WINNIPEG, Manitoba — On Tuesday, following the Bruins’ morning skate at MTS Centre, David Krejci shuffled to the team bus. Krejci walked with a slight limp, favoring the right leg he injured when Johnny Boychuk cracked him with a puck on Sunday.
Ryan Spooner, meanwhile, was walking on air.
The rookie, recalled on an emergency basis Monday, started Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss to the Jets in Krejci’s usual spot: between Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton.
In 15:29 of ice time, Spooner had two shots and went 4 for 8 on the draw. Spooner also saw 3:34 of ice time on the power play. Spooner seemed at ease with his top-six role.
“The nerves weren’t there as much tonight,” Spooner said. “When I played in Montreal, I was definitely feeling it.”
Spooner was buzzing during the morning skate even after a grueling travel day. Once Spooner got word of his recall, he traveled to Boston for a flight to Toronto. Spooner’s first flight was delayed by approximately three hours. The Toronto-to-Winnipeg leg was also delayed. Spooner didn’t leave Toronto until after midnight. The 21-year-old didn’t arrive at the team hotel in Winnipeg until sometime after 3 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Spooner, one of the team’s two second-round picks in 2010, projects to be a top-two NHL center. As a first-year pro, Spooner is leading Providence in scoring. In 50 games, Spooner has racked up 12 goals and 33 assists. He has the speed, hands, and hockey sense to become a dependable NHL playmaker.
“We’re giving him the opportunity, being a real good centerman, to play with some good players,” said coach Claude Julien. “He’s a great playmaker. I think it’s a great opportunity for Spoons to take. We’ll see where he goes with that.”
Tuesday was Spooner’s second career NHL game. He made his debut against Montreal on Feb. 6 at the Bell Centre. The Bruins needed Spooner to replace Brad Marchand, who was unavailable because of an upper-body injury.
Against the Canadiens, Julien promoted Gregory Campbell to the second line to replace Marchand. Spooner centered the fourth line between Lane MacDermid and Jamie Tardif. Spooner played only 5:29 in the 2-1 win, including 1:33 on the power play. Spooner had one shot and lost all four faceoffs.
“The first game, I was definitely really nervous,” Spooner said. “Even when I started in the American Hockey League this year, I was pretty intimidated there for a little bit. But once you get comfortable with it all, it’s a lot easier.”
This time, the Bruins needed Spooner to assume a more prominent role. Krejci, second on the team in scoring entering the game, is day-to-day. The team also is without No. 3 center Chris Kelly because of a broken left tibia.
The Bruins could have shielded Spooner by placing him between Jay Pandolfo and Jordan Caron. Rich Peverley could have taken Krejci’s spot between Lucic and Horton.
But Spooner doesn’t project to be a bottom-six forward. He is at his best playing with skilled players. So against the Jets, Spooner found himself on the power line. Spooner also saw time on the No. 2 power-play unit, manning the right side of the umbrella formation.
“If it doesn’t work out, we can always make some changes,” Julien said. “But we’ve seen him play enough that we know he can probably be a good fit there.”
McQuaid leaves early
Adam McQuaid skated only two shifts for 0:56 of ice time before suffering an injury to his left arm in the first period. McQuaid was injured when Eric Tangradi checked him into the end boards. McQuaid used his left arm to brace his fall.
McQuaid dropped his stick and tucked his left arm into his side as he skated to the bench. Trainer Don DelNegro looked after McQuaid on the bench for several minutes. But during a stoppage at 5:04 of the first period, McQuaid retreated to the dressing room and didn’t return. His status is unknown.
McQuaid missed last Thursday’s win over Florida because of an undisclosed injury.
With McQuaid out early, the Bruins had to lean on their other defensemen. Dennis Seidenberg led all players with 27:57 of ice time. Zdeno Chara was on the ice for 26:51.
Krejci hits the bike
Krejci has been riding the stationary bike, according to Julien. The Bruins have not determined whether Krejci will be available against Ottawa Thursday. “He’s been biking, so things are looking better,” Julien said . . . MacDermid and Aaron Johnson were the healthy scratches . . . Seidenberg led all players with five shots on goal . . . The Bruins were 0 for 4 on the power play. They managed just four shots total during the eight minutes of one-up play . . . Blake Wheeler halted the Bruins’ successful penalty-kill streak. The Bruins had killed off 27 straight penalties before Wheeler’s power-play goal in the third period . . . The Bruins traveled to Ottawa after the game.