Belichick making the most of time during the bye

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Belichick making the most of time during the bye

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick reiterated the importance of using time during the bye week, not just for rest or a chance to re-charge batteries, but to find out what can be done to improve the Patriots going forward.

"I think its important for all of us to use whatever time we have efficiently," Belichick said Thursday. "Whether thats a regular week or a bye week, we have so many hours in the day, so many days in the week leading up to the game and those are all opportunities. Each day, each hour, theyre all opportunities to do the right thing whether it be preparation or physical rehab or rest or nutrition or whatever it happens to be.

"We try to make the most out of each of those opportunities, all of us -- players, coaches, rookies, veterans, long weeks, short weeks, off days, work days, whatever they are, we just try to get the most out of each day. Thats how we approach it is day to day. How do we get the most out of each day? Its important, of course its important. Every day is important."

Though Belichick said that the Patriots are not necessarily focused on how things are tracking in the long term -- "We just take it one game at a time, and right now were just trying to get ready for Buffalo" -- he did stress the importance of using the extra time they have this week to go back and look at different elements of his team's play so that the coaching staff might identify ways to be more successful going forward.

"That involves a lot of things," Belichick said. "Its plays, its techniques, its schemes, its maybe style of play, if you will, personnel groups, all those kind of things so we try to stay on top of all that . . . After youve had a number of opportunities to observe it, youve run it multiple times then you have a fair evaluation.  You say, OK, weve run this play a bunch of times, these same problems keep coming up. Or this is the issue in this play, we have to change this. Not that we havent had experience with those plays before, but again it just gives you sometimes a chance to study it in a little bit more detail."

Details are the key. After the team identifies the areas in which it can improve, decisions have to be made as to how much time is allotted to each.

Take New England's pass defense as an example. It has allowed more plays of 20 yards or more than any other team in the league. Belichick admitted that it has to improve in that area. And while all areas of the pass defense can be addressed -- pass rush, pass coverage, scheme -- there will have to be decisions made as to which elements will get the most time. Even with the week off, there's only so much time in every day.

"I think thats a big part of what were doing right now," Belichick said. "Were looking at a lot of things; we have a few of balls in the air. When they come down, well have to figure out what the information is and whats the most important thing and how do we best utilize our time, our practice reps, our preparation time. How do we get the most out of that? Its still part of the process for this week. Weve done some of it but theres definitely more to go, and we continue to prepare for Buffalo. Thats all part of it, too."

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

BOSTON – Facing Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook with a fully healthy squad is tough. 
 
Doing so without your leading scorer makes the challenge all that much greater. 
 
That is where the Celtics find themselves heading into Sunday night’s game against the Thunder without Isaiah Thomas, who did not travel with the team when they left for Oklahoma City today. 
 
Boston’s leading scorer this season with 26 points per game, Thomas suffered a right groin injury against Houston on Dec. 5 and has missed the Celtics’ past two games because of it. 
 
He was hoping to convince Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to let him travel with the team, but Thomas acknowledged convincing Ainge was a long shot. 
 
“He’s not really in favor of me going,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “I’m trying to convince them to let me go. If I’m there, they know I’m going to try and play. I’m shooting for Wednesday [at San Antonio] for the most part. That’s more realistic than Sunday. Hopefully I can play on Wednesday.”
 
Boston has split the two games with Thomas out, beating the you-know-what out of Orlando 117-87 on the road, but dropping one at home 101-94 to Toronto on Friday night. 
 
As disappointed as Thomas is with not being able to play – it’s the first games he has missed since the 2014-2015 season – he understands the potential problems that could surface with an injury like this if he and the Celtics aren’t careful. 
 
“They keep wanting to be very patient with this,” Thomas said. “They don’t want to re-injure it. It is an injury that can get re-injured and be a problem the rest of the season. I don’t want that. On top of that, it gives me time to heal all the other injuries I have.”
 
Among the other injuries Thomas was referring to, is a still-swollen finger on his left (shooting) hand. 
 
The injury was believed to have happened on Nov. 12 against Indiana. 
 
While it was painfully sore, it didn’t seem to be an issue in Boston’s next game against New Orleans when he scored a season-high 37 points. He followed that up with a 30-point performance in a 90-83 win over Dallas.
 

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins mixed things up with their roster a bit on Saturday after dropping a couple of games in a row to Washington and Colorado. 

Fourth-line energy winger Noel Acciari and playmaking forward Danton Heinen were called up from Providence and will be in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Saturday night. 
Acciari went to Providence the past couple of days to get some game action in after missing the past month with a lower body injury, but clearly showed he’s ready to go. 

So, Acciari is back to provide the same hard-hitting and energy he showed before he was hurt and Heinen is looking to show off a little more offense than in his first stint with the Black and Gold this season. He’ll be featured in a top role as left wing with David Krejci and David Backes and with marching orders to shoot the puck like he never shot it in his previous stint in Boston. 

For the Bruins, it’s about getting another look at a candidate to play left wing beside Krejci with both Ryan Spooner and Tim Schaller, with limitations to their respective games, unable to fully grasp that same opportunity. 

“My hope is that Heinen can come in and give us some good hockey. He’s a skill player and he’s been down there for a while, and he’s back up again because he’s been playing well,” said Claude Julien of the Bruins rookie, who had four goals and seven points in his past five games with Providence. “Hopefully he can play well here also. It’s about getting some confidence. When he went down to [the AHL] the pace of his game had to get a little bit better, and in the battles coming up with the puck along the walls. Those are the kinds of things we thought he could work on down in Providence.”

Heinen knows he needs to shoot the puck a bit more to show off his offense after a seven-game stint with the Bruins where he went scoreless, was a minus-2 and had just six shots on net.

“Being hard on the walls, playing fast and shooting the puck, those were all things I was working on [in Providence],” said Heinen, who has seven goals and 13 points in 13 games for the P-Bruins after being assigned to Providence. “I was doing what they told me to do [in Providence] and that’s shoot the puck. They were going in, and I was getting some good opportunities on the power play. It’s seriously tough to get chances [at the NHL level], so you can’t pass them up when you have chances. That was kind of my focus down there.”

Fellow fourth-line energy winger Anton Blidh has been shipped to Providence after three solid games with the Black and Gold. 

Julien said Blidh goes back to Providence having adequately shown that he can play in the NHL. He clearly showed the Bruins that he understands his role as a player that stirs things up a bit and gets his nose dirty on a regular basis.

“[Blidh] was fine. No issues there. He does his job. He plays with lots of energy and obviously he’s getting more experience. He’s a lot better at understanding his positioning within the game and what he has to do,” said Julien. “I thought he helped us out for the time that he was here.”

With Heinen and Acciari both in the lineup and Blidh back in Providence, that means Jimmy Hayes will be scratched after dressing for three of the past four games for Boston.