Mitch's Sports Report: Ugly Goals Count The Same As Pretty Ones In Bruins Win; Habs Still Scuffling

Nov 3, 2017

In the NHL, the Boston Bruins skated against the league's newest team and biggest surprise this season, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, who came in with an 8-3 record, which is pretty remarkable for an expansion franchise in their first season. But the Bruins avenged an earlier loss against Vegas with a 2-1 win in Boston last night.

The Bruins got what they call ugly goals on rebound put-backs in front of the net by Riley Nash, his first of the year, and Sean Kuraly, who scored the game winner ten minutes into the third period to break a 1-1 tie. It was Kuraly's first professional regular season goal. He has two previous big league goals, including a double overtime winner, last year in the playoffs against the Ottawa Senators. Tuukka Rask made 27 saves to earn the win in net, and the Bruins will need to score more ugly goals and find ways to win just as they did last night, especially with the news that hard luck center David Backes will be out the next eight weeks after needing to have a portion of his colon removed from complications related to a disease called diverticulitis, an inflammation in the intestinal tract. Backes had a disappointing first year after signing a free agent contract to come to Boston, and in the off-season worked hard to lose some weight and try to adapt to the game's changing emphasis on speed instead of brawn, and this is a most unwelcome setback now for a team that is struggling to find its offensive identity. It will open up more opportunities for younger players, but the Bruins are already top-heavy with young players and will miss Backes' veteran presence and experience over the next couple of months.

If you think older players are out to pasture in the NHL, don't tell it to Matt Cullen. The 41-year old Minnesota Wild forward scored his first goal of the season and added an assist as the Wild scored three goals in the first period as part of their 6-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens in St. Paul last night. The Montreal struggles are being well chronicled and fretted over in Quebec, and the biggest concern is the number of goals getting by Carey Price, considered by many to be the best net-minder on the planet. Price is not living up to that billing right now, with a goals against average close to four per game, and a low .877 save percentage. To be sure, Montreal's troubles are not all Price's fault. The offense has scored the fourth-fewest goals per game in the league and the defense around Price has allowed the third most goals per game. None of this bodes well for coach Claude Julien, as coaches are usually the first to go when a team scuffles, even though they're not the ones actually on the ice stopping pucks or putting them into the other team's net.

The NY Rangers are also trying to find their ice footing after a bad start, and last night took a stride in the right direction, beating one of the league's hottest teams in the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in overtime in Florida last night when J.T. Miller scored just over a minute into the extra frame, giving the Rangers a modest two game winning streak.

Nothing modest about what the L.A. Kings are doing. They're out to a 10-2 start, tops in the western conference, and they beat the Toronto Maples Leafs 5-3 last night. Tyler Toffoli scored twice in the win, as the Leafs have been cooled off somewhat after a hot start to the year, now at 8-6 after the loss last night.

In the NFL, two New York teams went at it in New Jersey last night, because that's where the NY Jets play their home games, and while the Jets went into their match-up against the Buffalo Bills as underdogs, they came out as winners, overwhelming the Bills on both sides of the ball in a 34-21 win.

On defense, the Jets sacked Bills quarterback Tryod Taylor seven times, and on offense, got two rushing touchdowns from Matt Forte, while quarterback Josh McCown rushed for one touchdown and threw for another when Robby Anderson made a nice over the shoulder grab in the end zone for a 25-yard TD.

The Bills did everything they could to help the Jets in this one, turning the ball over three times as they see their record fall to 5-3, missing a chance to tie the New England Patriots at the top of the AFC east. The Jets, who many people thought could go winless this season, are still below .500, but exceeding most expectations with a 4-5 record at the midpoint of the season.

The other big story out of the NFL is the unfortunate season-ending injury for Houston Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, who tore his ACL during a practice session yesterday and won't return this year. He's been fantastic in his freshman season for Houston, with a total quarterback rating that's best in the league. Total quarterback rating, or TQR, is one of those statistical compilations that takes into account all manner of offensive rankings, from pass completions to total yards versus interceptions, etc., and the rookie's TQR was tops in front of many more high profile QB's, including that guy who plays for the Patriots. The Texans have a back-up in Tom Savage, who does not provide Watson's skill set, but there is a quarterback looking for a job who would be an interesting pick-up by Houston. But given the fact that Texans owner Bob McNair recently complained about players kneeling during the National Anthem as "inmates running the prison", I'll go out on a limb and say Colin Kaepernick won't be running the Texans offense any time soon.

 

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