Rask returning to Boston from Czech Republic

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Rask returning to Boston from Czech Republic

Dont read it as a signal of anything positive or negative, but the first of the overseas Bruins players will be returning from Europe.
According to NOVA sport TV reporter Roman Jedlicka, goaltender Tuukka Rask will play his final game in between the pipes for HC Plzen of the Czech League on Friday and then will return to Boston to wait for the lockout to end.
The 25-year-old Finnish goalie has been dominant in the Czech League while putting up a 6-2 record along with a 1.86 goals against average and .936 save percentage while backstopping the first place team. He had an early health scare when he felt a groin tweak in his first game in the Czech League, but has been 100 percent healthy and outstanding between the pipes since then.
The Bruins will still boast 10 players in Europe when Rask does make his way back to Boston, and sources have indicated that Gregory Campbell has been in talks with a Czech League team over the last few weeks.
The dominant, healthy play from Rask is a good thing for player and team once the NHL lockout ends and regular season games begin: the goaltender inked a one-year, 3.5 million deal with the Bruins and needs to prove to the organization that hes able to be the franchise goaltender capable of handling a 55-65 game workload while maintaining health and consistency.
And if the lockout ends in the next couple of weeks as the NHL and NHLPA continue their war against each other, then you can accuse the Bs goaltender of coming home via the benefit of inside information.

Patriots pregame rituals: Step-by-step with the players on game day

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Patriots pregame rituals: Step-by-step with the players on game day

What goes through Dont'a Hightower’s mind in the minutes before he takes the field and lowers himself into a cauldron of collisions, pain and exultation?

Not a thing.

“I rest. I literally rest,” said the Patriots Pro Bowl inside linebacker. “I don’t do anything else. I sit at my locker, I don’t listen to music. I don’t do anything out of the ordinary. I don’t look at film, I don’t look at notes. I’m just relaxed. Calm before the storm. I’ve done enough preparing, I’ve done enough notes, I’ve done enough of that stuff during the week. If I don’t know it by now, I don’t know it. It’s not gonna help me last minute. It’s only gonna make me play slower.”

By the time an NFL team hits the field – in the Patriots case, runs out of a giant, inflatable helmet while Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” blares – they are primped, polished, taped and glistening.

But what is their day like leading up to that? I asked a few Patriots to take me through their game-day prep from wakeup to anthem to give me insight into what we don’t see.  

You can hear Hightower, Nate Solder, Alan Branch, Devin McCourty and Rob Ninkovich detail the steps they take to get game-ready. French toast is involved. So are naps. And sock preparation.

It all builds to that moment of theater that Ninkovich says is what players truly miss when they leave the game – that feeling of euphoria.

“When we finally get to run out, that’s the most exciting time in the world,” says Solder. “The crowd wasn’t there earlier when we went out there and all of a sudden, the crowd is there. Very exciting, very fun, especially with the guys you work so hard with.”

Says McCourty, “I always think when I run out of the tunnel to look up and say, ‘Thank you’ just to be able to play.”

Listen to them tell their stories here:

Belichick's game-day ritual: 'Try to coach and play good'

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Belichick's game-day ritual: 'Try to coach and play good'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick was not in any mood to start revealing his behind-the-scenes pre-kickoff routine on game-days. The air of focus he's exhibited during his media-availability periods this week continued on Friday, particularly when he was asked about his Sunday rituals. 

When a reporter wondered if there was anything in particular Belichick does before a game, he initially said simply, "No."

A follow-up about superstitions was tossed Belichick's way next. He swatted that aside as well.

"Try to play and coach good," he explained. "Goes a long way."

There you have it. An easy-step-by-step guide on how to approach a game like a future Hall-of-Famer.