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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Name the Game, the Bruins Will Probably Beat You at It

The Bruins continue to find ways to come away with two points almost every time they lace up their big boy skates. This afternoon at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center, they outlasted the Flyers 4-3 in a shootout. Boston (52-17-6) won its franchise record ninth straight game on the road thanks to Tuukka Rask's (career-high 49 saves) superhuman effort and the shootout winner in the fifth round by none other than Reilly Smith.

Boston improved to 2-0 this season vs. Philadelphia (39-27-8) with one game left on Saturday at TD Garden. The Bruins have picked up points in 16 games in a row (14-0-2) and if the Flyers want to feel better, they can be happy they weren't blown out 6-1 like on January 25th.

It was a throwback game in some ways as Vincent Lecavalier scored two goals for Philadelphia and former Flyers great Andrej Meszaros bagged a goal for his new team. Some things like bad goaltending for Philly are timeless though, right Steve Mason (27 saves)? Lecavalier was demoted to the fourth line with the scrubs but he still managed to beat Rask at 5:25 of the first period for a 1-0 lead.

5:18 after that, Meszaros tied it at one with a blast assisted by Brad Marchand and Dougie Hamilton. Meszaros' seventh of the season was his second as a Bruin. Ageless Kimmo Timonen-Rask's Finnish homeboy-gave Philly another lead at 19:18. His one-timer was the result of a gorgeous backhand saucer pass (or sauce as the kids say) by Jakub Voracek.

Many teams would be rattled by that but not our Bruins who potted two goals in the second to go ahead 3-2. That power play machine Zdeno Chara tied it at 5:44 on a backhander assisted by Jarome Iginla and David Krejci. Chara's 17th goal of the season was also his team-leading 10th power play goal of the season which trails only Shea Weber (11) for defensemen.

Patrice Bergeron fooled Mason with a quick turnaround shot at 11:05 that went under him and I'm sure he'd like to have back. It was the seventh straight game with a goal for Bergeron, his 27th of the season was assisted by Smith and Matt Bartkowski. Playing in the second leg of a back-to-back, the B's ran out of gas big time in the third as the Flyers outshot them 17-6. Still, it looked like Boston would escape in regulation but Lecavalier tied it with 25 seconds left and Mason off for an extra attacker.

Philadelphia bombarded Rask some more in overtime (8-1 shots advantage) but he stood tall as any Vezina Trophy favorite should. Bergeron scored in the first round of the shootout and Claude Giroux matched that in the second round. Nobody else could beat Rask or Mason until Smith ended it in the fifth round.

Boston started 2-0 on this four-game road trip. After a few days off, they'll be back at it in Detroit (35-26-14) on Wednesday (8, NBCSN) followed by a visit to Toronto (36-32-8) on Thursday (7:30, NESN). Seven more games left in the regular season for the Bruins (two at TD Garden and five on the road).

UPDATE 3/31: Bergeron was named the NHL's second star of the week.

UPDATE 4/1: Krejci is sick and Soderberg's wife is expecting a baby so Ryan Spooner was recalled from Providence on an emergency basis.

Bruins are Atlantic Division Champs, Now Where's My Shirt and Hat?

You keep waiting for the Bruins to take a game off, it would be understandable, but they seem to do the opposite as they focus on every opponent and usually hand them a one-sided loss. This afternoon, they were at the Verizon Center in DC and they rolled 4-2 over the Capitals. Boston (51-17-6) took the season series 2-1 with Washington (34-28-12) and in the process, the Black and Gold clinched the Atlantic Division title. Up nine points on Pittsburgh with eight games left, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference is almost certain at this juncture.

The biggest pleasant surprises for the Bruins this season had their fingerprints all over this victory: Jarome Iginla scored two more goals, Carl Soderberg had three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and Chad Johnson (31 saves) improved to 17-3-1. These teams could meet in the first round of the playoffs for the second time in the last three years so that's why it was important that the Bruins dominated the Capitals on their home ice (in a game that should have meant way more to the hosts).

Iginla opened the scoring at 2:48 in the second period. David Krejci started the play by chipping the puck to Soderberg who flipped it to Iginla for a breakaway. You better believe he knew what to do for his 29th goal of the season. Less than five minutes later, Soderberg doubled Boston's lead with a power play goal. He re-directed Patrice Bergeron's shot. Loui Eriksson had the second assist on Soderberg's 15th goal of the season.

The B's put it away 41 seconds later as Iginla placed a backhander past Braden Holtby. Milan Lucic and Krejci had the assists. You are not coming back versus Boston down two goals and all hope completely goes out the window when they lead by three goals or more.

The Caps showed a little pride as Jason Chimera knocked in a rebound with 10 seconds left in the second period. Unfortunately for them, Bergeron had the next goal. His power play strike at 13:17 of the third period was his 26th of the season. Soderberg and Dougie Hamilton had the assists.

Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the most garbage of garbage goals, cutting it to 4-2 with 55 seconds left in regulation. Johnson had been caught too far outside the crease but who cares?

This was the start of a four-game road trip for the B's; Boston goes for another matinee win against a Metropolitan Division team tomorrow afternoon (12:30, NBC) as they visit the Flyers (39-27-7). Philadelphia has been playing well lately but they'll have to face a rested Tuukka Rask and a squad that has dominated them in recent years.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Are the Bruins the Team to Beat Heading Into the Playoffs?

After watching the Bruins calmly dispatch the Blackhawks 3-0 tonight at TD Garden, my first reaction was "man, that was easy." Chicago (42-17-5) is missing Patrick Kane but on a team that deep and at the start of a road trip, they had no excuse for getting beat so soundly. Boston (50-17-6) has a 14-game point streak (13-0-1) and Tuukka Rask (28 saves) picked up his seventh shutout of the season (NHL best) and 23rd of his career.

Patrice Bergeron has been absolutely on fire lately and he potted two more goals bookmarking this thorough domination. At 11:50 of the first period, he tipped in Matt Bartkowski's shot from the point past Corey Crawford (20 saves). Daniel Paille assisted on Bergeron's 24th goal of the season.

One of the reasons this game seemed to go by so fast, unlike Bruins-Canadiens on Monday, is that there were only three combined penalties. Boston scored twice in the third period to put away two of their most impressive points of the season (also avenging a 3-2 shootout loss in Chicago on January 19 that you might have missed since it was right before Patriots-Broncos).

Carl Soderberg continues to build his campaign for the Seventh Player award, he followed a juicy rebound for his 14th goal of the season at 5:28. Chris Kelly and Johnny Boychuk had the assists. In Game 6 of last season's Stanley Cup Final, Chicago famously scored their last two goals in 17 stunning seconds. The Bruins got them back just a little bit this evening as Bergeron added his second goal 13 seconds after Soderberg. It was pretty hilarious too since Crawford looked like Goldberg from the Mighty Ducks movies as he intentionally pulled the net off its mooring so the puck wouldn't go in. I can't remember ever seeing an NHL goaltender do that. Brad Marchand assisted on that odd goal for Bergy.

I hadn't noticed until tonight that even though Boston has nine games left in the regular season, only two of them (April 5 vs. Flyers and April 12 vs. Sabres) are at the Garden. They are on the road for over a week and for the next four games beginning with a back-to-back this weekend in Washington (34-27-12) on Saturday (12:30, NESN) and Philadelphia (38-27-7) on Sunday (7:30, NBTC).

The Atlantic Division crown is a formality at this point and the President's Trophy is a real possibility since the Bruins are only one point behind the Blues. We'll see how they play it since they are also going to lock up the top seed in the Eastern Conference sooner rather than later (up 9 points on the Penguins).

Reports of the Patriots' Demise Were Largely Premature

I'm not saying that this guarantees that they'll win that elusive next Super Bowl in the next few seasons but what do all the Patriots haters have to say now? After it looked like the team and Vince Wilfork were going to go their separate ways, they did a complete 180 and agreed to a restructured contract. Wilfork will make $8 million next season with a $3 million guaranteed. It has an option for two more years that could make it $22.5 million in total.

Just like we should have known not to overreact when the Pats didn't do anything on the first or second day of free agency, this is a further lesson in being patient (something which rarely exists in sports or life in 2014). Yes, Wilfork is 32 and coming off the first real major injury (Achilles) of his career but this is a guy that's a leader and great player that wants to be in New England for his entire career. What's not to like about that?

I'm happy to see that both him and the Patriots came to their senses and got this figured out, at a reasonable price no less. He probably realized that his market wasn't too great since his position is rapidly disappearing and he was better served staying in the only place in the NFL that he knows.

This is shaping up to be a real nice offseason for the Pats as they have signed Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Brandon Browner, re-signed Julian Edelman and now this. If you love the Pats like I do, you have to be happy that Wilfork is returning. In the end, it all worked out. Haha sorry trolls.

UPDATE 3/29: Today the Patriots re-signed center Ryan Wendell to a two-year contract worth $6.85 million.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bruins Want No Piece of the Weasel Canadiens in the Playoffs

Whenever the Bruins play the Canadiens, it might as well be held under a big top because it is always guaranteed to be a circus. The games are certainly entertaining but damn, Montreal is the only team in the Eastern Conference that is not intimidated by Boston at all. Tonight, the Habs (40-26-7) outlasted the B's (49-17-6) 2-1 in a shootout at TD Garden. With the win, Montreal closed the season series with its biggest rival 3-1. Interesting note: the losing team scored one goal in each matchup.

No matter how many times it happens or what they say, somehow the Canadiens always manage to piss off the Bruins with their usual crap led by that rat P.K. Subban. Boston hoped to put some of this stuff to bed after they rolled 4-1 on March 12 in Montreal but as this game showed, the B's have to hope they avoid the Habs in the postseason. I feel like it's almost a foregone conclusion that they'll meet at some point this spring, if so ugh. You know it'll go six or seven super frustrating games.

Alexei Emelin's power play goal at 6:39 of the first period stood up for almost the entire game. Tuukka Rask (21 saves) had no chance on it since the puck deflected off good old Chris Kelly in front. Montreal's backup goaltender Peter Budaj (28 saves) was having the game of his life when Boston finally cashed in on their sixth power play of the evening. That's one of the most annoying parts of Bruins-Canadiens, it's usually decided by special teams since Montreal flops more than NBA players.

The weird part is that Montreal was still getting those Bell Centre calls at the Garden (six power plays). The only purely enjoyable part of these intense contests is watching a Bruin, in this case Kevan Miller, beat the snot out of a hapless Canadien that didn't really want to fight-Travis Moen who left with a concussion.

The Bruins got on the board at 14:34 of the third period as Patrice Bergeron tipped Dougie Hamilton's shot from the point. Loui Eriksson had the second assist on Bergeron's 23rd goal of the season. It went to overtime but predictably neither team scored. Thank God the stupid shootouts are thrown out in a few weeks for the playoffs. Nothing kills the momentum of a great hockey game more than that cheesy format better suited for little kids.

Boston gets a couple days to stew over this loss which oh by the way snapped their fantasic 12-game winning streak. Thankfully they have three more big games this week and it's not like they go back to playing some shitbags like the Panthers or Sabres. The Blackhawks (41-16-15) come to the Garden on Thursday (7, NESN) then Boston goes to Washington on Saturday and Philadelphia on Sunday. Giddyup, only 10 games left in the regular season.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ortiz Gets His Money, Now It's Time to Play Ball

With snow in the forecast on Tuesday night (don't shoot the messanger!), it's hard to believe but Opening Day 2014 in MLB is only a week away. During their last week in spring training, the Red Sox' main off the field objectives are to sign David Ortiz and Jon Lester to contract extensions. Well mission accomplished on the first front.

After endless complaining, the Red Sox finally signed Ortiz to a $16 million extension through 2015 with a vesting option for 2016 (that kicks in if he makes a certain amount of plate appearances) and a club option in 2017 (when he'll be 42!). Big Papi doesn't need an introduction to anybody around here or explanation as to why he deserved this but we've happy that it's all over since how many times can you listen to him cry about the same stuff? It became a joke since he brought it up constantly and complained about their lack of respect blah, blah.

Red Sox ownership said that this basically ensures that Ortiz will be on Boston for the rest of his career which is a great perk to one of the only guys that I can ever remember who truly earned that lofty distinction. Who knows if Boston will get something done with Lester in time or if they'll have to wait until after the season ends (since I think he said he didn't want to talk about it during the season).

Regardless, if you are the last person in New England that doesn't own an Ortiz shirt/jersey well then you're in luck. It looks like a safe bet that he'll be here for a couple more years to close out one of the best Red Sox careers in team history.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bruins Rally For Their 12th Straight Win, 4-2 vs. Coyotes

At some point in the near future-as soon as Monday at TD Garden vs. Montreal, Boston's current unbelievable win streak is going to come to an end. Until then, we must savor this slice of history that grows bigger and more unbelievable by the day. Tonight, the Bruins (49-17-5) were pushed to the limit by the Coyotes (34-26-11) but still managed to take their punch and come back for a 4-2 victory. Boston has won its last 12 games, their most since 1971 and third best club mark in history. They also have the most points (103) in the NHL, two ahead of St. Louis who has played one less game.

Phoenix was in a charitable mood as they basically handed the B's a 1-0 lead just 3:25 into the first period. Mike Smith's (24 saves) pass was easily picked off by Andrej Meszaros who gave it up to Patrice Bergeron. He followed his own rebound for the 22nd goal of the season (his 6th career 50-point season).

Shane Doan tied it 8:20 after that, also potting a goal after his initial shot was stopped by Tuukka Rask (30 saves). Boston actually trailed for over 20 minutes in game time which hadn't happened to them in weeks. Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson made it 2-1 in favor of his team with a beautiful move then you guessed it, juicy rebound.

No problem, in the second night of a back-to-back and the finale of a three-game road trip, the B's dug extra deep and outscored Phoenix 3-0 in the third period. Jarome Iginla tied it at 3:48 when he stood in front of Smith and Zdeno Chara's missile deflected off him in the net. Dougie Hamilton had the other assist on Iginla's team-best 27th goal.

It felt right that Shawn Thornton ended up scoring the game-winner. It was a very fourth line goal as he battled in front and tipped Daniel Paille's sharp pass. Gregory Campbell had the second assist on Thornton's goal. Iginla added an empty-netter for the final margin. Milan Lucic had the lone assist on Iginla's second goal of the night.

This is the start of a big week for the Bruins as they host the Canadiens (39-26-7) on Monday (7:30, NBCSN) at the Garden and the Blackhawks (41-15-15) on Thursday (7, NESN). Oh and they go to Washington on Saturday and Philadelphia on Sunday for another back-to-back in March. Bet they can't wait to get to April, mostly because that means the playoffs will finally be upon us.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

For the Seventh Straight Year, the Bruins are Going to the Playoffs

The Everything is Awesome crew that works out of TD Garden took their show on the road as the Bruins won 2-0 tonight vs. Avalanche at Pepsi Center. Boston (48-17-5) has now won its last 11 games, the longest streak in the NHL this season and longest in franchise history since 1971.

Chad Johnson (31 saves) picked up the third shutout of his career and second this season. In the past six games, Boston has never trailed as Patrice Bergeron made it 1-0 5:12 into this much anticipated contest that could be a Stanley Cup Final preview (you never know). Hamilton found him with a good pass and he followed up Semyon Varlamov's (26 saves) rebound for his 21st goal of the season. Hamilton and Zdeno Chara were credited with the assists.

Gregory Campbell and Cody McLeod dropped the gloves a few moments after Bergeron's goal. The B's carried the momentum into the second period and took advantage of a rare power play to grab a commanding 2-0 lead. Carl Soderberg scored his 13th goal of the season, a laser that went top shelf over Varlomov's shoulder. Loui Eriksson and Hamilton both assisted on it.

Gabriel Landeskog hit the post earlier in the game and Johnson was called on to make some quality saves. The Bruins are back at it tomorrow night in Phoenix (9, NESN) at Jobing.Com Arena. It's hard to believe that the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference used to seem like a pipe dream since Boston currently leads Pittsburgh by five points for first place in the Eastern Conference, granted that the Penguins have one game in hand.

Boston has become the team to beat in the East and they are also tied with St. Louis for the most points in the NHL (the Blues also have a game in hand). It is their fourth time with 100+ points under head coach Claude Julien and 20th all-time in franchise history.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bruins Win Their 10th Straight Game, 4-2 at Devils

It is official, the Bruins are on a bigger roll (in the regular season) than I can ever recall in my lifetime and yes I know this is the third time they've won 10 in a row under Claude Julien. Tonight, Boston (47-17-5) picked up the 10th straight win, 4-2 at Prudential Arena vs. New Jersey (29-27-13). Thanks to their longest win streak since November 2011, the B's are five points ahead of Pittsburgh for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Boston has outscored opponents 41-15 during this particularly dominant run and they are tied with St. Louis for the best goal-differential (+74) in the NHL and they've allowed the second fewest goals (149) in the league with the second most points overall (2 behind the Blues). Their next win will put them over 100 points on the season.

Playing in the second night of a back-to-back, Boston looked fine as they outshot the Devils 15-5 in the first period. The Panthers had something tangible to show for it as well when Patrice Bergeron slipped a backhander past Grandpa Martin Brodeur at 14:33. Bergeron's 20th goal of the season was assisted by Reilly Smith and Andrej Meszaros.

Sensing his team needed any type of spark, Ryane Clowe chose to drop the gloves with Milan Lucic which isn't something you see every day. The Devils responded with the tying goal by Patrick Elias 29 seconds into the second period. That was on a 5-on-3 man advantage for the hosts. Boston responded with a shorthanded goal (his NHL best 5th) by Brad Marchand 54 seconds after Elias, from Bergeron and Zdeno Chara. Just 59 seconds after Boston celebrated that, they were going crazy again as Jarome Iginla beat Brodeur for his team-leading 26th goal of the season from David Krejci and Torey Krug.

As usual, Boston put it away when Chris Kelly finished a pretty one-timer from Carl Soderberg at 7:11 in the third. Kelly's eighth goal of the season was also assisted by Loui Eriksson. The Bruins have done an excellent job of stepping on teams' throats and making their leads virtually insurmountable.

The Bruins defense let Travis Zajac have too much time and space so naturally he fired one past Chad Johnson (22 saves; 15-3-1 overall) at 9:13 that cut it to 4-2 but that's all she wrote.

With this insanely packed March (17 games) and coming off an emotional win, it has to be a good thing that Boston gets the next two days off before they travel to Colorado (44-20-5) to play the Avalanche on Friday (9, NESN) in an ultra rare Friday Night Ice matchup (I just made that up myself!).

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Anyone Want to Give the Bruins a Game?

In case you missed it, the Bruins are racking up wins left and right to the tune of the second longest win streak (9) in the NHL this season-behind Anaheim (10). Tonight the Minnesota Wild were the latest victim as they came into TD Garden, on St. Patrick's Day no less and put up a decent fight but still lost 4-1 (third time in four games that the B's have done that).

Boston's first goal was an indication that everything is currently going their way. Jarome Iginla dumped it in on Darcy Kuemper but he got handcuffed by the puck and subsequently let in one of the softest goals you'll ever see in the NHL at 3:52 in the second period. Iginla's 24th goal of the season was assisted by Matt Bartkowski and Andrej Maszaros. The Bruins showed off their skill in the next goal when Carl Soderberg wrapped around Minnesota's (35-23-10) net and threw a no-look backhand pass right on the money to Loui Eriksson. He didn't have time to react, only to bury it. 2-0 Boston at 11:55 on Eriksson's eighth goal of the season.

During this stretch, Boston is usually kind enough to give their opposition a sliver of hope only to stomp on it and crush their dreams of a comeback. Jason Pominville cut it to 2-1 at 18:34. His stick shattered after he hit the shot so that might have caused Tuukka Rask (33 saves) to be a little off with the puck coming to him.

Everything is awesome, no worries though gang! Reilly Smith broke a 15-game goalless streak to make Boston's lead 3-1 at 7:50 of the third period. Kuemper stopped Patrice Bergeron's turnaround shot but he left a juicy rebound on the doorstep which Smith got to first. Zdeno Chara had the second assist on Smith's 19th goal of the season.

It wasn't the Stanley Cup Final (haha possible preview though?) but Iginla was able to seal it with an empty-netter. That gave him his 14th career 25-goal+ season, he also leads the Bruins in goals which is pretty remarkable for a 36-year-old guy on a new team that went to the Stanley Cup Final last season.

Boston goes for a double-digit win streak tomorrow night (7, NESN) as they visit the Devils (29-26-13) who are led by former Bruin Jaromir Jagr and BC's Cory Schneider.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

This Is Getting Too Easy: Bruins Win Their 8th Game In A Row

The win streak hasn't reached double digits yet but it feels like the Bruins haven't lost in about three months. The good times keep rolling and everything is awesome (sorry, had to try that one out) as Boston (45-17-5) beat Carolina (29-29-9) 5-1 this afternoon at TD Garden. Boston's top line combined for eight points: Milan Lucic (1 goal, 2 assists), David Krejci (3 assists) and Jarome Iginla (2 goals) could make a solid case that they are the best forward line in the NHL these days.

Even Chad Johnson (29 saves) is playing out of his mind with a career-best nine-game point streak (8-0-1). The B's continue to bury their rivals in the Atlantic Division-they are 15 points ahead of second-place Toronto-while Pittsburgh has started to slow down a bit allowing Boston to build a three-point lead over them (albeit while the Penguins have a game in hand) for first in the East.

The Hurricanes are supposedly fighting for a playoff spot in the stinky Eastern Conference but you wouldn't know it by the lifeless display they put on. Boston outshot them in each period and Cam Ward made 36 saves which sounds good until you remember that he allowed five goals as well.

Lucic's goal at 15:28 of the first gave Boston a 1-0 lead. His 21st goal of the season (temporarily tying him with Brad Marchand and Iginla for the team lead) was assisted by Krejci who was getting tripped by Eric Staal. For some reason, Ward and his defensemen were way out of position.

Iginla showed off his superb hands and shooting skills in tight quarters with his first goal at 17:24 of the second. His 22nd goal of the season made it 2-0 with assists going to Lucic and Krejci.

The only reason that Johnson didn't earn a shutout is because Alexander Semin's shot deflected off Johnny Boychuk's stick in front. I guess Carolina made it interesting for about nine minutes before the Bruins hit them with two goals in 13 seconds (their fastest pair in 2.5 seasons). Chris Kelly went first, scoring his seventh of the season at 12:49 from Krejci and Dougie Hamilton. Before Ward or the Hurricanes could think to settle down, it was 4-1 and basically over. Somehow Iginla was wide open for about 10 minutes in front of the net so Kevan Miller found him. Lucic had the second assist.

Torey Krug scored the epitome of a garbage time goal as his hard wrist shot from the point sneaked in with less than 10 seconds left in this beating. It was his 14th goal of the season, Carl Soderberg and Gregory Campbell earned the helpers.

Boston hosts Minnesota (35-22-10) on Monday (7:30, NBCSN) aka St. Patrick's Day. Yikes, things could get ugly for the Wild if they get blown out and or puked on by the lovely Bruins fans that will surely have been drinking all day.

Patriots Start to Remember that Brady Needs People to Throw the Ball to This Season

Some more good news emerged today on the Patriots' free agency front: they re-signed Julian Edelman (terms were not disclosed) and inked fellow wide receiver Brandon LaFell to a three-year deal. This still doesn't solve everything in the passing game, LaFell is big (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) but I'd love to see them get a more proven guy that has similar size. They could also use a better backup tight end than Michael Hoomanawanui because who knows if Gronk will ever stay healthy again.

Edelman made himself very important to New England's success last season as he had a career year with 105 catches, 1056 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Plus he's an excellent punt returner, averaging 10.7 yards per return. 2013 was the first time in five NFL seasons that Edelman played all 16 games. It's amazing what guys can do when they stay on the field. Most Patriots fans (myself included) doubted him but he turned out to be a suitable Wes Welker replacement which was supposed to be Danny Amendola's job. I thought he might go to his hometown Niners when they hosted him for a visit but I guess he realizes that you can't duplicate the chemistry he developed with Tom Brady over the years.

As for LaFell, who the hell knows? Last season was his fourth in the NFL (all in Carolina) and he put up career-highs in catches (49) and receiving touchdowns (5) while also coming close in receiving yards (627). The Panthers run a completely different offense based around Cam Newton's dual threat capabilities so you can't put too much stock into his numbers either way. I guess we'll just have to wait until training camp and hope that he can find comfort with Brady where most free agent receivers in the past have failed. He was a third round pick (78th overall) out of LSU in 2010.

UPDATE 3/18: Edelman's deal is four years for a base value of $17 million with $8 million in bonuses and guarantees and $2 million in incentives.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Patriots Back Up the PED Truck, Get Brandon Browner

I didn't think we'd be saying this anytime soon but suddenly the Patriots might have the best pair of cornerbacks in the NFL: Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. The latter was signed to a three-year deal tonight worth $17 million. The former Seahawk is suspended for the first four games of the regular season but who cares since as the Pats have proven over the last decade, the AFC East is a joke and almost always a foregone conclusion that they can use as an extended preseason before the playoffs.

Browner played in eight games last season with Seattle (his third in the league) and put up 19 tackles and one interception. He was a Pro Bowler in 2011, his rookie season out of Oregon State where he had 51 solo tackles, six interceptions and two touchdowns. He played in all 16 games that year but received his first drug suspension for performance enhancers in 2012 and then he was hit with the nine-game suspension (last two regular season games, playoffs and four in 2014) for his second offense. He'll be eligible to attend training camp and play in the preseason games.

Like Revis, this is another great move by New England since Browner is clearly trying to rehab his image (no pun intended). He has to prove worthy of a long-term deal and I'm sure the Patriots will have countless clauses and incentives written in his contract should he screw up again. The good news is that the PEDs don't flow quite around here as freely as they do with Pete Carroll's boys in the Pacific Northwest.

Browner turns 30 in August (not sure why he entered the NFL that old) so he's in the prime of his career. His best asset is his size: 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds. He has to be the biggest cornerback in the NFL but he's not a freak though since he totaled 10 interceptions and 123 combined tackles in just 38 career NFL games. Teams around the league better enjoy Weeks 1-4 vs. New England in 2014 since by Week 5, passing outside is going to be very difficult against these two studs.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Well Look Who the Top Team in the Eastern Conference Is (Hint: they play in Boston)

Has it really reached the point where the Bruins' greatness bores us? Haha I'm just kidding but let's be honest: tonight's 2-1 win by Boston over Phoenix at TD Garden was nice albeit pretty dull. You won't see any Bruins (44-17-5) fans complain though since with their seventh straight win, they once again lead the Eastern Conference (one point ahead of the Penguins) and own the longest current win streak in the NHL after the Kings went down vs. Toronto.

I guess I overrate the Coyotes (31-25-11) because it feels like I have half their team on various fantasy squads. Since Boston played in Montreal last night (always an emotional event) and Phoenix was kicking around Boston yesterday, they had no excuse for not playing better. Oh and they're currently in ninth place in the Western Conference so where was their sense of urgency?

The B's got all the offense they would need in the first period. Zdeno Chara ripped a wrist shot high past Mike Smith (18 saves) at 5:54. The captain's 16th goal of the season was unassisted. Boston's other elder statesman provided the offense as Jarome Iginla tipped Johnny Boychuk's shot from the point for his 21st goal of the season at 17:31. Milan Lucic had the second assist on Iginla's tally, do you realize that now he's tied with Brad Marchand for most goals on Boston?

Phoenix's main reason for losing was their pathetic power play which went 0 for 5. For the second game in a row, Rask's shutout bid was extinguished in the third period but at least he got the victory again and that turned out to be the only goal allowed. His fellow countrymen Lauri Korpikoski tipped Oliver Ekman-Larsson's shot at 8:14 with Shane Doan (playing in his 1300th NHL game) picking up the other assist.

Boston's three-game homestand continues on Saturday afternoon (1, NESN) against Carolina (29-28-9) who are currently six points out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

UPDATE 3/14: The Bruins recalled forward Matt Lindblad from Providence. Also Daniel Paille skated today and it looks like he could play tomorrow vs. the Hurricanes.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bruins Snap 5-Game Losing Streak vs. Canadiens Thanks to 4-1 Win in Montreal

This season, the Bruins are a better team than the Canadiens. That much cannot be debated either since Boston (43-17-5) now has 14 more points than Montreal (35-25-7) after a complete 4-1 victory at Bell Centre. It represented more than the usual two points since the B's had dropped five straight vs. the Habs dating back to last season. These teams will meet one more time-March 24-at TD Garden before the playoffs begin. Don't be surprised to see them play then as well.

Oh by the way, Boston is currently riding a six-game win streak. Tuukka Rask (35 saves) was excellent when his teammates started slowly, allowing the Canadiens to outshoot them 14-6 in the first scoreless period. The Bruins put this away with a fantastic second that produced three goals. Carl Soderberg scored an unassisted goal (his 12th of the season) 1:33 into the frame. The springy Montreal boards should have received an assist since the puck went right off it to him in front.

Patrice Bergeron made it 2-0 at 9:25 of the second thanks to perfect passing with linemate Brad Marchand with Matt Bartkowski starting it all. The tap in was his 19th goal of the season. Montreal was done after Milan Lucic beat Peter Budaj with not the greatest shot at 18:32. His 20th goal of the season (3rd time he's done that) was assisted by Jarome Iginla and David Krejci.

The Canadiens officially gave up when Zdeno Chara casually followed his rebound for his 15th goal of the season 23 seconds into the third. Bergeron and Marchand had the helpers. David Desharnais scored a garbage time goal for the Canadiens and that served as their only highlight.

Boston finishes off another back-to-back tomorrow night (7, NESN) at the Garden vs. Phoenix (31-24-11). I'm just excited because I think the Coyotes are underrated plus we never get to see them and they have some intriguing players like Milton, MA native and skilled defenseman Keith Yandle (still want him on the B's).

Patriots Take a Trip to Revis Island

What a difference 24 hours can make after NFL free agency begins. Last night, Patriots fans were all understandably pissed as Aqib Talib bolted for big money in Denver. The Broncos didn't stop there as they also added defensive end DeMarcus Ware this afternoon and let's not forget young safety T.J. Ward too. Was New England going to respond at all to the best team in the AFC?

As always, the lesson with this is we need to have a little patience. Last time I checked, the Super Bowl isn't won in March. So yes, we all want the Pats to be more aggressive and spend additional money while Tom Brady is still playing and Bill Belichick remains the head coach. Tampa Bay released franchise cornerback Darrelle Revis this afternoon and immediately the Revis to the Patriots rumors gained some traction. Fast forward to tonight: he signed a one-year deal with New England worth $12 million.

Even if you're not a Patriots honk, you have to appreciate the value (yes, that overused word in Foxborough) that they got on Revis. By waiting for the smoke to clear and not freaking out, the Pats were rewarded with the best cornerback in the NFL who turns 29 in July. It's not hyperbole to say that he can completely change their defense since he'll shut down one side of the field from day one.

The Broncos are New England's biggest rival in the JV conference but let's not forget how much this has to kill the Jets-their main rival in the sorry AFC (L)East. Revis made his money with the Jets: in four of his five seasons in NY, he played 16 games and he was an All-Pro three times.

All recovered from a torn ACL, he played in all 16 games for the Buccaneers last season after being traded there. For his career, he's amassed 21 interceptions, five forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, three touchdowns, 109 passes defended, 284 solo tackles and 60 assists. Revis is an old school cornerback in that he can actually tackle and he's not just a track star or guy afraid to tackle and help out in the run game. Plus he's got legit size (5-11, 198 pounds).

Let's be clear: the Patriots need a bunch more talented players (DE, TE, WR and S to name a few positions) but this is a perfect start. He'll be motivated to get a long-term deal and his name value should help attract other quality free agents to join him in a run at the Super Bowl. I don't want to get ahead of myself but this could have been the night that the Patriots finally got their mojo back thanks to Revis.

Monday, March 10, 2014

No More Having to Watch the Panthers for the Rest of the Season!

The Bruins have to be sad to bid farewell to the hapless Panthers for the rest of the season. This evening, Boston (42-17-5) beat Florida (24-33-7) 5-2 at the old BB&T Center. The B's took all five games with the Panthers in 2013-14, by a cumulative score of 22-8. Oh and the Bruins bumped up to first place in the Eastern Conference on idle Pittsburgh.

Boston was playing in a back-to-back but they still seemed like the fresher squad. BC's Jimmy Hayes was able to put a rebound past Chad Johnson (20 saves) at 7:00 of the second period for a surprising 1-0 Panthers lead. Of course, the Bruins recovered as newcomer Andrej Meszaros scored a power play goal at 9:58 on a laser from the point. His sixth goal of the season was assisted by Reilly Smith and Patrice Bergeron.

It was 1-1 heading into the third but did anyone actually think that Florida would pull it off? I don't think so. Krug scored his 13th goal of the season at 7:38 on pretty assists by Marchand and Bergeron. Boston cashed in another power play opportunity as Bergeron slammed in a low slap shot by Roberto Luongo (37 saves) at 11:21. That was Bergeron's 18th goal of the season with assists to Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg.

Hayes cut it to 3-2 with a garbage goal after the puck was stuck in Johnson's skates. Jarome Iginla added his 20th goal of the season on a wide open blast from the slot at 12:13. Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara provided the helpers on career goal No. 550 for Iginla.

Chris Kelly wrapped this all up with an empty netter (his 6th goal of the season). About the only bad thing to come out of this for the B's is that Daniel Paille left after his first shift of the game in the first period. He was hit awkwardly into the boards, left and never returned. Is that Jordan Caron's music?

Boston concludes this three-game trip in Montreal (35-24-7) on Wednesday (7:30, NBCSN). The Canadiens are one of the only teams to impose their will on the B's this season, they are 2-0 and now they also have Thomas Vanek (shits pants).

Sunday, March 9, 2014

For Whatever Reason, The Bruins Owned the Lightning This Season

The Lightning are a good team or so I've been told: they are 10 games over .500 and Ben Bishop is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. With that said, Tampa Bay (34-24-6) couldn't figure out a way to beat Boston (41-17-5) in the 2013-14 regular season. The B's rallied from a 2-0 deficit to take a 4-3 shootout victory tonight at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Reilly Smith won it in the seventh round with the only goal of the entire shootout.

We'll give pity points to Tampa Bay for at least putting up a fight this time, the other games were 3-1, 5-0 and 3-0 so this was something to be more proud of. Still, what is the deal? This was the perfect time to get two points against the B's. The Lightning opened up a 2-0 lead in the second period thanks to goals by Ondrej Palat and Mark Barberio (something that doesn't happen every day) but then they proceeded to immediately cough it up.

Daniel Paille cut it to 2-1 at 6:58 on his ninth goal of the season. Gregory Campbell and Johnny Boychuk assisted on Paille's no-look backhander that squirted through Bishop's five-hole (29 saves). Chris Kelly sprung Carl Soderberg on a breakaway and the Swede calmly put a backhander of his own between Bishop's legs at 8:29 for his 11th goal of the season.

Tampa Bay seemed to bounce back as Valtteri Filppula was wide open in front of Tuukka Rask (17 saves) and was able to put it top shelf at 9:31. Both teams settled down from the frenetic pace but the Bruins were able to tie it at 8:11 of the third period on Johnny Boychuk's blast from the point. Soderberg and Loui Eriksson assisted on his third goal of the season.

Boston started off poorly but later in the contest they hit the post on three separate occasions and also had a goal wrongfully disallowed so them pulling it out felt like cosmic justice of some sort or another.

The Bruins have a back-to-back as they travel to face the Panthers (24-32-7) tomorrow (5, NESN) at the BB&T Center. Expect Chad Johnson to get another start vs. Florida as Boston tries to sweep them as well (5-0).

Friday, March 7, 2014

Bruins Blank No-Show Capitals 3-0

Tonight might as well have been a scrimmage in practice since the Bruins didn't really have to do anything (other than show up) to beat the Capitals 3-0 at TD Garden. Washington (29-25-10) had lost the night before in Philadelphia and they played like a team with no energy or spirit. In fact, Braden Holtby (40 saves) had been pulled against the Flyers but he was outstanding against Boston (40-17-5).

This had to be the easiest shutout of Tuukka Rask's career, at least with the black and gold. He only was called on to make 16 saves for his NHL-best sixth shutout of the season. Showing you how non-descript it was, he didn't earn any of the three stars for the game and that didn't even cause you to blink.

The B's got all the offense they would need in the second period. That goal-scoring machine Gregory Campbell tipped Patrice Bergeron's shot at 3:05 for his seventh goal of the season. Matt Bartkowski had the second assist. 5:15 after that, the Swedes connected as Carl Soderberg found Loui Eriksson out in front of the net. Eriksson displayed great hands to lift it over Holtby with little room to maneuver. It was also his seventh goal of the season with Kevan Miller picking up the second assist.

Washington pulled Holtby early to try and generate some offense but predictably that blew up in their faces. Brad Marchand scored an empty-netter, his team-leading 21st goal of the season at 18:26. The teams split the first two meetings and they'll settle things, in the regular season at least, on March 29 in DC.

Like the Red Sox and snow birds from around New England, the B's are lucky enough to get out of here this weekend to enjoy the sun and warmth of Florida. Of course, it's still technically a business trip as they go to Tampa Bay (34-24-5) to check in with Ryan Callahan and Steven Stamkos on Saturday (7, NESN) then its off to Sunrise to play the Panthers (23-32-7) on Sunday (5, NESN). The Lightning are fading fast, they've lost their last three games to fall 12 points behind the Bruins for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Honestly, How are the Panthers Still in the NHL?

I won't waste your time for too long talking about a 4-1 Bruins laugher over the Panthers at TD Garden. David Krejci scored a hat trick for Boston (39-17-5) and Chad Johnson made 23 of the easiest saves in his life. Florida (23-32-7) is now 0-4 against the B's this season, with one more chance to get something in the win column on Sunday (not likely).

The Bruins needed a game like this to take their mind off of the impending trade deadline. So far, they surpisingly haven't made any moves. All we know is that they scratched Loui Eriksson with a mysterious injury and Jordan Caron was in the lineup (on the 3rd line no less). Hmmmmm. Caron doubled his point production with his first assist of the season (he has one goal) so I'm thinking maybe they can flip him for Sidney Crosby or at least Evgeni Malkin.

Tim Thomas (35 saves) can still make highlight reel saves but behind a team that has given up, it's hard to tell how good he can be these days. Oh and the Panthers traded for Roberto Luongo this afternoon so good luck with that guys! Krejci tallied his 14th goal of the season at 7:29 of the first period. He simply stole the puck behind Florida's goal then came around and beat Thomas.

Iginla put the B's up 2-0 at 11:01 on Thomas' juicy rebound. His 19th goal of the season was assisted by Caron (who took the initial shot) and Chris Kelly. Krys Barch appeared to be the only Panther to give a shit about anything. He fought Milan Lucic in the first and Shawn Thornton in the second so props to him.

Krejci found himself all alone in the slot, again, and he sniped it over Thomas' shoulder with 48 seconds left in the second for a commanding 3-0 lead. Kevan Miller had the lone assist.

Congrats to Florida though for avoiding the shutout (something that Boston hasn't done to them in 2013-14). Brian Campbell's weak backhander somehow deflected off Matt Bartkowski's stick and in the net at 12:47 of the third. No problem, Krejci notched his third career regular season hat trick (don't forget two in the playoffs as well) on an empty-netter.

This is the worst week of the season thanks to the schedule makers having Boston play Washington and Florida twice apiece. The Capitals (29-23-10) won 4-2 at the Garden on Saturday so naturally they come right back here on Thursday (7, NESN). After that, the B's hit the Sunshine State for spring training, I mean games at Tampa Bay on Saturday and Florida on Sunday. At least the Lightning are a good and exciting team despite their recent struggles.

UPDATE 3/5: So far, all the B's have done is claim defenseman Corey Potter off waivers from Edmonton. In 16 games this season, he has five assists and 21 penalty minutes. He was a fourth round pick of the Rangers in 2003 and he went to Michigan State (like Torey Krug). He's a Lansing, MI native.

The Bruins made one other move: they traded for Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros. He's 28 and a former first round pick that has five goals and 12 assists in 38 games this season. He's left-handed which they like but the knock on him is that he's injury prone and soft despite his good size (6 foot 2, 223 pounds). He's Slovakian and has played on the last three Olympic teams with Zdeno Chara so there is that. Granted all he cost was a third-round pick.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Bruins Hang Six-Pack On Rangers at Madison Square Garden

It only took one game for the Bruins to calm nerves around New England. They allowed the first goal for the third straight game but scored the next three en route to a 6-3 win over the Rangers tonight at Madison Square Garden. Boston (38-17-5) avoided its first three-game losing streak of the season and swept the season series (3-0) with New York (33-26-3) in the process for the first time in 31 years.

Tuukka Rask (39 saves) got the start for the second consecutive day and he helped carry the B's in the first period when they were outshot 20-9 yet found themselves tied 1-1. Rangers rookie J.T. Miller had a breakaway and made it 1-0 at 3:20 of the first period. More worrisome for the Bruins, it was the direct result of another careless turnover by one of its players (in this case David Krejci). All was forgiven though as Jarome Iginla tied it at one at 18:07 of the first. Iginla's 18th goal of the season was assisted by Krejci and Dougie Hamilton.

Not surprisingly, Boston looked like a different team in the second period. They opened up a two-goal lead thanks to strikes by Hamilton at 4:07 (his 7th of the season from Milan Lucic and Iginla) and Carl Soderberg at 9:34 (his 10th of the season from Loui Eriksson and Hamilton). Soderberg became the ninth Bruin this season with 10+ goals and only one (Brad Marchand) has reached 20.

New York gained some life at 16:53 when Brad Richards cut it to 3-2, remember when he was in John Tortorella's doghouse last postseason? Good times, he has 16 goals on the goal-challenged Rangers this season so I'd say he still has something left in the tank.

Gregory Campbell of all people helped Boston immensely by potting not one but two goals to start the third, changing it from a tight game to a blowout. He scored a shorthanded goal at 9:04 from Eriksson and Johnny Boychuk. That preceded a redirect from Daniel Paille that went off his skate and in. It was reviewed but stood up for his fifth goal of the season when the refs ruled that he didn't kick it.

Ryan McDonagh's power play goal at 15:18 made the score a little deceiving but Lucic answered with a garbage time goal of his own at 18:24. His 19th goal of the season was assisted by Matt Bartkowski and Krejci.

The B's return to TD Garden for a game on Tuesday (7, NESN) vs. Washington (29-23-10) then hapless Florida (23-31-7) on Thursday (23-31-7). Do I smell two wins and four points at home this week coming Boston's way?

We're Still Waiting for the Real Bruins to Stand Up

After losing in overtime to Buffalo on Wednesday (I mean really), you had to figure that the Bruins would bounce back in their first game back at TD Garden after the Olympic break. Turns out, Boston (37-17-5) played even worse as they lost 4-2 to Washington (29-23-9) this afternoon.

You'll never win by allowing a pair of power play goals to Alex Ovechkin or letting the Capitals open up a 3-0 lead midway through the game but that's the impossible path that the B's chose for today. Ovi hammered in a one-timer at 18:39 of the first period and made it 2-0 with a similar strike at 2:24 of the second period. Ho hum, he leads the NHL with 43 goals, no big deal.

You knew it wasn't Boston's day when Johnny Boychuk coughed up the puck to Joel Ward who skated in alone on Tuukka Rask and scored at 10:13. At that point, the Bruins finally woke up before they suffered further embarrassment. Patrice Bergeron started the ill-fated comeback attempt with a power play goal of his own, 41 seconds after Ward's crushing tally. It was Bergeron's 17th goal of the season from Dougie Hamilton and Reilly Smith.

The fourth line came through with a goal as Shawn Thornton threw it to Gregory Campbell for a redirect but the puck went flying past Braden Holtby (36 saves) off his defenseman Mike Green. Thornton's fifth goal of the season came at 17:32 from Daniel Paille and Campbell.

One last fatal mistake by a Bruins defenseman cost them as Torey Krug fell down, leading to a breakaway and goal for Eric Fehr at 10:53 in the third. In a weird scheduling quirk, these teams meet again in Boston on Thursday.

Before then, Boston travels to New York to face the Rangers (33-25-3) tomorrow night (7, NBCSN) then hosts the lowly Panthers on Tuesday. The B's need points and fast before the Atlantic Division becomes a race again.