Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Devils


Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Devils

NEWARK Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins trailing the New Jersey Devils by a 1-0 score after the first 20 minutes at the Prudential Center.

1)The Petr Sykora score at the end of the first period gives the David KrejciNathan HortonMilan Lucic six goals allowed in their last three games. Thats some serious defensive breakdowns and once again the forwards were running around in the D zone off the face-off rather than covering Sykora. Dennis Seidenberg also lot the battle to Dainius Zubrus behind the net after Krejci won the face-off, so there is plenty of blame to go around. But where theres smoke there is definitely fire.

2) Bruins are averaging just six shots in each of their last three first periods, and thats not enough offensive push or forceful oomph from the Bruins. Those poor starts just arent setting a good tone.

3)Credit Gregory Campbell for trying to spark his team with a bout against young Brad Mills midway through the first while it was still a scoreless game. The fourth liner recognizes that his teammates are emotionally bereft right now, but it looks right now like his efforts were in vain.

4)Two shots on net for Nathan Horton and one good scoring chance turned away by Martin Brodeur. Say this about Horton: hes getting more aggressive in the offensive end and the Bs need that.

5) No response to Cam Janssen when he leveled Andrew Ference in the corner several beats after the puck had left his stick on an outlet pass. Ference got up and barked at the nearest ref when nothing was called, and there was no response from anybody in Black and Gold. Not a good sign when theyre letting their teammates get pushed around.

NEWARK Here are five thoughts from the second period with the Bruins trailing the New Jersey Devils by a 1-0 score after the first 40 minutes at the Prudential Center.

1)Twelve shots through two periods just isnt getting it done offensively. Even if you include Benoit Pouliot ringing a shot off the crossbar the Bruins arent consistently generating enough time of possession or chances in the offensive zone.

2)Tim Thomas is pretty clearly sensing that his defenseman are struggling right now, and is way, way out of the net much more than his normally adventurous self. His glove save of David Clarkson on the rebound of a Kurtis Foster shot was a beauty, but he was once again way, way out of the net. Twenty-two saves for Thomas tonight in a scrambling, stand on his head effort.

3)Three hits and a shot on net in 11:37 of ice time for Milan Lucic and he put together some aggressive, battling shifts in the second period to help lift up his team. But not enough of his teammates can sustain it shift after shift.

4)Two of the three best offensive chances for the Bs generated by the third line tonight: Benoit Pouliot hitting a crossbar and Chris Kelly unable to squeeze off a quality backhander from a nice Rich Peverley pass in the first. But that means there wasnt enough being generated by the top two lines.

5)Four shots on net and a goal for Petr Sykora tonight. One of the best players on the ice. How old is this guy anyway because it appears that he bathes in the Fountain of Youth?

NEWARK Here are five thoughts from the third period with the Bruins upending the Devils by a 3-1 score after 60 minutes of play at the Prudential Center.

1)Three goals in less than five minutes in the third period, and the Bs have once again reclaimed their third period domain. Theyve outshot the Devils 11-5 and outscored them 3-0 after getting outscored 6-2 over the last three games in third periods heading into tonight.

2)Third period tone was set by Zdeno Chara dumping Dainius Zubrus in the opening seconds of the stanza in front of the benches. That move by the Bs captain seemed to indicate to the rest of the players it was time to get back to the Bruins way of doing things, and his teammates followed.

3) Gordie Howe Hat trick for Gregory Campbell capped off by the third period goal. Very deserving after Campbell dropped the gloves trying to spark his flat-lining teammates in the first period.

4)Shawn Thornton with a pair of big assists in a game that was led in many ways by the third and fourth line. The return of Rich Peverley and Brad Marchand almost immediately shows off Bostons depth again.

5) Brad Marchand with a little bit of rust on his game tonight. Hes fumbling with pucks and having a difficult time maintaining possessiontiming with his linemates, but that shouldnt last very long.

Older, wiser Gronk: 'When the journey is over... you need to get down'


Older, wiser Gronk: 'When the journey is over... you need to get down'

FOXBORO -- The move did not require Olympic-caliber speed or other-worldly quickness. There was a subtle head fake, a foot in the ground, a shoulder turn. All of a sudden, Rob Gronkowski was wide open in the middle of the field and reeling in a Tom Brady pass for 37 yards in the fourth quarter of last weekend's win over the Steelers. 

Bill Belichick raved about the play on Patriots.com days after the fact. What Gronkowski did to safety Robert Golden was a thing of beauty in the eyes of the coach.

"This really is a good look at Rob’s route-running ability," Belichick said. "Rob comes in on Golden and takes it down the middle, like he’s going to run a crossing pattern or over route, and gives him a good move here and bends it back out. The receivers clear out the corners. That’s a lot of space there."

Gronkowski's move, combined with the steady diet of crossing routes teams have seen from the Patriots in recent weeks, helped set up the play that led to LeGarrette Blount's second touchdown of the day. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end was like a power pitcher who had been throwing fastballs for six innings and then pulled the string with a change-up in the seventh. Golden was helpless. 

"The number of times we’ve run Rob on over routes, and to come back and counter it -- it looks like Golden is trying to guess on the route and undercut it a little bit. Rob comes back away from it and turns it into a big play and sets up our last touchdown. Really a well-executed play by Rob.

“Sometimes you think it’s all size and strength, but as a technique route runner, he’s very good, too."

A quick mid-route shimmy. A look in one direction before heading in another. A nudge -- sometimes picking up a flag, sometimes not. They're all elements of route-running that Gronkowski has added to his tool belt over the course of his seven years with the Patriots. Considered the team's resident frat boy, it's sometimes hard to remember that he's one of the longest-tenured players on the team, a captain, and that he's picked up his share veteran tricks along the way.  

"I’ve definitely had to work it out plenty since I’ve been here," Gronkowski said of his route-running. "To be successful in this organization and this offense you just got to be working on it big time. It’s not just you just come in and you have it. From day one I remember I could barely even get open but just learning from Tom, from all my coaches here, it definitely helps out going out and focusing on your route detail. 

"Sometimes, necessarily, you don’t have to be the best skilled player out on the field to get open. It’s just learning the game of football, how to get open, what move to make is definitely all part of it."

Getting open is only part of it.

What he does with the football in his hands to run away from defenders is something that comes naturally. What hasn't always clicked for Gronkowski is how to finish. He has a tendency to want to impose his will on opponents at the ends of plays, running them over and leaving them behind, or embarrassing them and their loved ones by dragging them for inordinate amounts of time as he churns forward for extra yards. 

But in recent years, he's accepted that not every play needs to end with an exclamation point. He has come to understand that oftentimes a simple period will do.

Take his 37-yard catch against the Steelers, for example. When he got near the sideline and faced down a Pittsburgh defensive back, instead of trying to trample him to get to the goal line, he lowered his pads, shielded his legs, and went down.

"You always got to protect yourself whenever you can," he said. "You know, when the journey is done, if you’re running the ball, just get down and don’t take that extra shot. You can always show your toughness, you can have five guys take you down, but really that’s sometimes not the case. 

"You really want to show that you just want to get down, you want to preserve your body for the next play when the journey is done and you’re not going to get any more yards."

More often than not, it's the prudent choice. Mature, even. 

"It started coming in the last few years," Gronkowski said. "I remember a couple times my rookie year I'd just try and ‘Boom!' I remember I’d be like, ‘Oh, that one hurt.’ It hurt to go one more inch. 

"Definitely, when the journey is over and you know you gave it all -- you’re not going to be able to carry five guys, sometimes not even two guys -- whenever you just feel like you need to get down, you need to get down. It’s a physical game. Every play is going to be physical so save it for the next one."

Spoken like a savvy veteran. 

Stevens, Celtics expect to use similar rotation vs. Bulls


Stevens, Celtics expect to use similar rotation vs. Bulls

The Boston Celtics’ bench was unable to close out Wednesday’s 122-117 win over Brooklyn, but don’t look for head coach Brad Stevens to make any significant changes tonight.

“I felt pretty good about those rotations last night,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’sgame against Chicago. “For forty minutes, we rotated well.”

After a relatively close first quarter, it was Boston’s second unit that gave Boston its first double-digit lead of the night and led by as many as 13 points.

But it wasn’t their scoring that jumped out to Stevens.

“The second unit came in and provided probably our best defensive sequence of the game, start of the second quarter and played really well until the end,” Stevens said.

Stevens played a total of 10 players against the Nets – all playing in the first half - and will likely have a similar number of Celtics on the floor tonight against the Bulls.

It will be interesting to see what the Celtics do rotation-wise when Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain) and Kelly Olynk (right shoulder) are back on the active roster.

Smart recently confirmed an earlier CSNNE.com report that the left ankle injury he suffered in the Celtics’ final preseason game against the New York Knicks, would keep him out for a couple of weeks.

In addition to missing the season opener against Brooklyn, Smart is likely to miss another three games.

Olynyk, who had offseason surgery in May, has been cleared for contact but is not expected to be back on the floor until the middle of next month.

“Until our other guys get back,” Stevens said. “There will be similar rotations.”