Game info: Patriots vs. Rams

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Game info: Patriots vs. Rams

GAME TIME: 1 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. London time)

TV NETWORK: CBS

TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms

RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Gil Santos and Scott Zolak

ALL-TIME SERIES BETWEEN THE TEAMS: Patriots lead, 6-5 (including postseason)

LAST MEETING: Patriots 23, Rams 16 on Oct. 26, 2008 at Gillette Stadium

This will be the sixth regular-season NFL game played in London. It is New Englands second game in London; the Pats beat the Buccaneers, 35-7, at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 25, 2009.

The Pats have also played four international exhibition games in their history: In Montreal in 1969 (lost to the Lions, 22-9); in Montreal in 1990 (lost to the Steelers, 30-14); in Toronto in 1993 (lost to the Browns, 12-9), and in Mexico City in 1998 (beat the Cowboys, 21-3).

WHAT TO LOOK FOR
With one touchdown pass against the Rams, Tom Brady will extend his streak to 40 straight games with at least one touchdown pass and continue his third-longest streak all time, behind Drew Brees (49-current) and Johnny Unitas (47).

Brady has 49 career 300-yard games in the regular season and needs one more to break a tie with Warren Moon (49) for seventh place all time.

Brady has two rushing touchdowns in 2012 and needs one more to tie his single-season career high of three, set in 2011.

Stephen Gostkowski (7-of-10 from 50 or more yards) needs one more 50-yard field goal to tie Adam Vinatieri (8-of-17) for most 50-yard field goals in Patriots history. Gostkowski has two 50-yarders so far in 2012 and can become the first Patriots player with three 50-yard field goals in a single season.

Wes Welker (16) needs one more 10-plus catch game to tie Jerry Rice (17) for the most 10-catch games in NFL history.

Welker (8,184) needs 78 yards to move past Irving Fryar (8,184) for fourth place on the Patriots all-time all-purpose yards list, behind Kevin Faulk (12,349), Stanley Morgan (11,468) and Troy Brown (11,053).

The Patriots have gained at least 350 total yards in 16 consecutive games, tying the 1999-2000 St. Louis Rams for the NFL record for consecutive 350-yard games. They will break the tie and hold the record alone if they gain 350 or more yards Sunday.

Vatrano looking to snap slump for Bruins, who could really use him

Vatrano looking to snap slump for Bruins, who could really use him

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It’s been 11 games and counting without a goal for Bruins winger Frank Vatrano, but the sharp-shooter may be seeing the light at the end of the goal-scoring tunnel.

Vatrano had four shots on goal and a couple of Grade-A scoring chances in Tuesday night’s loss to the Senators and has a combined seven shots on net in the past two games after watching his shots and chances crater in the middle of the goal-scoring drought.

So the 23-year-old East Longmeadow, Mass., native takes heart that a slump-busting event is going to place sooner rather than later.

“Obviously it’s in the back of your head, but you can’t stress on it too much,” said Vatrano, who last scored back on Feb. 26 in a win over the Dallas Stars. “It’s nice to score goals, but the rest of my game needs to take over. That’s when the goals start coming. If I’m moving my feet, being first on the puck and being physical, being hard on it, then that’s when I’m going to get my chances.

“Sometimes it gets away from you, especially when you haven’t scored in a little bit. In the back of your head you think you need to change something, but for me I’m a hard-nosed player, playing hard up and down the wing. Last game I got a bunch of opportunities being hard on the puck, so hopefully I get more of those chances [against Tampa]. Every goal is important right now, so you need to make sure when you get those chances that you’re bearing down.”

One thing that Vatrano, and any number of Bruins players, could do to help the situation is get a little closer to the net and look for a hard-earned bounce or two rather than constantly trying to pick corners on the goalie. That’s something Bruce Cassidy wants to see out of his players as space on the ice gets more crowded and congested in these late season games, but he also wants Vatrano to keep using his best skill: a lightning-quick release and dangerous shot that’s designed to beat even the best goalies from the scoring areas.

“I thought his last game was good in terms of chances,” said Cassidy of Vatrano, who has 10 goals in the 39 games since returning from foot surgery. “When you stop getting chances as a goal-scorer that’s when the red flags really go up. But he needs to keep shooting. His release is usually what catches goalies off-guard, and [Craig] Anderson happened to stop a couple of them.

“He needs to keep getting to the dirty areas and get there even more. A lot of times it’s a greasy one that gets you going. But for him I just highly recommend he keep shooting. That’s what he is, and you want to keep playing to your strengths.”

The bottom line is this: Vatrano is among the most able B’s players when it comes to putting the puck in the net and the Bruins need a guy like that to step up so they’re not solely reliant on Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak goals for victories. Production from the third line has waned lately and the Bruins need it to return at crunch time with wins and points desperately needed.   

 

 

Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Playoff format going to irk somebody

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Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Playoff format going to irk somebody

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