Talking points: Ryan Spooner continues to be invisible this series
Bobby Ryan doesn’t play a ton of minutes and he doesn’t really bust his tail all that much during the regular season, but he’s proving to be a difference-maker for the Senators in the playoffs, isn’t he? Ryan scored his third goal in four games when he took a slap-pass from Erik Karlsson, curled around a leaping Tuukka Rask and a glacial Zdeno Chara and managed to slip the puck into the back of the net for the game’s only goal. Ryan now has the game-winner in back-to-back playoff games for the Senators, and is proving that he’s well worth that big contract once it gets to the important games in the postseason. The goal was his only shot on net in 13:09 of ice time, but Ryan did finish with three hits as well in a fairly hard-fought playoff hockey game.
You get the sense this playoff series is probably the last few moments of Ryan Spooner with the Boston Bruins. He’s essentially become a fourth line center/power play specialist, and in Game 4 he was also heading the forward line that got scored on for Ottawa’s game-winning goal. So the minus-1 for Spooner was pretty significant for the Black and Gold in and of itself, but it also arrived with one shot on net in the first period on a Grade A scoring chance that didn’t get past Craig Anderson, and an 0-for-2 performance in the face-off circle. Spooner has been pretty darn close to invisible during the playoff series and hasn’t stepped up in a spot where they could really use his speed, his creativity and his ability to create offense in a series of games all decided by one goal. It just hasn’t happened for him, and it doesn’t look like it’s ever going to happen with centers like Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson coming up through the pipeline.
The Bruins looked like they had struck for first blood when Charlie McAvoy rifled a point shot past Craig Anderson in the second period for his first career goal in the NHL. It may have been redirected by Noel Acciari on its way there, but in the end it didn’t matter when Guy Boucher and the Senators bench challenged the play as off-side. Video clearly showed that Acciari went over the blue line before the puck got there, so the officials got the play right after reviewing the video. But the goal was scored a whopping 19 seconds after the play was off-side, and really had nothing to do with the actual scoring play. So it was taken off the board and with it the momentum was sucked away from the Bruins, and eventually led to the Senators scoring in the third period and taking Game 4 and a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.
Craig Anderson deserved the shutout after making 12 of his 22 saves in the first period including shutting down a pair of Brad Marchand breakaway chances, and stopping an odd-man rush that gave Ryan Spooner a golden scoring chance in the slot. Instead Anderson turned all of those away and the Bruins only managed 10 shots on net in the final two periods as Guy Boucher’s 1-3-1 trap put a sleeper hold on the game and essentially knocked out Boston’s offense. Anderson again had to step up in the closing minutes and make a few more saves once the goalie was pulled, but by that point the Bruins weren’t even really getting to the front of the net for quality chances. Most of their attack was from frantic and from the perimeter, and obviously never got through the final line of defense.
BY THE NUMBERS:
0 – the number of times that the Boston Bruins have come back from down 3-1 in a playoff series in their storied franchise history.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"They’ve got some defensemen, so they’ve got good structure. We knew it would be difficult. But, for us, the flip side of that is the first periods when we did have our ice and we did have our opportunities, we weren’t able to bury them.” –Bruce Cassidy, on Ottawa’s good defensive structure and the B’s not taking advantage when the chances were there.