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Bruins have found winning mix with Heinen-Zacha-Pastrnak line

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Boston Bruins' Danton Heinen (43) celebrates after his goal near Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen (31), Brett Pesce (22) and Jake Guentzel (59) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, April 4, 2024.

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The Bruins have outscored groups, 14-4, through the Heinen-Zacha-Pastrnak line’s 5-on-5 reps.

Over his final 21 video games, Danton Heinen has scored six targets and posted 15 complete factors. (AP Photograph/Karl B DeBlaker)

After recording over 606 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time through the 2022-23 season, many Bruins followers anticipated Pavel Zacha and David Pastrnak to be joined on the hip on one in every of Boston’s top-six traces in 2023-24.

However think about pitching a lineup reshuffle to Bruins followers in early August — contemporary off of Patrice Bergeron’s retirement, Tyler Bertuzzi’s free-agency exit and a Taylor Corridor commerce — the place *checks notes* Danton Heinen was the lacking piece on that top-six unit?

Such a improvement would seemingly draw loads of laughs, if not outright dismay for a fanbase already weary a couple of extreme dip in play following Boston’s record-setting marketing campaign.

If bringing again an outdated buddy in Heinen for a task that he’s by no means been thrust into was going to be the transfer for the Bruins, one would assume that the 2023-24 Bruins have been gunning extra for Macklin Celebrini within the upcoming 2024 NHL Draft — reasonably than a spot atop the NHL standings.

In fact, few are scoffing now on the sight of Heinen skating alongside Pastrnak and Zacha — particularly the a number of stout D corps who’ve been shredded by that trio over the past month.

Amid the entire reshuffling that Jim Montgomery has carried out this season for a very reworked Bruins lineup, Boston’s bench boss has seemingly struck gold by giving a strong, two-way participant like Heinen an prolonged run with two confirmed playmakers.

Whether or not or not it’s Heinen’s well-rounded skillset, his embrace of a extra shot-first method, or the added raise that comes with skating alongside a Hart Trophy candidate in Pastrnak, it’s laborious to argue with the numbers when this trio takes to the ice.

Within the 140:31 of 5-on-5 reps that the Heinen-Zacha-Pastrnak line has logged up to now this season, the Bruins have outscored opponents, 14-4. 

Brad Marchand’s four-hundredth profession aim may steal many of the headlines from Boston’s 4-1 win over Carolina on Thursday night time.

Nevertheless it was the Heinen-Zacha-Pastrnak grouping that constructed Boston’s lead for good within the opening body at PNC Area — with each Pastrnak and Heinen lighting the lamp in a powerful finish to Boston’s six-game highway journey. 

“I acquired it on the boards and truthfully I used to be taking a look at what’s open and simply was going in the direction of the online … Tried to make a fast transfer to the forehand to maneuver (Frederik) Andersen to the far aspect and it labored out completely,” Pastrnak mentioned of his forty seventh aim.

Pastrnak’s skill to generate offense comes as little shock at this stage of his profession. However each Heinen (one aim, one help vs. Carolina) and Zacha (two assists) have pulled their weight on Boston’s reworked top-six grouping.

Heinen has already served as probably the greatest bargain-bin provides this season — scoring 16 targets and 34 factors over 69 video games, all whereas counting simply $775,000 in opposition to the cap. Over his final 21 video games, Heinen has scored six targets and posted 15 complete factors.

“These guys are so good with the puck, so I attempt to get it of their fingers and attempt to get to the online. I believe we’re simply making an attempt to construct, and I attempt to take heed to these guys and see what they need as a result of they’re two high-end guys. … “I believe I acquired to be accountable,” Heinen said last month of playing alongside Zacha and Pastrnak. “These guys are clearly just a little higher offensively than me, so I believe that’s undoubtedly a part of my job in that line is to be strong defensively. It’s one thing I used to be making an attempt to work on and get higher at.”

A content material Pavel Zacha can be beginning to warmth up over the ultimate weeks of the 2023-24 marketing campaign. Over his final 15 video games, Zacha has racked up 19 factors (seven targets, 12 assists) — and sits simply two factors away from matching his career-high in scoring (57 factors, set final spring). 

As uneven because the Bruins’ second-half stretch has been, Boston appears to be discovering some traction with the Stanley Cup Playoffs lower than three weeks away. Together with a 4-2 displaying throughout this current six-game highway journey, Boston is now 22-7-8 this season in opposition to groups at the moment within the playoff subject.

And it ought to come as little shock that Boston’s stronger returns have been realized ever since this trio has earned regular minutes.

“We performed two nice groups and tonight, clearly, the primary interval was big for us,” Pastrnak mentioned of Thursday’s win. “We knew they haven’t performed for some time so we have been specializing in making an attempt to leap on them within the first and it labored out.”

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