Bruins third line tearing it up in November


Bruins third line tearing it up in November

WILMINGTON The Bruins are darn near impossible to beat when theyre getting contributions from their bottom six forwards, and thats a big reason for their giant November.

The Bs third line, in particular, has been on fire as Boston has captured 11 wins during 12 games over the past month while rocketing up the standings in the Eastern Conference. Everybody has noticed the seven goals and 11 points chalked up by the suddenly dangerous Chris Kelly, but the sneaky quick Rich Peverley has stepped up with a goal and nine assists along with a plus-8 in 10 games.

Who would have guessed that with December right around the corner Kelly would have more goals than Jason Spezza, Henrik Sedin, Teemu Selanne, Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin?

Its going well and the team is doing well. The personal accolades are there right now, but I dont change my game too much, said Kelly. Its about our line being as consistent as they can be. We dont dwell on it when they dont, or get too excited when shots are falling.

Benoit Pouliot and Jordan Caron have teamed up for three goals and six points during Bostons winning binge as well, and have given the Bruins the depth needed for their system to have effectiveness. When the Bruins come in wave after wave of forwards shifts and pressure the other teams defensemen, it creates the turnovers and mistakes that eventually lead to Boston offense.

Its the formula that worked after the Bruins brought in Kelly and Peverley at the trade deadline, its the one that allowed them to roll through four very good teams en route to the Stanley Cup and its been key to the November roll theyve found themselves riding.

The fourth line has likewise chipped in with four goals after a quiet first month to the season, and its all part of the Black and Gold strategy. When the third and fourth line kicks in offense, good things start to happen.

Weve been trying to build our team that way for a few years, said Claude Julien, who has rolled four lines during his tenure in Boston through thick and thin times. You try to get at least three lines that can score on a regular basis, and we actually feel that our fourth line can do that also. But their job first and foremost is to give our team energy and they do that very well.

With the way our team is built its exactly the way we wanted it built.

There are legitimate questions as to whether the Bruins can keep up that kind of production all season, of course. But its increasingly tough to argue with the way the Bruins are built based on last years Stanley Cup, and the way theyve roared back from the abyss of a dismal 3-7 start in October. If depth is the answer in todays NHL then Kelly and the Bruins arent facing too many more questions after a month to remember.

Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett


Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett

PITTSBURGH – So far this season, Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski have combined for 39 catches, 644 yards and five touchdowns. Making the numbers that much more impressive is the fact the numbers were rolled up with Gronk inactive for two games and fairly useless in another thanks to his hamstring injury.

Will the Steelers slow the roll of Robellus Grennetski?

Hard to imagine. As Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out, Gronk alone has tuned up the Steelers with 26 receptions for 403 yards and seven touchdowns in six meetings.

Fittipaldo explored the strategies the Steelers defense may unveil Sunday afternoon when the Patriots and Steelers get going. He also pointed out that the return of linebacker Ryan Shazier after a three week layoff and injuries for safeties Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden may put Pittsburgh at a disadvantage.

Said Shazier: “They have the tandem they want at tight end. Now they can use tight ends the way they want. You have to respect everyone on the field. Both of them are good blockers, good pass threats and great at running after the catch.”

Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said Pittsburgh will alter its approaches.

“We have to be able to play more than one defense,” Butler said. “They’re very good and they’ll pick you apart if they can figure out what you’re doing. We just have to execute the defense more than anything else. If we can do that … that’s been our problem for the most part. Some of the things that went on last week, we missed some things we should have made mentally.”

What “went on last week” was a 30-15 loss to the Dolphins.

Pittsburgh hasn’t been a big-play group so far -- eight sacks and three picks -- nor have they seen a gauntlet of great quarterbacks in the first six games. 

Interestingly, their losses have been to Ryan Tannehill and rookie Carson Wentz, probably the two quarterbacks one would figure Pittsburgh would do best against.
Between a smoking hot Brady and a can’t-be-stopped tight end tandem, there’s probably not a lot Pittsburgh can do aside from hoping for an off day.

Said linebacker Arthur Moats hopefully: “You have to continue to mix it up against (Gronkowski). You can’t give him the same look over and over. He has success on guys like that. If we disrupt him, and rush Brady and speed up his clock, I definitely think that will help out.”

In theory, perhaps. In practice? We’ll see.

Game notes: Patriots vs. Steelers


Game notes: Patriots vs. Steelers

A quick look at the information you need to know about today's Patriots-Steelers game:

TEAM RECORDS: Patriots 5-1, Steelers 4- 2

GAME TIME: 4:25 p.m. EST


TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson


NATIONAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Larry Kahn, Mark Carrier and Troy West

LOCAL RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

LOCAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Bob Socci and Scott Zolak


LAST MEETING: Patriots 28, Steelers 21 on Sept. 10, 2015 at Gillette Stadium

* * * *
-- The Patriots are 8-11 against the Steelers in Pittsburgh in their history, but are 4-2 at Heinz Field. Included in those four Heinz Field victories are two in AFC Championship Games (in the 2001 and 2004 seasons).

-- Tom Brady is 8-2 against the Steelers in his career.

-- The last time Brady played the Steelers, in 2015, he set a Patriots franchise record with 19 consecutive pass completions.

-- The Patriots are 108-70 (.607) in road games since 1994, the best record in the NFL over that span. The Steelers (97- 82, .542) are second.

-- The Patriots have yet to throw an interception in 2016, setting a team record for consecutive games without an interception at the start of a season (6). The NFL record for consecutive games at the start of a season without a pick is 9, set by the 1960 Browns. The Patriots' franchise record for overall consecutive games with no interceptions is 8, set in 2010.

* * * *
-- Rob Gronkowski has 67 overall touchdowns and needs one to tie Stanley Morgan (68) for the franchise record.

-- Gronkowski has 66 receiving touchdowns and needs one to tie Morgan (67) for the franchise record.

-- Gronkowski has 22 100-yard receiving games, including two in 2016, and is tied with Jackie Smith for the third-most among all NFL tight ends. The only TEs who have more are Kellen Winslow (24) and Tony Gonzalez (31).