Ryan Spooner’s second career NHL game will be one to remember.
The 21-year-old center will line up Tuesday night between wingers Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, replacing the injured David Krejci (knee) in what amounts to his biggest opportunity at the NHL level to date.
“We’re giving him an opportunity to be a real good centerman playing between some really good players,” Boston head coach Claude Julien told CSNNE.com. “He’s a great play-maker, so it’s a great chance for Spoons to take and we’ll see how it works out.”
Spooner, Boston’s second-round pick (45th overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, is having a stellar season with AHL Providence, leading the team in points (45) and assists (33).
He’ll get a chance to reprise that offensive role with the Bruins. Horton sits third on the team in goals, with eight, while Lucic sits third on the team in assists, with 13.
Spooner made his NHL debut back on Feb. 6 — a 2-1 win over Montreal — but played sparingly, getting just eight shifts for 5:29 of ice time. He only played two shifts in the second period and just one in the third (which was a mere 29 seconds long).
Julien wasn’t promising much more than an opportunity for Spooner this time around, and said he wasn’t married to keeping the former OHL scoring sensation with Lucic and Horton all night.
That said, expectations are high.
“If it’s not working out then we can make some changes,” Julien said. “But we’ve seen him enough to think he’ll be a good fit there.”
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.