|After strong (and statistically mean) start on power play, Ryan Spooner seeking 5-on-5 consistency||10.26.15 at 3:13 pm ET|
Five points in seven games is a statistical start that Ryan Spooner probably would have taken happily entering the season. Yet Spooner’s output to this point has been rather perplexing.
The eye test says that Spooner has been terrific on the power play and not-so-terrific in five-on-five play. The stat sheet hasn’t been kind to the young forward, however, as he has only one point on the man advantage despite turning in superb work on the half wall of the Bruins’ top-ranked power play (8-for-24). Spooner’s other four points (two goals and two assists) have come over two games in 5-on-5 play, where he’s experienced more peaks and valleys.
On one hand, Spooner is looking for more consistency as the Bruins try him with different players in even strength. On the other, it’s hard to say Spooner has really had a bad game this season because he’s been so good on the power play (and that’s even considering some poor possession numbers; Spooner is dead last on the team in Corsi Relative this season).
“The power play’s always been something that I’ve been not bad at. My first year in Prov, I played on a unit that was extremely good,” Spooner said. “I think with the unit here, I just try to get the puck up top and let those guys do what they do. I think for me right now, it’s trying to find a good balance on the power play and the 5-on-5 and being more consistent.”
Despite just the one assist last Saturday against the Coyotes, his work on the power play has never been in question. With a couple of flashes in even strength over the last four games (a pair of points against the Avalanche and another two Friday against the Islanders), Spooner should feel good about where his game is headed. In two of the three games that the Bruins didn’t score on the power play, Spooner scored in even strength.
After starting the season centering Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly, Spooner had Chris Kelly on his left wing for parts of five games before being dropped to the fourth line to play wing. Though not particularly experienced on the wing (he tried it in training camp last season and briefly in Providence), he had success with Joonas Kemppainen and was teamed with the Finnish forward again in Monday’s practice.
When Kelly was Spooner’s left wing, the 34-year-old took some of the defensive responsibilities from the still-developing Spooner. With the move to wing, Spooner feels that he’ll be able to play to his strengths more as an offensive player.
“I haven’t been the best in my own end,” Spooner admitted, “so I think to get moved to the wing, it takes a lot of stress off of me.”
It might also lessen Spooner’s workload. Though Spooner and Kemppainen connected for a couple of goals over the final two periods of Friday’s win, they did so as fourth-liners. That meant that Spooner, who figures to be Carl Soderberg’s replacement, played just 10:24 on Friday, his second-lowest time on ice of the season.
That’s not a knock on Claude Julien. The coach has shown through seven games that he’ll keep trying different looks with his bottom six until he finds something that works. By the looks of Monday’s skate, the B’s could go with Kelly between Matt Beleskey and Hayes on the third line and Kemppainen with Spooner and Tyler Randell on the fourth.
Spooner’s obvious role is in the top nine, but it can’t hurt to try him with Kemppainen again to see if Friday’s spark can ignite.
“I think he excelled where he was last game and managed to score and get an assist, so we’re looking at what’s best for the team, and right now, what [the] best line combinations [are],” Julien said. “We’re trying things in practice. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be like that [in the game]. It could or it may not be. We’re just doing our jobs here.”
|Young fan from England skates with Bruins through Make-A-Wish foundation||10.26.15 at 1:05 pm ET|
The Bruins had 24 players on the ice Monday at TD Garden, but it wasn’t in an effort to go over the league’s roster limit. It was to make a young fan from across the pond’s day.
Zdeno Chara welcomed 12-year-old Liam Watson to practice through the Make-A-Wish foundation. Watson, who came all the way from Wakefield, England, skated with the Bruins wearing his own black and blue jersey before Chara gave him a No. 15 Bruins jersey with his name on it late in the practice. Shortly before, the Bruins had called on the youngster to lead their stretch, which is led by a different player towards the end of every practice.
After the skate, Watson sat at Chara’s stall, taking up far less space than its usual inhabitant (he was more at home when sitting at Torey Krug’s stall earlier as he chatted with Chara). He discussed his day with the media, calling it an “amazing experience.”
“All of it was good,” Liam said. “I don’t think there was any best part or worst part. It was just good.”
Liam said he’s been a Bruins fan for five-plus years and fondly remembers them winning the Stanley Cup back in 2011. His favorite player is Chara, whom he found to be far friendlier than he might look on the ice.
“He was really nice to me,” Liam said. “So were all the players. It’s as if I’ve known them forever or something.”
With the bright lights of the cameras on him as he discussed his day with reporters, Liam quipped afterwards that he sweated more during his media availability than during the Bruins’ practice. Both he and the Bruins found the day to be an enjoyable experience.
“It was neat to see Liam come in here and ask to meet Zdeno and the rest of the team,” Claude Julien said. “It’s been nice for the team to be able to give him that opportunity to spend some time with us.”
|Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand return to Bruins practice||10.26.15 at 10:43 am ET|
The first-liners were joined by Brett Connolly, who has skated with Bergeron’s line the last two games. Matt Beleskey, who is coming off an upper-body injury, practiced on the third line. He has played all five of his games this season on the second line with David Krejci and David Pastrnak.
All seven defensemen were present. The lines in practice were as follows.
The 3-3-1 B’s will host the Coyotes Tuesday night at TD Garden. The Bruins defeated Arizona, 5-3, in a road win on Oct. 17. The Coyotes are 4-3-1 on the season but have lost four of their last five games (1-3-1).
Claude Julien said after the practice that Beleskey is a possibility to play Tuesday, just as he was last week when the B’s brought him to Brooklyn for a game he’d eventually miss. Beleskey said he’s continuing to improve but wasn’t overly elaborate regarding his status for Tuesday.
“There’s always a chance,” Beleskey said. “I’m not sure. We’ll have to talk to coach.”
Dennis Seidenberg, who had back surgery last month, continues to skate by himself as he works his way towards a return. He’s five weeks into an anticipated eight-week recovery time.
“He’s trending in the right direction,” Julien said. “[He’s] still not able to practice with us.”
|Bruins unveil Winter Classic jerseys||10.24.15 at 3:05 pm ET|
The Bruins unveiled their uniforms for the Winter Classic on Saturday at an event for season ticket holders.
The jersey is inspired by the Bruins’ original uniforms from the 1924 season. Aside from its logo and colors, perhaps the most notable detail of the jersey is that it features a crew neck rather than the v-neck of current uniforms.
The Winter Classic will be played on Jan. 1 against the Canadiens at Gillette Stadium.
|Brad Marchand given maintenance day, Matt Beleskey feeling better||10.24.15 at 1:46 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand were both absent as the Bruins practiced Saturday at Agganis Arena. Bergeron is still on semi-paternity leave (he’s played the last two games but has been given practices and morning skates off), while Marchand was given a maintenance day.
With Bergeron and Marchand absent, the B’s had some wonky lines in practice. Most notably, the gold jerseys usually designated for Bergeron’s line were worn by Joonas Kemppainen, Max Talbot and Tyler Randell. The lines in practice were as follows:
Matt Beleskey, who has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, said after the practice that he is feeling better. He didn’t provide much to clarify how his injury was suffered, as it wasn’t suffered in a practice or a game and Claude Julien recently quipped that Beleskey had gotten up on the “wrong side of the bed.” Beleskey noted that he first realized the injury upon waking up Wednesday.
“Pretty much,” he said. “It was nothing I can really remember, but it’s getting better. It’s getting better every day and I felt pretty good out there.”
Dennis Seidenberg skated again prior to the practice. Seidenberg, who is working his way back from back surgery, has been skating since Monday.
|5 things we learned as Bruins win again on road in front of Jonas Gustavsson||10.23.15 at 10:15 pm ET|
The Bruins like playing on the road and they like playing their backup goalie.
That odd trend continued Friday night, as the B’s picked up their third win of the season — all of which have come on the road — in the form of a 5-3 victory over the Islanders at Barclays Center. The B’s record now stands at 3-3-1.
Boston’s ability to pick up the win in front of Jonas Gustavsson wasn’t quite because the backup turned in a particularly good outing, but because the B’s bounced back from a horrid first period by limiting the Islanders significantly over the final two periods. After getting outshot, 18-8, in the first period, the Bruins held the Islanders to just eight shots in the second (five) and third (three) periods combined.
The B’s came back from a 2-1 deficit in the second period and built a lead thanks to strong work from a makeshift fourth line of Ryan Spooner with Joonas Kemppainen and Tyler Randell. Kemppainen had a goal and an assist for the first two points of his NHL career.
After building a two-goal lead, the Bruins managed to not relinquish it after doing so in the previous two games.
David Krejci made it a three-goal game with an empty-net goal with 2:25 left, though the Islanders answered with a Thomas Hickey tally to come back within two. With Friday’s goal, Krejci has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in seven games this season. He has registered points in every game this season.
Here are four more things we learned in Friday night’s win.
BELESKEY STAYS OUT, MORROW RETURNS
Matt Beleksey missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury, while Joe Morrow returned from the flu. The lineup to begin the game was as such, though changes that Julien made as the game went on paid off:
CHANGE IS GOOD FOR SPOONER, KEMPPAINEN
The second period saw Claude Julien tinker with his forward lines, first briefly flipping Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly on the middle two lines and later shaking up his bottom six.
With Ryan Spooner struggling this season in even-strength play, Julien moved the young center to the fourth line and moved Chris Kelly from left wing on the third line to center. Zac Rinaldo replaced Kelly on the left wing, with Spooner centering Kemppainen and Randell on the second line.
The fourth-line change paid off for the Bruins. After Kemppainen forced a turnover during an attempted Flyers breakout, Spooner picked off the puck and fired a shot that was blocked by Travis Hamonic. The puck bounced to Kemppainen, who buried it for the first goal (and point) of his NHL career to tie the game at two.
Kemppainen, who is not known for his offense, helped the Bruins add to their lead in the third by forcing another turnover and making a nice pass to Spooner in front. Spooner tried to return the puck to Kemppainen, but saw the puck bounce off an Islanders skate and into the net to make it 4-2.
CONNOLLY HEATING UP
Connolly kept up his strong response to last weekend’s healthy scratch by scoring in his second straight game. The 23-year-old jumped on a puck that Brad Marchand had tossed into the slot and whacked it past Jaroslav Halak to give Boston a 1-0 lead at 9:51 of the first.
It will be interesting to see where the Bruins move Connolly once Beleskey returns to the lineup. Given that the third line needed tweaking anyway Friday, Julien could keep Connolly with Patrice Bergeron‘s line and play Loui Eriksson on Spooner’s line.
PASTRNAK BOUNCES BACK
After David Pastrnak’s terrible showing Wednesday against the Flyers, Julien said that the 19-year-old had better performances ahead of him. One of them came Friday, when Pastrnak buried a laser from the slot to break the 2-2 tie in the second period.
In addition to Pastrnak’s turnovers against the Flyers, his failure to put the game away in the third period on a Grade A scoring chance quite possibly cost the Bruins a point in a game they eventually lost in overtime.
Pastrnak is there for his scoring, so his reminder of that Friday with his first goal since the season-opener should be encouraging for the B’s.
|Bruins activate Joe Morrow from IR, send Seth Griffith to Providence||10.23.15 at 3:49 pm ET|
The Bruins activated defenseman Joe Morrow from injured reserve Friday and sent forward Seth Griffith to Providence.
Morrow missed the last three games due to a flu bug that cost him to lose weight. The Bruins sent Tommy Cross, who had played three games in his place, back to Providence on Thursday. The 22-year-old defenseman skated in Boston’s first three games of the season, averaging 19:38 of ice time per game. Should he play Friday against the Islanders, it’s likely that he will be paired with either Kevan Miller or Colin Miller.
Griffith, who played 30 games for the B’s last season, sprained his left MCL during the preseason. Though he has remained on the NHL roster, he has been skating with the Providence Bruins recently.
With Friday’s moves, the Bruins are back at the 23-man roster limit.