Bruins

Stronger, feistier Spooner shows he can be effective

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Stronger, feistier Spooner shows he can be effective

BOSTON – Ryan Spooner talked about adding almost 10 pounds of muscle to his frame over the summer and made a point to say that he needs to be more competitive if he wants to remain with the Bruins.

It appears that the action is going to meet the words as the speedy, skilled center lived up to some of those promises and played a strong game for the Bruins in their 4-2 preseason win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night at TD Garden. Spooner threw around his body on the first shift registering a pair of hits, including one that jarred loose the puck and eventually led to David Pastrnak’s sniper shot goal at the other end of the ice.

Spooner, 25, picked up the secondary assist on Pastrnak’s goal after Matt Beleskey worked the puck up the ice to the right winger, and finished with a couple of shot attempts, a couple of hits and a blocked shot along with a plus-1 rating in 16:32 of ice time.

“[The added competitiveness] is something that we’ve talked about, and it’s always good to get that kind of result. I think the thing for me right now is to just try to take it game by game. Just trying to do that and see how it goes for me,” said Spooner. “They told me that was something that they wanted to see me do and I’ve been trying to do it. It worked out there [on the goal].”

Spooner admitted that he was playing a little angry on the first shift after losing the opening face-off of the game, but whatever it takes to get a feistier player is better for both the center and for his team.

“He was a crusher on that [shift]. Buried a guy. I don’t know if physicality is the proper term. What I want to see is compete. We’ve talked about that," said coach Bruce Cassidy. "I don’t expect Ryan Spooner to lead our team in hits. But he has to win his share of pucks. How you do that, [being] hard on your stick, sometimes it is body position and sometimes it is knocking a guy off the puck. It was good to see, and it led directly to [the first goal]. We come back up the ice, he makes a play, [Matt] Beleskey passes it and we score a goal.

“Then the third period [we] specifically, put him out for a D-zone faceoff and he won one, he won maybe both. It’s just some situations that he knows he has to be harder in, and I think the rest of his game will take care of itself. I thought he was good in that area of the game tonight.”

Clearly, Spooner won’t be playing much with Pastrnak in the regular season as he was in David Krejci’s absence on Monday night, and the spike in battle and determination needs to carry over from the preseason into the regular season. But a who Spooner will do more of the little things to go along with skill and power-play acumen could portend some very good things for the Black and Gold, and a possible breakout season for No. 51 if he can keep it up.

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Taking a shot at what the Bruins opening night roster might look like

Taking a shot at what the Bruins opening night roster might look like

BRIGHTON, Mass. - With the Bruins training camp finally on the same continent and the team together for the first time, things are beginning to feel a lot more like an NHL training camp.

It certainly felt that way on Friday when Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy addressed the Boston media for the first time and then again on Saturday when Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask and David Pastrnak were back working out at Warrior Ice Arena. So now is the time to get real about competition for open spots on the NHL roster and to start prognosticating which lines and pairings will be rolled out Oct. 3 on opening night in Washington.

To this point, Cassidy said that nobody has played their way off the NHL roster four games into the preseason and that sets up an interesting battlefield for candidates in the final four exhibition games starting tonight vs. the Detroit Red Wings.

“The veteran guys won’t play on Saturday and there’s quite a few that won’t play on Monday either, so we’re looking at a week together with a couple of home preseason games to maybe look at our lineup a little bit more,” said Cassidy. “So, Monday we’ll get another look and then we’ll decide how we’re shaping up here. By then you’re hoping that now we’re looking at where [Sean] Kuraly fits in, and hopefully [Bergeron] is ready to go by then. Who is Krejci’s linemate going to be on the right side? So now we’re looking at one of the guys that’s here and whether they’ll fit in with him. It could go down to the wire for one or two spots, but Monday is a big day for some of those guys.”

One of the biggest questions facing this roster is whether to keep Bergeron, Pastrnak and Marchand together on the top line, or whether it’s better to slide Pastrnak in with Krejci to make two offensively dangerous forward lines. Much of it depends on the performance of the younger candidates on the wing, and thus far, Danton Heinen and Ryan Donato have performed well while vying for one of those right-wing spots.

Then there’s the third-line center vacancy left by the departure of Riley Nash. That's potentially up for competition among a number of players including Chris Wagner, Kuraly, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Trent Frederic and Jack Studnicka. Studnicka fared well centering Marchand and Pastrnak in China, and both Frederic and JFK had their moments centering potential NHL forward lines overseas as well. To this point, the Bruins kiddie corps has all done exceedingly well and that’s something that has all of them still standing as viable candidates.

“I think Donato was good in Game One. Game Two he made some plays and had some turnovers...the usual stuff that we work on with the young guys, but I love his initiative. He’s a guy that loves to make things happen,” said Cassidy. “JFK had pockets of really good shifts, and other teams he was tentative where we had to remind him it’s a 60-minute game. But again they are young guys. Frederic was very good on the kill with Backes, who has been his partner. He scored a goal, so offensively they all chipped in.

“Jack [Studnicka] had a little penalty trouble. I’m not sure he deserved all of them, but he’s learning that hands and sticks have to stay off the body. But again he’s 19 years old. Urho Vaakanainen played one game and he was pretty efficient. He’s a pretty smooth player as well.”

As lineups get more veteran-laden and the intensity ramps up in final four preseason games, here’s a first glance at what the Bruins roster might look like Oct. 3 against the Capitals:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak
DeBrusk-Krejci-Donato
Heinen-JFK-Backes
Wagner-Kuraly-Acciari

Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Moore-Miller

Rask
Halak

The toughest omission is obviously Matt Grzelcyk on the back end after a strong rookie campaign, but the bottom line with Boston’s defensemen is that there’s going to be a good player sitting every night. Up front, Anders Bjork is the biggest name kept off, but his shoulder injury has put him behind Donato and Heinen, who have played very well in the preseason.

The biggest feature is keeping together Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak and that just comes down to maintaining an advantage that the Bruins will have over just about every team with a trio that can dominate at both ends of the ice. It would be easier to find a right winger that can make things go on the second line than recreating the magic of the Perfection Line using different forwards, so there’s a strong argument to be made for keeping the top group together for the long haul.  

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Kampfer excited for his second go-round with the Bruins

Kampfer excited for his second go-round with the Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- These days Steve Kampfer definitely looks a little bigger, a little stronger and a little older than the last time he suited up for the Black and Gold back in 2012.

That makes perfect sense, given that he’s about to turn 30 years old rather than the 20-something fresh out of the University of Michigan that he was during his last go-round with the B’s. But clearly, the Bruins liked enough about his game that they opted to snag him as the returning NHL-caliber defenseman in the Adam McQuaid deal with the Rangers just ahead of training camp.

Barring any injuries, the 5-foot-11, 192-pound Kampfer isn’t likely to start the season in Boston. It will be difficult for him to displace any of the D-men already earmarked for the Bruins roster, but he will provide some excellent organizational depth when the inevitable attrition arrives this season. Over the last six seasons Kampfer has racked up games of NHL experience for the Bruins, Wild, Panthers and Rangers, but actually had his best NHL season in Boston in 2010-11, when he totaled five goals and 10 points in 38 games for a team that eventually won the Stanley Cup.

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Since then, injuries have taken a bite out of his game and his stints with other NHL teams, so he’s looking for a nice, healthy stint with the Bruins organization.

“[I’ve had] a lot of injuries…a lot of injuries in between stops. I’ve had both knees done and I’ve had a few concussions, and I broke my hand last season, so I’ve spent a lot of time rehabbing and figuring out how to get my game back,” said Kampfer. “So it’s going to be nice to be healthy for once going into a season and hopefully that gets me out on the right foot.”

Injuries aside, Kampfer said he was just happy to be back in Boston among familiar faces, in an organization that saw something in him when they initially traded for him as a prospect of the Anaheim Ducks.

“It was a shock, but it was exciting at the same time,” said Kampfer, who came back to Boston with a 2019 fourth round pick and a conditional seventh-round pick in exchange for McQuaid. “To be able to come back to a place I’ve been before and where I’ve had some success, hopefully it’s the same thing this time around.

“It’s nice to walk into a room and pick up on relationships that you’ve had before and build on those, and it also makes it easier when you get on the ice since you know how other guys like to play.”

The puck-moving Kampfer will more than likely start the season in Providence barring something extraordinary happening with the NHL roster, but it stands to reason that he’s going to factor in wins and losses for the Bruins at some point this season.   

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