Danton Heinen: A Quiet Star for the Boston Bruins

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(Above Photo Credit: NHL.com)

By: Lauren Campbell                 Follow Me On Twitter @lalalalaurrrren

If you have been following the Bruins for the last month-and-a-half, then I don’t need to tell you they’re playing outstanding hockey. Things seem to be clicking on all cylinders for the B’s – from the offense to the defense to the goaltending and it’s clear this team is undeniably fun to watch.

With all the talent Boston has, there is one specific player who I feel has been overlooked. With a team with talents such as Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy is a talented young player named Danton Heinen.

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He was drafted by the Bruins after he played just two years at the University of Denver where he collected 93 points in 81 games with the Pioneers. The B’s saw something special in Heinen, and even though it looked as if he was not ready for the NHL level last year, he has proven to be a solid draft pick.

Through the 39 games he has played, Heinen has 10 goals and 21 helpers – good for 31 points. On Jan. 3, the winger had notched 21 points through 22 games, with a plus/minus of 10 and had a two-point game against the New York Islanders where the B’s won 5-1.

Those 31 points put the 22-year-old in fourth for rookie scoring, and the three players above him have played between four and seven more games than him. Heinen is making an impact on the B’s and has been without a doubt exceeding expectations on the ice.

Essentially, Heinen came out of nowhere and has been producing numbers to help the Bruins be in the position they are. They’re second in the Atlantic Division, and without the help of his 31 points, the B’s may not be anywhere close to second.

However, it’s not surprising you don’t hear a lot of talk about the young stud – this team is loaded with talent and has been winning big games, including two wins against their rival Montreal Canadiens.

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Tuukka Rask has been absolutely dominant between the pipes since December, Marchand was named to the All-Star team, Pastrnak has 18 goals, and McAvoy is dropping gloves and scoring goals. It’s easy to see why Heinen gets lost in conversation.

What makes his rookie season even more impressive is that Heinen played just eight games last year and didn’t record a single point. He was incredibly underwhelming, and after some work in the offseason, he has become someone the B’s can rely on while he’s on the ice.

Heinen has become a key contributor to this team whether he is talked about or not – which I think makes him all the more special. He’s apparently not letting the success he’s had this season get to his head – he’s just quietly climbing to the top of the rookie scorers list.

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Tuukka Tales: The Turnaround of the Boston Goalie

( Above Photo Credit:  NHL .com )

By: Lauren Campbell           Follow Me On Twitter @lalalalaurrrren 

If someone told me back in late October that the Boston Bruins would have 53 points heading into their bye week, I wouldn’t believe them – but alas, here we are on January 11 and the B’s are 23-10-7 with 53 points, good for second place in the Atlantic Division.

The three months of this season have been quite the roller coaster – from fans calling for Tuukka Rask to get off this team, to not being able to win two games in a row in regulation until mid-November, it became increasingly difficult to watch this team.

However, through the sloppy play, the sluggish hustle and the soft goals given up by Rask, this team started to click on all cylinders – and I believe it all started after Bruce Cassidy benched Rask in favor of the number two goalie, Anton Khudobin.

Khudobin had some solid starts and it seemed as if he was giving Rask a run for that number one spot back in November. The team seemed to be playing better in front of their back-up – they scored more goals, the urgency was there and the defense looked close to perfect.

This sparked a lot of conversation that Rask was the problem and either he was unhappy with the team or the players didn’t like him so in spite of Rask, the team played worse when he was in net.

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The above argument seemed asinine but the Rask haters would really force it…that was until December when number 40 seemed to all of a sudden turn a bad start to the season completely around and come up with some big wins.

The pessimists were suddenly quiet after Rask was named the NHL’s first star for the month of December after he completed the month with nine wins and two shutouts and led all NHL goalies with a .955 save percentage.

The netminder currently has a 14-8-4 record and the team has at least one point in his last 13 starts. Those are pretty good numbers for a goalie who started off the season not looking like a starter.

Rask was essentially non-existent for a month but has since led Boston to 22 points through 14 games in December. Before their mandatory bye-week, Rask blamed himself for the 6-5 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He didn’t make up any excuses or throw his team under the bus, he simply put the blame on him.

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The second half of the season starts on Saturday and it will be a huge test for Rask (assuming he gets the start) against their rival and former head coach, Claude Julien and the Montreal Canadiens.

It will be interesting to see if Rask keeps up this hot streak he’s on or if he will fizzle out. One thing is for certain: the Rask haters are waiting for him to fail while the supporters are waiting for him to prevail.