Bruins new acquisitions hitting their stride


Bruins new acquisitions hitting their stride

SAN JOSE, CA Its been a gradual process, but it looks like the Bs trade acquisitions are finally hitting their stride.

Both defenseman Greg Zanon and winger Brian Rolston sputtered out of the gate after arriving in Boston at the end of February via NHL trade deadline deals, but their current progress seems remarkably familiar.

Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley were both very quiet when they arrived on the Black and Gold scene last year, but both forwards hit their stride by the team the Stanley Cup playoffs arrived.

(Tomas Kaberle never really found his game like Kelly and Peverley did, but you cant win them all.)

As if right on cue both Zanon and Rolston have begun finding results and production in the last few games while the Bruins have started cracking the win column again. Rolston has seven points in his last three games, and exploded to match a career-high with four points against the Maple Leafs.

I think its just about getting those new guys the time, like we did last year with Kelly and Peverley. Until the playoffs started I know a lot of people didnt see what those guys -- and were talking about the Kellys and the Peverleys and so on -- were going to give our hockey club, said Julien. But by the time playoffs came around, and theyd found their spot on the team, they were good assets. We expect those guys to come in and help us out the same way.

Zanons progress has been a little more understated, but its there to see nonetheless. While getting used to his new teammates, his new goaltenders tendencies, and his own place within the Black and Gold tribe, Zanon has latched into the back to basics on defense philosophy shepherded back in by the Bs coaching staff over the last few games.

I dont think the comfort level didnt take too long. The other guys are pretty receptive and its been an easy transition, said Zanon. Systems-wise Im pretty comfortable now. The more games you play the more you see how guys can play, and you really start to figure things out.

Obviously there is video and we used that to get me a little more comfortable. There are still questions about things and those come up as the game is going along. Chara has been great about helping me out with things they do that I havent done in the past. Its been really good.

Zanon took a couple of penalties in a loss to Washington and was scratched in two of the next three games, but hes been a shot-blocking, physical defenseman without any major blemishes in his last two games. Zanon is a plus-3 in the wins over the Flyers and the Leafs, and managed his highest ice time total (19:41) with the Bruins in Mondays blowout victory.

Nobody likes to be scratched, but the organization has to do what they feel is best," Zanon said. "The last couple of games Ive been able to play some decent minutes. Im just happy to be playing and doing anything I can to help.

Claude Julien liked what hes seen out of the former Minnesota defenseman from the start, but he hasnt had any incidents lately around the net like he did in his first handful of games with the Bs. The Bruins coach was also quick to throw Mike Mottaus name into the mix despite the fact hes played sparingly since arriving in Boston as a key extra defenseman.

I didnt mind Zanon from the get-go. Hes just kept things simple just like Mike Mottau. Theyve both kept their games simple and moved the puck well, said Julien. They both come from backgrounds where they understand our defensive philosophies.

Its a position thats gotten stronger with the acquisition of both those guys. Certainly we have a lot of assets and we know that if injuries hit and if we have to put in another player its not going to weaken our back end.

Perhaps the biggest piece of evidence that Zanon has fully adopted the Bruins way of doing things? Zanon is letting his personality and sense of humor show with his teammates. It was underscored when he was making pigeon noises while walking through a couple of postgame media scrums in the Bs dressing room after Mondays blowout win over the Leafs.

Zanon is clearly not in Minnesota and Nashville dealing with the expectations and requirements -- including the bigger media corps -- that goes along with playing professional hockey in Boston, but he and Rolston are making the adjustment accordingly.

Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem


Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — President Donald Trump says National Football League owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he’s encouraging spectators to walk out in protest.

In an extended riff during a freewheeling rally speech in Alabama Friday night, Trump also bemoaned that football games have become less violent.

“They’re ruining the game,” he complained.

Several athletes, including NFL players, have refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest of the treatment of blacks by police.

Trump says those players are disrespecting the flag and deserve to lose their jobs.

“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said, encouraging owners to act.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.

Trump also predicted that any owner who went through with his encouragement would become “the most popular person in this country” — at least for a week.

Trump, who was in Alabama campaigning for Sen. Luther Strange, also blamed a decline in NFL ratings on the nation’s interest in “yours truly” as well as what he described as a decline in violence in the game.

He said players are being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and it’s “not the same game.”

The NFL has made several efforts to reduce violence in the sport, particularly hits that may cause damage to the head. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers of playing football.

During his campaign, Trump often expressed nostalgia for the “old days” — claiming, for example, that protesters at his rallies would have been carried out on stretchers back then. He recently suggested police officers should be rougher with criminals and shouldn’t protect their heads when pushing them into quad cars.

It’s also not the first time he’s raised the kneeling issue. Earlier this year he took credit for the fact that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend of kneeling during the anthem, hadn’t been signed by an NFL team.

Trump said the protest was the top reason NFL viewership had waned this season.

“You know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem,” he said.

Trump encouraged his supporters to pick up and leave the stadium next time they spot a player failing to stand.

“I guarantee things will stop,” he said.


Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect


Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

BOSTON – It was probably only a matter of time before it happened, but it looks like Boston’s favorite Little Ball of Hate is stepping up his game on social media.

Brad Marchand is known as much for his rabble-rousing and trash-talking on the ice as he is for massive offensive production while serving as Boston’s top scorer in each of the last few seasons. So Marchand has the perfect mixture of good humor and clout as a star NHL player, and that usually combines for a pretty powerful voice on Twitter.

Marchand has been noticeably more active on Twitter in recent days with a wide-ranging group of tweets, and the big winner is the hockey fan that gets a little more exposure to some classic Nose Face Killah wit. Some of the tweets have been as a Bruins team leader where he’s praising the talented young crop of B’s prospects that he’s watching during training camp:

Some have been about chirping the NHL for their decision to skip the Olympics this winter where Marchand most certainly would have been primed for a chance at a Gold Medal:

Some have been engaging with “fans” and dropping classic pop culture references from children’s books while showing the nasty edge that routinely drives opponents up a wall:

The Charlotte’s Web reference is a devastating classic from Marchand, a noted longtime fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes it’s just telling a quick story in a tweet that gives you an inside look at the kind of chirping that goes on when Marchand is on the ice:

A social media platform like Twitter was made for a personality like Marchand, and a stepped-up presence is good for him and good for hockey fans. So why all of a sudden is No. 63 tweeting with greater frequency over the last few days?

It sounds like it’s a combination of training camp boredom and a genuine interest in amplifying his voice on all manner of subjects.

“I’ve just been kind of lying around with nothing to do and I jumped on [twitter]…thought it was kind of funny,” said Marchand. “I thought I’d get a little more involved. I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to do it every day, but it’s fun.”

As fun as it’s been for Marchand, it’s no doubt even more fun for the fans that might get a chance to interact with him even if it’s as the unwitting foil for one of his well-placed chirps.