Shortened NHL schedule could be 'fast and furious'

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Shortened NHL schedule could be 'fast and furious'

While both the NHL and NHLPA have held conversations in thelast few days, there are still no formal plans for both sides to meetface-to-face. That should change in the coming days with a deadline to cancelthe entire regular season waiting ahead in January. It appears as though a 48-game shortened season is the only option available to the NHL.

The shortened schedule is the exact same blueprint that theNHL rolled out when a labor stoppage cut into the regular season in 1994-95.That season ended with the New Jersey Devils winning the Cup, and in a pieceof positive news absolutely nobody views that campaign as an asterisk-worthysham.

The Devils swept the Red Wings at the conclusion of anexciting Stanley Cup playoff season, and ended that campaign on June 24. Itsexpected that an abbreviated NHL season would once again reach into late Juneby the time a Stanley Cup champion is crowned.

The sham element is one of the major concerns as things getclose to the witching hour in CBA negotiations. The NHL is expected to drop anyscheduled games outside of the conference, and could end with the Bruinsplaying as many as seven games against their divisional rivals in Buffalo, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.Those that played in the 1994-95 shortened NHL campaign remember it as some ofthe most exciting hockey the NHL has ever seen.

There were no dead periods that inherently crop up in an 82-gameNHL season, and instead every game was deemed important with each team hangingin the playoff picture for the duration of the year.

In essence it was an NHL sprint rather than the typicalmarathon.

"The 1994-95 shortened season was like a sprinttowards the playoffs," said Bruins President Cam Neely, who had an amazing16 power play goals during that shortened campaign that ended for the Bruins inthe first round of the playoffs against the eventual champion Devils. "So it'llbe just that, I don't know how many games if we do end up playing how manywe'll be able to get into the schedule, but it'll be a sprint to the playoffsand everybody will know that. It's just a matter of what kind of condition theplayers are going to be in because it's going to start off fast and furious."

The danger is that most everybody could see the benefits ofdropping the NHL regular season down to 60 games on a regular basis. Just lopoff the months of October and November, and drop the NHL season right into theheart of winter just prior to the holidays. That will never happen, of course.The NHL owners want the box office from an 82-game regular season, and it wouldbe impossible to reach last years 3.3 billion in revenues if a quarter of thehockey season was erased from existence.

One thing weve all unfortunately learned during a currentNHL lockout that reached Day No. 100 on Saturday: Its all about the bottomline money in the end.

But the potential excitement for an abbreviated NHLseason is one of the few positives that might arise from the CBA morass thatsplayed out after the last three months.

Rex Ryan: 'If Belichick's playing quarterback, we're coming after him'

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Rex Ryan: 'If Belichick's playing quarterback, we're coming after him'

Must be Bills week. 

After Rex Ryan's club put together an impressive win at home over the Cardinals, 33-18, it wasn't long before the Bills coach was yapping about the Patriots and their coach Bill Belichick.

Ryan was asked about the quarterback situation in New England since both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett are dealing with injuries at the moment. Who might the Bills see when they visit Gillette Stadium?

"Look, I can sit back and say I don’t care who plays quarterback, cuz I know (Tom) Brady ain’t," he said. "I don’t care who plays quarterback; Steve Grogan can play quarterback. If Belichick’s playing quarterback, we’re coming after him. I promise you that."

There's no indication yet as to whether or not Garoppolo or Brissett will be unavailable for Week 4. When asked about his level of concern when it came to his quarterbacks, Belichick didn't say much during a conference call on Sunday

Ryan, like the rest of us, will probably have to wait for the Patriots to release an injury report before he learns about the status of either young passer. And until then, he'll have to prepare for both. 

Pedroia leads Red Sox to 11th win in a row, 3-2 over Rays in 10

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Pedroia leads Red Sox to 11th win in a row, 3-2 over Rays in 10

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia used nifty baserunning to score from first base on David Ortiz's double in the 10th inning and the AL East-leading Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Sunday for their 11th consecutive win.

Pedroia singled off Eddie Gamboa (0-1) to start the inning. The relay throw on Ortiz's hit to right center beat Pedroia to plate but he avoided Luke Maile's first tag. Pedroia's momentum carried him past the plate and when he went back to touch it, Maile was charged with an error when the ball dropped out his glove on another tag try.

Pedroia hit a solo homer and Mookie Betts extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI single for the Red Sox, who secured at least an AL wild-card spot Saturday night. Boston's magic number to clinch the division title dropped to two.

Joe Kelly (4-0) went 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out a career-high 13 in 5 1/3 innings. The left-hander and Heath Hembree combined to strikeout 11 consecutive batters to establish a major league-record. The New York Mets held the previous mark when Tom Seaver struck out 10 in a row against San Diego on Apr. 22, 1970.

Boston also set a club record by striking out 21 through nine. Kelly added two more in the 10th.

There was a moment of silence before the game for Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a boating accident early Sunday. Fernandez played high school baseball in nearby Tampa, Florida after defecting from Cuba.

The Rays planned to honor Ortiz before his final game at Tropicana Field but canceled the ceremony at Ortiz's request after Fernandez's death. He had three hits in five at-bats and moved past Frank Thomas for 107th place on the career list with 2,469 hits.

Ortiz has 35 homers and 90 RBIs at Tropicana Field, which is the most of any visiting player. Alex Rodriguez is next with 30 homers and 73 RBIs.

HONORING BIG PAPI

Rays 3B Evan Longoria and RHP Chris Archer informally presented Ortiz with an oil painting of his 500th home run, which he hit at Tropicana Field last season. Ortiz was also given 34 special handmade Diamond Crown Maximus cigars and $5,000 donations in his name to the Miracle League of St. Petersburg, Florida and the University of South Florida Latino scholarship program.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Ortiz will play at Yankee Stadium for the final time during a three-game series against New York that starts Tuesday night. "Playing baseball in New York is something that is very special," Ortiz said. LHP David Price (17-8) will start for the Red Sox Tuesday night.

Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (7-11) will face White Sox RHP James Shields (3-11) Monday night in the first of four games in Chicago.

© 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.