Boston Bruins Forward Frank Vatrano Returns to NHL Practice and Lineup
The Boston Bruins got some good news Monday when Frank Vatrano returned to practice. The 22-year-old was recalled from Providence (where he played two games) ahead of the league-wide roster freeze. Vatrano will be a welcome addition to a Bruins’ team that could use the offense to complement Tuukka Rask.
In his two games in Providence, Vatrano fine-tuned his game to return to NHL-ready form. In those two games, Vatrano did exactly what people expect of him; he scored. In his first game since suffering an injury in the offseason, Vatrano sniped a third-period goal for Providence to give him 37 goals in 37 games. His next goal, an empty net tally, may have been a little less impressive, but a goal is a goal at the end of the year. Scoring 38 goals in 38 career AHL games is impressive, now the Bruins are hoping the young Massachusetts-native can transition that success to the NHL.
The NHL’s roster freeze comes right around the holiday and comes just ahead of the three-day break that occurs from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26. While the roster freeze may be starting, the Bruins still have games to play before Christmas. Vatrano could make his season debut against the New York Islanders on Tuesday, though he’ll still probably be eased back into the flow of things.
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It’s unclear where Vatrano fits on the team long-term, but he has enough skill to be a difference-maker in the lineup. David Pastrnak is still out after successfully undergoing some minor surgery. He was deemed day-to-day following the surgery, but having Vatrano back even in the interim will give the Bruins a nice chance to lighten the load without Pastrnak’s hot-hand. For now, Vatrano will probably get a chance to ease back into the lineup to start Tuesday’s game against the Islanders – though that could change if the Bruins are in need of a goal late in the game.
In Monday’s practice, the Bruins forward line were as follows:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Riley Nash
Ryan Spooner-David Krejci-David Backes
Tim Schaller-Austin Czarnik-Noel Acciari
Frank Vatrano-Dominic Moore-Jimmy Hayes/Anton Blidh
Vatrano lined up on the Bruins fourth line alongside Moore and an alternating duo of Hayes and Blidh. While Vatrano will likely figure into a bigger role soon, he’s probably going to start the season in a limited role. Vatrano has a wicked shot, however, and could see time in the top-six on Krejci’s left wing in due time.