Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Blues

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Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Blues

ST. LOUIS, MO Here are 15 thoughts from the game with the Bruins taking down the St. Louis Blues by a 4-2 score after 60 minutes of action at the Scottrade Center.

FIRST PERIOD

1) Good first period for the Bruins against a team that came to play tonight in St. Louis. Have to like the way the KrejciLucicKelly combo is playing. They produced a pair of goals and have had five or six legitimate scoring chances in the first 20 minutes of play. It looks like Krejci might be playing on right wing for a time moving forward, and that would be perfectly okay as long as all three players produce.

2) BJ Crombeen is a winning type of player. Goes toe-to-toe with Adam McQuaid during a first period fight and then scoops up a garbage man goal in front of the net on a loose puck minutes later. He doesnt score a lot of goals, but hes an undeniable presence for the Blues.

3) Wondering what the referees saw when David Backes stuck out his right leg and leg-checked Brad Marchand near center ice in a hit that was as dangerous as it was obvious. Its becoming more and more clear that the Bruins are viewed through a certain lens when it comes to the NHL officials, and theyre buying into Bostons perceived reputation. Its costs them calls on their call and adds penalties on the other side.

4) Three shots on net, a pair of points and a plus-2 for Chris Kelly in the first 20 minutes. He came to play tonight in a game the Bruins desperately need and thats an example of one player doing their job to help raise the collective result.

5) Tim Thomas appearing to have a difficult time tracking the puck in front of the net. He totally lost sight of the puck that ended up on BJ Crombeens stick for the Blues second goal. Give Ryan Reaves credit for the screen in front, but Thomas needs to find that puck.

SECOND PERIOD

1) Tim Thomas keeping the Bruins in the game right now with the Blues out-shooting the Bs by a 14-4 margin in the second period. His best stop was a flashy glove save on Kris Russell through traffic in the closing ends of the second period that could have been a killer. Thomas with 22 saves in all against St. Louis tonight.

2) Jordan Caron appears to have hit the pine for the Bruins as the CaronCarter CamperBenoit Pouliot line has been getting dominated throughout the game. They actually look like theyre penalty-killing each time theyre on the ice because theyre chasing so much.

3) Speaking of underachieving lines, the Bs fourth line has been on the ice for two goals allowed. Give Shawn Thornton credit, however, for going out there tonight because he looks less than 100 percent. But hes gutting it out.

4) The Bruins are 12-0-0 this season when Chris Kelly scores a goal this season and hes provided the difference-maker thus far. Underscores the importance of Kelly kicking in the incidental offense and that link to the teams success overall.

5) St. Louis crashing the net in a big way throughout the game. Its been so frequent that Tim Thomas actually decked Chris Porter with his blocker on one overly aggressive situation crashing the net. Amazing there are no goalie interference calls tonight when the refs whistled four goalie interference calls at the beginning of this road trip. Absolutely no consistency there whatsoever. Give referee Ian Walsh credit, however, for playing through a fat lip that left him bleeding on the ice earlier. He had to leave briefly to get stitched up, but he was back out there at the end of the second period.

THIRD PERIOD

1) Brad Marchand had gone six games without a goal and hadnt been much of a factor at all. Looks like he might have been woken up by a dirty David Backes leg check in the neutral zone in the first period that went uncalled. Marchand potted a pair of goals including a great tone-setting pick-pocket of Kevin Shattenkirk before firing it past Brian Elliott. Then he potted another one on a breakaway in the third period as an insurance goal. His best goal in weeks.

2) Another rough day in the face-off circle (1-for-7) for David Krejci despite the solid game all-around.

3) Impressive work by the St. Louis Blues against the Bruins. Bs had to work hard for everything they got and got stormed by the Blues after getting an early 2-0 lead on them. This is a team that could surprise in the playoffs against some very good competition.

4) Bruins still not as physically dominant as they are when theyre really rolling, but the win over the Blues in their building is a good start. First third period win for the Bruins in their last four games after it was their calling card for the entire season.

5) Joe Corvo was actually pretty decent against the Blues tonight. He made good decisions in most instances with the puck and not too many soul-crushing mistakes with the puck, and it was his point shot that led to Lucic goal in first period. The Bruins need more of the good Corvo.

Antonio Brown posts questionable locker room video after Steelers win

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Antonio Brown posts questionable locker room video after Steelers win

Showing a knee-buckling lack of self-awareness, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown put up 13:35 of footage on Facebook Live after his team’s 18-16 win over Kansas City on Sunday night.

It was a weird betrayal of the team’s privacy by one of its star players. Brown, allowed viewers to see live (and on tape until it’s inevitably taken down) that, while head coach Mike Tomlin was around a bank of lockers addressing what Tomlin presumed was his entire team, Brown was mugging in front of his phone for a growing online audience.

The video starts with Brown and teammates having fun in front of their lockers. As the team is called together for a postgame prayer, Brown keeps the camera rolling. After the prayer, Tomlin made a statement.

“When you get to this point in the journey, not a lot needs to be said,” said Tomlin. “Let’s say very little moving forward. Let’s start our preparations. We spotted those a******* a day and a half. They played yesterday. Our game got moved to tonight. We gonna touch down at 4 o’clock in the f****** morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for that ass. But you ain’t gotta tell them we coming. Because some of us might not like the damn (woofkisses?) The chest pounding.  Keep a low profile.”

While Tomlin was issuing that low-profile request, Brown rolled on. Another Steeler then spoke up saying, “Keep cool on social media, this is about us, nobody else.”

Finally, what sounded like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger addressed the team saying of Foxboro, “That’s a lion’s den we’re going into this week. It’s a lion’s den. I’ve been there, a lot of us have been there. Keep your mouth shut.”

While people might fan themselves over Tomlin calling the Patriots a*******, that’s benign and likely will be matched in private by Patriots coaches this week.

What’s staggering is that a player of Brown’s ability and seeming intelligence would be so self-absorbed as to be agog at putting on a video show for Facebook followers at the expense of his coaches, teammates and franchise.  

Steelers survive, advance to visit Patriots despite red-zone woes

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Steelers survive, advance to visit Patriots despite red-zone woes

For the third time in the Belichick-Brady Era, the Patriots will be trying to step over the Steelers to get to a Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh went into Kansas City on Sunday night and outlasted a breathtakingly sluggish Chiefs team 18-16.

If you spent the day stewing about the Patriots adequate-against-Osweiler-but-probably-nobody-else offensive performance Saturday night, maybe Sunday night calmed your nerves.

Despite having a more than 2-to-1 edge in total yards entering the fourth, Pittsburgh had managed just six field goals from kicker Chris Boswell. Their best chance at getting six on the board was squelched when Ben Roethlisberger got picked at the goal line in the first half.

That Kansas City was even in the game with a chance to tie it in the final three minutes has to be humbling for the Steelers. They dominated every statistical category of consequence while the Chiefs played aimlessly behind Alex Smith, who may be a cut above Brock Osweiler but is definitely a cut below every other quarterback in the Divisional Playoff round.  

On this night, Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t much better.

Still, Pittsburgh’s got the best 1-2 punch in the NFL at running back and receiver – LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown were both at 101 yards after halftime – and New England’s entire defensive game plan will revolve around corralling those two and getting them horizontal.

The Patriots beat a Roethlisberger-less team in October, 27-16. Landry Jones was at quarterback that day.

The Steelers were in the Patriots’ red zone four times. They came away with 10 points. They were inside the Patriots’ 40 six times and finished with 16.

“In an offense like that with a bunch of very explosive players, one slant can turn into a touchdown so you have to be really careful in your coverages,” defensive end Rob Ninkovich told me after that game. "There’s not just one go-to guy. They got a running back that can catch it out of the backfield and make plays (Le’Veon Bell). [Antonio Brown] can catch it anywhere on the field and make plays. You just have to make sure with a guy like [Landry Jones] to have him make the throws. It’s hard in this league to be perfect. So to have him sit back there and try to make all the throws was what we chose and the secondary did a great job.”

Bell and Brown combined for 268 yards from scrimmage against the Patriots.

The Steelers scored one touchdown.

The ever-dawdling Bell, who practically walks to the line of scrimmage then skips around like a little kid with a full bladder before finding a crease to exploit, is where it will start for the Patriots.

If the Patriots are going to go to their seventh Super Bowl since Belichick’s hire, Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Donta Hightower and Elandon Roberts – their two best interior linemen and their two inside linebackers – will be the ones who start the bus. The overwhelming majority of Bell’s runs are between the guards so building a wall and out-patienting him as he probes for a crease is Job One.

The Chiefs weren’t stout enough at the line of scrimmage and Bell brutalized them. It will, of course, fall to more than just those four. Trey Flowers, Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long, Vincent Valentine and Shea McLellin will also be in focus. Run-support from safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty will be a part of it as well, but that’s where the Steelers become tough to deal with.

Once Bell’s established himself, the Steelers can start to work play-action and get Brown into space. Creep too far and the numbers on the back end could wind up being insufficient to deal with one of the NFL’s fastest players.

That’s why you can expect the Patriots to not overexert themselves with pressures and blitzes against Ben Roethlisberger. They’ll want as many back in coverage as possible to deal with Brown and some of the other Steelers speed merchants.

The Patriots have dealt with Pittsburgh’s defense enough to know where to attack. LeGarrette Blount ran for 127 yards on 24 carries in the first meeting and

Tom Brady went 19 for 26 for 222 with two touchdowns.

The Patriots had Gronk that day and the Steelers didn’t have Roethlisberger. That tips the scales some when measuring the differences. But after watching Pittsburgh kick six field goals and keep afloat an underperforming Chiefs team, the issue that dogged them in October – red zone offense – looks like its still around.

And they are going to visit a team that does that led the NFL in preventing points.