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Ryan Spooner’s bizarre year continues for Bruins

11.21.16 at 4:08 pm ET
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Ryan Spooner has three goals and seven points this season. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

Bruins forward Ryan Spooner, moved to the fourth line on Saturday, has three goals and seven points in 17 games this season. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

On the wing of a second line with David Krejci and David Backes, Bruins forward Ryan Spooner entered Saturday’s game against the Jets with points in four of his last six contests.

But by the night’s end, even in a 4-1 win in which the Bruins held the Jets to just 12 shots on goal, Spooner ended his night demoted down to the center spot on the fourth line.

It’s worth noting, however, that Spooner was not the only piece shuffled about. His spot on the B’s second line was filled by Matt Beleskey, who scored his second goal of the season in the win, while Schaller moved to the third line on Beleskey’s spot on the left wing, while everyone else remained in their respective spot.

“Moving parts around and having people respond,” B’s coach Claude Julien said of the decision to finish Spooner’s night on a line with Sean Kuraly and Jimmy Hayes. “First shift of the third, Schaller who moved up, scored a goal and I thought Spoons did a great job with that line of spending some time in the offensive zone and sometimes he moved pucks around and that’s things that made me happier with or want to see something different. I think that with the score the way it was, it was an opportunity to see something different.”

So it was a demotion that wasn’t a demotion?

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Patrice Bergeron’s slow start won’t last forever

11.21.16 at 11:24 am ET
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Patrice Bergeron should pick things up soon. Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

Patrice Bergeron should pick things up soon. Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

Patrice Bergeron has had an unusually slow start to the 2016-17 campaign, notching just 2-2—4 totals in 14 games. Both assists came in the game at Tampa on Nov. 3, while he scored in his first game on Oct. 20 vs. the Devils then again on Nov. 5 against the Rangers.

Throw in scoreless streaks of five and recently six games and it’s clear that Bergeron is scuffling a bit when it comes to contributing offensively.

Still, it’s nothing to really be alarmed about.

Bergeron and his linemates Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have held onto the puck more than any other trio in the league. Bergeron was getting over four shots per game during his recent scoreless slump. Opportunities haven’t been the issue as much as puck luck — Bergeron’s shooting percentage of 5.1 percent is well below his career average of 10.1.

It’s not like the perennial Selke candidate just lost it a year after reaching his career high of 32 goals. The heart-and-soul of the B’s just needs to keep doing what he’s doing and the points will return because the chances are there. But the sooner that is the better it will be for the Bruins.

– Injuries are part of life in the NHL but the last week was unusually rough even by NHL standards. The league lost Steven Stamkos, Taylor Hall, and Johnny Gaudreau in the blink of an eye. You hate to see guys end up on the shelf, especially talent of this magnitude. But the losses are just a reminder that hockey doesn’t discriminate when it comes to injuries. Still, the league will go on as it always does.

– After a torrid start to the year, the Oilers have wafted back down to Earth. The Connor McDavid-led squad has lost five straight and will drop from the top eight teams in the West if they don’t stop the bleeding soon. Both conferences are so ridiculously tight right now that a team can go from the top of the standings to on the outside looking in very quickly as the Oilers have shown. We’ll get a good look at just how the young captain McDavid handles the adversity in fixing his team.

– Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele and Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov are currently tied for the NHL lead with 22 points apiece, just like everybody predicted back in October.

– Old friend Tyler Seguin’s 7-14—21 is good for third place and he will surely be in the run for the Art Ross Trophy once again. Jimmy Hayes and Joe Morrow, what the Bruins have left to show for the trade, have zero points in 19 combined games.

– After two straight 100-point seasons, the Islanders have really struggled out of the gate. They’ve won just five of 17 games and their 14 points has them tied with the cellar-dwelling Buffalo Sabres. New ownership isn’t happy with the underachievement and coach Jack Capuano is feeling the heat. The eight seed currently has 20 points so the Isles can get right back in it by running off a few wins in a row. But if they don’t turn it around soon, the season can slip away from them real quick.

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Video: Facebook live chat with Bruins’ Austin Czarnik

11.20.16 at 11:53 am ET
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WEEI’s Josh Dolan sat down with Bruins forward Austin Czarnik after Sunday’s practice to talk about Saturday’s win over Winnipeg, his rookie season, Thanksgiving and more. Watch it here:

Defense remains a dominant force for Bruins in win over Jets

11.20.16 at 2:14 am ET
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The Bruins held the Jets to just 12 shots on goal in Saturday's win. (Gregory J. Fisher/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins held the Jets to just 12 shots on goal in Saturday’s win. (Gregory J. Fisher/USA Today Sports)

A four-goal outburst from a Bruins team still without top-liner David Pastrnak was the story of the night in the club’s third straight home win, a 4-1 victory over the Jets at TD Garden on Saturday.

And perhaps rightfully so given the way the Bruins struggled to put pucks in the net during their three-game road trip (they had just four goals on 100 shots in three games, and one of those four goals was an empty-netter) in spite of some impressive puck possession.

It was a just reward for a B’s attack that’s put in its share of work.

But it was the defense — though subtle and understated, much like it’s been throughout the season — that remained as dominant as ever.

In what was the club’s most punishing defensive effort of the season, the Bruins held a high-powered Jets attack to just 12 shots on goal.

Yes, that same Winnipeg club that came to Boston with 56 goals, the sixth-most in the NHL through 19 games, and not the New York Jets of the National Football League, as one would expect when reading such a stat, had just 12 shots on net. It was the fewest shots by a Bruins opponent since Nov. 24, 2001 (a game that the Bruins somehow actually lost to the Maple Leafs by a 2-0 final) and the fewest shots taken by a visiting team in Boston since the Minnesota North Stars took just 10 on Jan. 12, 1981.

And finally, even without that longed-for defensive upgrade in town via trade or free agency, the Black and Gold have started to reap the rewards of the defensive tweaks made to their system with the help of new assistant coach Butch Cassidy.

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Reports: Former Bruin Craig Cunningham collapses on ice before AHL game

11.19.16 at 10:56 pm ET
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Craig Cunningham

Craig Cunningham

A scary moment took place in Tucson, Arizona, Saturday night, as former Bruin and current Tucson Roadrunner Craig Cunningham reportedly collapsed on the ice before his team’s American Hockey League game against the Manitoba Moose.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, Cunningham appeared to convulse after hitting the ice and medics performed chest compressions before he was taken away in an ambulance. The game was postponed and no updates on his condition have been given as of 10:50 p.m.

Cunningham played 34 games for the Bruins over two seasons from 2013-2015 and spent parts of four seasons with AHL Providence.

Some of his former teammates took to Twitter to offer their well-wishes.

5 Things We Learned as Bruins dominate Jets in another Garden win

11.19.16 at 9:36 pm ET
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Matt Beleskey scored his second goal of the season in a 4-0 win for the Bruins on Saturday. (Gregory J. Fisher/USA Today Sports)

Matt Beleskey scored his second goal of the season in a 4-0 win for the Bruins on Saturday. (Gregory J. Fisher/USA Today Sports)

After a three-game road trip in which the Bruins scored just four goals on a combined 100 shots with stops in Arizona, Colorado, and Minnesota, it turns out that a return back to the TD Garden ice was all the Bruins needed for a quick fix to their recent scoring woes.

Back in Boston for the start of a two-game homestand and start of an eight-day stretch with four of five games played in their home barn, the Bruins made up for their lost goals with four against the Jets’ Michael Hutchinson, and did it in their first 27 shots of the night.

With David Pastrnak out for the second straight contest, the Bruins responded to the loss of their leading goal scorer with a feverish pace that eluded the team on Thursday night, and jumped out to a 1-0 lead behind Matt Beleskey’s second goal of the season, banged home on a one-time blast 2:01 into the second period.

Less than 10 minutes later, it was Brad Marchand, who has been snakebit in recent days, that decided to join the party, with a goal that just straight-up undressed Hutchinson and put the Bruins up by two midway through the period. And it was Marchand’s linemate, the equally snakebitten Patrice Bergeron, that wrapped up a dominant third period with his first point in six games, to put the Bruins up 3-0 through 40 minutes of play.

A lead that was extended to four early in the third period with Tim Schaller’s third goal of the season.

But while the goals were impressive, it was the Bruins’ relentless defensive effort that once again stole the show in the club’s third straight win on home ice, as the Black and Gold held the Jets without a shot on goal for the final 13:48 of the second period, and just two even-strength shots through the opening 40 minutes of play.

The Jets ultimately broke through with an Adam Lowry goal scored with 2:40 left to go in the third period, but it didn’t matter, as the Bruins stifled the Jets to just 12 shots on goal in 60 minutes of play, their lowest of the season.

Here are four other things we learned in the victory

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Bruins looking for home-ice advantage, scoring against high-powered Jets

11.19.16 at 3:17 pm ET
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David Backes and the Bruins will begin a two-game homestand tonight against the Jets. (Bruce Fedyck/USA TODAY Sports)

David Backes and the Bruins will begin a two-game homestand tonight against the Jets. (Bruce Fedyck/USA TODAY Sports)

When the Bruins struggled with back-to-back-to-back losses early in the year, head coach Claude Julien harped on his team’s inability to respect the system. It was a three-zone problem for the Black and Gold, too; If the defense wasn’t up to task, the offense suffered with a desperate, pressing approach. When the offense struggled, the defense and goaltending was left with absolutely no room for error.

The latter reared its head in the club’s last game, too, with a game-winning goal banked off Adam McQuaid’s shinpad and into the back of the B’s net with just 44.5 seconds left to go in a scoreless draw with the Wild. It was a just end to a 120-minute stretch of road hockey that saw the Bruins score just four goals on 100 shots, but somehow escape with four of a possible six points in their pockets.

But back home for after a week-plus away on the road — a theme of the season if there’s ever been one — the Bruins know it’s time for the rest of their offense to step up in defense of their defense in a tone-setting head-to-head with a quick-moving Jets attack.

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