Marchand, Lucic bring emotion to table in lieu of offense

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Marchand, Lucic bring emotion to table in lieu of offense

Here's something that's now a news flash if you've paying close attention to the Bruins during the playoffs: Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand arent exactlylighting up the scoreboard.

That much is obvious after three playoff games where neither winger has managed any involvement in anything remotely close toa goal during the postseason despite combining for an impressive54tallies during the regular season.

But both players also fill the role of emotional catalyst for the Bruins, and performed that task perfectly at a time their teammates needed their spark. Both Lucic and Marchand playedmajor energy roles for the B's in their stirring4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center -- a winthat gives them a slight2-1 leadOvie and Co.in the quarterfinal playoff series. Rest assured that both hockey clubs have gone from cordial, polite playoff hockey to puck hatred in one short 60 minute playoff contest.

"The more we play each other, the more we hate each other and the worse things get out there, said Marchand. Its definitely going that way.

Lucic was breathing fire all over the icewith a game-high eight hits among Bostons whopping58 registered hits for the game. It appeared early that he was determined to make an impact ona pivotal middle game in the serieseven ifgeneratedfrom a menace and intimidation perspective.

It seemed that No. 17 wanted to end every period with a violent hockey flourish that let his Washington rivals know he wasn't going anywhere. He'd be there all night ready to inflict punishment. Lucic ended the first period in a shoving match with Nicklas Backstrom after the Capitals center cross-checked him in front of the Boston net. The play ended when Bostons power forward knocked Backstroms helmet off his head and both sides retreated to their respective dressing rooms.

Both players were whistled off for matching penalties to start the second period, but the lasting image from the incident was Zdeno Chara skating around the ice with Mike Green in a headlock that Jake "The Snake" Roberts would have been proud of.

Lucic was at it again in the second period when he tangled with both Jason Chimera and Brooks Laich before a face-off. Chimera and Laich actually exchanged places because Lucic threw the latter Washington forward down to the ice, and once again both players were whistled off for matching penalties.

Finally Lucic lost his patiencein the third period of a 3-3 hockey game when Dennis Wideman cross-checked the Bs left winger in the back. The cross-check arrived justas play was whistled dead in front of the Washington net. It took Karl Alzner, Wideman and Matt Hendricks to hold back the rampaging, enragedLucic, and he was whistled for a double-minor that some might have seen as ill-timed or poorly conceived at the time.

The skirmish led Alzner to pantomime that Lucic was crying and drying his eyes as No. 17 was being led off to the penalty box. The forward, voted the toughest player in the NHL by his peers, had a fleeting reaction to Alzner and on-ice bravery that will likely disappear when challenged by Boston's brawling left winger.

I dont even know what to say coming from my side to show that Im not a crybaby, said Lucic. Thats a lot to say coming from a guy in Alznerthat has two roughing penalties in three years, so there you go.

But all the aforementionedplays were under thesameheading: Lucic setting a physical tone for the game against a Capitals team that hasn't always been known as the strongest group of fighters when backed into a corner. Lucics Bruins teammates picked up on that when Zdeno Chara banged home the game-winning goal a little more than 30 seconds after Lucic's post-whistle histrionics.The Bruins freelyadmitted afterward that Lucic's actions fired them up as a team this time around, and they pretty much always do once he puts himself into that postseason zone he hasn't quite reached.

I think we showed a lot more emotion and that goes a long way in this series, said Daniel Paille. Lucic is definitely an emotional guy and he does whatever he can to get us going. He definitely has the right attitude. Were happy to have that. He might not be scoring right now, but he cares and he shows it out on the ice.

On Marchands end, the Little Ball of Hate didnt have a shot on net in 15:20 of ice time, but he did draw a Jason Chimera slashing call and a Nicklas Backstrom cross-checking penalty in the third period. The rabble-rousing winger also absorbed an Alzner elbow during the game that had the Washington defenseman following Marchand to the team bus Monday nightto apologize for it postgame.

So its clear Bostons agitator was doing his job as well when the offense wasnt coming quite so easily. That's just as important for Marchand as an emotional catalyst as it is for Lucic, who gets the crowd moving in a completely different way.

Emotions are running a little higher out there and things are getting a little more physical, said Marchand. Those are games that you get emotionally attached to and those are the ones that you want to play in.

When things arent going your way then you have to bring something else to the table. You saw Looch getting physically involved and trying to take control. Thats what you have to do: find a way to draw penalties or play physical to get momentum somehow.

Lucic and Marchand are still looking for their first playoff goals this season for the Bruins, but make no mistake: their paw marks were all over a pivotal road victory in Washington.

First impressions: Ortiz moves past pregame ceremonies, hits game winner for Sox

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First impressions: Ortiz moves past pregame ceremonies, hits game winner for Sox

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-3 win over Toronto:

* What's left to say about David Ortiz?

Ortiz acknowledged before Friday's game that the pre-game ceremonies and the attendant fuss over his pending retirement have created a challenge for him. Sometimes, it's hard to go from being feted to trying to win a game.

Not that you would know it by Friday night.

In his first at-bat, he singled home the first run of the game. Two at-bats later, he lined a bullet that was right at Jose Bautista.

But he saved his best for the seventh when, after the Red Sox tied the game at 3-3, Ortiz promptly untied it with a laser down the line, landing in the right field seats.

One more clutch hit from Ortiz in a career full of them.

* Brock Holt's defense at third has stood out.

John Farrell is looking for someone to step up with the third base job, given that Travis Shaw is hitting under .200 since the All-Star break and Aaron Hill has had difficulty hitting righties.

Holt, meanwhile, has seized the job somewhat by default, with a .319 average in the last 24 games.

But since starting the last four games at third, Holt has also contributed with his glove.

On Friday night, Holt made a fine stop with his backhand, on the third base line, and fired to nail Devon Travis on a close play at first.

Later, he came on a slow roller to gun down Josh Donaldson out at first.

* The Red Sox have done a better job of late capitalizing on opponents' mistakes.

Last week in Baltimore, the Red Sox were handed a gift by the Orioles when a throwing error by Chris Davis resulted in five runs being scored -- all of them unearned. It took exactly two pitches for the Red Sox to pounce on the opportunity.

On Friday night, it happened again.

Trailing 3-1, the Red Sox used a throwing error by Russell Martin to score one run and put another runner in scoring position. A groundout and single by Mookie Betts tied things, and Ortiz's homer broke the tie and gave the Red Sox a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Good teams take advantage of mistakes. Two of the last six Red Sox wins are prime examples of that maxim.

Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

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Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

The Bruins will add another veteran defenseman to their training camp group fresh off the World Cup of Hockey as German D-man Christian Ehrhoff is headed to Boston on a PTO (professional tryout agreement). CSN has confirmed that Ehrhoff has indeed agreed to a PTO with the Bruins, and he'll report to the team sometime this weekend.

The 34-year-old Ehrhoff had three assists in six World Cup games for Team Europe, and had two goals and 10 points in 48 games for the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks last season while clearly starting to slow down a bit. He’s clearly no longer the player that averaged 14 goals and 47 points for the Vancouver Canucks from 2009-2011, and is another left-shot defenseman to add to a team that already has Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.

But it behooved the Bruins to bring in at least one “name” veteran D-man on a tryout basis during this training camp with so many needs for upgrades on the back end, and with a host of young players that might not be ready for prime time. This might also be a warning sign for young veteran Joe Morrow, a left shot D-man that has struggled a bit in training camp after coming off an erratic first full season at the NHL level.

Clearly the Bruins need more than Ehrhoff, however, even if he’s somehow re-energized with the Bruins after playing pretty well in the World Cup. The Kings were down enough on his game to put him through waivers last season, but he was a top-4 defenseman for the previous eight seasons for San Jose, Vancouver, Buffalo and Pittsburgh prior to getting bounced around between the Kings and Blackhawks last season.

The added bonus with taking a look at Ehrhoff is that there’s no risk associated with a PTO, and the Bruins can simply walk away with no cost if the B’s coaching staff decides he’s not a good fit for the group in Boston. On the other hand, bringing in a Kris Russell-type would cost a great deal in terms of money and term in a free agent contract, and it might not benefit the Black and Gold club in the end result.