Bruins keep eyes on the scoreboard, look to extend lead

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Bruins keep eyes on the scoreboard, look to extend lead

EL SEGUNDO, CA The Bruins know theyve got a golden chance to wrap things up after two months of struggle.

All of the players, coaches and management in the Bs organization freely admit theyre checking the scores at dinner, and Tyler Seguin admitted he has the TSN application on his blackberry to check the standings and scoreboard. The Bruins know theyre three points ahead of the Ottawa Senators in the Northeast Division, and they also know that they gained another potential game in hand when Ottawa dropped a 5-1 decision to the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.

That makes it three losses in a row for a Senators team that magic carriage appears to be turning into a pumpkin at the end of the regular season. Now only a few wins from the Bruins could sew things up for the Northeast Division tile.

With cell phones now youre always at dinner checking your phone for the scores. Its not too easy getting hockey here in LA with the basketball games going on right now. This time of year youre always scoreboard-watching, said Julien. Thats a natural thing. Ottawa has given us an opportunity here, and weve got to seize it. They lost last night and now weve got another game in hand. Weve got to win those if we want to finish in that position.

With the new rules in effect that place importance on regulationovertime wins as the first tie-breaker while excluding the shootout wins its another nuance within the box score that the Bs coach is paying close attention to in this final handful of games.

Florida is right behind us as well and Buffalo is pushing from underneath now too. Its on us to take advantage of the opportunities given to us. Its in our control. The real interesting thing this year is the regulation and overtime wins, said Julien. Youre watching those too because theyre going to count this year as a tie-breaker if it goes down to that kind of stuff.

Clearly the Florida Panthers are still close at hand with a chance to overtake the Bruins for the No. 2 seed in the East, but that should only add to the urgency this weekend with tonights tilt against the Kings followed by Sundays showdown with the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center. After dropping the first game on the West Coast with an offensive no-show against the San Jose Sharks, the urgency has heightened for the California weekend of hockey.

This is a good opportunity for us, said Tyler Seguin, who was among the Bs forwards that never found their legs Thursday night in San Jose. We looked at this trip as an important one before we left Boston. With the time changes, the flights and the quality of the teams we were playing against, we need to play good hockey and hopefully that will be reflected in the standings.

The Bruins now have their chance to crush down those teams attempting to catch them from behind in the standings, and this weekend will tell the tale of whether they take advantage of it.

Friday, Aug. 26: Coyotes keep taking on dead money in latest deal

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Friday, Aug. 26: Coyotes keep taking on dead money in latest deal

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while finally catching up on “The Man in the High Tower” on Amazon.

*The Coyotes and Panthers executed a trade sending Dave Bolland to Arizona, and it’s not exactly great news for Gary Bettman with Arizona continuing to take on a lot of dead money.

*Alex Pietrangelo was appropriately humbled to be named the 21st captain in the history of the St. Louis Blues.

*The Colorado Avalanche have a new head coach, and his name is Jared Bednar, who it is said will get the players to play hard for him.

*The footage of somebody in full goalie equipment running away from a burglary scene is something out of a movie.

*The New York Rangers can never have enough depth, and that’s why they added Brandon Pirri to the mix on Thursday.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker says Lawson Crouse brings the total package in the trade from Florida to Arizona, and he also brings a player that can take a hell of a hit as he was the guy that got rocked by Charlie McAvoy at the World Junior Showcase earlier this month.  

*It’s only 15 days until the US National Team Development Program gets going with their 2016-17 schedule: here it is in full.

*For something completely different: can you see David Ortiz’s face in this corn maze? This could be like an ink blot test.

 

Foster playing catch-up, could help his cause vs. Panthers

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Foster playing catch-up, could help his cause vs. Panthers

FOXBORO -- When DJ Foster took the field for Patriots OTAs, he looked as advertised: quick, a crisp route-runner, and the owner of a pair of dependable hands. But that was back when players wore shorts to every practice. Since then, the undrafted rookie running back out of Arizona State hasn't had the opportunity to do much other than work on his conditioning while the majority of his teammates practiced. 

That could soon change. Though Foster has dealt with what he calls a "nagging" injury throughout much of training camp, he felt well enough this week to return to practice, and on Friday night he is likely to see preseason game action for the first time this summer.

The reason Foster's preseason debut could carry some importance is that he happens to play a position that may qualify as the thinnest on the Patriots roster right now. Because sub back extraordinaire Dion Lewis will not be healthy enough to start the season, and because coach Bill Belichick opted to part ways with veteran Donald Brown recently, the team is low on numbers in their running back room.

If Foster can capitalize on the opportunities he's given, he may make a case for a roster spot. James White, who is expected to be Lewis' primary replacement, is the other lone true sub back on the roster. Brandon Bolden can fill in at that role on an emergency basis, and Tyler Gaffney has shown he can catch the football when asked, but neither has the kind of pass-catching upside of Foster, who played receiver for the Sun Devils as a senior and racked up 222 receptions during his four-year college career. 

Foster has only so much time to prove he's worthy of a job. The Patriots have to reduce their numbers to 75 by Aug. 30. They need to be down to 53 by Sep. 3. Foster could be a tantalizing prospect to stash on the practice squad, but surely he'd like to make a push for a greater role. 

He explained this week that, despite his recent physical limitations, he won't be holding back whenever he does get a chance to prove himelf. 

"The coaches do a great job at just kind of making sure I'm OK and stuff," he said. "For me, when I'm in there, do what I can, give everything I got -- every rep, every chance I get with the reps. Stay in the playbook, stay involved in the meetings, and just try to learn as much as I can. Whenever I do get an opportunity, go out there and make the most of it."

Against the Panthers, the Patriots coaching staff will have to balance the need to evaluate players like Foster against good competition versus getting the entire team ready for Week 1. For example, they'd like to get a good look at Foster, whose practice reps were next to nil before this week. They'd also probably like to get White as many reps as possible so that he's prepared for the Cardinals. 

Who should play when? And how many snaps do they need? 

"You can’t see D.J. Foster play in this league. You have Arizona State film but that’s all you have, and some of the spring work that he did which is obviously encouraging," Belichick said earlier this week. "We still have him, but there’s just no body of work. Donald Brown, you can see Donald Brown . . . Players like D.J., it’s hard. You don’t have much to go on. But maybe he’ll be able to do more. We’ll get an evaluation of him soon, hopefully."

Friday night could be the night.