Rask ready to slow down for '100-mph' hockey


Rask ready to slow down for '100-mph' hockey

Things have certainly changed with the Boston Bruins.

In his final season with the Bs Tim Thomas decided he didnt want to speak to reporters on game days, and wouldnt have been standing with his arms folded at his dressing room stall waiting for the questions.

But its a new goaltending era in Boston, and Tuukka Rask was ready, willing and able to answer everything that came his way as the proving ground for his case as franchise goaltender begins tonight against the New York Rangers. Rask has sufficiently shaken off the six goals he allowed in Tuesdays scrimmage against the Providence Bruins, and had his game face on.

Its exciting, said Rask, who finished with a 2.05 goals against average and .929 save percentage in 22 games last season. I feel like our team had a good morning skate and were ready to go. I was trying to get my mind back and legs back this week, and I think I was able to do that.

Itll be a tricky challenge for Rask as hes the kind of big, rangy goaltender that is at his best when his body is quiet and trained on the path of the puck. The between-the-pipes gymnastics common during Tim Thomas time in goal is now a thing of the past for the Black and Gold, but it becomes a tough trick for a goal that will have gallons of adrenaline coursing through his veins.

Theres little doubt things will look like somebody hit the fast-forward button in the first few minutes of the game, but Rask is just looking to settle in and start making his case for being Bostons No. 1 goaltender.

I just hope its not going to be 100-mph with everybody getting in front of me so I cant see a thing, said Rask. Thats the toughest part for a goalie when you havent played in a long time: staying calm and letting the puck come to you rather than over-moving or over-thinking. Its going to be fast out there and thats something I have to be mentally prepared for.

Not to put too much pressure on the 26-year-old Rask, but its not unfair to say the Bruins ultimate fate for this season hinges on the Finnish goaltender. If he can utilize the strong defensive players around him and make the most of Claude Juliens system designed to keep shooters to the perimeter of the offensive zone, the Bruins will be among a short list of Stanley Cup favorites.

If Rask has issues with his glove hand or develops a habit of giving up a bad goal per game in the early going, then the Bruins could be saddled as a middle of the pack playoff team with last years first round fate likely to be repeated.

Its perhaps unfair to heap so much pressure and responsibility on one player, but Tim Thomas exit is the only major change to a team that won the Stanley Cup two years ago and was the best team in hockey last season until Tim Thomas decided to skip out on the White House visit.

They could be both of those things again if Rask can stop 93 percent of the shots that hell face, and avoid groin problems or simply tiring out while shouldering a sizeable workload.

Quite simply Rask needs to live up to being the young goalie that led the NHL in goals against average and save percentage as a rookie three years ago.

Patriots reportedly deal Derby to Broncos for fifth-round pick


Patriots reportedly deal Derby to Broncos for fifth-round pick

The Patriots pulled off a rare deal with a rival on Tuesday. 

According to ESPN, they've sent tight end A.J. Derby to the Broncos in exchange for a fifth-round pick. 

Derby played in 33 offensive snaps over four games this season for the Patriots. A sixth-round draft choice in 2015 out of Arkansas, Derby spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve. 

One of the stars of the preseason for the Patriots, Derby caught 15 passes for 189 yards in four exhibition games. A former college quarterback for Iowa and Arkansas, Derby was named a practice player of the week by the Patriots when they were hurting for healthy signal-callers early in the season during Tom Brady's suspension.

The deal leaves the Patriots somewhat thin at the tight end position. They now have now true tight ends behind Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. They do, however, have fullback James Develin, who meets with tight ends on a daily basis. On the practice squad, the Patriots have another fullback in Glenn Gronkowski. 

In Denver, Derby will compete with tight ends Virgil Green, Jeff Heuerman and John Phillips for time.

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf


Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”