After 31 Point Win, All Is Lost For Patriots

You really don’t need to watch the final six games of the season. It doesn’t matter what happens. The storylines will be the same. They are set in concrete, and nothing can change them.

It started yesterday, following the 34-3 win over the Chiefs.  It doesn’t mean anything! They beat an injury-riddled team with the worst quarterback in the league! Patriots have the worst defense in the league! When they face a real quarterback in the playoffs like Ben Roethlisberger, he’s going to carve them up and the season will be over!

Rinse, and repeat. All day, both stations.

You will get a version of that every week from here on out, as the Patriots schedule is (according to the media) nothing but cupcakes the rest of the way. Any win or good performance by the defense is completely meaningless. A loss, god forbid, will be the end of the world as we know it. (And they could well lose to the Eagles this weekend.)

Looking forward to the last six weeks of the season? Me too.

When looking at the Patriots defense, the only stat that matters to the media is yards allowed. In that category, the Patriots are last, giving up 404 yards per game. When it comes to points allowed, however, the Patriots are 10th in the NFL, giving up an average of 20.3 points per game, ahead of perceived stalwart defenses like the Jets, Lions, Giants, Bears and Cowboys. The Indianapolis Colts give up 30 points a game. If you look objectively (impossible for sports radio hosts to do) how can you possibly say that the Colts have a better defense than the Patriots? You can’t.

Bill Belichick on The Big Show yesterday talked about this. He acknowledged that everything (yards, points, red zone, etc) is important, but the most important defensive stat is points allowed.

I ask you to please keep that in mind the next time you hear Mike Mutnansky or Tony Massarotti screaming at you about “BIG PICTURE” and the Patriots having the worst defense in the NFL. I’m going to believe what Bill Belichick says over those jokers.

It’s report card day, so here are your weekly grades on the team’s performance:

Making The Grades – Chiefs at Patriots – Jeremy Gottlieb reminds us that Bill Belichick may not be so great at shopping for the groceries, but he sure can cook a great meal.

Patriots Report Card: Where running up the score is a must – Kirk Minihane can’t find “classy decisions” anywhere on the NFL tiebreaker charts.

Patriots Report Card – Ron Borges says that this was like Oklahoma scheduling Ball State.

Patriots Report Card: Rob Gronkowski Proves Yet Again He Is Top Tight End In NFL – Jeff Howe says it’s not the Patriots fault they were playing a lousy quarterback. They got the job done.

ESPNBoston – says that this won’t be remembered as Tom Brady’s finest game.

Patriots report card – Add your vote to the Boston.com report card.

40 lines on 20 issues – Tom E Curran weighs in on a number of Patriots items.

Rob Gronkowski Keeps on ‘Drilling for Oil’ and 19 Other Patriots Thoughts – Jeff Howe has 20 thoughts.

QB whisperer analyzes what ails Tom Brady – Karen Guregian has Tom Martinez suggesting that the Patriots QB is hurting.

New MLB contract limits big payday for top draft picks – Brian MacPherson looks at how the new MLB CBA could actually keep some talented players out of the game, citing a Red Sox prospect who chose baseball over football because of a signing bonus as an example. Gordon Edes notes though, that some of these compensation rules may benefit the Red Sox.

Where is the Red Sox’ next closer? – Rob Bradford looks at replacements for Jonathan Papelbon.

Don’t expect a slugfest between B’s, Sabres – Despite what you may have heard on the radio this morning, Joe Haggerty says not to expect fireworks tonight between the Bruins and Sabres.

Bruins say they’ll just be themselves – James Murphy says that the Bruins will be prepared if something does happen.

Jeff Green plans to remain with Green – Steve Bulpett has the restricted free again looking forward to returning to the Celtics whenever the lockout ends.

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Where Are They Now – 1510 The Zone Personalities

With WEEI and 98.5 The SportsHub are battling out on a monthly basis in the ratings, I thought it would be interesting to look back at the first effort at competition for WEEI, the ill-fated 1510 The Zone (Now Revolution Boston) and where some of the personalities from that station are now.

1510 GM Mike Kellogg took heat for bringing in many unknown names, but as you can see below, several of these have gone onto national gigs at bigger outlets. There was no place for them at WEEI (with the competition from 98.5, they’ve got to be kicking themselves that they didn’t find a role for at least Russillo on their airwaves), but they managed to do pretty well for themselves elsewhere.

Here’s a look at some former 1510 personalities, followed by the show(s) they hosted on the station and what they’re doing now:

Ryen Russillo (Co-host The Morning Press Box, The Diehards)  – Co-host of The Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio and he also appears on a number of other ESPN programs and platforms.

Jon Anik  (Co-host of The Diehards) – Hired recently by the UFC to host and do play-by-play duties for upcoming UFC® events to air on FX and FUEL TV. Anik had been working for ESPN on its MMA coverage and hosted MMA Live.

Kevin Winter (Co-host of The Morning Press Box, The Diehards) – Working for ESPN Radio in a number of roles – SportsCenter Anchor/ MLB, NBA, CFB Studio Host.

Holden Kushner (Co-host of The Morning Press Box)- Now co-host of The Mike Wise Show with Holden Kushner on  sports radio 106.7 FM The Fan in Washington D.C. (A CBS sister station to 98.5 The SportsHub.)

Anthony Pepe  (Co-host of The Diehards)-  President and CEO of Mouthpiece Radio.

Mike Winn -(Co-host of The Diehards)  General manager of WGAM sports radio 1250 and 900 in NH, an ESPN Radio affliate.

Dave Jageler (Co-host of The Eddie Andelman Show)- Radio voice of the Washington Nationals, he also makes frequent appearances on the Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN).

Eddie Andelman (Co-host of The Eddie Andelman Show) – Retired.

Sean McDonough – (Host, The McDonough Group) Play by play man for ESPN, McDonough’s star has been on the rise at the network, and this past season he was named announcer for the network’s Monday night package of MLB games.

Crass Belichick Runs Up The Score On Another Hapless Opponent

Yay. We finally got a game in which the media can do some good old-fashioned grousing about Bill Belichick (a “prick” according to Fred Toucher) heartlessly running up the score on another hopelessly defeated opponent.

The Patriots 34-3 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last night did not come as easily as the score would indicate. For much of the first half, Romeo Crennel’s Chief defense did a tremendous job stifling Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. In the second half, the Patriots pulled away, and had the ball at the very end, where rookie Shane Vereen was given a chance to show what he could do, and he ended the drive by scoring his first NFL touchdown for the final score.

Despite that fact that Kansas City called all their timeouts on that drive, (indicated that they were still playing) many in the media still want to jump on Belichick again, showing once again just how little they comprehend what’s happening on the field. So for their edification here are three reasons the Patriots kept playing instead of just giving the ball up.

  • Going for it on 4th down instead of kicking a FG gives defense another chance to stop you. (and avoid more points)
  • Getting a look at Vereen and what he can do against NFL competition.
  • Many of the NFL tie-breakers depend on points scored, points allowed and net points.

There are reasons to keep playing, especially in a conference race that is so tight – four teams now have a 7-3 record. Should they have taken Brady out? Maybe, but I suspect doing that is easier said than done.

Can’t beat original – Ian Rapoport says that while KC is trying to emulate the Patriots model, they’ve got a long way to go. Shalise Manza Young has the game story in the Globe. Mark Farinella says that it wasn’t too exciting, but the W is all that counts. Art Martone has the Patriots just taking care of business.

Ten Things We Learned Monday Night: The legend of Rob Gronkowski continues to grow – Christopher Price says that the Patriots tight end is the best in the game.  The Standard-Times has Five things we learned from the game. Dan Duggan has the Best and Worst from last night, and so does Mary Paoletti.

Rob Gronkowski making major impact – Jackie MacMullan with another look at the tight end, who came close to breaking his neck last night. Tom E. Curran has more on the Gronk Life. Mark Murphy has Gronkowski getting to 20 touchdowns faster than any other tight end in history. Rich Garven has Gronkowski making a quick impact on the NFL. Jim Donaldson has the tight end just adding to his growing legend last night. Bob Ryan notes that Russ Francis and Ben Coates have nothing on this kid.

Julian Edelman breaks through – Mike Reiss looks at what was a showcase game for the versatility of the former college quarterback. Karen Guregian has Edelman getting back into the good graces of the coaches and fans. Nick Underhill has Edelman doing it all for the Patriots last night. Jeff Howe has Edelman not wanting to talk about his off-field incident. Paul Kenyon has Edelman showing that his a jack-of-all-trades.

Carter counting on complements  – Greg A Bedard says that Andre Carter is going to need help in the pass rush, because all of the NFL is going to be aware of him now. Ron Borges has a new nickname for the Patriots defense – The Who. Guregian has Ty Law saying that what the Patriots unknown defensive backs are doing is more impressive than what the likes of Earthwind Moreland were doing on the 2004 team. Bill Burt says that the defense has time to come together. Howe has the defense still trying to Figure Themselves Out.

Kyle Arrington well-positioned for success – Dan Duggan has the cornerback adding to his league lead in interceptions.  Nick Underhill says that some might call it luck, but with seven picks on his resume now, there might be more to it.

Bummer of a first half – Rapoport’s notebook has Tom Brady not too happy with his play in the first half last night. The Globe notebook from Shalise Manza Young has more on Arrington. The Enterprise notebook from Glen Farley has the post-Thanksgiving schedule looking good for the Patriots.

The Bruins won their ninth in a row last night, as Tim Thomas shut out the Montreal Canadiens on the road 1-0.

Bruins make it nine in a row – Fluto Shinzawa has the details on the win. Stephen Harris has more on the win.

Bruins back in the driver’s seat – Joe Haggerty says that the Stanley Cup hangover is finally over.

Paille is back on job – Shinzawa’s notebook has Daniel Paille getting back in the lineup. The Herald Bruins Notebook has Bruins players happy for Sidney Crosby.

Red Sox, Bobby Valentine look like fit – Gordon Edes says that at long as Valentine can impress the Red Sox baseball ops, the manager’s job is his.

The Meaning of Bobby V.: What Valentine’s interview says about Sox’ managerial search – Alex Speier is his usual thorough, analytical self.

Debunking three Valentine myths – Sean McAdam has three myths about Bobby V that need to be dispelled.

Patriots, Chiefs On Monday Night Stage Tonight

The Patriots take on the Kansas City Chiefs on ESPN’s Monday Night Football tonight.

With a win, New England will tie Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Houston with the best record in the AFC. This news is apparently a revelation to both sports radio stations this morning, who I guess had no idea this was possible.

Some quick links to get us going this Monday morning:

The legend of Scott Pioli: Separating myth from reality – This Kirk Minihane column appears to be a response to the talk around town that Bill Belichick’s drafting and personnel acquisition has gone downhill since Pioli’s departure. Yesterday Karen Guregian had Pioli defending Belichick.

Bill Belichick’s steady hand calms Pats – Chris Forsberg has the coach and team keeping focused despite the panic of fans and media.

Always the last word: Belichick has final say on play calls – Paul Kenyon is shocked the Belichick voluntarily gave up information this week.

Pull of a guard – Shalise Manza Young has a look at the impact Brian Waters has had on the Patriots.

Tackle Sebastian Vollmer all right following injury – The Herald notebook has the offensive lineman finally feeling like himself. The Globe Patriots Notebook has Wes Welker dealing with bumps and bruises.

Larry Lucchino has firm hold of the reins – Michael Silverman says that contrary to appearances, Lucchino has always been in charge of baseball operations.

No matter who it might be, this has to be Ben Cherington’s manager – Rob Bradford says that the GM has to be the one to pick the manager.

Joe Sullivan Shows Who He Really Is

Since the Bill Belichick era began, coverage from the Boston Globe has been pretty consistent.

With the exception of Mike Reiss and Greg Bedard, (who I’ve disagreed with a couple of time, but overall I think is excellent, and very objective in his coverage.) the coverage of the Patriots coming out of Morrissey Blvd has been routinely negative.

It doesn’t matter the writer, whether it is Nick Cafardo, Ron Borges, Jerome Solomon, Michael Smith (though he was OK) Chris Gasper, Albert Breer or Shalise Manza Young, the tone and attitude towards the team have remained the same. There are complaints about the access given to reporters, there are shots taken at the fans who they insist believe that Bill Belichick can do no wrong.

Where does this come from? As the saying goes, the fish rots from the head down. In this case, it is sports editor Joe Sullivan, who has been the constant among all the comings and goings on the Patriots beat in the last 10 years. It is Sullivan who sets the tone for his staff when it comes to covering the team.

A Tweet from Sullivan yesterday confirmed how he fans about Patriots fans.

The line about Patriots fans in the article that Sullivan disagrees with so much he felt the need to Tweet about?

I don’t know a New England Patriots or New York Jets fan who argues that Bill Belichick or Rex Ryan is the greatest man walking the earth, almost incapable of sin.

It was a throwaway line in the column, which is focused on the adulation of college coaches, but Sullivan jumped on the line and clearly wanted his views on the matter out there.

The “In Bill We Trust” line gets thrown out there quite bit, usually attempted as an insult to those who think that Belichick might actually know what he’s doing most of the time. However, the records speak for themselves.

In speaking behind the scenes, I can confirm that there is a general attitude within the Globe that hostile towards the Patriots. The coverage also speaks for itself. It doesn’t always manifest itself in the actual game coverage within the newspaper. But follow them on Twitter, read their chats, they always manage to find a way to get their shots in. No other outlet does this.

Where does it stem from? It’s from access. Sullivan and Globe feel a huge sense of entitlement. They demand access. Sullivan has complained to league about their access to the Patriots on multiple occasions. (That information has also been confirmed separately.) There is resentment there, and it comes through in the attitude of the paper and its personnel.

Yesterday, Shalise Manza Young held her weekly Patriots chat, and things got ugly. To her credit, she attempted to answer some of the harder-edged questions that came in, but was not successful.

Here’s an example:

Comment From Blinded
Shalise, with respect, I think you and the rest of the media really fail to put any sort of context on the Patriots drafting and personnel moves. Do other teams such as the Steelers, Packers, Jets, etc hit on everyone of their picks? Not even close. For the Patriots to be continually painted as gigantic failures in the draft and free agency really exposes the lack of perspective around here.
1:50

shalise manza young:
Blinded – Again, no one expects them to hit on 100 percent of their picks. I still have the game notes from the Giants, so right now in the time we have I can only look at them. But of the 75 players they have either on the 53-man, IR or practice squad, 33 were guys that they drafted. 19 of those 33 were drafted from 2006-2010, the same time frame I used for the Pats.

OK, so she attempts to actually provide some context and give an example. However, if you do the same breakdown with the Patriots, you find that of the players currently on the 53-man, IR or practice squad, 32 were guys that they drafted, and 16 of those were drafted from 2006-2010.

Huge difference, huh? Before you jump on me, she chose to compare them to the Giants.

Young ended her chat with a typical, childish response:

Comment From TiredofTheMedia
As usual, you miss the point. A guy who’s in over his head can’t lead his team to a 14-2 record. You think he’s in over his head because he lost a playoff game to the Jets. It’s a pretty absurd thing to think.
2:13

shalise manza young:
I think your handle says it all. Nothing I could say short of “all is right in Patriots world, this team is perfect, they’ll win the Super Bowl by three touchdowns” would appease you.

Talk about hyperbole. No one expects nor wants that type of comment or analysis. It is childish.

Before the Patriots/Belichick haters start lining up in the comments section, let me state this:

This Patriots team has very visible flaws, and some of their moves and decisions are certainly open to criticsm.

The problem I have is when reporters who really have no idea themselves what goes into decisions and what discussions are held behind closed doors or really have no more knowledge about the game than the average fan start suggesting that Bill Belichick is in over his head, it’s time to call them on it.

Moreover, when an entire sports department is guided by a hand that holds a clear grudge, and makes sure that that grudge is conveyed in the final product, and whose personal feelings are allowed to impact the product that goes out to the customers, and who delights in tweaking and annoying those same customers, is it any wonder that the Globe has struggled so much in recent years, during which Sullivan has overseen the demise of what was once the greatest sports section in the country?

Maybe it is Joe Sullivan who is in over his head.

Sports Media Musings: Watney Out, “Felger & Mazz” Simulcast Debut, Links

I missed last week…No excuses, but if you want one, we were working on the new site.

So without further adieu…Time for an Infomercial…big time..

Check out the new diggs. It is still EXTREMELY naked, and has plenty of bugs to be worked out.

The site is basically a place for me to react (500 words at a time) to petty stuff like Gary Tanguay doing Gary Tanguay things and the Andy Gresh/Glenn Ordway tiff.

Normally, I won’t link up stuff of that nature here — unless it’s really warranted.

However I will, occasionally, write in the longer form such as my media “Winners & Losers” column in the PSU scandal — which I will direct readers of Sports Media Musings to.

Lastly, I had a great chat with Greg Bedard from the Globe on my podcast. Really liked his straightforward attitude towards covering the team and takes on new media.

Say Goodbye to Hollywood

Heidi Watney leaving NESN is something I’ve been writing about for months — it was a terribly kept secret, but you don’t care about that. You care about what it means. Unfortunately, beyond what may be remembered as a salacious stint as a NESN side line reporter, the answer is not much.

Watney’s exit to stage left (literally, she’s reportedly moving to LaLa Land to cover the LakeShow) was covered like an actual trade of a player (you know? the subjects she covers). And why? This wasn’t Bob Ryan leaving the Globe. She was here for four years. It was Adalius Thomas leaving the Patriots.

Does the local media feel as though they owe it to her, because – you know as well as I do – they most likely talked trash about her lack of objectivity (coming from NESN) and, moreover, the alleged Jason Varitek affair?

The coverage reminded me of euphemisms society feels obligated to convey when a celebrity dies (a la, Michael Jackson or Al Davis), even though we mocked or criticized said-celebrity while they were alive.

Give it time.

Personally, I had no issues with Watney. I wouldn’t call her a hardened journalist. Nor does she try to operate under that pretense.

Beyond the obvious aesthetics, Heidi wasn’t bringing much to the table. Marc Bertrand never led a headline with, “Heidi Watney is reporting at this hour that…”

Watney never wanted to be Michelle Tafoya. In the same light, Watney knew well enough to not be Lisa Guerrero.

I’ll give her this, she mattered in a job mostly perceived as thankless. Though, let’s be honest, no one with this avatar on Twitter (looks like a modeling headshot) really cares about being an arduous reporter.

(Cue the “Ryan, you’re wearing a sombrero in the header of your new site” joke)

As far as the actual move, Watney in Hollywood is like Jack Nicholson doing a Cialis commercial: For both parties (Nicholson & Cialis) it makes so much sense, but you feel bad for Nicholson.

And I’ll feel bad for Watney when either: A.) Metta World Peace (aka Ron Artest — that’s always fun typing) scares the sh!t out of her — OR — B.) Her first story-arc on Days of Our Lives flops.

Oh, and as far as NESN goes, STEPPING STONE! STEEPING STONE!! STEPPPPPPPINNNNGGG STONNNNNEEEE!!!!

I’ve already written at length about that after Jade & Katie Tapps left. 

Without a Hitch

The “Felger & Mazz” simulcast debuted on CSNNE this week. I got to say, I was looking for holes and, ultimately, didn’t find much to complain about. The studio was modern looking and visually appealing. Additionally, CSNNE producers used solid graphics and appropriate highlights when necessary.

Michael Felger’s “Two Year’s of Abuse In Two Minutes” segment was done in the same vein and light as I painted him while first writing about his mantra.

Quick refresher from the piece —

Felger’s success is only matched by the perceived disdain that he himself perpetuates, although that statement is somewhat equivocal. For example, a sound byte often played by 98.5 The Sports Hub is Felger bemoaning “No one likes me enough to give me privileged information”; only he’ll oft say things like, “I have on good word, Brad Marchand was told to simmer down on the partying.”

Felger is our own Skip Bayless. We love to hate him and feel like we need to shower when we agree with him, yet the difference is – unlike Bayless – we respect his opinion. This is probably due to Felger’s own admission of miscalculated pretenses in the past.

I still stand by those remarks, even though Felger seems agenda-driven now more than ever (see my PSU “Winners & Losers” Column for more on that).

One other thing, Jermaine Wiggins wearing a “Wiggy Wear” t-shirt is high comedy because of the obvious self-promotion. Though, not as funny as Wiggy and his buddies getting together and someone saying, “You know what? We should do a clothing line!”

Would have loved to be in that room.

Two Other CSNNE Thoughts

Really looking forward to the “Thanksgiving” edition of Sports Tonight. If you missed it in previous years (because you have a life), producers put Tanguay and Felger with two other talking heads at a dinner table full of all the fixins’!

It’s predictably awkward and (I’m pretty sure) last year Dan Shaughnessy wanted out after the first segment.

———

I’ve now watched CSNNE’s re-broadcast of the Michael Jordan-63 point playoff game in ’86 twice. I really miss the Celtics, and CSNNE should come up something better to suffice.

Watney Officially Out At NESN, Sox Still Searching…

While Sean McAdam and Chad Finn reported yesterday that Heidi Watney would not be returning to NESN, the network officially confirmed the news this morning by issuing a statement from NESN President and CEO Sean McGrail:

“Heidi Watney will not be returning to NESN next year. She is pursuing other opportunities that would bring her closer to her family on the west coast. We respect Heidi’s decision and would like to thank her for everything that she has brought to NESN over the past 4 years and wish her the very best.”

Watney was a popular topic this morning, as several outlets wrote about her departure.

Heidi Watney heads back to California – The Boston Herald tells of a humiliating encounter with a rude Bill Murray a few years back.

NESN reporter latest to leave Fenway – Mike Fine has Watney as the latest in a long line of exits from Fenway Park this offseason.

Heidi Watney trading Red Sox beat to cover Los Angeles Lakers – Vernon Hill reports for the Springfield Republican.

Heidi Watney Leaving NESN to Head West & Cover the Lakers – Ryan Durling has Watney urging followers just the other day not to jump to conclusions.

Red Sox reporter Heidi Watney is leaving NESN – Brian Rabuffetti on Examiner.com cites rumors of Watney’s personal life.

Say it ain’t so! Heidi Watney leaves Red Sox for Lakers gig – The Yahoo! Sports baseball blog notes that Watney worked hard to improve her game over her four seasons here.

The Red Sox may have lost out on their top managerial candidate, as Dale Sveum has emerged as the favorite to be hired by Theo Epstein to manage the Cubs in 2012.

Cubs want Dale Sveum; Sox search goes on – Scott Lauber has the Cubs offering Sveum the job. Sean McAdam says that it’s likely that Sveum will take the job. In the Globe, Peter Abraham says that this may force the Red Sox to re-open their search for a new manager.

Sox hoping slow, steady wins race – Michael Silverman notes that in the three weeks since Ben Cherington took over, the Red Sox have yet to make a single significant decision.

Sox want the goods from Cubs – Nick Cafardo reports that the Red Sox are still insisting on “significant” compensation from the Cubs for Epstein.

Sox could bring on Minaya to baseball ops staff – Maureen Mullen reports that the Sox might be considering the former Mets GM for a front office role here.

Down in Foxborough yesterday, Rob Ninkovich was one of the centers of attention, following his two pick night (one of which, Steve Burton noted after the game, was an interception!) in New York on Sunday.

Handy man – Julian Benbow as a look at Ninkovich once again proving himself on a national stage. Mark Farinella wonders if Ninkovich, in addition to taking his number #50, might fill Mike Vrabel’s old role as a goal-line tight end at some point. Rich Garven has the linebacker rising up with the rest of the no-name defense. Jeff Howe looks at how far Ninkovich has come from being an overwhelmed Saints rookie in 2006. Paul Kenyon has Ninkovich becoming an overnight sensation – in six years.

Andre Carter, Brian Waters make Bill look good – Following the theme of my PD column yesterday, Karen Guregian notes that not every move this year has been a Haynesworth-sized disaster.

Tyler Palko, not Matt Cassel, next up on Pats’ slate – Ian Rapoport has Cassel’s homecoming getting canceled because of injury.

Cannon practices for first time as member of Pats’ active roster – Glen Farley’s notebook has the fifth round pick going through his first practice. The Herald notebook has more on Cannon. The Patriots Journal has Bill Belichick talking about Tyler Palko. The Globe notebook from Julian Benbow and Monique Walker has more on Chiefs QB.

With no end in sight to the NBA lockout, we’ve got a pair of Celtics writers doing features on the Bruins this morning:

Peter’s Principles: How the Bruins’ architect built the Cup champions – Paul Flannery has a feature on the Bruins GM.

Chara: The journey, sacrifices, and Stanley Cup – Jessica Camerato has a feature on the Bruins captain.

Bruins putting it all together in win streak – Joe Haggerty has the Bruins hitting their stride.