PHILADELPHIA – Every once in a while Ryan Spooner flashes the kind of skill and explosiveness that could be a major boost to the Boston Bruins if it could be harnessed into consistent plays and production.
Saturday afternoon was one of those days as Spooner scored the game’s first goal in the first period to push the Bruins out to an early lead en route to the 3-0 shutout win over the Philadelphia Flyers. A heady leading pass from Noel Acciari caught Spooner in stride speeding through the neutral zone, and the fast-paced forward did the rest throwing a couple of slick one-on-one moves on Brian Elliot before scoring his first goal of the season.
It was a good day for Spooner amid a tough season where he missed a month with a torn groin, and is just starting to feel like he’s in the flow of things once again.
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“It definitely feels good for sure,” said Spooner. “Last year I played 20 games [on the wing] and now I’ve played three games this season, so I’m getting used to it. It’s hard to come back from [missing six weeks] but I feel good now.”
Spooner drew attaboys from Bruce Cassidy as well with the speed and assertiveness that he played with against the Flyers, and he finished with the goal, a plus-1 rating and three shot attempts in 14:13 of ice time. It’s perhaps a little bit of a surprise it’s been on the wing with David Krejci where Spooner hasn’t felt comfortable in the past, but it’s the spot where the Bruins need him right now as their forward picture begins to fill up quickly.
“It was great to see Ryan Spooner get on the board with an inside position net-drive attack. It’s the type of goal we’d like him to score using his foot-speed,” said Cassidy. “That’s what he does…he makes plays. I thought he made a lot of them tonight. If we can get him back to the top of his game [it would be helpful]. We like how our center icemen have slotted out. I like the Nash/Backes/Heinen line. I think they match up well, they give you offense, they give you grit and there are some face-off guys and physicality.
“Ryan gets pushed to the wing [because of that], and if he can develop some chemistry with [David] Krejci and stay healthy then it could be a line that’s a real weapon.”
It will be interesting to see where Spooner winds up once the Bruins are approaching a full, healthy lineup stocked with forwards, and if he can indeed take off in a top-6 winger role. If the Bruins were ever previously involved in the Sami Vatanen trade talks at any level then Spooner would have been the Adam Henrique-type roster player as part of any prospective B’s package, and it feels like he could be in play for Boston if any young, established left shot D-men become available in the trade market this season.
A resurgence in Spooner’s game now that he’s healthy would be a benefit to the Bruins on any number of fronts, so Saturday’s elevation in play, and offensive production, has to be considered an encouraging development when it comes to the skilled forward.