Boston Bruins

Kaepernick's triumph didn't go as planned

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Kaepernick's triumph didn't go as planned

FOXBORO -- It ended up being the difference in the game: A 38-yard touchdown strike from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree with 6:25 left in the fourth quarter. It snapped a Patriots streak of 28 consecutive points and put the 49ers ahead, 38-31, in a game they eventually won, 41-34.
And to think, that wasn't even how the play was drawn up.
"It was a nice job by Colin," said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh afterwards. "That was not where he was supposed to go with the ball. It wasn't the intent of the play. But he saw what he saw and kicked it out to Michael, and Michael made a huge play."
After the Patriots battled back from a 31-3 deficit to tie the game at 31-31, LaMichael James returned a kickoff 62 yards down to the Patriots' 38-yard line.
That set up Kaepernick's lone play on the next drive. It was a short comeback route for Crabtree on the left side that caught Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington off-guard. Kaepernick found Crabtree, who then turned and took the ball 38 yards down the left sideline into the end zone untouched.
And everybody admitted the play wasn't meant to go to Crabtree.
"That was just another option in the play," said Kaepernick. "I saw Crabtree one-on-one with the matchup. I liked it, he's a great player and makes a lot of great plays. And he did on that play."
Kaepernick finished the game 14-of-25 for 216 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. It was just the fifth start of his NFL career. So going into Tom Brady's building was kind of a big deal.
"It is a little bit crazy, a little bit surreal," said Kaepernick after the win. "But I'm just trying to keep my head down and try to keep it going as long as I can."
Kaepernick did that, and he did it in tough conditions.
Not only did he do it in an improbable place like New England. But he also helped put up 41 points in a brutally wet and rainy Gillette Stadium.
"It was a real tough environment," said Harbaugh. "It was raining the entire game. But he did a nice job powering the ball through the elements, and through the defense at times. He didn't make every play, but that's a good football team we played."
Because of the weather, Kaepernick fumbled four snaps from center. But he recovered all of them.
"Just a wet ball, mishandling it," said Kapernick. "One hundred percent my fault."
"Yeah, we were having some difficulties there," said Harbaugh. "We just kept working at it, talking about it. The ball was hitting and squirting off Kaepernick's hand. He moved his guide hand, his left hand a little further to the right, and his top hand a little further to the right, and that helped."
Kaepernick didn't let the weather affect his mindset. He also didn't let his lone interception affect him much. After getting picked off by Devin McCourty when he tried to force one down the middle of the field early in the third quarter, Kaepernick showed his confidence driving the team down field to score a touchdown. Then he went right back to the same throw two possessions later, hitting Crabtree over the middle in between two defenders for a 27-yard strike and a touchdown that put San Francisco up 31-3.
"I was very impressed," said Harbaugh. "After you throw an interception -- I haven't done a study on this, but I just feel this in my bones -- that after you throw an interception, it's very hard to lead a touchdown drive the next possession, and basically step back in there, throw a ball right down the middle, which he had done the previous possession and had it intercepted. That takes some gravel in the guts, and talent of course, because he had to power that ball through the elements and the defense. I think it says a lot."
Kaepernick didn't have much to say after the game. He gave short answers and was straight to the point, especially when it came time to answer questions about his game-winning touchdown pass to Crabtree, which answered and one-upped Brady in his own building.
"This is my 17th year of football," he said. "I've been playing since I was 8 years old. So, to me, when I go out there, I'm going to throw it to the guy who's open. You try to keep football simple so your mind can be clear when you're on the field."
Kaepernick didn't have to say much after the game. He did all his talking on the field.

Haggerty: Bjork looking like he's ready for his NHL shot

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Haggerty: Bjork looking like he's ready for his NHL shot

BOSTON – At this point in training camp with just a couple of preseason games to go, Monday night’s performance might have represented the exclamation point on Anders Bjork’s impressive drive to win an NHL roster spot. The 21-year-old Bjork has scored other goals during this preseason, but Monday night’s tally in Boston’s 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks was his first while skating with prospective linemates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

“I think we had more ice time together, which helped us get more comfortable and helped me kind of learn their chemistry a bit more,” said Bjork, who finished with 21 goals and 52 points in 29 games for Notre Dame last season. “Obviously, they have a ton of chemistry and they’re very easy to play with, of course, but you know, it’s nice to get more shifts with them and kind of pick up on their patterns and stuff like that.”

In fact, it’s become easy to see Bjork now winning the right wing spot with No. 37 and No. 63 after watching them work together in perfect concert for Boston’s third goal of the night.

Already up by a 2-0 score, Marchand turned over a puck in the Chicago defensive zone while on the forecheck hunt, and managed to work it over to Bergeron for a quick, backhanded saucer pass to the slot area. The alert Bjork stepped up into the high slot and one-timed the puck past Corey Crawford to give the Bruins a three-goal lead on Monday night, and allow all involved a sigh of heavy relief that Boston has found at least one rookie ready to hold down top-6 NHL job.

“He’s got that speed and the smarts to get open and then find the openings in the quiet ice. It was a great play by him just to get open, and for me to see him. He made it really easy,” said Patrice Bergeron. “He skates well, he made some great plays, we just need to keep talking and finding each other more and more on the ice.”

Given the overall scope of Bjork’s performance in camp, his steady presence on a line with Bergeron and Marchand during the preseason and his speedy skill set, the rookie is stating a strong case that he’s ready for NHL prime time. It would be a major training camp shocker to this humble hockey writer if Bjork is anywhere other than in the Bruins lineup when they drop the puck against the Nashville Predators on Oct. 5.  

“Yes, it does [look like Bjork is NHL ready]. The competition will stiffen for him and we’ll keep evaluating that. Still, he’s got skill, speed, and courage. He gets to the dirty areas. He’s hard to play against [and gives] second effort on pucks,” said Bruce Cassidy. “It’s not one-and-done with him. And for a young kid, that’s special, to be able to hang in and there and battle for those turnovers. That’s usually the part of the game they have to continue to grind on them.

“But he’s got a lot of that. Maybe that’s Bergy and March’s influence, I’d like to think they have some of that, because that’s their game. Marchy never quits. Bergy never quits. They’re going to be a hard line to play against if they are that dogged on the puck every shift.”

There are still two preseason games remaining before the real thing, so it makes little sense for the Bruins to pronounce Bjork ready for NHL duty until the time comes. Bjork’s combination of blazing skating speed, decision-making and confident swagger on the ice have pushed him to the top of Boston’s prospect list when it comes to being closest to play in the NHL. All were on display in his 12:48 of ice time with a goal and a plus-1 rating to go along with two shots on net, a hit and a takeaway while playing the fast, aggressive hockey that Boston prefers these days.

Bjork could have even had a second goal after he intercepted an Erik Gustafsson outlet pass, but missed the net high with a shot in close while going for his second goal of the game. All in all, it was another hurdle cleared by a talented Notre Dame standout that certainly feels like he’s destined to make the opening day roster, and equally ordained to start in a top-6 right wing role with arguably the best duo in the entire NHL.

It will be interesting to see just how good Bjork can be on a daily basis at the NHL level, and if he can get into becoming the 20 goals/50 points range player that should be in his future.  

Now it’s up simply up to Bjork to finish up strong in the preseason when he’s paired with Bergeron and Marchand, and continue on the straight-ahead path toward cracking the Bruins roster for years to come. It would appear he’s poised to “pop” in training camp just as Brandon Carlo did a year ago, and stand as one of those talented youngsters ready to help bridge the gap between talented rookies and established core veterans.

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Kyrie Irving says details of relationship with LeBron is 'not anybody’s business'

Kyrie Irving says details of relationship with LeBron is 'not anybody’s business'

CANTON, Mass. – LeBron James has embraced the fact that Kyrie Irving has moved on, but you get a sense that there’s still a bit of ‘what if. . .?” that James is still thinking about.

"I was wondering if there was something I could have did better to make him not want to be traded," James told reporters during Cleveland’s Media Day on Monday. "Is it the way the season finished, or, was it me coming back in the first place? Was it the coaching changes or the GM change, or, I don't know. I had so many different emotions go through my head."

When told about James wondering if there was something he could have done better to not make him ask for a trade, Irving responded, “Yeah.”

Irving declined to get into specifics, saying, “If we ever have that conversation, I don’t think it’s for anybody but me and him.”

He added, “Even if there are things, it’s really not anybody’s business. It’s between two men. That’s really where it is.”

Irving, a four-time All-Star in his six seasons with the Cavs, asked for a trade request in July.

Cleveland talked to several teams, and were seemingly focused on trying to send him to a team in the Western Conference.

While there was considerable interest, the Cavs didn’t see any deals come across their desk to their liking which is when they rekindled conversations with Boston.

After initially coming to terms of a trade, Cleveland was concerned that Isaiah Thomas’ still-on-the-mend hip injury was more serious than they had initially thought and asked for additional compensation in the form of a first-round pick.

The Celtics indicated during their initial talks that Thomas might not be ready at the start of the season. His timetable still remains uncertain, but reports out of Cleveland indicate that he may be ready to play prior to January.

Both Boston and Cleveland found a happy medium with the trade eventually being Irving to Boston in exchange for Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, a 2018 unprotected first-round pick from Brooklyn along with a 2020 second-round pick Boston got from Miami, that they conveyed to the Cavs.

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