B's wunderkind Spooner off to good start in Providence

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B's wunderkind Spooner off to good start in Providence

Things have started out very promisingly for rookie forward and top Bruins prospect Ryan Spooner.
The 20-year-old is tied with Max Sauve for the P-Bruins team lead with four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in Providences first four games of the season, and has teamed with Sauve and Jamie Tardif for a consistently productive line. The trio has accounted for at least one goal in each of Providences four games thus far, and Spooner has been among the most active with eight shots on net.
The 2010 second round pick isnt taking anything for granted, of course, and wants to keep developing and pushing until he finds himself in the NHL. It might not be that far off with his ability to shift gears and speeds quickly on the ice, and his Krejci-like skill at slowing things down when the puck is on his stick.
It took until Providences first win against the Manchester Monarchs last weekend for Spooner to crack the goal column, but hes making plays in every single game.
Ive been working hard to get to this point over the last few years, and now you look forward to the challenge at this level, said Spooner. I want to prove that I can be a consistent, dependable player at both ends of the ice, and just keep getting bigger, faster, stronger and better.
The goal is to get to the NHL someday soon, but Im happy developing my game and continuing to improve until that opportunity arrives. This is a great league were playing in this year, and my complete focus is on where Im at right now.
It was thought that Chris Bourque would start the season riding shotgun with Spooner on the same line in Providence, but that hasnt happened through the first four games. It hasnt stopped Bourque from recognizing what Spooner is bringing to the table at such a precocious young age.
Hes definitely impressive. He has good speed and sees the ice really well, said Bourque. I didnt know much about him at all before I got here. Hes an impressive player. We expect big things from him and hes definitely going to be able to help the team out.
Im excited to teach him things about becoming a pro and guiding him in the right direction; the kind of things guys helped me out with when I was a young player.
Its not surprising given Spooners skating ability and playmaking sense, and the mere fact that he put up seven points in eight games during two quick AHL stints over the previous two seasons. So Spooner is already a point-per-game player early in his pro career, and just needs to show Bruins officials that he understands what it means to be a professional hockey player.
That includes all of the little things hell need to do to stick at the NHL level, and that goes doubly so for young players breaking into Claude Juliens two-way system in Boston. Interestingly enough, there are two prospects at opposite ends of the spectrum after four games: Spooner is a point-per-game player and Jared Knight is a minus-2 after two games while missing time with some groin issues.
Some guys get off to a great start and then tail off over a long year. Other guys it takes a little while to get going, said Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney. What we want to see is consistency. Its a big jump and its a tough league, and an even bigger jump is coming with the next one. So we want them to be prepared mentally and physically.
Maybe guys arent on the first unit like theyve been accustomed to all through junior. Maybe theyre on the second unit. But dont pout about it. Youve got to embrace it because its a unique league: youre competing against all of the guys on your own team as well trying to win collectively. The quicker a player realizes that component the better it is for their development. How quickly they get to the NHL depends on their work habits on and off the ice, their training ability and their skill.
It also doesnt hurt that young prospects like Spooner have the Full Monty of Bruins front office types with Sweeney, Peter Chiarelli, Jim Benning, Claude Julien and the rest of the Bs coaching staff front and center while the NHL lockout rages on. Thats allowed Spooner to put himself into the conversation for a training camp invite once the NHL season gets started, and remain there provided he keeps playing high high-flying game in Providence against some very good AHL competition.

Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: E-Rod on mound, Bogaerts back to 2-hole

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Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: E-Rod on mound, Bogaerts back to 2-hole

The Red Sox (93-67) look to clinch the No. 2 seed in the A.L. playoffs and home-field advantage in the Division Series with the Cleveland Indians (92-67) with a victory over the Toronto Blue Jays tonight at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox (93-67) send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.68 ERA) to the mound against left-hander J.A. Happ (20-4, 3.20). Rodriguez is expected to pitch either Game 3 or 4 of the Division Series against the Indians next week.

The Jays are a game behind the Baltimore Orioles for the top A.L. wild-card spot and hold a half-game lead over the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card spot. 

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts moves back to his customary No. 2 spot in the batting order after hitting sixth Friday night. Right-handed hitting Aaron Hill is at third base and Christian Vazquez catches for Boston.

There will be the second of three ceremonies this weekend to honor retiring Red Sox DH David Ortiz before the game.  

The lineups:

RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Christian Vazquez C
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Eduardo Rodriguez LHP

BLUE JAYS
Devon Travis 2B
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion 1B
Jose Bautista DH
Russell Martin C
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Melvin Upton LF
Kevin Pillar CF
Ezequiel Carrera RF
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J.A. Happ LHP 

Curran's Patriots-Bills preview

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Curran's Patriots-Bills preview

Click here for the gallery.

FOXBORO  – Four quarters left in Tom Brady’s suspension, an undetermined (but also dwindling) number of days remaining in Rex Ryan’s tenure as a head coach, this game is intriguing for a lot of reasons. The Patriots can close out a remarkable quarter-season performance without Brady and put him back in the driver’s seat with a three-game edge over the Bills simply by taking out Rex. How they manage that – and which quarterback manages that – is the question that’s swirled all week.
 
 
WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL
 
Traditionally, the Patriots have thrown over and around the Bills’ front-seven with great success. Tom Brady’s good at that. Jimmy Garoppolo, with a bad shoulder, or Jacoby Brissett, with limited experience, may not be able to pull off the same act. Which means this could be a day for LeGarrette Blount who so far is leading the league in rushing. Many of those yards have come at the closeout juncture of games. This week, he may asked to do the damage early. The Bills have allowed five touchdowns on the grounds this season but only 3.4 yards per carry.
 
WHEN THE BILLS HAVE THE BALL
 
Without Sammy Watkins and dealing with issues at left tackle, the Bills are going to have to get a productive, 25-to-30-touch game out of running back LeSean McCoy. He’s handled the ball 59 times so far in three games (11 catches) and has been by far the focal point of the Bills offense. But with the Patriots having the chance to fixate on McCoy, Buffalo and newly-minted offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn better have a backup plan if and when the Patriots send multiple players to dog him. The Bills’ will be in a position where it’s on Tyrod Taylor to figure something out. The Patriots aren’t going to aggressively rush him. If the rush gets past him, it was done by mistake. Force Taylor to be a passer, find Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and  ailing tight end Charles Clay. Meanwhile, the Patriots figure to have Donta Hightower back to help with quarterbacking the defense. The Patriots are in a position defensively to really put the screws to a Bills team that doesn’t seem to have a lot of options.
 
THE KICKING GAME
 
Old friend Brandon Tate is the Bills’ return guy on both punts and kickoffs. He’ll get a good test from the Patriots special teams corps which has been a major story this season. Ryan Allen had a career game last week against Houston with six punts inside the 20 and one sitting on the 20. There were no return yards. The Patriots kick coverage created two turnovers last game against Houston and hasn’t allowed a return past the 25.
 
PATRIOTS MEDICAL REPORT
QUESTIONABLE: QB Jacoby Brissett (thumb), QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder), T Marcus Cannon (calf), G Jonathan Cooper (foot), LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder), TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring), LB Dont’a Hightower (knee), CB Eric Rowe
 
BILLS MEDICAL REPORT
OUT: WR Sammy Watkins (foot), T Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle), C Patrick Lewis (knee) and WR Greg Salas (groin) QUESTIONABLE: S Colt Anderson (foot), TE Charles Clay (knee), CB Ronald Darby (hamstring), T Cordy Glenn (ankle), QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder), S Jonathan Meeks(foot) and S Aaron Williams (ankle)
 
GAME WITHIN THE GAME  

The speed with which Buffalo adjusts to the Patriots offensive game plan and whether or not the Patriots have an adjustment to the adjustment. The uncertainty of the Patriots quarterback situation has been a distraction for the Bills and Rex Ryan this week and – given the Bills leaky pass defense – how Buffalo decides to deploy will matter a lot depending on who’s at quarterback.
 
BILLS GOTTA STOP
 
Jannyris Edeldolagan. That’s just an amalgamation of the three wideouts of similar talent, pallor and quickness that kill defenses in the receiver shell game the Patriots play every week. Just when a defense thinks it’s got it figured out on a key third down and has set itself to take away Edelman, for instance, the dagger gets inserted by Amendola or Hogan. It’s like a shell game.
 
PATRIOTS GOTTA STOP
 
LeSean McCoy. That’s the whole damn game. Cuz you. Don’t wanna mess with Shady. Cuz Shady. Will … cause big problems.
 
THAT SUMS IT UP PATRIOTS STYLE
 
“I fly around every day. You can’t land this jet, you know what I’m saying? It’s like having a private plane, wherever I want to go, I just go. I don’t have to worry about no jet fuel. I would say Gatorade but they don’t sponsor me so I’ll just go get me some good ole’ something to drink, and Gatorade can have the plug.” – Martellus Bennett, Patriots tight end, on the team flying around in September.
 
THAT SUMS IT UP BILLS STYLE
 
“It’s more of a ‘this is still a game.’ It’s a billion dollar industry and things but it’s still a game and you’ve got to be true to yourself and I’m true to myself. To me it’s just a thing where, you know, I enjoy Belichick’s press conferences and everything else because he’s true to himself and he does a great job. It’s pretty funny to me because you guys can never get anything out of him and I just think it’s great. It’s kind of funny that way. I pulled it knowing that every question is going to be about who’s the quarterback and all that. One thing I know for sure is that Tom Brady is not the quarterback and I feel good about that.” – Simple Rex, after being asked why he mimicked Bill Belichick during his week-opening press conference
 
THE WINNER IS...
 
Patriots 23, Bills 13