Haggerty's thoughts from P-Bruins vs. IceCaps

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Haggerty's thoughts from P-Bruins vs. IceCaps

PROVIDENCE, RI -- Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Providence Bruins leading the St. John's IceCaps by a 1-0 lead after the first 20 minutes at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

1) A goal 22 seconds in for P-Bruins emotional catalyst Bobby Robbins, who has been bringing it to Providence this season. Fitting he now has a score to go with the 33 penalty minutes he's amassed in six games.

2) Providence Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy looks like he's paired Ryan Spooner and Chris Bourque back together after leaving them on separate lines to start the season. Bourque is off to a good start and nearly tipped Garnet Exelby's shot past the IceCaps goalie in the first period.

3) Niklas Svedberg was a last-minute insert into the lineup at goaltender for the P-Bruins as Michael Hutchinson continues to look like he's fighting the puck. Svedberg only faced five shots in the first, but he stopped them all.

4) The P-Bruins continue to control puck possession and dominate the shot charts. Fourteen shots in the first period for Providence compared to five for St. John's. That should be a formula to win, but Providence hasn't been stopping enough pucks early in the year.

5) Five points in seven games along with 11 PIMs for Jamie Tardif and an even plusminus rating. He's been a real bright spot for Providence this season as a veteran presence.

Five thoughts from the second period with Providence leading the St. John's IceCaps by a 2-0 score:

1) Save of the game by Niklas Svedberg on Maxime Macenauer in the middle of the second period on a short-handed bid. He kicked out a quick leg to make the stop, one of his 10 saves through two periods. Svedberg is putting a vice grip on the starting job with the P-Bruins through the first month.

2) Good power play puck movement leads to Providence's second goal. Ryan Spooner moved in toward the net and drew the defense's attention before sliding a cross-ice pass to a wide open Carter Camper. The pass was so good that Camper had all day to load up the gun and fire the puck in for a PP score.

3) Four shots on net for Chris Bourque through two periods to lead Providence. The P-Bruins are leaving him out for the entire two-minute run on PP's with both units and it's paying dividends on a man advantage that's had its good moments.

4) The Providence defense has been lacking at times, but they've been a lockdown unit today while the Bruins dominate puck possession.

5) Alex Burmistrov has been very, very quiet for St. John's today for a guy with an NHL resume. No shots and no impact.

Five thoughts from the third period with the Providence Bruins taking a 3-0 win over the St. John's IceCaps:

1) Good day for the Providence energy line as Lane MacDermid notched his first goal of the season after following on the rebound of a Bobby Robins shot. Robins finished with two points along with his customarily exuberant play.

2) Haven't seen much out of Justin Florek early in this season for the P-Bruins. He took a delay of game penalty in the first period, but was held without a shot otherwise. Florek is scoreless with a minus-2 rating in five games.

3) IceCaps started to pour it on a little bit in the third period, but Niklas Svedberg turned everything away he saw for his first career shutout in North American pro hockey.

4) Not a lot of offensive involvement for the Providence defensemen today. Perhaps that's an adjustment after some porous play last weekend, but it's led to a much more air-tight effort.

5) So which song becomes a staple in the TD Garden rotation when the NHL finally goes get going: "Gangnam Style" or "Call Me Maybe?" Credit to the Patriot Ledger's Mike Loftus for asking that burning question in the P-Bruins press box.

Steelers descending into disarray?

Steelers descending into disarray?

Less than 48 hours removed from openly wondering if the AFC Championship Game stage was “too big” for some of his young teammates, Ben Roethlisberger has decided to play the latter-day Hamlet/Brett Favre game.

Speaking on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday, Roethlisberger hinted at retirement.

“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options,” Roethlisberger said. “To consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season. All those things. I think at this point in my career, at my age, that’s the prudent and smart thing to do every year.”

The soon-to-be-35-year-old Roethlisberger is a likely Hall of Famer who’s still arguably one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. But for whatever reason, he’s got an insatiable need for people to register concern about his status. Whether it be limping around the field, lamenting injuries or this, few quarterbacks in the league go through the same histrionics Roethlisberger does in order to get those, “Attaboy, Ben!” backslaps.

I remember being at Steelers training camp in 2009 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and having veteran Steelers writers roll their eyes as Roethlisberger started hopping around like he was on hot coals after a throw. The quarterback having an owie act was a daily tradition.

Roethlisberger’s also got a passive aggressive side in which he’ll deftly twist the knife on coaches and teammates but leave himself enough room for plausible deniability.

In addition to openly wondering if his young teammates took the AFC Championship Game seriously enough, Roethlisberger gave the “just running the plays as I’m told” answer when asked about the Steelers resistance to running a quarterback sneak when they were at the Patriots goal line before halftime. Roethlisberger could have taken offensive coordinator Todd Haley off the hook there – he’s lobbied for Haley to get a head coaching shot after the two had a bad relationship when Haley arrived. But he opted not to.

Similarly, earlier this year, Roethlisberger’s critiques of the way head coach Mike Tomlin was running the team were aired. 

So, this could be part of a Roethlisberger power play aimed at the Steelers bowing to his wishes.

That wasn’t the only tidbit from Pittsburgh that looked bad for the AFC finalists. Linebacker Bud Dupree said the Steelers were surprised by the Patriots using an up-tempo offense earlier in the game. 

Do they not have electricity or internet access in the Steelers facility? Up-tempo is a staple part of the Patriots offensive diet. You can see it on the television or the internet through your smart phone.

While there’s no doubt that defensive coordinator Keith Butler – and defensive minded head coach Tomlin – were aware and talked about the Patriots going no-huddle, the fact Dupree (and his teammates) were unable to recall the preparation or adequately fall into an emergency plan to address it does fall on the coaches.

Need more? It’s also being leaked out of the building that Antonio Brown cares too much about his statistics. He made clear last week how much he cares about advancing his personal brand at the expense of Tomlin and the team with his Facebook Live video. 

If there’s an upside for anyone in all this, it would have to be Joey Porter. Nobody’s even talking about his off-field fracas anymore.

As this season ably demonstrated, the Patriots have plum run out of authentic rivals in the AFC. That the team they just pulverized is steamrolling into an offseason of dysfunction and uncertainty isn't good if you like parity. But it's terrific if you couldn't care less.