Marchand on Heinen: ‘He's put the work in and now he's getting rewarded'

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BRIGHTON, Mass – With each passing day, it’s clear that winger Danton Heinen is becoming more and more a part of the fabric on the Boston Bruins. 

The 22-year-old scored his fifth goal of the season in Thursday night’s 6-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes, and teamed with David Backes and Riley Nash for Boston’s most effective forward line throughout the win. That’s a big deal both for the Black and Gold, who need a stronger, more productive third line that can consistently chip in offense, and for Heinen, who continues to get endorsements from the B’s coaching staff that are growing in strength about an established role with the NHL club. 

“Danton has played through a lot of different scenarios playing with different lines, and playing for different players…and he’s been a real good addition for us in terms of being able to move him around,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I like what he’s brought, and he’s earned his time and he’s earned his spot in the lineup. As a young guy that could change if we feel like he needs to sit for a bit or be re-assigned, but that’s all speculation. Clearly right he deserves to play, and so he’s playing.

“[Roster discussions] are talked about internally, but I can’t see Danton Heinen being sent down. He’s playing very well for us. He deserves to be in the lineup.”

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Nobody is giving Heinen a guarantee that he’s in Boston for good, of course, but it’s pretty clear he’s earned a permanent spot with the Bruins barring some kind of crazy, unexpected downturn to a game that’s been impressive to just about everybody this season. A year ago at this time, Heinen was in Providence working on his game after looking in over his head in eight NHL games with the Bruins mostly toward the beginning of the season.  

This season Heinen has been more assertive with his decisions on the ice, harder on the puck while competing in battle areas on every shift and he’s even moving around a little more quickly than he did last season. In other words, he looks like he belongs in the league while on pace for 18 goals and 50 points for the Black and Gold. 

“He is [an NHL player]. No question. He plays a hard game, he’s heavy and strong on the puck and very skilled,” said Brad Marchand. “He’s pretty consistent and he’s been battling every night. Even that goal [against the Coyotes] he was going to the net, keeping it simple and doing his job. So you’ve got to give him a lot of credit, he’s put the work in and he’s getting rewarded for it.”

For his part, Heinen chalks up quite a bit of his improvement to an upshot in confidence that started in the Calder Cup playoffs last season. He was a point-per-game player for the P-Bruins in their playoff run, and he was no longer the timid rookie in training camp while looking to lock down a job. Now Heinen feels like he belongs in the league after tasting some individual success at the NHL level, and is taking his cues with things like confidence, approach and preparation by watching veterans like Marchand and Patrice Bergeron go about their business in all situations. 

That’s a big time added bonus of being given the time to find your game at the NHL level, which Heinen most certainly was afforded after injuries ravaged the Bruins up front. 

“I can’t change my mindset at all. Every day I need to prove myself and show that I can help the team on a consistent basis,” said Heinen. “It’s an adjustment going to college where you think you’re ready hard on pucks and winning battles, and then you come here and you have to be so much harder on pucks, and so much stronger. For me that took a little bit of time [to adjust], but I keep on working on it. 

“As you’re here longer you get more comfortable with the guys, and you’re not stressing every day when you go to the rink. You become more yourself and try more things on the ice. You wish you could show that [confidence] all the time, but then you watch guys like Marchand and Bergeron, and they just know they’re always going to be the best players on the ice. You try to see what they do, and kind of try to adopt some of the ways that they act.”

That has worked for Heinen even as he was bounced up and down the forward lines with the Bruins due to wide-ranging injuries, and switched around with different linemates in the last few weeks. He’s shown the skill that made him a top prospect coming out of the University of Denver, and he’s shown the tenacity to play a 200-foot game with the B’s sorely in need of those types of players. 

It remains to be seen where Heinen’s ultimate ceiling lies when it comes to potential and production, but he’s going to get the chance to see how good he can be now that he’s in an established third line spot with Bruins’ mainstay forwards in Backes and Nash alongside him with some solid early game effectiveness. 

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