Bruins hit the road in search of edge

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Bruins hit the road in search of edge

WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins embark on a four-game road trip that starts Saturday night at the RBC Center against the Carolina Hurricanes, and their coach is looking for some improvement.

Not improvement on the bottom line because the Bs have taken back-to-back home victories over the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens after their loss to the Vancouver Canucks. But instead improvement in their execution and the crispness of their transition game after getting off to rather lethargic starts against both the Jets and the Habs.

The Bruins will face a couple of playoff caliber teams in the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers amid the four games, but theyll also travel to two of the worst Eastern Conference teams in the league this year. Only the New York Islanders have fewer points than the Tampa Bay Lightning and Hurricanes, and those two contests could give the Bruins a chance things going back in the right direction.

It will be Bostons first meeting against the downtrodden Lightning since Nathan Horton and his Bruins teammates ousted them in the Eastern Conference Finals last spring.

Its more about execution. I found that weve lost a little bit of our sharpness. Everything needs to be tape-to-tape passes and needs to have a little jump taking pucks to the net. We just need some sharpness to our game, said Claude Julien. Were lacking in all areas when it comes to sharpness. Weve taken a half-step back I would say, and we need to move forward on this road trip.

Thats essentially what its come to with the Bruins: theyre one point out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference and have piled up 25 wins since the Stanley Cup hangover officially ended on Nov. 1. But Julien is looking to push the Bs toward flawless execution and 60-minute consistency with things slackening during the dog days of January. Its quickly getting toward the portion of the NHL regular season schedule where fatigue can trump just about everything else. The Bs will get a special kind of endurance test after getting an easy home schedule over the first half of the season, and their coach is looking forward to the challenge.

You can never find the ideal place for improving team execution. If we were at home wed be asking them to do it at home. We happen to be on the road, so well ask them to do it on the road, said Julien. Its as simple as that. Its more about doing what we need to do.

The Bruins will certainly need to find their groove over the next four games, and theyll also get Brad Marchand back for the final road tilt against the Devils in Jersey. When the Bs finally get back to the Garden theyll find a red-hot Rangers club waiting for them to square off for Eastern Conference bragging rights. While everybody has talked about how hot the Bruins have been over the last three months the Blueshirts have been every bit as good while dealing with the Winter Classic hoopla.

Theres no need to look past the next four games toward their first meeting of the season against the Rangers, but theres every reason to get all their little issues straightened out before John Tortorellas crew rolls into town.

Mayo: Patriots QB situation has him thinking back to 2008

Mayo: Patriots QB situation has him thinking back to 2008

Jerod Mayo looks at the looming quarterback situation for the Patriots and can’t help thinking back to his rookie season.

The former Patriots linebacker who graduated (ahem) to co-hosting “Quick Slants” with me on Monday nights, was asked how drastic the impact of Brady’s four-game suspension will be.

“I still remember 2008, my rookie year, in the first game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs and Tom tears his ACL,” said Mayo. “Matt Cassel, at the same point, had zero starts just like Jimmy Garoppolo and we won 11 games. I know we missed the playoffs, but we still won 11 games and that’s something.”

Asked what the message Bill Belichick gave the team in the wake of Brady’s injury and what Mayo anticipates the message being now, Mayo answered, “Honestly, it’s so cliché but it’s that ‘next man up’ mentality and the depth of the team that Bill Belichick builds, you just can’t top it.”

Later in the show, Mayo indicated he wouldn’t be surprised if the team did add a little more quarterback depth in camp. In 2015, the team brought on both Ryan Lindley and Matt Flynn as a cushion behind Brady and Garoppolo.  

Report: Benintendi ‘front man’ in Chris Sale trade talks

Report: Benintendi ‘front man’ in Chris Sale trade talks

Any Red Sox trade discussions the past few weeks have pretty much begun and ended with their top two prospects, second baseman Yoan Moncada and outfielder Andrew Benintendi.

As the Red Sox continue their search for starting pitching, those two names keep coming up. So, naturally, comes a report Tuesday that puts Benintendi at the center of a deal for Chicago White Sox left-handed ace Chris Sale. 

Andrew Benintendi “could be the front man in a multi-player Chris Sale trade if talks progress,” according to Chicago-based mlb.com columnist Phil Rogers. 

With top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza dealt to the Padres in trade for Drew Pomeranz, the question is, would Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski further deplete his prospect reserve by dealing Benintendi, the 2015 first-round pick out of Arkansas who is hitting .276 with six homers and 36 RBI in 58 games at Double-A Portland? 

The Red Sox' performance is the next six games until the Aug. 1 trade deadline may hold the answer. 

 

Tuesday’s Red Sox-Tigers lineups: Wright tries to right Sox

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Tigers lineups: Wright tries to right Sox

The Red Sox send knuckleballer Steven Wright (12-5, American League-leading 2.57 ERA) to the mound tonight in the middle game of their three-game series with the Detroit Tigers. 

Wright has won his past four starts. The Tigers counter with right-hander Mike Pelfrey (3-9, 4.78). The Red Sox field their standard lineup, with Ryan Hanigan catching Wright, as they try to rebound from a 4-2 loss on Monday night. 

The lineups:

TIGERS
Ian Kinsler 2B
Jose Iglesias SS
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
Nick Castellanos 3B
Justin Upton LF
Mike Aviles RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Tyler Collins CF

Mike Pelfrey

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Ryan Hanigan C
Brock Holt LF

Steven Wright RHP