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Bruins 5, Senators 0: The Ryan Spooner Game

Ty Anderson
December 30, 2017 - 10:30 pm

Ryan Spooner has had a target on his back since he walked through the NHL’s doors.

Sometimes it’s been from the fans that believe he’s too small to make an impact as an NHL center. Spooner is obviously built more like a Marc Savard than a Patrice Bergeron. Sometimes from his coach -- first Claude Julien, a coach that seemed to borderline dislike and want to minimize Spooner as much as possible by the end of his tenure in Boston, and now Bruce Cassidy -- who believe he’s too much of a defensive liability for certain situations (anything close to a late-game defensive-zone or lead-protecting situation).

But every time you seem ready to write the 25-year-old off, which most were when Spooner's early season was obviously limited by a lower-body injury and moved him out of his comfort zone yet again, it seems that the mercurial forward comes through with a game that reminds you why he’s here in the first place.

Saturday’s 5-0 blowout win over the Senators was your latest example. (For a complete recap of the Black and Gold’s sixth win in their last seven games, click here.)

And with center David Krejci back in action for the first time since Dec. 16 (he’s missed the last six games with a back injury), it came with Spooner moved out of his natural center position and back on the right wing, too. At this point, Spooner moving to the wing seems as natural as his hip-shifting dekes through the neutral zone, sure, but that’s been to the left side. This was just his fourth or fifth game on the right side.

It didn’t matter.

Spooner opened the game’s scoring with a first-period power-play goal, scored the B’s third goal on an unassisted block-and-go, and drew the penalty that led to a Krejci power-play goal that made it 4-0 and by all means buried the Sens through 40.

It was an action-packed night that saw Spooner finish with a season-high six shots on goal (only one of his seven attempts failed to land on goal), along with 17:07 of time on ice, which ranks as his second-highest mark of the season. And on top of everything there, Spooner remained true to his NHL paycheck, with a noticeable impact on the power play and on the ice for two of the B’s three goals on the man advantage.

It’s all in line with Spooner’s recent surge, which now boasts a stat line featuring two goals and seven points in seven games since returning from a lower-body ailment. The entirety of which has come somewhere on the club’s second line, be it as a left or right wing, or in the middle between an all-speed line with Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork.

That kind of impact is obviously needed -- even with the club’s third line skating with their heads on fire and the all-world first line of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak expected to dominate on a nightly basis -- especially when you’re talking about a line that’s missed its biggest weapon (Krejci) for large chunks of the season.

It also goes a long way when it comes to establishing expectations for a line that has gone through changes since Day 1, due to either injuries or inconsistencies. 

And why it’s never safe to scoff at the idea of the impact No. 51 can have for this team.

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