Chara struggling along with rest of Bruins


Chara struggling along with rest of Bruins

ST. PAUL, MN Zdeno Chara hasnt had too many stretches like current one with the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins Captain and star defenseman was building up an impressive Norris Trophy resume rolling into NHL All-Star weekend. He served as an honorary captain and potted the game-winning goal in the mid-winter classic at Scotiabank Place. But that seems like a long time ago now with Chara struggling right along with the rest of his Bruins teammates.

He put up another minus-1 in their 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center Sunday afternoon.

Chara was encouraged by the teams first period, but they just couldn't follow through on it.

We came out and had a pretty good effort in the first period, but we werent able to follow it up with another good one in the second, said Chara. I think our play right now is a reflection of the five guys working being on the ice and working together as a unit. If we are not working as a unit then mistakes will happen.

The numbers dont lie, and Chara is a minus-7 over his last four games while showing signs of fatigue. There isnt a soul that thinks its desire or effort thats at the heart of Charas difficulties, and his coach thinks its merely the 6-foot-9 defenseman trying to do too much with so many of his teammates struggling around him.

You talk about mistakes, but those are made when youre not on top of your game, said Claude Julien. When you play with energy and you play with smarts you make good line changes. That energy level stays where it should be and your work ethic stays where it should be.

But youve got only some guys producing for the team, and there are not enough of them. So they try to do a little more and produce a little more, and it hurts them more than it helps him. It just snowballs from there. Weve got to rely on everybody to do their jobs and do them well.

In Sundays loss it was a little bit of both as nobody in a Bruins uniform did much to slow down Chad Rau or Dany Heatley when the two players zoomed into the Bs zone with unimpeded speed. Chara backed way off Rau while wary of Heatley trailing the play as the second attacker, and both the Bs defenseman and Tim Thomas were burned when Rau scored to the short side.

Chara has just three assists and a minus-7 rating in games during the month of February. He knows he can be better, as can the rest of the B's.

We win as a team and we lose as a team. We could all be betterthats for sure, said Chara. I dont think theres any one thing that we can say that were doing well. We need to improve every aspect of our game. When we play our game its fun to play and when we dont its just working hard. Weve got to be on top of the things that work for us.

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

BOSTON – No one is proclaiming DeMarcus Cousins’ demeanor is all that radically different than past seasons. 

But the volatile nature that has often overshadowed his on-the-court-brilliance, doesn’t seem to shine as brightly as it used to. 

Maybe he’s growing up. 

Maybe he’s finally comfortable with his team. 

And then there’s the almighty dollar which was the incentive for one of his teammates, Matt Barnes, to clean up his act as far as racking up technical fouls and being fined by the league. 

I asked Barnes whether there was a light bulb moment or a teammate or player that helped him get on track and not draw so much attention from officials and the league office. 

“It was all the money I was being fined,” he said. “I think I lost like $600,000 over my career for fines. It was time to kind of wake and say ‘hey, they don’t like you so you have to stick to the book.’”

With Barnes returning to Sacramento (he played for the Kings during the 2004-2005 season), he finds an intense, kindred spirit of sorts in Cousins who like Barnes has had his share of technical and fines handed down by the league office. 

This season, Cousins is the NBA’s leader in technical fouls with six. 

“I’ve always had a good head on my shoulders,” Barnes said. “I’m just a passionate player. I play with my emotion on my sleeve. I think DeMarcus does the same thing. What I’m trying to show him now, we have to keep our emotions and energy focused towards the right things. That could be detrimental to the team if it gets out of hand.”

First-year coach Dave Joerger has been pleased to see how different Cousins is to be around on a daily basis as opposed to how he’s perceived. 

“He gets credit for his talent. He gets credit that he’s improved in the league,” Joerger said. “I think he doesn’t get enough credit for the way that his approach to the game and the way that he’s carrying himself and conducting himself has greatly improved. He’s a good person. Now being with him, I see improvement over the last three years, the way that he goes about his business. I think that’s very positive.”

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

BOSTON – Here are a few odds and ends to keep an eye on heading into tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings: 
· The Celtics have won eight in a row over the Kings in Boston, with the last loss to Sacramento at the TD Garden coming on Jan. 19, 2007. Current Celtic Gerald Green was in the starting lineup that night. 

· Only six times in franchise history have the Celtics launched 38 or more 3-pointers in a game, four of which came in the month of November this season. 

· Speaking of 3-pointers, 36.2 percent of Boston’s shots are 3s. That ranks fifth in the league behind Houston, Cleveland, Brooklyn and Golden State.

· Don’t be surprised if Avery Bradley gets off to a good start tonight, especially from 3-point range. He’s shooting 59.1 percent on 3s in the first quarter which ranks second in the league. 

· Isaiah Thomas tallied 395 points scored in November, the most by a Celtic since John Havlicek had 406 points in November during the 1971-1972 season. 

· Boston leads the NBA in points scored (46.3 per game) by second-round picks. The Celtics’ second-round picks include Isaiah Thomas; Jae Crowder; Amir Johnson; Jonas Jerebko; Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey.

· The Celtics are 5-0 this season when they outrebound an opponent. 

· Tonight’s game will be Boston’s fifth set of back-to-back games this season. In the first game, they are 3-1 this season. On the second night, they are 2-2.