Bruins working on fine-tuning the second period

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Bruins working on fine-tuning the second period

The second period is beginning to look like this seasons bugaboo for a Bruins team without a lot of question marks.

The Bruins were outshot by a 13-6 margin and fell behind the Senators in Tuesday nights second period at TD Garden, but once again their lackluster second period was trumped by a superior effort in the final 20 minutes of the game in a 4-3 victory over Ottawa.

Over the course of the season the second period is the only time the Bruins have been outshot by their opponents by a 518-495 margin though theyve still outscored opponents in the second period by a 51-34 margin. Either way Claude Julien feels that the Bruins have fixed some of their lackluster starts to games that plagued them earlier in the season, and they are the most dominant NHL team in the final 20 minutes over the last two seasons.
But, Boston, theres a problem with the second period. When things arent going well, that seems to be the time when their play wanders away from the systemic game plan the coaches have put in place.

Every year, there seems to be a challenge in certain periods. I thought we were doing a pretty good job earlier on in the second period, but lately thats our game. When our game falters a little bit, we kind of come out with an okay first but then struggle through the second, said Julien. Desperation sets in for the third period, and thats what were trying to do here. Last year was always a 60-minute effort going into the playoffs because the regular season was a challenge in regards to that, and right now it is a bit of a challenge to put a full 60 together.

So put the middle 20 minutes among the check list of things that the Bruins have to work on while eking out games since Christmas, and battling to find the consistency that seemed automatic during the months of November and December. It might start with channeling the same kind of desperation the Bs have in the final 20 minutes with the game on the line. More often than not the Bruins are winning games when theyre not necessarily at their best, and thats the mark of a pretty good hockey team.

Its been necessity, recently. You know, were a good team. We know that. We might not always do it for the whole three periods, which is what we want to do, said Tim Thomas. We did it for a good portion there in November and December. If we havent had a real good period in a game yet then well probably have it in the third, right when we need it.

The second and third periods are probably the perfect example of where both the Bs and Senators franchises are at the moment. Boston is the champion with the confidence theyre going to pull it out in the end while Ottawa still has some questions to answer as a young, contending team that couldnt quite hang with the Bs once the dial got turned up in the third.

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

For weeks the speculation regarding Josh McDaniels wasn't a matter of "if" but "when."

But while national media had McDaniels signed, sealed and delivered to multiple landing spots, the proposition that he'd leave at all was never a likelihood. 

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The Rams weren't attractive to him from the outset. Jacksonville didn't excite him, either. And on Monday, he passed on the 49ers opportunity. 

The lure of a blank slate in San Fran at quarterback and GM didn't outpace the uncertainty of going cross-country to work for a seemingly dysfunctional franchise that's cycled rapidly through coaches and has an unrealistic sense that it's a long, long way removed from its glory days, the only remnant remaining from that being perhaps the logo on the helmet. 

With four kids and a job McDaniels considers one of the 10 best on coaching -- head man or no -- he will stay on as the Patriots' offensive coordinator.

"I was really impressed with (Niners owner) Jed York and (team executive) Paraag Marathe . . . and the people that came from the 49ers organization," McDaniels said on a conference call this morning. "They did a great job with their presentation. Humbled to be included in that process. At this time it's just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England and focus on this year's playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out."

The same faulty speculative reasoning that had McDaniels as good as gone from the Patriots will move on undeterred today and surmise that McDaniels is staying with the Patriots because he knows, or has been promised, that he'll receive the head coaching job when Bill Belichick steps aside. 

While the Kraft family certainly thinks highly of McDaniels and that could come to pass, anyone tapping their foot and checking their watch waiting for Belichick to step down is in for a long wait. He's showing no signs of wrapping it up and, while I haven't been told directly McDaniels isn't the automatic successor, he wouldn't be taking interviews at all if he were assured that. 

What will be interesting to see is whether interest remains high in him for other jobs or the perception that he's never going to leave means teams don't bother to ask. San Fran obviously had its heart set on McDaniels. Even though Nick Caserio passed on the chance to interview with the Niners for their open GM job, the team did talk to Louis Riddick about the spot. He and McDaniels have high regard for each other. 

Between McDaniels, Caserio and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, the people closest to Belichick on the coaching flow chart all had chances to go somewhere else and all passed on the chance. It's another example of not why the Patriots are good but why they remain good. Stability. 
 

Monday, Jan. 15: Matthews jersey sells for big money

Monday, Jan. 15: Matthews jersey sells for big money

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wondering what Claude Julien would do if one of the Bruins players was running Facebook Live during his postgame comments.
 
*Auston Matthews is obviously making a huge impression in Toronto as his Centennial Classic jersey sold for over $11,000 at a charity auction.
 
*Clark Booth knows it’s time to talk about the NFL, but instead he wants to talk about Milt Schmidt. I agree with Clark.

*Sabres goalie Robin Lehner says that his Buffalo teammates need to start doing their job as the season circles down the drain.

*Pierre McGuire talks with TSN sports radio about the Ottawa Senators, and the tough road trip coming up for them.
 
*PHT writer Cam Tucker has more bad news for the Tampa Bay Lightning as Ryan Callahan is going to be out for another four weeks with a lower body injury.
 
*As the Detroit Red Wings continue to round up the bottom in the Atlantic Division, Thomas Vanek may become trade bait.
 
*Peter Budaj is giving the Kings the saves that they need with Jonathan Quick out long term with injury.
 
*For something completely different: Tom E. Curran points out some togetherness issues with the Pittsburgh Steelers based on Antonio Brown’s Facebook post.