Patriots

Bruins don't dwell on Pacioretty's return to Boston

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Bruins don't dwell on Pacioretty's return to Boston

BOSTON -- Its pretty clear the Montreal media is pushing the Max Pacioretty making his heroic return against the Bruins story angle this week, but the Bruins arent biting.

Pacioretty has had an eventful week. He injured his right wrist a problem that many in the Habs media corps quickly diagnosed as a broken wrist and then potted two goals in Montreals big 5-1 victory over the Flyers after he was expected to miss the game.

That sets up a dramatic game against the Bruins for the Montreal winger, his first since his season was ended after Zdeno Chara checked him into a Bell Centre stanchion. The violent crash into the turnbuckle ended with Pacioretty unable to move on the ice with a fractured neck vertebrae and a severe concussion, and with rabid Montreal fans calling for criminal charges against the Bs captain in what the NHL ultimately termed a hockey play unworthy of supplemental discipline.

Everybody remembers the March 8 game in Montreal that ended the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Connecticut natives year. Everybody remembers the Dr. Recchi jokes in Quebec when the future Hall of Fame winger took issue with Pacioretty going to the movies just days after being diagnosed with a concussion. Everybody remembers the boos and CNN crews following Chara like he was Frankensteins monster when the hit made the 6-foot-9 defenseman out to be Public Enemy No. 1 in Montreal.

So there are natural narratives for Pacioretty and Chara headed into Thursday nights epic tilt between the Bruins and the Canadiens, but the Bs players arent really worried about any one individual Canadiens player given their 3-5 start to their season.

Theyve got to get back on the winning way, and quell the chatter about Stanley Cup hangovers and substandard offense.

Chara didnt address the media on Thursday, but said on Wednesday hed basically turned the page, whether Pacioretty was on the ice or in the stands.

Im just excited to play the game, said Chara without fully addressing the Pacioretty end of the question. The games are huge. These games are big. Im not even talking about the rivalries. Im just talking about the standings.

Im sure where both teams are they are going to be good games for both teams. Itll be one of those games everyone will be really ready for it. Those games are exciting to play against each other, but theyre also very important games. We dont want to fall any deeper in the standings.

Mix their lackluster opening month with last springs seven game battle between the two teams in the first round of the playoffs, and there are plenty of factors that make these games interesting without rehashing the Pacioretty hit.

Most would argue that the bloodbath game between Montreal and Boston in February of last season with 182 penalty minutes, no less isnt going to happen on the Garden ice tonight no matter which way the game trends. The points are too important to a pair of hockey clubs that had high aspirations heading into the year, but are shooting themselves in the foot in October.

Its going to be a great challenge for both sides, said Kelly. Were both not where we want to be in the standings, and it gives us a great opportunity to play six plus periods against each other where there is some history there.

But what about Pacioretty?

I dont anticipate there being anything. Both Pacioretty and Chara are playing well right now, said Kelly. Its good to see Pacioretty back playing and to see Chara at 100 percent.

I honestly forgot about it. I thought about the playoffs more with Montreal and that seven game series that was one of the best series Ive ever been a part of. That was on my mind more than the Pacioretty hit.

Thursday should be about the Habs and Bruins simply needing a win to stay out of the Northeast Division cellar, not settling individual scores. It could also be a coming out party for a player in Pacioretty thats leading the Canadiens with four goals and nine points this season. That would match Tyler Seguin for Bostons team lead in points, and is more goals that anybody in a Black and Gold uniform this season.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said that the bottom line with Pacioretty is hes healthy and playing well, and the Bruins were happy to see a fellow hockey player able to come back from serious injuries.

The one thing were happy about and that would be for anyone else is that hes healthy, said Julien. "As a player in the league you dont want to see somebody end their career in an unfortunate accident. But what you want to see is a player come back and be healthy.

As far as thats concerned, hes healthy, weve turned the page and now its time to move on.

If anybody knows about unfortunate incidents its the Bruins as they've ssen Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron both felled for long periods of time due to concussions. Luckily for the Habs and Pacioretty, the after-effects of his injury seem to be nothing like the long-term effects on Savard. Much like Bergeron, the Habs forward has returned to full health with last years nasty collision firmly in the rear view mirror.

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

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Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

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Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

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Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s been a few different stints with a few different NHL teams for 25-year-old Kenny Agostino, so he knows the drill at this point in his pro hockey career. The Bruins signed Agostino as a free agent on July 1 after he led the AHL in scoring last season, and they gave him a one-way contract as a show of proof that he’d get his chances at the NHL level.

It didn’t happen immediately out of camp as Agostino was felled by a concussion for part of the preseason, but he’ll get his chance now with injuries and ineffectiveness creating an opening for him on the Black and Gold. Agostino should get a look as the left winger on the third line after lighting it up in Providence with two goals and seven points in his first three games with the P-Bruins, and he’s looking forward to seizing another chance at the NHL level after stints with the Flames and Blues. 

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“I’ve been doing this a few years and I like to think I’ve developed my game outside of my offensive ability,” said the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Agostino, who had 24 goals and 83 points for the Chicago Wolves last season. “That’s kind of been my goal to become more of a complete player. I’m excited and looking forward to another opportunity and just want to make the most of it. I’m not looking past tonight.

“I was fortunate as a college guy to get my first pro experience at the NHL level in Calgary, but then you understand how difficult it is to establish yourself. You need a lot of different things. You need the right opportunity and you need to do well with it, so it makes you appreciate how great of an opportunity it is anytime you get to play in this league.”

Certainly, the Bruins are anxious to get a look at Agostino, and probably Peter Cehlarik at some point soon, and the lack of production from some of the NHL incumbents have fast-forwarded that process a little bit. Agostino will replace Ryan Spooner along the half-wall on the first power play unit, and perhaps he can add the kind of scoring touch in the bottom-6 that Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano haven’t been able to thus far.

“We know Kenny is going to start in Spooner’s power play spot, he’s done it before and he’s had some success at the lower levels when given that opportunity. Obviously he’ll play left behind [Brad] Marchand and [Jake] DeBrusk, probably on the third line spot,” said Cassidy. “He’s played with [Riley] Nash yesterday [at practice] so there’s a good chance he’ll play with him today.”

The Bruins certainly need a spark after limping out to a 2-3-0 start to the season in the first five games, so perhaps a hungry Agostino can do that while being given a legit chance to show what he can do by the Black and Gold.