Preview: Boston Bruins vs. Los Angeles Kings

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Preview: Boston Bruins vs. Los Angeles Kings

EL SEGUNDO, CA The Bruins have no excuses. Jet lag and time zone changes wont be acceptable, and truly they werent during an offensive no-show against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.

With the Ottawa Senators losing three straight games things have been placed on a tee for the Bs to smack the ball out of the park. If the Bruins can generate production, performance and results against the Kings on Saturday, and the Ducks on Sunday, then they can all but secure the Northeast Division for themselves.

But it wont be easy against a Los Angeles Kings squad thats won six games in a row and is coming off a playoff-style shootout win over the Blues where goaltender Jonathan Quick was brilliant.

Claude Julien is looking for something much better than what we saw in San Jose.

We never caught up to the pace of the game against San Jose. We need to bring it on the road, said Claude Julien. For whatever reason, we had some guys that didnt play well enough to let us win a hockey game. There is no way were going to win hockey games on this road trip if we dont have everybody going."

I dont like using the word desperate. We need to be a little bit more committed and determined rather than desperate. Right now the chances of making the playoffs are very good, but how do we want to be playing going into the postseason. Hopefully we want to be better.

The good news for the Bruins: Zdeno Chara has been outstanding lately and should be highly motivated playing in his 1,000th NHL game Saturday against the Kings at the Staples Center. Tim Thomas has also been great in his last three games, and was keeping the Bruins in the game against the Sharks on Thursday night when the offense couldnt get on track.

The bad news for the Bruins: Chara and Thomas arent enough if the top-six forwards dont bring more to the table than they did in the first game on the California road swing against the Sharks.

The Bruins arent looking for any passengers on the bus against the Kings, and victory should follow if they can accomplish their mission.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Bostons top six forwards didnt contribute anything offensively in Thursday nights loss to the Sharks, and Tyler Seguin, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly didnt register even a single shot on net. Claude Julien called them out the following day at practice and has continued to push Rich Peverley as a forward thats going to take somebodys place on the game day roster if theyre not playing up to par.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: What we need to do is create more offense than we did in San Jose. That didnt give us much of a chance to win if we dont create more chances than we did. Claude Julien, who wasnt impressed with his teams 17 shots on net against the Sharks. He wasnt the only one.

KEY MATCHUP: Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings defense have allowed only eight goals in their last five games, and have put up a wall of defense around the net as they push toward a playoff berth in the competitive Western Conference. Quicks goals against average dropped to 1.96 GAA with a shutout against the Blues on Thursday night, and that should be about the last a group of Bs offensive pieces need after firing off only 17 shots in a loss to the Sharks. The Bruins forward group, as a collective, needs to be better against the Kings and needs to start moving their feet to get the puck up the ice with speed. If the forwards cant do any better the results might not be any difference against a Kings team thats just as motivated.

STAT TO WATCH: 10-3 the Kings record since trading for disgruntled Columbus Blue Jackets forward Jeff Carter.

INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) and Nathan Horton (mild concussion) are long term injuries for the Bruins. Peverley will take warm-ups with the team prior to Saturdays game in Los Angeles, and could play as soon as Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks. For the Los Angeles Kings Simon Gagne (concussion) and Scott Parse (hip) are not available for Saturday nights tilt against the Bruins.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tim Thomas will get the call for the Bruins, and hell be appearing in his 15th straight game for the Black and Gold including a pair of relief appearances. Thomas is 5-6 with a 3.23 goals against average and an .870 save percentage during the month of March, but looks like hes now starting back on the upswing again. Former UMass star Jonathan Quick has won five games in a row and has allowed just eight goals over that span, and made 35 saves in a shutout win over the St. Blues in his last outing Thursday night.

Friday, July 29: Good signs in Bruins-Marchand negotiations

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Friday, July 29: Good signs in Bruins-Marchand negotiations

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while using “malarkey” in my day-to-day vocabulary as much as possible. 
 
-- Dale Tallon was promoted with the Florida Panthers to accentuate his strengths as a talent evaluator, but maintains that he still has final say on hockey decisions
 
-- PHT writer Cam Tucker has another young D-man off the board with the Wild’s Matthew Dumba signing a two year, $5.1 million deal with Minnesota
 
-- In the interest of self-promotion, here’s my take on the negotiations between Brad Marchand and the Bruins: There’s a couple of good signs at the outset of negotiations
 
-- The Arizona Coyotes are stressing the defensive side of things in a big, big way, and it appears to be part of John Chayka’s master plan

 -- Alex Pietrangelo would be a natural selection to replace David Backes as the next captain of the St. Louis Blues. 

-- A moving letter from Sens forward Bobby Ryan to his recently passed mother is up at the Players Tribune website. 

-- Chris Kreider has re-signed with the New York Rangers, and plans to get out of his head and onto the score sheet more often. 
 
-- For something completely different: Jerod Mayo will bring a new voice to Tom E. Curran’s Quick Slants program on our very own CSN network. 

 

Curran: Too early to read anything into Patriots' practice groupings

Curran: Too early to read anything into Patriots' practice groupings

FOXBORO – On Thursday, we noted that the early part of Patriots practice -- 7-on-7 passing -- had Tom Brady running with the starters. When 11-on-11s came, it was Jimmy Garoppolo The Patriots flipped it on Friday. 

A major part of training camp is seeing who’s running with whom to get an idea of which way the coaching staff is leaning. But not all reps are created equal, as Bill Belichick pointed out Thursday morning. 

“There’s a balance,” he explained. “Players that will probably play together, you let them work together, but you never really know how that’s going to go. And in the end everybody’s got to work with everybody until those things get worked out, get declared. 

“I don’t think we’re really in that spot yet,” he added. “But, you know, you get into the season and you want a certain receiver running a certain route, a certain situation, that’s who it’s going to be. I don’t think we’re really there. Offensively, we’re just installing our offense. We don’t even have 50 percent of our red-area offense [installed], and that’s what we worked on yesterday so we’re a long way from really trying to nail down a lot of specifics. But you saw some times in practice where the quarterbacks would be working with an individual receiver, maybe during a special-teams period, things like that. There’s some of that but we’re not in that full-scale mode yet.”

And it will take a while before you can really read the tea leaves on groupings and figure out who is near the top of the depth chart. Some guys are still in 100-level classes. Others are more highly evolved.

“Everybody can work with everybody, that’s not a problem -- I’d say the knowledge base, the overall level of execution of certain things is higher in one group than it is in another group. We have some players with less experience spending more times on the basics and the fundamentals, Not that they don’t practice some of the little more sophisticated things, but that’s not the point of emphasis for them. It’s for them to work on their fundamentals and more of the basics first. But it’s a balance, it’s a tough thing in camp that you’ve got to balance, and at some point you’ve got to turn the corner and get your players that are going to be ready to play, whoever those are, ready to play.”

That time’s not now. And it may not come in force until after the Bears and Saints joint practices and preseason games. So take every report of reps and combinations with a grain of salt for the short term. And we’ll keep pumping them out.  

Bennett on chemistry with QBs: 'I've dated two girls at the same time before'

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Bennett on chemistry with QBs: 'I've dated two girls at the same time before'

FOXBORO -- Martellus Bennett has what may be seen as a difficult task this summer: Pick up some measure of chemistry with not one but two new quarterbacks as he learns the Patriots offense. 

Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo have different skill sets, different arm slots and different release points. Their timing with their throws probably isn't identical, either. Still, Bennett has to figure out how to get in lockstep with both while deciphering a complicated offense with a playbook built up over 16 years. 

But the challenge of working in unison with two quarterbacks shouldn't be much of a challenge at all, Bennett explained. 

"I've dated two girls at the same time before," Bennett said with a laugh. "That's the old Martellus though."

During his short time in New England, Bennett has shown he is not afraid to engage in colorful back-and-forths with reporters, and Friday was no different. 

Here are some other highlights from Bennett's interaction with the media on Day 2 of training camp: 

* On if he could see himself in New England long-term (Bennett is currently in the last year of his contract): "Yeah. I don't really think about next year. Right now, I'm just trying to have the most fun playing football this year. It could be taken from me at any time. I didn't get to finish the season last year. For me, it's just a joy to be out there playing and enjoying the game. I'm enjoyig the process and making progress every single day. I'm haven't even thought about tomorrow, I'm just worried about my todays."

* On the pressure to perform for his new club: "I always feel pressure to perform. It's a performance-based game. If you don't perform, they move on from you. Every single player out here has pressure to perform. It's our lives on the line, it's our careers. Every single day, you just try to show them what you can do. That way you can get a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more. I've always had that pressure on myself. I don't play for myself. I play for my family. My wife and my daughter and my teammates so I have pressure on me every single day because if I don't play well, it affects my wife and my daughter so that's my mentality when I come on the field."

* On what it's like to play with Brady versus other quarterbacks: "I wouldn't compare apples and oranges. I've been fortunate to play with a lot of great quarterbacks. With Tom, he's just really good. I just tell [teammates] every day: 'Man, you guys are lucky, you guys have played with Tom Brady forever.' He's just a really good quarterback."

* On competitiveness he's seen from Brady, who spiked a helmet on Friday : "He's been competitive even when we're just working out. It's fun because he plays at such a high level that you have to match that level. Oil and vinegar don't mix. You just want to make sure you rise to the top when he rises to the top as well."

* On where he sees players on the team exhibit competitiveness: "Everywhere. Even in the cafeteria."

* On how it feels to get back on the football field: "It's like when you break up and you finally get back with the girl that you love in the first place."