Bruins easing Spooner into first night festivities

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Bruins easing Spooner into first night festivities

MONTREAL With Brad Marchand out for Wednesday night's game against the Canadiens -- the kind of grudge match that the resident pest usually lives for -- the door has been opened for rookie Ryan Spooner to make his NHL debut.

It wont be as a strict replacement for Marchand, however. The 21-year-old center will center a fourth line with 28-year-old rookie Jamie Tardif and 23-year-old enforcer Lane MacDermid as his two wings. Gregory Campbell, the normal fourth-line center, will slide into a left-wing position alongside Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin.

Spooner said he doesnt feel very comfortable playing wing, and that might have factored into the final decision-making for position and line combinations. But more likely, coach Claude Julien values the Bergeron line as much for their defensive contributions as he does for their offense, and Campbell is a better fit to play bigger minutes in an expanded role.

Spooner, meanwhile, is readying for his first game after a whirlwind few days that saw him called up to Boston two days ago. The 2010 second-round pick is a deft skill player who wouldnt normally be a natural fit on the fourth line, but the obvious explanation is that Julien might be picking his spots with an inexperienced line in a big game.

Spooner played at the Bell Centre against the Canadiens in an exhibition game two years ago. It wasnt a regular-season battle for first place in the Northeast Division, as Wednesday night will be, but at least it broke the ice for him.

I played a preseason game here and it was pretty nuts, said Spooner, who definitely looked a little nervous amidst all the hustle and bustle around him in the visitors dressing room at the Bell Centre on a rivalry game day. The guys have all said that its a great place to play. Im pretty nervous right now, but to play in this rink for my first game is going to be good. Its a couple of Original Six teams that have played each other a lot. Its a great rivalry.

Spooner, Dougie Hamilton, Lane MacDermid, Jamie Tardif and Chris Bourque will all be getting their first taste of the BruinsCanadiens rivalry, and some, like Hamilton and Bourque, will be expected to play meaningful roles. Montreal wonder-boy rookies Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher will also both be taking in the rivalry for the first time.

Julien - who's served as head coach of both franchises -- has a feeling for how it'll play out.

All I can say is that theyll figure it out quickly enough if they dont know whats going to happen," he said.

We have a guy in Hamilton thats been pretty calm through everything and he was in his hometown last weekend when the B's played in Toronto and that didnt seem to bother him. He should be able to handle that well. Weve got a couple of call-ups that are excited to play, and hopefully they turn that excitement into a positive situation.

Theres little Spooner can do to prepare for hopping on the NHL ice for the first time and feeling the electrical current of life rippling through the Bell Centre crowd.

But hell have a new personal best for jumbo-sized butterflies in his stomach once things get moving between the Habs and the Bruins in his first NHL game.

Bruins defense struggles in 5-1 loss to Red Wings

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Bruins defense struggles in 5-1 loss to Red Wings

BOSTON – The Bruins are clearly getting the kinks out a couple of games into the preseason.

The B’s defense struggled all night, and allowed 39 shots on net and five goals in a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden. The loss provides plenty of video material for the Boston coaching staff to look at over the next few days.

The Bruins actually started off well in the opening half of the first period, but then the bottom fell out when they couldn’t cash in on a power play chance. That led to a Ryan Spooner face-off penalty and then the Wings scoring on the power play to get things going. The Winged Wheels then scored on a Drew Miller-to-Steve Ott connection 19 seconds later to double Detroit’s lead, and really showed some collapse for the Bruins group on the ice Wednesday night.

Impressive youngster Austin Czarnik scored in the second period after a nice feed from Ryan Spooner crashing to the net, but that was the lone highlight for the Black and Gold against a Detroit team that was ready to go. Luke Glendening scored on a play right in front of the net in the second period as well, and Anthony Mantha made it a 4-0 lead for Detroit until Czarnik cracked the score sheet with his first goal of the preseason.

Drew Miller added a goal in the third period when Linus Arnesson vacated the front of the net to leave it wide open for the NHL veteran, and that was a pretty symbolic play for a Bruins group that never got a defensive foothold all evening. 

Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

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Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

BRIGHTON -- Tonight’s Bruins-Red Wings game against the Red Wings should be a big chance for training-camp invite Peter Mueller as he readies to skate in a second straight exhibition game after a quiet night in the opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

The former 22-goal scorer with the Coyotes felt he was “solid” and “held his own” while not getting any shots on neta againsy Columbus. The veteran winger feels like he’s again starting to pick up the NHL pace after spending the last three years in Europe, and that’s mandatory to start making plays. 

“It was a good adjustment, but hopefully tonight I show a little more skill, a few more pucks to the net and create some more offense,” said Mueller. “I would rather play in most of the [exhibition] games, to be honest with you, and to get in-game-like scenarios and prepare yourself for each and every game. In my position I’m happy that I’m playing tonight and hopefully I can keep trying to impress the people [making decisions].”

The 26-year-old former first-round pick will be in a favorable spot, skating in a possible third-line, right-wing audition with Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey. He'll also serve as another established player in a more veteran-laden lineup Wednesday night vs. the Winged Wheels at TD Garden. With Frankie Vatrano out for the next three months, these are the kind of chances Mueller needs to knock out of the park if he wants to fend off younger competition for one of those B’s roster spots up front. 

“It definitely favors the type of game I want to play,” said Mueller, when asked about the chance to skate in a spot with Spooner and Beleskey that he would likely fill whre he to crack the NHL roster. “With two skill guys, hopefully we can create some chemistry and some offense early and obviously that helps with the flow of the game. Hopefully I can just showcase my skills and the work ethic that I’m trying to bring to the team. Overall, hopefully we have a good game tonight.”

Sean Kuraly is also playing in his second straight exhibition, and will move over to the left wing skating with Austin Czarnik and left wing Zachary Senyshyn in what amounts to a kid line for the Bruins. One would expect the same goaltending rotation in this game, with Malcolm Subban getting the first two periods and Daniel Vladar getting the game’s final 20 minutes. Here are the line combos and D-pairings according to the rushes during morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:
 
Beleskey-Spooner-Mueller
Kuraly-Czarnik-Senyshyn
Gabrielle-Moore-Ferlin
Blidh-Acciari-Hickman
 
Grzelcyk-McQuaid
Lauzon-C. Miller
Arnesson-Casto
 
Subban
Vladar