WILMINGTON – After missing the loss to the New Jersey Devils with an undisclosed injury, Ryan Spooner was back to work at Bruins practice on Thursday with the hopes of returning to the lineup against the Blues and Blackhawks this weekend. The fact that Austin Czarnik was returned to Providence on Thursday afternoon following practice was an encouraging sign that Spooner will center a third line of Frank Vatrano and Lee Stempniak on Friday night against the Blues.
It’s a big spot for the 24-year-old Spooner after leaving the lineup on a down note in last weekend’s win over the Maple Leafs. Spooner was pulled from both power play units and having a rough night when he suffered an injury in the third period of the game in Toronto. Instead Loui Eriksson replaced Spooner on the half-wall, and Matt Beleskey was promoted from the second PP unit to the spot camped right in front of the net on the top power play team.
So now Spooner is highly motivated to hop back into the saddle for the Black and Gold, and start producing for a Bruins team that badly needs offense.
“I felt good out there, but it’s day-by-day right now. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow,” said Spooner, who had a goal and two points in his last nine games prior to sitting out in the loss to the Devils. “This [season] is the most games I think I’ve ever played in my career. I’m at 75 games, and I think my previous high was 70 games. So it’s a grind, for sure. It’s also the time of year where you’ve got to get back out there and play through some stuff.
“So we’ll see how it goes. I wasn’t playing, I guess, the best that I can. I hadn’t had a point or a goal 5-on-5 in nine games, so when that happens I’d say that I don’t deserve to be on the power play. It’s a long season with ups and downs, and when it happens you just need to put it to the side. I’m always at my best when I use my skating and my speed, so I just need to get back to that.”
Perhaps the absence from the lineup can rekindle some of the speed and playmaking to Spooner’s game. That’s something that would be a welcome return for both the player and his hockey club in dire need of offense heading into the pivotal, final five games of the season.
GOLD STAR: Jaden Schwartz stepped up and won the game for the Blues with a couple of really good plays in the third period and overtime. He took advantage of a line change and a lax Bruins defense to snap a shot past Anton Khudobin from the face-off circle in the third period that tied up the game, and then went on a one-man rush in overtime before blasting a puck past Khudobin for the game-winner on a beautiful individual play. Schwartz finished with the two goals that represented all of the St. Louis offense, four shots on net, a hit and a takeaway in 20:02 of ice time while logging a plus-2 rating as well. The Blues clearly needed somebody to step up to the plate with Vladimir Tarasenko and the Schwartz was with St. Louis on Wednesday night.
BLACK EYE: The Bruins were quite literally black and blue after a physical, punishing game with the St. Louis Blues. A number of players took heavy hits against a St. Louis team that felt free to throw hits and take runs with Zdeno Chara and David Backes out of Boston’s lineup among other players, and that culminated with Brayden Schenn drilling David Krejci in the second period. It was a hit that earned Schenn a two minute penalty for charging midway through the period, but shouldn’t result in anything more for the Blues forward. The hit wasn’t late, his skates were on the ice when he made contact, and Krejci was crouched down when Schenn made impact on a heavy check with his elbows tucked in, so it looked like a relatively clean hit that isn’t going to be on the radar of the NHL’s Player Safety Department. That physicality for the Blues really seemed to slow down the Bruins a little bit as things went on over the 60 plus minutes of the overtime game.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually only got outshot by a 15-13 margin in the second period, third period and overtime, but it was clear that they slowed down in terms of attacking and creating chances as things moved on in the game. By the latter half of the game the Bruins were simply trying to hang on to their one-goal lead, and then after that simply trying to hang in there for the point earned by getting to overtime. They managed to do it, but it was a different wave of momentum in the game once the Blues tied things up in the third period on Schwartz’s first goal. After that the Bruins were scrambling and hanging on, and did just enough to hang in there for a single overtime point for the second game in a row.
HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Donato made it two goals in two games when he stepped into a loose puck created by an Alex Pietrangelo turnover that bounced off referee Brad Watson after he attempted to throw a puck up the middle of the ice. Donato pounced on the fortuitous bounce and rocked a puck on edge past Jake Allen for the game’s first goal and another affirmation that the 21-year-old can both shoot and score. Donato was pretty quiet after that goal, of course, with a couple of shots on net, but it seemed like a big, heavy hit on him by Dmitri Jaskin in the second period kind of quieted the youngster down a little bit. Still, you’ve got to love the production from a player just getting his feet wet at the NHL level.
BY THE NUMBERS: 100 – The number of points for the Bruins after falling in overtime by a 2-1 score to the Blues, and in getting to the century mark the B’s clinched a playoff spot for the second season in a row.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s step one. Going into the season we wanted to make the playoffs and be a Stanley Cup contender. Right now we got in and we’re going to be a contender, right? Now it’s about being in the best position possible going forward.” –Bruce Cassidy, to reporters in St. Louis about clinching the playoff spot on Wednesday night.
With a playoff berth in-hand, the Boston Bruins celebrated on Instagram with a playful video about their fans.
The short video put their fans into categories: the hugger, the faithful, the screamer, the loose cannon, the comfortable commentator and the emotional trainwreck.
No matter how the devotees enjoy Bruins games, they can all unit over their hockey team. Here's the vide for your enjoyment.