Bruins suffering through an identity crisis


Bruins suffering through an identity crisis

WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins placed the bar extraordinarily high by losing only three times in regulation during the months of November and December.So some of the concern surrounding their recent 4-4-1 stretch is a perception issue.
But Brad Marchand made a good point on the heels of Bostons listless 3-0 shutout loss to Carolina on Thursday night.

It doesnt take a few losses for us to know that were not playing our best hockey. We can see it even when we win and play poorly," he said.
"The biggest thing is that we all sit down, regroup and refocus. We need to understand that coming down the stretch we need to be playing our best hockey going into the playoffs. We all know what its like, we know what its about, and weve been through this last year.We just need to make sure we turn it around and play better hockey."
The Bruins arent playing their customary tight defense and have slackened the normally ideal pace of their offensive attack. The emotion has been drained from their game, and the won-loss results have sunk into mediocrity.

"A lot of it is just our focus," said Marchand. "Were having little mental breakdowns that are costing us goals and opportunities. Theyre just little letdowns that are uncharacteristic of us. We have to just clean up some areas.
The Bruins know they must get that focus back if they want to avoid lineuproster adjustments from the coaching staff and management. Everyone knows this group is capable of winning a Stanley Cup if everything goes right, as it did last year.But theres only so long an organization will wait if things go flat.Changes will be made, whether they're simple line changes by coach Claude Julien or deals by general manager Peter Chiarelli.
The only way the Bruins can prevent that is by winning.

They havent been receiving full efforts from the entire 20-man roster over the last 10 games. Work ethic normally isnt a problem for the Bruins, as they so strongly proved in November and December, but it has been lately. And the players sounded embarrassed by their effort after getting shut down by the Hurricanes Thursday night in an inconsistent effort.
That embarrassment was replaced by determination during Fridays practice at Ristuccia Arena.

We all recognize the problem," said Patrice Bergeron. "We know its not going to happen overnight. We need to work through it. We need to make sure we keep working hard, but we need to work smart. We cant just go through the motions and expect that things are going to turn around.

Its obvious when you look at October and the last few games weve played and then look at how we played in November and December that there is a way we need to play and want to play. To get back to that level, we need to make sure we go back to the identity and the foundation that makes up our personality.

If hard work and a defensive mindset serve as that personality, then the Bruins have been grappling with an identity crisis over the last two weeks.
It's time for them to get their identity back.

Dion Lewis: 'Nobody's really worried' about Tom Brady


Dion Lewis: 'Nobody's really worried' about Tom Brady

James White put it perfectly on Thursday. When asked if he was the one who injured Tom Brady's hand in Wednesday's practice, the running back replied, "The world may never know."

During an interview with NFL Network, another Patriots running back said you can't put Brady's injury on him.

"Not me," said DIon Lewis. "No, it wasn't me . . . I actually didn't see it happen, but from when I talked to other guys, I knew he was gonna be oaky. It's Tom, so regardless of any situation he's put in, he's going to make sure he's out there game day. Nobody's really worried."

That seems to be the general consensus inside the Patriots locker room. They're all expecting Brady to play. And when they're asked about how he's looked, their answers have ranged from evasive to joking about Brady's handsomeness

The focus, as Lewis explained, isn't so much on the health of their quarterback but rather the game plan they're putting in place to take on the top defense in the AFC. 

"We have a great idea," Lewis said, "of what we think we can do to have success against this defense . . . We just gotta be on point every play. We don't got plays to give away."

Might that mean a load of two-back or two-tight end sets to keep Jacksonville's base personnel on the field? Might that mean plenty of work in the screen game, as Jerod Mayo suggested on this week's Quick Slants the Podcast? Might that mean a heavy dose of Rob Gronkowski?

There are soft spots in the Jaguars defense, as talented as it is, but it will probably require Brady being able to grip a football for the Patriots to exploit them. His teammates seem confident he'll be able to do that.

Tom Brady spotted at beginning of Friday practice


Tom Brady spotted at beginning of Friday practice

FOXBORO — For the second straight day, Tom Brady was on the practice field long enough for people to take pictures of his hand. Check ‘em out. 

Friday marked the second straight day in which Brady wore a glove on his throwing hand, something he does not typically do. He was also on the field for the media portion at the beginning of Thursday’s practice, but did not participate in the actual practice. 

We’ll know when the practice report is released later today whether Brady practiced this time. He’ll also speak this afternoon.