Bruins vs. Capitals: Ten thoughts through two

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Bruins vs. Capitals: Ten thoughts through two

Here are five thoughts with the Bruins trailing the Washington Capitals by a 2-1 score after the first 20 minutes at TD Garden.

1) Gigantic goal for Milan Lucic at the end of the first period with five seconds to go until the intermission. Patrice Bergeron worked like a dog against Jay Beagle to make sure the Bruins won the face-off and then Lucic managed to snap a wobbly wrist shot through Tomas Vokouns legs after hed put together a very good first period. The Bruins are starting to show the ability to quick strike opponents with rapid goals in succession again, and score goals right before the conclusion of periods. Thats the sign of a team finding their legs again. Lucic with points in six straight games, and a huge goal after Vokoun looked well on his way to a big afternoon against Boston.

2) Patrice Bergeron is in beast mode today. He was fighting off Washington attackers to hold the puck behind the Caps net while setting up Brad Marchand for a one-timer earlier in the period and he wouldnt accept defeat on that key offensive face-off at the end of the first period. Hes unstoppable when hes playing heavy on the puck like he is today.

3) Joe Corvo once again having issues clearing pucks from the front of the net. He couldnt get the puck away from the net before Matt Hendricks pounced on it to score Washingtons second goal of the first period. Corvo had a couple of good games, but today is a regression to bad Corvo.

4) Ten hits for the Bruins this afternoon including Zdeno Chara rattling Mathieu Perreault with a glass-shattering hit over by the penalty boxes. It smashed the glass between the penalty box and the fan seating immediately behind it. Bruins outhitting the Caps by a 10-5 margin in the first period.

5) Interesting to see the Bruins going with seven defensemen to start this afternoons game as Benoit Pouliot battles with an injury suffered in Toronto. Looks like this is the team that Boston wants to go with from here on in and wanted to see if Mike Mottau could play a little forward along with his defensemen role. Good versatility by Mottau.

Here are five thoughts from the second with the Bruins trailing the Washington Capitals by a 4-2 score after the first 20 minutes at TD Garden.

1) Bruins looked sloppy and selfish in the second period after battling themselves back into it with a short burst. Nothing more selfish than David Krejci flinging the puck at linesman Jean Morin in a fit of pique after an off-sides call. Morin skated by Krejci, barked at him and then whistled him for an unsportsmanlike conduct that left Boston shorthanded. Bruins cant take selfish penalties like that when theyre trying to win games and close with some strength down the stretch.

2) Rough times continue for Greg Zanon, who took a pair of penalties in the second period including a holding call when Matt Hendricks got the drop on him from the outside and a roughing call when he dropped Mathieu Perreault with what looked like a good hit. Hes having a tough time getting settled into a role here in Boston. Tim Thomas has played pretty well today to all those wondering about potentially playing Marty Turco today. Not his fault Bs defensemen are playing like the keystone kops.

3) A rough game for Dennis Seidenberg as well. He crashed into Adam McQuaid behind the net and that resulted in chaos in their own end before Jay Beagle fired a laser past Tim Thomas to put Washington ahead. A lot of sloppiness from the Bs defensemen corps today: Zanon, Seidenberg and Corvo all struggling.

4) A minus-2, no shots on net and a bad penalty for David Krejci today. This is the kind of inconsistency that can be maddening when hes played well with Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic recently. Hes been good in the face-off circle, but hes doing anything else effectively.

5) Johnny Boychuk is tough as hell. He takes a shot off his right foot and needs help walking down the runway. But hes immediately out and on the bench before play begins again, and finishes off the period with a problem.

Source: Sox seek smaller pieces, not big names, at trade deadline

Source: Sox seek smaller pieces, not big names, at trade deadline

BOSTON -- According to an N.L. talent evaluator who is familiar with some of the Red Sox ongoing talks with teams leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline, the Sox seem focused on adding a bullpen piece and/or back-end starters.

The need for the former is rather obvious, given the current injuries to Criag Kimbrel and Koji Uehara. The Sox can use some upgrades and another experienced arm to guide them through the final two months.

As for the rotation, it's not a surprise that the Sox aren't serious bidders for more glamorous names like Chris Sale, since that would require them to gut their farm system.

But the team's starter depth is perilous, with only Clay Buchholz in reserve. It makes perfect sense that the Sox would be seeking someone else to help provide them with insurance against further injuries or under-performance.

OFFSEASON

Mental training is the secret to Jaylen Brown's development

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Mental training is the secret to Jaylen Brown's development

BOSTON – Jaylen Brown’s athleticism was among the many reasons the Boston Celtics selected him with the No. 3 overall pick in last month’s NBA draft. But even before he became a Green Teamer, Brown’s aspirations were much greater than being a high draft pick.

“I want to be a top five player in the league,” Brown said at his introductory press conference last month. It’s a lofty goal for sure; the kind that requires more than just talent. And that’s where Graham Betchart – Brown’s mental skills coach - comes in.

Betchart’s work as a mental skills coach has been on full display as one of the keys to Brown being among the standout performers during summer leagues in both Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, respectively. 

The 6-foot-7 rookie was named to the Las Vegas Summer League’s second team, one of just three lottery picks (top-14) in last month’s NBA draft (Ben Simmons of LSU and Thon Maker of Milwaukee) named to the first (Simmons) or second (Maker) team along with Brown.

In addition to Brown, Betchart has worked with each of the last three first overall picks – Andrew Wiggins, Karl Anthony-Towns and most recently, Simmons. Betchart said he also worked with current Celtic guard Marcus Smart when he was at Oklahoma State.

While each player has their own specific program, there are some common threads that bind all of his clients.

“The big thing I want them to focus on is what in their control,” Betchart told CSNNE.com from New York City where he was meeting with the New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who has been one of the more outspoken athletes when it comes to mental health-related issues. “And so for a lot of these guys, they’re so good in high school and even college, they can focus on results and still produce results. As you get older, you realize that results are totally out of your control. And so my focus is getting them to focus on what’s in their control, and learning how to do it consistently; how to create a pattern, a consistent mindset.”

We saw that from Brown this summer with the Celtics’ summer league teams. He averaged 16.0 points and 6.2 rebounds but did so shooting a not-so-great 30.7 percent from the field and was even worst (27.2 percent) on 3s.

However, he did manage to get to the free throw line 10.2 times per game, which is surprising when you consider whistles typically aren’t blown as often in the summer than they are in a regular season game. And just to put his free throw average in perspective, only two players – Houston’s James Harden and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins – averaged more than 10 free throw attempts per game last season.

Brown has said on more than one occasion that getting to the free throw line often has to be one of his strengths in the NBA. Based on what he did this past summer, there’s no question it’s something he has indeed made a priority.

And the fact that Brown was able to do it consistently this summer falls in line with one of the core concepts that Betchart preaches to his clients.

“To me the hardest thing in sports is to be consistent,” said Betchart, who is now the director of mental training for San Francisco-based Lucid, a mental training app for athletes. “Anyone can just once in a while show up and have a great game. It really starts with having a consistent mindset based on what you can control. They have to be in the moment no matter what’s going on. It could be really bad, it could be really good.”

And when it’s over, players can’t dwell in the mistakes of the past.

“We make a mistake and get hung up sometimes,” Betchart said. “But if you can move on to that next play and train your focus to do that, it’s really hard to stop you if you don’t stop yourself.”

Instead, those mistakes actually form the foundation for future success.

In the case of Brown, one of the biggest knocks on him coming into the NBA was his shooting touch being anything but consistent.

“It’s the growth mindset,” Betchart said. “If you are going to master shooting, you’re gonna have to miss a lot of shots. It’s kind of like learning to walk. When you were learning to walk, you don’t remember but you fell down all the time. You didn’t say, ‘Oh I’m not going to walk. I’m just going to stay on the ground.’ You just picked yourself up and eventually you learned. When you get to the professional level, your game is analyzed on where it is right now. And right now, he’s 19 years old. There’s no way he’s going to be as good a shooter now as he’ll be at 23 and 25. And so if he embraces the growth mindset and just continues to focus on his process, which is taking the shot, being assertive, taking your shot, it’s all going to work out. I know this to be factually true.”

Another one of Betchart’s clients is Orlando forward Aaron Gordon, who came into the NBA as one of the worst free throw shooters in college basketball. In his lone season at Arizona, Gordon shot just 42.2 percent from the free throw line.

In his two NBA seasons, the 6-foot-9 forward has shot 68.1 percent.

“People were laughing at (Gordon’s free throw shooting) sarcastically and now as a pro he’s shooting (almost) 70 percent,” Betchart said. “It was all based on a growth mindset; just allowing yourself to fail and really, you’re not failing. You’re learning how to shoot. We introduce a concept called Victory goes to the Vulnerable. You’re going to be vulnerable sometimes. People are going to talk about your shot. That’s OK. We let people have their opinions. We don’t try and stop them. It’s all part of the process.”

Ah yes, the process.

If you listen to Brown, he has said on more than one occasion whether he played well or not, that all that he’s going through now is part of a process that will eventually make him a better person and a better player for the Celtics.

Part of that process is utilizing the various mental techniques and teachings of Betchart, who has known Brown since he was 15 years old and had a chance to spend a considerable amount of face-to-face time with him this past year when Brown was at Cal.

Most of what Betchart talks about has a strong basketball teaching component to it. But at the end of the day, there’s a lot more going on.

“Everybody starts to realize these are life skills,” Betchart said. “It’s tough to separate basketball from life. You’re going to be who you are on the court, off the court. These skills, learning to control what you can control, being present, moving on after mistakes, this is what we leave in life as well, learning how to be vulnerable in life and do those things. It naturally gravitates towards life and … what’s going on in life. It’s a natural progression. They’re human beings who choose to play a sport for a living. They are not basketball players; Basketball is what they do.”

A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter: @SherrodbCSN