Boston Red Sox

Bergeron's legend grows with courageous Game 6 performance

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Bergeron's legend grows with courageous Game 6 performance

WASHINGTON If Patrice Bergeron has proven anything this season its that he is as tough as they come.

The Bs center and best all-around player fought off a pair of hard-hits from Saturdays Game 5 that dinged him up at TD Garden, and made certain he was in the starting lineup for Sundays Game 6 at the Verizon Center.

Bergeron was essentially playing right wing and allowed Rich Peverley to take face-offs in place of him for the game, but he still managed an assist and 19:41 of ice time while sucking it up playoff-style. Bergerons mere presence buoyed the Bruins and helped lead them to a 4-3 overtime win against the Washington Capitals that sets up Wednesday nights winner-take-all Game 7 at TD Garden.

Were an experienced group and we know what it takes, said Bergeron. Weve been through it before. Its not over until we get that fourth win, but that was a huge effort from us tonight.

Its pretty clear that an upper-body injury is preventing Bergeron from taking face-offs, but it also doesnt appear to be the concussion that most feared when he took heavy shots to the head from Alex Semin and Alex Ovechkin on Saturday. So Peverley won 13-of-24 draws in the victory, and both factored heavily into Bostons first goal of the game in the first period.

The Peverley high tip of an Andrew Ference shot gave the Bruins their first lead of the series heading into the first intermission, and Bergeron actually originally was credited with the goal. But he went straight to the referees and made sure that Peverley was awarded with his team-best third goal of the series.

He competed hard and hes not taking face-offs because hes not 100 to take face-offs, but hes good enough to play through this whole game. He played a real solid game, said Claude Julien. It speaks volumes with this guy. Anytime we talk about this player theres always something new that comes up but that makes him an even greater player.

I think as much as hes extremely respected in the room somehow he became even more today.

He totaled 4:49 of power play time and 1:28 on the penalty kill, and didnt appear to have any limitations other than the face-off restriction.

I was planning to play yesterday after the Game 5 loss, said Bergeron. Peverley is a great player and we were just reading off each other. I knew he was going to be taking the face-offs, so we made the best of it.

Perhaps the best evidence that Bergeron was okay: he insisted on taking one defensive zone face-off in the third period at his right wing spot when Peverley wasnt out on the ice with him.

It was on my side of the ice and Peverley wasnt out there, so, yeah, I made the call, admitted Bergeron.

The Bruins are a better hockey club when Bergeron is on the ice making the calls, and hell be doing just that in the deciding Game 7 on Wednesday night.

Eduardo Rodriguez's delivery wasn't the same after knee injury, until recently

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Eduardo Rodriguez's delivery wasn't the same after knee injury, until recently

BALTIMORE — If you suspected Eduardo Rodriguez’s knee created a residual effect with his mechanics as he struggled in the second half, you were correct. 

It was here in Baltimore on June 1 that Eduardo Rodriguez hurt his right knee, suffering another subluxation, which he’s prone to. Once he came back — a month and a half later, after the All-Star Break — his performances didn’t match the competency he’d shown pre-injury.

Through the first nine starts back, Rodriguez had a 5.47 ERA. He appeared clearly outside of the playoff rotation picture.

The last three outings have left a different impression, and are a product of improved mechanics. The Red Sox feel Rodriguez is lifting  right leg, his lead leg, higher now.

“I think Eddy’s regained more confidence physically over his last three starts,” pitching coach Carl Willis said. “We’ve seen a better delivery. Really since he had come back the injury here, a little bit of abbreviated leg lift. He finally got a little more confidence in picking that knee up and getting a little more drive from his lower half. I think that’s made a huge difference. He’s using his changeup more which is also a huge difference, but I think that lower half has allowed him to do that.”

Rodriguez has a 2.55 September ERA. He has strikeout ability that could be appealing in a postseason setting, but he’s young and inexperienced compared to Rick Porcello and Doug Fister. The fact he’s had confidence issues with his delivery could factor into how the Sox decide their playoff rotation, but his upside and strikeout potential are undeniable.

Rodriguez had a knee subluxation in 2016 that affected his mechanics for a time as well.

Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

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Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

FOXBORO - If Alan Branch is worried about his spot with the Patriots, he isn’t acting that way. A notorious slow starter, Branch played just six snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. And to hear him talk, it’s business as usual.

“It’s not like you can practice 3 technique on a store clerk,” said Branch late Wednesday afternoon. When informed that he probably could if he wanted, Branch smiled and noted “you’d probably get arrested for that.”

All kidding aside, it was stark to see Branch’s ample behind stapled to the bench. He earned a two-year contract this offseason, and his presence on the interior has been critical to the defense’s success. But after getting pushed around a bit too often in that opening night loss to the Chiefs, Branch spent a lot more time watching then playing. Did he know that he wasn’t a big part of the plan?

“That’s another question you gotta ask Bill, man” said Branch. “That’s not something I can talk about.”

Branch has - at times - come off as nonchalant about the game. Wins, losses, big plays, no plays, none of it seems to change his demeanor. Knowing that, I asked him if he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“I mean every player wants to be on the field so it is what it is,” he responded. 

Does he think that he’ll be more involved Sunday against the Texans?

“I don’t know what they plan to do with me,” he said. “i just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work.”

That may be Bill Belichick’s plan: sitting the player to motivate him. It would also seem to be potentially the last resort, and with someone who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, it’s unclear how he’ll respond.