Haggerty: Bruins-Islanders preview

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Haggerty: Bruins-Islanders preview

UNIONDALE, NY The Bruins have clinched a playoff spot and they sit only two points and some good circumstances away from securing the Northeast Division title with a Saturday afternoon matine against the Islanders staring them in the face.

A game like this might have trouble written all over it for the Bruins, but Black and Gold assistant captain Patrice Bergeron expects the commitment to be there for Boston to finish strong with a chance to really secure their position within the Eastern Conference.

The Bruins have just grabbed hold of their game after it had eluded them for so long, and now is no time to start slacking against the sad sack Islanders once again.

The more we keep playing the better we get and the more we get into a groove, said Patrice Bergeron. Its a good thing we clinched. Thats why we play 82 games and we go through the entire seasonto wait for the real season to begin.

But we need to make sure were happy and not satisfied. We need to keep going strong for the next five games.

The Bruins get to put Bergerons words into actions against the Islanders at the forgettable NHL venue known as Nassau Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Patrice Bergeron has no need to get his tires pumped in the face-off circle or in the defensive end, but the great two-way center has only one goal in 16 games during the month of March. While Bergeron and the Bruins have been focused on the defensive end of the ice, they could certainly use some offensive boost from No. 37.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: We have five games left going into the playoffs and we need to make sure we have a good effort going into the playoffs. We need the right attitude and the right frame of mind, so we can make sure ready once the postseason starts. Patrice Bergeron on the mindset of the team in the final weeks of the regular season.

KEY MATCHUP: Matt Moulson has four points and two goals in three games against the Bruins this season, and has been a consistent thorn in Bostons side with his scrappy offense and quick hands around the net. It will be up to Zdeno Chara and the Patrice Bergeron line to neutralize the top-heavy forward group of the Isles with Molson, John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau doing all the damage on the Island.

STAT TO WATCH: .2 the number of points needed in a Bruins win and a regulation loss by the Ottawa Senators for the Bs to clinch the Northeast Division on Saturday.
INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) and Nathan Horton (mild concussion) are long term injuries for the Bruins, but Rask may be hitting the ice next week with an eye toward returning for the playoffs. Dennis Seidenberg is out with an infected cut on his left leg and Adam McQuaid is out with a cut over his left eye. Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov (lower body) is also hoping to get back in action before the end of the season.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Marty Turco gets the starting nod for the Boston Bruins and will be looking to build on his victorious performance against the Anaheim Ducks last weekend. With the Bruins clinching a playoff berth and on the verge of securing the Northeast Division, expect the 36-year-old Turco to get his fair share of playing time over the last five games. Al Montoya has a 2.73 goals against average and a .917 save percentage against the Bruins this season, but its anybodys best guess who gets the starting nod for the Isles.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Ryan, Falcons rout Packers, 44-21

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NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Ryan, Falcons rout Packers, 44-21

ATLANTA - Matt Ryan and Julio Jones teamed up for a dominant playoff performance, and the Atlanta Falcons ignored all those ghosts from the last half-century.

Next up: Super Bowl 51.

Ryan threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns in another MVP-worthy showing, while Jones shook off a toe injury to haul in nine catches for 180 yards and two scores, leading the Falcons to a 44-21 blowout of the storied Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship Sunday.

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Manziel attends AFC Championship Game in Brady jersey

Manziel attends AFC Championship Game in Brady jersey

You’ll never guess who the seventh-best quarterback* at Gillette Stadium was Sunday. 

Via video posted on his Snapchat, 2014 Browns first-rounder Johnny Manziel, currently out of the league, attended the AFC Championship wearing a Tom Brady jersey. 

Manziel was released by the Browns last March after two seasons and just eight starts. Had he played this season, he would have been suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. 

*He might have been eighth-best. Julian Edelman played quarterback in college. People forget that.