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

924285.jpg

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.

Belichick on Brissett pick: Always try to plan at quarterback

snc_curranperrymiss_0430161462056590311_3450k_1280x720_677084739544.jpg

Belichick on Brissett pick: Always try to plan at quarterback

FOXBORO -- When Bill Belichick took the podium back in the spring of 2014 to discuss his decision to draft Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round, he raised some eyebrows when he professed his belief that it a position of need. 

"The situation we have at quarterback, I think that we felt as an organization that we needed to address that to some degree in the future, so we’ll see how all that works out," Belichick said. "I think we’re better off being early than being late at that position."

He added: "We know what Tom’s age and contract situation is. I don’t think you want to have one quarterback on your team. I don’t think that’s responsible to the entire team or the organization."

At the time, Tom Brady was about to turn 37, and his contract was scheduled to keep him in New England through 2017. The team also had backup Ryan Mallett entering the final year of his rookie deal. 

Given Belichick's reasoning, and given the team's willingness to spend a second-rounder on him, it sounded as though the Patriots were ready to plan for a future with Garoppolo taking Brady's place. 

Two years later the Patriots spent another Day 2 draft pick on a quarterback when they selected North Carolina State's Jacoby Brissett in the third round on Friday.

The situation isn't exactly the same as it was in 2014, but there are some similarities.

As was the case in 2014, Brady is still one of the top quaeterbacks in the league. And as was the case in 2014, Brady and the incoming rookie quarterback now have contracts that will run out at the same time; both players are on parallel paths to hit free agency after the 2019 season. 

Unlike Mallett, Garoppolo is not entering a contract year. He still has two seasons remaining on his rookie deal, but Brissett's addition could be an indication of New England's plans for their backup.

If Brissett develops to the point that he's ready to be a No. 2 in 2017, and if Brady remains healthy and among the best in the game, Garoppolo could quickly become a valuable trade chip. There will almost certainly be a quarterback-needy team next offseason willing to pay handsomely for a quarterback who has spent three years under Belichick and Brady and held his own in preseason action.

If the Patriots choose not to deal Garoppolo before the 2017 season, they'll end up keeping three quarterbacks on their roster for two consecutive years. That's not completely out of the realm of possibility, but for a team that turns over the bottom of its 53-man roster as often as the Patriots do, it seems like a situation Belichick might like to avoid if at all possible.

One would assume that at the end of his contract, Garoppolo would like to find a starting job -- and starter's money -- elsewhere. If he were to leave, the Patriots could receive a compensatory pick in return that might pale in comparison to whatever they would receive in a trade before the 2017 campaign. 

I asked Belichick on Saturday night if Garoppolo's contract situation played a role in the Patriots selecting Brissett at pick No. 91 overall. 

"There’s always an element of team planning, especially at that position," Belichick said. "If you can you try to look ahead a little bit. If you can’t, then take it as it comes. Things change but there’s an element of planning at all positions on your team, certainly that one."

Bottom line: It's the one position at which the Patriots never want to be unprepared. They don't want to be the 2011 Colts with Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky. They don't want to be the 2015 Ravens with Mallett, Matt Schaub and Jimmy Clausen rotating behind center. 

They want to make sure they have capable bodies to man their most important position. By drafting Brissett -- a toolsy quarterback who took care of the football in college was respected as a leader -- they may have found a future backup. At the same time, they've given themselves some flexibility next offseason to seek value for Garoppolo via trade if they so choose.

May 1, 2016: With NHL draft order set, time to deal?

cp-morning-skate.jpg

May 1, 2016: With NHL draft order set, time to deal?

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after thinking Barack Obama gave Jeffrey Ross a run for his money as the Roast-master In Chief at last night’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner.

*The man behind the music at American Airlines Arena for the Dallas Stars’ games comes into the spotlight for a story.

 

*Don Cherry sings the praises of Joel Ward, wears a Toronto Marlies suit and said “it was time to go” for Bruce Boudreau in Anaheim.

 

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Penguins coach Mike Sullivan taking major issue with the head shot Brooks Orpik laid on Olli Maatta.

 

*The Maple Leafs secure the No. 1 overall pick in last night’s NHL Draft lottery, which will no doubt lead them to Auston Matthews.

 

*Now that the Edmonton Oilers have the No. 4 pick, Peter Chiarelli is open to trade options for those teams wanting to move up.

 

*Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is once again thriving in Ontario just a year after a major health scare.

 

*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz on the unique journey for Brent Burns that culminated in his Norris Trophy finalist honor this week.

 

*Spector has the roundup of rumors including plenty of speculation on Kevin Shattenkirk once the Blues are done in the playoffs.

 

*For something completely different: a couple of reporters actually got into an actual fight at the White House Correspondent’s after-party. It sounds like they both kind of deserved a punch in the face, to be honest.

Report: Patriots sign nine undrafted free agents

foster-arizona-s.jpg

Report: Patriots sign nine undrafted free agents

The Patriots have reportedly added nine undrafted free agents after selecting nine players in the 2016 NFL Draft.

DJ Foster, RB/WR, Arizona State
Shaquille Powell, RB, Duke
De’Runnya Wilson, TE/WR, Miss State
Steven Scheu, TE, Vanderbilt
Woodrow Hamilton, DT, Mississippi State
CJ Johnson, LB, Mississippi State
V’Angelo Bentley, CB, Illinois
Jonathan Jones, CB, Auburn
Cre’Von LeBlanc, CB, Florida Atlantic

Foster is arguably the highest profile player the Patriots signed and was filmed celebrating the moment.

Foster has the versatility the Patriots looks for. He played running back over his first three collegiate seasons before shifting to wide receiver. He finished his career at Arizona State with 666 total touches for 4,813 yards and 32 touchdowns.

Stay tuned for more…