Bruins hope to find a way for Corvo to fit in

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Bruins hope to find a way for Corvo to fit in

WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins had the sixth-best defense in the NHL this season and move into the Stanley Cup playoffs viewing it as one of their team strengths.

But the old hockey axiom goes that any defense is only as strong as their weakest link, and it looks like the Bruins will be exposing their weak link when the playoffs begin.

An injury to Adam McQuaid has created an opening among their six starting defensemen, and it appears that Joe Corvo will be getting the call as a bottom-pairing defenseman with Greg Zanon to start the postseason.

It appears Corvo will essentially be playing the Tomas Kaberle role from last years playoffs where the Bruins will limit the puck-mover to short shifts and power play ice time.

But theres only so much hiding one can do with a defenseman playing upwards of 12 minutes per game. Its also pretty clear in Claude Juliens comments about the defensemen corps, in general, that his faith in Corvo as a responsible defensive player isnt at all-time high. Julien ticked off the name of every other defenseman when listing their acumen inside their own zone, but left Corvo conspicuously absent.

Weve been through it before. We almost have to be careful that if Chara and Seidenberg are so good that we make sure the other ones are as well. We have a lot of confidence in our guys, said Julien. Johnny Boychuk is a guy thats got a lot of experiences playing against top lines, and Andrew Ference has had a great year for us.

Whether its Adam McQuaid, Greg Zanon or Mike Mottau everybody has proved that theyre capable of playing shutdown hockey, you know?

What about Corvo, who earned the nickname Uh-oh Corvo during his rocky D-zone days playing with the Ottawa Senators?

With Joe were smart enough to put him in areas where hes going to succeed, said Julien. He is a good player when we put him in those situations, so its us knowing our team and who to put out there against whom. Our guys have done a great job. We have trust in our whole D-corps and its up to us to find the right times to put them out there.

Its been a rough year for Corvo with the Bruins. His four goals scored havent been good enough to offset his defensive inadequacies.

His numbers arent awful with 25 points and a plus-10 for the season, but its less than his career norms. With his heavy shot and skating ability Corvo should have double-digit goals and upwards of 35 points in his sleep, but that never happened in Boston.

Corvo loses one-on-one fights for the puck in the battle areas inside the defensive zone, he gets caught up ice on bad decisions leaving his defensive partners hanging and he frequently leaves the front of the net.

That kind of play in the D-zone leads to a lack of trust from a defensive sticker for detail like Julien. Corvo has tried to improve, but he finished the season with three points and a minus-1 rating in his final 14 games. He also found himself as a healthy scratch as the Bruins found their stride in late March. And those two things didnt seem to be mutually exclusive.

Corvo's presence on the ice gives the Washington Capitals something to exploit. The Caps know just how shaky he can be after he was acquired by Washington in a trade during the 2009-10 season and finished with six points and a minus-4 in 18 games.

It's a few years later, but Corvo's issues struggles seem to have resurfaced. Its fair to say the more Corvo is forced to play in any of these games, the less chance Boston has to be successful.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

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Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

The Celtics will sign free agent Gerald Green, the guard they drafted with the 18th overall pick back in 2005, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported.

Green, 30, played for the Miami Heat last season and averaged 8.9 points a game. Deveney reports Green will sign a one-year guaranteed contract. 

Green has been well-traveled since being traded by the Celtics in the Kevin Garnett deal in 2007, the year he won the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest. He has played for seven other NBA teams and played two seasons in Russia. His best season was 2013-14 in Phoenix when he averaged 15.8 points a game for the Suns. 

Deveney also reports that sources around the league continue to indicate the Celtics are looking to make a trade for a "star-caliber type" player. Last week, he reported on their interest in the Clippers' Blake Griffin. 

 

Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

1) It only seems like David Ortiz can come through every time.

When Ortiz comes to the plate as he did Friday night -- bases loaded, no out, bottom of the ninth, Red Sox trailing by a run -- it seems like a win is a fait accompli.

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one might have a chance to be ended right there,'' said John Farrell. "He's been so big for us that everybody in the dugout felt the same way -- confident that the stage was set for him to come through with another dramatic moment.''

Instead, Ortiz rolled over a ground ball to second, and with the Twins infield drawn in, it was enough to turn a 4-2-3 double play that took the starch out of the inning for the Sox.

If anything, though, the inning revealed how remarkable Ortiz has been so often. It's not easy to come through even most times, and it's certainly far from automatic.

"The pitcher (closer Brandon Kintzler) made good pitches,'' said Ortiz. "That's the name of the game. I'm always looking forward to something happening. It just doesn't work out all the time.''

2) Eduardo Rodriguez has his slider back.

When Rodriguez endured a rough stretch in late May and June, he seemed to all but abandon his slider, relying almost exclusively on his two-seam fastball and changeup.

But since returning from a stint in Pawtucket, Rodriguez has flashed the slider that made him so effective as a rookie last season.

"Since he's come back,'' said Farrell, "he's added much more depth. He's able to get to the back foot of some righthanders for some swing-and-miss. He was on the plate with three quality pitches for strikes tonight.''

"I feel like I can locate it better, where I want it,'' confirmed Rodriguez. "Outside, inside corner...I'm getting more confident in it. I think I got out of my mind the tipping (pitches) stuff and all that stuff and I'm just working to throw the ball right where I want it.''

It's almost impossible for a starter in the big leagues to survive with just two pitches, as Rodriguez was attempting to do earlier this season. And it seems foolish to even try, given that Rodriguez's slider can be a plus-pitch for him at times.

3) If Mookie Betts has to miss some time, the Red Sox have options in right field.

Farrell said Betts has been dealing with soreness and stiffness in his right knee since after the All-Star break and has been undergoing treatment.

There's no evidence that this is serious, and he's considered day-to-day. But even if Betts needs some time off, or in a worse-case scenario, has to go on the DL, the Sox can do some things with their outfield.

Michael Martinez's best outfield position is right, as he demonstrated Friday night after taking over for Betts in the top of the fifth. Martinez ran a long way to grab a ball in foul territory for the final out in the sixth, then turned in a fine, tumbling catch in the eighth to take extra bases away from Adam Grossman.

Bryce Brentz, who's been in a platoon of sorts in left with Brock Holt, has played a lot of right field in the minors and has the arm strength to play there.

Finally, there's the matter of Andrew Benintendi. The Sox raised some eyebrows with the news that they were having Benintendi move over to left field at Double A Portland, perhaps in anticipation of playing the position for Boston at some point later this year.

Benintendi is a natural center fielder and even though he doesn't much experience in right, if you're athletic enough to play center, you can usually move to either corner spot.