Bruins' power play kill slows surging Leafs

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Bruins' power play kill slows surging Leafs

The Maple Leafs had scored power play goals in eight straight games and were firing off at a 44 percent success rate headed into Saturday nights game against the Bruins.

So it goes without saying that Torontos special teams were featuring sky-high confidence heading into the weekend shot, but that offensive sureness didnt do them any good against a Boston club that beats them in every possible direction.

That span of offensive production and power play prowess came to a screeching halt against the Bruins, and the Bs held the Leafs power play to an 0-for-4 performance while taking down the 4-1 victory over Toronto at TD Garden.

The Bruins hatched a plan to disrupt Torontos ability to carry the puck into the offensive zone with speed and ferocity, and thats exactly what they did while shutting down the Leafs man advantage. Speedy penalty kill forwards like Daniel Paille and Rich Peverley were busting up Torontos power play formation into the offensive zone, and that maximum effort paid big dividends.

When the Leafs did enter into the offensive zone there were big hits like Johnny Boychuks body shot on Tyler Bozak, or Tuukka Rask smothering the few Toronto chances in between.

The specialty teams are always big. It depends on the game, but it seemed like we didnt have any power plays. They got power plays and they have a really good power play, so we wanted to make sure that we took away their speed on the breakout. We wanted to try to force them to make some plays that they dont want to make.

We did a really good job I thought on a lot of their entries and stop them right there. When we had the chance we put pressure on them.

Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly and Johnny Boychuk all logged more than three minutes of penalty kill work in Saturdays win, and Daniel Paille, Dennis Seidenberg and Rich Peverley all managed more than two minutes of PK work.

The biggest piece of the strategy against Toronto was staying disciplined and out of the box, but the collaborative work of the Bs penalty kill unit allowed only three shots on net when they did get their four power play chances.

We talked about being very disciplined tonight. Those calls that were madeIm not saying they were bad calls -- but they were really border-line and they chose to call. So I cant criticize our team for lacking discipline, said Claude Julien. But our PK came out there and did a great job, and Tuukka (Rask) made the saves when he had to. We put a lot of pressure up the ice and didnt make it easy for them to enter our zone.

The Bruins entered Saturday night seventh in the NHL with an 85.1 percent kill rate that just keeps climbing higher and higher after a few struggles to start the season and showed exactly how it can help the Bs win games along with an ever-improving power play unit.

Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

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Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Pinpointing the exact moment Al Horford made up his mind to become a Boston Celtics isn’t clear, but the seeds of that decision can be traced back to last year’s playoffs – and no we’re not talking about the playoff series between Boston and Atlanta, either.
 
It was the Hawk’s second-round playoff series back in May against Cleveland, a team that swept them out of the Conference finals in 2015 and did so again last about five months ago.
 
Horford had every intention of returning to Atlanta, but as the free agency period wore on two things became quite clear: Winning an NBA title would have to go through Cleveland and it happening with him in Atlanta was becoming more and more unlikely.
 
In came the Celtics with a pitch that was heavy on present-day and down-the-road potential that wouldn’t require him to do anything other than continue to play the way he has for the past nine seasons.
 
“It (becoming a Celtic) became real for me real late and real quick,” Horford told CSNNE.com on Wednesday.
 
After mulling it over for a couple days, Horford said he was ready to become a Celtic.
 
“This could be a great opportunity even though I’m leaving a lot behind,” Horford said.
 
As you listen to Horford speak, it’s clear that the Celtics mystique played a role in his decision to sign with Boston.

 But as much as the Celtics’ lore and its on-the-rise status helped, there were certain events that Boston had no control over that actually helped their cause.
 
First the Hawks got in on a three-team trade in June with Utah and Indiana which sent Hawks All-Star point guard Jeff Teague to the Pacers while Atlanta received Utah’s first-round pick which was 12th overall and was used by Atlanta to select Baylor’s Taurean Prince. The move allowed Atlanta’s Dennis Schroeder to slide over into the now-vacant starting point guard position.
 
While it may help Atlanta down the road, it did little to move them closer towards knocking off Cleveland anytime soon.
 
And then there was the Hawks coming to terms on a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Dwight Howard early in the free agency period. That deal coupled with Atlanta’s desire to bring Kent Bazemore back, cast serious doubt as to whether Horford would return.
 
Horford, who inked a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston, told CSNNE.com that at the time of Atlanta’s deal with Howard, he was still open to the idea of returning.
 
But if Horford did, he knew figuring out the best way to play him, Howard and Paul Millsap who by the way has a player option that he’s likely to exercise which would make him a free agent next summer, was not going to be easy.

“It was definitely going to be different,” Horford said, then adding, “For me, the Celtics were becoming more and more a realistic option. After talking with my family, we felt this was the best for me.”
 
And while it’s still very early in his tenure as a Celtic, Horford has no regrets or second thoughts about his decision.
 
“As a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”
 
And that alone makes him a good fit with this franchise which from ownership to the front office to the coaching staff and of course the players, are all focused on one thing and that’s bringing home Banner 18.
 
 “Look at the resume. He’s been a winner wherever he’s played,” said Boston’s Amir Johnson. “It’s good to have a guy like that, with his talent and with his winning, playing next to you.”

Pomeranz 'pretty comfortable' with potential move to bullpen

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Pomeranz 'pretty comfortable' with potential move to bullpen

NEW YORK -- If Drew Pomeranz is going to be part of the Red Sox' postseason plans, the team will likely have a better idea about that question by Thursday afternoon.

Pomeranz, who was scratched from his final scheduled start on Thursday because of soreness in his left forearm and general concern about his 2016 workload, will throw a 30-35 pitch bullpen.

If he responds well, he could then see some relief action over the final weekend at Fenway to determine his readiness for the playoffs.

"Before we even begin to map out a potential relief appearance over the weekend,'' said John Farrell, "we've got to get through that next step.''

Pomeranz pitched well in his last start at Tropicana Field over the weekend, but has been dealing with some discomfort in his forearm.

"I've had some soreness here, late in the year,'' Pomeranz said. "I've thrown more innings than I have ever (before), so we kind of sat down and talked about the best course of action the rest of the way.''

Pomeranz described what he felt as "just some soreness, probably from never covering this time of the year. It's a spot I've never been in before. We just decided the best thing to do was not making this last start and talk about maybe sliding into the bullpen.''

The lefty is no stranger to the bullpen, having pitched there as recently as last season while with Oakland.

"I've had the benefit of doing pretty much everything (in terms of roles),'' he said. "I'm pretty comfortable in any situation. If they see me helping there, obviously, that's where I want to be. But I don't know if it's a sure thing. We'll have to see how it goes.''

Meanwhile, another sidelined starter, Steven Wright, is expected to rejoin the team in Boston Friday. Wright threw a bullpen off the mound earlier this week in Fort Myers as he attempts to come back from inflammation in his shoulder.