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.

Brown taking opportunities with Celtics as they come

Brown taking opportunities with Celtics as they come

BOSTON -- Compared to most high draft picks, Jaylen Brown doesn’t log a ton of minutes for the Boston Celtics.
 
Playing on an experienced team with legit hopes of making a deep playoff run, rookies seeing limited minutes is a given.
 
Knowing playing time will come in a limited supply, Brown understands all too well the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity he gets on the floor.
 
He did just that on Saturday in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia, and he hopes to do more of the same on Monday when the Celtics take on the Houston Rockets.
 
When you look at Brown’s stat line, nothing about it looks impressive. He played 15 minutes, scored two points with one rebound and one blocked shot.
 
But beyond the stats was the fact that he was on the floor for seven minutes in the fourth quarter in a close back-and-forth game on the road. Rookies on the floor in crunch time is not the norm in the NBA.
 
“It means a lot,” Brown told reporters after Saturday’s win. “I try to be as best I can be for my team; try to put my best foot forward every night out.”
 
And he did just that on Saturday.
 
In the fourth quarter with the Celtics leading 87-83, Brown blocked a Gerald Henderson shot that wound up in the hands of Jae Crowder. Moments later, Jonas Jerebko hit a 3-pointer that gave the Celtics their largest lead of the game, 90-83.
 
And just two minutes prior to the blocked shot, he was out in transition following an Isaiah Thomas steal and threw down a dunk that pushed Boston’s lead to 86-83 with 7:11 to play.
 
Brown acknowledged making the most of those opportunities bodes well for him and the franchise.
 
“It’s great for our team in general; not just for me,” Brown said. “Those plays helped us to pull the game out in the end. So I’m glad we got the win. I think we should have played a little better than we did.”
 
The continued pursuit of self-improvement is a hallmark of what Brown’s focus and desire are at this stage of his pro career. He has talked often about not wanting to be just one of the best in this draft class but also one of the best in the NBA overall.
 
But he’s also learned that to get there takes time and experience developing both physically and mentally. Part of that mental growth entails having the right approach to games.
 
“Usually you try to tell yourself not to mess up,” Brown said. “Now that I’m getting more comfortable, it’s just play basketball, bring energy, things like that; come out and do what you’re supposed to do. A lot of times you try to tell yourself to not mess up and it’s counteractive; just come out and play basketball and have fun.”
 
And by doing so the minutes will come.
 
“You can’t control that. I just have to control what I can control,” Brown said. “I trust coach (Brad Stevens); I trust my coaching staff. I have to come out and in the minutes I get, play my hand as best I can and take advantage of what I do get and impact this team as much as possible.”
 
This season, Brown is averaging 4.8 points, 2.0 rebounds while shooting 41.9 percent from the field.

Zolak: Bennett helps with Gronk loss, but Pats need to manage him

Zolak: Bennett helps with Gronk loss, but Pats need to manage him

Scott Zolak said on Pregame Live Sunday that the Patriots are better-suited to survive a season-ending injury to Rob Gronkowski than they were a season ago. 

Zolak said that given the health of Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and the signing of Chris Hogan, the offense has more stability at other positions to make up for the loss of Gronkowski, whose season is over due to back surgery. As for the tight end position, Zolak said he feels the Patriots traded for Martellus Bennett to protect themselves against scenarios like the one they currently face. 

“This offseason they [acquired] Martellus Bennett, I think for this very reason: to prepare for what really happens year after year, is some sort of issue comes up with Rob Gronkowski and you have to play without him,” Zolak said.

Bennett was questionable with an ankle injury for this week’s game, but is expected to play. Asked about the health of Bennett, Zolak said that he believes the tight end is good to play, but that his importance to the team with Gronkowski out means the Pats will need to be careful. 

“I think he’s healthy enough to get through about 30-35 snaps,” Zolak said. “They’ve got to balance him now moving forward.”