|Pierre McGuire on MFB: Milan Lucic has ‘elevated his game’ playing with Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak||03.19.15 at 1:40 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to discuss the Bruins and their push for the playoffs, as well as other NHL matters. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
With David Krejci being out, the Bruins have shuffled their lines up front and currently have Milan Lucic playing with Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak. McGuire feels this has improved Lucic’s game, as he’s been playing more like a leader being paired with two of the youngest players on the team. He does feel once Krecji returns, Lucic will be reunited with him, but doesn’t know when that will happen.
“The thing that really stood out to me is he’s really relishing this role as a leader with those two young players in Spooner and Pastrnak,” said McGuire. “I think he’s elevated his game because of the leadership potion that has been put on his plate. I don’t know what Claude [Julien] is going to do, it’s a real debatable issue. I have to think at some point Krejci will be back with Lucic, I really do. I don’t know when or for how long, but I have to think at some point they will put them back together.”
The Bruins are in Ottawa Thursday night to take on the Senators. As it stands now the Senators are four points behind the Bruins for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. McGuire feels the Bruins are in a good spot to make the playoffs.
“I think Boston has a very good chance to be a playoff team,” he said. “In fact, I would be shocked if they didn’t make it. They deserved a better fate the other night (in a shootout loss to Buffalo). The biggest thing to be was Anders Lindback, he never played a game that good in his life. I give Buffalo a lot of credit. They showed a lot of heart and a lot of desire, but the Boston Bruins were [playing hard], they just couldn’t beat Lindback. I don’t expect goaltending like that every night against Boston.”
It seems the NHL getting rid of the shootout and going to 4-on-4, and 3-on-3 overtime is getting some steam to be put in place next season. McGuire thinks this change is needed, and will be a welcomed change with members of the league — both with the coaches and players.
“I think most people that really care about the sport want to see the best players play in the game and having the game decided by the players playing the sport rather than just having a skills competition,” said McGuire. “I am all for it and I think most of the players are for it. I can tell you 99 percent of the coaches are for it in terms of the people that I have spoken with, so I would be absolutely shocked if it was not put into place for next season.”
|5 things we learned as Ryan Spooner helps Bruins keep distance from Senators||03.10.15 at 10:06 pm ET|
Ryan Spooner had to go home to have the most productive game of his NHL career.
The Kanata, Ontario, native netted two goals as the Bruins enjoyed a 3-1 win over the Senators on Tuesday in Ottawa. Spooner picked up his second career goal with a second-period power play tally and added an even strength goal by finishing off a Milan Lucic net drive later in the period.
The 23-year-old center now has eight points (three goals, five assists) in the eight games since he was called up following David Krejci‘s knee injury. Spooner is also riding a six-game point streak (three goals, four assists).
The game should be a confidence-booster for Spooner, as his production had recently been accompanied by some five-on-five struggles for his line in a weekend that saw his group stuck in the defensive zone too much for Claude Julien‘s liking.
Here are four more things we learned Tuesday:
BRUINS KEEP SENATORS AWAY
With the win, the Bruins created some distance between themselves and an Ottawa team that was pushing for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The B’s now sit seven points ahead of the Sens through 66 games, though Ottawa has one game in hand. The Panthers (72 points in 66 games) sit between the two teams.
RASK TURNS 28, NEARLY TURNS IN A SHUTOUT
Though Tuesday was Tuukka Rask‘s birthday, it was the netminder who gave a gift to his teammates with a solid performance that kept the Bruins with a bigger lead than they may have deserved.
Rask survived a 21-shot barrage in the second period from Ottawa, though he was helped out by three hit posts. The Senators finally broke up his shutout when Matt Puempel took a puck off the end boards from a wide Patrick Wiercioch point shot and tapped it into the net.
The reigning Vezina-winner finished the night with 39 saves on 40 shots faced.
Perhaps David Pastrnak and linemates Lucic and Spooner spent so much time stuck in their own zone last weekend that they forgot what to do in the offensive zone.
Pastrnak, who entered Tuesday with just two penalties in 29 career games, took two penalties — both in the offensive zone — in the first 10 minutes of Tuesday’s game. The 18-year-old tripped Eric Gryba on his first shift of the game and, about six minutes after leaving the penalty box for that infraction, smothered the puck behind the net for a delay of game call.
ERIKSSON FLASHES SKILL
Loui Eriksson continued what figures to be a relatively quiet 20-plus goal campaign with a sensational play that got him to 17 goals on the season.
With the Senators not getting the puck deep on a line change in the second period, Dougie Hamilton threw the puck off the boards up the ice from his own end with Eriksson giving chase. Eriksson beat Cody Ceci to the puck in the offensive zone and made a brilliant one-hand pass to himself through the defenseman before beating Craig Anderson to make it 2-0.
(Vine courtesy of Pete Blackburn)
|Report: Bruins offered second-round pick and Ryan Spooner for Chris Stewart||03.03.15 at 7:12 pm ET|
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun wrote a story Tuesday that commended the Bruins for the hockey deal they made by getting Brett Connolly, but also revealed a couple of not-so-smart trade proposals the team sent out for a not-so-great player.
As had been reported throughout the season, the Bruins long had interest in then-Sabres forward Chris Stewart. LeBrun wrote that the Bruins offered at least two different packages involving good draft picks for the player but were rebuffed. The Sabres held out too long for a better deal and, after the Bruins got Connolly instead, Buffalo settled for a 2017 second-rounder from the Wild. The Sabres also had to retain half of Stewart’s salary.
A source told ESPN.com that on Saturday the Bruins offered the Sabres two second-round picks in exchange for Stewart, goalie Michal Neuvirth and depth forward Brian Flynn. Obviously that deal wasn’t accepted, the Sabres wanting a specific prospect that Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli just didn’t want to give up, feeling it was too high a price to pay.
Once Boston moved on Connolly overnight Sunday with the cost being two-second picks going to the Lightning, the bigger-package deal with the Sabres was off the table.
But even as far back as on the eve of the season, back in early October, the Bruins are believed to have offered Ryan Spooner and a second-round pick for Stewart. Murray decided to wait for a better offer. And again, the Sabres GM could very well have got that better offer in other years, it just didn’t play out that way this time.
Moving Spooner or a mid-round pick for Stewart wouldn’t have been the end of the world. Moving Spooner and a second-rounder would have been silly, especially considering Stewart’s difficulty staying motivated and the fact that he will be a free agent after the season. Chiarelli owes Tim Murray for turning those offers down, as they were both far better than what Buffalo ended up getting for Stewart.
|5 things we learned as Bruins beat Devils in overtime||02.27.15 at 9:47 pm ET|
Despite blowing a 2-0 lead to the Devils, the Bruins were able to come away with a victory in overtime, thanks to center Ryan Spooner’s first NHL goal.
The Bruins found the back of the net 8 1/2 minutes into the first period when Daniel Paille slapped home a Loui Eriksson pass for the first goal of the game.
In the third period, just moments after their own power play expired, the Bruins struck again. With Chris Kelly situated in front of the Devils net, rookie forward David Pastrnak fired the puck past Cory Schneider for his seventh goal of the season.
The Devils answered with two goals in two minutes to tie the game, and the teams went to overtime before Spooner ended the contest with his marker.
With the win, the Bruins improve to 30-22-9 and pull four points ahead of Florida in the Eastern Conference.
Here are four more things we learned Friday:
SVEDBERG STOPS 29
In his last three starts, the most recent of which was Feb. 10, Niklas Svedberg had only played the full 60 minutes for one of them. With Tuukka Rask out of the lineup due to illness, Svedberg was given a chance to start in net.
In just one period of play during his last start, Svedberg surrendered three goals to the Stars on 10 shots and was pulled for Rask. Prior to that, he shut out the Devils, 2-0, on Jan. 8, making 14 saves in the process, but was chased in the start before that after giving up three goals to the Blue Jackets on 15 shots.
Svedberg made 29 saves on Friday night and held New Jersey scoreless until the third period when the Devils scored twice in two minutes, tying the game.
Though the Bruins outshot the Devils, New Jersey’s two quick goals lit a fire and pushed Boston back into its own zone for a lot of the third, forcing Svedberg to make saves.
|Bruins send Ryan Spooner, Seth Griffith to Providence||10.19.14 at 11:45 am ET|
The Bruins announced Sunday that they have sent forwards Seth Griffith and Ryan Spooner to AHL Providence.
Spooner played in the Bruins’ first five games of the season, centering Milan Lucic and Matt Fraser for three games before centering the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Simon Gagne until Gregory Campbell returned from injury. He struggled as a third-liner, while Julien was hesitant to play him while he centered the fourth line. Spooner played just 4:22 on Wednesday against the Red Wings.
Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe reported prior to Thursday’s game that the Bruins would play Spooner at left wing once he was sent to Providence. The team had been hesitant to play Spooner anywhere but center since drafting him in 2010, but Spooner’s struggles in the defensive zone might make him better-served to play wing.
Griffith was recalled last Sunday to serve as the right wing on David Krejci‘s line with Lucic. He played two games in that role, but was replaced late in both games by Gagne.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Matt Fraser, Ryan Spooner struggling to find confidence||10.12.14 at 2:54 pm ET|
It isn’t that the Ryan Spooner experiment isn’t working, or that the Matt Fraser experiment isn’t working; the Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser experiment isn’t working.
The two young forwards enjoyed success playing together on Providence’s first line last season, but struggled to do much for Boston when called up for third-line duty in the middle of the season. The first three games of this season, in which Spooner centered Milan Lucic and Fraser, were all the Bruins needed to see before pulling the plug. Claude Julien flipped Spooner and second-line left wing Chris Kelly late in Saturday’s loss to the Capitals, and, by the looks of Sunday’s practice, has now taken Fraser out of the lineup.
Spooner skates. Fraser shoots. Yet when they play together, they do neither. Through three games, Fraser has just one shot on goal.
Whatever the cause of it may be (Spooner says it’s mental) their poor start to the season has played a part in Sunday’s lineup shakeup. With Seth Griffith skating with David Krejci and Lucic Sunday and Patrice Bergeron‘s line remaining unchanged, Spooner was demoted to the fourth line and Fraser was bounced from the lineup. Spooner centered Daniel Paille and Jordan Caron, the latter of whom is expected to replace Bobby Robins.
Both Spooner and Fraser are clearly lacking confidence right now, with Fraser serving as his harshest critic.
“At the end of the day, we’re all good players,” Fraser said. “You’ve got to make the coach put you on the ice. For me, it was probably an easy decision for him to say, ‘No. Fraz doesn’t deserve to go.’ It’s hard to look in the mirror and recognize that and say, ‘Yeah. I don’t deserve to be in the lineup.’ That alone is very frustrating.”
Though Fraser is down on himself at the moment, it’s hard to see him staying out of the lineup for long. He’s a left wing playing the right side, which obviously doesn’t help, but his shot and goal-scoring prowess can be lethal if utilized properly.
Fraser’s success has come on the left side. He played there in the AHL, and his struggles as Spooner’s linemate at the NHL last season came on the right side. When he was recalled during the second round of the playoffs to play with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson, he was on the left and was effective despite playing on a broken foot.
There isn’t a left wing spot for Fraser to play, however. Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic have cemented their spots on the first two lines, while Kelly holds down the spot that Fraser played last postseason. Paille is playing left wing on the fourth line. The Bruins need right wings, and Fraser insists he can do the job. The problem, he says, is his execution.
“At the end of the day, there’s all the Xs and Os you want, but if you’re not prepared to work hard enough to get to those spots, you’re not prepared to work in the offensive zone to get my shot off, it’s useless,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. I can make up all the excuses in the world about my play or anything like that, but at the end of the day it falls on my shoulders. There’s no one that can correct it but me.”
As for Spooner, he can count himself fortunate that he survived Sunday’s lineup shakeup. Fourth-line center Craig Cunningham was sent down, but the B’s could have kept him and demoted Spooner.
“I’m not really happy with myself and how I’ve been playing,” Spooner said Sunday.
Spooner’s problem last season was that he didn’t shoot or take pucks to the net. So this summer, he shot 200-300 pucks a day to gain confidence in his shot.
Just three games into the season, Spooner admits he’s fallen back into his old habits, and he plans to better apply his offseason work going forward.
“I still need to shoot more. I’ve had some chances where I should have gone to the net. It’s just how I am. I’ve always been a pass-first kind of guy,” Spooner said. “I think for me, it’s just a mental thing. I’ve got to put it in the back of my mind to shoot more. It’s the only way you can score.”
|Ryan Spooner on Claude Julien: ‘I don’t think he hates skilled players’||10.08.14 at 12:29 pm ET|
Maybe, just maybe, Claude Julien and the Bruins don’t hate young, skilled players.
Maybe — and just hear me out on this — some skilled players need a bit more coaching than others. Maybe it takes skilled players longer to feel comfortable in the Bruins’ system. Maybe it’s OK for players to develop in the AHL.
Maybes aside, it’s definitely the second one.
When Tyler Seguin was traded, Ryan Spooner became the name at the tip of Bruins fans’ tongues when they wanted to make the “Claude hates the kids” argument. Spooner, a speedy playmaker at center with defensive deficiencies, was being kept in the AHL for too long (two seasons), they’d say, and it was because Julien wants to win games, 0-0.
The actual reason was because there was a logjam at center and because Spooner still had to work on his game, but now that Spooner has won an NHL job in training camp for the first time, he’s more than happy to be whatever the Bruins want him to be.
“I don’t think he hates skilled players,” Spooner said Tuesday. “If you look around the league, every team has them; they’re essential for your team, but you need a good mix of both.”
The Bruins have a mix of both, but they don’t want their players to be one-dimensional. If you’re a center, you’re encouraged to be as creative as you wish, but you need to provide support down low in the defensive zone. That’s why, after Spooner scored a goal in a preseason game against the Canadiens this fall, Julien spoke about the defensive shortcomings that led Spooner to watch the Habs while he was on the ice. Spooner was eventually sent down to Providence and recalled later in the preseason for a second look.
When Spooner scored twice as a left wing against the Islanders last Friday, Julien again held back on the praise, pointing out that much of the team iced by New York consisted of AHL players.
Tough love? You bet. Claude hates kids? Not quite.
Granted, Julien doesn’t talk the same way about other players, but Spooner can see that his coach is trying to motivate him. As Julien says, he doesn’t want to see good players rot in the AHL, so maybe he was simply trying to light a fire under Spooner.
“You have to listen to what he has to say, try to turn it into a positive and then just kind of go with it like that,” Spooner said. “It would be easy for me to take what he said and just mope around and go, ‘Oh, I’m not going to make the team now. He doesn’t like me,’ but if you look at it from a different angle, you can just kind of say, ‘Actually, you know what? He actually does care about me. He wants me to be a better player, and that’s his way of trying to motivate me.’ That’s kind of what I did with it, and I hope it works out.”
Spooner actually isn’t a complete stranger to this kind of treatment. When he got to the Peterborough Petes of the OHL when he was 16, his coach, Ken McRae, wasn’t overly hard on him. The OHL doesn’t expect its younger players to be smart players as they get their feet wet.
Yet by the time he got to his third season, Peterborough’s new coach, Mike Pelino, was more demanding. He didn’t want Spooner to be one-dimensional. He was tough on Spooner. The team ended up trading him to Kingston that season.
“He called me out on it,” Spooner said. “[He] wanted me to be a more complete player.”
So Spooner’s used to being coached a little tougher than other players, and it looks like Julien’s motivational tactics paid off. With David Krejci out for at least Boston’s first three games of the season, Spooner has centered a line with Milan Lucic and Matt Fraser the last two days.
Asked Wednesday if it was rewarding to see Spooner, a player he had publicly criticized in order to inspire a better push, make the team, Julien made it clear that he’s not done motivating the 22-year-old.
“This is not negative, but he hasn’t made the team,” Julien said. “He’s here. He’s got to hang on to a spot, and we’re giving him that opportunity.
“We’ve said that before: Anybody who feels comfortable here certainly doesn’t have the right approach to our team. It’s about earning it.
“The thing I like about what he did was, he had an average camp, he was sent down, he came back and he showed us that he wanted a second chance and proved that he deserved a second chance. So he’s got it now.”