Haggerty: Bruins have work to do

651994.jpg

Haggerty: Bruins have work to do

BOSTON -- The Bruins might have thought theyd turned the corner after a good effort against the Nashville Predators last weekend, but the shutout loss to the Rangers Tuesday night was a stark reminder there is work to still be done.

New York now has a nine-point lead over Boston in the Eastern Conference standings. It clearly doesnt matter who's the best team in mid-February, but there are things that will need to be tightened up for the Bs to be the best in May or June.

Boston's defense corps, for instance, had a rough night against the Rangers. Some of it is fixable; Zdeno Chara, after all, will be better than the player who took a bad penalty, had a shot bounce off him in front of the Boston net for a goal, and had four giveaways in a careless night handling the puck. But what about Joe Corvo?

Corvo once again foolishly jumped to pinch during a four-on-four situation that hung Dennis Seidenberg out to dry in an odd-man rush that ended with an Artem Anisimov goal early in the third period, giving New York a insurmountable 3-0 lead.

Were a team that thought that if we could get one . . . wed get two, said coach Claude Julien on the B's mindset heading into the third period. But then they came out and scored that third goal. It was a backbreaker."

There are other issues plaguing the Bruins:

Benoit Pouliot has gone AWOL, failing to score a goal in the last 15 games after he appeared to find a home on the third line.

David Krejci is in the midst of a season-worst six-game scoring drought, even as the coaching staff attempted to light a fire under him by dropping him down to the third line.

And, clearly, the Bruins arent the same deep offensive juggernaut with Nathan Horton sidelined because of a concussion. He's been out for eight games and there's no indication when, or if, he'll be able to return this year.

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

BOSTON – It’s easy to forget that Kelly Olynyk went several months without doing anything basketball-related as he was on the mend from shoulder surgery.

His return had its share of ups and downs, but it seems the 7-foot center has found his stride and he’s making opponents pay for it.

For the second time in as many games, Olynyk came up big for the Celtics as Boston continued on its winning ways with a 108-98 win over Charlotte.

Olynyk, who scored a season-high 26 points in Boston’s win at Atlanta on Friday, had an efficient 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting against the Hornets on Monday.

Assertive. Aggressive. Contract year.

It doesn’t matter how you describe what or why Olynyk is ballin’ so hard lately.

The point is he’s doing it a better job of recognizing opportunities to make plays and executing whatever role he’s being asked to play.

“Just feeling good with the second unit,” Olynyk said. “I’m just trying to be aggressive and help the starters out.”

In the past, teams have mixed up their defensive coverages on Olynyk which frequently left him being guarded by a quicker but smaller player, or a big man with limited mobility.

Often Olynyk settled for long range shots and 3’s, regardless of the defender.

But as we’ve seen the last couple of games, he has hurt teams with his scoring around the rim which has in turn opened things up for his teammates or himself.

“We need him to play like that all the time,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “When he’s aggressive, looking for his shot, shooting open shots, even getting in there getting rebounds, offensive put-backs, that only helps us as a unit. And he’s done a great job of that the past couple games. We need that from him.”

And as he gets further removed from his offseason surgery, opportunities for him to be an impactful player for Boston will only grow.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game.

 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics win, and Isaiah Thomas has another offensive flurry in the fourth quarter. So what else is new? He led all scorers with 35 points which included 17 in the fourth quarter.

Kemba Walker

He’s still playing at a level that puts him in the All-Star conversation, but it’s not going to happen with the Hornets continuing to struggle. They’ve lost five in a row now despite Walker’s 24 points on Monday.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

Boston is playing more inside-out basketball of late, and that’s opening things up for both Horford and his teammates. Against the Hornets he had 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting along with six rebounds and four assists.

Kelly Olynyk

For the second straight game, Olynyk had a strong, impactful performance for the Celtics utilizing his strengths as a perimeter threat and a 7-footer who can take advantage of smaller defenders around the rim. He finished with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Marvin Williams

He was the only other Hornet besides Kemba Walker who really impacted the game significantly. Williams had 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting which included 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range.

Jae Crowder

The 6-foot-6 Crowder continues to have a sneaky-good season for the Celtics, particularly with his 3-point shooting which ranks among the league leaders. On Monday he had 15 points which included a trio of 3-pointers to go with seven rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.

 

DUDS

Nicolas Batum

Avery Bradley put most of his effort and attention into defending Batum and man, did it ever pay off. Batum grabbed 10 rebounds, but wound up missing nine of his 11 shots from the field to finish with just four points.