Bruins

Julien: Corvo not the 'weak link' for B's

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Julien: Corvo not the 'weak link' for B's

BOSTON -- It was inevitable that a Bruins defenseman was going to go down at some point, and that meant much-maligned blueliner Joe Corvo was going to get another chance.

Corvo had been scratched for the last six games, and the Bruins had won five of those contests while getting their regular season plan back on track. Corvo was also a minus-4 with three points in nine games during the month of March, and had regularly been suffering defensive breakdowns from the neutral zone and through the D-zone during that time period.

Dennis Seidenberg suffered a cut on his leg out of action on Thursday night against the Capitals, and that gives Corvo a golden chance with the postseason looming.

Theres no denying the Bruins are a stronger defensive team with Corvo on the sidelines, and thats borne out in the fact Boston hasnt allowed more than two goals in the six games without him. But Claude Julien still believes Corvo has something to bring to the table, and said his offensive abilities to move the puck and man the power play are something Boston needs.

Joe was pulled out when our team wasnt going well. Id say that its been easy to pick on him. But Joe does a lot of good things offensively and he makes good plays, he skates well and thats something our team is always needed. Joe knows that when we work with him its more about working in the corners battling and not getting beaten back in front of the netthose kinds of things in tight around our net area.

But the other part of his game has been good. Hes as mobile as any defenseman we have here . . . probably one of the best. He skates the puck up the ice well. Hes got a lot of good assets to his game.

The Bs coach seemed to be beating the same drum with Corvo this season as he did during the regular season and playoffs with Tomas Kaberle last year.

Its what a coach must do when one of his players as struggling. Julien is standing up for an embattled player that didnt seem all too pleased to be watching the last six games from the press box.

With the fact that he was pulled out when we werent going well, I know a lot of people have kind of assumed hes the one that was the weak link, said Julien. He wasnt and hopefully he has an opportunity to show that tonight.

This much can be agreed upon: Corvo was part of the defensive problem rather than the solution, and the four goals scored in 70 games isnt all that impressive given that the defenseman was touted as a puck-shooting force when he was brought in to Boston. With Seidenberg out, Corvo has an opportunity to show what he can do. Its up to him to play like hes got something to prove.

Rask helped off ice at Bruins practice after collision

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Rask helped off ice at Bruins practice after collision

BRIGHTON, Mass – Tuukka Rask had to be helped off the ice midway through practice Wednesday when it appeared rookie Anders Bjork crashed hard into the Bruins No. 1 goaltender in a drill. 

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Rask never returned in what looked like another streak of bad luck for the B’s. Rask is off to a slow start at 1-3-0, with a 3.30 goals-against average and .882 save percentage, but Boston can ill afford to lose their top goalie right now.

The Bruins continue to look for the right mix of players at the start of the season and they’ve called up a couple of forwards off to hot starts in Providence for a look.

Big, skilled Slovakian winger Peter Cehlarik and AHL scoring champ Kenny Agostino have both been called up while it looks like some struggling NHL veterans, perhaps Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano, might be hitting the pine.

The two call-ups, along with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson were off to a red-hot start in Providence: Agostino leads Providence with two goals and five assists for seven points (tied for third in AHL) with a plus-four rating in three games this season. Cehlarik is second on the team with two goals and three assists for five points with a plus-three rating in three games with Providence.

Patrice Bergeron was again wearing the maroon no-contact jersey at practice on Wednesday while participating in line drills, and it would appear it’s going to be a stretch for him to be available vs. the Canucks. Adam McQuaid returned to practice on Wednesday, so Ryan Spooner was the only injured Bruins regular that wasn’t able to suit up and practice with the team.

Tuukka Rask had to be helped off the ice midway through practice when it looked like Anders Bjork crashed hard into the Bruins No. 1 goaltender in a drill. Rask never returned in what looked like another streak of bad luck for the B’s. Rask is off to a slow start at 1-3-0, with a 3.30 goals-against average and .882 save percentage, but Boston can ill afford to lose their top goalie right now.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Wednesday afternoon’s practice with it looking like David Backes might be up for a possible return on Thursday:  
 
Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak
Schaller-Kuraly-Backes
Cehlarik-Nash-Agostino
 
Beleskey-White-Vatrano
 
Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Miller-Postma
McQuaid
 
Rask
Khudobin
 

Butler never flips 'off' switch, even in locker-room games

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Butler never flips 'off' switch, even in locker-room games

FOXBORO -- Say this for Malcolm Butler: Since his rookie season he's proven time and again to be an utterly resilient player.

Go back to Super Bowl XLIX. He was beside himself on the sidelines after Jermaine Kearse somehow came up with an acrobatic grab on a pass he deflected in the fourth quarter. Moments later he was back on the field to make the play of life.

Against the Jets on Sunday, he had to make another -- albeit less dramatic -- turnaround.

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Early on, it wasn't pretty. He allowed a third-and-long conversion when he played well off of Robby Anderson during a first-quarter touchdown drive. He allowed 31-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley when he made a bad gamble to try to break up the throw.

Yet without Butler's interception at the end of the first half, and without his strip of Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the fourth quarter, the Patriots might be 3-3 headed into a Super Bowl rematch with the Falcons.

The competitive streak that Butler has exhibited to make game-changing moments regardless of what has happened earlier in the game is something that Bill Belichick has grown accustomed to.

"Since the first rookie minicamp," Belichick said. "He’s a very competitive player, whatever it is. Practice, games, trash ball in the locker room. Whatever it is. He’s a very competitive player."

Earlier this season, in Week 2 against the Saints, Butler was briefly demoted to the No. 3 cornerback role. After the fact, he was open about how he wasn't playing up to his own lofty standards. Since then, he's been the only regular for the Patriots at his position as Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe have dealt with injuries. 

It's been far from perfect, as moments like his breakdowns during the Jets game exhibited. But his aggressiveness rarely wanes. Even during down moments in the Patriots locker, apparently. 

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