The Bruins pared their roster Sunday, and Danton Heinen didn’t go anywhere. A hot hand has a way of warding off the dastardly chill of early-October training camp cuts.
Danton, 21 years old and only months removed the University of Denver campus, has scored three goals in his three exhibition games with the Black and Gold. He picked up No. 3 Saturday night in Philadelphia and also added a shootout strike, helping the Bruins to their 4-3 shootout win over the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
It was Boston’s second win in two nights, fresh off a 3-2 OT win in Detroit, and it moved the Bruins’ preseason mark to 2-1-1. A downsized roster will work out today in Brighton, prior to the exhibition season continuing with a game against the Canadiens in Quebec City.
“Heinen continues to really impress us,’’ said Claude Julien, back behind the bench Saturday for the first time since returning from his World Cup tour. “He’s making our decisions tougher and hopefully better.’’
“Good legs, able to jump in those holes,’’ noted Boston newbie David Backes, who had Heinen on his wing all night, his first since joining the club as a free agent from St. Louis. “Good with the puck . . . uh, I don’t know what more nice things I can say.’’
Right now, there appears little else for anyone in Black and Gold to say to Heinen other than, “Welcome to the club, son.’’ The ever-more-defensive NHL rarely sees veterans, never mind rawboned rookies, make consistent contributions on offense. Heinen is producing as advertised, a player who can identify scoring chances and turn on more red lights than a fleet of rescue vehicles.
“He is young, but he has shown that he can put the puck in the net,’’ said Backes, who generated three assists, including a pair on David Pastrnak’s goals, and also the Heinen strike. “He can give those second and third battles. He’s not shying away from anything. He’s going to the hard areas. And he’s producing. You love to see that from the young kids. He’s making tough decisions for the management and coaching staff, and that’s a good problem to have.’’
Heinen has maintained the standard-form low profile of a NHL wannabe. Following the win in Philly, he credited the “great players’’ on his line, Backes and Pastrnak, and said again that he was grateful for the continued opportunity of the last week-plus.
He also said he sees room for improvement.
“Yeah, I think I let a few shots from the point get through,’’ he said. “I’d like to be more in the [shooting] lane, a little more defensively responsible there. So I have to clean that up a little. And I think I can hold on to the puck a little longer, make some more plays with a little more composure.’’
In April, he was a Pioneer, happy to help Denver run BU out of the NCAA tournament. Now he’s here, working daily at the practice rink just around the corner from Terrier Town, inching closer to regular employment on Causeway Street.
“A little bit,’’ he said, when asked if he finds his early success a dream come true. “I think it is just the preseason, and they are giving me a good opportunity, and I am having fun with it so far.’’
Need for speed
The mantra of training camp, if you’re just joining us now from World Cup coverage, has been speed. At Julien’s orders, everyone has been requested to move their feet faster and move their minds in lockstep with their skates.
Julien, at least for the 65 minutes and more that he witnessed Saturday, said he was impressed with what he saw.
“I think it was good,’’ he said. “I liked our transition when the puck was turned over in the neutral zone. Our guys were moving the puck quick and were back on the attack, and that’s what we are looking for this year — a quicker pace. And as I said earlier, it wasn’t about how fast a guy can skate, but how fast we can play, the pace of our game. I think I saw that on the forecheck, I saw that in the neutral zone regroup, and that was good to see.’’
World Cuppers return
Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, and camp invitee Christian Ehrhoff all will work out with the downsized roster Monday at Warrior. Asked if Bergeron will want to play Tuesday in Quebec City, his hometown, Julien said, “Oh, I would imagine so, whether we do or not, that’s another thing.’’ Translation: If Bergeron feels adequately rested after his World Cup heroics, he’ll be on the flight north Tuesday afternoon . . . David Krejci, yet to see game action, is getting close to a return. “Day to day now,’’ Julien said. Krejci is making his way back from hip surgery . . . Dominic Moore and Noel Acciari both have been hindered by injuries, but both should be practicing this week . . . Backes on playing his first game with a new club: “It kind of had that adrenaline rush of some of my first games in the league. You are in a new spot. You want to impress coaches, management. They put a ton of belief in me and signed me to a big contract, and now it’s my job to make them look good and help this team win games.’’