Bruins caught "off guard" by Pouliot's absence

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Bruins caught "off guard" by Pouliot's absence

If there is one thing Claude Julien doesnt want this time of year its uncertainty in performance or availability.

He doesnt like being caught off-guard.

There have been issues with Benoit Pouliot in both departments this season, and another incident cropped up just prior to Saturday afternoons 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals. After taking the pregame warm-up Pouliot indicated to the Bruins coaching staff that he wouldnt be able to answer the bell for the game due to a lower body injury suffered earlier this week against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Pouliot was able to play through it on Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres and stayed off the ice Friday when practice was made optional. But the Bruins were caught by surprise at Pouliots inability to play and hadnt called any players up from the AHL Providence Bruins just in case if the worst case scenario presented itself.

Its the lower-body injury. After warm-ups he just said he couldnt go, said Julien. So it caught us a little bit off guard, obviously, and so we dressed with seven Ds.

So instead the Bruins were forced to play defenseman Mike Mottau at forward for the first time in his NHL alongside Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell, and Julien bumped Lane MacDermid up to third line duty. Mottau admitted he was uncomfortable and it certainly wasnt the ideal solution, but the Bruins were able to make due amid difficult circumstances.

Mottau was very, very adequate as a replacement tonight to go out there and do a job when he was called upon, said Julien. Kudos to him for doing a job in a position that hes not used to playing all the time.

Mottau ended up with 6:52 of ice time on eight shifts and registered three hits in a simple crash-and-bang role on the fourth line.

With Pouliots status uncertain for Sunday afternoons matinee against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Bruins recalled rookie forward Max Sauve for the three-game road trip through Pittsburgh and Florida. Sauve met the team prior to their team flight to Pittsburgh and will be available to play against the Penguins in what would be his NHL debut.

Gronkowski returns to practice; Mason, Branch still missing

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Gronkowski returns to practice; Mason, Branch still missing

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had a welcome face back on the practice field on Wednesday, as tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to action after missing the team's previous five practices as he dealt with an injury. 

Gronkowski participated in the warmup period of practice and then remained with the majority of his teammates for drills. 

The last time Gronkowski was spotted on the field was last Monday, which was the first of three joint practices between the Patriots and the Bears. He pulled up after pursuing a Tom Brady pass, walked along the sideline, met with head trainer Jim Whalen, and then left practice early. He did not suit up for Thursday's game against Chicago. 

Gronkowski has not participated in a preseason game since 2012. 

Patriots not spotted at Wednesday's practice were Shaq Mason, Jonathan Cooper, Sebastian Vollmer (on the physically unable to perform list) and Dion Lewis (also on PUP). Alan Branch, who has been suspended by the team before last week's preseason game, was also missing. 

Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Malcolm Mitchell, Shea McClellin, Tre' Jackson (PUP) and Danny Amendola (PUP) were present for warmups but went to a lower field for conditioning. Amendola and Jackson were not in pads for the short-and-shells session. 

Jon Bon Jovi was taking in the session alongside Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. 

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

Hanley Ramirez is getting a night off as the Red Sox look for their third straight win against the Rays tonight at Tropicana Field.

Travis Shaw will play first base, with Brock Holt at third.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Andrew Benintendi LF
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Rick Porcello P

RAYS:
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SH
Matt Duffy SS
Logan Morrison 1B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Bobby Wilson C
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Matt Andriese P