Haggerty: 15 thoughts from the Bruins-Habs matchup

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Haggerty: 15 thoughts from the Bruins-Habs matchup

Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins leading the downtrodden Montreal Canadiens by a 1-0 score after the first 20 minutes of play at TD Garden:

1) A Herculean effort from Tim Thomas in the first 20 minutes allowed the Bruins to maintain the slim lead over the Habs. Plenty of mistakes and sloppiness out of the starting gate for the Bs in this one. Best stop for Thomas: probably the bonehead turnover by Dennis Seidenberg to Andrei Kostitsyn that turned into an unobstructed shot from the high slot. Thomas turned it away and 15 others just like it.

2) Another really slow start for the Bruins after the players admitted they were sluggish in the first couple of periods against the Winnipeg Jets. This could be an issue tonight against a desperate Habs bunch if they cant snap out of it.

3) Patrice Bergeron is 0-for-5 in the face-off dot after the first period. Perhaps hes a little down after missing out on the All-Star selection process today that he so richly deserved. Bergeron may still be a substitute once the injuries start piling up for the Eastern Conference hopefuls, but he was one of the top 25 players in the NHL over the first half.

4) Benoit Pouliot is still having trouble lassoing those emotions against his former team after taking a boarding penalty to wipe out a Bruins power play. Pouliot has an unorthodox, controlled aggression that makes him so effective, and it turns into something closer to blind rage against the Habs. Figured that would change with his nemesis Jacques Martin gone, but it hasnt yet.

5) Jordan Caron is the perfect example of a pay-off coming for those players showing persistence and being a good soldier when things dont go their way. Gets a great bounce off the glass from a Johnny Boychuk dump-in attempt and fires into the open net. Its like the Hockey gods wrote the script. Still wondering where Carey Price was going knowing the erratic bounces off the glass in this building.

Here are five thoughts from the second period with the Bruins still leading the Habs by a 1-0 score after the first 40 minutes of play:

1) A couple of missed chances for the Bruins in the second period to really extend that lead. The biggest lost opportunity was Patrice Bergeron lifting a shot just a little too high on a 2-on-1 with Tyler Seguin after a clever little breakout bank pass off the boards from Benoit Pouliot. Its just not Bergerons day today.

2) The BruinsCanadiens rivalry has definitely lost its luster this season. Its just not the same with the Vancouver Canucks now a part of the equation with the hate they bring. Montreals tough season also plays into it, of course.

3) Milan Lucic with a couple of good tipped attempts around the net, but couldnt pull the trigger in the first 40 minutes. That line has enjoyed some chances tonight, but hasnt been able to finish any of them off.

4) Adam McQuaid enjoying an excellent game tonight. Hes blocking shots and controlling the puck in his own end, and did a good job of jumping all over Alexei Emelin when the Habs troublemaker was going after Tyler Seguin following a whistle. Also dropped Lars Eller with a huge hit in front of the Montreal bench. Hes having a much stronger game than the box score might indicate.

5) Both teams did a really good job of clogging everything up on the ice in the second period after a pretty wide open first period. Montreal did a much better job of frustrating the Bruins offensively, and the Bs couldnt convert when they did get close to the net.

Here are five thoughts from the third period with the Bruins beating the Canadiens by a 2-1 score after 60 full minutes of play at TD Garden:

1) P.K. Subban hit on David Krejci looked clean on the first replay I saw, but multiple viewings showed some forearmelbow contact to Krejcis head. Andrew Ference did the right thing coming to the aid of his teammate, and then the refs did the wrong thing by encouraging Subban to do it again by handing Montreal a power play. Thats not the way the league should be going with these things.

2) Alexei Emelin is going to be a thorn in the side of the Bs for years to come. You heard it here first.

3) Never seen an athlete traded in the middle of a game, but that seems to be exactly whats happened with Mike Cammalleri getting yanked out of the locker room after the second period and sent back to the team hotel. Crazy.

4) Milan Lucic with the eventual game-winning goal and David Krejci with an assist for a point in his 10th straight game. Thats a career-high for Krejci and the longest streak in the NHL this season.

5) Impressive, gritty win by the Bruins without their best stuff tonight.

Morning Skate: Rangers seem to be a strong candidate for Shattenkirk

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Morning Skate: Rangers seem to be a strong candidate for Shattenkirk

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with Bruins captain’s practice set to kick off this coming week.

*The Rangers sound like they’ll be a strong candidate for Kevin Shattenkirk, and the Dallas Stars seem willing to stand pat at the goalie position.

*PHT writer James O’Brien speculates on who might be the next Artemi Panarin to break into the NHL ranks from overseas, and make a big impact.

*Yahoo fantasy hockey is making some changes this season, and those that liked to draft Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Burns are going to bummed about it.

*An original St. Louis Blues jersey from the old time hockey days has found its way back to its original home in St. Louis.

*Steve Simmons says that Dave Bolland has earned the right to be more than a punch line at this point in his career.

*Looking back on Phil Esposito’s classic speech amid the 1972 Summit Series.

*The All-Snub team for the World Cup of Hockey would be a talented lineup, and would no doubt be captained by P.K. Subban.

*For something completely different: those looking for signs of a rift between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady need to call off the search.

Belichick discusses risk of exposing players to waiver claims

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Belichick discusses risk of exposing players to waiver claims

Bill Belichick knows the data. Knows the risk involved in exposing a player to a waiver claim at this time of the year and long ago came to the uneasy truce that you can’t keep ‘em all and somebody else might snag ‘em.

This summer, the Patriots don’t have a mass of easy releases, especially among their rookies and first-year players.

There are a lot of very intriguing players who’ve looked good either in practices, games or both. Good enough to make the Pats think twice about whether they want to leave them exposed.

Top of mind for me there are corners Jonathan Jones and Cre’Von LeBlanc, linebacker Elandon Roberts, wide receiver DeAndre Carter, defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton and running back D.J. Foster who appear to be right on the roster bubble but are impressive.

“It’s something you take into consideration, it’s a hard thing to predict,” Belichick said when asked about weighing the risk of a released player the Patriots would like to re-sign to their practice squad getting claimed. “There’s going to be, I don’t know, certainly going to be a lot of players, probably over 1,000 players that will be exposed to waivers in the next eight calendar days or whatever it’ll be. I think the average claim is somewhere in the high 20s there…so that’s what the odds are. We’ve had years where we haven’t had any of our players claimed and we’ve had years where we’ve had multiple players claimed. I think at the end you just have to do what you think is best for your team.”

Belichick has given us terrific insight this week into how he and Nick Caserio strategize their roster decisions. When asked about the team’s releases in advance of the cutdown deadlines, Belichick mentioned the team wanted to have the ability to accommodate new players who may come available.

Enter the Barkevious.

He also got into projecting young players against established performance levels of veterans and weighing current contributions against future ones.

"That’s the $64,000 question," Belichick said on Tuesday. "That’s what it is. It’s been like that since the day I got into this league. From all of the personnel meetings I’ve ever been in it’s a [matter of] a player who’s more experienced [and] more ready to help the team now, versus a player that’s not as ready now but at some point you think the pendulum will swing in his favor. Will you do that? Can you do that? What are the consequences of making that move? What are the consequences of not making that move? How likely, as you said, is it that you could keep both players in some capacity?

"That’s what it’s about, trying to balance now with later. We’re going to field a team in November, we’re going to field a team next year, we’re going to field a team in 2018. Not that we’re getting too far ahead of ourselves, but we’re going to be in business in those years, so we have to sort of have an eye on those moving forward and a lot of the other factors that go into that. Those are all tough decisions. They’re all things that you really have to think about."

As is the risk of having a player scooped.

“It’s pretty hard to predict what’s going to happen when you put players on the wire because in all honesty, you don’t know what the other [31] teams are going to do and who they’re going to put on the wire,” Belichick explained. “Even though you put a player out there that you don’t want to lose, if another team happens to put a player out there that may be a team that needs that position and would be better with your player, your player gets claimed. Sometimes we waive players that we didn’t think would get claimed and they were, so that’s really hard to predict.

“In the end, you’ve got to make the decision that you feel like is best for your football team, and if you really want that player and you just can’t bear to live without them, then you shouldn’t be exposing them to the wire,” he concluded. “That’s the reality of it. We keep an eye on them, but I don’t think it’s an overriding factor. If you’re prepared to waive them, then you’ve got to be prepared to lose them. That’s just the way it is.”

Belichick considering using Jones as the No. 1 punt returner

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Belichick considering using Jones as the No. 1 punt returner

Back in May, when the Patriots drafted Cyrus Jones in the second round, Patriots director of player personel Nick Caserio made it very clear: Jones' ability to return punts is what made him their favorite player available at pick No. 60.

"I think the thing that tipped the scales in Cyrus’ favor a little bit," Caserio said at the time, "was his overall versatility -- punt return -- that’s a huge component of what we do and we thought he had the ability."

Jones broke out with a 60-yard return on Friday against the Panthers, flashing the kind of explosion in the kicking game that the Patriots anticipated when they made him their first selection this year. 

Though Jones has admitted he has had his share of issues securing the football during punt-return periods in practice, he has not dropped a punt in a preseason game. And in a conference call on Saturday, Bill Belichick acknowledged that Jones could be the team's primary punt returner in Week 1 even though the team employs two accomplished players who have performed that well in the past. 

"Yeah, I think that’s a consideration," Belichick said of using Jones as the No. 1 returner. "Obviously, Danny [Amendola] and Julian [Edelman] have a lot of experience returning punts for us as well as kickoffs in the past. We’ll see how it goes, but we have good depth at that position and that’s always a good thing to have.

"We have confidence in all of those guys back there. Last night we even had D.J. [Foster] who got a chance to handle the ball. We’ll see how it goes going forward, but I think we have good competition and good depth at that position."

Saving Edelman and Amendola from further wear-and-tear could help extend the careers of both 30-year-old receivers. Not long after Jones was drafted, we took a look at how many hits Edelman and/or Amendola could be saved on a weekly basis by using Jones in the kicking game.