Haggerty: Might be time for Corvo to hit the pine

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Haggerty: Might be time for Corvo to hit the pine

BOSTON -- Its time for the Bruins to do whats best for the team and admit that things arent working out with Joe Corvo right now.

Perhaps Corvo will play a big role in a playoff series or win his spot back after a few days of stepping away from the pressure cooker, but the Bruins defenseman was a liability for the Bruins in their 4-3 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden.

Corvo finished with 17:18 of ice time with 23 shifts in the overtime game, but he didnt play the first six minutes of the third period. That was because Claude Julien had shortened his bench and gone with a five-man defensemen rotation leaving Corvo on the outside looking in.

Its easy to see why given the three-zone breakdowns Corvo suffered in the middle period. It started with Corvo turning a puck over in the neutral zone on a backhanded attempt, who committed the D-man task of failing to know who was where on the ice and his puck mismanagement led to Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise leading a successful odd-man rush in the other direction.

Unfortunately, it also appeared that Corvo wasn't exactly busting it to get back into the play after his neutral zone brain fart, and he was nowhere to be found around the net when Parise finally scored with Dennis Seidenberg hung out to dry.

Julien finally pulled the trigger on a move he had to have been mulling for a few weeks, and pulled Corvo out of the defensemen pairing with the German blueliner. That lasted for five minutes, and then Corvo and Seidenberg again got stung on a Patrick Elias rebound score at the side of the net after Andrew Ference went down with a lower body injury.

Corvo was once again nowhere to be found around the net hes supposed to be guarding, and Julien referred to soft goals surrendered in the second period. So it went from soft goals to the bench to start the third period for Corvo, and Julien wasnt shying away from it after the Bs overtime win.

I dont throw my players under the bus, but obviously Corvo had a bit of a tough outing, said Julien. But well use him again. Its not the easiest night for Joe, but at the end we needed him, so he came back out there.

Unfortunately for Corvo, there isnt enough offense to offset the defensive indifference. He had one shot on net and a pair of giveaways to New Jersey and his play leaves the Bruins in a true dilemma. There isnt anybody else on the Bs roster that can recreate Corvos skating and puck skills from the defenseman position, and quality point positions on the power play are an underrated asset.

But none of that matters if Corvo isnt playing effectively enough to generate offense. Instead, his defensive foibles allowed New Jersey back into the game in another atrocious second period performance for the Bruins, and forced Boston into an overtime victory dictated by David Krejci.

With the goaltending and overall team defense for the Bruins rounding into shape the Bruins are doing their best to augment their weak spots on the ice. Corvo is a walking bulls-eye for playoff-bound teams looking to exploit the Bruins prior to the playoffs, and it doesnt have to be that way.

The Bruins have options with newly acquired Greg Zanon, who looked tremendously comfortable in his Bs debut, Johnny Boychuk on the fast road to recovery from a mild concussion and Mike Mottau all adding to the teams defensemen depth. The Corvo experiment has lasted 60 games, but his season is most closely remembered for costly breakdowns consistently leaving Seidenberg to clean up his mess in the defensive zone.

Its high time to remove a weakness from the Bs lineup and tell Corvo to hang in there while others get a chance to show what they could potentially do during the postseason. After all its not a death sentence that hell never get back into the lineup, but the Bruins cant afford any more soft performance in the defensive zone like the one authored by Corvo Thursday night.

Maybe Corvo will get the call Saturday against the Islanders, or maybe hell be the healthy scratch in favor of Boychuk or Zanon after another rough effort against the Devils. Time will tell, but a strong case is being made that the Bruins are much, much better off with Corvo sitting out a few plays while Boston figures things out.

Chara probable vs. Panthers, Beleskey misses morning skate

Chara probable vs. Panthers, Beleskey misses morning skate

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- There were both expected and unexpected absences from Bruins morning skate on Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena ahead of tonight’s game at TD Garden against the Florida Panthers. Matt Beleskey was the expected absence after getting knocked out of Saturday’s game with a lower body injury caused by a Tyler Fedun check to his right leg, and Torey Krug was also missing from the ice after pulling workhorse duty over the last handful of games in the absence of Zdeno Chara.

Following practice Claude Julien confirmed that Chara was “probable” to return for tonight’s game vs. the Florida Panthers after missing the last six games, and that Krug is expected to play after succumbing to the same illness that felled Patrice Bergeron over the weekend. Beleskey was being checked by doctors on Monday, and it sounds like his absence might be a bit longer term than simply a “day-to-day” lower body injury. 

Noel Acciari took part in practice, and it appears they both could be closing in on a return to the lineup. Frank Vatrano also shot the puck around a bit at the very beginning of Monday’s skate, but came off the ice as the team began their preparations for tonight’s game. 

Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings vs. Florida based on the morning skate with Beleskey and Krug both absent:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Schaller-Krejci-Backes

Spooner-Nash-Czarnik

Blidh-Moore-Hayes/Acciari

Chara-Carlo

Morrow-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller

Rask

Khudobin

Belichick on keeping Brady in: 'Seen those double-digit leads evaporate'

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Belichick on keeping Brady in: 'Seen those double-digit leads evaporate'

With 5:52 remaining in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game between the Patriots and Rams, and with the hosts up 26-3, quarterback Tom Brady was back on the field to lead the Patriots offense. 

It was a decision that had some scratching their heads. Why risk the health of your Hall of Fame quarterback in a game that's essentially been decided? Particularly at this point in the year? Particularly just days after the team lost it's most dynamic offensive weapon to season-ending back surgery?

"Well, after the game turns out, it's easy to go back and make those suggestions," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on a conference call Monday. "I've seen a few games in this league. Seen those double-digit leads evaporate in a minute or two. I know that's not a big concern when it does happen and then when it does happen it's a major crisis and [there's] a lot of second-guessing about what should've been done or what shouldn't have been done. Trying to win the game."

The Patriots held the ball for a little over two minutes before punting it back to the Rams. By the time the Patriots got the ball back for the final time with 1:15 remaining, Brady was on the field to take two kneeldowns and wipe out the clock. 

He told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning that he wasn't looking for an early hook. The Rams have been accused of dirty plays in the past, and their coaching staff has a reputation for encouraging a reckless style, but Brady explained why he wanted to remain in the game late.

"All these games are close. I know yesterday, 26-3 at one point, but we’re playing for a lot here," he said. "i don’t think it’s ever right to take your foot off the gas pedal. We could use as many reps as possible, all the guys out there. There are different situations that come up in every game. You only get 16 weeks a year to try them out. You try them in practice, but there’s not the speed. There’s not the urgency. It’s not the decision-making because it’s unscripted.

"In practice you go and talk about these are the plays you’re going to run, these are the defenses you can get. Then you go into the game and they it’s all about decision-making really under pressure with everything on the line, so the more reps you can get with Malcolm [Mitchell] and [Chris] Hogan and Martellus [Bennett], guys that I haven’t played with, the better it gets."

Brady escaped his late-game reps no worse for the wear -- he completed three of four passes for 14 yards on his team's second-to-last drive -- but he did take one shot earlier in the game that had him ticked. Rams safety TJ McDonald got into the Patriots backfield untouched and drove Brady into the ground during a second-quarter drive. Brady got the ball away, but he was walloped, and when he got up he sought out McDonald for a few words.

"I think it was pretty emotional," Brady told Kirk and Callahan. "I didn’t see the replay yet, but he made a good clean hit. They were blitzing us. I knew we didn’t have him picked up and he put a little extra something on.”

Asked if the threat of a play like that late in a lopsided game bothered him, Brady said no.

"I said to my wife as I was driving home, she was like, ‘What was that?’ She wants to know about all these things and I was like, ‘I think it is all fair on the football field.’ You put yourself out there," Brady explained. "You’re up 20, you’re down 20. Everyone is playing hard and whatever happens out there is on the football field. I don’t think it was a dirty play.

"Guys love going in there and hitting the quarterback. They’ve been trained to hit the quarterback their entire careers, especially on defense. They get paid more hitting the quarterback. Their team is 4-8 so they are going to play hard 'til the end no matter what. They haven’t been in a lot of games this year so they are going to play hard to try and set them up for next year. I had no problem with that hit. I thought it was a real clean play. I was pretty pissed off for the most part yesterday because we weren’t executing as well as we could and that probably had something to do with it as well."