Haggerty's Bruins-Senators preview

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Haggerty's Bruins-Senators preview

KANATA, ON The Bruins made their statements about Thursday nights game when they left Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Tim Thomas back in Boston rather than place their key players in the final road game of the season. Boston has earned the right to fully prepare for the playoffs by capturing the No. 2 seed, and now theyre setting everything into motion.

The aim is to get everyone in a Black and Gold uniform well-rested and healthy for the seemingly inevitable first round matchup between Boston and Ottawa, and that includes making it through Thursday night healthy. Ottawa needs one more point to lock up the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference and they also will certainly be looking to make a statement against a Bruins team thats dominated while taking four out of five against them this season.

If we take the approach to the playoffs that teams will roll over then wed be in some big trouble," said Kelly. "The regular season is the regular season, and the playoffs are a whole different beast. Youve seen it in the past where a team has done extremely well against a team during the regular season, and then it goes the other way during the playoffs. The regular season gets thrown out the window after Saturday.

The Senators will be looking to ride the momentum of their last win, a tight 1-0 affair, over the Bruins at TD Garden, and harness the kind of effort and intensity they showed in the final period played at Scotiabank Place. Thats when Chris Neil trucked Johnny Boychuk with one of the hardest hockey hits seen anywhere this season, and Kyle Turris threw a very questionable hit at Joe Corvo.

It wouldnt shock or stun to see any of that coming from an underdog Sens team that wants to be taken seriously, or from a Bruins team thats just looking to get out of Ottawa with their roster entirely intact.

Its important to stay sharp. You dont want your intensity to drop because its tough to turn it on once its been shut off, said Mike Mottau. We want to play well structurally and play strong. Thats the best way to end the season feeling about where our game is going. You can send a message by simply imposing your will and playing with strength in a game like this.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Apparently somebody needs to start doing some PR work for Mike Mottau so he can earn himself a proper spot in Bostons lineup headed into the playoffs. The local hockey standout has been rock-steady since arriving in Boston from the Islanders organization, and should have a place at the table for the playoffs with injuries beginning to erode Bostons defensemen depth. Mottau will get another chance to state his playoff case Thursday night against Ottawa, and has formed together with Greg Zanon nicely as a defensemen duo.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Its not a playoff preview because theres nothing confirmed yet. The one thing I can tell you is that you dont win in this league by simply showing up. We dont talk about speculation. I wont get into it until its confirmed. Im not wasting my time worrying about that until its confirmed. Claude Julien didnt want to answer any questions about Thursday night as a potential playoff preview between the Bruins and Senators.

KEY MATCHUP: Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza have combined for 11 points in nine games against the Bruins this season, and will be the deadly offensive duo in any playoff series. Normally it would be Zdeno Charas job to shut down Ottawas top line, but now that will likely fall to Dennis Seidenberg and a defenseman to be named later. Watching Anton Khudobin face an NHL lineup for the first time in a couple of years should be enlightening when starting to formulate some postseason ideas.

STAT TO WATCH: 1 the number of NHL fights for Lane MacDermid after tangling with Mike Rupp of the New York Rangers earlier this season. Theres a good possibility Chris Neil could come calling tonight.

INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) and Nathan Horton (mild concussion) are long term injuries for the Bruins, but Rask hit the ice Wednesday with an eye toward returning for the playoffs. Johnny Boychuk is out with a mildly sprained left knee. Adam McQuaid has missed three games with a left laceration, but skated in pregame warm-ups at Scotiabank Place. The Ottawa Senators appear relatively healthy at this point in time.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Anton Khudobin will be making his first NHL appearance with the Boston Bruins in his second season of duty with the Black and Gold. Khudobin is a 25-year-old native of Kazakhstan that has settled in as the No. 3 goaltender on the organizational depth chart, and many within the Bs organization feel hes a late-blooming, puck-stopping talent. He may be in line for the backup role for the playoffs if Tuukka Rask isnt ready to play. Ben Bishop will be getting the start for the Senators and the 6-foot-7 goaltender is hoping to show the Ottawa coaching staff that his lingering groin issues have abated just in time for the postseason.

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
 
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
 
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
 
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
 
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.