Ozzie Guillen's Marlins are an absolute mess

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Ozzie Guillen's Marlins are an absolute mess

From Comcast SportsNetMIAMI (AP) -- Miami reliever Heath Bell was critical of manager Ozzie Guillen in a radio interview Monday, the latest in a series of turbulent comments for the disappointing Marlins to deal with as their season winds down."It's been an interesting year with Ozzie," Bell told Miami station WQAM. "That's pretty much all I'll say about that. It's just been really interesting to have him manage."However, pressed with more questions, Bell kept talking, eventually saying the Marlins need a manager "that everybody respects and looks up to."Bell's struggles were one of the biggest issues for the Marlins this season. He signed a 27 million, three-year contract over the winter, then eventually lost the closer role after a disastrous start to the season, which included an 8.47 ERA after his first 21 appearances with Miami.For the year, Bell has 19 saves in 26 opportunities, with a 5.40 ERA in those games. He has appeared 43 times in non-save situations, going 3-0 with a 5.06 ERA.Bell's seven blown saves were the second-highest total in the majors this season entering Monday. Two players had blown eight opportunities."You know, I stunk in April, plain and simple," Bell said in the interview. "I said I stunk, I worked hard, I busted my butt. I think the second half, I've had a tremendous second half. I'm not closing, I know that. But I just kept my mouth shut because I want to regain what I had, and I feel like I can't do that."Miami was off on Monday. At 66-87, the Marlins are in last in the NL East and have the sixth-worst record in the majors -- a far cry from what the team expected when it went on a spending spree last winter.The Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Bell to contracts worth a combined 191 million. But Bell was a bust as the closer, and the Marlins were plagued by poor hitting, especially in the clutch.Bell said he wants to be back with the Marlins "without a doubt" next season. Bell's ERA since the All-Star break is 3.12. Prior to the break, it was 6.75.His statements came one day after Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria called his former manager, current Atlanta skipper Fredi Gonzalez, "a colossal failure" with the team. Loria was responding to statements Gonzalez made to The Miami Herald, which quoted Gonzalez saying "there's not a manager dead or alive that Jeffrey thinks is good enough."The Marlins will finish with a losing record for the fifth time in the past seven seasons. Their only two winning seasons in that span came under Gonzalez.Guillen is completing the first year in a four-year contract with the club. He said last week that he is not worried about where he'll work next season."That's the last thing going through my mind every day, if I'm going to have a job next year," Guillen said Friday in New York, before a series where the Marlins were swept by the Mets. "I'm going to have a job. I don't know if it's managing the Marlins, but I will have a job. I don't know if it's managing in the big leagues, but I will have a job."The Marlins are wrapping up their first season in a 634 million retractable-roof ballpark in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood. The season started coming apart when Guillen was suspended for five games in April following comments praising Cuban leader Fidel Castro, infuriating the Miami-area Cuban community."Things can only get better," Bell said. "They don't always stay bad."

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

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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.