Haggerty: Staying healthy is Bruins' only goal

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Haggerty: Staying healthy is Bruins' only goal

BOSTON -- If the Bruins needed any more convincing that they should leave their core players home on Thursday when they play their final regular-season road game in Ottawa, the sight of Johnny Boychuk going down with an apparent leg injury during garbage time Tuesday night should do it.
Boychuks left knee buckled as he moved in for a big hit on Pittsburgh tough guy Arron Asham during the third period of Bostons 5-3 loss to the Penguins at TD Garden, and the rugged, big-hitting defenseman needed to be helped off the ice. Video replays showed Boychuks left knee bent inward during awkward contact with Asham.
With only two games left on the schedule and the playoffs looming little more than a week away, it was a reminder of how fleeting good health can be.
It didnt make sense that Boychuk should have been out of the lineup against the Penguins, given that he'd missed several games last month and needed the work, so there was probably no way to avoid the injury. Nothing has been diagnosed, of course, and perhaps its something minor that will only cause the defenseman to miss a couple of games. But the worst-case scenario is that Boychuk, one of the Bruins' top four defensemen, misses a healthy chunk of the playoffs, and that would push Joe Corvo back into a meaningful role.
Coach Claude Julien wasnt going there when asked if there was any way to rest his key skaters as the season winds down.
You dont have a choice," said Julien. "Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby were in the Penguins' lineup Tuesday. From their end of it, Kris Letangs in and hes had his fair share of injuries. Youve got to play. This is our job, weve got to do our job.
Theres no doubt you want to minimize ice time, youd like to keep guys out, and everything else, but you cant keep them all out. Its something that happens. Youre going to try and avoid it, and you do the best you can, but there are no hundred-percenters anymore.
But its the time of year when the Bruins are attempting to find ways to rest some of their key players. That should be a message sky-written across Bruins Nation with even more urgency know after watching one of their key playoff performers get injured.
Its always tough when you see a guy laying on the ice like that and hes not getting up, or even moving out of the position, said Milan Lucic. You know, three games left, now two, you dont want to see anyone get hurt, especially not a guy like Boychuk who plays a big role on this team.
Hopefully hes going to get through whatever injury he has. Hes one of the tougher guys that I know, so hes going to do whatever he can to make sure that he is right.
So the Bruins are expected to leave some of their biggest names Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara back in Boston when they face the Senators in an expected preview of the first round of the playoffs. Theres no reason for franchise cornerstone players to needlessly jump into message game against a Senators team that seems to be the one with something to prove and watching one player get hurt in a meaningless early April loss to the Penguins should certainly hammer that point home.
The Bruins were extremely fortunate to avoid any catastrophic injuries last season, at least until the Stanley Cup Finals when Nathan Horton went down with a concussion That good health was a big part of the Bruins capturing the Cup last season, as they won three Game 7s over 25 playoff games through parts of three months.
While its not yet known how serious the Boychuk injury actually is, it sent a signal through the Bs organization that they might not be as fortunate this time around. Thats why Julien and Co. need to do everything possible to keep the team healthy heading into the playoffs, which are set to begin April 12.

Patriots To-Do List: Figure out what’s up with Cyrus Jones

Patriots To-Do List: Figure out what’s up with Cyrus Jones

Personally, I would buy a crapload of stock in Cyrus Jones. In part because – after his nightmarish rookie season – stock can be bought on the cheap. But also because he’s too talented, too committed and too smart to suck like he did in 2016 when he handled punts like they were coated in uranium and never made a big contribution in the secondary.

Because of his disappointing year, Jones is an overlooked player on the Patriots roster, but he’s in a pivotal spot. With Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon approaching free agency, Malcolm Butler’s contract expiring after 2017, Pat Chung on the edge of 30 and a free agent after 2018 and the other corners being Justin Coleman, Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones is going to get his shot.

The reason I included safeties Harmon and Chung in the discussion is that when the Patriots go to six DBs, roles are less stringently defined. And because of Jones’ size (5-10, 200), powerful build and short-area quickness, he can be the kind of versatile player who covers inside against quicker slot receivers as well as being on the outside if necessary. Kind of like Chung can cover on the back end or drop down to cover tight ends.

The Patriots are confident that Jones will get it right. His teammates in the secondary are unanimous in saying he’s got all the talent he needs.  

PATRIOTS TO-DO LIST:

But as 2016 wore on, it was apparent that Jones was miserable and let his failures consume him. Jones muffed or fumbled five kicks in the 2016 season.
 
By the time the Patriots played the Ravens on a Monday night in December, he was so inside his own head that he stalked a bouncing punt he had no business being near (for the second time that game) and had it bounce off his foot setting up a Ravens touchdown. That night, Jones exited the Patriots locker room and made his way to the players parking lot before the field was even clear of equipment.

Jones either expected things to come as easily in the NFL as they did at Alabama and wasn’t prepared to deal with adversity. Or the mistakes he made caused him to wonder if he really was good enough to play in the league.

Either way, Cyrus Jones was all about Cyrus Jones in 2016. And his comments to the Baltimore Sun over the weekend were evidence that the world he’s concerned with ends at the end of his nose. 

"I honestly felt cursed," he said. "I reached a point where I didn't even want to play. I just didn't have it...What I did this year was not me," he said. "I don't care how anybody tries to sugarcoat it. Yes, I was a rookie. But I feel I should always be one of the best players on the field, no matter where I am.
 
"But honestly, it was hell for me," he said. "That's the only way I can describe it. I didn't feel I deserved to be part of anything that was happening with the team. I felt embarrassed that these people probably thought they wasted a pick on me."

The first thing Jones needs to do this offseason is get over himself. He can look one locker down and talk to Devin McCourty about getting crushed for shaky play in 2012, battling through it and then turning into a Pro Bowl-level safety. He can talk to fellow Alabama product Dont'a Hightower about Hightower’s being benched in the 2013 season against the Broncos and labeled a bust before flipping his season around and being the team’s best defender by the end of that year.

But he’s going to have to figure it out. Draft status means nothing to New England and, as it now stands, undrafted corner Jonathan Jones out of Auburn has more demonstrated value to the team that Cyrus Jones does. In two months, the Patriots are damn sure going to add more secondary players.

This offseason, Jones needs to check his ego, simplify his game and simply ban outside perceptions from fans, media or coaches from infect his on-field decision-making.

His conversation with the Sun didn’t really indicate he’s ready to do that. Asked about criticism, Jones said, “It pisses me off. You can say shut it out or don't listen, but I know people are talking, and it's negative. I'm not a dumb guy. It definitely affects me. What it should do is piss me off in a way that I want to shut them all up."

From the limited number of times I spoke with him and from his teammates regard for him, I can confirm Jones isn’t a dumb guy. That doesn’t necessarily make life easier though. In 2016, Cyrus Jones’ brain got in the way. The Patriots need him to shut that thing off in 2017. 

Brady lists suspects in jersey theft: Edelman, Lady Gaga, Game of Thrones villain

Brady lists suspects in jersey theft: Edelman, Lady Gaga, Game of Thrones villain

The case of Tom Brady's missing Super Bowl jersey got a tad more serious on Tuesday as the Houston Police Department's report on the stolen No. 12 was published by TMZ. In it, police estimate the value of the jersey at a cool half-million dollars

Brady clearly took notice. 

Though he'd probably like to have the jersey back in short order, he took to Instagram on Wednesday to make light of the search. 

His investigation seemed to lead him toward a familiar face, Julian Edelman, who he describes as a "sneaky lil squirrel." 

To let his teammate know he means business, Brady pulled a quote from Good Will Hunting.

"Ya suspect, yeah you! I don't know what your reputation is in this town, but after that s@?# you pulled, you can bet l'll be looking into you!"