Spooner growing into his role with the Bruins

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Spooner growing into his role with the Bruins

WILMINGTON Ryan Spooner was probably the most baby-faced Bruins prospect when he first showed up at the Bruins Development Camp two years ago with Tyler Seguin and Jared Knight, among others.

He looked about 14 years old off the ice. But on it, he dazzled with a skill set and offensive game that allowed him to stick around in training camp until the very last few roster cuts.

Fast forward to today.

Spooner, now 20, still has the baby face, albeit with a touch more facial hair. He's also worked hard to add some muscle to the 182 pounds on his 5-foor-10 frame.

At least hes starting to get a little peach fuzz on his face, said Providence Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. Hes starting to look like a little bit of a man now, so thats the biggest things I noticed about Spoons."

But one thing that remains the same: He still possesses a playmakers creativity and the natural ability to score. Just ask first-round pick Malcolm Subban, whom Spooner has put into the torture chamber of double and triple moves when during penalty-shot drills.

I guess Id have to say Spooner, said a smiling Subban after long moments of hemming and hawing about the toughest shooter hes faced this week. But thats only because he tries so badly to score on me every single time.

That kind of competitiveness in a relatively meaningless prospect camp is music to the ears of the Bruins.

Spooner will be in a group of players battling for the third-line winger position in training camp this fall, along with Knight, Jordan Caron, Chris Bourque and any veterans that general manager Peter Chiarelli brings in between now and September. Spooner might have the longest odds, but thats not a bad thing given the lessons he still needs to master with the Providence Bruins.

Hes already learned one, painfully: Find a safer, smarter way to battle with players who are much bigger and stronger. In a game in Providence last year, he went into the corner battling with a 6-foot-6 defenseman for the puck and got lifted up and tossed into the boards like a ragdoll.

I still have tons of work to do, said Spooner. I have to get much stronger. There are things I definitely still have to work on, said Spooner. I have to be patient. I hope one day to be in the National Hockey League, but I also need to pay attention to the little things that will get me there.

Skill-wise I think I can keep up with NHL players, but the little things and strength-wise adjusting to that kind of game might take some time. Everybody wants to be in the NHL right away, but when youre playing in a great organization like the Bruins, sometimes it takes a little longer.

Still, Spooner has been close to a point-per-game player during his limited time in the AHL and has the kind of offensive playmaking instincts the Bruins desperately need, both five-on-five and on their power-play unit. He needs to master playing away from the puck and tightening things up in the defensive zone, but he might have the highest upside of any forward at this years development camp.

It would be between Spooner and Russian prospect Alex Khokhlachev for those honors, and the young centers passing ability might be what puts him over the top.

Hes very creative, said Cassidy, who ran the development camp practices on the ice this week. He makes some no-look passes that some of the other players on our club just dont have the ability to make; its one of his best gifts.

"The difference I noticed from last spring to the previous one" -- Spooner played three games for the P-Bruins at the end of the 2010-11 season, and five games there last year -- "was his attention to detail. Away from the puck, hes starting to become more of a student of the game.

A year older, he wants to know the position where he needs to be, to have a good stick, and the things that hes going to need to do when the offense dries up in spurts. I noticed that difference about him. He also shoots the puck better than he did the year before.

It sounds like Spooner has his priorities straight as he heads into his first full pro season of hockey, and he has the natural ability to push for a role with the Bruins in the near future.
The marriage of the two should bring Spooner to the NHL level sooner rather than later as his dominating development camp performance shows just how ready he is to graduate to the next level.

Bruins score early, Rask holds strong in 4-1 win over Predators

Bruins score early, Rask holds strong in 4-1 win over Predators

BOSTON – The Bruins needed to follow up last weekend’s win over the Islanders if they truly wanted it to be a turning point, and they followed up in victorious fashion on Tuesday night.

The Bruins scored a pair of goals early and then hung on for dear life behind a strong return effort from Tuukka Rask in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators at TD Garden. Rask stopped 24-of-25 shots for his 34th win of the season and looked both rested and recharged after taking last weekend off from on-ice action.

The win gives the Bruins two in a row, and improves their record under Bruce Cassidy at the Garden to a dominant 8-3 in 11 games.

Patrice Bergeron opened the scoring just a couple of minutes into the game when he knocked home the rebound of a Zdeno Chara point blast from long distance, and scored his 18th goal of the season. Boston’s other frontline center, David Krejci, scored 10 minutes later after taking a slick entry pass from David Pastrnak and beating Pekka Rinne five-hole.

Rask made 15 saves in the first two periods including an excellent stop on Viktor Arvidsson following a David Backes turnover on the half-wall in the second period, but the Preds finally busted through in the final period. Craig Smith tipped home a Roman Josi point shot that squeezed through Rask’s leg pads, and both Rask and the Bruins scrambled and scrapped their way through while clinging to a one-goal advantage late in the game.

A 3-on-1 odd-man rush late in the game led to Riley Nash feeding Rhode Island native Noel Acciari for his first career NHL goal in his 43rd game with the Black and Gold. 

Bruins recall McIntyre on emergency basis, but perhaps not for Rask

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Bruins recall McIntyre on emergency basis, but perhaps not for Rask

UPDATE: The Boston Herald reports McIntyre is with the team as a replacement for Anton Khudobin, who is said to be suffering from a minor injury, and not Tuukka Rask, and that Rask will start as scheduled against Nashville.

BOSTON -- Even though he's been proclaiming himself healthy and able for the last two days, Tuukka Rask may not be as ready to go as everybody thought.

The Bruins announced a couple of hours prior to Tuesday night’s game against the Nashville Predators that rookie goalie Zane McIntyre had been recalled on an emergency basis. He spent the weekend with the team in the same capacity, filling in for Rask while Rask battled a lower body injury.

So the logical assumption is that something has recurred that will prevent Rask -- who on Tuesday night told interim coach Bruce Cassidy he was ready -- from playing tonight.

Rask is 8-8 with a 2.91 goals against average and an .892 save percentage since the NHL All-Star break, and gave up five goals in a loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday night. He missed Saturday's big game vs. the Islanders with a lower body issue that just “popped up.”

We’ll find out for sure during pregame warm-ups, but the only way an emergency recall can be made is if a player is injured or suffering from an illness. Anton Khudobin looked fit as a fiddle while practicing with the Bruins on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, so stay tuned for the latest.