BOSTON – Earlier in the day, Bruins coach Claude Julien all but guaranteed Chris Kelly would be back in the lineup when the B’s dropped the puck with the Florida Panthers tonight at TD Garden. So it was no surprise when the third-line center was activated off the injured reserve on Tuesday afternoon, and both Zach Trotman and Ryan Spooner were sent back down to the Providence Bruins in corresponding moves.
Spooner, 21, has appeared in 22 games with Boston this season, racking up 11 assists with a plus-six rating. In total, the forward has played in 28 NHL games for Boston (2012-14). He tailed off a bit at the end of his first extended NHL stint with two assists in his last eight games, and was scratched in his last couple of games with Boston while battling a flu bug.
While Spooner clearly would have loved to stay at the NHL level, there are still lessons to be learned in the AHL, where his quickness and playmaking abilities still need to be complemented by more physical strength, polish work in the faceoff circle, and continued diligence in the defensive zone.
Trotman has appeared in a couple of games with the Bruins this season, but wasn’t required for the Black and Gold’s lineup once Dougie Hamilton returned from his mild concussion.
Kelly has been out since Dec. 7 because of a broken right ankle suffered on a Pascal Dupuis slash in an eventful win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, but has been practicing with the team for the last couple of weeks. It will be interesting to see what he can do skating on a third line with the Swedish connection, Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson, both of whom have been heating up in the last couple of games. The two Swedes both scored goals in Monday night’s win over the New York Islanders.