Boston Bruins: New Look Lines Include Spooner On Wing

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins are experimenting with some new-look lines that include Ryan Spooner on the 4th line as a winger and not a center.

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  • The Bruins finished off their game against the New York Islanders with Ryan Spooner skating on the fourth line alongside Jonas Kemppainen and Tyler Randell, and that appears to be the line they will be rolling out to start on Tuesday against the Arizona Coyotes. The third line consisted of Zac Rinaldo, Chris Kelly, and Jimmy Hayes to finish off the Islanders game, and that line also appears to be intact, although Matt Beleskey also skated alongside them in practice on Monday. The top-six forwards still consisted of Loui Eriksson on the left side of David Krejci with David Pastrnak flanking the right, and Brett Connolly remaining alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

    Head coach Claude Julien discussed putting Ryan Spooner on the fourth line and at the wing position: “I think (Spooner) excelled where he was last game and managed to score and get an assist,” Claude Julien said after the Bruins practice on Monday. “We’re looking at, again, what’s best for the team, and right now, what are the best line combinations, And trying things in practice: it doesn’t mean it’s going to be like that (Tuesday night). It could, or it may not be, we’re just doing our jobs here.”

    Ryan Spooner didn’t seem to have any complaints, and seemingly understood exactly why he was being placed on the wing. I haven’t been awesome in my own end,” Spooner said “so I think to get moved to the wing, it kind of takes a little bit of stress off of me”

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    Claude Julien seemed to justify the change even further by referencing other centers who the Bruins have utilized on the wing “I think the main thin is, and I’ve said it all along, centers can play wing.” Julien continued by saying “I’m not sure how many wings can play center. So, that’s the luxury that we’ve always had. Kelly’s played the wing for a long time. Talbot was basically a centerman as well. We’ve got a lot of those interchaneable parts, so we’re trying to take advantage of it.”

    The Bruins might not use Ryan Spooner on the fourth line or on the wing for long, if at all, but it’s still something worth monitoring moving forward. Spooner has always been criticized for his defensive awareness and accountability which is always enough to cancel out a players offensive-output in the eyes of Claude Julien, and this demotion of sorts will hopefully take some stress off of Spooner as he continues to learn the ins-and-outs of playing hockey at the NHL level.

    Based on the lines at practice, the projected forward lines for the Bruins game against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night should be as follows:

    Loui ErikssonDavid KrejciDavid Pastrnak
    Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronBrett Connolly
    Matt BeleskeyChris KellyJimmy Hayes
    Ryan Spooner – Jonas Kemppainen – Tyler Randell

    It remains to be seen how long Spooner will skate in a fourth line role for, but the change to the wing could be long-lasting if the results continue to be positive, as they were in the latter stages of the Islanders game.

    Follow Brandon Share-Cohen on Twitter @BShareCohen to discuss all things Bruins and sports

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