Haggerty's Bruins-Lightning preview

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Haggerty's Bruins-Lightning preview

TAMPA BAY The Bruins limped into Tampa Bay wondering how many healthy bodies theyd be able to dress on Tuesday night against the Lightning, but it appears that they will have more than expected.

The Bruins will have 22 players on the ice for pregame skate including 13 forwards and seven defensemen, and theyll certainly have more than the battered and beaten skeleton crew of 15 skaters left on the bench for the end of their loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday.

Both Patrice Bergeron and Adam McQuaid took part in the Tuesday morning skate at the Tampa Times Forum and will be game-time decisions for a Bruins team that feared they had lost both just 48 hours ago.

Marty Turco will lead the Bruins onto the ice for the first time since arriving in Boston and the Bruins have another chance to utilize one of their games in hand tonight with the Ottawa Senators again idle on the schedule.

Its up to Boston to take out a Tampa Bay team thats seven points out of the playoffs and fading out of the picture, so a strong opening salvo from the Bruins could effectively silence the Bolts.

Thats the plan for a Bruins team thats found themselves down by 2-0 deficits in the first period in three of their last five games, and has been doing far too much chasing of the puck rather than seizing possession of it.

"We need a little urgency here. Not panic, but urgency," Claude Julien said. "Weve got to try to get some wins here. Thats what you have to do through some injuries and some guys are banged up and still playing right now. Every team is going through the same thing, so we need to make sure were ready to play hard and win some games. We want to be able to stay where we are in the Eastern Conference standings right now.

Once we got over this hump and were finishing a little better and get back to a healthier squad you hope it will pay off at that point.

Through all of the bad times over the last two months the Bruins have been able to avoid stringing together a three-game losing streak. Itll be a challenge to keep that from happening against a Lightning team with nothing to lose on Tuesday night against a Boston team that ousted them from the playoffs last year.

That seems like an awful long time ago at this point.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Tim Thomas needs to get air put into his tires and gas put into the tank after nine straight appearances that simply got worse as the 37-year-old went on. Thomas was pulled from Sundays loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins after allowing three goals on 10 shots, and is 3-4 with a 3.60 goals against average and an .860 save percentage during seven appearances in the month of March. Hell get his pit stop this week as Marty Turco gets the start tonight.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: We need a little urgency here. Not panic, but urgency. Weve got to try to get some wins here. Thats what you have to do through some injuries and some guys are banged up and still playing right now. Claude Julien on the need for the Bruins to still salvage points while going through the NHL gauntlet over the last month.

KEY MATCHUP: Marty Turco will have his hands full with Steve Stamkos, Marty St. Louis, Teddy Purcell and Ryan Malone attacking the Boston net with their typical flair and skill. For a goaltender that was out of the league for nearly a year, its a bit of a rude awakening to get tossed back into the mix against the Penguins and Lightning back-to-back. But thats the life of an NHL goaltender and hell have to show the same kind of life and energy he had in Pittsburgh while double-stacking into spectacular saves against Jordan Staal and Arron Asham.

STAT TO WATCH: 2 That's the number of goals for Daniel Paille in two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who tend to give up some short-handed goals while on the man advantage.

INJURIES: Rich Peverley (right knee sprain), Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) and Nathan Horton (mild concussion) are long term injuries for the Bruins, and Benoit Pouliot is out with a lower body injury thats caused him to miss the last two games. Max Sauve was sent back to Boston with a hip injury suffered Sunday and hes expected to be shelved for a lengthy period of time. Both Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and Adam McQuaid (upper body) skated on Tuesday morning and are game-time decisions for the Bruins. For the Tampa Bay Lightning Vinny Lecavalier (hand), Mathieu Garon (groin), Mattias Ohlund (knees) and Marc-Andre Bergeron (back) are all out of the lineup.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Marty Turco will be making his first NHL start in nearly a year against the Lightning after making 20 saves in the final two periods against the Penguins Sunday afternoon. Rookie Dustin Tokarski will be making his third straight appearance for the Tampa Bay Lightning following the injury to Mathieu Garon, and hes still looking for his first win with an .891 save percentage.

Friday, Aug. 26: Coyotes keep taking on dead money in latest deal

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Friday, Aug. 26: Coyotes keep taking on dead money in latest deal

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while finally catching up on “The Man in the High Tower” on Amazon.

*The Coyotes and Panthers executed a trade sending Dave Bolland to Arizona, and it’s not exactly great news for Gary Bettman with Arizona continuing to take on a lot of dead money.

*Alex Pietrangelo was appropriately humbled to be named the 21st captain in the history of the St. Louis Blues.

*The Colorado Avalanche have a new head coach, and his name is Jared Bednar, who it is said will get the players to play hard for him.

*The footage of somebody in full goalie equipment running away from a burglary scene is something out of a movie.

*The New York Rangers can never have enough depth, and that’s why they added Brandon Pirri to the mix on Thursday.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker says Lawson Crouse brings the total package in the trade from Florida to Arizona, and he also brings a player that can take a hell of a hit as he was the guy that got rocked by Charlie McAvoy at the World Junior Showcase earlier this month.  

*It’s only 15 days until the US National Team Development Program gets going with their 2016-17 schedule: here it is in full.

*For something completely different: can you see David Ortiz’s face in this corn maze? This could be like an ink blot test.

 

Foster playing catch-up, could help his cause vs. Panthers

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Foster playing catch-up, could help his cause vs. Panthers

FOXBORO -- When DJ Foster took the field for Patriots OTAs, he looked as advertised: quick, a crisp route-runner, and the owner of a pair of dependable hands. But that was back when players wore shorts to every practice. Since then, the undrafted rookie running back out of Arizona State hasn't had the opportunity to do much other than work on his conditioning while the majority of his teammates practiced. 

That could soon change. Though Foster has dealt with what he calls a "nagging" injury throughout much of training camp, he felt well enough this week to return to practice, and on Friday night he is likely to see preseason game action for the first time this summer.

The reason Foster's preseason debut could carry some importance is that he happens to play a position that may qualify as the thinnest on the Patriots roster right now. Because sub back extraordinaire Dion Lewis will not be healthy enough to start the season, and because coach Bill Belichick opted to part ways with veteran Donald Brown recently, the team is low on numbers in their running back room.

If Foster can capitalize on the opportunities he's given, he may make a case for a roster spot. James White, who is expected to be Lewis' primary replacement, is the other lone true sub back on the roster. Brandon Bolden can fill in at that role on an emergency basis, and Tyler Gaffney has shown he can catch the football when asked, but neither has the kind of pass-catching upside of Foster, who played receiver for the Sun Devils as a senior and racked up 222 receptions during his four-year college career. 

Foster has only so much time to prove he's worthy of a job. The Patriots have to reduce their numbers to 75 by Aug. 30. They need to be down to 53 by Sep. 3. Foster could be a tantalizing prospect to stash on the practice squad, but surely he'd like to make a push for a greater role. 

He explained this week that, despite his recent physical limitations, he won't be holding back whenever he does get a chance to prove himelf. 

"The coaches do a great job at just kind of making sure I'm OK and stuff," he said. "For me, when I'm in there, do what I can, give everything I got -- every rep, every chance I get with the reps. Stay in the playbook, stay involved in the meetings, and just try to learn as much as I can. Whenever I do get an opportunity, go out there and make the most of it."

Against the Panthers, the Patriots coaching staff will have to balance the need to evaluate players like Foster against good competition versus getting the entire team ready for Week 1. For example, they'd like to get a good look at Foster, whose practice reps were next to nil before this week. They'd also probably like to get White as many reps as possible so that he's prepared for the Cardinals. 

Who should play when? And how many snaps do they need? 

"You can’t see D.J. Foster play in this league. You have Arizona State film but that’s all you have, and some of the spring work that he did which is obviously encouraging," Belichick said earlier this week. "We still have him, but there’s just no body of work. Donald Brown, you can see Donald Brown . . . Players like D.J., it’s hard. You don’t have much to go on. But maybe he’ll be able to do more. We’ll get an evaluation of him soon, hopefully."

Friday night could be the night.