Haggerty's Bruins-Sharks preview

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Haggerty's Bruins-Sharks preview

SAN JOSE, Calif. The Bruins have harkened back to their hard-earned defensive way of life, and its shown results.

Claude Julien called it protecting the house in front of the net, and the Bruins are starting to chase the burglars and the brigands away after letting the oppositions have their way in the slot for far too long. The Bruins allowed 4.00 goals per game during the first nine games of March and were gashed for six goals against both the Lightning and the Panthers and that was the breaking point Boston needed.

They woke up last weekend, saw they were the seventh place Boston Bruins and all of a sudden played with the urgency that had been missing for far too long. That meant the Bs goaltender stopping 95 percent of the shots hes facing, that meant a staunch Bruins defense holding the Leafs to only 13 shots on net in a 60-minute hockey game and that meant allowing only two goals to accomplished offenses like the Flyers and the Leafs.

After meandering far too far away from their defensive principles, everything is back in line with the way the Bs coaching staff prefers it.

Obviously a lot of teams are playing desperate hockey fighting for the playoffs and fighting for home ice advantage. Its about playing like theres no tomorrow and playing with a lot of desperation. Thats playoff hockey and thats what were doing right now, said Tyler Seguin. I think we are playing more Bruins style hockey. Were playing with a bit of a chip on our shoulders competing and winning battles.

Thats when we start playing well: when were competing, winning battles and doing all of the little things while paying attention to detail. We like winning more than losing and thats what makes us happy.

The Bruins were able to do all of that in the friendly confines of the TD Garden after theyd caught their breath and exhaled from a disastrous road trip through Florida. Now the Bruins must get in touch with their inner road warrior and carry on the competitiveness and defensive awareness after a six-hour plane ride plopped them in California for the next five days.

With only 10 games left in the regular season the Bruins shouldnt have any more speed bumps along the way, and they know they cant afford it with the Senators and Panthers still well within striking distance.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: With the B's on a two-game winning streak, Marty Turco might be the player that needs his tires pumped the most. The 36-year-old netminder hasnt seen the light of day since his disastrous outing against the Tampa Bay Lighting, but he does have some obscenely bright yellow goaltending pads hes ready to rock when he does get the call. If the Bruins are able to win the first couple of games of their swing through California, then perhaps theres a shot Turco will get his redemption chance against the Ducks. But it wont be against the Sharks.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: You could tell in our game against Toronto and also on Saturday afternoon against Philadelphia that we really wanted to turn things around, and maybe it was a blessing in disguise that Ottawa did pass us because maybe there was that fire that needed to be re-lit. Milan Lucic talking about the wakeup call provided by the Ottawa Senators that should last them for the rest of the season.

KEY MATCHUP: The Bruins need to find a way to match Brian Rolston and the Bs third line up against Joe Thorntons line in San Jose, and perhaps create a flashback effect when he sees Rolstons No. 12 in Black and Gold. Perhaps even fool him into making a bad pass or when Rolston calls for the puck like he was still one of his teammates as they were for five years in Boston. One would expect the Zdeno CharaDennis Seidenberg combo would get the draw to neutralize Jumbo Joe and his linemates and that could be a challenge given the urgency they should be skating with after dropping out of the top eight in the Western Conference.

STAT TO WATCH: .952 the save percentage for Tim Thomas in the Bs last two wins while stopping 40-of-42 shots, which is much closer to normal for the 37-year-old netminder.

INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) and Nathan Horton (mild concussion) are long term injuries for the Bruins. Peverley skated with the team on Thursday and is closing in on a return from a sprained knee. San Jose forwards Michal Handzus (undisclosed), Tommy Wingels (upper body) and TJ Galiardi (upper body) are all questionable for Thursday's game against Boston.

GOALTENDING MATCHUP: Tim Thomas will get the call for the Bruins, and hell be appearing in his 14th straight game for the Black and Gold including a pair of relief appearances. Thomas is 5-5 with a 3.36 goals against average and an .863 save percentage during the month of March, but looks like hes on the upswing. Antti Niemi will make his 13th straight start in net for the Sharks. Hes 4-0 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in four career games against Boston, and got the win in San Joses 4-2 win over the Bruins back in October.

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown voted most athletic by fellow rookies

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown voted most athletic by fellow rookies

The NBA’s 38 rookies had their annual photo shoot and were polled by NBA.com with a couple of questions about their class. When asked which rookie was the most athletic among them, the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 pick overall last June, won in a landslide.

Here are the results of that question:  

1. Jaylen Brown, Boston -- 38.7%

2. Brice Johnson, L.A. Clippers -- 16.1%

3. Marquese Chriss, Phoenix -- 9.7%

T-4. Malik Beasley, Denver -- 6.5%

Kay Felder, Cleveland -- 6.5%

Gary Payton II, Houston -- 6.5%

Providence guard Kris Dunn, No. 5 pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves was the freshman class’ pick to win rookie of the year honors, with 29 percent of the vote, followed by No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram of the Lakers and No. 1 pick Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Click here for the complete poll. 

 

First impressions from Red Sox’ 8-6 win over Rays

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First impressions from Red Sox’ 8-6 win over Rays

BOSTON - First impressions from the Red Sox' 8-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park:

*The Red Sox got some much-needed contributions from the bottom of the order.

Aaron Hill was 0-for-20 when he came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth, but slapped a tie-breaking single to right to put the Red Sox ahead to stay.

Batting ninth was Jackie Bradley Jr. who was 3-for-17 when he singled in the fifth, homered in the sixth and doubled home a run in the ninth, right after Hill's heroics.

The Sox have been carried offensively by the top four or five in their lineup, but that's a tough way to win.

At some point, others in the batting order have to contribute. The timing couldn't have been better than for that to start on Wednesday afternoon.

* Why was Junichi Tazawa throwing fastballs ahead 0-and-2?

Tazawa entered with the bases loaded and Logan Forsythe due. After two quick strikes, Tazawa kept throwing fastballs to Forsythe, who took the second one and lined it back up the middle for a two-run single.

Tazawa's best pitch is his split-finger, and it seemed like that would have been the more prudent choice there -- to get Forsythe to chase a pitch out of the zone.

It's doubtful that there were concerns about a split bouncing in the dirt and getting away from catcher Sandy Leon.

Strange.

*Hustle counts.

The Rays lost out on a run in the third inning and it changed the game.

 With two outs, the Rays had Tim Beckham at second and Logan Forsythe at first when Kevin Kiermaier stroked a line drive to the gap in right-center.

Beckham jogged toward the plate, but at the same time, Kiermaier attempted to stretch a single into a double. His throw arrived in time for a tag to be placed on him as he slid into second.

Worse, from the Rays' standpoint, Beckham hadn't crossed the plate before the tag was applied at second, so what should have been an automatic run was not a run at all for Tampa Bay.

 

 

 

 

Brady to serve as Michigan honorary captain Sept. 17

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Brady to serve as Michigan honorary captain Sept. 17

Tom Brady will have some time on his hands the next couple of weeks. So, why not travel back to the ol’ alma mater to serve as honorary captain.

That’s what the Patriots quarterback will be doing Sept. 17 when Michigan hosts Colorado at the Big House in Ann Arbor.

Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh told the NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, another Michigan alum, that Brady will be back in Michigan for the game. 

There has been speculation that Brady will find time to work out with the Wolverines to stay sharp while he’s away from the Patriots serving his four-game Deflategate suspension. His visit with the Wolverines will no doubt fuel more of that talk.