Belichick on Grossman: Confident, aggressive


Belichick on Grossman: Confident, aggressive

FOXBORO -- I've been complaining about Bill Belichick telling the media that day is night, up is down and the Colts were a talented team. So I am not going to whine that he shot it straight on Rex Grossman Wednesday afternoon. Asked about the Redskins quarterback that Belichick's Patriots will face this weekend, Belichick gave a clinic in "damning with faint praise.""Rex first of all, has a lot of confidence," said Belichick. "And I think his team has confidence in him. So that's a good starting point. That's the feeling you want from your offense when you go out on the field, 'We're gonna be able to move the ball and be successful,' and I think he brings that."The ball will move when Grossman's throwing, no doubt about that. This season, the now 31-year-old has thrown 10 touchdowns and 15 picks in nine starts. His decision-making, said Belichick (in so many words), is risk-embracing. "In his aggressiveness there's probably some throws that he'd like to have back but I think that's part of what makes him good is that he is aggressive," Belichick explained. "Just because you have good coverage on a player, that doesn't mean he won't try to stick it in there. Sometimes he makes plays and sometimes (the ball) doesn't get into that spot. But he's definitely not afraid to be aggressive and I think defensively you've got to respect that."Or at least be conscious of it. Because, as a defensive back, Grossman may throw it to you on any given play. For two weeks in September, Grossman was the quarterbacking flavor of the week. He threw fortwo touchdowns and 305 yards in a season-opening win over the Giants. He threw two more scores and had two picks ina 22-21 win over Arizona. Then the bottom dropped out. Over the next four games,Grossman threwtwo touchdowns and nine picks. After the three losses in four games, Grossman was benched in favor of John Beck. That didn't work either. When Grossman got his job back in November, he completed nearly 70 percent of his passes. But last week, Grossman reverted even more, going 19 for 46 with a pick against the Jets. I thought Rex probably did not play as good as he has played over the last few games, Redskins coach Mike Shanhan told the Washington media on Monday. I think as he looks at the film, hell be somewhat disappointed in his play.Shanahan must be tearing his stubbornly well-parted hair out. For his offense to work successfully, it needs a back that threatens the edges and can be a one-cut runner in the stretch play they run. And he needs a quarterback who is mobile but also able to throw on the move with accuracy. Back to Belichick's dim praise. "He can be accurate," the coach said of Grossman. "He's got some mobility in the pocket. He's a tough kid. He'll stand in there and get hit and throw the ball. He's made some real good throws down the field on play-action. He's hit a lot of big plays."For both teams.

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins


Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

BROOKLYN, NY – It wasn’t particularly entertaining and it won’t be all that memorable down the ride aside from the timing and importance of the meeting between the Bruins and Islanders. But it was a solid 2-1 team win for the Bruins over the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night with the B’s grinding all the way down to the end while protecting a one-goal lead through much of the third period.

Nearly everybody across Boston’s roster contributed in the major victory over the team trying to bypass them in the wild card standings, and it was a beautiful thing. Anton Khudobin stepped up when Tuukka Rask couldn’t start Saturday night’s showdown with a lower body issue, and Riley Nash supplied both Boston goals from a fourth line that’s played some of their best hockey lately.

It was unlikely heroes all around for the Black and Gold in the tightly-wound contest, but that diversity of talent and production can be a very good thing for a team looking to make that playoff push.

“You have to stay with it. You have to stay in the moment and stay with the game no matter what’s happening during the game. That’s how you get results, and that’s how you find ways to persevere through adversity,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We just got back to playing stingy, especially in the neutral zone. We got away from it the last few games, and it was nice tonight to be back playing a low-scoring game like what we’re used to playing.”

When it was all said and done the Bruins only allowed 19 shots on net and also killed off six penalties in the kind of grinding defensive showdown that you haven’t seen all that much out of the Black and Gold lately. It was exactly what Cassidy was looking for to snap the four-game losing streak, and once again start pushing the Bruins upward into the playoff chase.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard and fighting that hard to see pucks and find pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Cassidy. “From the goalie on out, everybody was in there [in the win]. It was a tough game. It was a nice Bruins win. We had been doing it with offense earlier, and we’ve got to be able to do it both ways. You need to be able to win 2-1 hockey games, and it had been awhile.”

Now it’s simply up to the Bruins to be feeling good about their latest win while going back to basics, and looking for more next time around after ending their worst losing streak of the season.

Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask


Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

BROOKLYN, NY – Things didn’t go so well last season for the Bruins when Tuukka Rask suddenly wasn’t well enough to play in the last game of the season, so there was good reason for the B’s to be a little nervous when their No. 1 goalie again couldn’t answer the bell Saturday night vs. the Islanders.

Anton Khudobin had won four games in a row headed into Saturday night, of course, and in his previous start he’d helped snap a 10-game winning streak for the Calgary Flames. So perhaps it wasn’t all that surprising when Khudobin stood tall for the Bruins making 18 saves in a tight, nervy 2-1 win over the Isles at the Barclays Center.

“You don’t have that many shots, but maybe 10 scoring chances…that can be tougher than seeing 30 shots and same amount of scoring chances,” said Khudobin. “But I’m glad got the job done, we got our points and we got the ‘W’.”

It wasn’t wall-to-wall action in a game where both teams combined for 37 shots on net, but it was still impressive that Khudobin and the B’s special teams killed off six Islander power plays in such a tight hockey game. After the B’s backup netminder was lauded for the way he battled in the crease and competed for pucks like his team’s very life was on the line in a pivotal game.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard, and fighting that hard to see pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I loved his performance. He’s a battler. He got swimming a couple of times, but that’s Dobby. He keeps it interesting for you. He’s a battler and he always has been. That’s what we needed tonight.”

One could spend days analyzing Cassidy's words and wondering much of that was deserved, appreciative praise for Khudobin, and how much of that might have been a veiled message to Boston's No. 1 goaltender sitting back home in Boston. 

The best save of the night probably won’t even count as a save for the Russian netminder. It was John Tavares, after having beaten Khudobin once in the first period, moving into the offensive zone with speed during a third period power play, and getting an open look at the net front in the high slot. Khudobin thought quickly and dropped into the unconventional double-stack pad save that seemed to throw Tavares off just a little, and the Isles sniper smoked the shot off the crossbar rather than tying up the game.

“I didn’t touch it. I didn’t really have time to get there, so the only thing I tried to do was the two-pad stack, old school Bob Essensa-style,” said Khudobin, who has now improved to 6-5-1 with a 2.60 goals against and an .899 save percentage this season. “Then he hit the crossbar. You need to get some luck in this league, and if you don’t get luck you’re going to lose games.”

A little luck and a little good, old-fashioned battling between the pipes was enough for Khudobin and the Bruins in Saturday night’s mammoth win. Now the questions become whether or not to go right back to Khudobin again on Tuesday at home against the Nashville Predators.