B's infuriated over Montreal fans cheering Chara's injury

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B's infuriated over Montreal fans cheering Chara's injury

MONTREAL Theres nothing like some old-fashioned hatred to get the Bruins back on their toes.

The hatred was, of course, directed at Zdeno Chara. In a show of blind audacity, the Bell Centre crowd stood and lustily cheered when Chara lay on the ice, injured, after being hit in the throat by a puck fired off the stick of Tomas Plekanec.

Plekanec showed his class and sportsmanship by checking immediately on Chara as soon as the 6-foot-9 defenseman was felled, but the Montreal fan base chose a different tact with raucous cheering. It was their idea of revenge for Chara's hit on Max Pacioretty last year, in which the Montreal forward suffered a severe concussion and fractured vertebrae in his neck when he was ridden into the stanchion. The NHL chose not to punish Chara, ruling it was a hockey play, but that didn't stop a period of near mass insanity in Montreal, which culminated in the police being pressured to investigate whether criminal charges should be brought. (They weren't.)

That incident, in and of itself, probably indicated where many Canadien followers reside on that fine line between being devoted fans or being a bloodthirsty mob severely in need of a reality check. When they gave Chara's injury a rousing standing ovation, it clinched the verdict.

And it infuriated the Bruins.

That was embarrassing," said Brad Marchand. "The fact that they were cheering like they did when Zee was hurt was classless."The normally stoic Chara didn't like it either even if he wasn't quite surprised.

"The way the fans react I cant control, but at the same time its not sportsmanlike and its disappointing, said Chara. When a guy is laying down on the ice hurting and theres a standing ovation for that . . . what can I say? There is nothing much I can say about it."

This is a fan base that, in the past, has a) booed the U.S. national anthem, b) rioted and burned police cruisers in "celebration" of a first-round playoff win over the Bruins in 2007-08, and c) flooded the 911 emergency line with calls after Chara's hit over Pacioretty. So over-the-top behavior is nothing new in Montreal.

But Marchand pointed out that there's a time and place for everything . . . and injuries aren't the time for that sort of rabid fandom to be on display.

Were out there trying to do a job," he said. "Its entertainment for them, but at the same time you have to be concerned that its peoples lives at stake. Concussions and stuff like that are a very serious thing, and you dont have to disrespect guys when theyre trying to make a living for their family and theyre hurt like that.

Bogaerts hitting at a record-setting pace

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Bogaerts hitting at a record-setting pace

A change of scenery is a must for the Red Sox after the rough series in Texas, where they were lucky to walk away with one win.

The pitching staff's struggles were the most apparent, but Xander Bogaerts had arguably his worst series of the season -- 2-for-12 at the plate and two errors in the field.

Although Bogaerts now finds himself three points behind José Altuve (.347) for the American League batting lead, he still leads the major leagues with 108 hits. He has more hits than Daniel Murphy, who’s at .349 in the National League.

And despite his weekend struggles, the Boston shortstop is in position to make a run at history  -- the single-season hits record.

Bogaerts is already in a comfortable spot to break Wade Boggs’ Red Sox record of 240 hits, set in 1985. Through 74 games, Bogaerts has 10 more hits than the Hall-of-Famer had at that point in the season.

He's also ahead of the pace set in 2004 by Ichiro Suzuki, who established the MLB record for most hits in a season with 262 that year. Bogarts has five more hits than Ichiro had through 74 games.

There's no guarantee he'll reach 262, or anything close. Ichiro had a strong finishing kick in '04, batting .418 with 159 hits after his 74th game. In fact, in his final 74 games, he hit .433 with 141 hits. He's left challengers in the dust before: Altuve was equal to Ichiro's pace in 2014 -- both had 105 hits in their first 76 games -- but wound up with "only" 225 hits.

So, admittedly, Bogaerts is facing an uphill battle.

He does have a one advantage over Ichiro, though. In 2004, Suzuki -- still playing for the Mariners -- usually had Randy Winn hitting behind him. Although Winn was a respectable player, he doesn’t command the respect of the hitter who's usually behind Bogaerts: David Ortiz.

Opposing pitchers still don’t plan to attack Bogaerts, but it’d only be worse if pretty much anyone other than Ortiz was coming up next.

And there’s one last set of statistics to consider:

Suzuki finished 2004 with 80 games in which he had at least two hits. That’s 49.7 percent of the games he played in.

Bogaerts has done that 33 times -- 44.6 percent of his games. So he needs to string together some big games if he intends to make an improbable run at the 12-year-old record.

Improbable, yes.

But definitely not impossible.

Lionel Messi says he is quitting Argentina national team

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Lionel Messi says he is quitting Argentina national team

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Lionel Messi says he is quitting Argentina's national team.

Argentina and Messi lost a final for the third year in a row, with Chile winning the Copa America 4-2 on penalty kicks following a 0-0 tie Sunday night.

His nation's career scoring leader with 55 international goals, Messi sent Argentina's first penalty kick over the crossbar.

Messi tells the Argentine network TyC Sports "the national team is over for me. It's been four finals, it's not meant for me. I tried. It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn't get it, so I think it's over."

Messi and Argentina lost to Brazil in the 2007 Copa final and to Germany in extra time in the 2014 World Cup final. They lost last year's Copa final to host Chile on penalty kicks.

The 29-year-old Messi has led Barcelona to four Champions League titles.

Perry's Patriots 53-man roster projection

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Perry's Patriots 53-man roster projection

With New England Patriots organized workouts finished until next month, Phil Perry puts together another 53-man roster projection.

View the gallery here