Bruins getting gritty on faulty power play

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Bruins getting gritty on faulty power play

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON The Bruins are 0-for-13 on the power play dating back to the Saturday afternoon when Marc Savard went down in Colorado, and those adjustments along with Jordan Carons role within the lineup became very clear after Tuesdays practice at Ristuccia Arena.The Bruins moved Mark Recchi to the point of the top power-play unit with Zdeno Chara on the other side. Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic were camped down low, with David Krejci working the half-wall position normally occupied by Savard.The second unit had a very different look with Dennis Seidenberg and Steve Kampfer working the points, and both Brad Marchand and Gregory Campbell joining Michael Ryder off the half-wall.
The point, according to coach Claude Julien, was to add some grit and toughness to the power play while also placing Recchis calming influence at one of the point spots on the top PP unit.Its a function of still trying to make our power play better, said Julien. While our last game was one when you could say you werent pleased with the power play, we had a hard time getting it into the zone and we lost our share of battles once we did get it in.Weve kind of tweaked our personnel around and hope that we get better in that regard. Thats something that since the beginning of the year weve really been working hard to turn around to make it better. We put a plan together, but you have to make sure if youre one of our best players that youre at your best.The Bruins are tied with the Ottawa Senators for 20th in the NHL with a 16.8 percent success rate on the power play, and its seemed that all year the man advantage has had problems achieving consistency and at no point has really felt like a dangerous unit ready to strike at any second.With that in mind, it appears Julien is taking a bit of the roll up the sleeves approach and will instead put a couple of grinders out on the second PP unit to force the puck into the net rather than try finessing it in.
Conspicuous by his absence on either power play unit is Nathan Horton, who only got some PP time in practice when Johnny Boychuks chip attempt caught Bergeron in the chin.Were one of those teams that continue to work on that part of the game, said Julien, who admitted that the Bruins will open Wednesdays game vs. Montreal with the PP alignments from practice. What you saw is something youll see. Maybe we need a little bit more grit and a few more shots from the back end and maybe itll work with that.We feel like weve had some issues taking pucks off the wall near the blue line and making plays under pressure, and Recchi is one of those guys thats been pretty good in that area the few times weve used him there. If we dont try it, then well never know.Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

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.