Boston Red Sox

Bourque a bright spot for Bruins in debut

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Bourque a bright spot for Bruins in debut

BOSTON -- While there wasnt much to write home about or truly read into in the Bruins' 7-5 loss to the Providence Bruins in the Black and Gold scrimmage, Chris Bourque took a significant step forward. The TD Garden has always been a good place for Bourque as hed potted game-winners in each of his two games on that frozen sheet during the Beanpot and then a few years later in a preseason game for the Washington Capitals.

That charmed life on Garden ice continued in Tuesday nights debut in a Bruins uniform.

The Bruins were sloppy and more than a little chaotic in their own end, but the 26-year-old Bourque had the best spring in his step with a three-point effort. His goal opened up the Boston scoring floodgates in the second period when he snapped a shot from the left face-off circle that seemed to pass right through Anton Khudobin's pads.

Bourque captured a secondary assist when he set things up on a Bruins power play goal for Dennis Seidenberg in the third period, and rewarded Boston's coaching staff for putting right on the man advantage to start the season.

It felt great. Thats a play that we want to run out there, a drop-off to Marchand and hit Seidenberg on the back door, said Bourque. He had an unbelievable shot, I think it went bar down. Its good to get one on the power play. Its something theyve been stressing throughout camp, so its nice to get one.

The mere fact that Bourque is regularly skating with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley is an encouraging sign he's got a job waiting for him on the third line wing, and the practice time hes receiving on the power play bodes well for the former Washington Capitals forwards future in Boston.

Clearly Boston had an interest in Bourque in trading for him this summer after the led the AHL with 93 points last season, and he was the best player in a P-Bruins uniform this season during the NHL lockout. All of that is leading up to his best shot at establishing himself as an NHL player, and getting chance in the right-colored Black and Gold uniform.

Chris Bourque I thought had a pretty good game. Heres a guy thats been playing since October in North America, said Claude Julien. I thought Bourque played a pretty decent game. We had some guys that played pretty well and Kelly, Peverley, that line gave us some good things. And every line scored.

His final apple arrived when Bourque won a battle along the boards in the Providence zone, and that turned into a Rich Peverley wraparound job at the left post once he'd picked the puck clean from Bobby Robins. Bourques chemistry with Kelly and Peverley is clearly growing while skating with the established duo over the last couple of days,

The resulting three-point effort for Bourque on an otherwise messy night of scrimmaging spoke volumes.

If Bourque can continue showing off the kind of player he was in leading the AHL scoring race with 93 points for the Hershey Bears last season, then so many other things should fall into the place for the son of a Hall of Fame Boston legacy. Just look up to the wall of the Bruins dressing room at TD Garden, where the elder Bourque is now among a long line of time-honored B's Hall of Famers in franchise history.

Thats a place where Bourque might actually be allowed to set roots like he never could in Washington or Pittsburgh, and truly find out just how good he can be in the league where his dad set the standard. 

Eduardo Rodriguez's delivery wasn't the same after knee injury, until recently

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Eduardo Rodriguez's delivery wasn't the same after knee injury, until recently

BALTIMORE — If you suspected Eduardo Rodriguez’s knee created a residual effect with his mechanics as he struggled in the second half, you were correct. 

It was here in Baltimore on June 1 that Eduardo Rodriguez hurt his right knee, suffering another subluxation, which he’s prone to. Once he came back — a month and a half later, after the All-Star Break — his performances didn’t match the competency he’d shown pre-injury.

Through the first nine starts back, Rodriguez had a 5.47 ERA. He appeared clearly outside of the playoff rotation picture.

The last three outings have left a different impression, and are a product of improved mechanics. The Red Sox feel Rodriguez is lifting  right leg, his lead leg, higher now.

“I think Eddy’s regained more confidence physically over his last three starts,” pitching coach Carl Willis said. “We’ve seen a better delivery. Really since he had come back the injury here, a little bit of abbreviated leg lift. He finally got a little more confidence in picking that knee up and getting a little more drive from his lower half. I think that’s made a huge difference. He’s using his changeup more which is also a huge difference, but I think that lower half has allowed him to do that.”

Rodriguez has a 2.55 September ERA. He has strikeout ability that could be appealing in a postseason setting, but he’s young and inexperienced compared to Rick Porcello and Doug Fister. The fact he’s had confidence issues with his delivery could factor into how the Sox decide their playoff rotation, but his upside and strikeout potential are undeniable.

Rodriguez had a knee subluxation in 2016 that affected his mechanics for a time as well.

Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

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Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

FOXBORO - If Alan Branch is worried about his spot with the Patriots, he isn’t acting that way. A notorious slow starter, Branch played just six snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. And to hear him talk, it’s business as usual.

“It’s not like you can practice 3 technique on a store clerk,” said Branch late Wednesday afternoon. When informed that he probably could if he wanted, Branch smiled and noted “you’d probably get arrested for that.”

All kidding aside, it was stark to see Branch’s ample behind stapled to the bench. He earned a two-year contract this offseason, and his presence on the interior has been critical to the defense’s success. But after getting pushed around a bit too often in that opening night loss to the Chiefs, Branch spent a lot more time watching then playing. Did he know that he wasn’t a big part of the plan?

“That’s another question you gotta ask Bill, man” said Branch. “That’s not something I can talk about.”

Branch has - at times - come off as nonchalant about the game. Wins, losses, big plays, no plays, none of it seems to change his demeanor. Knowing that, I asked him if he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“I mean every player wants to be on the field so it is what it is,” he responded. 

Does he think that he’ll be more involved Sunday against the Texans?

“I don’t know what they plan to do with me,” he said. “i just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work.”

That may be Bill Belichick’s plan: sitting the player to motivate him. It would also seem to be potentially the last resort, and with someone who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, it’s unclear how he’ll respond.