Boston Bruins

Notes: Rookie Hamill settles in

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Notes: Rookie Hamill settles in

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON After failing to register more than a blip on the radar screen in his first game with the Bruins this season, rookie Zach Hamill looked a lot more at home creating and playmaking in Bostons 8-6 win over the Canadiens on Wednesday.

Hamill finished with 14 shifts and 10:30 of ice time, but found himself on a shortened bench during the third period as Gregory Campbell starting taking shifts with Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder. Hamill did make some plays, though, and get himself noticed in a positive way. His sweet backhanded pass through two Canadiens defenders to a wide-open Ryder set up his first goal of the night in the second period, and showed exactly what Hamill is capable of as a 22-year-old rookie.

Hamill is being given an audition to see what he can at the NHL level while the Bs sit Tyler Seguin as a healthy scratch, and theres certainly some promise and potential there at the center spot.

He made some good plays. On that goal obviously, I think it was Michael Ryders goal. He made another pass later on, I think it was between Looch Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, said coach Claude Julien. He made some good plays and thats what his game is all about. Hes a smart player and hes a great passer, hes always been known as a great playmaker and he showed some of that tonight.

Hamill wasnt out there at the end of the game not shocking given Juliens system of using players at the end of games that he feels most comfortable with but there was more than enough to warrant a few more looks at what the former 2007 first round draft pick can bring to the Bruins. Ryder can be one of the most misunderstood players on the Bruins when he's going through one of his dry stretches in the goal-scoring department, but Wednesday night's 8-6 win over the Canadiens wasn't one of those nights.Ryder scored a pair of goals and showed some instant chemistry with Hamill while demonstrating exactly what makes him so valuable: the right wing shows up at the most important times and is one of those players who rises to the level during the postseason. Ryder snapped an eight game goal-scoring drought against his former team and looks ready to embark on a hot streak for the B's."I think its been a while since I scored and I was getting some chances," said the ex-Canadien. "But tonight it finally went in. It took me two tries on one power play to get the second goal, but I think I have success when Im skating and working hard just keep doing that and Ill find the back of the net again."The Bruins scored their two first-period goals in a span of 12 seconds (13:16 and 13:28). That matches their fastest two goals in a row this season, first accomplished on Jan. 10 at Pittsburgh in a 4-2 win. It's also the fifth time the Bruins have scored two goals in 15 seconds or less: including games against the Penguins and Hurricanes. The line of Milan LucicDavid KrejciNathan Horton exploded against the Canadiens on Wednesday night, and finished with three goals, 8 assists and a plus-15 between the three forwards in the 8-6 win. The five points for Horton were a career-high, and Lucic extended his career-best mark in goals by potting his 22nd and 23rd goals of the season and Lucics sixth goal in the last nine games after a long cold spell in December.

We knew we could be a threat every time we went on the ice and that is what we have kind of talked about as a line yesterday, said Lucic. We wanted to be that threat and you know get in there and play with that emotion. We wanted to be the guys that coach counts on, and so its definitely great that we had a game the way we did. We have to keep pushing it and keep getting more.
Shawn Thornton had no opinion about the four-game suspension for Matt Cooke after he charged Columbus BlueJacketsdefensemanFedor Tyutin, and looked like he was hoping to avoid the entire conversation about the Pittsburgh rabble-rouser."I don't give an expletive about that," said Thornton. "I haven't seen it and I don't plan on seeing. He hasn't pulled any of that stuff against our team this year."

The win was Juliens 300th game as coach of the Bruins, which puts him at seventh on the Bs all-time franchise list.

Johnny Boychuk was playing in his 100th career NHL game, and ended the night with an absolute beatdown of Jaroslav Spacek with less than a minute to go in the third period.Carey Price allowed a career-high eight goals in the loss to the Boston Bruins.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Spooner deal represents his last chance with Bruins

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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

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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.