Haggerty: Despite microscope, B's stuck in their ways


Haggerty: Despite microscope, B's stuck in their ways

The Bruins dont apologize for who they are, and they certainly shouldnt express regret forhow they play.

That might actually become something of a problem as their reputation gets them into trouble. Bostons size, strength and unyielding toughness on the puck translate into intimidated opponents and broken spirits all across the NHL landscape, and it played a leading rolein the Bruins capturing their first Stanley Cup in 39 years."Somehow the Bruins happen to be the team people prefer to pick on, and we're the bruisers. We're the example to the league. We haveto live with that, but one thing we won't do is change our style of play," said Claude Julien. "Our team is built that way and Ithink we play prettyentertaining hockey. We're a fast team, we're a skill team and we're also a physical team. We're Stanley Cup champions, so I don't see why we should have to change."But sometimes that physicality goes over the edge. It can be tricky to find the balance between clean, honest, punishing hockey and on-ice actionsconstrued as intentional acts to injure players. Itbecomes even more challengingwhen Brendan Shanahan and the NHL are constantly watching, judging and reviewing, and that's where the B's find themselves these days.

It appears Boston's reputation for bullying and overpowering opponents carries with itsome negative side effects.The Big Bad Bruins image resonates around the league, given their willingness to fight and stand up for each other. This is a team that performs better when times get tougher, and it's as strong a style of play as you'll find in the NHL these days.But its also coloring the way the leaguetreats their players and actions on the ice. One example is Saturday afternoons loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Another is Brad Marchands five-game suspension for clipping Sami Salo.Whatever the case, the Bruins are driven by the strength and intensity of nearly every player on the roster. It's called "team tough" by the players and coaches and it's an admirable quality, one the other 29 teams struggle to match. So it doesnt make much sense for the Bruins to mellow out or soften things up.

No . . . nope. Not at all, said Milan Lucic. Its worked for us, so were not changing our games at all. Were not changing a thing. The more we talk about it and the more we think about it, the more frustrating it gets. It was just one game, we dont have to play them again and we need to move on from this.

The Marchand low-bridge maneuver certainly warranted a suspension from the league, and he's getting the dreaded repeat customer status within the NHL Department of Player Safety offices. He is almost an isolated situation unto himself, though,as the only agitator on a Bruins roster thats largely full of honest, straightforward physical players. Lucic, Zdeno Chara and Shawn Thornton, among others, are viewed in most NHL corners as clean, honest players who toe the line. Marchand is the only one consistently on Shanahans watch list, and he will be observedeven more closely after missing over 150,000 in game checks following his currentfive-game suspension. Its a deserved distinction after the slewfoots and head shots thrown during his first two seasons that, luckily, havent resulted in any catastrophicinjuries to his fellow players.

But Shanahan and Co. couldnt ignore the Salo concussion or the dangerous play against the Vancouver defenseman. Marchand's gaffecost the team when the Canucks scored a pair of power-play goals, including the game-winner, during the ensuing five-minute major.Some feel the bad reputation is growing stronger for a Bruins team used to getting the upper hand with thumping hits and the threat of a sound thrashing if push comes to dropped glove.

The perfect example of Bostons bad rep affecting in-game calls came inthe opening few minutes Saturday afternoon. An Alex Burrows slash of Daniel Paille turned into seven Canucks surrounding Shawn Thornton and piling on the Bs enforcer in a prison yard-style attack. Burrows speared Thornton in the neck a spot that that was still sore two days after the incident happened before all heck broke loose, but when the ice chips settled the Bruins were on the short end of the calls: Lucic had been wrongly tossed from the game (the refs called him for leaving the bench to join the fight, but he was on the ice when it started and the NHL subsequently rescinded his game-misconduct penalty) and the Bruins found themselves trying to kill off a two-minute 5-on-3 Vancouver power play, which resulted in a Canucks goal.

Why? Because when the referees don't have a clear understanding of how things started -- and they clearly didn't in this case -- the Bruins don't get the benefit of the doubt."I dont understand the thinking process behind it," said Lucic, who pointed out that the Canucks had Thornton outnumbered "6-on-1 . . . but we get picked out of the group and we're down two men."Given how they're viewed around the league, it's something they may have to get used to. But Lucic says it's not going to change the way they play.Regardless of having a reputation or not, were still going to go about things the same way and were still going to be team-tough," he said. "Thats what makes us a special group: that were able to stick up for each other like we do.

Lucic and the rest of the Bruins are going to continue to overwhelm their opponents with their brand of unrelenting physicality. It makes no sense for the B's not to continue topush right to the edge while still holding respect for their opponents and the game itself. A few suspensions or a handful of bum penalty calls arent going to remove the teeth and claws from the Bs, and isnt going to lessen the ferocity of their play.

It wont change the way we play. Were a physical team," Gregory Campbell said. "I dont think Marchands hit has anything to do with the way we play. Its not going to change anything. You could waste time in saying everybody has it out for the Bruins. Thats the way we play and were an easy target, but thats a part of the game.

Weve overcome it in the past and its something we will overcome again. I dont think were targeted. Were a good team and usually the games we play especially the games against good teams like Vancouver its an intense game. There are a lot of emotions and were a better team when we play on the edge.

It might be costly in terms of game checks lost or hot-airedcriticism leveled against them, but the Bruins know the only road to Stanley Cup glory is the exact same pounding, grinding hard hockey they became renowned for in last years 25-game run to an NHL championship.

Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study


Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study

If your team makes a goal-line stop in the fourth quarter, but you can't see it on the All-22 tape, did it even happen? 

Bill Belichick said the fog that hovered above the Gillette Stadium turf on Sunday night didn't impact the play on the field, but it did make its imprint on the game in other ways. First of all, spotters and coaches up at the press level had some difficulty relaying information to coaches on the sidelines. Video on the hand-held tablets for sideline use -- as well as the old-school still-frame pictures Belichick prefers -- was also obstructed. 

Then on Monday, as coaches tried to digest the film, the fog butted in on the process again. 

"It affected us a lot this morning because it’s hard to see the game," Belichick said during a conference call. "The fourth quarter is – I don’t know – pretty close to a white-out on the sideline film. The sideline cameras are at the top of the stadium, so that’s a tough shot.

"The end zone cameras are a little bit lower and they get a little tighter shot, so the picture is a little bit clearer. But, on that shot, a lot of times you’re not able to see all the guys on the perimeter. It’s kind of an in-line shot.

"Yeah, the first half, start of the third quarter, it’s all right. As they get into the middle of the third quarter and on, for those of us with aging eyes, it’s a little strained to see it, and then there’s a point where you can’t really see it at all, especially from the sideline. So, yeah, it affected us."

Belichick re-iterated that the fog didn't do much to the product on the field (other than maybe making life difficult for kick and punt-returners), refuting Julio Jones' claim from late Sunday night. When it came to digesting the film, though, that was another story.

"It was more, I’d say, just tougher for, whether it be our video camera or the fans that were sitting in the upper deck. It’s just there was too much interference there," Belichick said. "It was probably hard to see the game. I know when we tried to look at the pictures in between series – you know, I don’t look at the tablets, so I won’t get into that – but the pictures, it was kind of the same thing. It was hard to really be able to make out exactly what you were seeing."

Marcus Morris targeting Oct. 30 game vs. Spurs as date for Celtics debut


Marcus Morris targeting Oct. 30 game vs. Spurs as date for Celtics debut

WALTHAM -- It appears Marcus Morris’ debut for the Celtics will be when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Oct. 30.
The 6-foot-9 forward confirmed to reporters on Monday that, for now, that’s the target date.
Morris spent time after practice playing some one-one-one against rookie Jayson Tatum.
“I’m trying to push on it a little more,” he said. “Felt pretty good beating the rook’s ass one-on-one.”
The addition of Morris to the lineup can’t come soon enough for the Celtics (1-2).  They have already lost Gordon Hayward (ankle) for the season, and Marcus Smart (ankle) missed Friday’s win over Philadelphia. Smart said he would probably be in uniform for Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks. 
Those injuries have forced the Celtics to dig deeper into their roster, resulting in several first-year players seeing action. 
Having a veteran like Morris on the floor would bode well for the Celts in their quest to remain among the better teams in the East this season. 
Morris, who went through the non-contact portion of practice on Monday, joined the Celtics on Oct. 5, shortly after he and his brother Markieff (who plays for Washington) were acquitted of assault charges involving an incident in Phoenix in January of 2015. He appeared in one preseason game, scoring seven points on 3-for-6 shooting from the field.

Coach Brad Stevens said Morris was having some knee discomfort when he showed up for training camp. That, combined with showing up late to training camp because of his court case in Phoenix, resulted in him not having the level of conditioning he’s used to at the start of training camp. 
“It’s not that I’m in bad shape,” he told NBC Sports Boston earlier. “It’s just that I’m not where I expect myself to be conditioning-wise, right now.”
Morris echoed similar sentiments on Monday. 
“I’m in great condition,” he said. “I just want to be a little better. My conditioning has never been the problem. It’s the soreness in my [left] knee. It’s gotten a lot better over the past 10 days, so I feel I can play now. But be cautious because it’s a long season.”
Morris was acquired in the summer by Boston from Detroit, in exchange for Avery Bradley. The move was done to not only ensure there was enough salary cap space to sign then-free agent Gordon Hayward, but also for the Celtics to add a versatile player who can play both forward positions.