Morning Skate 32: A deeper look at the B's

Morning Skate 32: A deeper look at the B's

By Joe Haggerty

BOSTON Happened upon an interesting Twitter conversation this morningwith uber-hockey columnist Justin Bourne, who pops up on Yahoo! Sports, The Hockey News, USA Today and many other fine publications with his bang-on and amusing hockey observations.I was throwing out the scenario that the Eastern Conference was wide open for the taking with the situations developingon many other contending teams around the Bruins. I say "wide open" in the sense that its anybodys playoffs, with each team harboring at least one major weakness and a playoffpath could be open for a long, bountiful run like the one undertaken by the surprising Montreal Canadiens last spring.I say wide open with the full-well notion that the Flyers have a monstrous positional player roster with some very suspect goaltending until proven otherwise. The Penguins have no Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, and no shot without both of them working together as a duo. The Capitals have been a mess all year, have choked in the playoffs multiple times and were looking at Bs castoffs like Dennis Wideman and Marco Sturm as part of the solution. Color me not impressed after they needed 26 minutes out of Wideman in his first night suiting up for them.The Tampa Bay Lightning have a young team in playoff terms with little real experience beyond Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Dwayne Roloson.Beyond those five teams (including the Bruins), its a mess of mediocrity in the East.The one thing that Boston has over every single other team: the best goaltender in the NHL (who's also motivated to see how good he can be as the candle begins flickeringat 36 years old) and a great deal of impressive depth fortified by the deals for Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly.The Bs are top five in goals for, top five in goals against, the best team in the NHL in the third period and boast a physical edge with good size and strength. The one thing they dont have: a game-breaking scorer. Its the point smartly brought up by Bourne in the conversation, and its altogether true.There is no CrosbyMalkin, ZetterbergDatsyuk, ToewsKane on the Bruins, and thats the hurdle Boston will have to clear in any manner of Stanley Cup run. It could certainly be done, but itll be in a different way of winning (Charlie Sheen trademarked)than weve seen out of the last handful of Stanley Cup champions, dating back to the Carolina Hurricanes.What the Bruins dohave is the right combination of depth, physical, hard-nosed players with the right amount of skill -- and emerging young players that could both surprise and wear down opponents in the playoffs. Just ask the Canucks or Flames if you're looking for testimonials.Either way its going to be fascinating to watch in the conference with a ton of parity among the top five seedsOn to the links: Heres FOH (Friend of Haggs) Justin Bourne on his eponymous blog dissecting the Bruins with 19 games to go in the season, and liking what he sees. Elliotte Friedmans always anticipated and always celebrated 30 thoughts for the week including some reasons for the dud of a trade deadline. Mike Milbury on NBCs Pro Hockey Talk choosing the winners and losers at the trade deadline, and certainly insulting someone in the process. A good look at the Bemidji State hockey program for all of my Minnesota readers out there. Do I have any Minnesota readers? Guess well find out. Michael Russo with an excellent piece on the Nystrom brothers, and their hockey legacy. On Frozen Blog gives us a peek at the Washington Capitals and some fresh now things hes seeing from the Caps in a largely stale hockey season. Dustin Penner likes what hes of the Los Angeles Kings, and in theory he should be a nice fit as a big-bodied forward to pair with Anze Kopitar. A double-dose of Elliotte Friedman this week as Ive also included a fascination sleep study that some NHL teams are enrolling in, and the results that could change plenty within the game of hockey.Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Spooner responds positively to healthy scratch


Spooner responds positively to healthy scratch

BOSTON -- It wasn’t perfect by any means, but Saturday night represented a step in a positive direction for Ryan Spooner.

The 24-year-old speedy forward was scratched for the home opener against New Jersey in classic message-sending fashion by Bruins coach Claude Julien, and deserved it based on a passive lack of production combined with some costly mistakes as well. So he stayed quiet, put in the work and then returned to the lineup Saturday vs. the Montreal Canadiens where he scored a power play goal in the 4-2 loss to the Habs at TD Garden.

“He was better,” agreed Claude Julien. “He was better tonight.”

Spooner could have had even more as he got a couple of great scoring chances in the first period vs. Montreal, but Carey Price was able to turn away a couple of free looks at the Montreal net. So the Bruins forward felt he possibly left points on the ice after it was all said and done, but also clearly played his best game of the young season after going from the press box back to the lineup.

“Yeah, I had like maybe four or five [chances] that I could have scored on,” said Spooner. “I’ve just got to bear down on those [scoring opportunities], and a lot [of them] in the first period. It’s good that I’m getting those looks, but I have to score on them.

“I’m just going to go out there and just try to play. I can’t really think about [fighting to hold a spot]. I’ve just got to go out there and try to play, I guess, the game I can and try to use the speed that I have.”

The Spooner power play strike was a nifty one with the shifty forward and David Backes connecting on a pass across the front of the net, and the young B’s forward showing the necessary assertiveness cutting to the net from his half-wall position.

Spooner had five shot attempts overall in the game, and was one of the few Bruins players really getting the chances they wanted against a pretty effective Montreal defensive group. Now it’s a matter of Spooner, along with linemates Backes and David Krejci, scoring during 5-on-5 play and giving the Bruins a little more offensive balance after riding Boston’s top line very hard during the regular season’s first couple of weeks. 

Sunday, Oct. 23: Hall fitting in with Devils


Sunday, Oct. 23: Hall fitting in with Devils

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while waiting to find out which Walking Dead character got brained by Lucille in last season’s cliffhanger. I’m going with Abraham.

*The SI roundtable talks about the future of Jacob Trouba, and where he’ll end up going when his current situation resolves itself.

*P.K. Subban is apparently getting very comfortable in Nashville, and enjoying life in a city with NFL football.

*Fun conversation between Yahoo’s Josh Cooper and Brad Marchand about a whole range of random topics.

*A cool father-son story where they became the goaltending tandem for the Ontario Reign through a series of dominoes falling after Jonathan Quick went down with injury for the Los Angeles Kings.

*Pro Hockey Talk has Taylor Hall serving as exactly what the New Jersey Devils have needed for the last couple of years.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Shaughnessy says that the MLB playoffs couldn’t have played out any worse for the Boston Red Sox.