Austin Rivers 'really excited' to play against Celtics


Austin Rivers 'really excited' to play against Celtics

BOSTON -- It's not every day that a visiting player is ushered into a separate room and given his own press conference prior to facing the Boston Celtics.
In the past, special arrangements like that have been made for LeBron James when he came to Boston. Someone like Ray Allen may prompt the same type of scenario when he returns to the TD Garden for the first time later this month.
But a rookie? Until Wednesday night, that would have been highly unlikely.
Then again, Doc Rivers' son had never played against the Celtics before.
Austin Rivers is facing his father's team as a member of the New Orleans Hornets. The 10th overall pick in last summer's draft addressed the media for roughly ten minutes before the game. Step inside Austin Rivers' world:

Neither Austin or Doc want to psyche themselves out with this game. The significance of it, though, is undeniable.
"Ive just tried to treat it as it is," said Austin. "I think a lot of guys or a lot of people try to hide the fact that theyre going against a team that they know very well, or when they go against their father, they try to pretend its a normal game. Its pretty much impossible to do that so I just try to treat it as it is -- Im going against a team with guys that I know pretty well and my father coaches the other team, and it is what it is. Im just gonna have fun with it. This is a fun chance. Im more excited to play against a playoff-caliber team, a Hall of Fame team, thats why Im just really excited to go out there and compete tonight, and just have fun in the game whether things are going well or not. And hopefully we will win.

When Austin hears a certain voice coming from the sidelines, he may do a double-take.
This is the same type of yell hed use if I beat up my little brother or didnt do my homework," Austin said. "So I know when hes yelling, I'm going to have to look back for a second and think, 'Oh, hes not talking to me.' He actually might say something to me, who knows. I dont know, it's one of those things where I think I'm just going to lose myself into the game. If this happen or he does something, I'm not going to pay attention to it. I'm just going to be focusing on what I need to do with my team, my coach and my players.

Austin did not hesitate to answer when asked who he believes is the best coach in the NBA.
"My father," he quickly replied, "And Gregg Popovich would have to be the two best coaches. I think Coach (Monty) Williams is on the up and coming, just the way he coaches, he's kind of similar to my father, just the way he gets after it and how hungry he is. So I know he'll be a great coach and he is now. There's a lot of great coaches, but if I had to choose one or two, it'd have to be Greg Popovich and my father."

Austin has never lacked in confidence, although it has been tested his rookie season.
"You've seen a lot of guys this year, rookies, especially our class right now as been so up and down," he said. "There's guys that I've known my whole life that don't look the same. There's people with their head down and I think I've been a culprit as well. There've been games when I've had my head down, and that's never been me. That's where you've just got to stay up and stay confident and believe in yourself. To be truthful, confidence for me is a huge part of my game and I think everybody knows that. I've gotten here obviously of hard work and support behind me, my confidence has always been steady, no matter how good or bad I played, I always believed in myself. And I think that's when I've got to improve on even more now because there's been games, where after the game I'm like, man what was I doing? And you can't think that. You've got to be like, You know what? I've got to keep going at it, I've got to keep just going for it. I know if I do that and I break through it, it's just going to feel so much better. That's my focus right now."
Who does Austin think his mother his pulling for -- her son or or husband? "Me," he said, "Because she loves me more than him."

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month


Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

BOSTON -- Noel Acciari missed a month of game action with a lower body injury, so it would have been perfectly acceptable to show plenty of rust in his game upon returning to the Boston lineup.

But the former Providence College standout didn’t look rusty, a step behind or out of place in any way as he played the fourth line energy forward role to a perfect fit after missing the last 13 games. Acciari did get in one game with the Providence Bruins prior to suiting back up for the Black and Gold on Saturday, and perhaps that helped him manufacture a couple of shots on net to go along with three thumping hits against the Maple Leafs.

The 25-year-old Acciari didn’t factor into the scoring at all for the Bruins, but that’s just as well given that his focus should be on killing penalties, being hard to play against and taking the body whenever the chance presents itself. Claude Julien reformed the B’s energy line that had so much success earlier in the season with Acciari, Dominic Moore and Tim Schaller, and didn’t hesitate tossing them back into the mix together while looking for energy and a spark for an offensively stunted team.

“It’s good to be back with my linemates, and you know, I think we kind of picked up where we left off, but there’s definitely things we need to work on. That’ll come with a couple more practices and games together,” said Acciari, who finished theSaturday loss with three registered hits packed into 11:35 of ice time. “Kind of getting back to our familiarity and kind of get back to where we were before I got injured.

“It was a good start tonight, but we definitely just weren’t clicking like we used to, but that’ll come. I think that will come. Like I said, a couple practices and just kind of getting some games in [are good things]. I thought we were pretty good tonight, but, you know, should get more pucks to score [goals].”

Clearly there is room for improvement for everybody including Acciari, but it was encouraging to see the fearless competitor again flying around on the TD Garden ice playing high intensity hockey for a fourth line that could use every little bit of that. 

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

BOSTON -- This may not come as a surprise, but the Boston Bruins are having some trouble putting the puck in the net.

Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by an 11-2 margin in the first period and outshooting them by a 32-21 margin over the balance of the 60 minute game, the Bruins scratched for just a single goal in a frustrating, constipated 4-1 loss to Toronto at TD Garden. Clearly some of the offensive difficulty was caused by a solid Frederik Andersen, who improved to 6-0-0 in a career against Boston that’s beginning to take on Bruins Killer proportions.

But a great deal of the B’s struggles to finish scoring chances on Saturday night is a malady that’s dogged the Bruins all season, and marked the 20th time in 29 games this year that Boston has scored two goals or less. In most of these games the Bruins have dominated puck possession and outshot their opponents, but still have come away mostly empty handed in the goals scored department while dropping deep in the bottom third of NHL offenses this season.

“It seems like every game we’re out-chancing teams, but we don’t outscore teams. That’s where the biggest issue is right now. Our scoring is not there and if you don’t score goals you don’t win hockey games,” said Claude Julien. “Because of that we criticize everything else in our game, but our game isn’t that bad.

“If we were scoring goals people would love our game right now, but that’s the biggest part. There’s not much more I can say here except for the fact that if we don’t score goals it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”

But the Bruins aren’t scoring goals consistently, their power play is below average while trending in the wrong direction and the team has been forced to watch steady offensive players like Patrice Bergeron suddenly slump in a concerning way. Clearly David Pastrnak is doing his part with 18 goals scored this season in 24 games, and others like Brad Marchand and Dominic Moore have also performed above, or beyond, their acceptable level of play.

But there are other players failing with the chance to make an offensive dent: Austin Czarnik has been on the roster for nearly two months, and has zero goals and two points in his last 15 games as the offense is again dried up on the third line. He missed wide on a shorthanded chance in the third period after a Moore centering pass set up him all alone in front, and was critiquing himself for fanning on a perfect dish to him in the slot.

Moments later the Leafs had an insurance score from James van Riemsdyk to make it a 3-1 game, and it was all over for the Black and Gold at that point.

Czarnik is an easy target because he’s young and inexperienced, but there is more than enough struggle and frustration to go around with a bunch of offensive players that can’t seem to get out of their own way. David Backes admitted it’s reached a point where the Bruins are frustrated when they can’t score enough to beat a team like Toronto, and that it falls squarely on the lead guys in the Black and Gold dressing room that are underperforming.

“I think offensive frustration is warranted at this point; we just haven’t done a good enough job scoring goals. We played a heck of a first period. We limited them to two shots and we had an opportunity to have a team that’s coming in here that’s a younger team, to really put them behind the eight ball,” said Backes. “Instead, they think they got a second lease on life and they were able to capitalize. All of the sudden, they were up 2-0 and we’re fighting an uphill battle again rather than -- we have that opportunity to play a heck of a first period and we don’t find a way – it’s easy to talk about, but it’s going out there and doing the job and putting it past or through the goalie, or however it needs to happen. “You’ve seen our goals; you want to do a study on it unless you’re Pasta [David Pastrnak] with the one-timer on the side, it’s been ugly, it’s been rebounds, it’s been greasy goals and that’s our equation and we need more of it, and we didn’t do it. They did a good job of being in front of their net and boxing out, eliminating those second chances. But, we’ve got good players in here that need to create more and find those second chances and win those battles, find those loose pucks, and throw them in the net.”

The Bruins have been talking seemingly all season about the need to get to the “dirty areas in the offensive zone”, and for players to jump all over the second and third chance opportunities currently going by the board unchallenged on goalie rebounds.

Now it’s about speaking with action for the B’s, and more specifically speaking volumes with goals and offensive finish instead of “chances” that aren’t doing much of anything if they’re not being snapped into the back of the net.