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Goucher Says Don't Blame Claude Julien For Delay In Ryan Spooner's Promotion

BOSTON (CBS) - 98.5 The Sports Hub's Fred Toucher and WBZ's Dan Roche (filling in for the under-the-weather Rich Shertelieb) had on the voice of the Bruins Dave Goucher ahead of Tuesday night's big game against Florida.

Boston has been up-and-down all season long, and with a marginal lead in points for the final playoff spot in the East, Dan Roche is concerned the B's might not give a full 60-minute effort tonight at TD Garden.

Goucher doesn't care if it looks pretty or not. He's just looking for results at this point in the season with only six games remaining.

"It's dangerous at this point in the year to be critiquing wins. They've got to get as many points in the bank as possible here. You would expect them to come out and play real well," Goucher said of Boston's compete level. "They had a chance a week and a half ago to really put Florida away and they lost in a shootout down there. So this is an enormous chance for them tonight to put Florida six points back."

A week ago Boston was unable to control their playoff destiny, but earning five out of six points in a three-game stretch vaulted them back into the NHL playoff picture.

"It looks a lot better now than when we talked last week. It looked pretty bleak. The Bruins had come off a rough stretch and a rough road trip, but now they've put together five out of six points and Ottawa has lost three in a row. It's a great opportunity [tonight] for the Bruins to better solidify a playoff spot."

NESN's Billy Jaffe said it yesterday and Dave Goucher made the same point today, reiterating the fact that David Krejci is not a right wing.

Since returning from injury after missing 15 games with a partially torn MCL, head coach Claude Julien has gone with Krejci on the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, because the first line of Milan Lucic, Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak really flourished in his absence.

Tickets are going on sale Friday, so the Bruins have no choice but to make the postseason. If that's the case, Goucher expects Krejci back in his normal centerman role soon.

"I think at some point you've got to see Krejci back at center ice. I just think he's too valuable to the team to not have him play down the middle," Goucher said of the 28-year-old. "So then the question is who moves out? I guess maybe a conventional thought is you move Carl Soderberg to a wing and put Krejci and [Loui] Eriksson [with him]. The problem with that is Soderberg is much more comfortable in the middle of the ice, so I'm not sure how that would work. Before it's all said and done, and it could be as soon as tonight or maybe Thursday in Detroit, I do think you see Krejci back in the middle of the ice."

One reason for Boston's recent turnaround is the play of the aforementioned Spooner.

The forward began the season in Boston and lasted just five games before being sent down to the Bruins' AHL affiliate in Providence, often criticized for his inability to play two-way hockey, specifically in the defensive zone.

But since being called up to Boston after the injury to Krejci in mid-February, the 23-year-old has accounted for 15 points in 18 games on the team's most productive line.

Many are wondering . . . what took so long? Why wasn't Ryan Spooner playing regularly with the team all season?

"They didn't, frankly, feel like they could trust him. That was an issue last season a bit and it was an issue earlier this season. He played early because Gregory Campbell was hurt, he played early because Krejci was hurt, but once those two players were healthy again I don't think they felt Spooner was ready -- I don't think Spooner would tell you he felt like he was ready."

Since his mid-February call up, Spooner is averaging only 15:19 minutes of ice time because Julien has been picking ideal matchups for he and David Pastrnak to have success, and so far so good.

"If they score two but give up three then that kind of defeats the whole purpose," said Goucher. "I know that Pastrnak has put up some good numbers, and Spooner has led the team in goals since getting called up last month, but there are points in games where they have to kind of camouflage some of their weaknesses defensively on that line. They want players to be responsible on both ends of the ice."

There's this notion out there that Claude Julien doesn't like young players and guys who are just purely goal scorers, but Goucher believes that notion is false.

"The Bruins were a top five team in goals scored three of the last four years. It's not like Claude Julien and his staff want to win every game 1-0 or 2-1 -- that hasn't been the case and the numbers bear it out. This year has been a different story. They've had trouble scoring. It's been good to see these guys come up. More than anything I think they've infused the team with some energy and offense, but at that other end there are still issues."

The main point here is that you shouldn't blame the head coach for the delay in Ryan Spooner's late-season promotion, because most of it lies with the player himself not being ready.

"To me, I put a large degree of that on the player."

Listen below!

Hear every game of the 2014-15 Boston Bruins season on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the Boston Bruins. Pregame coverage with Dave Goucher and Bob Beers begins 30 minutes prior to every game!


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