Chara save makes milestone a winner

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Chara save makes milestone a winner

LOS ANGELES, CA Zdeno Chara was proud to be playing in his 1,000th NHL game Saturday night, but he was even prouder still of the way his teammates helped make it a winning experience for everyone in Black and Gold.

Chara didnt unleash a 108-mph slapper against the Kings for a backbreaking goal or leave Anze Kopitar quaking in his boots after a bone-rattling hit. In fact Kopitar managed to send Chara crashing to the ice during one of their nastier confrontations behind the Boston net early in the first period.

The 6-foot-9 defenseman simply did what he does best: he played hard, honest, intimidating defense for upwards of 23 minutes of ice time in Bostons 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. That might have included a game-saving defensive stop in the final minutes, but at its heart it was all about underrated, unassuming, winning hockey at the defensive end of the ice.

There is no question that you want your 1,000th to be a winning game, said Chara, who sounded like a captain unwilling to settle for anything less.

Chara also came up with the difference-making play of the game with 1:15 to go when he dropped to one knee and extended a daddy long-legs kick save to block a shot while the Kings scrambled for the potential game-tying strike. Big Zee managed to deflect a shot that appeared headed straight for the vacant cage in a one-goal game with Tim Thomas out of position.

Once that threat was gone Boston withstood Los Angeles desperate last gasp attack with the extra skater on the ice.

They put a lot of pressure on us. They had an extra guy. Its always tough to cover up everybody. They were just throwing pucks at the net, said Chara. There was a loose puck and I just to keep it from going into the net. So I dropped down to block it.

Thats always been my bread and butter. Im known more for defending and shutting guys down than scoring. If I can help offensively I like to do that, but the most important thing is winning hockey games.

Thomas certainly wasnt going to critic Charas street hockey goaltending-style when it accomplished the most important goal: stopping the puck.

It was frantic. It always is, but I was focused on keeping my mind from getting too frantic so I wouldnt get pulled out of the net, said Thomas. Thats what it takes when you get to the end. Theyve got six guys in the zone doing anything they can to throw pucks at the net. Sometimes you need a little help and tonight I got help from a 6-foot-9 giant.

The 6-foot-9 giants elongated kick save protected the lead, and then allowed all of the players on ice to crowd around Chara once the game was over. They congratulated their captain on becoming the 275th NHL player to crack 1,000 games played, and they congratulated each other on a battle-hardened victory against a tough bunch of Kings.
Its a great feeling. Anytime you can win a hockey game its a great feeling, said Chara. You can see that the mood in the room after the game was really, really good. I cant ask for anything more than the guys gave me tonight.

I appreciate it; its a great group of guys. Im really proud to be part of this team and this group. You can see that they battle really hard for me and for everybody. I thought that this game had special meaning for everybody.

The win allowed the Bruins to maintain their three-point lead over an Ottawa Senators team that romped all over the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier Saturday night. Despite the large contingent of Bruins fans in the crowd, there was little fanfare during the game about Charas NHL milestone with the action happening so far away from hockey home in Boston.

But there will be gifts, recognition and an appropriate ceremony when the Bruins play their next home game at TD Garden next Tuesday night, March 27, against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Just call it a Chara party that the 35-year-old is looking forward to hosting.

Its nice to be in front of your own fans. Its been an honor to be playing for the Boston Bruins and playing in this league. I have a lot of fun. I enjoy it every day, said Chara. I enjoy working hard. When you get recognized for the dedication and the hard work its really gratifying.

Theres something symbolic about Chara throwing his body in front of a puck to save the game-tying goal late in the third period of an important road game that just so happened to be his 1,000th NHL game.

Its the exact kind of rugged defense and indomitable will to win thats lifted Bostons game since Chara first arrived in town six seasons ago, and its the reason the defensemans 1000th game is merely a pit stop on the way to greater things.

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays

 

QUOTES:

"Rick has been the model of consistency.'' - John Farrell on starter Rick Porcello

"It means that we have a heck of a team, really. The runs we put up, and I don't think anybody talks about our defense.'' - Porcello, asked about the significance of being baseball's first 18-game winner.

"It's cool to be a part of that, but we're in a race right now and that's way more important.'' - Mookie Betts on the crowd chants of "MVP!" during his at-bat.

 

NOTES

* Hanley Ramirez has nine extra-base hit in the last 15 games.

* Opposing baserunners have stolen only 54 percent of the time when Sandy Leon is behind the plate, the lowest figure for any Red Sox catcher (minimum 20 games) since 1987

* Brock Holt tied a season high with three hits, including two with two outs and runners in scoring position.

* Mookie Betts set a career high with 72 extra-base hits.

* Betts became the third player in franchise history to have a 30-homer season before the age of 24. Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro are the others.

* Betts has five homers and 13 RBI in his last five home games.

* Rick Porcello is just the fifth major league pitcher since 1913 to begin a season 13-0 at home

* Porcello is the third Red Sox pitcher to win 18 of his first 21 decisions after Cy Young (1902) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (2008)

* David Ortiz leads the majors in doubles, slugging percentage and OPS.

 

STARS:

1) Rick Porcello

The righthander became the first 18-game winner in the big leagues and he did it by supplying seven innings for the sixth straight start while improving to 13-0 at home.

2) Mookie Betts

Betts gave the Red Sox an early lead with his 30th homer of the year, becoming the third player in franchise history to reach that milestone before the age of 24.

3) Travis Shaw

Shaw broke out of a month-long slump with a three-hit game, including a double, to go along with two RBI.

 

Patriots place Tre' Jackson on reserve/PUP list

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Patriots place Tre' Jackson on reserve/PUP list

The Patriots announced three roster moves on Monday night. Two resulted in players parting ways with the team. The other opened a roster spot without a departure. 

In addition to releasing both defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and center Bryan Stork, the Patriots also placed guard Tre' Jackson on the reserve/physically unable to perform list.

Jackson began training camp on PUP, and he has not practiced with the team since camp kicked off. Now that he is on the reserve/PUP, the second-year player out of Florida State will be forced to miss the first six weeks of the regular season, but he will not count against the active roster during that period. 

Jackson, a fourth-round pick last year, played through knee issues at times as a rookie, seeing action in 13 games and starting in nine. He has been spotted on the practice fields this summer, but he has been limited to warm-ups and conditioning work. 

In his absence, the Patriots still have depth at guard, which may have had something to do with the team's willingness to make Jackson unavailable for almost the first half of the season. Rookie Joe Thuney looks like he will be the starter at left guard, while Josh Kline could be the option at right guard to start the season. Jonathan Cooper and Shaq Mason are dealing with injuries at the moment, but they both returned to the practice field on Monday, and they also have a shot at the right guard job. Rookie sixth-rounder Ted Karras could also factor in as a reserve at either guard or center if he makes the club. 

The Patriots currently have 80 players on the active roster and need to reduce that number to 75 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

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First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

First impressions from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:

 

* Rick Porcello followed form.

Porcello has, throughout the season, struggled some in the early innings before making some adjustments and stabilizing as the game wears on.

So it was Monday night against the Rays.

Coming into the start, Porcello had compiled a 4.15 ERA in the first three innings with a 2.13 ERA in innings four through six.

Sure enough, Porcello allowed four straight hits and two runs in the third inning. After that, he looked like a different pitcher. He did yield a solo run in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double and two groundouts.

But from the fourth through the seventh, he faced 13 hitters and retired 12 of them, including five by strikeout.

 

* Travis Shaw showed signs of digging out his funk at the plate.

Shaw was 0-for-6 to start the homestand, and since the beginning of August, had compiled an anemic .141/.236/.264 slash line with only four extra-base hits (two doubles, two doubles).

That resulted in Shaw losing playing time to Aaron Hill at third, and being dropped lower in the batting order.

But Monday, Shaw smacked a double to right -- the kind of extra-base power that he almost routinely flashed in the first half -- and later added two singles for a three-hit night.

It marked the first multi-hit game for him since July 26, better than a month ago.

 

* Lo and behold, the Red Sox can collect hits with the bases loaded.

The team's struggles in that department have been well-chronicled. Coming into the night, the Sox were hitting just .211 in such situations, ranking them 14th out of the 15 A.L. teams.

Time after time, the Sox have failed to come through with the bases full, sometimes even with no outs.

But that wasn't the case Monday. Twice, in fact, the Sox had innings with the bases loaded and both times, they scored.

In the second, Brock Holt's single to left scored Chris Young, though Sandy Leon was cut down at the plate when the Sox tried to get two runs out of it.

In the seventh, a sharp single to center by Sandy Leon scored two more.