Ryan Donato suited up in a shirt and tie instead of his usual black and yellow sweater for the Bruins’ first playoff game against the Maple Leafs Thursday.
Donato scored five goals and had nine points in 12 games for Boston after signing an entry-level deal in March. Bruce Cassidy believes the Harvard and Team USA product would have handled the bright lights just fine, but the Bruins head coach went with a more experienced lineup for the series opener.
Here’s what Cassidy had to say about the decision, per NESN:
Ryan Donato’s not going to play tonight. Very [difficult]. Played very well for us. He’s a guy that has shown he’s not gonna shy away from the moments. We talked about having young guys in there, it’s how they handle it. I think he would have handled it fine and will handle it fine when he gets in there. It’s just a decision we made best fit for our lineup right now. With Riley Nash, who played a lot of center ice minutes for us, we have to make sure that we’re protected, but we’ve got to make sure we’re solid down the middle in terms of what if something else happens, how can we make those in-game adjustments.
That was part of it. Ryan has played center, but not much at the NHL level. A lot of those things go into it. At the end of the day, Jake’s healthy, a young winger; [Danton] Heinen, a left winger, has played well for us; Marchy (Brad Marchand); [Tim] Schaller…so it’s a bit of a positional thing as well. You take all those things…same with Gio (Brian Gionta), he’s the anti-Ryan, been around a long time and gives you that solid veteran presence. At the end of the day, that’s the lineup we chose. Game 2, we’ll see how it plays out, hopefully it plays out very well. But you never know.