B's wunderkind Spooner off to good start in Providence

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B's wunderkind Spooner off to good start in Providence

Things have started out very promisingly for rookie forward and top Bruins prospect Ryan Spooner.
The 20-year-old is tied with Max Sauve for the P-Bruins team lead with four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in Providences first four games of the season, and has teamed with Sauve and Jamie Tardif for a consistently productive line. The trio has accounted for at least one goal in each of Providences four games thus far, and Spooner has been among the most active with eight shots on net.
The 2010 second round pick isnt taking anything for granted, of course, and wants to keep developing and pushing until he finds himself in the NHL. It might not be that far off with his ability to shift gears and speeds quickly on the ice, and his Krejci-like skill at slowing things down when the puck is on his stick.
It took until Providences first win against the Manchester Monarchs last weekend for Spooner to crack the goal column, but hes making plays in every single game.
Ive been working hard to get to this point over the last few years, and now you look forward to the challenge at this level, said Spooner. I want to prove that I can be a consistent, dependable player at both ends of the ice, and just keep getting bigger, faster, stronger and better.
The goal is to get to the NHL someday soon, but Im happy developing my game and continuing to improve until that opportunity arrives. This is a great league were playing in this year, and my complete focus is on where Im at right now.
It was thought that Chris Bourque would start the season riding shotgun with Spooner on the same line in Providence, but that hasnt happened through the first four games. It hasnt stopped Bourque from recognizing what Spooner is bringing to the table at such a precocious young age.
Hes definitely impressive. He has good speed and sees the ice really well, said Bourque. I didnt know much about him at all before I got here. Hes an impressive player. We expect big things from him and hes definitely going to be able to help the team out.
Im excited to teach him things about becoming a pro and guiding him in the right direction; the kind of things guys helped me out with when I was a young player.
Its not surprising given Spooners skating ability and playmaking sense, and the mere fact that he put up seven points in eight games during two quick AHL stints over the previous two seasons. So Spooner is already a point-per-game player early in his pro career, and just needs to show Bruins officials that he understands what it means to be a professional hockey player.
That includes all of the little things hell need to do to stick at the NHL level, and that goes doubly so for young players breaking into Claude Juliens two-way system in Boston. Interestingly enough, there are two prospects at opposite ends of the spectrum after four games: Spooner is a point-per-game player and Jared Knight is a minus-2 after two games while missing time with some groin issues.
Some guys get off to a great start and then tail off over a long year. Other guys it takes a little while to get going, said Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney. What we want to see is consistency. Its a big jump and its a tough league, and an even bigger jump is coming with the next one. So we want them to be prepared mentally and physically.
Maybe guys arent on the first unit like theyve been accustomed to all through junior. Maybe theyre on the second unit. But dont pout about it. Youve got to embrace it because its a unique league: youre competing against all of the guys on your own team as well trying to win collectively. The quicker a player realizes that component the better it is for their development. How quickly they get to the NHL depends on their work habits on and off the ice, their training ability and their skill.
It also doesnt hurt that young prospects like Spooner have the Full Monty of Bruins front office types with Sweeney, Peter Chiarelli, Jim Benning, Claude Julien and the rest of the Bs coaching staff front and center while the NHL lockout rages on. Thats allowed Spooner to put himself into the conversation for a training camp invite once the NHL season gets started, and remain there provided he keeps playing high high-flying game in Providence against some very good AHL competition.

CSN's Buckets List: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

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CSN's Buckets List: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Each Monday through the Final Four, our own Robbie Buckets -- known in some circles as Rob Snyder, associate producer at CSN -- will take a look at the world of college basketball: Games to watch each week, players who might be on the Celtics' radar come draft time, what's going on locally . . . and, of course, power rankings (which will eventually morph into bracketology). Enjoy!

After a Saturday for the ages came and went this past weekend, it's clear offensive efficiency is ruling the college basketball world. Villanova, UCLA, Creighton, Indiana, UNC, Kentucky, and a slew of other teams are shooting the lights out early in the season. In a rare switch, offensive efficiency is proving more valuable than defensive efficiency early on this year. We aren't used to seeing shooting quite like this, but it makes for great basketball watching. We also have some surprise teams making big moves in the rankings, and I'm sure the shake-ups will keep coming week-by-week with no slowing down.

POWER RANKINGS

1. Villanova (8-0) - The defending champs spent a nice week destroying fellow Big 5 teams. On top of that, the Wildcats watched Kentucky fall (more on that later), which moves them up to the top spot. I can make a great case for the two teams behind them to be ahead, but I'll reward a defending champion going undefeated every day of the week.

2. Baylor (8-0) - SURPRISE! The Bears just keep on winning against really good competition. Scott Drew's club has now beaten four top 25 teams in Oregon, Michigan State, Louisville and, most recently, Xavier. (I understand it's likely two of those teams won't be ranked this week, but they're still really good.)  This is the most impressive early season resume in a long time.

3. UCLA (9-0) - It's one thing to put up massive offensive numbers against lowly competition. It's a completely different thing when you go into Rupp Arena and put up 97 points against Kentucky. Lonzo Ball had a rough go in the first half but he was helped by fellow freshman T.J. Leaf, who is absolutely balling.

4. Kentucky (7-1) - I'm keeping the Wildcats right here because I still saw a lot I liked in the loss to UCLA. Mainly, I think De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk make up the best backcourt in the country. This team still has so much room to grow.

5. Kansas (7-1) - Shockingly, Kansas has decided to go with a small, four-guard lineup as of late.  The Jayhawks have benched Landen Lucas and it's working having Lagerald Vick join Graham, Mason and Jackson in the backcourt. I applaud Bill Self for the outside-the-box thinking.

6. Duke (8-1) - Great to finally see the Blue Devils get some of their freshman back, albeit against Maine. The Dukies will probably shoot further up the power rankings next week as they get their fresh legs under them. As of now, I'm still slightly underwhelmed by the overall product (which is being harsh), but I love what I'm seeing from Luke Kennard who -- shhhhhhh -- is a better overall player than Grayson Allen.

7. Gonzaga (8-0) - They haven't missed a beat, putting away frisky Arizona on Saturday.  The Dogs are now on cruise control and have a real shot at being the last undefeated team standing this season.

8. Creighton (8-0) - Speaking of undefeated, the Bluejays of Omaha are maybe the hottest offensive team in the country, led by three of the best guards in all of college basketball.  (They may even be better than Kentucky's backcourt.)  Creighton will be a force in the Big East this year.

9. Indiana (7-1) - The hardest thing about doing rankings is Jekyll-and-Hyde teams like the Hoosiers. What can you say about a team that beat Kansas, lost to Fort Wayne, and then rebounded with a win over North Carolina? You rank them 9. That's what you do.

10. North Carolina (7-1) - Speaking of North Carolina, last week I thought the Tar Heels were the hottest team in college hoops and now they're licking their wounds after being beaten pretty good by Indiana. They're still extremely well-rounded, and should still be in the Top 5 conversation later in the year.

11. Virginia (7-1) - For the first time in years, the Cavaliers lost a home non-conference game. The slugfest with West Virginia went as expected as the two unique defenses went at each other.  Hard to drop UVA too far, as they still boast the nation's second-best defense.

12. Butler (8-0) - Hard to believe we're into December and still have three undefeated Big East teams and none of them are Xavier. Butler has looked really balanced this year in wins over Arizona and Utah. I would still like to see more scoring from the guards.

13. Louisville (7-1) - The Cardinals successfully rebounded from a not-bad-at-all loss to Baylor and took down Purdue in a game they tried very hard to lose. Louisville's biggest issue is offensive consistency, which has grinded to a halt at times this season. Defensively, however, there are no issues.

14. Xavier (7-1) - Hey, look, it's another team that lost to Baylor.  The loss isn't necessarily bad, but the way X is playing hasn't been totally solid.  They're getting almost all of their offense from three players, and their depth hasn't been great. They will still be a really good team, but are starting to look less like a dark horse Final Four team.

15. West Virginia (6-1) - What a win for WVU in Charlottesville. Huggy Bear's press continues to give opponents problems and keeps the Mountaineers in games even when they aren't hitting their shots.  They were 25th in the AP poll last week, but are now No. 9 in kenpom.  Expect a move once the pollsters read this column.

LOCAL FLAVOR 

Providence - What a week for the Friars.  They took out previously ranked in-state rivals Rhode Island and are now 6-2 with a quality win.  Rodney Bullock is carrying the scoring load, and I have to say I'm very surprised by the development of Kyron Cartwright. His ball-handling and passing have been phenomenal. Ed Cooley is doing wonders with this group..

Rhode Island - Speaking of the Rams, they'll be just fine. A true road loss (albeit still in-state) is nothing to worry about. Now they'll hope Providence becomes a Top 50, or at the very least Top 100, RPI team, and the loss won't even look bad. What Rhody does need to worry about is finding a way to beat good teams. They now have three losses -- to Duke, Valpo (road), and Providence (road). They do have a quality win over a very good Cincinnati team, so they'll just need to take care of conference play and find a way to get a little more from their bench.

WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK

  • Tuesday December 6: Florida vs Duke (at Madison Square Garden)
  • Saturday December 10: Villanova vs Notre Dame (Prudential Center); Michigan at UCLA

POTENTIAL FUTURE CELTICS TO WATCH

Jayson Tatum - Duke finally has a couple of its freshman back, and this is the guy to watch. I was pumped about him prior to the season because he's a 6-foot-7 wing player who does everything effortlessly. Tatum had 10 points and 8 rebounds in his opener despite being very rusty. It's only up from here.

De'Aaron Fox - Kentucky's point guard is the real deal and is so fun to watch.  He's a 6-6 bean stalk, so he doesn't necessarily look like a point guard . . . until you see him pass.  Fox can also get to the rim and play suffocating 'D'.  He's still working on his jump shot, but it's coming along.  NBA teams will drool over this guy.

Follow me on Twitter @RobbieBuckets for college hoops musings and off-the-cuff sports takes.

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while fully getting in the holiday spirit by getting the family Christmas tree this week.

*Very good and very sobering story about Craig Cunningham’s slow recovery, and his large support system with the AHL Roadrunners team he is captaining this season. It sounds like it might be a bit of a long road for him, so he and his family will need that support from those around him.

*Tyler Seguin has his shot back, and that’s great news for the Dallas Stars power play. So is that like Stella getting her groove back?

*A KHL player went into a sliding dab formation in order to celebrate a goal on the ice, and we salute him for that.

*The Maple Leafs are trying to fortify their backup goaltending situation after waiving Jhonas Enroth this week.

*Interesting Bob McKenzie piece about a young man that’s hoping to challenge conventional thinking in the hockey coaching ranks.

*TSN’s Scott Cullen takes a look at Winnipeg rookie Patrik Laine’s shooting skills as part of his “Statistically Speaking” column.

*For something completely different: the hits just keep on coming for Netflix as they’re going to double their TV series output over the next year.