Wakeup Call: 'Niners may have erased last vestige of replacement refs


Wakeup Call: 'Niners may have erased last vestige of replacement refs

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Monday, December 17:

Considering some of the fossils they've already signed and some of the names they've been linked with (Vernon Wells? Really?), I'd think the Yankees would be shouting Michael Bourn's name from the rooftops. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

The Yankees got a tax bill of 18.9 million last year, the 10th consecutive season they've paid the luxury tax. But the Red Sox avoided it -- they were 47,000 under the 178 million threshold -- by shipping Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to Los Angeles. (AP)

If R.A. Dickey can reach agreement on a new contract with the Blue Jays, he's Toronto-bound. (AP)

Josh Hamilton's decision to sign with the Angels means his "accountability partner," Shayne Kelley, is moving, too. (Hardball Talk)

Better bring along his attorney, as well. (AP)

Cleveland seems like a pretty small stage for the experience that is Nick Swisher, but whatever. (Hardball Talk)

Ooh, the NCAA's not going to like this: The breakup of the Big East has Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin saying it's time to end the hypocrisy of big-time college athletics . . . and part of fixing it means finally paying the players. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

Jim Boeheim may enter a pretty elite club -- coaches with 900 career victories -- tonight. (AP)

Temple is holding a press conference today at 2 p.m. to announce its new coach, but several current and former players beat them to the punch by taking to Twitter and telling the world that it's Giants assistant Matt Ruhle. (CSN Philly)

Wisconsin is "close" to hiring a replacement for the departed Bret Bielema. (AP)

This comes after A.D. Barry Alvarez considered -- "for about a day" -- taking over the job again. (NBC's College Football Talk)

Michigan coach Brady Hoke says it's an "honor" to play there, and you'd better abide by the rules. Because if you don't -- as these three players didn't -- you miss the Outback Bowl. (AP)

Andrew Luck's presumed successor at Stanford is transferring. (AP)

If you want to see NHL hockey again in your lifetime, you'd better hope silence is golden. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

The lawyers, though . . . they're talking. (AP)

Methinks thou dost protest too much, Senor Bargnani. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Baby steps for the Lakers: Two wins in a row isn't much, but it beats what they'd been doing. (AP)

And here the Sixers thought they'd traded for a center last summer. (CSN Philly)

The one they traded for says he's feeling better and he'll be back, oh, any day now. Or not. (CSN Philly)

You can't say the high-flying Knicks miss Jeremy Lin, but they're still happy to see him return tonight. (AP)

Looks like the cost of throwing objects -- mouthguards, basketballs -- at referees is a one-game suspension. (AP)

The Niners' win over the Patriots may have erased the chance that the stigma of the replacement refs would hang over the entire postseason. Let Mike Florio explain. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Winning the AFC South again is nice and all, but this year the Texans say they have bigger fish to fry. (CSN Houston)

There's a hierarchy emerging in the AFC playoff race. And, judging by what happened yesterday in Baltimore, the Broncos are in the upper half and the Ravens, ah, not so much. (AP)

The loss has Ed Reed embarrassed for the entire city. That's right, the whole city. (CSN Baltimore)

Still, the Ravens clinched a postseason berth . . . (CSN Baltimore)

. . . thanks to the Cowboys, who beat the Steelers in overtime. (AP)

Trying to remember the last time a defending Super Bowl champion got shut out by 34 points? Stop trying; the Falcons' 34-0 whipping of the Giants was the worse shutout defeat of a defending champ in history. (AP)

At this moment, the reeling Giants are out the playoffs. But they still control their own destiny: If they win their last two games, they're in. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Unlike New York, the Packers -- as in, the NFC North champion Packers -- appear to be peaking at the right time. (AP)

Another fiftyburger for the Seahawks, and this time they did it on the road. But they did it against the Bills, so . . . (AP)

RGIII respects, but doesn't like, the Redskins' decision to hold him out of their victory over the Browns. (CSN Washington)

London Fletcher's first NFL game in his hometown of Cleveland didn't go smoothly. At least not for several members of his family. (CSN Washington)

The U.S. Open surrenders to blandishments of players who don't like having the semifinals and finals on back-to-back days, pushing the women's finals to Sunday and the men's final to Monday. At least for 2013. (AP)

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

BOSTON -- There’s only so long that a team can hope to thrive, or even survive, in the NHL if they’re constantly chasing the game on the scoreboard, and chasing the puck after digging themselves a hole. The Bruins have been that team in the first couple of weeks during the regular season, and made it five times in five games that they’ve given up the game’s first goal in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

It’s a pattern that is long past getting old to Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who can’t seem to play the front-runner this season despite three comebacks that have allowed for a 3-2-0 record overall this season.

“I hope it’s not a habit. It’s certainly not what we’re looking for, but there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious that with the amount of games we’ve played, five games, we haven’t scored first,” said Julien. “We talked about that this morning, trying to get that first goal, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

The start to the game wasn’t really the problem on Saturday night as it’s been a couple of times this season. Instead the Bruins enjoyed a handful of quality scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes against the Habs, but couldn’t come through and finish off those plays when it might have meant an early lead.

Instead it lead to what Julien termed a “terrible” second period that was flat, full of mistakes and ended with the B’s trailing Montreal by a couple of goals. The Bruins scratched and clawed their way to making it a one-goal game in the third period, but that was as close as the Black and Gold would get in losing their ninth straight home game to the arch-rival Canadiens.

“It’s kind of been a story about how things are going for us this far, we’ve got to find a way to start playing with a lead. If you don’t capitalize on your chances, you see what happens when you come out [flat] in the second period,” said Torey Krug, who finished a game-worst minus-3 in the loss for the Bruins. “We had another poor second period and you know it’s kind of… you got to make sure that we put our hand on that and it doesn’t become a thing for the team this year. You see that when you don’t capitalize on chances early, that’s what’s going to happen.”

It’s been a positive development that the Bruins have shown the willingness and backbone to fight back into games after early deficits, and they showed that quality once again on Saturday night by scoring a couple of goals in the third period to keep things close. But the Bruins would be best served if they can start lighting the lamp a little earlier in these games, and see how the other half lives by playing with a comfortable lead every once in a while.