Chara, Seidenberg anchor shutdown line


Chara, Seidenberg anchor shutdown line

Claude Julien wasnt going use all of his bullets during the regular season, but hes unloading them now with the season on the line.

With a team that dropped out of the divisional lead for the first time since November and was riding a four-game losing streak, the Bruins head coach decided it was time to start making a few adjustments on his defensemen corps. One decision led to Joe Corvo being a healthy scratch for the first time this season after struggling nearly all season for the Bruins, and the other was slotting Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg together as a shutdown defensive pair.

Chara and Seidenberg were put together in the Montreal series during last years playoff series, and it was no coincidence the Bruins turned things around when Bostons two best defensemen were joined together. Julien put both blueliners together in the latter stages of the blowout loss to the Florida Panthers, and they played every shift together in Saturdays 3-2 shootout victory over the Flyers.

Not a single goal was scored by the Flyers when the new CharaSeidenberg pairing was out on the ice.

Everybody likes that pairing because of what they did last year in the playoffs. Its a long year, and we said maybe eventually youd see that combination. But we had other things we had to do first and foremost. For now, that is a pairing. Whether it disappears for a while and comes back, thatll depend on the teams were playing against, on whos in the lineup, and what players theyre playing etc, said Julien. Those are decisions you make almost on a game-to-game basis. But at the same time, youre not going to hide the fact that you like that pairing especially if both of them are at their best. Theyve probably become one of the best pairs in the league when theyre together.

Both Chara and Seidenberg topped 28 minutes of ice time in the needed win and there was a marked difference in clearing the net in front of Tim Thomas. Of course Philadelphia worked and managed to get a pair of tipped goals to push things into overtime, but Julien finally likes the way his defensemen crew is shaping up in front of the grit.

Last year Ference and Boychuk were a good pair during the playoffs. Youve got Johnny -- when hes on his game, hes a real physical player, and Andrews going to battle like he plays twice his size. Then youve got a guy like Adam McQuaid on the third pair whos also a real physical, tough individual, said Julien. Greg Zanon is a good shot blocker, whos a gritty player, who goes in and battles hard.

You know, youve got to have guys, when its time to play against other lines, thatll wear them down. I think weve got some of those guys that can do that.

What Julien didnt say is that its pretty clear the defensively weak Corvo isnt one of those guys, and that makes him a real potential liability when things get rough during the playoffs.

The defensive miscues and softness around the net were nowhere to be found against the Flyers after it had been rampant in allowing 36 goals over the first nine games during the month of March. Both Chara and Seidenberg are ready to work together just as they did to such great success last spring.

Honestly, we are used to playing everybody with everybody. Its just the way it is right now. We got together and we played together the whole playoffs last year, so were used to each other, said Chara. Thats the way this group has been working for as long as Ive been here. But, you know, we try to keep the pairings against certain guys and it worked well.

Julien did a lot of talking over the last couple of days about stabilizing things defensively and finding Bostons structure and layers a couple of vital steps in regaining their game and the desired won-loss results. Working in practice was certainly one step in accomplishing the goal and the other was putting the right personnel out on the ice to get the job done.

Pairing Chara with Seidenberg and dropping Corvo out of the top six achieved that goal and gave the Bruins the air-tight defense they were looking for all around the cage. Its an effective formula that Julien and the Bruins should be looking to carry out over the final 11 games of the season with results so very important.

Stevens, Celtics expect to use similar rotation vs. Bulls


Stevens, Celtics expect to use similar rotation vs. Bulls

The Boston Celtics’ bench was unable to close out Wednesday’s 122-117 win over Brooklyn, but don’t look for head coach Brad Stevens to make any significant changes tonight.

“I felt pretty good about those rotations last night,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’sgame against Chicago. “For forty minutes, we rotated well.”

After a relatively close first quarter, it was Boston’s second unit that gave Boston its first double-digit lead of the night and led by as many as 13 points.

But it wasn’t their scoring that jumped out to Stevens.

“The second unit came in and provided probably our best defensive sequence of the game, start of the second quarter and played really well until the end,” Stevens said.

Stevens played a total of 10 players against the Nets – all playing in the first half - and will likely have a similar number of Celtics on the floor tonight against the Bulls.

It will be interesting to see what the Celtics do rotation-wise when Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain) and Kelly Olynk (right shoulder) are back on the active roster.

Smart recently confirmed an earlier report that the left ankle injury he suffered in the Celtics’ final preseason game against the New York Knicks, would keep him out for a couple of weeks.

In addition to missing the season opener against Brooklyn, Smart is likely to miss another three games.

Olynyk, who had offseason surgery in May, has been cleared for contact but is not expected to be back on the floor until the middle of next month.

“Until our other guys get back,” Stevens said. “There will be similar rotations.”

ESPN’s Mortensen: Deflategate coverage led to death threats


ESPN’s Mortensen: Deflategate coverage led to death threats

In an expansive profile on The, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen says he and his wife were subjected to death threats because of Mortensen’s Deflategate coverage.

After the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game victory in January 2015, Mortensen tweeted information he said he received from a source that has long since been proven incorrect. The info - that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs in the game were underinflated by 2 pounds - remained uncorrected on Twitter and in an story for more than six months.  

The controversy over Mortensen’s reporting drew the ire of Patriots fans, many of whom blamed the tweet and his story for fanning the flames of what eventually led to a four-game suspension for Tom Brady and a $1 million fine and loss of draft picks for the Patriots. 

Mortensen, who has subsequently undergone treatment for cancer, told The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis that the threats led him to tell his wife Micki that he didn’t want her traveling with him from their home in Arkansas to Bristol, Connecticut when he did studio work for ESPN. 

“What bothered me is we’re in an era where if your wife goes onto social media, she basically reads that they want you to die,” Mortensen said. “Even after I got cancer, I got some death wishes.”

More from the Ringer story:

“My job is to protect her,” he said. When Mort himself came to Bristol, he behaved like someone who was living under a public threat. He went straight from the ESPN studio to his home, avoiding restaurants and rarely appearing in public.

Mortensen said after his initial tweet, a second source, with whom he had a better relationship, told him to used a broader description of the footballs, i.e. call them “significantly underinflated.”  Mortensen now acknowledges that information should have given him pause.

“That should have raised the journalist in me to a higher level,” he told the Ringer. “I’ve got to ask some more questions here. What are we talking about, 2 pounds under? But, no, I got to get on TV.”