To touch or not touch: that's the hockey question


To touch or not touch: that's the hockey question

By Justin Aucoin

Professional athletes are a peculiar bunch when it comes to well, everything. From how they put their gear on to what they eat before every game to how many times they wipe their butts after dropping the kids off at the pool theyre probably the biggest superstition believers since the Salem Witch Trials.

And when it comes down to conference trophies the big question is should the players touch the trophy or no?

Ask any fan and were sure 90 of them would scream at you for even suggesting the idea that their favorite team should touch a conference trophy. Youd think the act of touching would spread harmful disease.

Really the fans are just as paranoid and superstitious as players (if not more so) afraid that touching a minor achievement like earning the Prince of Wales trophy might tempt the gods into screwing their favorite team in the finals.

But is there any truth to the myth?

According to, not really.

Since 2001 NHL teams that have touched their respective trophy have gone 4-5 in the finals.

A virtual 50-50 shot? So much for getting the hockey gods on your side.

And yet some players will touch the trophy, acknowledging the fruits of their labor.

While others barely want to be seen within the vicinity of it.

Were all for athletes staying focused at the task at hand but stopping off at major landmarks and milestones is a nice way to take a quick breather, realize how far youve come and how close you are to the ultimate goal.

But should fans and players be too paranoid about touch trophies, they should at least hire out Hayden Panettiere to do the trophy fondling for them.

Stars, studs and duds: Win vs. Nets 'a good learning experience' for Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: Win vs. Nets 'a good learning experience' for Celtics

BOSTON –  Throughout the course of this season, the Boston Celtics will learn plenty of lessons about itself.

Sometimes it takes time to sift through the nuances of a game and figure out what should be extrapolated from it.

Following Wednesday’s 122-117 it-should-have-never-been-that-close victory over the Brooklyn Nets, there was no mistaking the Celtics came away feeling as though they survived a game in which they let up too soon and allowed a scrappy Nets team to make it more of a game than it should have been.

After Tyler Zeller drained an 18-foot jumper with 7:36 to play, Boston held a commanding 112-89 lead.

Brooklyn went on a 28-8 run to make it a one-possession game with 6.8 seconds to play.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens explained the late-game collapse afterwards.

“We started shooting bad shots and not guarding and throwing it to the other team,” Stevens said. “It’s how quickly it can change; we all know that.”

Because Boston had such a commanding lead and they were opening the season with a back-to-back with a Thursday night game at Chicago, it made sense for Stevens to give his core guys a chance to rest in the fourth quarter.

“I was hopeful not to have to put those guys back in but I probably went a little bit longer than I normally would have, not doing that,” Stevens said. “So we’ve got to play better in that moment.”

Boston’s Jae Crowder acknowledged he and Boston’s other starters were not as locked in as they should have been when Stevens put them back in the game with 2:07 to play.

“We had checked out a little bit mentally and physically,” Crowder said. “Our bodies were not warmed up enough to do what we did. But we got it done. We’re just going to learn from it and move on to Chicago.”

Said Horford: “That’s the NBA sometimes; it’ll humble you. It’s a good learning experience for our group.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s season-opening win over Brooklyn Wednesday night.



Isaiah Thomas

He was there when the Celtics needed him most, making a pair of free throws with 1.9 seconds to play that sealed the victory. He finished with a game-high 23 points and nearly had a double-double with nine assists to go with six rebounds and two steals.

Jae Crowder

Crowder set the tone in the first quarter, and it was his shot-making early in the third that led Boston to being well-positioned for victory. He would finish with 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting to go with five rebounds two assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

Bojan Bogdanovic

His 3-point shooting in the second half was a major key to Brooklyn’s rally to within just three points. He led Brooklyn with 21 points on 9-for-17 shooting.



Al Horford

He doesn’t put up the sexiest, eye-grabbing numbers, but Horford’s steady play continues to impress. He had 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting, in addition tallying six assists, five rebounds and four blocked shots.

Avery Bradley

The 6-foot-2 guard had a strong game that easily glided under the radar of some of his teammates. But Bradley still finished with 17 points which included a put-back lay-up of his own miss in the fourth quarter for Boston’s only field goal in the final 4:18 of play.

Justin Hamilton

Make no mistake about it, Hamilton will become a prominent part of the scouting report when these two teams meet again. He came off the Brooklyn bench to finish with a double-double of 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting, to go with 10 rebounds.



Brook Lopez

At no point did Lopez look comfortable or impactful for the Nets. He was a non-factor in every sense of the word, missing six of his seven shot attempts to finish with just seven points and five rebounds.

Celtics bench

This group had flashes of good play here and there, but their inability to close out the game in the fourth was a bit disturbing. Not having Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain) was a factor. That said, a 23-point lead with under eight minutes to play should be more than enough of a cushion not to require the starters to have to come back in the game.

Brandon Pirri scores twice, Rangers rally to beat Bruins 5-2


Brandon Pirri scores twice, Rangers rally to beat Bruins 5-2

NEW YORK - Brandon Pirri scored twice to help the New York Rangers beat the Boston Bruins 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Rick Nash, Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Vesey also scored for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots. The Rangers won their third straight game, overcoming a 2-0 deficit to improve to 5-2-0.

David Pastrnak and Austin Czarina scored for Boston. The Bruins have lost three straight to drop to 3-4-0.

Zane McIntyre made 26 saves in his first NHL start. He was called up prior to Boston's 5-0 home loss to Minnesota on Tuesday night to back up Malcolm Subban due to injuries to Tuukka Risk and Anton Khudobin.

Down 2-0 after the first, the Rangers scored three times in the final 10:44 of the second.

Nash began the comeback with a power-play goal at 9:16. He curled to the net before corralling a rebound of Derek Stepan's point shot and flipping it over goalie Zane McIntyre for his third of the season.

Hayes tied it with 3:25 left in the second, banking a shot from behind the net off of McIntyre's pants.

Pirri's power-play goal with 36 seconds left made it 3-2. The free-agent signee ripped a shot from the right circle that was in the net before McIntrye could get his glove up. New York finished the game 2 for 6 on the man advantage, while the Bruins were 0 for 1.

It was not all positive for the Rangers in the second, with Dan Girardi missing two shifts following a hit from Pastrnak, who was assessed a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head. Girardi leaped in the air to play a loose puck in the neutral zone and, as he came down, Pastrnak drove his shoulder into the upper body of the New York defenseman.

Pirri made it 4-2 2:23 into the third with his fourth of the season. Vesey scored on a tap-in 43 seconds late.

The Bruins opened the scoring Pastrnak's fifth of the season 10 seconds into the game. The lead grew to 2-0 14:34 later when Czarnik scored his first goal in the NHL. Czarnik fired a shot from inside the blue line that New York defenseman Brady Skjei blocked, but Henrik Lundqvist appeared to lose track of the puck and it bounced across the goal line.

Lundqvist had 27 saves.