Bruins-Jets: Five thoughts from the third

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Bruins-Jets: Five thoughts from the third

Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins and Jets locked in a 1-1 tie after the first 20 minutes of a Monday afternoon matinee at TD Garden.

1) A much better game for Tyler Seguin this afternoon after he was just okay against the Rangers on opening night. Two shots on net to lead the Bruins in the first period and he used aggressive speed to intercept a puck near the Winnipeg blue line on a clear attempt and turned it into offense. Seguin bombed down the right wing to draw the Winnipeg defense toward him, and then found Brad Marchand open in front of the net for the deflection past Ondrej Pavelec. Very good jump from Marchand, Seguin and Patrice Bergeron this afternoon as theyve been Bostons best line early.

2) A much more determined opponent in Winnipeg than the New York Rangers proved to be Saturday night. The Chris Thorburn goal for Winnipeg was pure effort as the forward chased after a long rebound and fired a rebound past Tuukka Rask. The Jets are bringing their physicality and effort today, even if their leaky defense is giving the Bruins some pretty tasty offensive chances.

3) Strong period for Tuukka Rask as he was tested much more by the Winnipeg attackers today. His glove save on a partial Kyle Wellwood breakaway was better than any of the 20 stops he made against the Rangers, and should be a nice little confidence booster for the Finnish goalie as he builds things up early in the season. Ten saves for Rask in the first period.

4) Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler are minus-3 through four periods of hockey on the NHL season. Looks like Winnipeg might want to revisit that combination of players, especially if Dustin Byfuglien and his roving style of defense is combined with them.

5) So far, so good for Dougie Hamilton with 7:33 of ice time skating in a pairing with Zdeno Chara. Hes had a couple of hiccups that Chara has quickly covered for, but he also helped sustain possession in the offensive zone when he used good aggressiveness to pinch into a play. David Krejci alertly covered his position and should encourage the 19-year-old to continue to exploring how far he can push things offensively.

FIVE THOUGHTS FOR THE SECOND PERIOD: SCORE TIED, 1-1

1) A very good afternoon for Ondrej Pavelec, who has been the difference for Winnipeg through two periods in this one. Hes stoned Nathan Horton twice on point blank shots and was able to smother a Tyler Seguin ripped slap shot from the slot in the first 40 minutes among his 17 saves. Nice bounce back effort from the home opener for the Jets, and they needed it given the way their defense has performed in front of Pavelec.

2) The Bruins are all around the net, but are having finishing problems that weve seen in the past. Brad Marchand caught the post on a backhand with Pavelec sprawled out on the ice, and Aaron Johnson ripped one off the left post that Shawn Thornton couldn't finish. Bruins are all around it, but are getting too many offensive chances to not capitalize on something if it continues in the third.

3) Seven hits for Milan Lucic in 11:21 of ice time through two periods and one monstrous hit on Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd in the neutral zone toward the end of the period. Looch continues to play with the snarl that makes him one of the best when hes on his game. The LucicKrejciHorton line has been excellent in the first two games.

4) Nathan Horton tied with Patrice Bergeron for team lead with three shots on net, and has been doing all the right things out on the ice. Dont be shocked if he gets rewarded for that in the third period after Pavelec stoned him a few times in the first 40 minutes. Hockey seems to have a way of rewarding those that truly deserve it.

5) The Bruins have killed off the first six penalties against them for the 2013 season. Looks like that unit is in midseason form while the Bs PP is 20 seconds away from starting out the year 0-for-8. The more things change, the more they . . . well you know how the saying goes.

FIVE THOUGHTS FOR THE THIRD PERIOD: SCORE TIED, 1-1

1) Bruins are now 0-for-9 on the power play this season and couldnt cash in on a PP in the third period when they really needed it. Rich Peverley hit a post, and Ondrej Pavelec was able to make the stop on one-timers from Chris Bourque and Tyler Seguin. Same old story, same old song and dance.

2) Things got much more physical in the third period. Zdeno Chara dropped Blake Wheeler to the ice with a neutral zone hit, Evander Kane crushed Brad Marchand on the side boards before talking smack to him after the whistle and Mark Stuart leveled Tyler Seguin with a hit that knocked his helmet off after taking a shot at the net. Things definitely dialed up a notch. Things seemed to kick up after Lucic slammed Andrew Ladd toward the end of the second period.

3) Five posts hit by the Bruins this afternoon. Ondrej Pavelec has been good, but its tough to win when a team is catching that kind of pipe.

4) Three hits and three shots on net in over 22 minutes of ice time for Dougie Hamilton while paired with Zdeno Chara. He still isnt creating much offensively as he finds his range, but hes looked very steady in all other areas for a 19-year-old kid. He could be a very big addition for the Bruins this year if he can give them a steady 20 plus minutes of ice time each night with few mistakes and a little production.

5) PK getting it done for the Bruins when Johnny Boychuk picks up a high-sticking penalty at the end of the third period.

Tomlin calls Patriots 'a--holes' in speech Antonio Brown posts on Facebook

Tomlin calls Patriots 'a--holes' in speech Antonio Brown posts on Facebook

Showing a knee-buckling lack of self-awareness, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown put up 13:35 of footage on Facebook Live after his team’s 18-16 win over Kansas City on Sunday night.

It was a weird betrayal of the team’s privacy by one of its star players. Brown, allowed viewers to see live (and on tape until it’s inevitably taken down) that, while head coach Mike Tomlin was around a bank of lockers addressing what Tomlin presumed was his entire team, Brown was mugging in front of his phone for a growing online audience.

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The video starts with Brown and teammates having fun in front of their lockers. As the team is called together for a postgame prayer, Brown keeps the camera rolling. After the prayer, Tomlin made a statement.

“When you get to this point in the journey, not a lot needs to be said,” said Tomlin. “Let’s say very little moving forward. Let’s start our preparations. We spotted those a******* a day and a half. They played yesterday. Our game got moved to tonight. We gonna touch down at 4 o’clock in the f****** morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for that ass. But you ain’t gotta tell them we coming. Because some of us might not like the damn (woofkisses?) The chest pounding.  Keep a low profile.”

While Tomlin was issuing that low-profile request, Brown rolled on. Another Steeler then spoke up saying, “Keep cool on social media, this is about us, nobody else.”

Finally, what sounded like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger addressed the team saying of Foxboro, “That’s a lion’s den we’re going into this week. It’s a lion’s den. I’ve been there, a lot of us have been there. Keep your mouth shut.”

While people might fan themselves over Tomlin calling the Patriots a*******, that’s benign and likely will be matched in private by Patriots coaches this week.

What’s staggering is that a player of Brown’s ability and seeming intelligence would be so self-absorbed as to be agog at putting on a video show for Facebook followers at the expense of his coaches, teammates and franchise.  

Curran: Steelers survive, advance to AFC Championship Game vs. Patriots

Curran: Steelers survive, advance to AFC Championship Game vs. Patriots

For the third time in the Belichick-Brady Era, the Patriots will be trying to step over the Steelers to get to a Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh went into Kansas City on Sunday night and outlasted a breathtakingly sluggish Chiefs team, 18-16.

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If you spent the day stewing about the Patriots adequate-against-Osweiler-but-probably-nobody-else offensive performance Saturday night, maybe Sunday night calmed your nerves.

Despite having a more than 2-to-1 edge in total yards entering the fourth, Pittsburgh had managed just six field goals from kicker Chris Boswell. Their best chance at getting six on the board was squelched when Ben Roethlisberger got picked at the goal line in the first half.

That Kansas City was even in the game with a chance to tie it in the final three minutes has to be humbling for the Steelers. They dominated every statistical category of consequence while the Chiefs played aimlessly behind Alex Smith, who may be a cut above Brock Osweiler but is definitely a cut below every other quarterback in the Divisional Playoff round.  

On this night, Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t much better.

Still, Pittsburgh’s got the best 1-2 punch in the NFL at running back and receiver – LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown were both at 101 yards after halftime – and New England’s entire defensive game plan will revolve around corralling those two and getting them horizontal.

The Patriots beat a Roethlisberger-less team in October, 27-16. Landry Jones was at quarterback that day.

The Steelers were in the Patriots’ red zone four times. They came away with 10 points. They were inside the Patriots’ 40 six times and finished with 16.

“In an offense like that with a bunch of very explosive players, one slant can turn into a touchdown so you have to be really careful in your coverages,” defensive end Rob Ninkovich told me after that game. "There’s not just one go-to guy. They got a running back that can catch it out of the backfield and make plays (Le’Veon Bell). [Antonio Brown] can catch it anywhere on the field and make plays. You just have to make sure with a guy like [Landry Jones] to have him make the throws. It’s hard in this league to be perfect. So to have him sit back there and try to make all the throws was what we chose and the secondary did a great job.”

Bell and Brown combined for 268 yards from scrimmage against the Patriots.

The Steelers scored one touchdown.

The ever-dawdling Bell, who practically walks to the line of scrimmage then skips around like a little kid with a full bladder before finding a crease to exploit, is where it will start for the Patriots.

If the Patriots are going to go to their seventh Super Bowl since Belichick’s hire, Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Donta Hightower and Elandon Roberts – their two best interior linemen and their two inside linebackers – will be the ones who start the bus. The overwhelming majority of Bell’s runs are between the guards so building a wall and out-patienting him as he probes for a crease is Job One.

The Chiefs weren’t stout enough at the line of scrimmage and Bell brutalized them. It will, of course, fall to more than just those four. Trey Flowers, Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long, Vincent Valentine and Shea McLellin will also be in focus. Run-support from safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty will be a part of it as well, but that’s where the Steelers become tough to deal with.

Once Bell’s established himself, the Steelers can start to work play-action and get Brown into space. Creep too far and the numbers on the back end could wind up being insufficient to deal with one of the NFL’s fastest players.

That’s why you can expect the Patriots to not overexert themselves with pressures and blitzes against Ben Roethlisberger. They’ll want as many back in coverage as possible to deal with Brown and some of the other Steelers speed merchants.

The Patriots have dealt with Pittsburgh’s defense enough to know where to attack. LeGarrette Blount ran for 127 yards on 24 carries in the first meeting and

Tom Brady went 19 for 26 for 222 with two touchdowns.

The Patriots had Gronk that day and the Steelers didn’t have Roethlisberger. That tips the scales some when measuring the differences. But after watching Pittsburgh kick six field goals and keep afloat an underperforming Chiefs team, the issue that dogged them in October – red zone offense – looks like its still around.

And they are going to visit a team that does that led the NFL in preventing points.