Preview: Boston Bruins vs. Los Angeles Kings

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Preview: Boston Bruins vs. Los Angeles Kings

EL SEGUNDO, CA The Bruins have no excuses. Jet lag and time zone changes wont be acceptable, and truly they werent during an offensive no-show against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.

With the Ottawa Senators losing three straight games things have been placed on a tee for the Bs to smack the ball out of the park. If the Bruins can generate production, performance and results against the Kings on Saturday, and the Ducks on Sunday, then they can all but secure the Northeast Division for themselves.

But it wont be easy against a Los Angeles Kings squad thats won six games in a row and is coming off a playoff-style shootout win over the Blues where goaltender Jonathan Quick was brilliant.

Claude Julien is looking for something much better than what we saw in San Jose.

We never caught up to the pace of the game against San Jose. We need to bring it on the road, said Claude Julien. For whatever reason, we had some guys that didnt play well enough to let us win a hockey game. There is no way were going to win hockey games on this road trip if we dont have everybody going."

I dont like using the word desperate. We need to be a little bit more committed and determined rather than desperate. Right now the chances of making the playoffs are very good, but how do we want to be playing going into the postseason. Hopefully we want to be better.

The good news for the Bruins: Zdeno Chara has been outstanding lately and should be highly motivated playing in his 1,000th NHL game Saturday against the Kings at the Staples Center. Tim Thomas has also been great in his last three games, and was keeping the Bruins in the game against the Sharks on Thursday night when the offense couldnt get on track.

The bad news for the Bruins: Chara and Thomas arent enough if the top-six forwards dont bring more to the table than they did in the first game on the California road swing against the Sharks.

The Bruins arent looking for any passengers on the bus against the Kings, and victory should follow if they can accomplish their mission.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Bostons top six forwards didnt contribute anything offensively in Thursday nights loss to the Sharks, and Tyler Seguin, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly didnt register even a single shot on net. Claude Julien called them out the following day at practice and has continued to push Rich Peverley as a forward thats going to take somebodys place on the game day roster if theyre not playing up to par.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: What we need to do is create more offense than we did in San Jose. That didnt give us much of a chance to win if we dont create more chances than we did. Claude Julien, who wasnt impressed with his teams 17 shots on net against the Sharks. He wasnt the only one.

KEY MATCHUP: Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings defense have allowed only eight goals in their last five games, and have put up a wall of defense around the net as they push toward a playoff berth in the competitive Western Conference. Quicks goals against average dropped to 1.96 GAA with a shutout against the Blues on Thursday night, and that should be about the last a group of Bs offensive pieces need after firing off only 17 shots in a loss to the Sharks. The Bruins forward group, as a collective, needs to be better against the Kings and needs to start moving their feet to get the puck up the ice with speed. If the forwards cant do any better the results might not be any difference against a Kings team thats just as motivated.

STAT TO WATCH: 10-3 the Kings record since trading for disgruntled Columbus Blue Jackets forward Jeff Carter.

INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) and Nathan Horton (mild concussion) are long term injuries for the Bruins. Peverley will take warm-ups with the team prior to Saturdays game in Los Angeles, and could play as soon as Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks. For the Los Angeles Kings Simon Gagne (concussion) and Scott Parse (hip) are not available for Saturday nights tilt against the Bruins.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tim Thomas will get the call for the Bruins, and hell be appearing in his 15th straight game for the Black and Gold including a pair of relief appearances. Thomas is 5-6 with a 3.23 goals against average and an .870 save percentage during the month of March, but looks like hes now starting back on the upswing again. Former UMass star Jonathan Quick has won five games in a row and has allowed just eight goals over that span, and made 35 saves in a shutout win over the St. Blues in his last outing Thursday night.

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 Boston's 10-3 loss to Texas

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First Impressions from Boston's 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.

DC United tops Revolution 2-0

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DC United tops Revolution 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.