Haggerty: Bruins-Islanders preview

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Haggerty: Bruins-Islanders preview

UNIONDALE, NY The Bruins have clinched a playoff spot and they sit only two points and some good circumstances away from securing the Northeast Division title with a Saturday afternoon matine against the Islanders staring them in the face.

A game like this might have trouble written all over it for the Bruins, but Black and Gold assistant captain Patrice Bergeron expects the commitment to be there for Boston to finish strong with a chance to really secure their position within the Eastern Conference.

The Bruins have just grabbed hold of their game after it had eluded them for so long, and now is no time to start slacking against the sad sack Islanders once again.

The more we keep playing the better we get and the more we get into a groove, said Patrice Bergeron. Its a good thing we clinched. Thats why we play 82 games and we go through the entire seasonto wait for the real season to begin.

But we need to make sure were happy and not satisfied. We need to keep going strong for the next five games.

The Bruins get to put Bergerons words into actions against the Islanders at the forgettable NHL venue known as Nassau Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Patrice Bergeron has no need to get his tires pumped in the face-off circle or in the defensive end, but the great two-way center has only one goal in 16 games during the month of March. While Bergeron and the Bruins have been focused on the defensive end of the ice, they could certainly use some offensive boost from No. 37.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: We have five games left going into the playoffs and we need to make sure we have a good effort going into the playoffs. We need the right attitude and the right frame of mind, so we can make sure ready once the postseason starts. Patrice Bergeron on the mindset of the team in the final weeks of the regular season.

KEY MATCHUP: Matt Moulson has four points and two goals in three games against the Bruins this season, and has been a consistent thorn in Bostons side with his scrappy offense and quick hands around the net. It will be up to Zdeno Chara and the Patrice Bergeron line to neutralize the top-heavy forward group of the Isles with Molson, John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau doing all the damage on the Island.

STAT TO WATCH: .2 the number of points needed in a Bruins win and a regulation loss by the Ottawa Senators for the Bs to clinch the Northeast Division on Saturday.
INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) and Nathan Horton (mild concussion) are long term injuries for the Bruins, but Rask may be hitting the ice next week with an eye toward returning for the playoffs. Dennis Seidenberg is out with an infected cut on his left leg and Adam McQuaid is out with a cut over his left eye. Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov (lower body) is also hoping to get back in action before the end of the season.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Marty Turco gets the starting nod for the Boston Bruins and will be looking to build on his victorious performance against the Anaheim Ducks last weekend. With the Bruins clinching a playoff berth and on the verge of securing the Northeast Division, expect the 36-year-old Turco to get his fair share of playing time over the last five games. Al Montoya has a 2.73 goals against average and a .917 save percentage against the Bruins this season, but its anybodys best guess who gets the starting nod for the Isles.

OFFSEASON

Celtics take two in international players in record breaking NBA Draft

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Celtics take two in international players in record breaking NBA Draft

BOSTON –  The Boston Celtics turned quite a few heads when they used two of their three, first-round picks on International players.

They were part of a record-setting night for international players, with 15 being selected in the first round – the most ever in NBA history.

But like many international draft picks, it is far from a given that you’ll see either of Boston’s international first rounder picks Guershon Yabusele and Ante Zizic who were selected with the 16th and 23rd picks, respectively.

While it’s not uncommon for teams to draft international players in the first round and do so with the plan being to keep them overseas for another year or two, the potential hold-up for Boston’s two international picks has more to do with coming to terms on a buyout amount with their current teams.

“We’ve had initial discussions with their representatives,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, when I asked him about it during the team’s press conference to introduce the newest Celtics on Friday. “We have not concluded anything yet. We’re still in that discussion. And I’m not sure about summer (league).”

While it remains an option, a league source told CSNNE.com that it’s unlikely that either player will participate in either of Boston’s summer league squads which will play in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

Ainge agrees that there are a number of positives one can take from drafting an overseas player in the first round.

But the decision by Boston to draft Yabusele and Zizic in the first round had a lot to do with one thing – talent.

“The reason that these two guys are here, … is because they’re good players,” Ainge said. “The fact that they have people that want them on their teams on the International top level competition, tells you how good players they are. They could easily find jobs overseas at the top level. They’ve earned that reputation. They’re both very productive. Guerson very productive and Ante very good rebounding … now we’re trying to figure out the best way they can help us for their development. We’re working with their representatives on that plan.”

Yabusele, a 6-8, 275-pound power forward, averaged 11.5 points, 6.8 rebounds in 28.7 minutes with Rouen Metropole Basket in the LNB Pro A league in France. While appearing in 34 games last season, he grabbed 10 or more rebounds 11 times while tallying eight double-doubles.

Zizic, a 6-11, 250-pound center, distinguished himself as one of the better players in the Adriatic League this past season. He was voted by fans, media and coaches as the Adriatic League’s Top Prospect after averaging 12.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in 24.8 minutes while shooting an impressive 60.7 percent from the field.

Bruins need Hayes to "take his game to another level"

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Bruins need Hayes to "take his game to another level"

BUFFALO -- With it appearing that Loui Eriksson is all but gone from the Bruins with the July 1 opening of free agency around the corner, B’s general manager Don Sweeney must find a way to replace the second-leading point man from last year’s hockey club. With or without a suitable Eriksson replacement at right wing via trade or free agency, the Bruins will also need greater production from their returning wingers on the right side.

That means 20-year-old David Pastrnak needs to have a breakthrough season after the Bruins knocked away attempts to extract him in trade discussions for a top-4 defenseman, and Jimmy Hayes needs to rebound from a streaky, disappointing first season in Boston. The 6-foot-6 Hayes slumped to 13 goals and 29 points in 75 games, and was a team-worst minus-12 while going through long stretches where it was hard to even notice him on the ice.

His GM said that needs to change next season with the Bruins counting on him to play more consistently, and be willing to play the big man’s game.

“We have internal candidates that might have to step up, and David is a player like that…Jimmy is a player like that. There’s no question we’re not a complete team right now,” said Sweeney. “So we’ll go to work now, and that could be through free agency, or through potential trade stuff. It could also be about the excitement if somebody pops from the development side of things. I think Jimmy had a pretty start to the year, but he really tailed off when the team needed him most. He should take some responsibility for that. We had a pretty frank discussion about that to challenge him to take his game to another level, and be able to help out a younger player.

“He played a lot with Ryan Spooner. I have to put ownership on Jimmy in terms of saying ‘Hey, I have to take more responsibility. It’s not just about finishing and scoring goals.’ He has the capacity to do that. He gets power play time and net-front time, and he needs to get to the hard areas of the ice with more consistency. It’s an area that he needs to continue to improve upon. We as an organization feel that we need to have players that are driven to get better.”

As far as the free agent options mentioned by Sweeney, Kyle Okposo and Troy Brouwer would be names to watch closely as they both fight the Black and Gold mold of winger with size, strength and finishing ability.

Clearly there’s no choice but for the 26-year-old Hayes to have a bounce-back season given that he’s signed for two years in Boston at $2.3 million per season, and that they need him with the right side of their forward group in flux. 

Ray Bourque arrested and charged with OUI Friday

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Ray Bourque arrested and charged with OUI Friday

Bruins Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque was arrested in Andover this weekend, and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol according to multiple reports.

Andover Police told CBS Boston that the former Bruins and Avalanche defenseman was taken into custody around 11:30 p.m. Friday night on Lowell Street. The Bruins legend has lived on the North Shore with his family since retiring from the NHL, and has been a constant presence in the community at charitable events and Bruins functions.

Bourque was released on bail. No additional information was immediately available