Bruins third line tearing it up in November

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Bruins third line tearing it up in November

WILMINGTON The Bruins are darn near impossible to beat when theyre getting contributions from their bottom six forwards, and thats a big reason for their giant November.

The Bs third line, in particular, has been on fire as Boston has captured 11 wins during 12 games over the past month while rocketing up the standings in the Eastern Conference. Everybody has noticed the seven goals and 11 points chalked up by the suddenly dangerous Chris Kelly, but the sneaky quick Rich Peverley has stepped up with a goal and nine assists along with a plus-8 in 10 games.

Who would have guessed that with December right around the corner Kelly would have more goals than Jason Spezza, Henrik Sedin, Teemu Selanne, Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin?

Its going well and the team is doing well. The personal accolades are there right now, but I dont change my game too much, said Kelly. Its about our line being as consistent as they can be. We dont dwell on it when they dont, or get too excited when shots are falling.

Benoit Pouliot and Jordan Caron have teamed up for three goals and six points during Bostons winning binge as well, and have given the Bruins the depth needed for their system to have effectiveness. When the Bruins come in wave after wave of forwards shifts and pressure the other teams defensemen, it creates the turnovers and mistakes that eventually lead to Boston offense.

Its the formula that worked after the Bruins brought in Kelly and Peverley at the trade deadline, its the one that allowed them to roll through four very good teams en route to the Stanley Cup and its been key to the November roll theyve found themselves riding.

The fourth line has likewise chipped in with four goals after a quiet first month to the season, and its all part of the Black and Gold strategy. When the third and fourth line kicks in offense, good things start to happen.

Weve been trying to build our team that way for a few years, said Claude Julien, who has rolled four lines during his tenure in Boston through thick and thin times. You try to get at least three lines that can score on a regular basis, and we actually feel that our fourth line can do that also. But their job first and foremost is to give our team energy and they do that very well.

With the way our team is built its exactly the way we wanted it built.

There are legitimate questions as to whether the Bruins can keep up that kind of production all season, of course. But its increasingly tough to argue with the way the Bruins are built based on last years Stanley Cup, and the way theyve roared back from the abyss of a dismal 3-7 start in October. If depth is the answer in todays NHL then Kelly and the Bruins arent facing too many more questions after a month to remember.

Brissett sees room for improvement but feels he's 'moving in the right direction'

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Brissett sees room for improvement but feels he's 'moving in the right direction'

HOUSTON -- It wasn't the mechanics of his throwing motion that he was concerned about. For Jacoby Brissett, it was the way in which he was seeing the Texans defense, the length of time it took to get a feel for the game, and how his night ended that bothered him. 

"I felt like I was getting my rhythm," Brissett said after the Patriots lost their exhibition with the Texans on Saturday, 23-20. "But you can't really remember all that stuff when the last play happens like that. It's the last one."

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Though the outcome of the game meant nothing, Brissett and his teammates were looking for a game-winning touchdown with less than a minute left when Brissett had the ball knocked from his hands and out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. 

Brissett's night finished up with him going 5-for-10 for 36 yards. He was sacked twice and pressured on seven of his 15 drop-backs. 

The reserves playing for the Texans in the fourth quarter made life difficult for Brissett and his teammates as their first two drives resulted in punts. Brissett was hit twice on those drives, and his first third-down attempt failed when Houston sniffed out a screen. The Patriots had what looked like a third-and-21 conversion on their next sequence, but Devin Lucien bobbled a catch deep over the middle of the field that fell incomplete. 

Brissett seemed to make a couple of relatively difficult throws during his time on the field -- he nearly had a game-winning touchdown pass completed to Cody Hollister on a fade to the back corner of Houston's end zone, but Hollister got just one foot in-bounds -- yet he wished he could have done more to spark the Patriots offense quickly.

"I think I'm throwing the ball good," he said. "I don't think that's the issue. I think it's more so just my eyes and the timing of everything. I don't think it's throwing -- actually throwing. I think it's the mechanics of playing the game."

There was some good to be taken from Brissett's brief outing. After taking over possession with less than two minutes left, he helped the Patriots get deep into Texans territory with completions to Lucien, Sam Cotton and a third-down strike to DJ Foster. He also avoided a near sack, getting out of bounds to stop the clock, and he wisely spiked the football into the turf when he realized Houston had figured out another screen was coming.

Brissett looked back on where the third-team offense was at the start of camp -- with players like receivers Tony Washington and KJ Maye having just been added to the roster -- and pointed out that he felt they were significantly ahead of where they were then.

"I think we've gotten a lot better," Brissett said. "Just this two-minute drive is a good example. Last week we didn't make it past, what, the 40-yard line [against Jacksonville]? This week we're in the red zone with a chance to win the game. I think a lot of our young guys are stepping up and making plays and we're getting a little continuity together."

As for Brissett himself? The 2016 third-round pick has been the subject of some media speculation as to whether or not his spot on the 53-man roster is safe. After seeing some inconsistency in his play during camp practices and last week's game against the Jaguars, there were those who wondered if he was progressing at a rate that would help him survive this year's cutdown date. 

Asked to give a self-evaluation after the Texans game, Brissett said, "I definitely want to do more and play better, but there are good things getting done, good learning experiences. Moving in the right direction . . . 

"I feel like I'm still getting better. I think I'm doing good things. I mean, this league is hard. You just continue to work on things and continue to get better. Yeah, [tonight] the end result is a loss, but there were some good things we did out there. Some things it's good to get on film and learn from. It's a learning experience. That's what this is right now."

Whether the coaching staff sees the improvement Brissett described is unclear. 

"We've all got a long way to go," Belichick said following Saturday's game when asked about Brissett's progress. "I don't think anybody's where we need to be. Any player. Any coach. Any anybody . . . Just grinding it out. It's going to take a while."

Brissett insisted that coaches have been just as tight-lipped behind the scenes when it comes to how they've seen him grow summer. 

"I don't know what they think," Brissett said with a smile. "They don't tell me . . . I'm putting my best foot forward. It's up to them if they think I've been getting better or not."