BOSTON (CBS) — Ryan Donato was all smiles on Wednesday, back up with the Boston Bruins after a brief demotion to the AHL.
That smile, though, was a little different from the last time Donato was lacing them up in the Boston dressing room. The 22-year-old was still sporting a nasty cut on the left side of his lip, and there were a few less chompers featured, courtesy of a puck that Donato took off the face over the weekend with the Providence Bruins.
It led to a five-hour session in a dentist’s chair for Donato, who lost five teeth and needed 25 stitches to close the wound. But being a hockey player, he’s eager to get back on the ice for Boston, ready to show what he learned during his 10-game stint with the P-Bruins.
“Lost a couple of teeth, but other than that it was a fun trip. I learned a lot,” Donato told reporters following Boston’s practice on Wednesday. “I scored, which was nice. Hopefully I can bring what I learned at that level up here.”
Donato struggled over the first 11 games of the season with Boston, lighting the lamp just once for his only point of the season. Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy pointed out the little things that the young forward needed to clean up in his game upon his demotion (play on the penalty kill and power play, defensive zone draws), something he wasn’t getting a great opportunity to do with the B’s, averaging just 12 minutes of ice time per game.
But Donato used his expanded playing time with Providence to fine-tune those aspects, and with Boston battling injuries everywhere on the roster, will get another shot in the NHL. He says he feels much better about himself and his game, and is ready to bring it all to the next level.
“A lot is learning the game, and it’s tough to learn when you’re not in those situations,” he said. “Now that I have the confidence that I’m a full 200-foot player, and have the abilities of a 200-foot player, I know I can carry it into this level. Hopefully I have the opportunity to do it.”
In his 10 games with Providence, Donato tallied five goals and four assists. There’s a good chance he’s in the Boston lineup Thursday night when the Bruins host the New York Islanders at TD Garden.