BOSTON – Ryan Spooner talked about adding almost 10 pounds of muscle to his frame over the summer and made a point to say that he needs to be more competitive if he wants to remain with the Bruins.
It appears that the action is going to meet the words as the speedy, skilled center lived up to some of those promises and played a strong game for the Bruins in their 4-2 preseason win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night at TD Garden. Spooner threw around his body on the first shift registering a pair of hits, including one that jarred loose the puck and eventually led to David Pastrnak’s sniper shot goal at the other end of the ice.
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Spooner, 25, picked up the secondary assist on Pastrnak’s goal after Matt Beleskey worked the puck up the ice to the right winger, and finished with a couple of shot attempts, a couple of hits and a blocked shot along with a plus-1 rating in 16:32 of ice time.
“[The added competitiveness] is something that we’ve talked about, and it’s always good to get that kind of result. I think the thing for me right now is to just try to take it game by game. Just trying to do that and see how it goes for me,” said Spooner. “They told me that was something that they wanted to see me do and I’ve been trying to do it. It worked out there [on the goal].”
Spooner admitted that he was playing a little angry on the first shift after losing the opening face-off of the game, but whatever it takes to get a feistier player is better for both the center and for his team.
“He was a crusher on that [shift]. Buried a guy. I don’t know if physicality is the proper term. What I want to see is compete. We’ve talked about that," said coach Bruce Cassidy. "I don’t expect Ryan Spooner to lead our team in hits. But he has to win his share of pucks. How you do that, [being] hard on your stick, sometimes it is body position and sometimes it is knocking a guy off the puck. It was good to see, and it led directly to [the first goal]. We come back up the ice, he makes a play, [Matt] Beleskey passes it and we score a goal.
“Then the third period [we] specifically, put him out for a D-zone faceoff and he won one, he won maybe both. It’s just some situations that he knows he has to be harder in, and I think the rest of his game will take care of itself. I thought he was good in that area of the game tonight.”
Clearly, Spooner won’t be playing much with Pastrnak in the regular season as he was in David Krejci’s absence on Monday night, and the spike in battle and determination needs to carry over from the preseason into the regular season. But a who Spooner will do more of the little things to go along with skill and power-play acumen could portend some very good things for the Black and Gold, and a possible breakout season for No. 51 if he can keep it up.