Bruins offense awakens, beat Leafs, 5-4

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Bruins offense awakens, beat Leafs, 5-4

TORONTO The Bruins needed a team identity-type effort while battling to put the proper spin on the rest of the regular season, and they appeared to have found it against the free-falling Maple Leafs.

The Bruins got two goals apiece from Charlestown roommates Jordan Caron and Tyler Seguin and poured on the offense in a gritty 5-4 victory over Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. The win snaps a two-game losing streak for the Bruins and further pushes down a Toronto team that appears to be fading away from any potential playoff hopes.

The Bruins trailed early in the game when Carl Gunnarson snapped off a one-timer just over three minutes into the first period, but Caron tied it before the first intermission by crashing the net for a loose puck rebound.

Then the Black and Gold poured it on with four goals in the second period after Toronto again opened the scoring with a John Michael-Liles rebound attempt after Tim Thomas fell on his rear end making the original save.

Seguin had a tip on a beautiful Zdeno Chara dangle past a disinterested Phil Kessel that tied things up again. Chris Kelly flipped home a rebound after Caron created a scoring chance by carrying Toronto defenders to the net with him, and Caron and Seguin both closed out the scoring with one more goal apiece.

There was the Big Bad Bruins rough stuff as well as Shawn Thornton and Jay Rosehill had a punishing bout and Dennis Seidenberg hammered Colby Armstrong into a bloody pulp out of frustration in the second period.

Mikhail Grabovski beat Thomas to the glove hand in the third period to make it interesting, but Thomas (25 saves) and the Bs held on for the needed victory.
GOLD STAR: Jordan Caron seems to have tapped into his confidence and play-making abilities all at once for the Bruins in their biggest moment of need. Caron potted a career-high two goals and registered three points in the Bs win to build on what many agreed was his best game as an NHL player Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. On the two-game road trip Caron has five points and a plus-5 with the second-highest ice time total (14:20) of the season for him at the Air Canada Centre. Caron looks like hes tapping into the things that made him a first round pick: taking the puck hard to the net while carrying defenders with him and pouncing on loose biscuits around the net.

BLACK EYE: Greg Zanon is a minus-4 thus far in the Bruins uniform and screened Tim Thomas on Carl Gunnarssons goal that opened things up for Toronto in the first period. He did finish with four hits and a pair of blocked shots, but hes had a high number of incidents around the net after looking solid in his Bs debut. He did finish with his highest ice total (14:59) as a member of the Bruins, but theres been a noticeable drop-off in defense since Zanon took his place.

HONORABLE MENTION: Tyler Seguin has nine points, six goals and a plus-6 in five games against the Maple Leafs this season, and has completely owned them. Its important for the younger guys on the Bruins to rise up and strike when it appears some of the veterans are getting a bit heavy-legged, and both Seguin and Jordan Caron filled that role nicely as twenty-something prodigies playing with a spark. Its got to sting Leafs Nation each time Seguin whisks into Toronto and dances all over their nonexistent defense and goaltending tandem.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins scored a pair of goals just 42 seconds apart in the first three minutes of the second period Tyler Seguin with a tip off a nice play by Zdeno Chara and Chris Kelly attacking a rebound of a Jordan Caron power forward drive to the cage -- and knocked the Maple Leafs on their heels with the quick strike capability theyve shown at times this season. The Leafs did end up tying the game, but the Bruins showed a couple of the unmistakable signs (one-sided fights, quick strike offense) that theyre getting in touch with their team identity and kept pouring it on Toronto.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5-0 the Bruins record against the Maple Leafs this season as theyve outscored them by a 28-10 margin.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Adam McQuaid fights enough. I've got to stand up for myself." Dennis The German Destroyer Seidenberg after taking umbrage with a Colby Armstrong hit that came up a little too high for his liking, and then busting up Armstrongs nose in a rare, bloody fight for the easygoing Bs defenseman.

Injury report: Amendola out for Ravens game, Bennett questionable

Injury report: Amendola out for Ravens game, Bennett questionable

Wide receiver Danny Amendola was officially listed as out on the injury report for the Patriots' Monday night home game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Amendola injured his ankle on a punt return against the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. It will be the first game he's missed this season. The Patriots signed veteran wide receiver and kick returner Griff Whalen during the week.

Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle, shoulder) is among the Pats listed as questionable, along with special teams ace Matt Slater (foot), who missed the Rams game, safety Jordan Richards (knee), linebacker Elandon Roberts (hamstring) and cornerback Eric Rowe (hamstring).

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

FOXBORO – Griff Whalen was at the epicenter of one of the stupidest, funniest, most “did that just happen?!” plays in NFL history.

So indescribable it never even really earned a name, it was the fourth-down gadget play the Colts tried to run against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football in the first meeting between the teams after Indy ran to the principal’s office to start Deflategate. 

Whalen was the center on that play (I tried to call it “Fourth-and-Wrong” but it didn’t take) and the millisecond between him snapping the ball and the three players processing that the ball had indeed been snapped is perhaps my favorite moment of the past several seasons. 

Whalen is a Patriot now, brought in this week in the wake of Danny Amendola’s knee injury presumably to fill Amendola’s role as a punt returner and wideout. The Colts released him last January, the Dolphins picked him up and cut him at the end of training camp and the Chargers had him on their roster from mid-September until releasing him last month after eight games, two catches and 22 yards. He returned kickoffs for San Diego but no punts since 2015.

The primary area of need for the Patriots is on punt returns. Rookie Cyrus Jones’ transition to appearing comfortable remains glacially slow. It was Jones’ muff last week that brought on Amendola in relief. When Amendola hurt his ankle on a late-game return, the Patriots were forced to decide between Jones, wideout Julian Edelman (who doesn’t need extra work) and making a move.

Whalen is a move they made.

The slight and baby-faced Whalen indicated he had fielded some punts in practice, saying it went, “Fine.” Punt returns are something he’s done “since I was a kid.”

His first impression of the team was, "A lot of what I expected to see. A lot of detail. A lot of effort in practice. Good coaching all-around. I am excited to be here. I was excited to come into a good team that I’d gone against a few times. Hopefully come in and help out the team with whatever I can.”

I asked Whalen if he saw much of the commentary or creativity last year’s failed play spawned.

“I wasn’t paying too much attention,” he said. “When it’s during the season guys are pretty locked in on what they’re doing inside the building. But I heard more about it later on afterwards.”

Asked if he’d heard anything about the play since being here, Whalen replied, “I haven’t. Kinda was [expecting it].”

The Patriots will be hoping Whalen remains as productive for them on fourth down this year as he was in 2015.