The Boston Bruins have been hampered by secondary-scoring woes all season long — a roster flaw magnified by a major drop-off in offensive production by second-year winger Danton Heinen.
Like many promising B’s rookies that helped Boston nearly clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference last season, Heinen entered 2018-19 with high expectations — with the reliable, two-way forward looking to build off a 47-point campaign that primarily saw him entrenched on a third line with David Backes and Riley Nash.
Heinen’s play away from the puck and defensive responsibilities have been as advertised this year, there’s no question about that. But his play in the offensive zone has been alarming, to say the least.
Ranked ninth among all NHL rookies in scoring in 2017-18, Heinen is only on pace for 10 goals and 21 points this year – a decline in 26 points despite earning a few stints up in a top-six role during the early months of the season.
Hr projected to be an offensive dynamo by any means, but Heinen’s expected production has certainly suffered — with his 5v5 goals per 60 minutes dropping from 2.56 to 1.67, even though his individual 5v5 shot attempts per 60 minutes have actually increased from 11.9 to 12.71 this season.
It’s also not as though luck hasn’t been on Heinen’s side when he has possessed in the puck in the offensive zone — with his individual expected goals for during 5v5 play (5.88) right in line with his actual scoring output (five goals).
So, what is it then? Righting the ship when it comes to Heinen’s confidence in the O-zone has to be a priority for the B’s, who desperately need a dependable scorer injected into their bottom-six corps.