Notes from Day 2 of Pats mini-camp

Notes from Day 2 of Pats mini-camp

FOXBORO -- I know what you're all clamoring for: Mini-camp notes! Well here, you heathens. Have at them.
NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs George Atallah were at Gillette Tuesday. Don't fret -- the CBA allows the Players Association to make five unofficial visits in the offseason. As far as we know, this was one of them.
Jonathan Fanene, who had his left leg worked on by a trainer yesterday, missed Wednesday's session. Rookie running back Brandon Bolden was also unavailable, though he watched practice from the sideline. Jermaine Cunningham only showed face at about 1:14 PM, as he walked with Brandon Spikes and Myron Pryor out of the bubble.
Sebastian Vollmer, Rob Gronkowski, Logan Mankins, Tracy White, and Matthew Slater also continued their rehabilitation and running. Vollmer and Mankins rolled in about an hour after practice began. The pair had a brief chat with De Smith and Patriots owner Robert Kraft before starting rehab work.
Offense, wearing blue, and defense, wearing white, split up to start. The offensive line practiced against dummy 'D' while the rest worked on the running game. Defense practiced separately against the pass.
Tom Brady again did some passing drills against air. Aaron Hernandez, who seems to generally hate his helmet, actually put the thing on only while actually in the route. He made the grab.
When the Patriots mixed in some defense, a lot of time was spent with Brady and his backups working on seam routes and dropping passes in over DBs who hadn't turned around.
More work for Patrick Chung in the return game. Donte' Stallworth also got some special teams reps, as we saw in OTAs.
There were a few consecutively ugly series during 7-on-7. First, Ryan Mallett and Brandon Lloyd missed a connection. Then Hoyer had a bad throw. Brady followed up with a grounder to Joseph Addai in the flat. Had to be the rain.
We saw a couple different coverages practiced in the Red Zone (we're not at liberty report on scheme). Brady found Gaffney in the end zone on a sweet play -- Devin McCourty and Will Allen were left looking foolish. All the while, newly anointed defensive coordinator Matt Patricia knelt and watched his men. You have to wonder if they're happier when the offense completes the play, or the defense breaks it up. Probably depends on which coach you talk to.
Alabama fans will be happy to hear rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower had a nice pick-6 during 11-on-11 against Brian Hoyer who underthew a crossing route. Roll Tide.
Sterling Moore had an impressive pass break-up against the old man Jabar Gaffney.
Donte Stallworth made a contested catch in the end zone against Ras-I Dowling, a play on which there was probably a little more contact than is ideal. Stallworth spiked the ball near Dowling after the play.
Tight end Bo Scaife looked pretty good today. He looked pretty mad when he went up for a high pass and got pulled down around the shoulders by Tavon Wilson. The guys on the sidelines heckled the play.
Again on the sidelines Wednesday were coaching assistants David Patten and Billy Yates, both former Patriots. Patten and Deion Branch spent a long time talking together.

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON, Mass – Malcolm Subban says that he believes that he can still be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that’s admirable on some level for the sheer, brazen self-confidence involved in saying this after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden, pretty much all of the evidence points out the contrary. Nearly two years after getting pulled from his NHL debut in against the St. Louis Blues after giving up three goals on six shots, Subban was pulled from Tuesday night’s appearance after giving up three goals on eight second period shots with the Bruins desperately in need of a quality start in goal.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone after another humbling NHL effort against Minnesota, and that’s a testament to the maturity and mental toughness of the person behind the goalie mask.

“It sucks. Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one. Obviously it sucks, but what can you do now, right?” said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously I want to be a number one goaltender in the league. I was a high pick for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it. Obviously, I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero tangible evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Instead he’s the emergency goaltender called on by the Bruins only after Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have both been shelved by injuries, and he’s now flunked the two pop quizzes when the NHL team needed him to come through.

Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft class have already proven their NHL worth and broken through at the elite level: Matt Murray, Frederik Anderson, Connor Hellebuyck and Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly with a Bruins team not playing well in front of him. The first goal was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third goal was a softie low and to the glove side, power play strike authored by Ryan Suter. It added up to poor goaltending and shoddy defense, but it also added up to a Bruins goaltender that didn’t even give his hockey club a chance to win.

“It could be a combination of both. There are some goals – I’m not going to lie – there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had. But I’m not here to talk about a goaltender who’s in one of his first few games because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him and we weren’t any better, and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka [Rask] is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough, and Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide open shots from the slot - like the Chris Stewart score in the second period that arrived 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal - are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player in Subban that should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after failing in each of his first two NHL starts. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first round bust for the Bruins rather than suddenly develop into a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender in Boston.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer than that if Rask can’t make rapid progress with his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and the four goals allowed to Minnesota were not all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that Subban should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie that’s been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, and plays like a goaltender that’s never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.