Curran's Game Day Walkthrough

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Curran's Game Day Walkthrough

The Bills were a vogue pick to turn the corner in 2012 and start a run of success. Now, with a 3-5 record that seems quite likely to be 3-6 by nightfall Sunday, the Buddy and Chan Show is entering its blue period. And that includes trying to determine if the quarterback sucks permanently or if he's salvageable.
One of my favorite columnists, Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News, puts Ryan Fitzpatrick in the crosshairs today. And that's only because Bills general manager Buddy Nix put Fitzpatrick there earlier in the week when Nix said of the quarterback decision, Let me be as honest as I can. I think we really need to address it this year."

I picture Buddy cleaning a shotgun as he says this and old Fitzy The Dog asleep at his feet, head resting on Buddy's shoes, unaware that the party is nearly over.

But Fitzpatrick knows that, despite his six-year, 59 million deal, the posse is closing in. Sullivan asked Fitzpatrick if he is playing for his future now.

I mean, I . . . I cant do that, he said. I cant go into a game and say, I need to play well or else. Im a guy that was a seventh-round pick. Ive waited for an opportunity for a long time, and now I have this opportunity.

I understand what happens in the NFL. I understand that its a performance-based business for quarterbacks. You have to win games or else. I understand all that. I appreciate this opportunity as much as anybody, because I had to wait a long time to get it."

The Bills as a team are in desperate straits and Nix has nudged Fitzpatrick out in front of the angry masses. And that's the dynamic the Bills bring in to Foxboro today.

The only college team that I believe could have legitimately beaten a professional team was the 1990-91 UNLV Runnin' Rebels basketball team. Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony, Anderson Hunt, read this article to gain a little appreciation of them. But that's basketball. Five guys, the physical demands wholly different than football. I bring this up because there's been conversation about whether Alabama could beat an NFL team. They could not. They almost lost to LSU. Saturday, they did lose to Texas A&M. I really like this Alabama team and enjoy watching it, but the myriad pieces on a football team -- offense, defense, special teams -- and the strength and physics of the game at the NFL level would make it impossible for a college team to even be competitive with the worst NFL team.

Two good pieces in the Boston Globe today. Greg Bedard's highlighting of relevant excerpts in a new book called, "Coaching Confidential: Inside the Fraternity of NFL Coaches, by New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers. I'll let you read Bedard's summation but there is a lot here from Robert Kraft about his relationships with Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. There's a bit of spin from Kraft on the long-ago dustup with Parcells over draft pick Christian Peter that I'll delve into later this week.

The other is a sitdown between Shalise Manza-Young and Tom Brady delving into Brady's health so far this season (fit as a fiddle).

One other quick Brady-related note: that question about him dressing funny that I posed . . . it was at the end of the press conference and I really don't care how he dresses. And when I asked him later if he was offended, he said, "You know me better than that . . ."

STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

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STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in finals history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37:09 at one point without a shot.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions.

All the guys from the place dubbed "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

It temporarily deflated Nashville and gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge.

Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Nick Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa, when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead they rallied.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second. Though Nashville didn't get another one by Murray, they also kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

Posey stays out of the fray during Strickland-Harper brawl

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Posey stays out of the fray during Strickland-Harper brawl

SAN FRANCISCO  — As an irate Bryce Harper charged toward the mound, Buster Posey just stood and watched from behind home plate.

And when the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants cleared their benches Monday and punches flew both ways, the All-Star catcher did his best to remain just outside the fray.

Not where some expected to find the Giants team leader with his pitcher, Hunter Strickland, exchanging head shots with Harper.

“Posey did NOTHING to stop Harper from getting to his pitcher,” former major league pitcher Dontrelle Willis wrote on Twitter. “I’ve never seen that before in my life.”

Posey declined to enter the fracas, instead remaining around its edges and watching as the players scuffled in “a pretty good pile,” as Giants manager Bruce Bochy called it.

Posey dealt with a concussion in April after being struck in the head by a pitch, but did not say he held back because of concerns related to that. He did say he was wary about the risk of injury.

“There were some big guys tumbling around out there,” Posey said. “You see Mike Morse and Jeff Samardzija are about as big as they come and he was getting knocked around like a pinball. So it was a little dangerous to get in there.”

Still, social media was abuzz at the sight of Posey not sticking up for his teammate.

“Strickland must have told @BusterPosey he was hitting him and let him come cause he didn’t even give a soft jog,” Willis wrote.

“Says all you need to know that Buster Posey didn’t bother to hold back Harper,” tweeted Fox broadcaster Kevin Burkhardt . “Let him go get his pitcher.”

Also absent from the fight: hard-nosed Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. As his teammates flew over the dugout railing, Bumgarner stayed put, perhaps because the left-hander is still recovering after injuring his pitching shoulder and ribs in a dirt biking accident in April.