Boston Bruins

Local boy Lucic stars in 3-1 win over Canucks


Local boy Lucic stars in 3-1 win over Canucks

By Joe Haggerty

VANCOUVER The prodigal son returned, and he showed his fellow Vancouverites just how good hes become.David Krejci created the goal by driving to the net and carrying a Vancouver defender with him, and Milan Lucic fought off an uncalled interference on Sami Salo to the get to the front of the net and pound home the reboundof a Dennis Seidenberg shotfor his 27th goal of the season.That score gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead late in the third period, and gave Vancouver native Lucic the NHL hometown moment he's dreamed about his entire life. An empty-net goal by Patrice Bergeron, assisted by Lucic, gave the Bruins a 3-1 win over the Canucks in a playoff-atmosphere at Rogers Arena, and capped off whats been an unforgettable homecoming in Vancouver for one of its favored sons."That's almosta perfect ending to a perfect couple of days in Vancouver for myself. From start to finish it's been a hell of an experience," said a beaming Lucic. "It was great to see the whole team battle all night, and get the win."How many times had Lucic imagined in his East Vancouver backyard that he'd someday put away a game-winning goal in an NHL game at his home rink?"Thousands and thousands and thousands," said Lucic. "You remember playing hockey in your backyard here, and scoring big goals. Those type of things. Being able to play and get a big game-winner in front of your friends, family and a lot of Bruins fans that were in the crowd tonight is a great feeling definitely."Lucic held his hands upward for a mini-celebration after the score, and once again showed exactly why hes got the reputation as a big game player during his time with the Bruins. Lucic finished with a goal and assists in the 3-1 win, and hoots, hollers and shouts of celebration could be heard in the B's dressing from the entire Lucic family celebrating in an adjacent room.
The Canucks got the better of the first period, outshooting the Bruins and taking a narrow lead on a Manny Malhotra goal while an army of Vancouver forwards crashed the front of the net.In a game that had a playoff feel to it, that was a postseason kind of a goal to be sure.
The Bruins stormed back with a strong second period that culminated in Nathan Hortons fourth point in the last four games. Tomas Kaberle started the play off and earned his first point in the Bs uniform with a long shot off the back boards that Milan Lucic corralled into a follow shot. Horton twice fought off Mason Raymond in front of the net for rebounds, and the second one beat a butterfly-found Roberto Luongo.

Patrice Bergeron added the empty-netter for the Bruins with little more than a minute remaining to ice a big "measuring stick"victory for the Black and Gold. Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Spooner deal represents his last chance with Bruins


Haggerty: Spooner deal represents his last chance with Bruins

The Bruins and Ryan Spooner wisely came to a contract agreement on a one-year, $2.825 million deal just prior to the start of Wednesday’s arbitration hearing. Don Sweeney hasn’t yet taken a B’s player to arbitration during his three years running the Black and Gold, and it could have grown unnecessarily contentious with a player like Spooner if they’d been forced to point out his flaws as a player in the uncomfortable setting of an arbitration hearing.

“It’s a fair deal for both sides in our opinion,” said Spooner’s agent Murray Kuntz to CSN after the one-year contract had been agreed upon. 

Now that Spooner has been signed to the one-year deal, it represents the last chance for the 25-year-old to show some growth as a player if he wants to be a member of the Bruins for much. Spooner has averaged 12 goals and 44 points over the last two seasons as Boston’s third line center, and has amassed 35 PP points while serving as the trigger man on Boston’s power play from the right-side half-wall. 

But he dropped from 49 points two seasons ago to 39 points last year, and didn’t exactly flourish under the more offensive-minded coaching of Bruce Cassidy. 

Spooner is an excellent special teams player and has been one of the key ingredients in Boston finishing with the NHL’s 7th ranked power play in each of the last two seasons. But he tailed off badly late last season after suffering a concussion, and showed so much tentativeness in his overall game that he became a healthy scratch by the end of Boston’s first round playoff series against the Ottawa Senators. Spooner also continues to sit under a 40 percent success rate in the face-off circle, and shows little consistent interest in winning one-on-one battles anywhere along the ice.

The work on the draws is something, in particular, that comes down to hard work and diligence at practice, and should be an area Spooner can become at least average while practicing every day against a face-off maestro like Patrice Bergeron.  

All of this might be easier to overlook if he consistently utilized his excellent skating speed and considerable skill level to create offense during 5-on-5 play, but that hasn’t been the case enough over the last couple of seasons. A one-year deal for $2.85 gives Spooner one last opportunity to show some growth in those areas with the Bruins, and if he doesn’t then it should be fully expected the Bruins will rekindle trade discussions around Spooner. 

His situation is unmistakable: Spooner isn't going to be a top-6 center with the B's because Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are firmly entrenched at this spots, and Spooner really doesn't have the right skill set to be a fourth line center. So it's third line center or bust for Spooner as the internal competition grows around him. 

Spooner is now 25 years old and should no longer be viewed as a young player that’s still in the development phase. He should be close to a finished NHL product, and may not get demonstrably better in any area of his game if he doesn’t show it this upcoming season. He was one of the main pieces discussed when the Bruins talked trade with the Minnesota Wild prior to them dealing Marco Scandella to Buffalo, and there is clearly trade value for the former second round pick. 

But the Bruins also have a potential third line center replacement in Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson after signing him out of Boston University at the end of last season. Forsbacka Karlsson may need some AHL time to start this season after looking overmatched in his only NHL appearance late last season, but he’s the eventual two-way center replacement for Spooner in the long term. 

Forsbacka Karlsson may not be as fast or as flashy as Spooner, but he projects to be better on draws, better at winning battles and puck possession and better at being more difficult to play against while boasting his own set of offensive skills. 

It’s now up to Spooner to win that training camp competition with Forsbacka Karlsson for his current third line center position, and protect his own spot on the B’s roster by playing like his very job security depends on it. If he doesn’t show that kind of urgency and hop to his game right from the start of training camp, then it’s only a matter of time before he becomes trade fodder at a salary cap number ($2.825 million) that should be easy to move.

It’s no hyperbole to say that Spooner is entering his final chance with the Black and Gold after avoiding arbitration, and it’s wholly up to him to dictate exactly how long it lasts for.   

Morning Skate: Markov's time with Canadiens likely up


Morning Skate: Markov's time with Canadiens likely up

Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading while once again shaking my head reading the news headlines this morning. 


*Congrats to FOH (Friend of Haggs) Aaron Portzline, who is another esteemed hockey writer joining up with The Athletic’s Cleveland bureau


*Eric Engels says that the Habs signing Mark Streit to a short term deal means that Andrei Markov’s time in Montreal has come to a close. 


*The writers for the Pittsburgh Penguins have provided what they call “an Intimate Portrait” of Sidney Crosby from his closest boyhood friends. 


*Longtime NHL head coach Bruce Boudreau is trying something a little different out as an owner of a junior hockey team. 


*The Nashville Predators are expecting a decision to come soon on Mike Fisher as to whether or not he’s going to keep on playing in Music City. 


*Sounds like Mika Zibanejad is going to be filling a No. 1 center role for the New York Rangers after signing a big contract with the Blueshirts. 


*For something completely different: Jay Baruchel is looking to revive the Canadian superhero scene after growing up with Captain Canada and Alpha Flight.