Boston Bruins

Five thoughts: P-Bruins vs. Connecticut Whale

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Five thoughts: P-Bruins vs. Connecticut Whale

HARTFORD, CT -- Here are five thoughts from the first period of the P-Bruins and the Connecticut Whale with both teams tied at 1-1 after the first 20 minutes at the XL Center.

1) Ryan Bourque is winning the brotherly battle after taking the first goal of the game for the Whale to tie things up at one apiece. It was a pretty little play between Chris Kreider and Bourque to set things up, and showed the kind of firepower that some AHL teams are boasting this season during the lockout. It was a nifty move by former Boston CollegePhillips Andover stud Kreider to set it all up.

2) Providence's lone goal came on a Jamie Tardif tipped puck of Kyle MacKinnon shot, and underscores the quietly solid job Tardif has done for the P-Bruins as another calming veteran presence alongside Trent Whitfield and Chris Bourque.

3) Less than great period for Mike Hutchinson as the P-Bruins and Whale were tied at 1-1 despite outshooting Connecticut by a 12-6 margin. A Ryan Bourque shot off the post was all that kept it from being even worse, though Providence was robbed of a goal that appeared over the goal line before the refs whistled it off. P-Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game he was told by the referees that instant replay wasn't working in the Hartford barn on Saturday night.

4) Colby Cohen picked up the helper on Tardif's goal and had a solid first 20 minutes. Cohen has been quiet among the P-Bruins defensemen this far in three games, but appears to be turning a corner as he's gotten involved offensively. He'll have to keep standing out as Cassidy has plenty of viable defensemen options if any of his blueliners are struggling.

5) Jared Knight still battling through that balky hamstringgroin, and has only played in two of Providence's first five games.

SECOND PERIOD

HARTFORD, CT -- Here are five thoughts from the second period with the Providence Bruins trailing the Connecticut Whale by a 5-2 score after 40 minutes at the XL Center.

1) Whale players Chris Kreider, Ryan Bourque and Logan Pyett had been largely kept under wraps early in the season, but the exploded all over the P-Bruins in the second period. P-Bruins have done a good job of keeping Connecticut's big producers off the board, the other forwards are killing them.

2) Michael Hutchinson was pulled after giving up four goals midway through the second period, and Niklas Svedberg was promptly greeted with Tommy Grant score that it 5-1. While it wasn't all of Hutchinson's fault tonight, Svedberg has shown much more early in this season for Providence despite suffering the loss to Springfield on Friday night.

3) Horrendous defense by Torey Krug and Colby Cohen on the Grant goal to make it 5-1. The Whale forward was completely uncovered by the Providence defense and it was a chip shot the flick a puck past Svedberg. It simply looked like a lapse in concentration for Providence, and has been one of several in the defensive end for Krug. He's a team-worst minus-6 on the season.

4) A great look by Chris Bourque on a slaps-pass across the ice to Jordan Caron for Providence's second goal of the game. Now the elder Bourque brother simply needs a goal tonight to be on equal bragging rights footing with younger brother Ryan after his first period score. Caron now has four goals on the season and holds a healthy lead for the P-Bruins in that category.

5) Providence will be on the PP to start the second on a delay of game penalty and could set themselves up for a comeback after Caron's goal gave them a little momentum at the end of the period.

THIRD PERIOD

HARTFORD, CT -- Here are five thoughts from the third period with the P-Bruins falling to the Connecticut Whale by a 6-3 score at the XL Center.

1) The P-Bruins aren't getting consistent production from their power play -- who would have ever thought we'd say that about a team in the Bruins organization, eh -- but they move the puck with ease, skill and precision when the Chris Bourque, Jordan Caron and Torey Krug unit is on the ice. They're fun to watch and they were 2-for-6 on Saturday night after going 0-for-5 the night before against Springfield. It's just a matter of consistency now.

2) Niklas Svedberg still having issues with playing the puck around his net. He went way outisde his net to corral a puck in the corner and threw it directly to Kris Newbury charging toward the net for an easy goal. The Swedish goalie has a lot of potential at stopping pucks, but he needs plenty of work when handling the puck.

3) Max Sauve with his third goal of the season in the third period after firing off a short side pass from a Craig Cunningham dish. That line has scored in 5 of Providence's six games this season. Sauve leads the P-Bruins with five points this year and is definitely doing his part.

4) Something feels so right hearing Brass Bonanza being played after every Whale goal here in Hartford. Would leave to see an NHL team back here in Connecticut someday.

5) Bobby Robbins with another fight for the P-Bruins tonight. I love that kid's spirit. He's dropped the gloves in just about every game for Providence and has tried to provide the emotional spark for the sub-.500 hockey club.

Bruins have just as good a chance as the Celtics do this season (which is small)

Bruins have just as good a chance as the Celtics do this season (which is small)

Dan Shaughnessy ran a piece this week calling the Bruins the No. 4 team in town these days. He wasn’t wrong. They are. 

Of course, the claim isn’t really a discussion about the Patriots or Red Sox, as they’ll always be the two most popular teams in town. It’s about the Bruins being behind the Celtics, which again, they are. 

Yet while the general premise of the story was correct, there was an issue to be taken with the piece. Shaughnessy wrote that, “In terms of overall interest and championship hopes, [the Bruins] are a distant fourth.”

That’s where he’s wrong. Nobody would argue against the Celtics garnering more interest (even if the Bruins might have a stronger fanbase), but championship hopes? The teams are deadlocked. 

The Celtics are one of the top teams in a league in which only one team (the Warriors) has a chance. The Bruins are a middle-of-the-pack team in a league in which the literal last team in the playoffs (the No. 16 seed Predators) went to the Stanley Cup Final last season. 
 
This isn’t about which team is better, because that’s not close. The Celtics have three All-Stars in their starting five and the third overall picks from each of the last two drafts. They’ve also got one of the best coaches in the league. 

It’s also not about who will likely go farther. The Celtics will at the very least reach the Eastern Conference finals. The issue is that they’ll then either be eliminated by the Cavaliers or earn the opportunity to perhaps get swept by the Warriors in the Finals. 

That leaves the Celtics with a certainty of a very good season, but also close to an impossibility of a championship season. 

As for the Bruins, they probably won’t be much better than they were last season, if at all. This season was always the one to watch in the Sweeney era, as it will see the biggest implementation of the young players drafted. There should be at least four Sweeney draft picks on the team this year (Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson), plus youngsters from the Chiarelli era still pushing for jobs. 

The biggest change figures to be on the back end, where the Bruins should have the best top-four they’ve had since Sweeney dealt Dougie Hamilton. A lot of that rides on McAvoy, but there remains hope on the back end in future seasons with Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril trying to eventually break in. 

Will the Bruins rule their division the way the Celtics will? Most likely not. The guess here is that Tampa and Montreal will finish ahead of teams like Boston, Ottawa and Toronto. 

Yet there isn’t a Cleveland or a Golden State waiting to swallow up whoever does emerge throughout the playoffs, and that’s what leaves the Bruins and Celtics with equal chances at a title. The Penguins have won back-to-back titles, but the Bruins have gone 4-1-1 against them in the regular season the last two years. They’re hardly the unstoppable force that exists in Golden State. 

So in terms of buzz, offseason moves and anticipation for a new season? Sure, the Celtics have it all over the B’s. I’m certainly way more excited for basketball season. When it comes to championship hopes, however, the B’s and C’s are no different. 

CSNNE SCHEDULE

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rams hold off 49ers for wild 41-39 win

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rams hold off 49ers for wild 41-39 win

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Coach Sean McVay walked into the postgame news conference and immediately asked, "Anyone have a beer?"

He probably wasn't the only person who wanted a drink after watching a surprisingly thrilling Thursday night shootout between his Rams and the San Francisco 49ers that wasn't decided until Los Angeles prevented a potential game-tying 2-point try and then delivered a rare defensive stop after blowing the onside kick in a 41-39 victory.

"We talk about mentally tough, be your best regardless of the circumstance," McVay said. "I thought the players did that. They found a way in spite of some of the ups and the downs to come away with the win."

While the defense came up big late, it was the offense that carried the day for the Rams (2-1), who have gone from the lowest-scoring team in the NFL a year ago to a dynamic one through three games under McVay.

Jared Goff threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns, Todd Gurley ran for 113 yards and scored three TDs and Robert Woods (108) and Sammy Watkins (106) each topped the 100-yard mark receiving in Los Angeles' second 40-point performance of the season. The Rams have 107 points in all so far, the second-most in franchise history after three games to the 119 by "The Greatest Show on Turf" squad in 2000.

"Since I've been here we haven't been able to do that," Gurley said. "Hopefully we can keep putting points together, keep working together and keep learning from this. I think we left a lot more points off the board."

This win didn't come easy as the Rams nearly blew a 15-point lead, giving up two late touchdowns, fumbling a kickoff return and failing to recover an onside kick. But Los Angeles managed to stop a potential game-tying 2-point conversion on a deflection by Troy Hill and then used an offensive pass interference penalty against Trent Taylor and a fourth-down sack by Aaron Donald to stop the Niners after the onside kick.

The 49ers (0-3) scored five touchdowns after failing to get any the first two weeks but still came up short in part because a missed extra point by Robbie Gould forced them to try for 2 on their late touchdown.

"I just rushed it, I missed it, I made a mistake," Gould said. "Obviously, I wish I didn't do that, or we'd probably be playing in overtime right now.""

This time it was a tired defense that hurt San Francisco. After facing 79 plays in a 12-9 loss at Seattle on Sunday, the 49ers appeared to run out of gas on the short week as Goff frequently had wide-open receivers, especially on third down.

The Rams were 8 for 12 on third down, including all three of Goff's touchdown passes.

The Rams needed all that offense on a night where Brian Hoyer threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score.

QUICK START: The Rams took just 12 seconds to get on the board as Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted Hoyer on the first play from scrimmage and returned it to the 3-yard line. Gurley ran it in on the next play to give the Rams a 7-0 lead.

"I just told him to start over," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "Got to go back to work. We didn't change anything, went right on with the script. But it was a tough way to start out."

DROUGHT BUSTER: The 49ers came into the game without a touchdown on the season but broke through in the first quarter with some help from the Rams. After Blake Countess jumped offside on a punt, the Niners took advantage of the second opportunity and drove to score on Hoyer's 9-yard run 126:43 into the season. That was the longest it took a team to score its first TD since 2006 when both Tampa Bay (143:03) and Oakland (127:10) took more time.

FOURTH DOWN CALLS: Both teams drove to the opposing 1 on their opening drives of the second half with help from a Willie Mays-style basket catch by Watkins and a perfect toe drag on the sideline by San Francisco's Pierre Garcon. But the Rams opted to kick a short field goal, while the 49ers went for it and converted on Carlos Hyde's 1-yard run that cut Los Angeles' lead to 27-20. Hyde added a second 1-yard run on fourth down in the fourth quarter.

INJURIES: Rams S Lamarcus Joyner left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury. ... Los Angeles C John Sullivan injured his groin in the second half and Watkins and Tavon Austin left with concussions. ... 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (concussion), FB Kyle Juszczyk (neck), DL Tank Carradine (ankle) and LB Brock Coyle (concussion) all left with injuries in the second half.

UP NEXT: The Rams travel to Dallas on Oct. 1. The 49ers visit Arizona.