Talking Points: P-Bruins blank IceCaps, 3-0

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Talking Points: P-Bruins blank IceCaps, 3-0

PROVIDENCE, RI The Providence Bruins (3-5, 6 points) have been searching all season for a win they can point to as a complete game, and they finally got it in a 3-0 shutout of the St. Johns IceCaps on Sunday afternoon at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

P-Bruins energy line brawler Bobby Robins finished with a goal and an assist and Swedish goaltender Niklas Svedberg made 18 saves for his first AHL shutout in a white-washing of the IceCaps. Even better the P-Bruins penalty kill shut down St. Johns power play in seven chances, and Providence chipped in a power play goal in a solid special teams display.

This kind of effort hasnt been common enough in a 3-5 start for Providence this season, but clearly P-Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy will take it.

It was our most complete game of the year, and I thought the Christian Hanson line with Robins and Lane MacDermid dominated from beginning to end, said Cassidy. They set the tempo, Niklas Svedberg made a big save when we needed it in the second period and the power play chipped in with an important goal. That was just a good, complete win from beginning to end.

Robins started the scoring by snapping in a goal just 22 seconds into the contest to give the Bruins both the lead and the momentum, and Providence just kept right on pushing. That included a shorthanded breakaway in the second period with the team still clinging to a one-goal lead: Maxine Macenauer hopping on a loose puck and sped the other way with a chance all alone against Svedberg, and the Swedish goalie calmly kicked away the bid with a flick of his leg pad.

Minutes later the P-Bruins power play cashed in when Ryan Spooner fed a cross-ice pass to Carter Camper, and the Bruins forward slammed the puck into the empty net to double the lead. The P-Bruins tacked on one more in the third when MacDermid pounced on the rebound of a Robins rocket, and made a diving stab for the insurance goal.

GOLD STAR: Bobby Robins has earned plenty of respect while piling up 33 penalty minutes in Providences first six games of the season built mostly on hockey fights and hustle plays. On Sunday afternoon the energy winger contributed to the scoreboard with his first goal of the season just 33 seconds into the first period, and a smoked shot from the slot in the third period that set up Lane MacDermids insurance goal. Robins went into the game scoreless in his first six games of the season and hes not expected to be a big offensive performer in his grinding, energy role and came through at a big time for Providence.

BLACK EYE: Justin Florek took a delay of game penalty early in the game and didnt have a shot on net when the game was over, and wasnt any kind of a factor in a game that featured many standouts for Providence. Florek is now scoreless in five games with a minus-2 rating on the season and hasnt yet made much of an impact in his first full AHL season in the Bruins organization.

TURNING POINT: Niklas Svedberg only needed to make 18 saves in a game where the ice seemed titled in favor of Providence much of the time against a weary St. Johns team, but his biggest save came with the game on the line. Maxime Macenauer shot in toward the Providence net all alone on a shorthanded breakaway with Providence clinging to a slim one-goal lead, but Svedberg calmly kicked the shot away with his right pad. Minutes later Carter Camper potted a power play goal to double Providences lead, and the Bruins were in the drivers seat.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 the number of players with a positive plusminus rating for the Providence Bruins through eight games: Christian Hanson, Lane MacDermid and Bobby Robins are all a plus-1 and defensemen Zach Trotman and Garnet Exelby are a team-best plus-3.

QUOTE TO NOTE: Whether the energy comes from big hits, fights, a goal like tonight or some kind of veteran leadership, its my job to create energy that gets the rest of the guys all riled up before and during the game. Bobby Robins, who used his offensive touch (two points) to help the P-Bruins to victory on Sunday afternoon.

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
 
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
 
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
 
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
 
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.