Morning Free Association, September 1
The Center Cannot Hold

Is David Backes really going to center the third line this season?

On Tuesday, Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs joined the Jimmy Fund Radio telethon. While talking with WEEI folks, he began to crow about the Bruins’ depth of center: “We’ve got Bergeron, [David] Krejci and Backes as our first three centers. Think about that […] I don’t know if there’s a team in the Eastern Conference that is [as] three-deep at center.”

This goes somewhat contrary to conventional wisdom concerning the Bruins’ lineup.

Projected Bruins Forward Lines (“Conventional Wisdom”, August 2016)
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — David Backes
Matt Beleskey — David Krejci — David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano — Ryan Spooner — Jimmy Hayes
Noel Acciari — Dominic Moore — Riley Nash
(Tyler Randell)

Most expectations were that Backes – who is a natural center but has also played on the right wing – would play a role on the top-6, as a wing to to either Krejci or Bergeron.

The most obvious interpretation of this quote would be to suggest that Backes would be the full-time center of the 3rd line, displacing Ryan Spooner. This begs the question of ‘what happens with Spooner?’. Typically when an NHL roster has an extra centerman, the odd-man-out is asked to play on the wing. The most obvious reinterpretation would essentially swap the two players.

Projected Bruins Forward Lines (“Updated Projection”, September 2016)
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Ryan Spooner
Matt Beleskey — David Krejci — David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano — David Backes — Jimmy Hayes
Noel Acciari — Dominic Moore — Riley Nash
(Tyler Randell)

Spooner has played on the wing in the past, but did not excel in that role. Also, he was used as a left wing, since he is a left-handed shooter. Backes is a right-handed stick, who plays the right side when he plays wing. Ostensibly, this is a poor role for Spooner, even though right wing positions would be open, with only David Pastrnak and Jimmy Hayes in place. On the left side, he would be in competition with more established lefties Brad Marchand & Matt Beleskey, and the up & coming Frank Vatrano.

DJ Bean discusses the matter here. Bean suggests that a possible plan would be to have Spooner & Backes working together on the 3rd line, swapping between center and wing depending on which zone the play is in. On the surface, this might make sense – the two players have skill sets which seem very complimentary. Backes has been known to throw a hit on occasion, while Spooner will usually shy away from contact. Backes is defensively sound, while Spooner still struggles in the defensive zone. For his part, Spooner has the speed to move the puck in transition – speed that Backes lacks, and Spooner generates more scoring opportunities than Backes does. However, even in this scenario, the RW/LW issue remains open. It would be difficult to manage a line where a player swaps between left wing in one zone and center in another, if their line mate swaps between right wing and center. You cannot accomodate both – someone somewhere would be forced to play radically out of position, on his off-hand.

This leaves open a third option. Would the Bruins try to trade Spooner? Spooner is a fairly talented player with decent upside potential Given the availability of Moore, Acciari, and possibly Vatrano as bottom six centers, in addition to Backes, would the Bruins be looking to trade Spooner as part of a package for short-term help in the form of a defenseman? And would Spooner be a big enough piece to attract such a trade? It seems like a stretch.

Of course, maybe this is all nonsense and Jacobs was speaking generally without putting a lot of thought into it or getting input from Don Sweeney & Claude Julien – but one would assume that Jacobs is in the loop about how the team plans to use a player they just signed for a large contract.

About IntentionallyWidenberg

Position: Left Wing. Occupation: I am the Egg Man. Contrary to popular belief, I am not the Walrus.
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carvinbass18
Editor

I cannot stress this enough. Working in the ink lab on production items is just about the worst thing we do in this facility.

DrHandgrenaid
Editor

Hello All. So I ratted out one prospector this morning for digging a trench that was only a metre wide and up to 3 deep without shoring the walls (and being overhung in places) and then agreed to show another around one of his one claims that he has not yet visited next week (but where I spent a decently sized portion of my field season.

So yeah prospectors and such and so on. 4 day weekend starting tomorrow, including my buddy’s cottage near Annapolis Royal, so thats cool.

Long-Winded Striped Mofo
Member
Long-Winded Striped Mofo

Good on you! Everyone knows your trench should be a METER wide, not a metre.

phonymahoney
Editor

Bean suggests that a possible plan would be to have Spooner & Backes working together on the 3rd line, swapping between center and wing depending on which zone the play is in.

I think we spoke of this quote a bit here when we first signed Backes.

UnstableElement
Member
UnstableElement

Good morning!

I’ve been pulled into a customer meeting twice in two days. I surprisingly haven’t fucked that up yet.

Long-Winded Striped Mofo
Member
Long-Winded Striped Mofo

Good Morning All!
Place is nearly ready for the weekend. Everything looks great (if I do say so myself, which I just did). Mowing today, fluff and buff tomorrow.
Double header again tonight. Last night the games were easy.
I’ve been practicing the kayak roll almost every day for the last three weeks. It’s getting solid!
I finally got the english translation of La Casa Verde (the green house) out of the library. I read up to the point I’m at in the spanish copy…. nope, I didn’t miss anything. This book sucks bilingually.
Coffee, yeah I’m thinking second cup, followed by seltzer.
How y’all doin’?

Satan 81's Sister
Editor

Hehehehehe. “Fluff and buff”

Satan 81's Sister
Editor

Morning all. Got stung by a wasp this morning. Waiting for the Epi Pen effects to wear off before heading to work.

phonymahoney
Editor

comment image

OUCH

Satan 81's Sister
Editor

Double ouch. Got stung on the back of the thigh. Epi Pen on side of the thigh. My thigh hurts.

UnstableElement
Member
UnstableElement

So I take it you don’t want to clear the nest in my yard?

Glad you are OK.

Long-Winded Striped Mofo
Member
Long-Winded Striped Mofo

A friend just paid $175 to have a white faced hornet nest poisoned. They wanted another $50 to remove it. I am in the wrong business!.

the german hammer
Admin

That sucks.

Satan81
Admin

I vote for a moratorium on the Oprah-bees gif.

Satan 81's Sister
Editor

Thanks for the Epi Pen!

Satan81
Admin

You’re most certainly welcome! Talk about uncanny timing!

Satan 81's Sister
Editor

I’m hating it so much that mom gets to say “I told you so.”

phonymahoney
Editor

hahahahah

phonymahoney
Editor

Good morning, pals!

Stuff and things:

  • I have been semi-MIA. I still love you guys, I’ve just been busy and also sad about no hockey.
  • I’ve been getting a lot of reading done, and I have some fiction recommendations: The Goldfinch, The Power of One, Everything I Never Told You, Three Daughters. Of course, The Kite Runner and anything written by its author (Khaled Housseini) is pretty excellent as well.
  • That’s all I have for the B2B literacy segment.
  • Illiterate punkasses!
  • No attention span, I’ve been typing this for at least an hour.
  • Today is my Friday. Off til Tuesday!
  • If the B’s do the right thing and have him play wing with Acciari and Nash, then I really like the Dominic Moore move.
  • Long-Winded Striped Mofo
    Member
    Long-Winded Striped Mofo

    We are pretty literate punkasses to be honest.

    Long-Winded Striped Mofo
    Member
    Long-Winded Striped Mofo

    Agreed on Dominic Moore.

    Satan81
    Admin

    With Krejci being questionable for the World Cup, perhaps he won’t be 100% for the start of the NHL season, either. Backes might see time at center no matter what.

    MadScientist72
    Member
    MadScientist72

    And, of course, there are the omnipresent DK trade rumors, usually from people talking out the wrong end of their digestive tract

    carvinbass18
    Editor

    Agreed. I expect to see Backes play center even when everyone is healthy too, but to pen him in like that at 3C just doesn’t make sense. One of the big reasons Sweeney said he signed him was the flexibility he brings. To pay your 3C 5 million dollars a year would be bad cap management for him to just sit in one spot. The only reason I think he stays at that spot is if Spoons gets moved (which I don’t)

    Satan81
    Admin

    Yeah, unless we’re getting a 2nd-pair d-man in return, I don’t see the Bruins moving Spoons. Even then, I don’t see the B’s moving the good-and-yet-somehow-inexpensive center given the cap situation after this season. The situation with Spoons appears to point towards “bridge contract”.

    carvinbass18
    Editor

    You can listen to the rest of Torey Krug's segment on the latest Scouting Post 3 Amigos podcast: https://t.co/yxQXvJe0Ih

    — Kirk Luedeke (@kluedeke29) September 1, 2016

    Kirk and the three amigos are back. Good stuff

    The Once and Future Bagel Bruin
    Member

    I’m probably the only one that cares, but

    TODAY IS THE START OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON!

    phonymahoney
    Editor

    comment image

    The Once and Future Bagel Bruin
    Member

    LETS GO VOLS!

    (and Wake Forest)

    Long-Winded Striped Mofo
    Member
    Long-Winded Striped Mofo

    I think that’s LETS GO VOLES!

    Satan81
    Admin
    Satan81
    Admin

    WOOOOO!!! OHIO STATE 60 – OBERLIN 3!!!!!!!

    wpDiscuz