NEW YORK — In what all parties hope was Danton Heinen’s final game as the Bruins’ first-line left wing, the rookie scored the winning goal and added an assist in Tuesday’s 3-2 decision over Detroit.
It might have been enough for Brad Marchand to feel that his job security was at risk.
“I’m not back with them tonight,” Marchand cracked before Wednesday’s game of being reunited with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. “He played great. The whole team’s played awesome the last five games. We’re just playing really well right now.
“It’s great to see Heins have that success. He’s played great all year. He’s having a phenomenal year. It just shows that he’s very versatile and can play anywhere in the lineup.”
The game at Madison Square Garden marked the first time since Jan. 23 that Marchand was to ride in his usual spot on the No. 1 line. He remains the team’s leading scorer (21-29—50) despite missing 12 games because of his suspension and concussions.
He has had the last five games to ponder his flying elbow to the head of New Jersey’s Marcus Johansson head and resolve not to repeat such behavior. The Bruins went 4-1-0 without their No. 1 left wing. But they do not want to play with fire again. Marchand’s next run-in with the law would result in a longer suspension, perhaps at a more critical time.
The trick will be for Marchand to continue playing abrasively but not cross the disciplinary line. So far, it’s a problem he hasn’t been able to solve.
“He has to block out some of the noise, but still be respectful of the boundaries he needs to play within,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “I’ve talked to him about both sides. He’s said it. He’s come out and said it’s what gotten him to this level — being a pest, for lack of a better term, and a guy who played on the edge.
“We want him to make sure he understands now that he’s an elite player offensively, penalty killing, 200-foot player. Take some of the other part that helped you get into the league out of your game now, because you’ve earned the right to be more of a skilled guy without losing the determination and passion for the game.”
With Marchand back, Heinen was back on the third line with Riley Nash and David Backes. Tim Schaller, who played on the third line during Heinen’s promotion, will go back to the fourth line with Sean Kuraly and Austin Czarnik.
“When our team’s playing that well, anyone can jump in, do well, and fit in,” Marchand said. “Our team’s very good at picking each other up when you’re not feeling great, you’re a little banged up, you’re a little sick, whatever it is.
“We just have so much depth right now that you’re able to slide back into the lineup very easily. Hopefully that’s the case again.”
Honor for Krug
Torey Krug belongs to what Cassidy classifies as the secondary leadership tier. Krug, a native of Livonia, Mich., was playing in his hometown Tuesday. So with the blessing of David Backes, who has served as the second alternate captain on the road, Cassidy allowed Krug to wear an “A” against the Red Wings.
“It was awesome,” said Krug, who wore the letter for the first time. “Very humbling and honoring to wear an ‘A’ for an Original Six team and do it in the hometown in front of friends and family. It’s a pretty special night, for sure.”
Bergeron has been the full-time No. 1 alternate since 2006-07. Backes, Marchand, and David Krejci have served as alternates for part of the season. The 26-year-old Krug would not mind filling the position again. A jersey with a letter can often give a player the strength of two men.
“Definitely an added boost,” Krug said. “You want to be a bigger part of the team and have a bigger role. You want to get a chance to wear it again if you have a good game.”
Frank Vatrano was ruled out of Wednesday’s game. The left wing pulled up lame in Tuesday’s second period. He limped to the dressing room favoring his left leg . . . Kevan Miller (upper body) and Noel Acciari (lower body) remain out. It’s unknown whether either will be available for Saturday’s game against Buffalo . . . Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of Cassidy’s elevation to head coach, albeit in an interim classification at the time. “It’s been a lot of hockey games. A lot of wins,” Cassidy said of his 50 victories. “That’s the good news. That’s how you keep your job and have a few more anniversaries. The team’s going well right now. We’re in a good place.”
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