Bruins know they can't take Sabres lightly

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Bruins know they can't take Sabres lightly

BUFFALO -- Claude Julien has pointed out in recent days that the Bruins need to do a better job focusing in games against teams out of the playoff race.

There is good reason for that.

The B's have 16 regulation losses on the season, and 10 of them have come against non-playoff teams. That speaks to a loss of focus against lesser teams, and difficulty keeping their level of play consistent regardless of the opponent.

Of course the Bruins are Stanley Cup champs and theyve already experienced epic clashes with the class of the league this season. Their games against the Flyers, Rangers, Penguins, Canucks and Red Wings were all days when the Black and Gold put their best foot forward.

But with teams scratching and clawing to say alive as the regular-season schedule begins to shrink in the dog days of February, points became more difficult to come by and Buffalo should be a great example of that on Wednesday night at the First Niagara Center.

Theyre playing well right now. The first two games we played against them were good games and were not expecting anything different, said Chris Kelly. They want to move up the standings just like we do. If you look there are a lot of three point games at this time of year and teams are bearing down.

If theres a chance for at least one point then you better believe both teams are going to get that point. There are no easy points in the second half and that hasnt been a secret for years.

Julien is fully aware that the Sabres have won three of their last four games, and are in the last gasps of their playoff hopes. Buffalo sits 11 points behind Ottawa for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but does hold some games in hand.

The Sabres also still hold quite a healthy bit of ill will for the Bruins after Milan Lucic took out Ryan Miller with an open ice collision thats seemingly set Buffalos season on a spiraling path ever since.

Every team is battling to stay in the playoffs or for a playoff spot, said Julien. We expect every team from here on in until the trade deadline, at least, to be very hard to play against; even after that there will be teams looking to be spoilers and guys fighting for jobs on teams that wont be making the playoffs.

The rest will be about fighting for position. I dont think there will be any easy games from here on in.

It sounds like it should be a fun ride for the rest of the season with the grind portion of the regular season officially entered.

Belichick: Brady-less Patriots ‘just really focused on Buffalo’

Belichick: Brady-less Patriots ‘just really focused on Buffalo’

FOXBORO -  A verrrrrryyyy long time ago, the Patriots targeted September. There were t-shirts and everything printed back in 2002 as the Patriots came off of their first Super Bowl title.

The names of that season’s first four opponents – Steelers, Jets, Chiefs and Chargers – were all listed on a bullseye.

How’d that work out? Well, they hit the bullseye for most of September, winning the first three. Then they lost four in a row and the notion of “targeting” a segment of the schedule around these parts went the way of the Dodo bird.

Which may be why, as truly remarkable as this September’s been, Bill Belichick isn’t taking any bows after three damn wins.

“We’re just really focused on Buffalo,” Belichick told me Friday morning when I asked about whether winning the first three in the face of some adversity was a point of pride. “I don’t really care about last week. I don’t really care about two weeks ago. I don’t really care about last year. I don’t really care about four years ago. I don’t really care. I think we’re just trying to get ready and compete against Buffalo. That’s our challenge this week.

“The rest of it – it’s in the books. It is what it is,” he said. “So write whatever you want to write about it. It’s good, it’s bad, I mean I don’t really care. It’s done. We’ve got to do a good job of what we have here with Buffalo. We can’t live in the past. And I respect where you’re coming from, I really do. It’s not like I’m trying to be dismissive of it, but I really don’t care. It doesn’t really matter. Nothing that happened last year, last week, last month really has anything to do with this week.”

Things change after Sunday. The best player the franchise has ever had rejoins a team that – in spite of the adversity – flourished without him. Even though the competition wasn’t what one would call “stiff” compared to challenges Brady faced as recently as last January, it’s still remarkable.

Asked about Brady’s looming return, wide receiver Julian Edelman also redirected.

“We got a game before that,” he pointed out. “When he comes back we'll obviously be happy but we got a job ahead of us with the Buffalo Bills.” 

Asked if there’s some pride taken in the beginning, Edelman replied, “It’s just having pride in your job in general. Really just focusing every week and trying to improve. I say it every week on these cameras, if you try to get better and you get better every week, you're gonna do these things. 

“It tells you that you have a mentally tough team that goes out there and works hard and prepares hard and does the extra things,” Edelman added. “I've been around here a little while and that's just the mentality we've always had and continue to have. We have a tough one against the Bills and we'll see how it tests out against these guys.”

 

 

Patriots-Bills injury report: Garoppolo, Brissett listed as questionable

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Patriots-Bills injury report: Garoppolo, Brissett listed as questionable

The inury report for Sunday's Patriots-Bills game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

OUT
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

QUESTIONABLE
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
TE Charles Clay (knee)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)