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' 'preference' is to leave Charlie Coyle at third line center

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Bruins' 'preference' is to leave Charlie Coyle at third line center

BRIGHTON -- There was some question as to whether Charlie Coyle might get a little time at wing this season for the Bruins after locking things down at the third line center position last season after coming over in trade from the Minnesota Wild.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Coyle brought two-way play, puck possession and offensive upside to the third line upon his arrival, and then he really stepped it up in the playoffs with nine goals and 16 points in his 24 games. So naturally, there is curiosity as to whether his size, strength and offense could move up to right wing on the second line where his game could be paired pretty comfortably with playmaking David Krejci.

Or even more radically, Coyle’s size and strength could make an interesting match on the right wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

But it sounds like the Bruins are going to keep things strong down the middle with Bergeron and Krejci as their top-6 centers and Coyle and Sean Kuraly as the bottom-6 centers giving the B's depth and quality down the middle of the lineup. Coyle was centering Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen at practice on Wednesday afternoon and has played center throughout training camp.

It may be getting to a point now where they don’t want to fool around with things by switching Coyle’s positions on him as happened in Minnesota, and it certainly sounds like Cassidy’s preference is to leave him at center.

“Generally speaking the match-up is the D-pair and the centerman down low. The wingers obviously matter, but they are less of a factor. At least that’s what I think when I think match-ups. So to have Charlie [Coyle] in there [at center] now, and my intention is to keep him there unless the team would be better served with him on the wing,” said Cassidy. “Right now, we like the way we played last year and hopefully this year. It makes you a lot more comfortable in terms of defending.”

Cassidy reserved the right to change his mind if Trent Frederic really comes along as an NHL-ready center or if all of the top-6 right wing candidates end up dropping the ball in training camp. That doesn’t appear to be the case over the first week of training camp and that may just mean Coyle stays in his comfortable position at center where he gives the Bruins the lineup depth that helped catapult them to the Stanley Cup Final last spring.

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Bruins only have one player on ESPN's 'Top 100 NHL prospects' list

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Bruins only have one player on ESPN's 'Top 100 NHL prospects' list

The Boston Bruins weren't exactly well represented on ESPN's "Top 100 NHL prospects list" heading into the new season.

20-year-old Jack Studnicka was the only B's prospect to make the list, landing in the No. 61 spot. Here's what ESPN's Chris Peters had to say about the 2017 second-round pick:

"A free-wheeling forward who can do a little bit of everything, Studnicka will be put to the test early in the AHL. But he looks more than ready to make the most of it."

In 60 games between the Oshawa Generals and the Niagra IceDogs of the OHL last season, Studnicka tallied 83 points (36 goals, 47 assists). The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder also scored in a playoff game with the Providence Bruins. He'll continue to battle for a spot on the NHL roster throughout camp.

Some of the Bruins prospects left out of the top 100 include Urho Vaakanainen, Anders Bjork, Trent Frederic, Jakub Lauko, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Zach Senyshyn.

Unsurprisingly, Jack Hughes (Devils) and Kaapo Kakko (Rangers) topped ESPN's rankings.

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