Bruins new acquisitions hitting their stride


Bruins new acquisitions hitting their stride

SAN JOSE, CA Its been a gradual process, but it looks like the Bs trade acquisitions are finally hitting their stride.

Both defenseman Greg Zanon and winger Brian Rolston sputtered out of the gate after arriving in Boston at the end of February via NHL trade deadline deals, but their current progress seems remarkably familiar.

Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley were both very quiet when they arrived on the Black and Gold scene last year, but both forwards hit their stride by the team the Stanley Cup playoffs arrived.

(Tomas Kaberle never really found his game like Kelly and Peverley did, but you cant win them all.)

As if right on cue both Zanon and Rolston have begun finding results and production in the last few games while the Bruins have started cracking the win column again. Rolston has seven points in his last three games, and exploded to match a career-high with four points against the Maple Leafs.

I think its just about getting those new guys the time, like we did last year with Kelly and Peverley. Until the playoffs started I know a lot of people didnt see what those guys -- and were talking about the Kellys and the Peverleys and so on -- were going to give our hockey club, said Julien. But by the time playoffs came around, and theyd found their spot on the team, they were good assets. We expect those guys to come in and help us out the same way.

Zanons progress has been a little more understated, but its there to see nonetheless. While getting used to his new teammates, his new goaltenders tendencies, and his own place within the Black and Gold tribe, Zanon has latched into the back to basics on defense philosophy shepherded back in by the Bs coaching staff over the last few games.

I dont think the comfort level didnt take too long. The other guys are pretty receptive and its been an easy transition, said Zanon. Systems-wise Im pretty comfortable now. The more games you play the more you see how guys can play, and you really start to figure things out.

Obviously there is video and we used that to get me a little more comfortable. There are still questions about things and those come up as the game is going along. Chara has been great about helping me out with things they do that I havent done in the past. Its been really good.

Zanon took a couple of penalties in a loss to Washington and was scratched in two of the next three games, but hes been a shot-blocking, physical defenseman without any major blemishes in his last two games. Zanon is a plus-3 in the wins over the Flyers and the Leafs, and managed his highest ice time total (19:41) with the Bruins in Mondays blowout victory.

Nobody likes to be scratched, but the organization has to do what they feel is best," Zanon said. "The last couple of games Ive been able to play some decent minutes. Im just happy to be playing and doing anything I can to help.

Claude Julien liked what hes seen out of the former Minnesota defenseman from the start, but he hasnt had any incidents lately around the net like he did in his first handful of games with the Bs. The Bruins coach was also quick to throw Mike Mottaus name into the mix despite the fact hes played sparingly since arriving in Boston as a key extra defenseman.

I didnt mind Zanon from the get-go. Hes just kept things simple just like Mike Mottau. Theyve both kept their games simple and moved the puck well, said Julien. They both come from backgrounds where they understand our defensive philosophies.

Its a position thats gotten stronger with the acquisition of both those guys. Certainly we have a lot of assets and we know that if injuries hit and if we have to put in another player its not going to weaken our back end.

Perhaps the biggest piece of evidence that Zanon has fully adopted the Bruins way of doing things? Zanon is letting his personality and sense of humor show with his teammates. It was underscored when he was making pigeon noises while walking through a couple of postgame media scrums in the Bs dressing room after Mondays blowout win over the Leafs.

Zanon is clearly not in Minnesota and Nashville dealing with the expectations and requirements -- including the bigger media corps -- that goes along with playing professional hockey in Boston, but he and Rolston are making the adjustment accordingly.

Red Sox 'not going to rush' moving pitching depth after acquiring Sale

Red Sox 'not going to rush' moving pitching depth after acquiring Sale

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The addition of Chris Sale to the Red Sox' rotation has created a rare glut of starting pitchers, including seven with major league experience.

That means that at least one will have to be moved in a trade. But Red Sox' president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski isn't in any hurry.

"We're not aggressively looking to do something,'' he said. "We're really just digesting what's taken place. I think if we wanted to aggressively make a deal, we could definitely do that. But I don't really have a big hole on our major league club to address at this time.

"I think it's really important to gather all the info. Some teams have (starters) available; there are free agents out there. Our philosophy is kind of say, 'Let's just see what happens.' We're not going to rush out and do anything.''

That makes sense, especially since there's a very thin free agent market for starters, and many teams that need upgrades to their rotation.

Eventually, some are going to get desperate and may have to overpay. In that scenario, the Sox could really capitalize.

The starter the Sox would like to move the most is Clay Buchholz, if only because his salary ($13.5 million) is easily the highest among the three the Sox would be willing to part with. Steven Wright has yet to qualify for salary arbitration and Drew Pomeranz will get a bump from last year, but will still be under $5 million after arbitration.

Eduardo Rodriguez, meanwhile, almost certainly won't be dealt because of his youth and potential, though Dombrowski hinted that teams have checked on the availability of every starter except The Big Three of Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello "as well as guys who aren't (in the current major league picture like Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, and Roenis Elias).''

Depth in the rotation is always welcome, but the numbers are such that the Sox can't make the current group of seven starters work.

"You start counting,'' said Dombrowski, "and there's not enough spots for everybody on the team.''

It's possible that the Sox could go into spring training with all seven and wait to see if injuries elsewhere give them additional leverage.

But that, too, is unlikely.

"It seems like there's not a lot of moves made in spring training,'' he said.

As for what the Sox might be seeking in return, the Sox don't have any obvious need they have to fill. It's possible they could want to obtain some prospects to help restock the system after six were traded in two trades this week.

"I can't really answer that question.'' he said. "We've traded a lot (of prospects). We wouldn't mind replenishing some of what we've traded.''

Stevens on Thomas' groin injury: 'It’s important that he’s 100 percent'

Stevens on Thomas' groin injury: 'It’s important that he’s 100 percent'

There’s no such thing as a good time to have an injury. 

But in terms of Isaiah Thomas being sidelined with a right groin injury and the schedule awaiting the Boston Celtics … this is about as bad a time as you can imagine to be without their scoring leader.

Thomas returned to Boston ahead of tonight’s game at Orlando, marking his first game missed since the 2014-2015 season. 

He suffered a right groin injury in the second quarter of Boston’s 107-106 loss at Houston on Monday. 

At the time, Thomas was optimistic that he would be able to play tonight. But with a day off from practice, the soreness proved to be too much for Thomas to suit up and play tonight. 

While it’s unclear just how severe his groin injury is, the Celtics are likely to be overly cautious (like they are with most injuries) about his return which may result in him missing more games than Wednesday night’s matchup against Orlando. 

“Those things (groin injuries) are a little unpredictable,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters earlier today. “Especially in this sport, you have to be able to stop and change direction on a dime, especially him. It’s important that he’s 100 percent.”

Stevens is spot-on when he talks about how uncertain a return for Thomas is currently. 

New York’s Kristaps Porzingis suffered a groin injury against the Celtics in a preseason game back in October that didn’t result in anything more than him missing a day of practice. 

It was a different story when Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic suffered a right groin injury last spring (March 7-29) that sidelined him for 13 games. 

The timetable for Thomas’ return to the floor is likely to fall somewhere within those two timetables which would make an already daunting stretch of games even more difficult. 

Following tonight’s game, Boston has 12 games remaining in the month of December with nine being against teams with a winning record. And of the three games against teams below-.500 (Miami twice, Indiana), two of them are on the road.