Haggerty: 15 thoughts from the Bruins-Habs matchup

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Haggerty: 15 thoughts from the Bruins-Habs matchup

Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins leading the downtrodden Montreal Canadiens by a 1-0 score after the first 20 minutes of play at TD Garden:

1) A Herculean effort from Tim Thomas in the first 20 minutes allowed the Bruins to maintain the slim lead over the Habs. Plenty of mistakes and sloppiness out of the starting gate for the Bs in this one. Best stop for Thomas: probably the bonehead turnover by Dennis Seidenberg to Andrei Kostitsyn that turned into an unobstructed shot from the high slot. Thomas turned it away and 15 others just like it.

2) Another really slow start for the Bruins after the players admitted they were sluggish in the first couple of periods against the Winnipeg Jets. This could be an issue tonight against a desperate Habs bunch if they cant snap out of it.

3) Patrice Bergeron is 0-for-5 in the face-off dot after the first period. Perhaps hes a little down after missing out on the All-Star selection process today that he so richly deserved. Bergeron may still be a substitute once the injuries start piling up for the Eastern Conference hopefuls, but he was one of the top 25 players in the NHL over the first half.

4) Benoit Pouliot is still having trouble lassoing those emotions against his former team after taking a boarding penalty to wipe out a Bruins power play. Pouliot has an unorthodox, controlled aggression that makes him so effective, and it turns into something closer to blind rage against the Habs. Figured that would change with his nemesis Jacques Martin gone, but it hasnt yet.

5) Jordan Caron is the perfect example of a pay-off coming for those players showing persistence and being a good soldier when things dont go their way. Gets a great bounce off the glass from a Johnny Boychuk dump-in attempt and fires into the open net. Its like the Hockey gods wrote the script. Still wondering where Carey Price was going knowing the erratic bounces off the glass in this building.

Here are five thoughts from the second period with the Bruins still leading the Habs by a 1-0 score after the first 40 minutes of play:

1) A couple of missed chances for the Bruins in the second period to really extend that lead. The biggest lost opportunity was Patrice Bergeron lifting a shot just a little too high on a 2-on-1 with Tyler Seguin after a clever little breakout bank pass off the boards from Benoit Pouliot. Its just not Bergerons day today.

2) The BruinsCanadiens rivalry has definitely lost its luster this season. Its just not the same with the Vancouver Canucks now a part of the equation with the hate they bring. Montreals tough season also plays into it, of course.

3) Milan Lucic with a couple of good tipped attempts around the net, but couldnt pull the trigger in the first 40 minutes. That line has enjoyed some chances tonight, but hasnt been able to finish any of them off.

4) Adam McQuaid enjoying an excellent game tonight. Hes blocking shots and controlling the puck in his own end, and did a good job of jumping all over Alexei Emelin when the Habs troublemaker was going after Tyler Seguin following a whistle. Also dropped Lars Eller with a huge hit in front of the Montreal bench. Hes having a much stronger game than the box score might indicate.

5) Both teams did a really good job of clogging everything up on the ice in the second period after a pretty wide open first period. Montreal did a much better job of frustrating the Bruins offensively, and the Bs couldnt convert when they did get close to the net.

Here are five thoughts from the third period with the Bruins beating the Canadiens by a 2-1 score after 60 full minutes of play at TD Garden:

1) P.K. Subban hit on David Krejci looked clean on the first replay I saw, but multiple viewings showed some forearmelbow contact to Krejcis head. Andrew Ference did the right thing coming to the aid of his teammate, and then the refs did the wrong thing by encouraging Subban to do it again by handing Montreal a power play. Thats not the way the league should be going with these things.

2) Alexei Emelin is going to be a thorn in the side of the Bs for years to come. You heard it here first.

3) Never seen an athlete traded in the middle of a game, but that seems to be exactly whats happened with Mike Cammalleri getting yanked out of the locker room after the second period and sent back to the team hotel. Crazy.

4) Milan Lucic with the eventual game-winning goal and David Krejci with an assist for a point in his 10th straight game. Thats a career-high for Krejci and the longest streak in the NHL this season.

5) Impressive, gritty win by the Bruins without their best stuff tonight.

Brown taking opportunities with Celtics as they come

Brown taking opportunities with Celtics as they come

BOSTON -- Compared to most high draft picks, Jaylen Brown doesn’t log a ton of minutes for the Boston Celtics.
 
Playing on an experienced team with legit hopes of making a deep playoff run, rookies seeing limited minutes is a given.
 
Knowing playing time will come in a limited supply, Brown understands all too well the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity he gets on the floor.
 
He did just that on Saturday in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia, and he hopes to do more of the same on Monday when the Celtics take on the Houston Rockets.
 
When you look at Brown’s stat line, nothing about it looks impressive. He played 15 minutes, scored two points with one rebound and one blocked shot.
 
But beyond the stats was the fact that he was on the floor for seven minutes in the fourth quarter in a close back-and-forth game on the road. Rookies on the floor in crunch time is not the norm in the NBA.
 
“It means a lot,” Brown told reporters after Saturday’s win. “I try to be as best I can be for my team; try to put my best foot forward every night out.”
 
And he did just that on Saturday.
 
In the fourth quarter with the Celtics leading 87-83, Brown blocked a Gerald Henderson shot that wound up in the hands of Jae Crowder. Moments later, Jonas Jerebko hit a 3-pointer that gave the Celtics their largest lead of the game, 90-83.
 
And just two minutes prior to the blocked shot, he was out in transition following an Isaiah Thomas steal and threw down a dunk that pushed Boston’s lead to 86-83 with 7:11 to play.
 
Brown acknowledged making the most of those opportunities bodes well for him and the franchise.
 
“It’s great for our team in general; not just for me,” Brown said. “Those plays helped us to pull the game out in the end. So I’m glad we got the win. I think we should have played a little better than we did.”
 
The continued pursuit of self-improvement is a hallmark of what Brown’s focus and desire are at this stage of his pro career. He has talked often about not wanting to be just one of the best in this draft class but also one of the best in the NBA overall.
 
But he’s also learned that to get there takes time and experience developing both physically and mentally. Part of that mental growth entails having the right approach to games.
 
“Usually you try to tell yourself not to mess up,” Brown said. “Now that I’m getting more comfortable, it’s just play basketball, bring energy, things like that; come out and do what you’re supposed to do. A lot of times you try to tell yourself to not mess up and it’s counteractive; just come out and play basketball and have fun.”
 
And by doing so the minutes will come.
 
“You can’t control that. I just have to control what I can control,” Brown said. “I trust coach (Brad Stevens); I trust my coaching staff. I have to come out and in the minutes I get, play my hand as best I can and take advantage of what I do get and impact this team as much as possible.”
 
This season, Brown is averaging 4.8 points, 2.0 rebounds while shooting 41.9 percent from the field.

Zolak: Bennett helps with Gronk loss, but Pats need to manage him

Zolak: Bennett helps with Gronk loss, but Pats need to manage him

Scott Zolak said on Pregame Live Sunday that the Patriots are better-suited to survive a season-ending injury to Rob Gronkowski than they were a season ago. 

Zolak said that given the health of Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and the signing of Chris Hogan, the offense has more stability at other positions to make up for the loss of Gronkowski, whose season is over due to back surgery. As for the tight end position, Zolak said he feels the Patriots traded for Martellus Bennett to protect themselves against scenarios like the one they currently face. 

“This offseason they [acquired] Martellus Bennett, I think for this very reason: to prepare for what really happens year after year, is some sort of issue comes up with Rob Gronkowski and you have to play without him,” Zolak said.

Bennett was questionable with an ankle injury for this week’s game, but is expected to play. Asked about the health of Bennett, Zolak said that he believes the tight end is good to play, but that his importance to the team with Gronkowski out means the Pats will need to be careful. 

“I think he’s healthy enough to get through about 30-35 snaps,” Zolak said. “They’ve got to balance him now moving forward.”