Defensive mishaps prove costly against Canes

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Defensive mishaps prove costly against Canes

BOSTON -- It was just Tuesday night that everyone on the Bruins praised their defensemen for skating with the puck and creating clean breakouts, which led to several odd-man rushes and a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators.

Two nights later, the Bruins weren't necessarily blaming their defense after a 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at the TD Garden. After all, the B's did put 47 shots on goal, which is usually enough to get something going offensively.

But on a night in which Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward seemed to be on his game, Boston needed their defensemen and goaltender to be on their game once again.

Instead, all three Carolina goals came on defensive mishaps, and it cost them on a night in which no pucks got past Ward.

The first defensive mishap came with 8:09 remaining in the first period, as Jiri Tlusty put a body-check on Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk in the corner. Boychuk went down with an injury on the hit, and Tlusty threw it out front through a flat-footed Bruins team and Eric Staal one-timed it home for the 1-0 lead.

"We just didnt play well. Just a really bad night for us," said Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara after the loss. "You know, I thought we had actually the start of the game and Johnny Boychuk seemed liked he got hurt and we all kind of stopped playing, including myself, and boom they zipped it past us and its past Tuukka Rask. Then we just, again, we didnt have a good second and, yeah, we couldnt get anything going tonight."

Even Bruins coach Claude Julien put some blame on the offense for not getting back hard enough and for not coming deep enough into their own zone for cleaner breakouts. But the second Carolina goal was simply the result of a defensive turnover on an aggressive Hurricanes forecheck.

That forecheck came from Brandon Sutter, as a Carolina dump off the glass in their own zone ended up bouncing over the head of Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference in the final minutes of the second period.

Ference was able to track it down and tried to backhand it over to defensive partner Adam McQuaid through his own high slot.

Turns out that was a bad decision, as Sutter was right on Ference's tail and intercepted the sloppy pass, where he then put a shot on net. Both McQuaid and Ference never re-gained their position after Sutter's shot, and Tuomo Ruutu swooped in for the rebound, made a nice move on Rask, and put it into the open net.

"They just chipped it in, and I think our D didn't know where it was landing," said Rask after the loss. "And then, I was yelling at them, and they caught it. And then the guy just squeezed through and got a shot and then a rebound.

"I was laying there, and McQuaid was laying there, and then he had pretty much the empty net."

Ference and McQuaid were on the ice for the last two Hurricane goals. But the first one was more their fault than the second.

"The result was frustrating," said Ference. "McQuaid and I just talked about it. I think the first goal we were on for was a little goofy play. The second one, we wouldn't change much. But I think our game, other than that, was fairly solid, just from a partner's point of view. But the result was pretty frustrating."

Ference called Carolina's second goal -- the first goal he was on the ice for -- a "loopy" one. But even though the puck was on edge by the time Ference tracked it down, it looked like nothing more than a defensive turnover in their own zone. Something that had to be limited on a night in which the offense couldn't finish.

"I literally couldn't even see it until it landed between us, and then I tried to whack it over to McQuaid's side," said Ference.. "I'm pretty sure it hit Sutter's stick and then hit his chest, and then he whacked at it. After that, I'm not sure what happened after it hit Tuukka. But, you know, it was kind of a crazy play."

Carolina's third and final goal -- the second goal that Ference and McQuaid were on the ice for -- wasn't exactly Ference and McQuaid's fault, but it was due to a defensive mishap.

Rask came behind the net and attempted to dump the puck up the left boards, but Andreas Nodl stopped the puck before it could even get to the half-wall and put it out to the top of the circle, where Sutter wristed it top-right for the 3-0 lead.

Take your pick. Blame the offense for not scoring. Blame the defensive mishaps for all three goals on a night in which the Bruins could not afford defensive mishaps.

Either way, the B's didn't do themselves any favors.

"I'm not trying to take anything away from them," said Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. "They're playing well, they're playing hard, they're a good team. But that being said, I think the goals they got, it's our own fault."

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.