Bruins third line tearing it up in November

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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.

Belichick: Patriots play to win in preseason...kind of

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Belichick: Patriots play to win in preseason...kind of

When you check out the Patriots-Panthers game notes on Patriots.com, the lead bullet point is one of the least interesting: "The New England Patriots are off to a 3-0 start in the preseason for the sixth time in team history . . . and for the second time under Bill Belichick."

Belichick and the Patriots went undefeated in preseason play back in 2003. One of the best teams in Patriots history, that group went on to win the franchise's second Super Bowl in three years. 

It's the preseason, though, so who cares about wins and losses? Well, Belichick does. During a conference call on Saturday he was asked if it was a big deal for him and his team to be winning these preseason games, and he responded by explaining his approach to exhibition football.

"I think what we tell our players and coaches is that we’re going to coach and play to win," he said. "We’re obviously not going to pull out all the stops in terms of every trick play we’ve ever used or things like that, but whatever the situation calls for, we’re going to play it as competitively as we can play it given the limitations that we have and based on the amount of experience our players have in the game at that certain point and what we’ve been able to cover."

It makes sense. Obviously teams don't want to reveal any surprise sets they may have saved for the regular season. And coaches aren't going to get exotic with their defensive calls or their offensive formations at this time of year. What basic plays they do run, however, they would like to execute successfully.

They want to win the fight, but they're going to try to do it with their jab and straight right. The combinations and the counters will have to wait.

"We haven’t covered every single thing that we would want to cover or hope to cover to start the season, especially situational football," Belichick added. "But as far as competing and playing, we’re doing everything we can to win., but within the context of doing what we’re capable of doing right now. We’re trying to win, we’re trying to do everything as well as we can do it, but not pulling out all the stops in terms of playing time, strategizing and so forth that we would do in the regular season."