B's home opener may be Jan. 21 matinee against Leafs

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B's home opener may be Jan. 21 matinee against Leafs

While details are still being hashed out between the lawyers for both the NHL and the NHLPA as they put the CBA into a written memorandum of understanding form that will last for a 48-game regular season, the news about the upcoming Bruins schedule is beginning to firm up.
CBCs Elliotte Friedman reported on Sunday night that each of the 30 NHL teams have received a memo from the league indicated that training camp should open no earlier than Saturday and that the shortened 2013 regular season should kick off on Jan. 19. The shortened NHL training will be roughly seven days, with 3-5 invites from the Providence Bruinsjunior hockey. The only exhibition is likely to be a scrimmage against the P-Bruins toward the end of camp.
A couple of NHL players indicated that the paperwork likely wont be ready for NHLPA approval until Thursday, and that could keep them away from their regular NHL practice facilities until then.
As previously reported on numerous occasions, the 48-game regular season will consist of seven games against divisional opponents and home-and-home contests against each of the other 10 Eastern Conference opponents. There will likely be no cross-conference games during the shortened season, which should make for an interesting Stanley Cup Finals.
For the Bruins it would appear that the schedule will remain the same as it originally was for at least their first few games. The Black and Gold are expected to open their season playing the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Jan. 19 and will hold their home opener at the Garden against Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs in an MLK Day matinee on Jan. 21.
Despite all of the legalities surrounding the opening of the NHL season, Bruins president Cam Neely weighed in with a statement pointing toward the excitement of dropping the puck on NHL hockey at TD Garden.
We are all very excited that the NHL and the NHLPA have reached a tentative agreement, and we look forward to dropping the puck and playing Bruins hockey in front of our fans at the TD Garden soon, said Neely.

Dominique Wilkins reflects on his rivalry with Larry Bird

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Dominique Wilkins reflects on his rivalry with Larry Bird

During our series discussing the 1986 Boston Celtics, we have sat down with many players from that championship, along with members of the media that were close to the team.

This week features a few of the opponents that were very familiar with the 1980’s Celtics  - Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins, former Celtics coach (and Hawk) Doc Rivers, and Lakers great James Worthy.

Bogaerts continues to battle through struggles with bat

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Bogaerts continues to battle through struggles with bat

BOSTON -- Early in 2016 praises were sung around the league that Xander Bogaerts was the best hitter in baseball.

Rightfully so. For a good portion of the season he led the league in both batting average and hits. But between Mookie Betts’ ascension and Bogaerts’ drop in average from .331 on 7/29 to .306 after Monday night’s game, he’s taken a back seat.

But the Red Sox shortstop’s month-long dry spell hasn’t been a straight decline. Although he was held hitless Monday, Bogaerts went 6-for-13 (.462) against Kansas City.

In fact, the 23-year-old doesn’t even consider the recent month of struggles the worst stretch of his career.

“2014 probably,” Bogaerts said, “yeah I had a terrible, terrible few months -- probably three months.”

That was of course the season a lot came into question surrounding the now All-Star shortstop, so he was pretty spot on. In 2014 Bogaerts went from hitting .304 through 5/31, to .248 by the end of June, .244 after his last game in July, all the way down to .224 by the last day of August.

Bogaerts would hit .313 that September and finish with a .240 average -- but more importantly, an appreciation of what he’d experienced.

“That definitely helped me become a better person, a better player -- and understanding from that and learning,” Bogaerts said.

From that experience, he gained a better understanding of the importance of maintaining a consistent day-to-day routine.

“That has to stay the same,” Bogaerts said without question in his voice. “The league adjusted, they adjusted to me. It kind of took a longer time to adjust to them. They’ve just been pitching me so differently compared to other years.”

Bogaerts has had the point reinforced to him throughout, with Red Sox assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez serving as one voice of reinforcement.

“When you have a routine from the mental side, physical side, when you struggle that’s when you really need that,” Rodriguez said. “He’s been so good with his daily preparation, it doesn’t matter the result of the game. He can always go to something that feels comfortable.”

“He’s been so comfortable and confident with his daily routine and preparation that it allows him -- when he doesn’t get the results he wants in the game -- to have some peace knowing that the next day, we’re going to go back to doing that again.”

It’s clear Bogaerts needs to maintain his daily routine to help work through slumps -- and maintain hot streaks -- but Rodriguez made it clear, consistent preparation from a hitter doesn’t magically cure every problem.

“That doesn’t mean that because you stick with the routine you’re going to have results,” Rodriguez said. “What it means is, [because] you know and believe in that routine that you know you’re going to get out of it.”

Which means in addition to sticking to his normal routine, Bogaerts also had to identify flaws elsewhere in order work through his problems. He came to realize the problem was more mechanically based than mental -- given he’d done everything to address that.

“They pitched me differently, and some stuff I wanted to do with the ball I couldn’t do,” Bogaerts said. “I just continued doing it until I had to make the adjustment back.”

Bogaerts isn’t fully out of the dark, but he’s taken steps in the right direction of late -- and is nowhere near the skid he experienced in 2014. He and Rodriguez fully believe the All-Star’s ability to maintain a clear mind will carry him through whatever troubles he’s presented with the rest of the way.

“The more stuff you have in you’re head is probably not going to help your chances,” Bogaerts explained, “so have a clear mind -- but also have the trust in your swing that you’re going to put a good swing on [the pitch] regardless of whatever the count is.”

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar.