Morning Skate: Thursday, December 27

741836.jpg

Morning Skate: Thursday, December 27

 A look into the 2013 crystal ball for the Edmonton Oilers, who have a future so bright theyve got to wear shades.

 Great story about Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges, who took to twitter to set up an outdoor pickup hockey game with hockey fans in the Montreal area. Thats exactly the kind of spirit loving the game that players need to continue displaying as things get tough in negotiations.

 A great piece by the USA Todays Kevin Allen about a 40-year-old hockey player that continues to keep the dream alive skating in the ECHL, and has never played a single game at the NHL level.

 Jason Pominville nets the game-winner against Team Canada in the Spengler Cup, and Tyler Seguin pots the only goal for Team Canada against Dennis Seidenbergs Mannheim team.

 Good stone, cold business look at the local businesses impacted by the NHL lockout, and that includes the parking garage under TD Garden thats being leased by Delaware North.

 The NHL lockout has finally made me crack. I definitely threatened Santa Claus with a punch to the mouth while hosting Sports Tonight last night with Gary Tanguay.

 For something completely different: The Grantland.com staff gives their predictions for things that will come to pass during the 2013 calendar year. Im holding out hope for the big Lisa Bonet comeback.

First impressions: Tampa Bay Rays 4, Boston Red Sox 0

red-sox-jackie-bradley-jr-062916.jpg

First impressions: Tampa Bay Rays 4, Boston Red Sox 0

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays:

What was Jackie Bradley thinking in the fifth inning? He wasn't, apparently.

Trailing 4-0, the Red Sox had runners on first and second with two out and Christian Vazquez at the plate.

Inexplicably, Bradley broke from second base in an attempt to steal third. Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore simply pivoted and threw the ball to third, where Bradley was tagged out for the final out of the inning.

Not only did it end the threat, it guaranteed the weak-hitting Vazquez would lead off the next inning.

It was the first time in his career that Bradley was thrown out trying to steal and one that he -- or the Red Sox -- won't soon forget.

David Price didn't like the strike zone.

On at least two occasions, Price made a detour from the mound to the dugout after innings to confer with home-plate umpire John Hirchbeck, presumably about the latter's strike zone.

It may be true that Price got squeezed on some pitches, but when you give up four runs to a light-hitting lineup that had lost 12 of its last 13, it's not a good look to be placing any of the blame on the umpiring.

The Red Sox aren't the worst team in baseball with the bases loaded; it just seems that way.

The Sox threatened in the sixth when Vazquez and Mookie Betts singled and, after a flyout by Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts singled, too.

But David Ortiz couldn't handle some fastballs in the strike zone, popping up in the infield, and Hanley Ramirez hit a ball off the end of the bat for an inning-ending flyout to right.

For the season, the Red Sox are 18-for-70 for a .257 batting average with the bases loaded, ranking them 17th -- or just below the middle of the pack -- in baseball.

Still, it seems that the Sox have been particularly inept in those situations of late, most memorably when they loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth against Chicago two weeks ago and improably came away with nothing.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics make qualifying offers to Zeller, Sullinger

jared-sullinger-tyler-zeller-10-31-2015-boston-celtics.jpg

Report: Celtics make qualifying offers to Zeller, Sullinger

All the free-agent focus on the Celtics has been on players -- Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard -- who they might bring in. But they have players they might lose, too.

One, of course, is Evan Turner, who's an unrestricted free agent, free to sign to anyone after July 1. But they also have two others, Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger, who could have joined Turner on the completely open market if they didn't tender them qualifying offers.

Yesterday, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, they did just that:

Zeller and Sullinger are still free to solicit offers. But, because they made the qualifying offers, the Celtics have the right to match any deal the two might receive and keep them in Boston.