Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Wild

653050.jpg

Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Wild

ST. PAUL, MN Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins and Minnesota Wild locked in a scoreless tie at the Xcel Energy Center.

1) Six of Bostons 14 first period shots were from the fourth line after Claude Julien put all of the pieces back together after one game apart against the Winnipeg Jets. Great energy for the Merlot Line, but the Bs need more consistency out of the other lines rather than relying on a handful of breakaways from Daniel Paille.

2) One shot on net and 1-for-6 on face-offs is an early sign that the bad David Krejci has entered the building this afternoon. Not enough involvement from him though he did fire off a nice seam pass to Andrew Ference for a power play one-timer at the end of the period.

3) Marco Scandella is showing the kind of desperation the Wild must have throughout their lineup. He blocked three shots in the first period including a couple of painful ones while he was on his knees. Ouch.

4) Tim Thomas and Niklas Backstrom both look locked in early on. Fourteen saves for the Wild goaltender, who's trying to snap a personal five-game losing streak.

5) Three shots on net for Daniel Paille in the early going including a breakaway chance after splitting the Wild defensemen. Too bad he fired it directly into Backstroms chest when he got some room to shoot. Paille will continue to get those breakaway chances given his speed and tenacity, but the hands just arent there on a regular basis. Makes him something of a perfect fit as a fourth-line penalty killer, doesnt it?

SECOND PERIOD
1) Zdeno Chara is a minus-7 in his last four games and continues to offer little defensive resistance or push when the scoring chances are coming. Chad Rau was able to fly into the offensive zone without anybody slowing him down before he looked off Tim Thomas to beat him short side. Bruins arent doing a good enough job slowing down players attacking in their zone and its leading to goals.

2) A pattern with these Bruins is starting to come through. Good first periods with scoring chances followed by a let-down second period where mistakes are made and goals are allowed. That was once again the case for the Bs after a competitive first 20 minutes. The Bruins look like a team that cant pull themselves out of their funk, and theyll be playoff road kill if they cant snap out of it before the regular season is over.

3) An invisible 12:43 of ice time for Brad Marchand this afternoon. Hes not bringing emotion, energy or offense and both Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron have zero shots on net as well. The offensive no-shows cant continue for those three or for David Krejci when theyre already down Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley.

4) Lousy call on Chris Kelly put the Bs on the penalty kill that turned into Minnesotas second goal, but the Bruins arent earning any of the breaks right now. Refs completely missed a high stick to the mouth of Milan Lucic by Nick Schultz, and No. 17 was running hot afterward.

5) The Bruins need some energy. They havent really showed a dire need for an outside energy transfusion until the last couple of days, and its readily apparent right now. The Bruins need to do something to bring some enthusiastic bodies into the fold while the current Bs seem to be running on fumes. THIRD PERIOD
1) Milan Lucic slammed his stick down on the ice after getting robbed by Niklas Backstrom on a golden chance from the bottom of the right face-off circle, and that summed up the Bs frustration right now. They cant generate enough offense and its leading to frustration in all areas of their game.

2) The Bruins have been shut out four times in 11 games since Nathan Horton went down with a concussion after only having been shut out twice in the first 46 games of the season. Thats a pretty eye-opening statistic when thinking about the effect Hortons injury has had on the Black and Gold.

3) Great bout by Shawn Thornton with big Matt Kassian in the opening minutes of the third period. Pretty clear the bloodied Thornton is trying to inspire his teammates, but there wasnt anything he could do to force the puck into the net in the rest of the period.

4) Liked the compete level from Josh Hennessy in very limited minutes. He created a couple of scoring chances and played with some sandpaper.

5) Matt Cullen has always been a Bruins killer throughout his career and he did it again with the Wild in Minnesota this afternoon.

Marcus Smart will get start for Celtics for injured Isaiah Thomas

Marcus Smart will get start for Celtics for injured Isaiah Thomas

As expected, Marcus Smart will get the start for the Boston Celtics tonight against the Orlando Magic in place of the injured Isaiah Thomas. 

Thomas, who leads the Celtics (12-9) in scoring (26.0) and assists (6.2) this season, suffered a right groin injury in Boston’s 107-106 loss at Houston on Monday.

Head coach Brad Stevens explained his decision a few minutes ago.

“He’s started a lot of games here in the past as a point guard,” Stevens told reporters. “He’s basically our sixth starter. It wasn’t one that I had to think a ton about.”

Starting Smart also allows second-year guard Terry Rozier to continue in his role coming off the bench. 

Whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, Smart’s production has been consistent. 

In the five games he has started this season, he has averaged 10.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. 

His numbers off the bench are almost identical with Smart averaging 9.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists as a reserve. 

Stevens also mentioned that Amir Johnson would be back in the starting lineup in place of Jonas Jerebko. Earlier in the day, Stevens told reporters the decision to start Jerebko on Monday was strictly because of the matchup with Houston. 

“We have to be able to be flexible in doing that,” Stevens said. “Houston plays four guards. We didn’t feel like we could defend them unless we switch one through four. I thought he (Jerebko) did a pretty good job. This (Orlando) team is different than Houston other than both are super-hot.”

Orlando (10-12) has won four of its last five games in part because of its size, strength and versatility along the frontline which includes Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic who now comes off the bench. 

And while the Celtics have benefited heavily from the play of their guards, obviously that plan will be amended tonight with Thomas out. 

“He (Thomas) generates a lot in the open offense what we call flow, spread offense,” Stevens said. “So some of those type of things you may not generate at the same rate. But certainly there are other ways that we’ll look to play when he’s not in the game normally, or when we’re trying to play through bigs in the post. You have different ways to play within all your schemes. Hopefully we can play to each other’s strengths and go from there.”