Haggerty's Bruins-Jets preview: Stay on the gas

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Haggerty's Bruins-Jets preview: Stay on the gas

For the Bruins, it will be about keeping the foot on the gaspedal as they prepare for an afternoon matinee on Martin Luther King Dayagainst the Winnipeg Jets, who are coming off a loss in their home opener.
TheJets are expected to once again be a fringe playoff team in the EasternConference this season, so it would be natural to think the Bruins might nothave the same kind of opening night adrenaline they had against the Rangers. If mental mistakes and aching bodies were going to begin tohave a negative effect, Mondays setting against Winnipeg at home would be the timeit to rear its ugly head. The Bruins are mindful of any lulls in their game aftergenerally struggling in day games over the last few seasons. Youve just gotto do your job and worry about preparing yourself, said Johnny Boychuk. Itwas a good first game against the Rangers, but you need to be ready to workhard to get that second win.Theres littledoubt former Bruins players Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart will also continue toput their best foot forward against the team that dealt them away for RichPeverley in the midst of a Stanley Cup run. That will be part of the backdropfor a game that should start to look, feel and sound like business as usual aseverybody begins to get used to the NHL being back. One thing werefocusing on is consistency, said Daniel Paille. With last year not making theplayoffs and opening up with a home loss, Winnipegis definitely going to be ready. Wheeler and Stuart have been very goodover there and they usually have a lot of adrenaline for us. We need to beready for that and not take it too lightly.PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: Old friend Blake Wheelerentered this season with high expectations as a budding power forward in Winnipeg, but he didntmaterialize in the Jets loss to the Senators on opening night. The 26-year-oldfinished with 17 goals and a career-high 64 points for the Jets last season,and he was looking to build on that this season. Instead Wheeler logged 17:34 ofice time and finished with just one shot on net along with a minus-2 as hisline couldnt keep the puck out of the back of the net. In general, the entireJets team should be playing with a burr under their saddle after losing a 4-1decision to Ottawain front of their home fans on Saturday afternoon. DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Just being backwas so nice. I think its going to be pretty easy to keep it going. We havesuch a good team and our fans are great. Especially at home its nice. Id playagain today if I could because we had so much fun. Nathan Horton, who shouldbe ready to go Monday afternoon against the Jets if hes ready to play everyday. KEY MATCHUP: The Ottawa Senators were able to strike out anddo damage against the Blake WheelerBryan LittleAndrew Ladd on Saturday nightwith a couple of goals against them, and it should be interesting to see howClaude Julien exploits that with the last change at TD Garden. With that inmind dont be surprised if the Bruins coach throws Tyler Seguin, PatriceBergeron and Brad Marchand out against that trio to neutralize them defensivelyand exploit any shortcomings in the defensive zone. STAT TO WATCH: 10. That's the number of consecutive home victorieson TD Garden ice that the Bruins hold over the WinnipegAtlanta franchise thatdates back to Dec. 31, 2007. INJURIES: Dennis Seidenberg will miss today's game with a lower-body injury. Also, Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome) is expectedto miss the season and be placed on long term injured reserve. GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask will follow up on hissolid 20-save season debut against the Rangers with the matinee game againstthe Jets. With a schedule that tapers off slightly at the beginning ofFebruary, it makes sense for the Bruins to ride Rask in the early going as theylook for a good start to the season. But its also slightly surprising thatthey didnt want to work Anton Khudobin into a Monday afternoon matinee thatsusually tailored for a backup goaltender. For the Jets Ondrej Pavelec isexpected to man the pipes after giving up four goals to the Ottawa Senators inSaturday nights opening loss.

Spooner working on his draws to help become a more complete center

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Spooner working on his draws to help become a more complete center

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Ryan Spooner quickly ticked off face-offs as one big area that needed improvement headed into his second full NHL season with the Bruins and the speedy young center has most definitely put in the work thus far in camp.

Still, it didn’t translate in Spooner’s first preseason game in Wednesday night’s lopsided loss to the Red Wings as he finished 4-for-16 on the draw, and to add insult to injury: he also served a two-minute minor penalty for a face-off violation that led to a power-play goal. 

The skilled center made up for it at the other end by setting up a score for fellow speed-demon center Austin Czarnik as Boston’s only goal, but he was again back out on the Warrior Ice Arena sheet working on his draws again Thursday.

“I wasn’t great on my face-offs [against Detroit] trying to cheat a little bit too much. I think I just need to maybe just bear down a little bit more,” said Spooner, who finished at a very lackluster 42.8 percent success rate on face-offs last season. “[I need to] not try to win them clean, maybe just tie them up a little bit more. I was just trying to cheat on those [face-offs], and it didn’t work.”

Clearly, the draws were a contributing part of the problem in the rough loss to the Red Wings and it’s something Spooner will need to iron out before he’s fully trusted by the coaching in the nitty-gritty situations late in games. That was obvious at times last season. It’s something Spooner wants to change this season when there’s so much competition at the center spot, with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, David Backes, Dominic Moore, Noel Acciari, Riley Nash and Czarnik all considered natural centers.

“When you start with the puck then the game is so much easier,” said B’s assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “For Spooner [face offs] are important. I don’t want to speak for Claude [Julien], but he does have the luxury now of playing Spooner with guys that can take draws in his place if he wants to go down that road.

“At some point he’s going to have to improve [on the draw]. I think he wants to [improve on the draw] and he’s working at it, but the numbers aren’t where they need to be for him obviously. That’s the challenge Claude has going forward, but I think he can still get out on the ice and help you, even if he’s deficient in the face-off circle, and if he has some wingers that can help him.”

Spooner has employed veteran center Moore to give him some pointers while the two have worked out together in training camp and, in theory, it should be a big help for the young third-line center. Moore is one of those trusted veterans that is used in key face off situations with positive results, and is a left-shot player who can show the 24-year-old the exact techniques to help him.

Spooner said that getting face-off tips from Bergeron or Krejci had a limit to its helpfulness because those are right-handed centers doing the absolute reverse technique that a left-shot center would employ. Moore downplayed his role as a bit of a face off mentor, but the statistics, and his reputation on the draw would indicate he’s got plenty of knowledge to offer a second-year player.

“There are a lot of little things in the game, face-offs being one of them, that you learn through experience, and you want to try to pass it along to help make the team better,” said Moore. “[Spooner] is eager to try and improve a little bit every day. Part of face-offs is trying to get an edge any way that you can because they’re such a hotly contested thing.

“It’s definitely not easy, but if you have the right mentality then you try and build it up. You just have to approach it on a daily basis, commit to it and try to improve as best you can.”

Like so many things in life it would seem face-off ability is about putting in the work as much as it’s about natural-born skill and Spooner is putting in the hours to be a more complete center and trusted part of the team.

 

Bruins set roster for tonight’s preseason game in Detroit

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Bruins set roster for tonight’s preseason game in Detroit

The Bruins' lineup for Friday night’s preseason game in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena against the Red Wings will include players from both practice groups filling into a more veteran-laden B’s lineup in Motown.

The Matt Grzelcyk-Adam McQuaid pairing that wasn’t great on Wednesday night will get right back into it, and the John-Michael Liles-Brandon Carlo pairing that was so good on Monday night will get another look as well. Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Anton Khudobin, Dominic Moore, Joe Morrow, Riley Nash and Ryan Spooner will be the established NHL veterans along with McQuaid and Liles suiting up for Boston’s first road exhibition of the preseason.

Here’s the entire lineup, with Boston now serving as one of the last NHL teams that is yet to make any cuts from their camp roster: Matt Beleskey, Anton Blidh, Brandon Carlo, Colby Cave, Peter Cehlarik, Brian Ferlin, Alex Grant, Seth Griffith, Matt Grzelcyk, Jimmy Hayes, Danton Heinen, Anton Khudobin, Jeremy Lauzon, John-Michael Liles, Zane McIntyre, Adam McQuaid, Dominic Moore, Joe Morrow, Riley Nash, Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Spooner.

The Bruins will be traveling to Philadelphia for another preseason game on Saturday and that may perhaps be the first time B’s fans get to see returning World Cup veteran players David Backes, David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask after they began practicing with the camp group on Thursday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.