Patriots

Peverley returns with a vengence

586910.jpg

Peverley returns with a vengence

BOSTON -- Rich Peverley admitted there was a little bit of adjustment after missing the last two games because of an undisclosed injury.

Keyword: Little.

Peverley, who had practiced but not played in a game since November 5, wasted hardly any time getting back into action on Saturday night during the Bruins' 6-2 win over the Sabres at TD Garden.

He was skating well tonight and he didnt seem like he missed a beat, said coach Claude Julien. He was using his outside speed, carrying it deep into the Buffalo zone, and thats what we needed to do. We needed to get that puck in deep and he was able to do that a lot of times under control. I liked his game. For having missed the last two, I thought he came back real strong.

Peverley scored the Bs first goal, which tied the game at 1-1, less than eight minutes into the second period. In the third period, he assisted on a goal by Chris Kelly.

Not a bad nights work for someone who had been eagerly waiting to get back in action.

You are playing on adrenaline because you want to get back in, he said. You want to use your assets to help the team wherever that may be. I dont like sitting so its great to be able to help the team whatever way I can.

Peverley was mum on the details of what had kept him sidelined -- Theyre just calling it an undisclosed minor injury, he said -- but did note that he felt close to 100 percent following the game. He also said the decision to play was mutual between him and the medical staff.

Another mutual agreement? The excitement shared by both Peverley and his teammates for him to be back on the ice.

He was huge, said Brad Marchand. He had a great goal tonight to get us going and then another great play on Kells goal. For him to come back the way he did and have a big game tonight, it was huge for us. Hes been able to jump in and go up and down the lineup and everywhere he plays, he contributes to the line and really carries his weight. Hes been a great player for us so far and it was huge having him back tonight. It really helped us out.

Echoed Tyler Seguin: He was really good tonight. He stepped in and played a really big part of our win tonight. Obviously his goal and even better his pass, just his all-around complete game tonight. He didnt waste any time getting back in his groove.

While being sidelined for the past two games has given Peverley a chance to watch his team from a different perspective -- I think when we play simple, keep the game simple, things are positive for us and it keeps showing in our game, he assessed -- nothing compares to the vantage point he has on the ice.

You realize that you want to be in there and you want to do what you can, he said. It gives you that much more eagerness to want to get in and play.

Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

marsh_patriots_112117.jpg

Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

Cassius Marsh was brought to New England to help a depleted defensive end group and play in the kicking game. The Patriots wanted him badly enough that they parted with two draft picks -- a fifth and a seventh -- to acquire him in a trade with the Seahawks just before the start of the season. 

Less than three months later, they've decided to part ways with the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder. 

Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots this season, providing the team with an edge defender and someone with special-teams experience. He blocked a kick in Week 7 against the Falcons that earned him an enthusiastic attaboy from coach Bill Belichick. 

Coming off the edge, Marsh recorded one sack and 13 hurries. Against the run, he was used more sparingly, and he was one of the Patriots on the scene for Marshawn Lynch's 25-yard run in the second quarter on Sunday. He played in just two snaps in Mexico City after missing the previous week's game in Denver due to a shoulder injury. 

Without Marsh the Patriots remain thin at defensive end. In order to help bolster that spot, the corresponding move the Patriots made to fill the open spot on their 53-man roster was to sign defensive lineman Eric Lee off of the Bills practice squad. 

Lee entered the league with the Texans last season as an undrafted rookie out of South Florida. Listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Lee has bounced on and off of the Bills practice squad this season since being released by the Texans before this season.

The Patriots got a good look at Lee during joint practices last summer with the Texans at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. In the preseason game with the Texans that week, Lee played 40 snaps and according to Pro Football Focus he had two quarterback hurries. The Patriots have a history of snagging players they've practiced against, and with Lee, that trend continues

Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

usatsi_10402885.jpg

Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

BRIGHTON -- Coming off a pair of back-to-back wins from backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are still undecided about what they’re going to do between the pipes Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils.

On the one hand, the Bruins are very tempted to ride the hot goaltending hand with Khudobin a strong 5-0-2 record on the season and a .935 save percentage that currently leads all goaltenders across the league. There’s a school of thought that the B’s should simply keep plugging Khudobin into the lineup until he actually loses a game, and begins to cool down a little bit between the pipes after stopping 63-of-65 shots against LA and San Jose.

At the same time it will be over a week since Tuukka Rask has played in a game if the Bruins go with Khudobin on Wednesday night against the Devils, and Bruce Cassidy was clear to stress that Rask is still their No. 1 guy. So that’s the dilemma the Bruins are facing with Cassidy calling it “a good problem to have” based on Khudobin’s strong play from the backup spot.

That is a far cry from what the Bruins experienced a year ago with the same goalie, and a reason for optimism that their goaltending situation will be better off throughout a long season.

“Do you go with the hot hand and leave your No. 1 sitting where he’s beginning to wonder what the hell is going on? That’s the decision,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We need to keep them both in a good place, and not lose out on [Khudobin’s] good run while keeping Tuukka focused and confident in his game. That’s what we’re battling and I talk to Goalie Bob [Essensa] about it every day. We’ll make our decision [on Wednesday] and we hope it’s the right one.

“It’s a long year so no matter who we use there are a lot of starts. I don’t think Khudobin is going to go ice cold if he use Tuukka tomorrow, and I don’t think Tuukka is going to blow a gasket if we go with the hot hand. For me I don’t think it’s that big of a decision.”

Perhaps Rask blowing a gasket wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world given the way he’s played this season.

The one underlying concern for Rask beyond the .897 save percentage this season is that his game has really been in a different place for the last three seasons. While his .922 career save percentage mark is among the best in the NHL, he has been below that mark in each of the last three seasons while struggling to maintain consistently behind a changing roster that’s turning over to youth and inexperience.

It certainly seems like the Bruins feel it’s premature to label Rask as anything but their No. 1 goaltender, but the pause they’re giving on Wednesday night’s starter speaks volumes about their current confidence level in each of their puck-stoppers.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE