The most encouraging part of the Boston Bruins’ 2017-18 season has been the injection of talented young players into the lineup, and look no further than the team’s 2014 draft class as proof.
Four players from Boston’s 2014 class — David Pastrnak, Danton Heinen, Ryan Donato and Anders Bjork — have played in NHL games for the B’s this season. Donato became the latest to make his debut Monday night in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at TD Garden.
The 21-year-old forward, fresh off his junior season at Harvard, scored a goal and added two assists playing at left wing on the second line.
In fact, the three 2014 draftees who played Monday combined for six points. Heinen’s two assists, Pastrnak’s one assist and Donato’s goal and two assists fueled a Bruins lineup that was without several important players, including Patrice Bergeron, Rick Nash, David Backes and Zdeno Chara.
In recent seasons, specifically the 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns in which the Bruins missed the playoffs, the team didn’t have the required depth to overcome injuries and/or scoring slumps of veteran players. A lack of young talent making a difference was a primary reason for that missing depth.
That’s not a problem for the Bruins anymore, and with guys like Bergeron inching closer to a return, the B’s are primed to have tons of depth, particularly at forward, when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11.
Here are some other notes from Bruins vs. Blue Jackets:
— The list of Bruins who’ve scored their first career goal this season expanded, thanks to Donato.
Here’s the full list:
Ryan Donato: 3/18 vs. Blue Jackets
Matt Grzelcyk: 11/24 at Pittsburgh Penguins
Peter Cehlarik: 11/18 at San Jose Sharks
Danton Heinen: 10/26 vs. Sharks
Anders Bjork: 10/14 at Arizona Coyotes
Jake DeBrusk: 10/5 vs. Nashville Predators
Charlie McAvoy: 10/5 vs. Predators
— Torey Krug’s assist on Donato’s goal gave him a new career high with 52 points on the season, besting the total he set during the 2016-17 campaign. The Bruins defenseman has tallied 11 points (three goals, eight assists) over his last 10 games.
— Brad Marchand scored his team-leading 31st goal of the season on a beautiful backhand shot. It came on one of his game-high eight shots on goal.
Marchand has tallied at least one point in eight of nine games he’s played in March, totaling six goals and nine assists during that span.
— Blue Jackets forward Thomas Vanek scored and picked up an assist, giving him 34 goals and 36 assists in 64 career games versus the Bruins.
— Former Boston College star Cam Atkinson scored the winning goal in overtime, something he’s becoming pretty familiar with.
— The B’s welcomed 2018 Winter Olympians with New England ties for a special pregame puck drop. The athletes in attendance included many members from the U.S. women’s hockey team that beat Canada for the gold medal, including Cayla Barnes, Kacey Bellamy, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan, Kali Flanagan, Megan Keller, Amanda Pelkey and Haley Skarupa.