Bruins can't get it together for matinee games

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Bruins can't get it together for matinee games

PITTSBURGH Its a good thing the NHL doesnt carry too many playoff matinee games.

The Bruins have continued a long string of subpar performances in matinee games this season, and dropped to 4-8-2 in matinees this season when they fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 5-2 score at the CONSOL Energy Center on Sunday afternoon.

The Bruins didnt look ready to play on Sunday and its difficult to argue with a 3-0 deficit after the first 20 minutes even if there were a couple of good scoring chances from the David KrejciMilan LucicTyler Seguin line to open the proceedings.

The simple truth is this: the Bruins have been outscored 10-4 in the first period of their last nine matinee games this season and that speaks a problem getting things moving in these early starts.

Claude Julien saw it as a coincidence and didnt think his team showed any evidence of sluggishness in the first period.

When you look at today I dont think we were skating in quicksand. Theres nothing to that, said Julien. I think yesterday was about two early goals again when we had the better scoring chances earlier in the game.

I dont attribute the losses to the time of the game. I attribute the loss to what we do during the game.

Pittsburghs first goal was clearly a simple bounce of the puck when a blocked shot landed on Arron Ashams stick and the Penguins were off and running in the first period. But the Penguins carried that momentum through the entire first period, and their first line players Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz and James Neal had their way with a Bruins team that appeared a little dazed after similarly falling behind early against Washington on Saturday afternoon.

The Bruins all scratched their heads when presented with the matinee stats after their loss to the Penguins. But they also know that they have to be better with the Senators breathing down their necks only two points behind in the Northeast Division.

Ive got no clue. Weve got to be ready. Were professionals, said Johnny Boychuk. You give up three goals in the first . . . thats unacceptable. Whether its a matinee or not its simply unacceptable.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious. 

Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

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Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.

Boston maintained a 5 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL's second wild card. While the Red Sox technically have a magic number of one, the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles play each other three times in the season's final week - meaning only one of them can win match Boston's 91 wins.

Among the other wild-card contenders, only Detroit can reach 91 victories.

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook's grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez's grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.