Ryan Donato is not an actual, living, breathing human being.
That’s the only logical explanation to what I just watched on Monday night.
21-year-olds that were in college just last week should not be able to do what Donato just did in his NHL debut.
In case you missed it, the Boston Bruins signed Donato, who spent three years at Harvard and became a star at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, to a two-year entry-level contract on Sunday night. The B’s immediately added Donato to their injury-ravaged roster, and he started on the second line with David Krejci and Danton Heinen on Monday night.
You’re supposed to look like a green, inexperienced rookie when you make your pro debut, especially when you’re jumping directly from college to the pros without spending time in the ECHL and/or the AHL.
It’s supposed to be blatantly obvious who the new player on the ice is… which it totally was on Monday night.
Ryan Donato looked like a man amongst boys at times, which is why I don’t think he’s actually human.
Donato had a goal and two assists while picking up six shots on net in his first NHL game. He earned 19:40 of ice time, with only Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak exceeding him in TOI among forwards. Donato not only looked extremely comfortable on the power play, but wrecked havoc by parking himself directly in front of the Columbus net to set screens and gather rebounds.
Oh, and how did Boston get on the power play for the first time? It was Donato drawing a penalty on a (questionable) slashing call to Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson. Johnson already experienced the speed of the Harvard junior on Donato’s first NHL shift, as he blew right by the veteran en route to the net and his first shot as a Bruin.
If not for some spectacular play by Blue Jackets’ goalie Joonas Korpisalo, Donato may have notched a hat trick… IN THE FIRST PERIOD. He had a team-high four SOG in 5:13 during the first period, with three of those four shots coming on the man advantage.
It didn’t take him long to earn his first NHL point (and first goal) in the second period:
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) March 20, 2018
He picked up an assist on the power play later in the second by (shocker) being in front of the net and deflecting a rebound before Riley Nash sent the puck home.
Then trailing 4-3, the rookie earned point number three just 20 seconds after Columbus took the late lead:
— NHL (@NHL) March 20, 2018
And if that wasn’t enough, Donato nearly broke the entire TD Garden with a series of ridiculous moves in open ice before Korpisalo made an unbelievable save late in regulation.
Everyone in the building, and watching at home, thought that Donato would somehow factor into the game-winning goal for the Bruins. It was almost more of a surprise that he didn’t than it was seeing the B’s lose in overtime (no thanks to the officiating in said OT).
In the span of one night, Donato turned into one of the most entertaining and exciting players on a team that looks poised to make a deep run at the Stanley Cup.
I get that half the team is currently hurt – well not really half but it sure seems that way – but after just a couple shifts, the eyes of everyone watching was fixated on #17 in black and gold.
Instead of being on Spring Break at Harvard, Ryan Donato has become the talk of the entire city of Boston. And it only took one game.
Yeah, he’s not human. I’m convinced.
Adam Belue (@albinomamba44)