GLENDALE, AZ. Most would have expected some rust and sluggishness to the Bs game after the holiday break, and there was a little bit of both against the Phoenix Coyotes.
But the Bruins managed to pull out the two points with an overtime blast from Dennis Seidenberg with Chris Kelly screening the Phoenix goaltender in front of the net, and another game-winning play involving Benoit Pouliot on the pass to Seidenberg. They beat the Coyotes, 2-1.
The Bruins actually jumped on the board quickly and perhaps that led to some of the laxity in their game. Brad Marchand carried the puck into the offensive before handing it over to Nathan Horton, and the puck eventually managed to find David Krejci spinning and shooting at the net from the high slot.
The Krejci shot beat Jason LaBarbera to the blocker side just 47 seconds into the game, and gave Boston an early lead. Phoenix managed to tie things up in the final six minutes of the first when Ray Whitney played the give-and-go game before cutting through the heart of the Bs defense before beating Tuukka Rask with a five-hole shot.
Whitneys beautiful goal snapped Rasks scoreless streak at a shade over 170 minutes, and tied things up as it would remain throughout the second period. It was Rask that really took things over in the second period with a pair of big stops on Whitney and Phoenix defenseman Dave Schlemko when it was still a nip-and-tuck tied game. The Whitney stop was perhaps the games best with Rask kicking out his left pad to stuff the Coyotes scorer attempting to stuff a puck inside the post.
Otherwise it was a defensive battle with LaBarbera making his own flashy save in the third when Tyler Seguin set up Brad Marchand for a searing wrist shot from the slot that ended in the back of the goaltenders glove.
BRIGHTON, Mass – While both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller were missing from Bruins practice on Saturday morning, both injured Bruins defensemen could be rejoining the team soon.
Colin Miller skated on his own prior to Saturday’s team practice at Warrior Ice Arena for the second or third time since suffering a lower body injury in the win over the St. Louis Blues. Claude Julien said his presence on the ice was proof that the puck-moving defenseman is “definitely on the mend”, and could be nearing a return to practice soon with Sunday marking the sixth straight game that he’ll have missed.
Kevan Miller is out with a concussion suffered last weekend in the win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and the B’s current three-game losing streak has coincided with his absence from the lineup.
Julien said Miller has actually been away from the team for the last couple of days while dealing with a virus, and that his recovery from the concussion symptoms was good prior to being knocked down by the illness.
“Kevan was actually feeling really well and then he got hit by a virus that’s kept him in bed for the last two days,” said Julien. “It’s nothing to do with his original injury. There was a possibility he could have been ready very soon, but that’s set him back a bit.”
Both are obviously out for Sunday’s matinee against the Penguins, but a return to practice at some point next week seems like a good bet for both players. Here are the line combos and defense pairings from Saturday’s practice with the Bruins focusing on getting a good result in Pittsburgh with the hockey club on a “mom’s trip” with 22 of the players’ mothers traveling with the team to and from the game:
BOSTON – Conventional NBA wisdom tells you that getting out to score in transition is a good thing, usually serving as easy points scored, which is what every team wants, right?
But bundles of transition points have been nothing but trouble for the Celtics this season.
They are coming off a game against the New York Knicks in which they scored 22 fast-break points, which was their second-best showing this season. But the final score, a 117-106 loss, wasn’t all that unusual from what has happened this season when their transition game has generated a decent amount of scoring.
Boston has a 2-6 record this season when they score 16 or more fast-break points. On the nights when Boston’s fast-break offense generates 10 or fewer points?
While there are several possible reasons why this is, here’s what you have to remember.
The Celtics are a ball-movement, 3-point shooting team.
Often that means they’ll pass up potential shots in transition, to instead work the ball around from one side of the floor to the other, until they get what they deem is the best shot to take (usually it’s a lightly contested to wide open 3-pointer).
The Celtics average 329.6 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.8). Not surprisingly, that has led to them ranking among the league’s leaders in assists (24.9, third in the NBA).
And that has led to Boston being ranked among the top-3 in several other key passing statistics, such as secondary assists (7.1, 2nd in the NBA); potential assists (49.5, 2nd); and assists points created (60.8, 3rd);
Here are a few more stats to crunch on, courtesy of CSN Associate Producer Andy Levine.
PAINT BY NUMBERS: When the Celtics score 40 percent or less of their points in the paint, they are 19-5 this season. When Boston gets 40 percent or more of its points in the paint, they are just 7-11.
BROWN IN THE FOURTH: Jaylen Brown has been among the better rookies this season, especially in the fourth quarter. Among rookies who played in at least 20 games in the fourth quarter, Brown is second in fourth quarter shooting at 54.9 percent. With those same standards, he’s sixth in shooting 3’s in the fourth at 38.5 percent.
CROWDER BOUNCES BACK: The past four games has seemingly brought out the best in Crowder. In that span, he has averaged 18.5 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 57 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range. Crowder’s 3-point shooting of late has elevated him to seventh in the league while connecting on 42.5 percent of his 3-point attempts (minimum 150 attempts).
OUCH! It has not been a smooth start for Evan Turner with his new team, the Portland Trail Blazers. This season, Turner’s plus/minus is -234, which is the fourth-worst plus/minus in the NBA.