the play there.”
But there’s more to luck when it comes to Heinen making the difference for this team as a versatile, middle-six threat.
“If he has the puck, he plays his best with the puck,” Cassidy said of Heinen. “That’s his strength. He was an offensive guy at Denver, made plays. We use him in that situation – we expect him to be able to produce with certain players, but we don’t want to lose the other part of it. He tends to have a very good stick and be positionally sound. We’ve said it all along with him, win more battles, get stronger. Part of that is just maturing, and part of it is second effort and will.”
“It’s just the little plays,” Coyle said. “They make a big difference. You win those battles, and you come out [with a] quick three-on-two and you make your plays — and it wasn’t the prettiest play — but it goes in. You just stick with that process.
“We have a lot of guys like that.”
And Heinen, with five goals and 13 points through 28 games this year, is certainly one of them.
On the ice for over 335 minutes of five-on-five play this season, the Bruins have outscored opponents 15-6 with No. 43 out there. Among the 205 NHL forwards with at least 300 minutes of ice-time to their name, that 71.43 goals-for percentage stands as the fourth-best in all of hockey, trailing only the Coyotes’ Conor Garland and Christian Fischer, as well as Bruins teammate David Krejci and his league-best 83.33 goals-for percentage. Heinen also ranks fourth in on-ice goals allowed per 60 minutes among that same group of 205, with the team surrendering just 1.07 goals per 60 of five-on-five action with Heinen.
Opponents simply aren’t scoring when Heinen is on the ice, and while it isn’t the flashiest process to deny such opportunities for the opposition, you’ll take its impact at the other end every single day of the week, as there’s nothing quiet about that.
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 2-0 win good for the B’s eighth straight victory…
Bruins tinker with top six forwards
Looking for some extra juice in a rather listless start to what turned out to be an extremely tight-checking game at both ends of the rink, Bruce Cassidy went back to tinkering and reconfigured his top-six grouping to put Charlie Coyle between Brad Marchand and Danton Heinen, while Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak skated on David Krejci’s wings.
“I think Jake’s game the last four or five games has kind of recaptured where we believe he can be for us. He’s on pucks and with [Charlie] Coyle, you give him just a different player with Marchy [Brad Marchand] over there,” Cassidy said of the decision to mix it up. “It’s just one of those things where I didn’t think they generated a ton the other night against Montreal as a line, so it was just one of those in-game switches we’ve done in the past. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.”
The switches certainly worked out by the night’s end, as each line factored in on a goal, and the Marchand-Coyle-Heinen experience seemed especially interesting, as the trio generated eight scoring chances and outshot the ‘Canes 11-2 in 11:10 of five-on-five play. It’s a seemingly uncommon grouping — it’s always weird to see Marchand skating with anybody other than (the currently injured) Patrice Bergeron — but their results shouldn’t be all that surprising. After all, Coyle outright admitted to watching Bergeron in games and practice and trying to mimic some of the things he does on the ice (not a bad plan), and joined a line with Marchand knowing what No. 63 likes and wants to do when on the ice.
“He’s a guy who likes to have the puck and make plays,” Coyle said of his newest linemate. “You just have to be ready when playing with guys of his caliber who can make a play and then hit you. He knows where you are while getting by a guy or doing what he does, so you gotta be ready.”
And Coyle was certainly ready on Tuesday.
David Krejci gets on board with 200th goal of NHL career
David Krejci’s third-period goal was more than an insurance marker for the Bruins in a 2-0 final. It was also the 200th goal of Krejci’s NHL career, and one that took even his own head coach by surprise when catching word of its significance.
“I know he’s a pass-first guy, but I always assumed he had more than that, to be honest with you,” Cassidy said of Krejci’s milestone goal. “I don’t mean that in the wrong way, it seems like he’s been playing in this league as long as I can remember. “
Gotta be honest with you here: I’m with Bruce. I honestly double-checked the notes when they announced that it was his 200th NHL game, because I definitely thought he was closer to 300 than 200. But then you remember all the players Krejci has set up throughout his career, as well as his role as a second power-play unit killer (when given the time), and it actually makes sense. (That said, Krejci has a relatively underrated shot for a pass-first guy, and it’s a legit weapon when he’s willing to tee it up.)
“I’m happy for him,” Cassidy continued. “He’s an unselfish guy, would rather pass first anyway, look after his teammates that way. Nice goal to score, going to the net too. Both of them were like that eventually, we got some separation. Took us a while, but tight-checking games, so good for David. Good guy, good pro, good teammate. Happy for him.”
The goal made Krejci the 19th member of the Bruins’ 200-goal club, and first since Brad Marchand hit it in Oct. 2017.
Krejci, for what it’s worth, didn’t seem to care all that much about the milestone.
“Didn’t really think about it,” said Krejci. “It’s just a number. I’m here to help the team and, yeah, haven’t really thought about it.”
Krejci is currently 10 points behind Ken Hodge for eighth place on the Black and Gold’s all-time scoring list, with 664 points through an 872-game career that’s been spent entirely with the B’s organization.
I expect a similarly riveting analysis of hitting that marker when the time comes.
A hole in the net (rightly) prevented what would’ve been incredible goal from Jaccob Slavin
If I were building my own All-Underrated team, there’s no doubt that Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin would be on it. Hell, he may even be the one featured on my top pairing.
A 6-foot-3 left shot defender, Slavin has long been one of my favorite players to watch, as he’s a no-doubt complete package on the blue line in terms of skills and situational usage. And the second period of Tuesday’s head-to-head with the Bruins showed off a little bit of everything that Carolina’s d-man can do.
With the Bruins trying to spark a two-on-one rush towards James Reimer, Slavin sprawled ahead of the play and denied what would’ve been a slot-destined pass from Joakim Nordstrom. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Slavin then immediately got up, recovered the puck, and appeared to go end-to-end for the first goal of the evening.
Now, it turned out that Slavin did not put the puck through Jaroslav Halak, but rather the side of Halak’s net, but it was a ridiculous three-zone effort play, and will certainly be featured on the highlight package for my All-Underrated team (release date to be determined).