How Bruins’ Heinen has turned page after gaffe against Philly

Matt Kalman
February 08, 2019 - 4:37 pm

Danton Heinen’s trying to write one of the better redemption stories to come out of the Bruins in years.

In the past week the 23-year-old wing was a healthy scratch for two games, returned to the lineup, was promoted to the right side of the Bruins’ first line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron in the second period of his return game, scored a goal in a 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Rangers, and stayed on that line for practice Friday.

He’s expected to start on that line Saturday afternoon against Los Angeles, with David Pastrnak sticking with Peter Cehlarik and David Krejci.

Heinen’s promotion and slump-busting goal – he’d had one goal in eight games prior to being scratched before the matchup with the Rangers – cast him in a much different light than the start of his wild week. Heinen infamously had a wide-open net late in a tied game against Philadelphia on Jan. 31, but the puck hopped off his stick and the Bruins went on to lose in a shootout.

Heinen said past experiences, especially during his tumultuous sophomore NHL season that’s featured him get just 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 50 games, have taught him to turn the page even after a dramatic failure that was probably spared by that week’s Super Bowl hype from becoming a bigger issue in Boston.

“I think … honestly I think I got over it pretty quick to be honest with you,” Heinen told WEEI.com “I think there’s no point in dwelling in the past. Obviously it’s natural to think about it, be frustrated, but I just tried to tell myself to turn the page and be ready to go. I mean I … it’s such a big play and you have the game on your stick and you put so much pressure on yourself to help the team produce, and everybody’s talking about secondary scoring, so you’re naturally going to think about it.

“But I take it as a bad bounce and I still have confidence in my abilities that if I get that look another time, I’m going to put it in.”

He proved his confidence isn’t an issue by earning his promotion against the Rangers and then getting to the front of the net for an important tip-in goal.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has maintained confidence in Heinen most of the season, that’s why the forward has remained in the lineup despite his sluggish numbers. Although he hasn’t scored at the pace he did in his rookie season, when he had 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists), Heinen has continued to be a strong performer without the puck. That talent made him a candidate to join Marchand and Bergeron when Cassidy wanted to balance out his lines by breaking up his top trio.

“Danton is a good defensive player, so we’re going to assume that they can play against anybody and we’re not giving up defense. But … he’s not Pasta,” Cassidy said. “So I don’t know if they’re going to score as much right away simply because he’s not Pasta. But we hope Krejci with Pasta generate more, so we’re not going to lose Pasta’s offense, we don’t feel anyways, it’s just going to come from a different line.

“Danton we’re hoping can step up his game. It’s an opportunity for him and a challenge.”

Heinen’s two-game sabbatical between the Philadelphia and New York games was his second of the season. Otherwise he’d been plugging away trying to find what he had last season.

In his new role on the first line, the key will be for him to play to his strengths and make sure he takes advantage of having two world-class linemates.

“I mean I’m not going to be David Pastrnak. He’s something else,” Heinen said. “Obviously [Marchand and Bergeron> have a lot of chemistry and played together for a while now. I’m just going to listen to them and try to read off them and I mean they’re such smart players, just try to learn from them and see where they want me and go from there.”

Heinen hopes where he's going has happy ending to the story he's writing.

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