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Patriots Progress Overshadowed By Another Series Loss REPACK

On July 14, 1765, in the Adamses' little farmhouse, John and Abigail's first child, Abigail, was born."Nabby," as she was called, was followed by John Quincy Adams on July 11, 1767, Susanna (who died just after her first year), Charles, and Thomas Boylston.In the spring of the following year, John Adams moved his family to Boston because his work was located there. The Adamses became a part of a social circle that included such patriots as John's cousin Samuel Adams, John Hancock, James Otis, and Joseph Warren. But soon there was little time for socializing as dramatic events in Boston overshadowed other concerns. Abigail's loyalty to her husband was tested by one such event, the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770. At the risk of his own popularity and career, John Adams chose to defend eight British soldiers and their captain, accused of murdering five Americans.

Patriots progress overshadowed by another series loss

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The year 1800 was bittersweet for the Adamses. In November John and Abigail became the first occupants of the Executive Mansion in Washington, D.C. (today the White House). Meanwhile, their son John Quincy was distinguishing himself abroad as the U.S. minister to Prussia. Eleven months of relative joy, however, was soon overshadowed by a December that brought sadness to the Adams family when they suffered the untimely death of their son Charles, and John's loss to Thomas Jefferson in the election of 1800.

Trubisky, to be clear, hasn't been the sole sore spot on an offense that mustered just 14 points in a Week 2 loss to the Patriots and nearly got outdone by a turnover-happy Bengals team in Week 1. The Steelers' remade O-line is still a work in progress, and featured back Najee Harris has averaged all of 2.9 yards per carry through two games. But statistically and visually, the ex-Bears starter has been thoroughly "bleh." His passer rating (76.1) ranks 29th among active starters, he's completing under 60% of his throws, and he's averaging fewer yards per attempt (5.1) than literally every other first-string QB in the NFL.

But what progress there was for Seattle's defense was overshadowed by a few big plays that were huge difference-makers, most notably a pair of touchdown passes to a wide-open George Kittle. The 49ers opened the scoring with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Kittle that featured some nifty misdirection that got the Seahawks defense out of position and left the Pro-Bowl tight end open in the middle of the field for the score. Later in the game, Kittle again found himself wide open for a big gain, and after making a couple of defenders miss downfield, he ran into the end zone for a 58-yard score. Fellow tight end Tyler Kroft found himself open for a 28-yard catch later in the game, meaning 110 of Brock Purdy's 217 yards came on three plays.

Unrivaled on the draft-and-develop wide receiver scene, the Steelers (4-7) showed off their latest prize Monday. George Pickens looks set to move Diontae Johnson to WR2 status. Pickens only caught three passes for 57 yards (plus a two-point conversion), but his slick sideline grab and diving third-down conversion moved chains on touchdown drives. The Georgia product, who fell too far in the draft (No. 52) due to an ACL tear and character questions, keeps progressing. Pittsburgh's track record here -- the team will probably add another Round 2 wideout to its receiving corps next year after their Chase Claypool trade added an extra pick -- makes Pickens projections tantalizing.

There will be a rush to do a postmortem and try to detail the reasons the Bruins bowed out in the first round after suffering a 2-1 overtime loss to the Capitals in Game 7 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series. You can blame the power play (0 for 3 last night and 2 for 23 in the series), the play of Washington's playoff neophyte netminder Braden Holtby (2.00 goals against, .940 save percentage), or the lack of production from the Bruins' best players -- Rich Peverley (3 goals, 2 assists) and Andrew Ference (a goal and 3 assists) ended up as the Bruins two leading point producers in the series.

It was important for the Bruins to finish the job in British Columbia, not just for the psyche of their fans, but for the rehabilitated reputation of the organization. These weren't the same old Bruins. They had proven that by rallying from 0-2 down against Montreal, sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers, and outlasting the Tampa Bay Lightning. They had demonstrated it in the Cup Final by shaking off three tough one-goal losses at Rogers Arena to push the series and the season to the limit.

You had Patrice Bergeron, whose availability for the rest of the playoffs was in doubt after he suffered yet another concussion in the clinching game of the Philadelphia series. Yet, he bounced back and scored the most crucial goal in recent Bruins history. Bergeron one-timed a backhanded feed from Marchand with 14:37 elapsed in the first to give him the first of two Game 7 goals, and the Bruins the first and only goal they would need to clinch the Cup.

With this remarkable run the Bruins haven't just wiped out a 39-year Stanley Cup drought. They've wiped the franchise's slate clean. All is forgiven, if not forgotten: too many men on the ice in Montreal, the Game 7 home loss to Carolina in 2009 and the 3-0 (series), 3-0 (lead in Game 7), oh, no! collapse against the Flyers last season.

Stanley Cup front-runners all season long, the Canucks have been revealed as just front-runners. They've gone the full LeBron in their three losses in the series, getting smoked by an aggregate count of 17-3 at TD Garden, which is unfathomable for a team as talented from top to bottom as Vancouver, which has a Vezina trophy finalist in goal (Luongo), a Hart Trophy winner as its captain (Henrik Sedin) and the league's leading scorer (Daniel Sedin). I didn't even mention the best American hockey player in the league in Ryan Kesler.

The Bruins' three losses in Vancouver were a pair of 1-0 defeats and a 3-2 loss in overtime. They were games played at the Bruins' pace, games that easily could have gone the other way with a bounce or good-luck goal, games we will rue if they lose tonight. Those were losses after which they could have curled up in the metaphorical covers and bemoaned their fate instead of fighting back to send this series the distance.

1. Opportunity lost -- Last night wasn't just a 1-0 loss for the Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. It was a lost opportunity to shake the confidence of the Canucks. The Canucks are the favorites (or favourites in a nod to our neighbors up north) in this series. All of British Columbia is banking on them to win the Cup for the first time in the franchise's 41-season history.

The reality is that Tampa is in this series in large part due to Bruins' miscues. In both Lightning wins, the Bruins melted down like it said Chernobyl on their sweaters. Game 1 was a complete and total give-away with three first-period goals in 85 seconds, including a softie allowed by Thomas and Kaberle's gasp-inducing gaffe behind his own net. Game 4 featured a puck-handling faux pas by Thomas, another blunder by Kaberle and Milan Lucic setting up Gagne's game-winner with some very poor two-way play and judgment.

That was the defining moment of the series. The Bruins had withstood the Flyers' best haymaker, and Philadelphia was both surprised and bewildered. Tim Thomas took it from there, and David Krejci's overtime BB delivered another OT triumph for Claude's Club.

It doesn't get much sweeter in recent history for the Bruins, who ended their run of Game 7s gone bad against their biggest rival and rallied from an 0-2 series deficit for the first time in franchise history to do so. Seventeen years after they won their last Game 7, also against the Canadiens, it was No. 18 (Nathan Horton) who delivered the Bruins from the brink of yet another playoff disaster with the winner in OT.

The Bruins have done a remarkable job of recovering to seize control of the series, and shown a lot of resolve and fortitude in the process. Now, they have to choke the life out of those "CH" sweaters or risk coughing up another playoff series.

Last night's Canadien cake-walk has to have Bruins fans feeling better about a likely 3-seed vs. 6-seed, first-round playoff matchup with Montreal. It has to have the Canadiens, who won the season series taking four of six games, reconsidering just how much they want another go-round with the Spoked B's in the postseason.

1. Red Sox -- Christmas came early for Sox fans this month when in a span of four days Theo Epstein traded for San Diego slugger Adrian Gonzalez and then got must-have toy, outfielder Carl Crawford. Making it even better was that lefthander Cliff Lee spurned the Yankees, who ended up with a lump coal from the Hot Stove. So, what do you get for the team that seemingly has everything? How about another loss for the Yankees?

That wailing siren, accompanied by a red flashing light, isn't signifying a Bruins goal. Nope, that's the panic button being sounded by hockey fans all over the Hub because a once spacious 3-0 lead over the Flyers has been reduced to a claustrophobic 3-2 advantage in this Eastern Conference semifinal series. This series just got hairier than a playoff beard for the Bruins, following Philadelphia's 4-0 victory at TD Garden last night in Game 5. The Bruins are in the faceoff circle with ice hockey ignominy -- the possibility of becoming just the third team in the history of hockey and fourth in professional sports to blow a 3-0 series lead. The Flyers, who host Game 6 tomorrow at the Wachovia Center, are certain that they'll be returning to the Garden on Friday night for a seventh game."We have two games left and we are going back home confident, said Ville Leino, who was credited with the first Philadelphia goal last night. "Obviously, we are believing that, and it is easier to believe now then when we were down 3-0." This is all good news for the Bruins. What? Yeah, that's right, I said good news. Anyone who has watched this Bruins team all season knows it doesn't handle expectations, success or being the front-runner very well. A disappointing 82-game regular-season told us that. In a way it was inevitable that the Bruins, as the higher-seeded club and presumptive favorite, would let the Flyers back into this series. This version of the Black and Gold is a team that plays better when it's counted out, not counted on. So, last night's clunker, during which they mangled a clinching game worse than Mayor Malapropism did his speech to commemorate the new Bobby Orr bronze sentry outside the Garden, wasn't all that out of character. Neither would be a bounce-back win in Game 6 or a Game 7 victory on home ice to send our pucks protagonists to their first conference finals since the first George Bush administration.Whenever the situation looks most bleak, the Bruins are at their best.They endured a 10-game losing streak in January and February. Just when you were ready to write them off, they won their final four before the Olympic break and ended up winning six of seven. Everyone buried the Spoked-Bs when wanton Penguins winger Matt Cooke, who had concussed Marc Savard 11 days earlier, was allowed to skate through the rematch with only a perfunctory fight with Shawn Thornton, and the Bruins failed to get revenge on the scoreboard as well with a 3-0 loss to the Pens. They responded by closing the season with eight wins in their final 12 skates. Some people just can't handle success. That's the Bruins. They have to do everything the hard way. It was obvious last night from the jump. The Bruins came out and looked like the same, old Black and (fool's) Gold we watched skate for too many evenings during the regular season. The boys were gripping their sticks tight and not moving their skates enough. They were outmuscled, outmaneuvered and outworked. It seemed like the Philly blades had magnets on them to draw in every loose puck."We lost battles from start to finish," said Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team dropped its first game at home in the playoffs. "They were the hungrier team tonight, and when that happens you get those results."The reality is that this series was never as lopsided as the Bruins' three-games-to-none lead would lead you to believe. After Marc Savard's welcome-back OT winner in Game 1, team sage Mark Recchi said he expected it to be a close, hard-fought, long series. That's exactly what it has become. It shouldn't come as a surprise that heading into Game 6 the Bruins and Flyers have each scored 16 goals a piece in the series. The Bruins' win in Game 3 has proven to be costly because it cost them David Krejci, who was in the press box last night with a cast and a sling on his right arm because of the dislocated right wrist he suffered in the first period of that game. Krejci's injury coupled with the return of Simon Gagne (if you're going to draw the parallel between the Flyers and the 2004 Red Sox, then Gagne is playing the Curt Schilling role of hobbled hero) from a broken toe has altered the offensive advantage in the series.The Eastern European-descent line of Krejci, Milan Lucic and Miroslav Satan was the best for either team in the series, and was the Bruins' best line in the playoffs. But the Bruins are used to playing without their big guns -- Savard, Lucic, Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, who missed eight games with a broken thumb, were all injury scratches at some point this season. It's just more adversity for a team that appears to be fueled by it. "We've responded to adversity well throughout the whole year," said Recchi. "I didn't see [last night coming], but like I said this team has been through a lot together, and this is just another thing. Now, we got to go up there, and we got to win Game 6." The word that Recchi used a half-dozen times as he held court in front of his Bruins cubby was desperate.The Bruins' need to create desperation often leaves their fans feeling exasperation. However, that adage that a wounded bear is a dangerous bear is especially true with the now playoff-grizzly Bruins. So, don't be spooked, the Spoked-Bs have the Flyers right where they want them.

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