Since being drafted exactly three months ago, 18-year-old Ryan Spooner has been enjoying the ride with the Boston Bruins throughout the Rookie games against the N.Y. Islanders, training camp, and now some preseason action.
“It’s exciting to go out there and the building’s packed and really loud.” said the Bruins’ 2010 second-round pick, 45th overall, after last night’s 3-2 SO loss to the Florida Panthers. “Hockey’s great [in Boston] It’s really fun to play here.”
Spooner was the No. 1 star of Boston’s second rookie game against the Islanders, when he potted two goals for the Black and Gold, including the overtime breakaway winner to give the B’s the 2-1 victory.
Last night, in defeat, Spooner logged just over 12 minutes of ice time against the Panthers in front of 15,000-plus fans at the TD Garden. Lined with Max Sauve in the middle and Jordan Caron on the far wing, Spooner also added three shots on goal and a couple of hits.
Standing just 5-foot-10 and 175 lbs., Spooner definitely lacks the size of your average forward in the NHL. But one thing the Kanata, Ontario, Canada, native possesses is a tremendous amount of speed, and the offensive abilities that are as good — if not better — than anyone on the team. Spooner, who has 49-63-112 totals in 109 games with the OHL Peterborough Petes, still sees the major differences between the Juniors, and the NHL level.
“Everything — time and space — you don’t have much of it.” said Spooner. “You’ve got to make decisions quick, and when you have a shot you have to take it. There’s no such thing, really, as deaking two guys like you can in Juniors, you get the puck you get it on on net.
“Pretty much the size and speed of everyone.”
The Bruins went up 2-0 on the Panthers early last night in the preseason home-opener in Boston, but Florida bounced back in the third period to tie it up, send it to overtime, and ultimately the shootout.
Shooter No. 2 for the Bruins: Ryan Spooner.
Well, I think we did a little bit of it yesterday [at practice], and he scored two out of three times in some nice goals, and, again, tonight, I thought he made a great move.” said head coach Claude Julien of Spooner’s participation in the shootout.
Spooner took the puck in past the blue-lines way to the left of Florida’s net-minder, Scott Clemmensen. The Bruins center deaked Clemmensen blocker side, but couldn’t lift the puck over his pads at a yawning net.
“The goaltender made a great job of sticking his pad out. But he’s one of those skilled little players that can do that.” said Julien. ” At the same time, we put Bergeron in to start, but we also wanted to give some young guys an opportunity here. This is what this is all about. This is where you try them out, and you know at the end of the night, it’s not really going in the regular season standing. So I want to see more and certain guys we know what they can give us on those shootouts. It was an opportunity for [Spooner].”
With the speed and offensive threat to his advantage, Spooner is still working hard at his face-offs (went 2-for-5/40% tonight) — and with the tutelage of Julien — his defensive game.
“I thought the games I’ve played I played pretty good defense — covering for the defensemen when he pinches. I guess in Juniors you don’t have to do as much because the guys aren’t as fast. You have a couple extra seconds. But here, I felt like I’ve been playing pretty good D.
“He’s [Julien] been helping me out in practice and showing me little tips and he’s been great.”
Being 18-years-old and just two season completed in Juniors (OHL), Spooner is not eligible for the AHL Providence Bruins. But can either, 1. Head back to the Peterborough Petes of the OHL before the start of the NHL season; 2. Get inked to full-time NHL duties; or 3. Play nine “tryout” games in the NHL with the Bruins, then get assigned back to the OHL.
Last night, the Bruins cut Yuri Alexandrov and Sauve to Providence, making the Bruins roster now at 33 players. I’m opting for option No. 3 from above.
“We’ve got some, unfortunately, tough and quick decisions to make here before we go to Europe.” said Julien. ” We certainly don’t want to bring 30-something players. We’d like to bring it down below 30, and only the players who decide how hard they want to make it for us.”
After practice on Friday, Julien had this to say about Spooner:
“He’s one of those players that has really impressed me with the fact that he’s got unbelievable hockey sense. Sometimes you get a player that has a lot of talent and a lot of skill, but the little details of the game, he still has to figure out.” said Julien. “This player to me, has already got it figured out. He’s an extremely smart individual, and he does little things right now that sometimes it takes us 2-3 years to really teach one of our players at this level, and that’s something he’s really got going for him right now that is really impressive, to my eyes anyway.
“You get excited about certain things you see in players, and that’s the one thing that psyches me about Spooner is his unbelievable hockey sense.”
Something tells me, after his stellar outings this preseason, that it’s going to be hard not to include Spooner in that mix of sub-30 players.