Bruins

Cassidy on Spooner: Claude didn't like his defense; I didn't like his offense

Cassidy on Spooner: Claude didn't like his defense; I didn't like his offense

Claude Julien was never fully confident in playing Ryan Spooner, but a coaching change only made things worse for the 2010 second-round pick. 

Spooner saw his ice time cut under Bruce Cassidy, going from 14:22 a night under Julien to 13:30 with Cassidy in the regular season. He was made a healthy scratch for Games 5 and 6 of the Bruins’ first-round series against the Senators, leading to questions about the restricted free agent’s future. 

Don Sweeney was noncommittal when asked whether Spooner would remain a Bruin Thursday, but an appearance on Toucher & Rich from Cassidy on Friday might leave the player hoping for a change of scenery. 

Cassidy was his usual candid self when asked about Spooner. His words were less than flattering. 

“I thought he started well. For the talk about the end didn’t go well, we all saw it. He wasn’t in the lineup. He wasn’t 100 percent, but certainly able to play,” Cassidy said. “I think the way the series was going, he’s more of a line rush, attack-type player. Certainly his best asset is distributing the puck, so power play, and we weren’t getting on it that much, so we decided to make a switch. It was as much about what the other players [brought] — [Sean] Kuraly — who came in — [Noel] Acciari.

“Yes, Ryan, if he’s playing to his potential and beyond, he’s in the lineup. I’m not going to sit there and sugarcoat it, but at the end of the day, the other guys had brought better assets to what we needed in that series. 

“I thought it started well with Ryan. He had some confidence, some jump; we were trying to incorporate him in the penalty kill, make him more of a 200-foot player, but I’ll tell you what my issue was at the end with Ryan: It was well-documented with Claude he didn’t like his defensive game and some of the other things. For me, I didn’t like his offensive game at the end. He wasn’t playing to his strengths, and that bothers me about players, if they’re not able to play to their strengths when the temperature of the game goes up. 

“We can work with him on his weaknesses. We’re there to coach up the defensive part of it, but he wasn’t attacking and that was disconcerting to me, that he’s a guy that should be creating offense in the series where offense was hard to find and we weren’t getting enough of it, so we made the switch.” 

Cassidy was then asked about Spooner’s physicality.

“Listen, we all know he’s not that guy that’s going to be planting himself in front of the net and absorbing hits every shift, but he still needs to attack with the puck when there is some open ice,” Cassidy said. “And like I said, there wasn’t a lot, but there were creases out there where he could have used his foot speed, and that was the conversation with him. When those situations arose, we needed him to make his plays and attack. It didn’t happen, so we moved on to the next player. We’re here to win; we were kind of leaving it all out there and I thought our guys played hard, the guys that went in, so you kind of look at it as more give them credit for going in and doing their job and we’ll continue to work with Ryan. 

“Listen, he’s a special talent. We’ve just got to continue to try to pull it out of him and see where it leads us.”

Time will tell whether Spooner will be in Boston for the team to try to get that talent out of him.  

Bruins mock draft 2019 roundup: Who can B's target late in first round?

Bruins mock draft 2019 roundup: Who can B's target late in first round?

The Boston Bruins are four wins away from reaching the NHL mountaintop.

But if they want to stay there, finding strong talent in the draft is a good place to start.

The 2019 NHL Draft is less than a month away -- June 21 in Vancouver -- and the Bruins will have either the No. 30 or No. 31 pick pending their result in the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues.

Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko are virtual locks to be the top two picks, but there's a lot more uncertainty after that, especially near the end of the first round.

Which prospects could the Bruins target? To get a sense of who's in the mix, we've combed through a few NHL mock drafts to see who the analysts have the Bruins taking in the first round.

JOE HAGGERTY, NBC SPORTS BOSTON -- ALEX VLASIC
Age:
17
Position/Shot: Defenseman, Left
Height/Weight: 6-foot-6, 198 pounds
Last played for: U.S. National Team Development Program

Vlasic has good hockey genes; his cousin is San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and his sister, Emma, is a senior forward and captain at Yale. He also stands at 6-foot-6, so if the Bruins are looking ahead to life without 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara, Vlasic might be worth considering. 

SAMMI SILBER, NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON -- ALEX VLASIC
The Bruins don't have a pressing need at defenseman with Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo in the fold, but Vlasic has been tied to Boston in a couple mock drafts. The 17-year-old boasts plenty of upside and will play at Boston University this fall, so there's a local tie here, too. 

STEVE KOURNIANOS, THEDRAFTANALYST.COM -- RYAN JOHNSON
Age:
17
Position/Shot: Defenseman, Left
Height/Weight: 6-foot-0, 161 pounds
Last played for: Sioux Falls Stampede, USHL

Another left-shot defenseman, Johnson doesn't boast Vlasic's size but still plays a physical game. He also has experience in big moments, tallying eight points in 12 playoff games to help lead Sioux Falls to this year's USHL championship.

DAVE STEVENSON, FANSIDED -- PAVEL DOROFEYEV
Age:
18
Position/Shot: Left Wing/Right Wing, Left
Height/Weight: 6-foot-0, 163 pounds
Last played for: Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk, MHL

Dorofeyev would need time to develop, but the upside is there: The Russia native racked up 31 points on 17 goals and 14 assists in 19 MHL games this past season while earning a spot in the MHL All-Star Game. He could be an intriguing project for the B's at the end of the first round.

BILL PLACZEK, DRAFTSITE.COM -- BOBBY BRINK
Age:
18
Position/Shot: Right Wing, Right
Height/Weight: 5-foot-10, 163 pounds
Last played for: Sioux City Musketeers, USHL

Brink blew up for the Musketeers this season, winning USHL Forward of the Year honors after tallying 68 points (35 goals, 33 assists) in 43 games. The Minnesota native is headed to the University of Denver next season but appears to be developing into a strong offensive talent.

CHRIS RYAN, NJ.COM -- PHILIP TOMASINO
Age:
17
Position/Shot: Center, Right
Height/Weight: 6-foot-10, 181 pounds
Last played for: Niagara Ice Dogs, OHL

An excellent skater with strong hands and proven play-making ability, Tomasino is another offensive-minded forward who put up 34 goals and 38 assists in 67 games for the Ice Dogs this season. The B's took three centers in last year's draft, though, so Tomasino would be entering a crowded space here.

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Bruins wowed by scrimmage turnout: "Not many other cities where that would happen"

Bruins wowed by scrimmage turnout: "Not many other cities where that would happen"

BOSTON – The final score didn’t matter, and truth be told the identities of the goal-scorers and the assist-makers didn’t really matter all that much either.

The only things that really mattered during Thursday night’s Intra-squad scrimmage at TD Garden were that all the Bruins players got out of the exercise healthy (they did after a brief scare with Brad Marchand), and that an amazing 16,000 plus Bruins fans filtered through the gates as paying customers to watch a glorified night practice.

Certainly it was a good night for David Pastrnak scoring a couple of goals, and David Backes kicked in a couple of scores of his own. It was a little less than stellar for Tuukka Rask giving up a couple of goals in his 25 minutes of work, and David Krejci never even made it on the ice after running a fever earlier in the day on Thursday.

But the biggest winners of all were the Bruins fans that got to see their Bruins for a $20 fee going to the Bruins Foundation, and showed exactly the kind of support that the Black and Gold get from their hardcore fan base.

“I thought it was great to be back in front of our home crowd. They had good energy. I think the guys fed off that a little bit. It’s nice to be appreciated I guess or cheered on in these circumstances, but we’re trying to get our work done. That was the message. We can’t get out there and have it like a summer hockey league game,” said Bruce Cassidy. “You’re going to make some plays but try to stay detailed as best you can.

“Sometimes in these environments, you want to do a little more, so we got a little bit of both, but we got our work done. Thanks to the fans for coming out. Supports a good cause and got to see some decent players playing, getting ready to go into the Final, so it’s a win-win.”

It showed just how hungry Bruins fans are for the Stanley Cup, and just how frenzied the following is with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final scheduled for Monday night against the St. Louis Blues at the Garden. Bruins President Cam Neely saluted the fans ahead of the two-quarter scrimmage on Thursday night, and B’s leaders Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron addressed the crown after the two teams produced eight goals during the game rehearsal.

It all added up to an impromptu love-fest with a Bruins team that’s exceeded expectations and hopes this season, and could bring a second Stanley Cup back to Boston in the last eight years. All of that good mojo was apparent to the Bruins players as they talked it about after scrimmaging for 50 minutes in front of a packed house.

“I was saying to my dad or somebody that I hope [the fans] remember that we still have one more series to go. They showed up and it was great. Not many other cities around the league where that would happen,” said Torey Krug. “It was fun to get out there and extremely beneficial for us to get out there in some game-type situations.

“We have the type of locker room that gives 100 percent all the time whether it’s a practice or a game, and that’s what we tried to do tonight. Looking up and seeing the upper bowl was pretty full, that’s pretty special.”  

Some will say that the game day simulation with the night scrimmage was odd, or that it didn’t really make much of a difference with the 10 days off between the Eastern Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final. Certainly those both might be true, but the B’s had to try something to keep too much rust from gathering on their game prior to puck drop on Monday night against the St. Louis Blues.

Now all that’s left is to count down the days until the Cup Final begins in earnest on Monday evening, and the fans really get a treat with the Bruins and Blues facing off after Thursday night’s scrimmage appetizer at the Garden. 

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