Spooner starting to find his game, scores first goal of season


Spooner starting to find his game, scores first goal of season

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.


“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.


Morning Skate: Is Ovechkin clutch?


Morning Skate: Is Ovechkin clutch?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while still not believing what I saw in last night’s Patriots/Steelers game. Boy, has Tom Brady been a treat to watch over the course of his career. 


*Pro Hockey Talk asks if Alex Ovechkin is clutch. Why do I feel like this could develop into an “Is Joe Flacco Elite?” level of debate? 


*Nashville D-man (it still feels weird writing that) PK Subban is planning to use his creativity to help grow the game of hockey that he loves so very much. 


*Erik Karlsson is getting to the top of his game at a rather appropriate time as trade rumors start to swirl with him along with a massive price tag on his next contract. The question is this: Who has the prospects and the cap room to make a move for Karlsson work, and what would they have to give up to the Sens in order to get him? Multiple blue chip prospects, first round pick and an established, All-Star-level player would be my starting point.  


*Speaking of the Ottawa Senators, Vice Sports says that the Senators fan base deserves a better owner than Eugene Melnyk. 


*Ryan Reaves and Kris Letang headline a list of five big questions facing the Pittsburgh Penguins through the rest of the season. 


*For something completely different: A Spoiler-rific take on the Last Jedi, and the kind of things the next movie must do in order to make this movie more palatable to the hard-core fan base.  

Same B's lineup as they brace for glut of games leading into holiday


Same B's lineup as they brace for glut of games leading into holiday

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins have enjoyed a lot of down time over the first two months of the NHL regular season, but that’s beginning to change now as they enter the holiday season. Sure they will get the three-day break around the Christmas holiday just like everybody else around the NHL, but they’re heading into that three-day respite with a schedule of seven games in 11 days, including back-to-back games Columbus and Buffalo kicking off tonight at TD Garden. 

It’s good that this kind of busy sequence didn’t come down when the B’s were injury ravaged over the first few months of the season, but there’s never an easy time to play four 60-minute effort games in a span of six days, including a short rest matinee on Saturday vs. the Red Wings.

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will undoubtedly roll lines a little more liberally and probably rotate some players into his lineup, but he’s going with the same forwards and D-men in front of Tuukka Rask on Monday night vs. the Blue Jackets. The Bruins are doing what they can during a dense portion of the schedule, and making certain they’re ready to give their best after dropping back-to-back games against the Capitals and Rangers last week. 

“You just need to make it easy on ourselves by not playing a hard game, and not doing damage to ourselves to make things more difficult,” said Brad Marchand. “You take care of the puck and keep it simple, and then whenever you get a day off you need to rest up and recover. That’s all you can really do.”

So Rask will get the nod with Anton Khudobin likely to start against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, and the lineup will be exactly the same as vs. the Rangers with Anders Bjork sitting for the second game in a row: