Patriots

Talking Points: Capitals 3, Bruins 2

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Talking Points: Capitals 3, Bruins 2

GOLD STAR: Alex Ovechkin did absolutely nothing for the first two periods in a scoreless game, and then all of a sudden pounced in the final 20 minutes. He assisted on both of Washingtons goals and led the Capitals with five shots on net after having only one after the first 40 minutes of the game. Ovechkin finished with 23:32 and became a big factor in the game even if Tim Thomas was able to stone the Russian sniper during the shootout. The tales of Ovies demise with the Capitals were perhaps a little premature after all.

BLACK EYE: No shots and two giveaways for Rich Peverley in 17:57 of ice time that didnt amount to much for the Black and Gold. He wasnt alone in that regard and certainly gets some slack after jumping back into things full bore after missing six weeks with a sprained knee, but he was definitely one of the many Bruins players that didnt have their legs against Washington. Perhaps some of that prompted Claude Julien to tinker around with the lines a little bit in the final 40 minutes trying to find something that could spark his team full of pooped players.

TURNING POINT: Patrice Bergeron had a point blank bid in front of the net after Benoit Pouliot flipped a pass from the left wing, and the Bs center tried to go backhanded to forehand as he was gliding by the net. Instead Michael Neuvirth poked the puck away as Bergeron was getting ready to score the first goal of the game, and that gave Washington some momentum in the final period. Minutes later Dennis Wideman had their first goal and the games action finally started moving at a brisker pace.

HONORABLE MENTION: David Krejci had his game face on and was very good against Washington. He finished with two points and a plus-1, and had a nice tip in the middle of the slot on Zdeno Charas wrist shot from the point. Krejci also dominated in the face-off circle to the tune of 11 wins in 13 draws, and it appears that both top Bs centers are getting into a face-off zone prior to the playoffs. The irony should not be lost that one of Bostons few minus players for the season was one of only two with a plus in Thursday nights loss.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1-14-2 the Bruins record this season when theyve been held scoreless after two periods.

QUOTE TO NOTE: Chimera came off bench and he was going pretty hard. Maybe it was a little bit reckless, but theres no doubt in my mind it wasnt intentional to injure." Claude Julien talking about the Jason Chimera charging hit from behind that knocked Adam McQuaid out of the game in the first period.

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

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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

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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.

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