Bruins' Krug wide-eyed after NHL debut

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Bruins' Krug wide-eyed after NHL debut

BOSTON -- It hasn't hit him yet. And how could it?

It wasn't too long ago that Torey Krug was Michigan State captain, in his junior year. He was a Hobey Baker Award finalist. And weeks later, he's suiting up for the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.

"This is what you dream of, the second that you're put up on ice skates," said Krug after making his NHL debut on Tuesday night at the TD Garden. "And I was put up on skates the day I could walk. So, I've been around hockey my whole life, and this is a dream come true."

Krug signed an entry-level contract with the Bruins last week, and had been practicing with the team, when he was told, following Monday's skate, that he'd be playing on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The game didn't mean much to the Bruins and their playoff hopes. They've already clinched the division, and they know they're going into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the East.

So it was a perfect time to get the 20-year-old, 5-foot-9 defenseman some playing time.

"It was a lot of fun, something Ill remember forever," said Krug. "Unfortunately, we didnt get the result that we wanted, but it was a lot of fun.

The Bruins lost 5-3, and Krug was on the ice for four goals -- two Bruins goals and two Penguins goals.

He finished with no points, but played over 18 minutes, which stood as the third-most minutes on the team, behind Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg.

"I thought he handled himself well," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "I liked the way he moved the puck. I think everybody who knows the game realizes that he's a good puck-mover. His mobility was obvious.

"The only thing I would tell you is that, you could see him in the defensive zone, really thinking about trying to play within our system. And sometimes he was maybe just a fraction of a second delayed, which is totally normal. But once he knew what he had to do, he went. There was no hesitation, once his mind was made up. And that will only get better, as it becomes second nature. That's totally natural for a guy playing in his first game.

"But the rest of it, when he had the puck, he didn't hesitate," added Julien. "I thought he moved it well and made great passes."

Krug isn't eligible to play in the playoffs. But the experience on Tuesday night was something he'll never forget.

"I dont even know if its hit me yet," said Krug after Tuesday's game. "Its awesome. Ive come in, and its a tough time to come into a locker room, but all the guys have been very well receptive and Im very thankful for that.

"The biggest advice I was given was have fun and be myself. You know, when it comes down to it, its just another hockey game and its just a level higher. All the guys said, Have fun, youre going to remember this for the rest of your life.' And I think I did that."

Belichick on start of 42nd season: 'Each year is different'

Belichick on start of 42nd season: 'Each year is different'

FOXBORO -- He may be in his 42nd year in the National Football League, but for Bill Belichick, no two seasons are the same. As training camp practices get underway for the Patriots on Thursday, he'll be dealing with scenarios and skill sets that he hasn't yet seen.

This isn't Groundhog Day for him. Every year is different.

"It absolutely is," he said Wednesday. "Even though fundamentally I think a lot of things are the same -- things you have to do in camp in order to prepare for a season -- but each year is different.

"Players are different, teams we play are different, things change in the league, there are some rule modifications, or whatever. Things like that. So, every year is different and the chemistry – each team is different. Even with some of the same players there’s still always a little bit of a different mix. We’ll just have to see how it all goes. I don’t try and predict it. I don’t try and control it. It will just work itself out. We’ve got a lot of snaps out there, a lot of days, a lot of training camp days. It will all take care of itself."

Different as the Patriots situation may be to start this season, players who have come to know Belichick have come to expect a consistent approach. With so many variables swirling around each team every year, Belichick's mindset is constant.

After 42 years and four Super Bowl titles, it's clear he believes he's found something that works.

"I think the thing that’s remarkable about Bill is his approach," said Matthew Slater, one of the longest-tenured Patriots on the team, a fifth-round draft pick in 2008. "He hasn’t changed at all, and that consistency in his attitude and preparation, the things that he values and the things he tries to stress to his team. It’s really remarkable.

"I think it would be easy for him to become complacent. It’s human nature, once you have success you kind of exhale and think you have it figured out. And if anyone has it figured out it’s Bill Belichick. But you wouldn’t know it by the way he prepares, by the urgency with which he coaches us, the hours he puts in. That’s really been impressive to me in my time here, whether we go out and win a Super Bowl or don’t make the playoffs, he’s always been consistent in that regard."

For second straight year, Branch opens camp on active/NFI list

For second straight year, Branch opens camp on active/NFI list

FOXBORO -- Unless there's a late change to his status, Alan Branch will not be practicing with the Patriots when they open training camp on Thursday.

The veteran defensive lineman was placed on the active/non-football injury list on Wednesday, making him ineligible to practice with the team until he's removed. Branch will still count against the Patriots 90-man roster while he's on the active/NFI list.

Branch began training camp on the active/NFI list last year as well. It was reported then that he had failed a conditioning run, which led to him being held out of practices until Aug. 10.

Once Branch was cleared to play, he was one of New England's most effective and durable interior defensive linemen. He played in all 16 regular-season games, starting all but one. He was on the field for 40.5 percent of the team's snaps, seeing time in a rotation with a handful of others that included then-rookie Malcom Brown.

Headed into camp this year, Branch figured to play a significant role up front yet again, teaming up with Brown as well as free-agent signee Terrance Knighton and rookie fourth-round draft choice Vincent Valentine. With Branch unavailable for practice, that should free-up snaps for his teammates who play the same position -- a group that includes the three names mentioned above as well as two more free-agent adds in Markus Kuhn and Frank Kearse.

Branch was present for mandatory minicamp this spring, but he did not attend New England’s optional OTA practice sessions.

Source: Sox seek smaller pieces, not big names, at trade deadline

Source: Sox seek smaller pieces, not big names, at trade deadline

BOSTON -- According to an N.L. talent evaluator who is familiar with some of the Red Sox ongoing talks with teams leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline, the Sox seem focused on adding a bullpen piece and/or back-end starters.

The need for the former is rather obvious, given the current injuries to Criag Kimbrel and Koji Uehara. The Sox can use some upgrades and another experienced arm to guide them through the final two months.

As for the rotation, it's not a surprise that the Sox aren't serious bidders for more glamorous names like Chris Sale, since that would require them to gut their farm system.

But the team's starter depth is perilous, with only Clay Buchholz in reserve. It makes perfect sense that the Sox would be seeking someone else to help provide them with insurance against further injuries or under-performance.