Kraft to Hightower: 'We don't trade up too often'

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Kraft to Hightower: 'We don't trade up too often'

We're all well-aware of the Patriots' drafting ways over the years: stock picks, only to trade them away until the next season.

But that didn't happen this time around -- quite the opposite actually. They traded up for Syracuse DE Chandler Jones, and then again for Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower.

Mind. Blown.

Consider the moves a bit of a pleasant surprise to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, too. Kraft was obviously in the war room with other Patriots front office staff, and got on the phone with Hightower shortly after the decision was made.

In typical Kraft form, he notes something about Hightower that won't show up in the stat sheet, while also letting him in on a well-known secret about the organization.

"Dont'a, welcome. It's great to have you as a Patriot," Kraft said to Hightower, in a video posted by Patriots.com. "I know you were Captain of the Crimson Tide for two years. What I love in reading reports about you is how respectful you are of your mother. It really means a lot. It says something about the kind of guy you are. I know that Alabama Coach Nick Saban praised you. So we're excited to have you up here. We don't trade up too often. So I look forward to meeting you and seeing you here."

Hightower is set to be at Gillette Stadium in the "Place that Kraft Built" Friday. Chances are he'll be more impressed with Kraft, than Kraft is with him.

Bruce Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity' in times of adversity

Bruce Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity' in times of adversity

BOSTON – While there were some warning signs over the last few weeks that the Bruins might be getting away from their game, it didn’t really hit home until Thursday night’s frustrating loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

The Bruins blew through three different one-goal leads in the second period in the 6-3 loss to the Bolts at TD Garden, and each time surrendered a tying goal to Tampa in less than two minutes after initially scoring. It was a clear indicator that the Bruins weren’t fully focused on the task at hand despite having already lost three games in a row, and that their ability to bounce back from adversity is going away from them again. 

That much was obvious when the bottom dropped out in the third period, and Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov turned into a two-man Lightning wrecking crew outscoring the Bruins by a 3-0 margin in the final 20 minutes. 

“I think the frustration is more in-game, where we’ve got to have a stronger mental capacity to handle those [challenging] situations in-game. Let’s face it, when you get on a bit of a losing streak, all those things creep in, whether it’s in October or whether it’s in March,” said Bruce Cassidy. “You have doubts, you start pressing, and again, it’s my job to alleviate the kind of attention in those situations.

“But, as I told you, we all have to be accountable and be responsible for ourselves, and that’s where we just need to have better focus and better discipline in those areas. It was there when it was 3-3 [on the scoreboard]. We’ve got to push back after they score, and that’s where I thought we started to come apart a little bit where we should’ve stuck together and stuck with the program. [We needed to] get ourselves slowly back into the game. We had 10 minutes to even the score, and we weren’t able to do it.”

Clearly this wasn’t just the coach alone in his pointed observations, however, as the lack of focus showed unfortunately in a rudderless second period for the Black and Gold where they couldn’t gain any separation from Tampa Bay despite scoring three goals. 

“[It’s] not being focused, not being sharp, and obviously at this time of the year it’s unacceptable, and it’s up on us to be better,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “Those kinds of situations shouldn’t happen. So, for sure, we need to address those things and hold each other accountable.”

One thing is clear: The Bruins have a lot of work to do if they hope to avoid the same kind of late season tailspin that doomed them each of the last two seasons, and already seems to be happening over their last four losses to varying levels of hockey talent. 

Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

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Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

Here are the talking points from the Boston Bruins' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.