(Source – CSNNE.com) – WILMINGTON, Mass. – While Brett Connolly migrated from the Bruins third line once Brad Marchand went down with an injury, that hasn’t stopped a slow start for the three forwards that started the season together on the third line. Ryan Spooner, Connolly and Jimmy Hayes have combined for zero goals and zero points through three games, and have an aggregate minus-14 rating with just eight shots on net.
Those numbers don’t lie. They’re putrid. Brett Connolly was brought in to help shore up the right wing situation. Jimmy Hayes “came home” to replace the passive and disengaged Reilly Smith and create space and havoc in front of the net. And Ryan Spooner was to continue his upward trajectory between those two after a great partial season in Boston last year. It hasn’t gone that way at all.
One other statistic that should be thrown into the mix that the CSNNE article didn’t mention is that Ryan Spooner is only 38% in the face-off circle. He’s just getting dominated by the opposing center. Which means sixty-plus percent of the time that unit lines up for a draw they’re starting that shift, or a portion of that shift, without possession. Spooner is now a -4 through the first three games. Last season in 29 games total he was a +2.
It goes to show you how much a great preseason, which their line had, really doesn’t correlate to the regular season. That being said, they can’t get any worse. If they were slow starters but the Bruins were 1-2 overall and lost a couple tight ones it would just be the “give them a little time” excuse and we’d wait until game ten to worry. But because of the disastrous start their woes have been compounded and put under a spotlight. Urgency is at a premium right now.
The third line is capable of really doing some nice things this year. Last season the third line of Chris Kelly, Carl Soderberg, and Loui Eriksson just didn’t have it offensively and it hurt the Bruins. This years trio is much better together and much more suited for the role. Tonight in Colorado is the night when they will be effective.
It’d be pretty nice, and ironic, to see Spoons have a good night in the face-off circle against the aforementioned Carl Soderberg, and turn one of those draws into the third line’s first points on the board. Because time is not on their side and they have to get it going.