Haggerty: Ten thoughts from Bruins-Rangers

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Haggerty: Ten thoughts from Bruins-Rangers

BOSTON -- Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins trailing the New York Rangers by a 2-0 score after the first 20 minutes at TD Garden.

1) Heavy first period that the Bruins werent shying away from, but still found themselves down a pair of goals after a power play score and a bad bounce off Zdeno Chara in front of the net. Important to see how the Bs are going to bounce back in the middle 20 minutes after not getting a couple of breaks.

2) Zdeno Chara having a tough time here tonight against the Rangers: three giveaways, a penalty that led to a Rangers goal and a puck that bounced off him and into the Boston net. If Chara has a tough night that usually means the Bs are going to struggle as well.

3)The more I think about it the more I love a Mike Knuble move for the Bruins with a big body in front and a constant motor running. He can also slide up and play in place of Nathan Horton if he struggles to come back from the concussion.

4)Another strong game for Ryan Callahan against the Bruins with a strong power play goal right in front of the net. Does anybody doubt that Callahan would be a Bruins killer in a potential playoff series between these two teams.

5) It appears Claude Julien has switched his forward lines back: David Krejci skating with Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley while Chris Kelly has slid back down to the third line. Didnt really spark much in the opening 20 minutes.

Here are five thoughts from the second period with the Bruins trailing the New York Rangers by a 2-0 score after the first 40 minutes at TD Garden.

1)Amazing how much energy and effort it takes for the Bruins to get even a simple offensive shot off through the tall New York defensemen and interior defense. Thats a team its virtually impossible to overcome a two-goal deficit when theyre playing on their game.

2)David Krejci has three shots on net, but is a 1-for-8 on face-offs tonight. A little bit of a mixed bag for the center, who is clearly skating hard and looking for his offense.

3)Rangers have blocked 12 shots to Bostons six tonight. Thats not a shock. Such an impressive part of New Yorks game protecting Henrik Lundqvist in front of the net. Then the Swedish All-Star goaltender is making the big saves as he did with noggin on a Zdeno Chara blast when it gets through them.

4)Not enough involvement for Brad Marchand, who seems to get lost in these games against the big, strong Rangers defense. No shots on net in 12 plus minutes and not enough bad brat behavior to frustrate the Blueshirts in the second period. He hit the side of the net after taking a perfect pass through traffic from Tyler Seguin in the middle of the period.

5)Shawn Thornton has attempted to challenge Brandon Prust a couple of times in this game, but Prust wants no part of it with a two-goal lead. Understandable actions from both parties there.

Bruins sign Kevan Miller to four-year, $10 million deal

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Bruins sign Kevan Miller to four-year, $10 million deal

BOSTON -- The Bruins locked up a piece to a blue line that was godawful last season in announcing they’d signed Kevan Miller to a four-year, $10 million contract.

They also retained one of their own young restricted free agents, center Seth Griffith, by reaching agreement on a one-year, two-way deal with an NHL value of $625,000 per season.

Miller, 28, played in a career-high 71 games last season -- his third with the Bruins -- and established career highs in goals (5), assists (13), points (18) and penalty minutes (53). He also posted the second-best plus/minus rating on the team (plus-15) and generally seemed to be playing his best hockey down the stretch.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Miller was also forced into playing 19:04 of ice time per night while oftentimes serving as a top-pair D-man alongside Zdeno Chara. That resulted in a high number of mistakes and turnovers at critical times against the opposition’s best offensive players.

The rugged, hardnosed Miller obviously isn’t going to be judged solely by the numbers. He's also evaluated by the big hits, blocked shots and air of intimidation in the defensive zone. That said, a four-year contract is a bit of a head-scratcher, given that Miller wasn’t expected to command that kind of deal as an unrestricted free agent on the open market.

That four-year deal, which carries a yearly cap hit of $2.5 million, would also seem to hint at the impending exodus of Adam McQuaid or Dennis Seidenberg, or both, given the number of limited stay-at-home defensemen on the roster now making decent NHL money.  

The bottom line: Miller’s contract will be a good one if he can settle into a steady, top-four role. But it will be another overpay if he winds up being the bottom-pairing D-man many see him as at the NHL level.

Griffith had 24 goals and 53 assists for 77 points in 57 games for the Providence Bruins last season, and also had an assist in four games for Boston. He'll get another chance this year to compete for one of the winger jobs at the NHL level with plenty of competition.

Tanguay: Celtics should roll the dice on Dragan Bender

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Tanguay: Celtics should roll the dice on Dragan Bender

Danny Ainge recently hinted on Toucher & Rich that the Celtics were interested in drafting Dragan Bender.

And they need to do exactly that. 

No, I'm not crazy. Neither is Danny.

Drafting Bender is the Celtics' best option. As Ainge pointed out, his job is to make the move that's best for the team. Not just for the short term, but for the long haul.

Now, I can't say I've been to Croatia to work out Bender. Like many of you, I 've only seen him via the Internet.

It is easy to look at him and think he’s a project. That’s because he is. He’s 18 and, even though he's 7 feet tall, he only weighs about 220 soaking wet. He's a kid, too skinny at the moment for the NBA, and would no doubt get killed if you put in the post today.

And, like I said, I'm not crazy. I'm not committed to Bender. If  Sacramento calls and offers Boogie Cousins for any combination of picks the Celtics have, the deal should be made immediately. To a degree, I feel the same way about Jimmy Butler. However, the consensus is those two players aren't going anywhere. (And even if they are available, suppose the Lakers decide to dangle the No. 2 pick for either of them? That would make a trade nearly impossible for Boston.)

But if the Celtics keep the third pick -- and he isn't taken by either Philly or L.A. (highly unlikely) -- Dragen Bender should be Ainge's choice. And it will be the right move.

Let’s break it down.

There's just no one else in this draft with Bender's upside. Buddy Hield is a 22-year-old shooting guard who completely disappeared in the NCAA championship game. He has a shot to be a very good NBA player, but he won’t transform the organization. Neither would Jamal Murray from Kentucky. Nor Kris Dunn from Providence.

The risk for Bender is HUGE. The reward is even HUGER. Ah, that’s not a word, right? Well then, BIGGER THAN HUGE! Or HUGEST!

Bender could be that guy.

And, I also admit, he also wind up playing in Europe or Israel.

Still, Danny has to roll the dice on this guy.

Bender can handle the ball, block shots, shoot the 3, and -- like all European players -- is fundamentally sound. The issue for this kid is toughness in the low post and getting stronger. I put my money on Celtics strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo to get him ready for NBA life.

And I'm not one those boneheads who are pushing for Bender because Kristaps Porzingis has worked out for the Knicks. One has nothing to do with the other. For every Porzingis there's at least one Stojko Vrankovic. Or Darko Milicic.

Take Bender, Danny. In two years this guy may have gained 15 to 20 pounds of muscle, learned the rigors on and off the court of the NBA, and look like the next Porzingis, Or Dirk Nowitzki or Porzingis. Then use the other two Brooklyn first-round picks, and the Celtics could be back on their way to greatness.

But if you play it safe, Danny, and don't take Bender, the Green will simply be stuck in the mud of mediocrity.