Talking Points: Sabres 6, Bruins 0

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Talking Points: Sabres 6, Bruins 0

BUFFALO In the greatest piece of evidence yet that the Bruins are experiencing some serious issues, the Black and Gold suffered their worst beating of the season at the hands of the Sabres Wednesday night.

The Bruins were robbed of a Milan Lucic goal on a bad goalie-interference call in the first period, then didnt respond at all to an aggressive, desperate Sabres bunch in a 6-0 loss at the First Niagara Center.

It's the 11th time they've lost a game to a team down and out of the playoff race -- they've only lost 17 games all year -- and that screams to focus problems against bad teams.

There was serious trouble brewing when the Bs defense was burned for goals by Christian Ehrhoff and Jason Pominville in the first period, and then Tuukka Rask was yanked in the second period after a Tyler Ennis score.

Lucic dropped the gloves with Patrick Kaleta, and Shawn Thornton fought twice attempting to keep the Bruins emotionally invested. But it was all for naught by the time Kaleta beat Tim Thomas with a five-hole goal to spot the Sabres a 4-0 lead heading into the third period.

All that was left was for the villainous Kaleta to act up in the final minutes of the third period and draw 10-minute misconducts from Lucic and Adam McQuaid during a line brawl donnybrook in front of the Boston bench.

The Bruins are now 3-4-1 in their last eight games and havent put two solid, victorious efforts together back-to-back since prior to Christmas.

GOLD STAR: Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves twice iand showed exactly what he was all about while so many of his teammates floundered. His first fight, against Cody McCormick, attempted to set the emotional table for the Bruins, and his second-period brawl against Mike Weber was a direct move to stick up for Benoit Pouliot. Weber had taken a run at Pouliot as Pouliot was headed to the bench for a line change and instead Thornton dropped the Buffalo defenseman with three overhand lefty punches. He also finished with three shots on net in 7:14 of ice time.

BLACK EYE: David Krejci was finally reunited with Lucic in the third period after failing spectacularly during the first two periods on the third line. Krejci was on ice playing matador defense for a pair of Buffalo goals, lost 8-of-10 faceoffs, and was thoroughly invisible at the offensive end of the ice. Krejci said he would act like a professional no matter where he was in the lineup, but he didnt appear to be giving an honest-to-goodness effort in the lopsided loss to the Sabres.

TURNING POINT: It was 2-0 at the end of the first period, and the Bruins had played solid hockey while battling through a horrendous call that waved off a Lucic goal due to goalie interference. But Rask was beaten on an Ennis backhander that made it 3-0 less than two minutes into the second period, and the roof effectively caved in after that. The Bruins are able to remain relatively close in all of their games due to structured defense and elite-level goaltending, and both of those qualities eluded them over the final two periods against Buffalo.

HONORABLE MENTION: Patrick Kaleta is a despicable rat, but give him credit for getting under the skin of his opponents. He was able to draw Lucic into a five-minute fighting major and a 10-minute game misconduct in separate incidents while also potting a backbreaking goal in the second period. Kaleta looked like a fool raising his hands in celebration after getting pounded by a series of Lucic punches in the first period, but he got his team emotionally invested into the game. Thats Kaleta filling the agitator role.

BY THE NUMBERS: Minus-3 The final plusminus total for Zdeno Chara in 6-0 loss to the Sabres his worst plusminus mark of the season and his worst since a minus-4 against the Caps on Nov. 5, 2010.

QUOTE TO NOTE: Its definitely been a while since we had a loss like this. Maybe its for the best and its a wakeup call that shows we need to be better. It shows us we cant take any team lightly no matter what the reason. Milan Lucic on making some sense of getting pounded by the Sabres, 6-0.

Hightower, Branch will begin training camp on PUP list

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Hightower, Branch will begin training camp on PUP list

The Patriots will be without two of last year's defensive starters when training camp begins later this week. 

Both Dont'a Hightower and Alan Branch were placed on the physically unable to perform list on Monday. They are eligible to come off the list at any time. Once they are removed from the list, they will be eligible to practice fully. Players on PUP count against the 90-man training-camp roster.

Undrafted rookie tackle Andrew Jelks will begin camp on the active/non-football injury list. The Vanderbilt product dealt with knee injuries that kept him off the field each of the last two seasons. 

Neither Hightower, nor Branch, nor Jelks participated in spring practices at Gillette Stadium. Hightower was present for voluntary work, but during practices open to the media he typically did some conditioning off to the side. Branch skipped optional team activities (as he usually does), and though he was in Foxboro for mandatory minicamp, he did not practice during that three-day stretch.

Hightower was limited last season with knee and shoulder injuries. The MMQB.com's Albert Breer said on Sports Sunday that Hightower's health concerns made teams reticent to make him offers that would lure him away from New England. 

Report: Patriots in talks with CB Brandon Flowers

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Report: Patriots in talks with CB Brandon Flowers

In what’s been a somewhat busy offseason for their secondary, veteran cornerback Brandon Flowers is in talks with the Patriots, according to Adam Schefter. 

Flowers, who spent the first six seasons of his career with the Chiefs and last three with the Chargers, was released in March. He is set to meet with the Cardinals this week as well. 

The Pats lost cornerback Logan Ryan this offseason, but landed the top free agent corner on the market in Stephon Gilmore. A potential addition of Flowers might give them an insurance policy if second-year pro Cyrus Jones fails to improve from a dismal rookie season. 

Flowers was limited to just six games last season, as a concussion ended his season in December. He has played in at least 11 games in the rest of his NFL seasons. His lone Pro Bowl nod came in the 2013 season.