Bruins

The Pro Bowl could be going bye-bye

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The Pro Bowl could be going bye-bye

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- The NFL will consider dropping the Pro Bowl if the level of play doesn't improve, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday night.Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio's "Town Hall," Goodell agreed with host Michael Strahan that last January's Pro Bowl "was embarrassing.""If we cannot accomplish that kind of standard (of high play), I am inclined to not play it," Goodell said. "It is really tough to force competition, and after a long season, to ask those guys to go out and play at the same level they played is really tough."The league still would select a Pro Bowl team through voting by players, coaches and fans, because it is an honor, but "just not play the game," he said.The Pro Bowl will take place in January, a week before the Super Bowl, after the players lobbied to keep it, promising to upgrade their performances. Goodell and others were disappointed in the quality of last year's Pro Bowl, won 59-41 by the AFC and missing any semblance of hard hitting.More from Goodell:--The league is working on scheduling more East Coast games involving West Coast teams in late-afternoon slots to avoid what amounts to a 10 a.m. kickoff for the western teams."Several of our teams on the West Coast have raised that and we have been studying it," he said. "We have tried to put as many of those games on the East Coast at 4 p.m. You can imagine the thousands of different issues you have to put into the schedule. But the 10 o'clock starts are pretty tough."--He praised teams for making it possible for fans to text concerns about unruly behavior to stadium security."Allowing you to text to security personnel rather than having to get an usher, that is a plus to fans," said Goodell, who recently sat with his family in the stands at a Titans-Vikings game in Minneapolis. "The arrests are down and ejections are up. Our teams are ejecting fans who are unruly. And arrests (being) down is an indication that fans are getting the message."--Explained the NFL's studies of potential developmental leagues for players and officials. He said if the schedule format ever drops two preseason games, there will be more discussions on the subject because teams will have a more difficult time determining the makeup of rosters.He added the NFL is looking for more ways to train on-field officials and for them to have interaction with players, citing college football, Arena Football and the CFL as places that could happen.Going to an 18-game regular season with two exhibition games remains a point of contention with the players' union. But Goodell admitted to having "an issue with the preseason.""Our fans don't like watching the preseason games, attending the preseason games, so we have to evaluate the season format," he said, "and that is one way of looking at it: 18-2. Or go to 16-2 or some other alternative; take two of those (preseason) games and make them more developmental."--Said three regular-season games abroad is not out of the realm of possibility. Next year, for the first time, the league will play two games in London.As for a franchise abroad, he added: "I wouldn't at all be surprised some day to see us have a team in London."

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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