BRIGHTON, Mass. – After serving as a healthy scratch for Thursday night’s home opener, Ryan Spooner will be back in the lineup manning the left wing position alongside David Krejci and David Backes as that line looks for an offensive breakthrough.
Spooner will also be looking to change his early season storyline as it’s clear that Claude Julien is looking for more from a player that looked a little too passive on the puck to start the season.
Spooner wasn’t really utilizing his speed to put pressure on opponents, he wasn’t creating enough on the power play and there were a couple of instances where his mistakes led to directly to goals against. That’s not a good combination from a B’s perspective with a player who has showed plenty of game-breaking talent while posting 13 goals and 49 points last season.
“I have to take [the scratch] as a message that I wasn’t the player that I can be,” said Spooner. “I have to use it as motivation and just go out there and play.”
The speedy, skilled forward had just a single assist in three games to start the season, but to be fair none of the three forwards on his line, Spooner, Krejci or rookie Danton Heinen, looked particularly good once Backes was moved to fill in for the injured Patrice Bergeron.
Instead, it looked like Krejci centering one player skating out of position (Spooner) and another young guy (Heinen) just trying to gain some confidence in the NHL and things looked much better for Krejci and Backes after being reunited on Thursday. Spooner’s speed and playmaking could be an asset there tonight vs. Montreal, and certainly could help a power play that is 1-for-14 through the first four games of the season.
“He just has to be better. That’s why we sat him out. He just wasn’t good enough and he’s capable of doing more,” said Claude Julien. “We expect more out of him. He’s a guy that can produce and can play the full game, and he’s shown that he can do it. It’s nothing something that he has to do, but it’s something that he can do. That’s what we want.”
So, Spooner was scratched for the home opener after totaling an assist and seven shots on net in the first three games, and knows that he needs to be better than he was in the early going.
“I wasn’t moving my feet. I think I was playing too much of a passive game. I need to use my speed a little more when I’m on the wing there,” said Spooner, who still hasn’t played much more than a couple dozen games at the wing over the course of his career. “The first two games I didn’t think I played good at all, and the last game against the Jets was just so-so. I don’t think it was good enough, so it needs to be better.
“At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter which players I was playing with, the game I was playing just wasn’t good enough. That’s on me and I need to change that.”
Spooner will get a big chance to change that conversation when he suits up in a top-six winger role with Krejci and Backes on Saturday night while looking to provide a little more balanced scoring against Montreal.