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Should the Bruins play Ryan Donato or Danton Heinen in Game 7?

Does Bruce roll the dice with the Harvard kid, go back to Heinen or neither?

NHL: Florida Panthers at Boston Bruins Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The final buzzer had barely sounded at the Air Canada Centre when the Tweets began pouring in.

“The Bruins better play Ryan Donato in Game 7!”


“Donato should be in for Game 7, the Bruins need his scoring.”

No pressure, kid. Nothing like relying on a rookie who’s played a handful of games to save your season!

On the surface, it’s not hard to see why fans are calling for Donato. The Bruins have had a miserable time scoring goals since Game 2 ended, and Donato has a natural scoring touch.

The winger had five goals in 12 games after joining the Bruins out of Harvard, and has shown a knack for putting the puck in the net.

So logically, he’d save the day, right?


While Donato had his moments during the regular season, he also had moments where he looked like a man among boys. Particularly in the last game of the regular season against Florida, Donato looked gassed. He was getting rubbed off the puck, was losing battles everywhere...not exactly a recipe for playoff success.

However, it might be worth a shot. Assuming Bruce Cassidy doesn’t do something wild like put in Brian Gionta or scratch Rick Nash (both of which would be dumb), it’s going to come down to him choosing between Donato, Tommy Wingels and Danton Heinen.

Who would you choose?

The case for Tommy Wingels

At times in this series, the Leafs have struggled with the energy game brought by Sean Kuraly, Tim Schaller and Noel Acciari. The 4th line has thrown big hits, started rallies and generally looked effective.

If your perspective is that the Leafs struggle with that kind of game, it would make sense to play Wingels. He can play that kind of rough-and-tumble, energy-laced game.

However, it didn’t do a ton tonight. While Wingels wasn’t bad, he wasn’t exactly good either. With the team starved for offense, it probably makes more sense to put in a guy with higher offensive upside for Game 7.

The case for Danton Heinen

Simply put, Heinen has a better resume (right now) than Donato. Heinen has a full season of pro hockey under his belt. He had 16G-31A-47PTS totals in 77 games during the regular season, but was pointless in five playoff games.

Heinen showed a good fit with Riley Nash and David Backes, and Game 7 is no time to start throwing random lines out there. Heinen is more “pro-ready” right now than Donato, and has shown the ability to score in a number of different ways.

It hasn’t happened for Heinen yet in the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean it won’t. For a stretch during their streak, the Heinen-Nash-Backes line was the Bruins’ most productive; getting the band back together would probably provide a boost.

The case for Ryan Donato

Uhhh...everyone on Twitter is asking for it?

Jokes aside, Donato has tremendous offensive upside. The Bruins haven’t been able to score to save their lives, so sure, put an offensive talent in there.

Donato showed potential with David Krejci earlier this season, and Rick Nash had his best game of the series in Game 6 on the third line. It might help spread the firepower throughout the lineup a little more.

My concerns would be with how Donato would hold up in playoff hockey. Could he handle the physicality? The pace of play?

As we’ve seen, pretty much any Bruin mistake seems to end up in the back of their net. That could give Cassidy pause when it comes to putting a rookie in the lineup.

It stands to reason, however, that if you need goals, you go with your purest goal-scorer. Among these three, that’s Donato.

If it’s up to me, I’m playing Heinen. Let him get back out there with Nash and Backes. He showed over the course of the season that he belongs here, so let him go out and earn it in the playoffs.

What do you think?