Bruins' first line gives and takes away


Bruins' first line gives and takes away

BOSTON -- It was an adventurous Saturday for the newly configured forward line with David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin.

They continued their offensive rampage by supplying both of Bostons goals, but they were also on the ice for the definitive play that meant the difference between winning and losing in a 32 defeat at the hands of the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon.

Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic were both chasing Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald in what appeared to be an icing call against the Bruins with less than five minutes to go in the third period.

But the refs never called icing as the puck skittered past MacDonalds stick, and both Seguin and Lucic stopped skating on the play. The Islanders took full advantage of the momentarily disoriented Bs defense, and suddenly John Tavares had tipped a Matt Moulson blast past Tim Thomas for the game-winning score.

It was too bad because Tavares goal wiped out a beautiful display of speed and backhanded shooting close to the net when Zdeno Chara connected with Seguin on a bank pass off a face-off that freed him up for his 22nd goal of the season.

Seguin jumped into the arms of the 6-foot-9 Chara for a spontaneous hug that made it seem that the Bruins might just win consecutive games for the first time in seven weeks.

Thomas was right on the post-icing play as soon as the Isles continued it up the ice, but at that point they had speed, momentum and at least a couple of Boston forwards stuck up ice.

As soon as MacDonald picked it up somewhere near their blue line, I just forgot about it for the time-being and just went back to the play and worried about whether there was a messed up call there or not later, said Thomas.

Its a shame as the LucicKrejciSeguin has been offensively brilliant with six goals produced in each of the last two games, but there is a downside to that forward combination as well. There will be defensive breakdowns on the ice without Patrice Bergeron to cover for a 20-year-old Seguin still developing the two-way player that he wants to eventually become.

That was the case on Saturday afternoon when the game was decided on a single play, and Seguin was admirably taking responsibility afterward for failing to play until he heard the refs whistle.

I didnt touch it. Their guy touched it and we didnt hear the linesman say anything so we all kind of stopped. I guess in the end its kind of our fault, said Seguin. Usually people always say you play right until the whistle is blown and we didnt do that.

The one third-period mistake doesnt wipe out the 12 shots on goal, two goals produced and half-dozen Grade A scoring chances created by a forward line humming with confidence and top-end speed. But it serves as a good reminder that even a moments hesitation can cost a team like the Bruins thats going to have to work for everything they get as an undermanned hockey club.

Whether its a mistake or not, we make mistakes and the refs are entitled to make mistakes too. But that puck still went by two of our guys, and theyve got to take the blame. Weve got to play to the whistle, said Julien. Maybe it was icing, but we still could have handled it better than we did.

In the end, youve got to look at it and say, 'Yeah, maybe it was icing.' It looked like McDonald touched it, but at the same time, that doesnt excuse us from not playing it through. There was no whistle blown.

Fast-break points aren't necessarily a good thing for Celtics

Fast-break points aren't necessarily a good thing for Celtics

BOSTON – Conventional NBA wisdom tells you that getting out to score in transition is a good thing, usually serving as easy points scored, which is what every team wants, right?
But bundles of transition points have been nothing but trouble for the Celtics this season.
They are coming off a game against the New York Knicks in which they scored 22 fast-break points, which was their second-best showing this season. But the final score, a 117-106 loss, wasn’t all that unusual from what has happened this season when their transition game has generated a decent amount of scoring.
Boston has a 2-6 record this season when they score 16 or more fast-break points. On the nights when Boston’s fast-break offense generates 10 or fewer points?
They’re 11-5.
While there are several possible reasons why this is, here’s what you have to remember.
The Celtics are a ball-movement, 3-point shooting team.
Often that means they’ll pass up potential shots in transition, to instead work the ball around from one side of the floor to the other, until they get what they deem is the best shot to take (usually it’s a lightly contested to wide open 3-pointer).
The Celtics average 329.6 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.8). Not surprisingly, that has led to them ranking among the league’s leaders in assists (24.9, third in the NBA).
And that has led to Boston being ranked among the top-3 in several other key passing statistics, such as secondary assists (7.1, 2nd in the NBA); potential assists (49.5, 2nd); and assists points created (60.8, 3rd);
Here are a few more stats to crunch on, courtesy of CSN Associate Producer Andy Levine.
PAINT BY NUMBERS: When the Celtics score 40 percent or less of their points in the paint, they are 19-5 this season. When Boston gets 40 percent or more of its points in the paint, they are just 7-11.
BROWN IN THE FOURTH: Jaylen Brown has been among the better rookies this season, especially in the fourth quarter. Among rookies who played in at least 20 games in the fourth quarter, Brown is second in fourth quarter shooting at 54.9 percent. With those same standards, he’s sixth in shooting 3’s in the fourth at 38.5 percent.
CROWDER BOUNCES BACK: The past four games has seemingly brought out the best in Crowder. In that span, he has averaged 18.5 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 57 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range. Crowder’s 3-point shooting of late has elevated him to seventh in the league while connecting on 42.5 percent of his 3-point attempts (minimum 150 attempts).

OUCH! It has not been a smooth start for Evan Turner with his new team, the Portland Trail Blazers. This season, Turner’s plus/minus is -234, which is the fourth-worst plus/minus in the NBA.

Stevens: Bradley, Zeller, Jerebko out vs. Trail Blazers


Stevens: Bradley, Zeller, Jerebko out vs. Trail Blazers

BOSTON – Before Brad Stevens addressed the media before the Celtics faced the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday afternoon, he had to take a moment to make sure he wouldn’t forget anyone who wasn’t able to play.
Yeah, the list was a pretty long one.
Tyler Zeller, Demetrius Jackson and Jonas Jerebko will not play tonight due to sickness. And Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) will also be out with a timetable that’s starting to feel like it’ll be longer than anyone would want.
“I don’t anticipate Avery this week at all,” Stevens said. “He still has some soreness. Obviously we’re concerned about the long-term impact of a sore Achilles; what it means on that foot but also what it means when you compensate off it. But he’ll be back when he’s ready but I think he’s still a little bit away.”
Bradley, the team’s top on-the-ball defender and No. 2 scorer this season at 17.7 points per game, will be out for the sixth time in the Celtics’ last seven games because of the Achilles injury.
Replacing him in the starting lineup will be Marcus Smart whose status for tonight’s game wasn’t a sure thing.
On the Celtics’ pregame notes package, Smart was listed as probable with a sore right ankle injury. I asked Stevens about Smart’s status a few minutes ago, and he said the 6-foot-4 Smart will play tonight.
In his 15 starts this season, Smart has averaged 10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 38.4 percent from the field and 31.7 percent on 3's - all of which are better than what he produces when coming off the bench.