Bruins

Foster has Patriots' scout team on the run

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Foster has Patriots' scout team on the run

FOXBORO --New England's preparation for the Texans ground game is something like a symphony.
It starts with simulating Arian Foster.The running back's 351 rushing attempts and 15 touchdowns led the NFL in 2012's regular season.
"It comes down to a lot of film study," said Patriots rookie Brandon Bolden. "It sounds very boring, but it's just a lot of film study. We just try to give the defense the best look as possible, just try to imitate them as best as possible.
"Patience is a big part of his game. It's a very big part. He tries to set things up and he works around it. We're not him exactly, but we can try to do the stuff that he kind of likes to do."
"Shane Vereen, Woody Danny Woodhead, Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden, all of them. . . they're different than Foster, but it's close enough, certainly good enough for our defense to work against," said coach Bill Belichick. "Those guys make good cuts, they see holes well. I think our backs do a good job giving us the look on the scout team in the running game."
Houston's penchant for zone blocking can make things interesting.
The Texans' offensive linemen rely more on athleticism than muscle in creating running lanes. They are disciplined, coordinated. They will trick opponents, double-team them, cut block them.
Yet another challenge for the Patriots scout team.
"I think its harder actually to simulate, to get all the offensive linemen it doesnt matter who you play its usually harder to get them too, to get the blocking schemes kind of exactly the way the other team does it," Belichick noted. "Its probably easier for the runner than the overall blocking patterns, depending on how each team does it during the week. You have to try to get all those guys coordinated."
Defensive end Rob Ninkovich elaborated on the challenge of facing a fleet-footed offensive line.
"This team does a good job of all moving together," he said. "All the offensive linemen are athletic and they can move, so the challenge is, for us as a D-line, to play strong and be fast, kind of reset the line of scrimmage. That's your job, really, is to get those guys knocked back and not be run into the sideline."
For the Patriots, knocking O-lineman back starts with nose tackle Vince Wilfork.
"Playing cut blocks is always a big challenge when youre facing a team like this because it seems like I dont care if youre getting cut on the front side or the back side, that running back sees it and he hits it right off that cut block," said Wilfork. "So up front its going to be very important for us to try to stay on our feet and make sure that we are playing our blocks pretty good."
New England's defense held Foster to 46 rushing yards when the teams met December 10. Houston gained just 100 ground yards on the night.
The Patriots offense did its part by jumping out to a 28-0 lead, thereby forcing the Texans to air the ball out. Foster's 15 carries in Week 14 marked his third-lowest single game total of the season.
But Wilfork feels like the run defense can hold its own. The Patriots are preparing for, expecting Houston's best shot. They will be ready.
"Weve faced it, weve seen it a bunch of times, so we kind of know how we want to play this game. If we play it the way that we need to play it, well be okay."

Morning Skate: Robust trade market for D-men

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Morning Skate: Robust trade market for D-men

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while prepping for Claude Bowl II.

*It’s going to be a robust trade market for defensemen with names such as Jack Johnson, Dion Phaneuf and Oliver Ekman-Larsson highlighting the group that’s available. Paul Martin will be in that select company if he clears through waivers and perhaps Niklas Hjalmarsson will as well with many teams holding D-men they’re willing to part with.

*The Buffalo Sabres apparently want four assets in any deal for rental Evander Kane that includes a draft pick, a prospect and an NHL roster player, and it’s hard to believe anybody is going to do that for a perennial underachiever who's never even scored 60 points in a season before.

*A tough end to the Andrew Cogliano iron-man streak as he’s been suspended for a couple of games after an incident last weekend.

*Brent Burns is the envy of many blueliners around the league because of his hard, accurate shot, which isn’t scoring him as many goals this season

*Year-round Las Vegas resident Deryk Engelland has been rewarded for being a member of the Golden Knights with a one-year contract extension.

*It sounds like the Philadelphia Flyers have got Shayne Gostisbehere thinking more about defense after some up-and-down moments last season in his sophomore effort.

*For something completely different: A profile on a UFC champion and a firefighter all at the same time. Sounds like an interesting dude.


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Acciari misses Bruins practice with upper-body injury

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Acciari misses Bruins practice with upper-body injury

BRIGHTON, Mass – Noel Acciari was in and out of the Bruins lineup in the Monday afternoon loss to the Dallas Stars with an upper-body injury and the fourth-line grinder was missing from the practice ice on Tuesday as well. 

Acciari has been able to stay healthy the past few months while helping to establish Boston’s fourth line and has added to his hard-hitting style of play with six goals in 28 games this season.

But there's been a litany of injuries the past few seasons given the physical pounding the 5-foot-10, 208-pounder takes given his rugged style of play. This current injury limited him to just 6:05 of ice time in an overtime loss to the Stars. Still, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was optimistic that Acciari would be able to suit up against the Canadiens on Wednesday night in Claude Julien’s return to TD Garden.

“Jake DeBrusk was under the weather and so was Kevan Miller, so they stayed home,” said Cassidy of Acciari, who has missed 14 games this season mainly due to a broken finger suffered blocking a shot on opening night. “Noel Acciari has a bit of an upper-body injury and it affected his minutes [Monday vs. Dallas]. He’s kind of day-to-day. I suspect that he would play tomorrow, but we’ll have a better idea on [Wednesday] morning.”

Both DeBrusk and Miller are expected to be fine to play against the Habs in their rematch from last weekend this time on Boston's home ice. Here are the line combos and D-pairings for the players that were on the ice for Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Krejci-Spooner

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Vatrano

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Miller

Postma-McQuaid

 

Rask

Khudobin

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