These aren't fun times

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These aren't fun times

By Michael Felger

Having fun yet, Bruins fans?

Felger, It's the middle of the second period and the Bruins just failed on another PP. Another PP that Seguin saw no part of, but started with Recchi, Peverley, Ryder. Even if the Bruins make it to the Cup finals, even if they win the Cup . . . Claude needs to be fired. How he can refuse to play Seguin on the PP is beyond comprehension. The only two things I can think of: (1) he thinks putting Seguin on PP will result in a SH goal, so he'd rather not score, or (2) he has an attitude of "I know better than everyone else.'' Either way, I don't want this guy coaching next year. Hell, fire him in between second and third periods. Marc Malden

To me there is no excuse for the following:

In 17 playoff games, Mark Recchi has played 45:54 of power play time. Rich Peverley has played 34:14 on the man advantage.

And neither has registered a point. Not a goal, not an assist. Nothing.

And both were on the power-play unit for full shifts on Wednesday night.

Did Doc Rivers keep playing Big Baby Davis in the playoffs after it was clear he wasn't right? No. Did Terry Francona play Coco Crisp over Jacoby Ellsbury in the playoffs in 2007 after it was apparent the rookie was more effective than the veteran? Nope. Does Bill Belichick EVER play the lesser of two players when it matters most, regardless of age or experience? Absolutely not.

Claude is the only guy in town who does this.

Hey Felgy, I can't watch it anymore . . . Claude (Schultz) has sucked all the fun from this playoff run. I can't sit there and watch one more wretched power play with Recchi and Kaberle, or seeing Seguin on a line with Campbell and Paille. Tampa Bay just tied the game at 2-2 and I shut off the TV and don't care if they win or lose. They're doing it without me. If the Bruins win, its in spite of Shultzy NOT because of him! Jay Hanson

This is what I mean when I say being a Bruins fan isn't fun. These playoff games are enthralling, gripping, intense. They are the best that sports have to offer. But I would never describe this experience as "fun.''

(I am so irrationally angry that I can barely think. If they blow this I won't rest until Klink and Schultz are both canned. Below is the best I can manage without writing SCREW YOU KABERLE! over and over for 9 pages). Felger You DB! After last night's debacle there really isn't that much to say. It's for all the marbles tonight. I don't want to hear anymore bitching from Claude because Frenchie McGashface worked the refs for some makeup calls. I don't care about Steve Downie trying to swap spit with Andrew Ference. None of that matters tonight. Tonight it's all about who wants it more. Who wants to be the next Stphane Matteau. Which team wants to look back at this series for the rest of their lives without being haunted by the specter of chronic, gnawing regret. On the surface, the Stanley Cup playoffs are designed to crown a league champion. In actuality, the playoffs are a physical and mental meatgrinder. They expose the strengths and weaknesses of all involved and the team that hoists the Cup is much more a survivor than a winner. Nowhere is that more evident than a Game 7. All I want tonight is a Game 7 worthy of this league's heritage and a performance from the Bruins that indicates they want to make history and not become a footnote in it. I only have one piece of advice. Adalius Tomas Kaberle should probably fly out to Vancouver regardless of the result. Mike Attleboro

Don't you wonder about Downie? Like what happens if Ference stands there and puffs out his lips just a little bit? They would actually be kissing, full on. I'm serious. Is this what Downie wants? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, of course. I'm just saying.

Mike, You harp on that stat about close out games, the Bruins being 3-7. It's a bogus stat. 4 of those 7 losses occurred in one series vs. Philadelphia last year. Aside from that ONE series, they are 3-3, which is pretty good, really. Mike

Come on, babe. That's sort of like saying that other than the Super Bowl, the Patriots had a pretty good playoff run in 2007.

Felger, I can't take watching Kaberle anymore. Is Claude really going to let the other 20 guys sink with this February (they got him before the Perkins trade, for God's sake) import? The other Bruins (mostly) have been grinding since September and if you are not going to provide anything like Kelly and Peverley have as late season add-ons, then send him upstairs to the Marc Savard sidecar seating section!! And the 4-on-3 with Recchi (love the dude but man he looks S-L-O-W) and Kaberle in Game 5 was like Grady Little staying with Pedro. Seriously!!!?? Dan Chicopee

Seriously, Dan. Baring any surprises tonight, Claude is going to let this team sink or swim with Kaberle and Recchi on the ice. And I'll tell you what, even if Kaberle and Recchi score tonight, it doesn't justify how Claude has handled it.

Salut les Boys, Last night watching game with 2 friends. Montreal not play but we love hockey and watch the series we do every year and we love again and again is ridicule Julien! Not know if know but people in Quebec say "fait pas du Julien" if you have freind or famille person that look like heshe maybe about do something very stupid . . . rough slang translate like US people say . . . "don't pull a Julien"! So after watch him play Mark Recchi for again 43 minutes of game (Boston fans so happy he keep play Recchi on PP because he produce so much!!!) I share top things we talk about last night . . . things that make Julien . . . well Julien! Need say more? 1. Wannabie Frenchie: People in Quebec not have love for "Tete de Patate" (think Mr. Potatoe Head) because he is a . . . in English wannabie frenchie, you know? He not born in Quebec but because he have last name like Julien and can speak french (if you from Quebec you hear stupid Ontarion accent and you know he not real..other people no tell, like Tony with NY accent, you know?) he make people believe he French . . . we no want him!!!!!! 2. La tete monstrueux: Look at size of that Big Head!!!! 3.Head Games: Now trying play games in head wGuy Boucher . . . Boucher very young coach but already he better coach then Claude! Julien talking about referees, how Tampa should worry about themselves not Boston . . . he react to what Boucher say. This is what Boucher want, play games with Claude, distract him. Boucher know already Claude over his head coach NHL team, now he try and play games in the head . . . much too much for Claude to process. Soon Claude head cook all the way and you have a "pomme de terre cuite" behind Boston bench. 4. Blind River Ontario: He born in BLIND (make all joke here) River, Ontario. 5. Bag of used pucks? : Claude traded and team no get money, players or picks in draft for him . . . see article. Only can happen to Claude! 6. "L'entraneur de Marionnettes": When he change some things in serie this year not his idea or wish it only because somebody like Neely or maybe Chiarelli make Claude do it or when no choice like wSequin play because no Bergeron. He is an "l'entraneur de marionnettes." Sometime see strings from bench all way up to suite with Neely and Chiarelli. 7. "Pince de Noisettes" USslang translate mean Cheek Pincher you know? Claude so tight now because NeelyChiarelli tell him what to do, Guy Boucher play with him, Game 7 tonight, can't play 5 lines, etc. . . . you put a quarter in there and you get 2 dimes with nickel few minutes after. 8. Fired?!?: My other freind say "He know he fired if he lose serie wTampa" then after few seconds all 3 us look each other and agree he to stupid to figure out that. Even Boston win Coupe he no coach next year, no fire but Neely "promote'' or give him nice big title maybe like Vice President of Developmental Hockey Operations & Logistics (Then make him go to 162 Tier 2, Junior B and College Division 3 games so he never around team or front office). Claude then think he upper management and very important then maybe Winnipeg hire him and make big splash because hire Coupe Stanley winner coach. That is what 3 of us think happen. Salut, Jean

I post this e-mail to show that feelings on Julien's ineptitude transcend nationality, language and culture.

Mike, Was Belichick an ass clown for not pulling Bledsoe in 2000 for Brady? Then I don't think Claude not playing Seguin is as fire-able an atrocity as it seems to be painted over the past few days. I'd say Claude's rep as a stubborn, defense-first system guy who never takes ice time from veterans is more the issue than anything. I've heard you say even if Mo Lewis didn't happen, Belichick was starting to think about pulling Drew, so even though we can never know, Bill never took a beating for not making that change. Both Bledsoe's and Bergeron's injuries resulted in a positive team outcome. The only difference being; If Bergeron NEVER gets hurt, Seguin NEVER plays this postseason based on Claude's history whereas if Bledsoe NEVER gets hurt, MAYBE Brady still replaces him later in that season based on what we know about Belichick. We're now debating a conjecture and not a result. In other words eventually Belichick intended to replace Bledsoe with Brady whereas Claude had no intention of plugging in Seguin to spark their scoring or power play. I just don't think this is some sort of revelation or black mark on Claude's jacket. It is an NHL playoff miracle that happened to highlight one of this coaches already present flaws. Regards, Jake Boston

Fine. Can I still blame him for the power-play numbers?

Hey Felger, You always said talent wins in this league. The Bruins have a handful of very good players. Tampa has a handful of Elite players. This could be a long summer. Alex Salem

Tampa has more talent at forward. They don't have more talent at defense or in net. The Bruins should win tonight.

Felger, Do you think that the only chance the Celtics have to be a contender for the years to come is to sign Dwight Howard when his contract is up? What is the possibility of this happening? Zach Middleboro

Zilch, Zach. Zippo.

Hey, Felger, After Game 4 of the Bruins collapse, we come to find out that a friend of ours shaved his beard sometime between periods 1 and 2. He said he shaved it because he was sick for three days and it had a "coating" on it. We personally blame him for the loss, regardless of his condition. In your opinion, is there any legitimate reason for shaving a beard during an NHL playoff run? Mick Nashua, NH

Yes. Tom Caron.

E-mail Felger HERE and read the mailbag Thursdays. Listen to Felger on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Celtics report card: Isaiah Thomas gets high marks

Celtics report card: Isaiah Thomas gets high marks

BOSTON -- The first quarter of the NBA season is about over for the Boston Celtics, a team that like so many in the league is far from a finished product.
 
When you look at where this team is versus where they could be if not for a slew of unfortunate injuries to key players, there’s a sense within the organization that they have weathered the early season storm and are in good shape going forward.
 
And while there’s plenty of fodder that would help explain away some of the team’s early season issues, the bottom line is the Celtics have been an inconsistent bunch at times regardless of who has been healthy enough to play.
 
Still, they Celtics (12-8) are four games over .500 for the first time this season, third in the Eastern Conference and by all accounts are nowhere close to being as good as they should be this season. Which is why the evaluation of this team has to be about their sum parts as well as their individual success. 

And with this group returning so many key performers from a year ago along with adding Al Horford to the mix, expectations were realistically high.
 
So naturally, how close they have come to achieving those expectations is a factor in both their collective and individual grades as well.
 
Here’s a grade breakdown for the Celtics’ guards, wings and bigs at the quarter-way mark of the season.
 
GUARDS’ OVERALL GRADE: B
 
ISAIAH THOMAS: Showing last season’s all-star appearance was no fluke, Thomas has made a strong case to be considered among the top guards in the NBA. His 26.3 points per game ranks ninth in the league, and he’s at his best in the fourth quarter (his 7.9 points which trails only Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard) – a trait that often separates good players from great ones. He’s the star of this team, without question. GRADE: A-

AVERY BRADLEY: The season began with Avery Bradley putting together a legit campaign to be a first time all-star. He’s still playing at a relatively high level, but he’s no longer deeply entrenched in that conversation in part because the Celtics haven’t won more games and his numbers have tailed off. After averaging 18.5 points and 8.6 rebounds through the first 10 games, Bradley’s numbers since then have been 16.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. But to Bradley’s credit, this was yet another season in which he came back and showed tremendous growth in a specific facet of his game. That would be rebounding. The 6-foot-2 guard is currently the Celtics’ leader with 7.9 rebounds per game. GRADE: B
 
MARCUS SMART: He is the Celtics’ best defender not named Avery Bradley, and before his career is over he will be named to one of the NBA’s all-Defensive teams. His shot-making remains sporadic, although he has shown a knack for hitting big 3s late in games. Shooting struggles aside, his defense and much-improved playmaking have been good for the Celtics this season. GRADE: B- 
 
TERRY ROZIER: He was so impactful this summer and in training camp, it created expectations that he could easily slide in and fill the void left by Evan Turner who signed a four-year, $70 million deal with Portland during the offseason. Rozier has a ridiculously high assists-to-turnover ratio, but he doesn’t make as many impactful plays as the Celtics would like. The second-year guard hasn’t been bad out there, but the difference-making talent he showed earlier has not materialized yet. GRADE: B-
 
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: My initial thought was the sample size is too small to give Jackson a grade. But looking back at the three games he has played in for the Celtics as well as those stints in the D-League, Jackson has a bright future in this league. To his credit, he has made the most of his opportunities to play whether it’s with the Celtics or the Maine Red Claws. Still, he hasn’t done enough to knock any of the team’s more seasoned guards out of the rotation … yet. GRADE: B-

WINGS’ OVERALL GRADE: B-
 
JAE CROWDER:
This is one of the tougher players to grade (see Al Horford). I absolutely love the fact that Crowder is such a jack-of-all-trades kind of player who is all about helping teams win. But the fact that he has missed eight games has to be factored into his grade thus far. Aside from missing games with injuries, there’s a lot to love about Jae Crowder and his role on this team: B+

JONAS JEREBKO: Aside from Isaiah Thomas, Jerebko is probably the most improved player who was on the roster a year ago. He doesn’t take many shots, but when he does he makes them at a ridiculously high rate. And his overall effort defensively and on the boards has solidified a spot in Brad Stevens’ regular rotation. GRADE: B+
 
JAYLEN BROWN: There are always off-the-charts expectations when you’re a high draft pick, and Brown is no exception. But he joined a playoff-ready team which means getting on the floor as a rookie has not been easy. Brown has shown tremendous athleticism and a willingness to learn, but like most rookies he hasn’t been as consistent as he needs to be and does more thinking than just playing when he’s on the floor. But he has shown progress on that front of late.  GRADE: B-

GERALD GREEN: Having signed a veteran’s minimum contract at a time when the salary cap exploded should have been the first sign that Green wasn’t going to make much of an impact. He has a very simple job with this team and that’s to be an adequate defender and a shot-maker. Unfortunately, he has struggled on both fronts in his second tour of duty with the Celtics to the point where he has not played in eight of Boston’s last 11 games. GRADE: C-
 
JAMES YOUNG:
He barely beat out R.J. Hunter for the final roster spot and frankly, hasn’t done much since. From the time he arrived in Boston until now, there’s no question he’s a better player. But the former first round pick still hasn’t done enough to secure a spot in the rotation. And barring a couple injuries, that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. GRADE: C-
 
BIGS’ OVERALL GRADE: C+
 

AL HORFORD: There was a tremendous amount of hype surrounding Boston signing Al Horford in the offseason. And to the surprise of many, the Celtics have been exceptional when he has played. But that’s the problem. He has missed half of the still-young season primarily due to a concussion. There’s an old saying that one’s availability can be their best ability. And with Horford missing so many games, those absences have to be factored into his grade thus far this season. GRADE: B+
 
AMIR JOHNSON: If there’s one player whose impact can’t be measured in statistics alone, it’s Johnson. His job is to defend at a high level, score once in a while, and grab a few rebounds when he’s not sealing off his man so that Avery Bradley and the rest of the team’s guards can come in and scoop them up. There’s no glory in what he’s tasked with doing other than the knowledge that it’s important to winning. And to some degree his impact on games is limited due to him playing limited minutes because of Boston’s desire to spread the floor with long-range shooters – something that’s definitely not a strength of Johnson’s game. GRADE: B-
 
KELLY OLYNYK: Olynyk missed the first six games while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. He has had some really impressive moments (19 points vs New York; 16 the following night at Indiana), but far too often he doesn’t make the most of what sets him apart from most players and that is being a 7-footer with legit 3-point shooting range. He has been solid, but he’s not having the kind of breakout year the Celtics could really benefit from this season. GRADE: B-
 
TYLER ZELLER: There were some who were surprised the Celtics signed Zeller to a 2-year, $16 million contract (team option on second year), but that’s actually below the going rate these days for a backup center. Zeller today isn’t all that different than he was when the Celtics acquired him via trade a couple years ago. And that’s kind of the problem. He’s looking to shoot the ball more facing up and from the perimeter, but that’s very much a work in progress. To his credit, he stays ready and when he does get a chance to play he usually gives good effort. But effort can only take you so far. GRADE: C
 
JORDAN MICKEY: Viewed by many (self-included) as a draft-night steal for the Celtics, Mickey’s growth has been OK but not great. He has great instincts defensively as a shot-blocker and his offensive game is definitely trending upwards. But he doesn’t do enough of the little things to get on the floor with consistency just yet, which is why his most recent D-League stint probably won’t be his last this season. But again, he still has legitimate upside and in time should get more opportunities to help. GRADE: C

Boston College to play Maryland in Quick Lane Bowl

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Boston College to play Maryland in Quick Lane Bowl

Boston College has accepted an invitation to play Maryland in the 2016 Quick Lane Bowl, the school announced Sunday. The game will be played at Ford Field in Detroit at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 26. 

"We are excited to continue our season and play in the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit,” BC director of athletics Brad Bates said in a press release sent out by the school. “This is great opportunity for our program to continue to develop and gives our players one final opportunity to play together to close out the season."

The game presents a matchup of schools looking to end unimpressive seasons on a high note, as both BC and Maryland went 6-6 this season. 

This will mark the 12th meeting between BC and Maryland. They last faced one another in 2013, before Maryland had departed the ACC for the Big Ten.