Krecji's injury forces shuffle of top line

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Krecji's injury forces shuffle of top line

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON The Bs top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton heard the faint calls for something fresher after three straight stale performances to start the season.

But the Bruins forwards are preaching patience and more importantly so is the coaching staff after a Columbus Day wakeup call against the Colorado Avalanche.

Coach Claude Julien was perplexed enough that he hinted there might be a breakup of the underperforming line after they were shut down once again this time against an Avs bunch that scored their only goal while Lucic, Krejci and Horton were all out on the ice.

Krejci's knee injury, suffered Tuesday in practice, will force the shuffle that Julien talked about; Tyler Seguin will move up to the No. 1 center slot. But before Krejci was hurt, he and Lucic and Horton were on the ice early Tuesday morning at Ristuccia Arena, trying to regain that feel they lost somewhere along the way.

Still, felt like more patience should be showed to a group of forwards that led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals before Horton was lost to a Game 3 concussion.

I think its too early. Obviously if things keep dragging on then its time to make a change, said Lucic, who has six shots on net and six registered hits in the first three games this season. But right now we have to bring the right mindset to our game and the rest will take care of itself.

We dont want to have any excuses. We just went out there to pass the puck around, shoot it and have some fun. We kind of wanted to get the fun back into it and enjoy it again. Thats all we were trying to establish. We just want to enjoy being back out there, get the frustration out and play exactly the way that we want to play.

In his talk with media Tuesday, Julien backed off his edgier comments about Lucic and Co. that he made Monday in the immediate aftermath of the 1-0 loss to the Avs. He hoped pride would kick in a little bit.

Its a line that isnt clicking on all cylinders, but were just three games into the season, said Julien. Its getting better, but theyre a work in progress. If we start panicking three games into the season then were really in trouble.

Theyre going to be good players for us and theyll find their game. Theyve been good for us and theres no reason to think they wont be good players for us again.

With Seguin now temporarily filling in for Krejci at the top pivot position, its even more incumbent upon Lucic and Horton to elevate their game with a new guy skating in between them.

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.