Bruins

Morning Skate: John Scott, Master Thespian?

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Morning Skate: John Scott, Master Thespian?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the baseball offseason is really kicking up.

*So, John Scott is giving acting a try. Certainly, he seems like a better person than Sean Avery so I’m not actively rooting against him, but it might also be time for the former NHL enforcer to come to grips with his 15 minutes of fame being over. Maybe, like the NHL All-Star Game, he will surprise the heck out of all of us with a great second act to his career, but I’m not exactly counting on it unless he’s supposed to be acting like a hockey player.  

*The Arizona Coyotes are being accused of not properly paying employees overtime due amid a bevy of complaints. Man, the circus just never ends there, does it?

*The NHL is reportedly in discussions with potential owners in the city of Houston about an expansion team. It’s certainly not as logical a spot for hockey as Seattle, but apparently, the league is hedging their bets or creating some leverage. I know that Houston has been the option that Jeremy Jacobs has mentioned on a couple of occasions when asked about expansion.  

*The Winnipeg Jets have hired a homeless artist to draw portraits after receiving a passionate letter from him. What an uplifting story.

*Old Time Hockey from last night with Matthew Tkachuk starting a whole mess of trouble between the Flames and the Red Wings. What a pain in the butt, which means I really enjoy watching him out on the ice.

*Jaromir Jagr continues to defy age at 45 in his 24th season doing his thing for those aforementioned Calgary Flames.

*Jeremy Roenick recalls his gruesome jaw injuries in his NHL career that saw go through some truly tough moments in an often-brilliant body of work.

*For something completely different: A ranking of the 30 DC movies where "Superman II" is actually ranked higher than Richard Donner’s original "Superman." I don’t know about that.

 

Spooner travels with Bruins but questionable for Detroit

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Spooner travels with Bruins but questionable for Detroit

BRIGHTON, Mass – Ryan Spooner has practiced in each of the past two days, but his status is still in question for the back-to-back Bruins games against the Red Wings and Capitals over the next couple of days.

Spooner has missed the past couple of games with a lower-body injury after playing in the previous five contests following a month-long layoff with a groin injury. The current injury is believed to be similar in nature to the original groin problem and that’s the reason the Bruins are treating it cautiously as they approach Wednesday night’s game in Detroit.

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“He’s practicing fully with the team, and the long and short of it is that he’s still day-to-day. We’ll decide [on Wednesday] but we just want to keep moving forward with him,” said Bruce Cassidy, who also mentioned that Kevan Miller was missing from practice to be with his wife for the birth of their child. “We’ve had a couple of stops and starts with him, so we’re going to manage it to the best of our ability so we’re moving forward [in his recovery]. He’ll travel with the team, and if we decide that he’s in the lineup [vs. the Red Wings] then Donnie [Sweeney] and I will talk about how that’s going to affect our roster.”

Spooner has played 10 games this season, with a goal and four points in the intermittent action. It’s too bad as Spooner has been pretty good when healthy and has played with speed and a higher level of competitiveness this season when he’s actually suited up.

The problem with Spooner’s return at this point, however, is that the Bruins have a third line of Danton Heinen, Riley Nash and David Backes that’s been gaining traction in recent days and had a monster game vs. Arizona last week. A return from injured reserve for Spooner would mean that the Bruins finally have to make a tough roster choice. Either put a player such as Frank Vatrano on waivers or send a young player such as Sean Kuraly down who deserves to stay based on his performance.

With Spooner’s status in question for the next two games, here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with Tuukka Rask set to get the start Wednesday night in Detroit:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Bjork

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Vatrano-Spooner-Beleskey

 
Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Postma

McQuaid

 
Rask

Khudobin

Carlo going through learning curve in second season

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Carlo going through learning curve in second season

BRIGHTON, Mass – After a strong rookie season playing in a top defenseman role for the Bruins, Brandon Carlo knew it was going to be a healthy challenge to surpass that in his sophomore season.

Carlo, 21, is certainly experiencing that learning curve in his second go-round through the league while getting used to a different defense partner in Torey Krug and tasked with the high-leverage shutdown duties he so effectively embraced as a 20-year-old rookie with virtually zero AHL experience. Certainly, there has been plenty of good as Carlo is a plus-4 in 27 games and is averaging a solid 18:59 of ice time per game while providing his strong defensive zone presence.

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Clearly, there is more responsibility resting squarely on his 6-foot-5, 203-pound shoulders partnered with more of a free-wheeling offensive D-man in Krug, and that’s something he takes very seriously among his duties.

“It’s definitely a different situation, but I’m enjoying it. I feel like Torey and I are continuing to develop chemistry and we’re doing pretty well on the defensive aspect of things. There are a couple of mistakes here and there, but I feel like that’s going to happen to everybody,” said Carlo. “Playing with Torey gives us a chance to make a few more plays offensively when I’m moving my feet and getting up ice quickly and carrying the puck a little bit.

“Ultimately, I’m going to stick with the defensive parts of my game and let [Krug] take over the offense. I pride myself on the defensive aspect of things. I think we all know that. If he can join the rush and make something happen then that’s great, and I feel comfortable handling things on the back end. Last year, it was me and [Zdeno Chara] back together at all times, so it’s something I’ve gotten more comfortable with as we’ve gone along.”

But there are also plenty of areas where Carlo can improve with the raw skating, size, strength and shooting skills to be even more of a factor offensively than he’s been with four assists in the first 27 games. Clearly. Carlo is never going to be a Charlie McAvoy-style offensive defenseman and his absence from the power play is always going to keep his overall offensive production in check.

Still, Carlo could be more of an offensive factor if/when he can tap into a little more confidence with the puck on his stick. There are still moments like in the victory over the Arizona Coyotes last week when Carlo had a rough turnover to Christian Dvorak deep in his own end that immediately turned into a goal for the Yotes.

The turnover wasn’t the problem, as that sometimes happens to all defensemen both young and old. Perhaps Carlo could have been a little stronger on the puck or opted for a simpler play off the glass, but hockey is a fast game where stuff happens.

The problem for Carlo arrived afterward when it looked like he didn’t want the puck on his stick and it resulted in several icings in a second period where the Bruins struggled to move the puck out of their own end.

“I didn’t mind the turnover because he was trying to make a safe play off the wall and it just didn’t get there," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "It wasn’t an egregious turnover trying to beat somebody in front of your own net or a lazy pass. I think after that he struggled to find his game, and then in the third [period], he got it back. That’s an area that Brandon has to grasp as a young kid, especially at a position where those mistakes are magnified. If he makes that play as a forward there is another layer to cover up.

“That’s where Charlie [McAvoy] has an advantage over a lot of other young guys because he’s able to park that stuff. We went through some of that last year with [Carlo] and he was able to get it back. That’s why we have trust in him. The thing about Brandon is that he cares and he’ll always work his ass off to get his game back in working order. Sometimes he cares too much, and you can’t fault a kid for that.”

Carlo eventually snapped out of it and the Bruins ended up dropping six goals on the Coyotes in a happily-ever-after sort of ending, but Carlo knows that developing the reset button in his short-term memory is still a work in progress.

“I definitely agree [it’s an area to improve] and more experience in the league is going to help me with that,” said Carlo. “I tell myself to [have a short memory] but it’s easier said than done. I definitely learned from [the Arizona game] and I don’t want to grip my stick too tightly after I make a mistake. The coaching staff was great with me after that. Ultimately it was my own mental mindset that made me a little scattered after that, but overall I’m working on it and getting it under control.”

True to form, Carlo bounced back with a strong 20:11 of ice time against the Islanders on Saturday night when the Bruins put together one of their strong defensive efforts of the season. It’s all part of the learning process for one of Boston’s crop of young defensemen who are still learning and getting better all the time.