Covering the Patriots requires a reporter to use his intuition. In the years I've covered the team, my intuition's been good (signing of Rosey Colvin, rise of Tom Brady, usefulness of Danny Woodhead, the resurrection of the tight end position) and askew (not sniffing out the Moss deal looming, the release of Brandon Meriweather). I bring this up on this Tuesday because Ian Rapoport at The Boston Heraldhas read the smoke signals around veteran left tackle Matt Light and mentioned that there is a chance Light may retire. This being the dead period before the Combine and the start of free agency, the speculation gained traction. So it now behooves me to speculate on Rap's speculation. And while Rap looks up at this cloud and sees a horse wearing a party hat, I'm looking at the same cloud and saying, "Rap, that's a flippin' unicorn, fer crissake!"Money aside, why would Light want to retire? He played tremendously in 2011 (2.5 sacks allowed) and was as engaged as I've ever seen him. It's out there somewhere, the video of Light on the bench, head bowed, fists clenched as Billy Cundiff lined up the would-be game-tying kick in the AFC Championship. That level of desperate hoping was something I never thought I'd see from Light, who always maintained a respectful detachment from getting too overwrought about his job. He and Brian Waters were the Patriots best two linemen. Speed rushers, power rushers, young, old, didn't matter. Light was on lockdown all season. What Rap wrote in a larger post about Marcus Cannonwas this: "While it hasnt been said officially, the expectation is that Matt Light will not be back next year (with retirement definitely possible)."The money Light's due in 2012 -- reportedly 3.4 million in salary and a 100,000 workout bonus-- seems daunting to Rap. Especially with 2011 first rounder Nate Solder and third-year man Sebastian Vollmer in the mix. Here's why I see it differently. Light was given a 6 million signing bonus. So the Patriots will take a cap hit in the neighborhood of 3 million to not have a capable, veteran left tackle who's still playing at a high level around? Beyond that, Vollmer's back issues in 2010 and '11 should make the Patriots reticent about lopping Light or asking him to take a penal pay cut. And I'm not sure Solder is quite ready to step in at Light's level. This isn't a rebuilding Patriots team. It's one that was within a couple of plays and minutes of a Super Bowl win. Will the Patriots maybe ask Light to take less than he's due to make? Maybe. But releasing him or forcing him into retirement doesn't seem likely to me.
BOSTON – While there were some warning signs over the last few weeks that the Bruins might be getting away from their game, it didn’t really hit home until Thursday night’s frustrating loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Bruins blew through three different one-goal leads in the second period in the 6-3 loss to the Bolts at TD Garden, and each time surrendered a tying goal to Tampa in less than two minutes after initially scoring. It was a clear indicator that the Bruins weren’t fully focused on the task at hand despite having already lost three games in a row, and that their ability to bounce back from adversity is going away from them again.
That much was obvious when the bottom dropped out in the third period, and Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov turned into a two-man Lightning wrecking crew outscoring the Bruins by a 3-0 margin in the final 20 minutes.
“I think the frustration is more in-game, where we’ve got to have a stronger mental capacity to handle those [challenging] situations in-game. Let’s face it, when you get on a bit of a losing streak, all those things creep in, whether it’s in October or whether it’s in March,” said Bruce Cassidy. “You have doubts, you start pressing, and again, it’s my job to alleviate the kind of attention in those situations.
“But, as I told you, we all have to be accountable and be responsible for ourselves, and that’s where we just need to have better focus and better discipline in those areas. It was there when it was 3-3 [on the scoreboard]. We’ve got to push back after they score, and that’s where I thought we started to come apart a little bit where we should’ve stuck together and stuck with the program. [We needed to] get ourselves slowly back into the game. We had 10 minutes to even the score, and we weren’t able to do it.”
Clearly this wasn’t just the coach alone in his pointed observations, however, as the lack of focus showed unfortunately in a rudderless second period for the Black and Gold where they couldn’t gain any separation from Tampa Bay despite scoring three goals.
“[It’s] not being focused, not being sharp, and obviously at this time of the year it’s unacceptable, and it’s up on us to be better,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “Those kinds of situations shouldn’t happen. So, for sure, we need to address those things and hold each other accountable.”
One thing is clear: The Bruins have a lot of work to do if they hope to avoid the same kind of late season tailspin that doomed them each of the last two seasons, and already seems to be happening over their last four losses to varying levels of hockey talent.
Here are the talking points from the Boston Bruins' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.