Haggery's Bruins-Maple Leafs preview

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Haggery's Bruins-Maple Leafs preview

The Bruins and Leafs both desperately need a win.

Both teams have lost more games than theyve won recently, and both are back-sliding within the Eastern Conference.

Of course things are a little more real for the Leafs as they sit five points out of a playoff spot and have newly hired Randy Carlyle behind the bench looking to spark a Toronto team bracing for a collapse. The Bruins havent won two games in a row since Jan. 12 and are an imperfectly .500 hockey club dating back to the seminal regular loss to the Vancouver Canucks in early January.

While the Bruins were encouraged by the losing effort against the Rangers, its results that matter this time of year. They showed some emotional spark, they got secondary goal-scoring outside the trio of David Krejci-Milan Lucic-Tyler Seguin and they managed to come back twice against a Rags hockey team that simply doesnt blow two-game leads.

But they didnt get the two points and instead sit mired in a two-game losing streak.

We know they have a new coach and they played well in Montreal, said Chris Kelly. They had a big win there. Ive been in that situation before with a new coach and you want to play well and gain his trust. We know theyre going to come at us hard.

We want to be consistent. Thats our main focus. We havent been consistent for 60 minutes or in consecutive games. So consistency is our main focus against a team that should be motivated.

Itll be the hockey club desperately seeking consistency against a Toronto squad clinging to their very lives with a new drill sergeant in town.
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Tim Thomas has a .910 save percentage, a goals against average approaching 3.00 and a .500 record since the beginning of January, and needs to really show some of his characteristic moxie between the pipes. The Bruins need the 37-year-old goaltender to start raising his game and showing the Conn Smythe version of himself for last season as his teammates drop like flies to injuries all around him.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Im sure theyll be a little refreshed with a new coach. On the other side, though, we have enough that we have to worry about in this locker room. We have to get back to consistent hockey. Thats our focus right now. Shawn Thornton when asked if the Bruins are headed into a potential buzz-saw in Toronto with newly hired Randy Carlyle as Leafs head coach.

KEY MATCHUP: It will be the same as it always is when the Bruins and Leafs play each other these days: Zdeno Chara and Phil Kessel out on the ice attempting to conquer the other with their disparate skills. As with most years Chara has had the upper hand in this years battles and the Bruins are undefeated in four meetings with the Leafs entering tonights game. The 24-year-old Kessel is a point-per-game player in the NHL this season, but has a single assist and a minus-7 in four games against Boston this season.

STAT TO WATCH: 1 the number of years since anybody other than Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask has played in goal, dating back to April 11, 2009 when Manny Fernandez dropped a 6-1 game to the Buffalo Sabres.

INJURIES: Rich Peverley (right knee sprain), Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) and Nathan Horton (mild concussion) are long term injuries for the Bruins, and both Andrew Ference (lower body injury) and Daniel Paille (upper body) are day-to-day. Both Ference and Paille were expected to skate on Tuesday. For Toronto defenseman Carl Gunnarsson missed three games with an ankle injury but has returned to the lineup.
GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tim Thomas is expected to get the start against the Maple Leafs and will be appearing in his fourth straight game after appearing in 10 of 13 games during the month of February. Jonas Gustavsson will be getting his 36th start of the season sporting a 2.86 goals against average and a .905 save percentage as James Reimer has struggled in his sophomore season.

Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

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Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-3 loss to the Rangers:

 

QUOTES

* “On a night when he didn’t have the consistency to the knuckleball that we’ve seen from many of his starts, he went to his fastball a little bit more. [Against] a good fastball hitting team . . . He’s typically made good adjustments staying over the rubber to get his release point out front -- that wasn’t the case [tonight].” John Farrell said about Steven Wright struggling with his knuckleball in his 4.2 inning outing.

* “The ball was spinning a lot out of my hand. It was a little bit hard to grip the ball because the humidity. But it was the opposite -- it was real sticky. That’s the first time I’ve had that ever. But I still felt like I should have figured that out. It was one of those things where I think I started trying to hard . . . I was trying to the throw the kitchen sink at them but it wasn’t working.” Steven Wright said about struggling to find his knuckleball in the 10-3 loss.

* “It’s hard for me because you want to go out there and try and go as deep as you can to try to help the bullpen, but, you know, today was tough, a tough day for me.” Wright said on his disappointment with only going 4.2 innings.

 

 

NOTES

 

* Hanley Ramirez laced his fourth homerun in his last 11 games. In his nine career games at Texas, Ramirez has six homeruns.

* David Ortiz went hitless for the first time since June 12th. Boston’s designated hitter also hasn’t hit a home run since June 17th -- his third longest homerless spell of 2016.

* Xander Bogaerts scored his 57th run of the season, putting him one run behind Ian Kinsler -- the fourth highest total in the majors.

 

 

STARS

 

1) Adrian Beltre

The ex-Red Sox third baseman finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk -- scoring the team high three runs.

 

2) Ian Desmond

Desmond laced his 13th homer of the season in his second at-bat of the game, sparking Texas’ offense with its first run of the game.

 

3) Elvis Andrus

Andrus ended Steven Wright’s day quickly with a three-run triple in the fifth inning, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks and a run.

First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 loss to Texas

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First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 loss to Texas

First impressions of the Red Sox 10-3 loss to Texas:

 

Steven Wright can’t be stellar every night.

Although it’s seemed like it lately, it’s just not possible -- especially with a knuckleball.

He wasn’t even that bad Saturday night. He just didn’t get any help from his defense in the fifth frame.

But there’s no denying he didn’t have his best stuff. But whatever the reason, he couldn’t find consistent command or movement from his knuckler and he gave up some hard hits as a result.

Did he receive a fate worse than he pitched? Yes. But what Boston saw from Wright in his Saturday start is there will be times his go-to pitch is off -- and there’s really no way to work around that.

 

Hanley Ramirez’s “timing issue” seems to be coming around.

Although he hasn’t necessarily caught fire, Ramirez hit another home run -- once again to right field.

He’s shown more patience at the plate, and not trying to pull every ball out of the yard.

Ramirez doesn’t have everything completely figured out, but his homeruns have been plenty valuable at this point.

 

Ian Desmond is no joke.

The newly converted centerfielder is 5-for-10 against Boston pitching this series with a run and two RBI.

The ex-Nationals shortstop has good pop and good speed still. He seems to be a lot more comfortable in his new home after hitting .233 for Washington last year with 19 homeruns -- hitting his 13th Saturday night.

 

For all the criticisms Boston’s bullpen has received, the Rangers’ is definitely worse.

Although there wasn’t the same miraculous comeback witnessed Friday night -- and Boston’s pen wasn’t particularly stellar in the loss -- the Ranger relievers did not look good in the second game of the series.

They put themselves into deep counts right away -- and was lucky Boston’s offense was off.

Boston’s bullpen has its faults -- no question -- but it’s not nearly as bad as the one in Texas.

 

The Red Sox unfortunately have to rely on Clay Buchholz Sunday.

The bullpen is beaten down once again. The righty is still fighting for his job, so this would be the best time for him to pitch competitively into the sixth inning -- and maybe even longer.

Revolution shut out by D.C. United, 2-0

Revolution shut out by D.C. United, 2-0

WASHINGTON -- Lamar Neagle had a goal and an assist to give D.C. United an early lead that stood up in a 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution on Saturday night.

D.C., after being shut out in its two previous games and four of six, opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Luciano Acosta chipped a perfect pass over the defense to the foot of Neagle, who volleyed it in from 10 yards out.

Sean Franklin scored the second goal, his first of the season, when he knocked in Neagle's cross. Albaro Saborio sent a long ball down the right sideline that Neagle ran down and crossed to Franklin for the easy counter.

D.C. (5-6-5) leapfrogged the Revolution (4-5-7) into fifth in the Eastern Conference with its fourth shutout in the last seven games and improved to 2-0-1 in the series this season.