Haggerty: Ten thoughts from Bruins-Lightning

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Haggerty: Ten thoughts from Bruins-Lightning

TAMPA BAY Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 4-0 train-wreck after the first 20 minutes of play at the Tampa Times Forum. Ouch.

1)Three goals allowed by Marty Turco on six shots and he was all done. He looked shaky from the start when he lost his stick during the first opening flurry and was beaten by a puck deflected off Tom Pyatts skate in front of the net. He didnt cover up on the second goal when he had the chance and that turned into a Nate Thompson goal into an open net. Two very goofy, bad goals allowed right off the bat. Not what the Bruins were looking for and that makes it very difficult to rest Tim Thomas like they want to. He has now played in 10 straight games. First goal shouldnt have been overturned in my humble opinion as Pyatt appeared to move his skate toward the net to guide the puck in. But that had nothing to do with the collapse that followed.

2)The Bruins havent lost three in a row since back in October during their initial hangover phase, but it looks like thats going to happen again tonight. With the Ottawa Senators again idle the Bruins are losing another game in hand and could wake up tomorrow only two points ahead of the Ottawa Senators with just one game in hand. Stuff just got real for the Bs.

3)Worst start the Bruins have had this season and the fourth time in the last six games theyve fallen down by at least two goals in the first period. Totally inexcusable for a team that doesnt seem to feel any urgency right now, or seem to be taking the final month of the season very seriously.

4)The third goal was a power play goal, but a complete blown play by the Bs penalty kill allowing Ryan Shannon to get behind Zdeno Chara, David Krejci and Dennis Seidenberg to beat Marty Turco once more. The Bruins just arent moving at the same speed as the teams that theyre playing against and its more evidence this is a team without much bounce and energy.

5)Shawn Thornton at least doing his job and pounding Mike Commodore toward the end of the first period. The Bruins havent shown enough life in instances like that lately, and No. 22 is one of the only players thats consistently bringing it on a nightly basis.

TAMPA BAY Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 5-0 train-wreck after the first 40 minutes of play at the Tampa Times Forum. Ouch.

1)The Bruins outshot the Lightning 15-3 in the second period, but couldnt crack the scoreboard. So theyve got that going for them.

2)After giving up another weak goal to Steven Stamkos, Marty Turco was tossed back into the game in place of Tim Thomas. That basically wipes out the desired effect to give Thomas his needed rest, but at least they decided to leave Turco out for the remainder of a now-meaningless game.

3) Milan Lucic taking the puck hard to the net, playing with some pride and intensity and seemingly one of the few guys dressed in Black and Gold taking things seriously.

4)The Bruins will drop to 1-10-1 in the last 12 games that Trent Whitfield has played in including the playoffs if they cant come back in the third period. So its as good as done.

5) Ill bet Patrice Bergeron is glad he swallowed a whole bowl full of anti-inflammatories to come back for this one. This team isnt the same Bruins team that won last season due to fatigue, injuries and satisfaction from last years accomplishments. Its a debilitating cocktail.

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

For all the flack that Matt Ryan got heading into this season, he’s been a damn good quarterback. Is his career on the same level as Tom Brady’s? Of course not, but this regular season saw him stand as Brady’s peer, making him an MVP favorite.

One of Ryan’s biggest challengers for that hardware is the same man who stands in the way of him winning his first Super Bowl. Though he missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, Brady finished second in the league in passing yards per game and threw just two picks in 12 games while tossing 28 touchdowns.  

So Super Bowl LI will pin the quarterback with the best numbers overall (Ryan finished two touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers for the league lead but threw for 516 more yards and had a higher completion percentage) against the quarterback with the best touchdown/interception ratio ever for a single season. 

In other words, this is a Super Bowl that puts what one could argue are the season’s two best quarterbacks each other. That’s pretty rare. 

Going back the last 25 years, there are four candidates for such meetings: Manning vs. Brees in Super Bowl XLIV, Favre and Elway in Super Bowl XXXII (this one is a stretch), Favre and Bledsoe in Super Bowl XXXI and Kelly and Rypien in Super Bowl XXVI.. 

Why haven’t the two best quarterbacks squared off in the Super Bowl more often? Because Brady and Peyton Manning played their entire careers in the same conference, silly. It’s taken other players entering their echelon to even set up such a scenario, and that’s why Brees’ Saints beating Manning’s Colts serves as the only example during Manning or Brady’s career. 

The strong performances of those who dominated the regular season have often carried over into their Super Bowl meetings, but not always. Drew Bledsoe and Jim Kelly (both throwing two touchdowns and four picks in Super Bowl losses) are examples of the wheels falling off in the final game. 

Here’s a breakdown of past occurrences. Note that all four of them saw the winning team score at least 30 points, something the Pats have done just once in Brady's four Super Bowl wins: 

Super Bowl XLIV: Brees vs. Manning

Brees led NFL with 34 touchdowns in regular season; Manning finished tied for second with 33

Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17

Brees: 32/39, 288 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Manning: 31/45, 333 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Brees completed a postseason in which he had no turnovers and did so in a nearly exactly average game for him that season, as e averaged 292.5 yards, 2.26 touchdowns and less than one interception per game in the regular season. The two quarterbacks also combined for just one sack. 
 
Super Bowl XXXII: Favre vs. Elway

Favre led NFL with 35 TDs in regular season, Elway finished second in TD/interception ratio

Final score: Broncos 31, Packers 24

Favre: 25/42, 256 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, fumble lost 
Elway: 12/22, 123 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

Again, this is the forced one because Jeff George (3,917 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, nine interceptions) had the better regular season than Elway (3,635 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 11 picks). Elway may have been the winning quarterback, but he didn’t have anything to do with the win. Terrell Davis carried the Broncos, playing through a migraine and rushing for 157 yards with three touchdowns en route to Super Bowl MVP honors. 

Super Bowl XXXI: Favre vs. Bledsoe

Favre led NFL with 39 TDs, Bledsoe third with 27

Final Score: Packers 35, Patriots 21

Favre: 14/27, 246 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Bledsoe: 25/48, 253 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT

Both quarterbacks took five sacks in this game. For Bledsoe, it was the most he took all season. The game was the third four-pick performance of his NFL career. 

Super Bowl XXVI: Kelly vs. Rypien

Kelly led NFL with 33 TDs, Rypien second with 28

Final score: Redskins 37, Bills 24

Rypien: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, INT
Kelly: 28/58, 275 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, fumble lost

Turns out five turnovers (and being sacked four times) is not a recipe for winning the Super Bowl. Kelly’s 58 passes thrown set a Super Bowl record.
 

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Working for the Patriots makes you attractive to other teams. Many have left, but Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli are finally showing that major success can be attained in the process. 

Dimitroff and Pioli have built a team in Atlanta that will play for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title on Feb. 5. While many have been hired away from Bill Belichick's Patriots to lead other organizations, Dimitroff is the first of the defectors to get to the Super Bowl on his own. Adding an old friend in Pioli has played a part in that. 

Dimitroff served as New England’s director of college scouting from 2003 through 2007 before becoming Atlanta’s general manager in 2008. He hired Pioli in 2014 as an assistant GM after the longtime Patriots director and vice president of player personnel had a messy stint as the Chiefs’ GM. 

Executives and coaches (even Field Yates; yes, the fair-haired boy from the television) leaving the Patriots for better positions with other organizations has been common, but with the new positions have often come diminished success compared to New England. 

Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Bill O’Brien, Charlie Weis (in his brief return to the NFL in 2010) and Josh McDaniels make up the list of coordinators who have left winning with the Patriots to experience a dropoff without Brady and Belichick. John Robinson (Titans), Jason Licht (Buccaneers) and Bob Quinn (Lions) currently serve as GMs elsewhere, while former Pats secondary coach Joe Collier works with Dimitroff and Pioli as the Falcons’ director of pro personnel. 

It’s only fitting that Dimitroff and Pioli will have to go through Belichick in order to secure a title on their own. Winning without Belichick has proven hard enough for his former colleagues; winning against him will be even harder.