Tightening up the discipline a big key for Bruins


Tightening up the discipline a big key for Bruins

WILMINGTON, Mass. While the Washington Capitals power play has largely struggled over the last two seasons, the Bruins know theres an element of Fools Gold to ranking 18thin the NHL with a 16.7 percent success rate.

Bring Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Dennis Wideman and Mike Green to the playoff party among others, and Washington can be dangerous and deadly on the man advantage.

So the Bruins know that gritty penalty kill work and hard-edged discipline are going to be in full order starting Thursday night for Game 1 at TD Garden. Of course the Bruins would love to make Jason Chimera pay for the charging hit on Adam McQuaid two weeks ago that has their rugged defenseman sitting out as the postseason gets started.

There will be moments when the Bruins would like nothing better than to smash blue collar players like Matt Hendricks or Troy Brouwer in the face, but thats not what happens to good teams during the playoffs.

Instead championship teams turn the other cheek, avoid giving opponents the power play, take a number and worry about it somewhere down the dusty hockey trail.

I dont necessarily always look at numbers for the power play. Look at Buffalothey didnt have a very good power play numbers-wise, but against us they were very potent, said Claude Julien. There has to be an element of respect there for the guys on the power play especially with Nicklas Backstrom being back as a very good playmaker. That will certainly help.

But they have the shooters: Wideman, Green, Semin and Ovechkin. They have a lot of guys that can shoot the puck on that unit. The experience we went through last year and other years goes to show you how important it is to be disciplined. Good penalty you will kill and bad penalties will end up costing you.

Brad Marchand will never been known as a dean of discipline, but he knows consequences come with reckless actions in the postseason.

Only the Flyers and Senators had more penalties than the Bruins (1,103 PIM with 13.45 PIM per game) this year during the regular season, and that will need to change for the better with the postseason upon them.

We know where the line is, and that we have to play within those lines once the playoffs get started. Playing undisciplined hockey and taking bad penalties can lead to giving up power play goals in the postseason, and you cant have that, said Marchand. If Im playing out of control or taking bad penalties Claude Julien should take me out of the game until I snap back between the lines. You cant afford to make those kinds of mistakes right now.

Dont mistake discipline for frailty or timidity, however. The Bruins are a heavy, bruising, bullying hockey team and that manifests itself into punishing body checks and intimidation before and after every whistle. With Marchand, Milan Lucic and Shawn Thornton on one side and Alex Ovechkin, Brouwer, Chimera and Brooks Laich on the other, there will be plenty of smash-mouth hockey to go around.

For us to have success we have to do everything we can to be successful and thats one of the things that will make this series exciting: both teams want to be physical, said Lucic. Part of our identity and our success is being physical no matter who we play. We have a game plan and we have a type of way were going to play. Being physical is one of those ways. Were going to establish a forecheck and being physical allows us to do that.

The big question now is whether the Capitals will go over the edge guided by one of the NHLs foremost cheap shot artists of his generation, Dale Hunter. Will the Caps coach order a code red or two by the time a potential seven games series has concluded with Boston?Even the Bruins are a little curious about that one.

Playing under Dale Hunter Im sure theyll be a little physical, and theyll have some forwards that will get in there and get dirty, said Milan Lucic. Ovechkin isnt scared of the physical play and he likes to use the body. Its a way that they have success.

But then again the Bs will gladly take the power plays and walk on the right side of the discipline line in the first round if Washington lets them.

Bills promise to retaliate if Patriots run through their warmups again


Bills promise to retaliate if Patriots run through their warmups again

FOXBORO -- The Patriots, led by Tom Brady, are looking to stay above the fray when it comes to any sort of extra-curricular back-and-forth with the Bills this week. 

The Bills? They appear ready to throw down -- or start a shoving match, or yell and scream at someone -- again at a moment's notice. 

Three Buffalo players were fined following their Week 4 win over the Patriots because they were involved in a scuffle with Patriots players and coaches after rookie Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett and rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell ran by a Bills warmup drill. 

A few defensive backs took exception to how close Brissett and Mitchell came to their area, and safety Robert Blanton shoved Brissett to get the scrap started. 

According to reports out of Buffalo, mulitple Bills players have insisted that they won't hesitate to retaliate if the Patriots buzz by their drills again.

Of course, the difference this time around will be that Brady will be the one who might jog by, not a rookie about to make his second NFL start. Would the Bills treat him the same way they'd treat a 20-something kid who is new to the league? 

Immediately after the Week 4 loss, Patriots players were not pleased by what happened before kickoff. Not only did what happened with Brissett not sit well with them, the fact that Patriots coaches were shoved by Bills players irked them as well. 

Brady not concerned with Bills attempts at bullying this time around


Brady not concerned with Bills attempts at bullying this time around

FOXBORO -- The last time the Patriots and Bills met, things were feisty from the jump.

Patriots rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett was shoved by Bills defensive back Robert Blanton as Brissett jogged by Buffalo's warmups. That prompted Patriots receiver Malcolm Mitchell to stop and get in Blanton's face. From there, Patriots coaches did what they could to break it up, but there was continued shoving back and forth until the two sides could be separated. 

Days later, Blanton -- as well as corner Nickell Robey-Coleman and safety Aaron Williams -- were fined for unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct. 

Would that have occurred had Tom Brady not been suspended? Probably not. Brady was asked about that incident on Wednesday, and whether it spoke to the "bully" mentality that coach Rex Ryan has worked to foster during his tenure in Buffalo. 
"Yeah, I think it’s more so what we do when the game kicks off as opposed to what happens before the game or during the week," Brady replied. "You get into a bunch of trash talk and you know us, we’ve never got into that stuff because in the end, it’s just a big waste of energy.

"You focus on the things you need to do to help the team win, and that’s to play well and execute and spend your time on what’s going to happen from the point when the game kicks off to when it ends. That’s where our focus is, that’s where it always will be. We’ll go in there, we’ll be focused, we’ll be ready to go, and we’ll go out there and try to play a lot better than the last time we played them."

Brady's comments that the Patriots have "never got into" trash talk is a head-scratcher -- he's jawed back and forth with opponents on plenty of occasions during his career -- but his point stands: That stuff probably isn't helping anyone. 

Once the ball is kicked on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Brady will have to contend with a defense that shut out the shorthanded Patriots at Gillette Stadium for the first time in the building's history. He'll also have one of the more raucous crowds in the league buzzing in his earhole.
"They’re just into it," Brady said of Buffalo fans. "I mean, they’re into it from the first quarter all the way to the last; from pregame warmups to the end of the game. I think it challenges your communication, so we practice – and we played, last week was pretty loud. We’ve played in a lot of loud stadiums and Buffalo is definitely one of the tops.

"I think the thing that is most challenging is when they’re making plays and sacking the quarterback and turnovers like they’ve been getting a lot of this year. That’s what really kind of gets them amped up."