The Bruins announced yesterday that rookie Ryan Donato will begin this week’s playoff series parked on the bench. In his place, Brian Gionta will center the third line.
Cassidy will regret this. Donato might have just turned 22 years old, but he still deserves minutes against over Gionta. Since he got called up last month, he’s scored five times, assisted four goals, and owns a +2 plus-minus. He also leads the team in shooting percentage (20.5%), going 5-for-24.
Nobody expected Cassidy to throw Donato into the fourth line of Schaller, Kuraly, and Wingels. They’ve had great chemistry and work-ethic all year.
But Gionta over Donato? That’s a mistake. Donato has already proven himself as a borderline top-five attacker on the Bruins. Gionta has playoff experience, and that’s about it.
Gionta has just one assist and no goals since Donato arrived in Boston. He’s a classic fourth-line grinder that might deserve a spot in the regular season but gets scratched come playoff time.
He’s not physical, he’s not good in his own end, and most of the time he’s almost invisible out there.
Donato’s a little guy, but at least he can put the puck in the net and generate plays. Gionta doesn’t give the Bruins any of that.
In every category except veteran status and playoff experience, Donato crushes Gionta and gives the Bruins more value against the Leafs.
Donato also logged more minutes than Gionta in the regular season. He’s averaged more than two full minutes of ice-time (14:42) over Gionta (12:25) since his call-up twelve games ago. Now that Gionta will skate for upwards of ten minutes on Thursday and Donato won’t play at all, Cassidy’s decision seems harsh toward the rookie.
Look for Gionta instead of Donato this Thursday against the Leafs.
Ben Healey is a high school junior from New Hampshire. He enjoys watching sports and does not enjoy grammatical error’s. You can contact him on Twitter @healey_1 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org