Haggerty: Bruins hope answers lie within

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Haggerty: Bruins hope answers lie within

The Bruins got themselves some useful pieces at the NHL trade deadline that will complement a Stanley Cup-winning lineup, but there was nothing of the go for it variety secured on Mondays hockey shopping spree.

That made it a marked difference from exactly one year ago when Bs general manager Peter Chiarelli pulled off three separate moves that brought a pair of key forwards and an All-Star defenseman into the mix. The deals brought depth, speed and versatility that helped them win the Stanley Cup, but things are much different this time around.

This years deadline was an exercise in frustration for Chiarelli and most other teams around the NHL as the market was flooded with interested buyers, but didnt have the appropriate number of sellers providing available talent.

The trade deadline was just about the prices, the inactivity, the reluctance to do things . . . that was the feel I got. Its frustrating, said Chiarelli. Its frustrating when youre making calls and you feel the frustration on the other side of the phone because the guy youre talking to is feeling the same thing.

That was the theme for this year: frustration, but eventual fulfillment. Every deadline is different as far as needs. Last year I think we needed to improve a couple of areas, our depth, two-way play, and our puck moving. I guess this year is depth. But you talk to every team and they always want to improve their depth. In a playoff run, guys go down, and thats just what happens.

Sure the Bruins made a serious run at Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown before word got out that he was being shopped, but there was never any real danger of a big deal getting consummated this time around.

Instead frustration reigned for just about everyone, and the Bruins brought in a versatile 39-year-old forward enduring a rough season with the Islanders (Brian Rolston), a journeyman defenseman (Mike Mottau) that just came back from a stretch of 26 games missed with a concussion and a legit shot-blocking, stay-at-home blueliner (Greg Zanon) that will aid the Bs defensemen corps.

It wont knock the socks off Bruins fans, but employing Zanon and Dennis Seidenberg gives the Bs two of the five-best shot-blockers in the league and allows them to mimic the lane-clogging, shot-frustrating Rangers efforts to block scores of offensive chances if the mood strikes them.

None of this years acquisitions will have the impact of last years crop of hockey trades, and that means the team is rolling the dice again this year with the teams nucleus. Chiarelli was unwilling to move any players off the current roster, flat refused to include Dougie Hamilton in any deals and wouldnt deal talented roster players like Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask or David Krejci.

That didnt leave much in Bostons hockey asset cupboard and didnt give Chiarelli much to wheel and deal with. Instead it will be up to skilled young players like Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, Lucic and Patrice Bergeron to carry an offense regardless of what the team gets from Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley moving forward. Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Marchand are the only three players averaging more than .5 points per game during 12 games during the month of February, and no Bs player is even approaching a point-per-game pace during the past month of ennui-filled hockey.

It will be up to Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask to regain the form that made them the best 1-2 goaltending punch through Christmas. It will be up to Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and their new group of eight veteran NHL defensemen to hold things together defensively.

In the end Chiarelli decided that the 18 returning roster players from last years Cup championship deserved another shot at a Cup run without any major upgrades in any department. Rolston, Mottau and Zanon add up to better reserve options than Carter Camper, Max Sauve and Andrew Bodnarchuk when the inevitable injuries and ineffectiveness hit the Bruins.

Bergeron said last week that the Bruins players didnt need any saviors to rescue them this season, and the teams management has backed up that stance from one of their key leaders. Perhaps the Bruins could have traded for marginally better talent in Antoine Vermette or Johnny Oduya, but those players wouldnt be difference-makers on this Bruins team.

Youre gonna have to spend in player trades to acquire players, but the deals just werent there, said Chiarelli at the trade deadline. They werent there. Its as simple as that.

If the Bruins are to win another Cup this season it will be because the Bs best players once again used good health, good fortune and two months of good hockey to finish at the top of the NHL heap.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

BOSTON –  For the second time in as many games, the Boston Celtics were hosting a team eager to get off a losing skid.

But a strong surge near the end of the second quarter gave the Celtics a 65-56 halftime lead over Portland which came into the night having lost four straight.

Boston opened with a 12-4 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder – his second within the game’s first couple minutes.

But the Blazers were being carried by C.J. McCollum, half of the most explosive backcourt in the NBA. His 12 first-quarter points were crucial to keeping the Blazers within 28-26 at the end of the quarter.

McCollum continued to out-perform everyone else on the floor, even Isaiah Thomas who had a quieter than usual first half.

But the 5-foot-9 Thomas continued to make all the plays needed to put the Celtics back on top courtesy of a 12-3 run that put them ahead 57-49 with 1:55 to play in the half.

From there, Boston was able to maintain control of the game.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

While there’s still talk about whether Damian Lillard will be an All-Star this year, McCollum has played well enough to where he’s at least worthy of a mention in the All-Star conversation. He certainly carried Portland in the first half with 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

As usual, Thomas drew a considerable amount of attention from the opposing defense. And slowly but surely, he found cracks that he could exploit. At the half, he had 17 points, four assists and three rebounds, one of which was an offensive board that he put-back in for a lay-up.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He put the Celtics on a good path from the outset, knocking down a couple 3’s in the first couple of minutes. He finished the half with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting which included a trio of 3-pointers.

Meyers Leonard

He was 3-for-4 in the first half which included a pair of powerful dunks over Boston’s Jordan Mickey. At the half he had eight points and two rebounds.

 

DUDS

Damian Lillard

It was a rough half for the two-time All-Star, tallying just three points on 1-for-5 shooting. A big part of his problem? Foul trouble. He played just 10 minutes in the first half due in large part to having three personal fouls.