Corvo's style of play a welcomed addition to Bruins

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Corvo's style of play a welcomed addition to Bruins

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON -- Its pretty easy to gloss over the newcomers to this years Bruins team when there are so few of them.

Nearly an entire roster of Bs players are returning this year after winning the Stanley Cup last season, and there has been a great deal of stress placed on the rare continuity enjoyed by the Black and Gold heading into this year.

But there are some new guys, and they are potential difference-makers.

There are plenty of Boston wise guys who would argue anybody with a strong pulse and the ability to breathe without medical assistance would be an upgrade over Tomas Kaberle, but Joe Corvo truly looks like hes going to be quite an improvement over the status quo.

Corvo arrives in Boston with the reputation as a willing shooter with a heavy, dangerous howitzer from the point, and is expected to help make a difference on a Bs power play that bounced between moribund and impotent last season. The 16.2 percent success rate for the power play during the regular season landed them in the bottom third of the league, and it only got worse during the postseason.

In many ways Corvo is actually the polar opposite of Kaberle: A frequent and dangerous shooter with a quick skating stride and the willingness to speed the puck into the offensive zone with his quick bursts of speed.

Hes a good heads up player, said coach Claude Julien. When he does shoot, he doesnt always just aim for the net. He aims for sticks and hes got pretty good vision on the power play. When he gets an opportunity to shoot he doesnt hesitate at all, and I think he will certainly help our power play.

Corvo also has a willingness to mix things up a bit physically in the defensive end a quality that the doughy Kaberle was also a little short on during his time in Boston last season. Julien and general manager Peter Chiarelli were quick to point that Corvo isnt a power play savior and the defensemen himself admits that Juliens zone defense system will take some getting used to this season but watching the newest Bs defenseman zip around with the puck has been a welcomed sight during training camp.

Hes got good skating and a right-handed shot, said Chiarelli. Hes had significant experience on the power play. I preface this by the same comment I used before Kaberle arrived . . . the positives and the negatives of the power play dont rest with one player. That applies here to Joe. It gives us different options with his right shot, and hes got a big shot and there might be a little more speed there. Thats going to help our entries and its a different look.

The Bruins GM thinks team speed has picked up this preseason from where it was last year, and some of that is certainly trading out Kaberle for a nifty skater like Corvo. The retirement of Mark Recchi, who had endless amounts of guts, courage and experience while lacking in the skating speed department, and replacement with Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley on a permanent basis has also certainly upgraded Boston in the speed department.

"I generally think this year that our team is faster," Chiarelli said. "Ive just seen that from the start to the finish of camp. It may be because of Joe and how he plays the game, it may be more of a contribution from Seguin or it just may be a collective mindset that is carried over. I think youll see that in the power play also.

The proof will be in the pudding, of course. But theres every change that Corvos arrival, Seguins emergence and Peverleys presence will make the Bruins both a more dangerous power play squad and a faster attack.

As we all know speed kills in the NHL, and Corvo and the Bruins seem to have a lot more of it.

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

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.