Notes: Kampfer sees his playing time dwindle

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Notes: Kampfer sees his playing time dwindle

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

VANCOUVER It appears Steve Kampfer might be on the outside looking in for the time being.

The 22-year-old defenseman was a healthy scratch Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames, and Claude Julien may stick with that lineup against the Vancouver Canucks this weekend.

Were not going to rotate defensemen just to rotate. Theres a young player going through some growing pains, just like everybody else, said Julien of Kampfer. Hes struggling a little bit as of late with moving the puck and losing some battles.

Every once in a while those guys go through the growing pains, and youve got to take a step back with them, let them watch and then work harder in practice to get better in those areas. When youve got 22 players somebody has got to sit out, and right now were going with some of the experienced players. I thought Johnny Boychuk was going through the same thing a little bit, but then against the Flames I thought he found his game . . .

"Eventually those guys recapture their game through hard work, and through the competition part of it guys will get better. Were hoping thats what happens with Kampfer.

Kampfer has 4 goals and 5 assists along with a plus-10 for the Bruins this season, and has been a rookie revelation as a puck-moving defenseman capable of playing 20 minutes, manning the power play and filling an important role for the Bruins.

But he has only a single assist in his last 12 games and is just a plus-3 over that span. His ice time has been scaled back to under 20 minutes in each of his last five games.

All that preceded the healthy scratch against the Calgary Flames.

While it was clear the arrival of All-Star defenseman Tomas Kaberle was going to reduce Kampfers role, the Bruins are going with the six veterans as defensemen and looking for more experienced blueliners via free agency and trades.

Shane Hnidy was given a tryout Wednesday morning, and there have also been some discussions with other teams.

Credit Kampfer for keeping quiet and simply working hard, especially after the difficult experience of being scratched in his Detroit homecoming against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

But its uncertain when hell again crack the Bruins lineup.

An injury could potentially open things up for Kampfer, but hell still need to prove to the coaching staff hes not stuck behind a rookie wall while coping with the travel rigors of pro hockey for the very first time at the NHL level.

It could be a combination of things. Number one, hes in a different schedule now than what he was used to last year, said Julien. Its his first full season and at the same time hes a first-year player. Early on he was thrown into a situation where we needed him to a puck-moving defenseman, and he provided us with that.

Sometimes things eventually catch up to you a little bit, and you hit that little bump in the road. Right now, where he has a chance to get better is in the mental challenge part of staying with it and working hard and working your way out of it. That will make him a better player down the road. Youve got to make sure you dont push yourself out and get discouraged, and instead take a positive approach and say youre going to work your way out of it. That will make you a better player.

Its clear the coaching staff wants to see more out of Kampfer, but its not clear at all when the young standout defenseman will get his next chance outside of practice.

Milan Lucic had a large contingent of Vancouver reporters around him following practice on Wednesday morning as he held a press conference announcing that his number with the Vancouver Giants (No. 27) will be retired in the Ring of Honor along with other standouts in the Giants franchise.

Its a fitting honor for a Memorial Cup champion that also garnered MVP of the tournament in his final year of junior hockey, but its also something that truly humbled the ever-modest Lucic.

The two years with the Giants was somewhere that I could develop and got me to where I am now, said Lucic. Its an honor to be honored by the Giants, and its something Im really looking forward to.

In celebration of the honor, Julien instructed Lucic to take a victory lap around the ice waving to imaginary fans in the stands as his Bruins teammates clapped, hooted and chanted MVP to celebrate their teammates accomplishments four years ago. Lucic said it all brought back memories of the last time he played a game on the Pacific Coliseum ice while capturing the Memorial Cup back in 2007 before he made the difficult jump to the NHL.

All Bruins players were healthy and accounted for at Bostons practice at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, and there was the distinct sense of lightness and good humor in the air as the Bs buzzed through more than an hour of work on the ice.

Julien had a little fun with the Vancouver media group when the subject came to Tim Thomas, and the season hes been enjoying thus far this season.

Hes . . . ah . . . struggled, said Julien with a smile on his face before giving a serious answer. No, hes played well. His season has gone a lot like last night. Hes been fabulous when weve needed him to be fabulous, and hes having a very good season.

Andrew Ference made the Darth Quaider nickname and T-shirts something of a sensation last week when he donned one in the Bs dressing room at Ristuccia Arena. Adam McQuaid enjoys the nickname and said he got all kinds of text messages from friends and family about the T-shirt last week but also sheepishly admitted that hes never seen the Star Wars movies that the nickname is based on.

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.