Bruins

Stronger, feistier Spooner shows he can be effective

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Stronger, feistier Spooner shows he can be effective

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.

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.

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Cassidy: Too many men penalties 'a lousy way to lose'

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Cassidy: Too many men penalties 'a lousy way to lose'

BOSTON – The Bruins made plenty of mistakes in Saturday night’s overtime loss to the New York Rangers, but perhaps most glaring was the pair of too many men on the ice penalties late in the tightly contested hockey game.

The first too many men call wiped out the Bruins final power play of the game, and the second infraction set up the Mats Zuccarello overtime game-winner in the 3-2 victory for the Rangers. Bruce Cassidy had a wry smile on the Bruins bench right after the penalty was called, and copped to a guilty plea of trying to get away with a little something after the game was over.

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Truth be told, the too many men on the ice call in OT could have been called on any one of Torey Krug, Patrice Bergeron or Brad Marchand as they headed off the ice after a long shift going back and forth up the ice. The Bruins were scrambling to try and change players while also catching up to a Rangers rush into the B’s defensive zone, and that’s where the trouble came in.

“We’re scrambling to get on the ice, so the call might have been from, like, [Charlie] McAvoy jumping for [Torey] Krug, it might have been Krech [David Krejci] going for Bergy [Patrice Bergeron]. I don’t know. I can’t complain, I mean, we’re trying to gain an advantage there,” said Cassidy. “Sometimes you get away with it, sometimes you don’t. We didn’t. And the other one was on the power play; we had a forward jump for the wrong guy.

“We had six guys. So, it’s hard to complain about them, you know, we were at fault there, we’ll take the blame for that and unfortunately it’s a lousy way to lose, but we had some chances in overtime too, we just lost our footing on a couple too. It was one of those nights, it seemed like we were – we had some chances at the offensive blue line, even in overtime, we just lost control of pucks and lost our footing and took away some good chances for us.”

Cassidy and the Bruins had a little too many men on the ice trouble during their first-round playoff series against the Ottawa Senators last spring, but it hasn’t really been a recurring issue at all for the B’s bench this season. So the expectation is that Saturday’s OT loss to the Rangers, too many men on the ice penalties and all, was another example of a lot of odd things happening to the Bruins in a game they most definitely didn’t deserve to win. 

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Talking Points: Rangers make Bruins pay for penalties

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Talking Points: Rangers make Bruins pay for penalties

GOLD STAR: King Henrik Lundqvist has pretty solid career numbers against the Bruins, and has enjoyed some very good games against the Black and Gold over the years. King Henrik’s Saturday night was more of the same with 33 saves in the overtime win, including a number in spots where the Bruins began to get decent pressure on the New York net. Lundqvist did allow a power play goal in the third period to allow the Bruins to force an overtime, but he also stopped 15 shots in the third period to make certain that the Bruins didn’t get any more in the final 20 minutes. It was all there: The flashy glove save attempts, the quick reaction saves going post-to-post and the solid play that forced the Bruins to actually beat him for everything they got.

BLACK EYE: You’ve got to put this one on the Bruins bench for taking a couple of too many men on the ice penalties at tough moments in the game. The first wiped out a Bruins power play late in the third period that might have given Boston a chance to end things in regulation, and the second was in the 3-on-3 OT during a moment of chaos as gassed Bruins players were attempting to come off the ice during a Rangers rush. Instead, it was a too many men on the ice penalty again, and this time it was Mats Zuccarello that made the Bruins pay with a game-winning PP strike through a Chris Kreider screen in front of Tuukka Rask. Bruce Cassidy said the B’s simply tried to get away with one in the overtime, but they were caught on a night when Boston had way too many mistakes to actually win the game.

TURNING POINT: An early turning point for the Bruins could have changed the game in their favor when Ryan Spooner had a goal overturned very early in the first period. Jake DeBrusk was offside as David Krejci entered the zone with the puck just prior to the goal, and the Rangers bench quickly and successfully challenged the play directly afterward. Given that the Rangers have played a busy schedule as of late, the Bruins believed they could have really put a lot of pressure on the Blueshirts if they could have taken an early lead. Instead, the Bruins fell behind by a two-goal deficit, and were once again playing catch-up hockey before finally falling in overtime.    

HONORABLE MENTION: Danton Heinen continues to play well for the Bruins, and has essentially been given a vote of confidence by the Bruins with the assignment of Matt Beleskey to the minor leagues. Heinen scored his seventh goal of the season when he stood in front of the net and tipped home a Zdeno Chara point shot in the second period that finally got the B’s offense going. Heinen finished with four shots on net and six shot attempts in his 15:25 of ice time, and is actually tied with Patrice Bergeron for third in the Bruins in goals after potting his seventh of the season. It’s a really good sign as well when a young guy like Heinen isn’t afraid to hang around in the shooting lanes for tips and redirections when a big shooter like Chara winds up and blasts away.

BY THE NUMBERS: 22 – the number of giveaways the Bruins in the overtime loss to the Rangers where they consistently mismanaged the puck, turning things over to the Blueshirts on a regular basis. Brad Marchand led the B’s with four giveaways, but Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk were just behind him with three of their own.  

QUOTE TO NOTE:  “There were problems getting into the zone and there were problems in the zone…there were problems. We struggled on the power play. We’re not going to hide from that, but it got us a goal later, so we eventually kind of got it squared away. But we certainly had opportunities early to take advantage and we didn’t.” – Bruce Cassidy, talking about a Bruins power play that went 1-for-7 in the loss with just six total shots on net. 

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