Defensive 'sloppiness', not Thomas, at fault for loss

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Defensive 'sloppiness', not Thomas, at fault for loss

BOSTON -- Tim Thomas played in his eighth straight game on Saturday. It was his seventh start in those last eight.

Since Tuukka Rask went down with an abdominalgroin injury, all eyes have been on Thomas to carry most of the load. And with Marty Turco being thrown into the mix, Thomas hasn't, and most likely won't get too much rest time down the stretch. Or, at least, not as much rest time that he'd get it Rask was healthy.

So there will be some who look at the four goals Thomas allowed on Saturday, and blame that on a lack of rest. But on this day, the problem wasn't fatigue.

And it didn't have anything to do with looking forward to Sunday's game in Pittsburgh.

"You shouldn't be, anyways," said Thomas after the loss. "You've got to play this game. If you look at the standings, Washington is the team that you should have a better chance of beating, on a regular basis, based on standings. So, if anything, you should focus on this game, and not worry about tomorrow. Just let tomorrow take care of itself, after you do your job and do your business here."

The goaltender for Sunday hasn't been officially announced, but Julien did say before Saturday's game that they've been working Turco hard the last couple of days, and that, "Hes well rested and ready to go."

So all eyes have been on the Bruins goaltending situation. And for good reason. But Saturday's loss to the Capitals was more about what went on in front of Thomas, rather than what was going on with any potential fatigue.

Washington took a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals that came 25 seconds apart, midway through the first period, both came on rebounds, and Bruins defensemen not picking up bodies out front.

"I'd love to control every rebound, but that's not reality," said Thomas after the game.

Alex Semin made it 1-0 after a Karl Alzner shot from the left point was stopped by Thomas. Semin was wide open out front and put the rebound home. But clearly, if Adam McQuaid could take it back, he would have been covering Semin out front.

"It was hard to control the rebound there, because I didn't know if it was going to hit off somebody," said Thomas. "I had to wait for it to clear people, beforeI could make a move at it. And it happened to hit off my stick, instead of my pad, as far as directing the puck exactly.

"I didn't even know Semin was over there," added Thomas. "I was too focused on the puck, because I didn't know if I was going to get screened."

Matt Hendricks quickly made it 2-0 after Thomas stopped a shot from the point. Hendricks was on the doorstep, and kept digging at the loose puck. But Dennis Seidenberg and Joe Corvo were both there, and still, couldn't clear the loose puck.

"I lost it, after Hendricks' first rebound shot," said Thomas. "A shot from the point I think got tipped by Hendricks in front. I was able to find it to make the first save on Hendricks. But then I never saw the puck again, before it was in the net. I saw people swinging sticks, and tried to react off of where they were swinging sticks. But I never actually found the puck."

The Capitals' third goal came with 8:38 left in the second period, and gave Washington a 3-2 lead. It came as the result of a collision between Seidenberg and McQuaid behind the B's own net. After the collision Semin took the loose puck and sent it hard to Jay Beagle in the slot, who ripped home a one-timer.

"They did collide, but I think everybody had time to recover from it, and get themselves back into position," said Thomas.

The fourth came on a Washington power play, as Dennis Wideman threw a perfect cross-ice pass down low to Brooks Laich on the doorstep, who simply re-directed it into the net at the left post.

Bruins coach Claude Julien admitted afterwards that it's tough to continue to play catch-up hockey in the NHL. It's even tougher if your goaltender is fatigued. Some may point at that to be the reason for Saturday's loss, given the fact that it was the eighth straight game that Thomas has played in.

But that didn't seem to be the reason.

"When the Capitals scored those goals, we lost battles in front of our net," said Julien after the loss. "We talked about that before the game. If they have some loose guys around the net, they're dangerous. The first goal was that, a rebound, and the guy's all by himself. The second one, there's a loose puck right in front of our goaltender, and we've got two defensemen there. The battle, we just lost.

"To me, it's sloppiness, from our part."

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want.