Bruins easing Spooner into first night festivities


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.

Saturday, Oct. 22: Coyotes' growing pains


Saturday, Oct. 22: Coyotes' growing pains

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while suffering from the same “general soreness” as Tuukka Rask.

*The Arizona Coyotes are suffering from growing pains that were extremely evident during a winless road trip.

*Steve Dangle is obviously jacked and pumped about his Maple Leafs, but wondering about the future of Roman Polak. But aren’t we all at this point?

*Old friends Johnny Boychuk and Dennis Seidenberg both scored the victorious Islanders in a Friday night win.

*Clarke MacArthur isn’t ready to retire even as concussion issues are really starting to impact his ability to stay on the ice.

*Teemu Selanne gives fellow Finn Patrick Laine a thumbs up as he was in town for events with his former Winnipeg Jets.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the details on noted Bruins killer Dale Weise getting suspended for three games after some dirty activity with the Philadelphia Flyers.

*For something completely different: Geoff Edgers has been trying to reach Bill Murray for weeks, and here’s what happened when he finally called back.


Bruins looking for a lift from stagnant power play


Bruins looking for a lift from stagnant power play

BRIGHTON, Mass. – One area where the Bruins are looking for more after a mostly positive first four regular-season games: the power play.

The B’s are a downright gross 1-for-14 on the man-advantage to start the season and were 0-for-4 on Thursday night while squeaking out a last-minute win over the New Jersey Devils. The early-season 7.1 percent success rate doesn’t have them last in the NHL, but only the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames have performed at a lower PP clip.

It’s a subject that Claude Julien knew was coming from the B’s media, and so he was ready to answer for it ahead of Saturday night’s rivalry renewal with the Montreal Canadiens.

“I knew it was just a matter of time before that question came. It is what it is. I think we had some opportunities, but we haven’t finished,” said Julien. “At the end of the day our power play is judged by whether you score or not, and I thought our second period [vs. the Devils] wasn’t great. But our third period had some really good power plays, but we didn’t manage to score.

“Where we need to get to right now [on the power play], is to find a way to finish. There’s no doubt the absence of Patrice Bergeron there brings somebody else in, and maybe there’s not as much chemistry as we’re used to. But I think with him back now we can even be better, and get a little more movement…not be so stagnant. When we struggle a bit it’s because we’re a little stagnant, and we need to get a little better there.”

Quite a bit of the struggles go back to Bergeron missing the first three games of the season and the top power-play unit missing No. 37 from his trademark bumper role at the center of the PP action. The power play remained scoreless as the unit adjusted to Bergeron's return on Thursday night, but it seemed that things started to click a little bit as that game went on.

“It’s not moving right now. We’ll just work through it. There were times last year where it let us down, and there were times last year where it helped us through some tough moments,” said Torey Krug of the PP. “Right now we’re able to play through it, but at some point this team is going to need this PP to step up and score some goals. We rely on that, and the guys on the power play take a lot of pride in it.

“[Bergeron] does a lot of things for us. Instead of me having to go all the way to the other end to break the puck out where I’m losing 20 seconds and frankly it’s tiring to break the puck out, now we have him winning face-offs and we’re starting with the puck in the zone. That’s a big thing, and he collects puck like nobody else in the league. With him back on the power play it brings another important player to the forefront, but it’s a five man unit and when everything’s working out there [on the PP] we have a good unit.”

Now with Ryan Spooner expected to rejoin the B’s lineup, after being healthy scratch vs. New Jersey, that adds another dangerous power-play weapon that practiced with that unit on Saturday morning ahead of the traditional morning skate. The hope is that installing Bergeron and Spooner will help kick-start a special teams unit that’s been less than explosive, and not quite cohesive, in the first four games of the season.