Wakeup Call: Loss of Hossa mars a record-tying win

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Wakeup Call: Loss of Hossa mars a record-tying win

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, February 20:

AUTO RACING
19-year-old Darrell Wallace Jr. has a goal: To become the Tiger Woods of NASCAR. (AP)

Speedweeks is normally Tony Stewart's week. But Danica Patrick -- driving one of Wallace's cars, ironically -- is stealing his thunder this year. (AP)
-- Winning the Battle at the Beach Monday night wasn't Kyle Larson's "proudest moment in racing", not when he had to "monster-truck" C.E. Falk III coming out of the final turn to do it. (AP)

BASEBALL
Five new names -- including N.L. stolen-base king Everth Cabrera of the Padres -- emerge in the Biogenesis Clinic PED scandal . . . (NBC's Hardball Talk)

. . . but this latest ESPN investigation may have cleared Gio Gonzalez. (CSN Washington)

Bartolo Colon speaks for the first time since being slapped with a 50-game suspension for PED use last August, though -- except for "I'm sorry" -- he doesn't say much of anything. (CSN Bay Area)

If it's the second week of spring training, it must be time for injury updates. First we have the Yankees' Phil Hughes, out for a few days because of upper-back stiffness. (AP)

Then comes the definitive word on the Cubs' Matt Garza: Out for a week with what's being described as a mild side strain. (AP)

Darwin Barney isn't happy, but also is trying to be quiet, about Brandon Phillips dissing his Gold Glove. (CSN Chicago)

That didn't take long: The Braves are retiring Chipper Jones' No. 10. (AP)

Brady Anderson's climbing that corporate ladder. (CSN Baltimore)

Lance Berkman wasn't a member of the Rangers for more than, like, 10 minutes before he was reminding them that he beat them in the 2011 World Series. I'm sure your new teammates really appreciate that, Big Puma. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
No. 1 Indiana wins the showdown with No. 4 Michigan State, 72-68. (AP)

And the Hoosiers have the injured Victor Oladipo to thank. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

The Spartans, however, didn't get much a contribution from their captain, Keith Appling. (College Basketball Talk)

Miami sure didn't look like the second-best team in the country, but they say beauty's in the eye of the beholder. And the Hurricanes' last-second 54-50 win over Virginia was just gorgeous to them, thanks. (AP)

Missouri gets revenge for its 31-point loss in Gainesville by upsetting No. 5 Florida, 63-60, at home in the rematch. (AP)

If I'm the Gators, I'm a little worried about that bad track record in close games. (College Basketball Talk)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
The NCAA finally sends its notice of allegations to Miami, with the deadly "lack of institutional control" being at the top of the list. (AP)

Former Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon is hospitalized after suffering a stroke. (CSN Houston)

GOLF
The Match Play Championships being threatened by snow? In Arizona? Hah? (AP)

Steve Stricker thinks all the hand-wringing about the banning of the belly putter is much ado about nothing, since he's sure the PGA will ignore the USGA if the ban is adopted. (AP)

HOCKEY
When is a record-tying win a loss? When you lose Marian Hossa in the process . . . which is what may have happened to the Blackhawks in their 4-3 shootout victory over the Canucks. (CSN Chicago)

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville says Hossa, who has a history of concussion issues, "seemed OK" after the game, but "we'll know more" on Wednesday. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

Jannik Hansen, who delivered it, called the hit that took out Hossa a "hockey play". So now elbows to the back of the head are "hockey plays", eh? (CSN Chicago)

The Canadiens really shouldn't get all that excited about their fifth straight win -- a 3-1 triumph over the Rangers -- since New York coach John Tortorella called it "one of the worst hockey games I've been involved in . . . It was two bad teams playing, and we were worse than they were." (AP)

The Sharks finally end their seven-game winless streak . . . (AP)

. . . but they won't get to enjoy it for very long, since a game with the undefeated Blackhawks is up next. (CSN Bay Area)

Andre Benoit and Dave Dziurzynski both score their first NHL goals in the Senators' 3-1 triumph over the Islanders. (AP)

A fine mess: The NHL takes 10,000 from Flames defenseman Mark Giordano for slew-footing Antoine Roussel of the Stars . . . (AP)

- . . . and 8,108.11 (?) from Wild right wing Devin Setoguchi for high-sticking Kyle Quincey of the Red Wings. (AP)

Who would've thought there are Little League dads in the NHL? (Pro Hockey Talk)

OLYMPICS
Prosecutors say shouting was heard in Oscar Pistorius' home for an hour before he fired the fatal shots at Reeva Steenkamp -- with one witness hearing the sounds from 1,000 feet away -- further damaging Pistorius' claim that he mistook her for an intruder. (nbcnews.com)

PRO BASKETBALL
There's lots of talk, but no action, as the trade deadline nears. (NBC's Pro Basketball talk)

In the Laker Schadenfreude Department, we have relations between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant reaching a new low . . . (Pro Basketball Talk)

. . . and Phil Jackson, though he's not willing to come back and coach them, ragging on them for running the wrong offense. (Pro Basketball Talk)

Quiet down, you cynics. Andrew Bynum's going to play this season, definitely, for sure. Just not now. Or next week. Or . . . (CSN Philly)

Can anyone stop the Spurs? (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Old friend David Thomas is out of a job. (AP)

So's old enemy Bart Scott. (AP)

The NFLPA is singing the "We don't trust Goodell" blues again. (AP)

TENNIS
Victoria Azarenka's not going to get the chance to built on the momentum of her victory over Serena Williams in the finals of the Qatar Open; she withdraws from the Dubai Championships because of a bone bruise in her right foot. (AP)

Some days, John Isner looks like an up-and-coming star. And other days, like yesterday . . . (AP)

Haggerty: From top to bottom, still no urgency from Bruins

Haggerty: From top to bottom, still no urgency from Bruins

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins pulled the worst of their no-shows on Monday afternoon in the 4-0 shutout loss to the Islanders.

It was a lethargic, mediocre start in the first period that devolved into the bottom dropping out on the Black and Gold when they allowed three unanswered goals in the second. Then, to top it all off, they showed zero urgency or push to make a comeback in the final period. 

It was “unacceptable” in the words of the Bruins players from beginning to end with careless, elementary mistakes in the defensive zone and absolutely zero sustained push in the offensive zone despite a deceiving 32 shots on net.

So, where was the urgency for a Bruins team that’s barely ahead of the Maple Leafs and Senators in the Atlantic Division despite having played six more games than each of those two?

Apparently the Bruins were feeling a little cocky after playing a solid five-game stretch where they’d gone 3-1-1 and taken down the Panthers, Blues and Flyers while elevating their level of play. Heart and soul team leader Patrice Bergeron admitted as much on Tuesday morning as the Bruins cancelled practice and turned their attention toward righting the ship Wednesday night in Detroit.

It was frankly a little stunning to hear Bergeron admit that his Bruins team thought they could win just by showing up on Monday afternoon, but that’s exactly what he copped to in something of an apologetic way.

Brad Marchand said Monday postgame that the Bruins “just weren’t ready [to play]” against the Islanders, and it sounded like his linemate agreed with him.

“It’s about realizing that you can’t take teams lightly, or take the foot off the gas pedal for a period, for a game, or whatever. It hurts us every time we do it, so we have to learn and realize that it just cannot happen. Teams are too good and the points are too valuable for us,” said Bergeron. “You never want to do that, but at the same time maybe it was something that happened because it was a terrible start, and to not respond when they scored the goals. Maybe that’s what happened yesterday.

“As much as you don’t want it to happen, maybe we thought it was going to be an easier game than it actually was against them.”

On the one hand, it’s somewhat shocking to hear that admission from a player that’s always played with full work ethic and an effort level that’s never been questioned. But Bergeron was also a minus-3 in the 4-0 loss and was every bit as guilty as everybody else up and down the roster for the team’s most pathetic loss of the season at a time when results are all that matter.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, though, because the lack of urgency on the bench is mirrored by the lack of urgency upstairs in the Bruins management office right now. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told the Boston Globe last week that he’s considering a move with the head coach along with a number of other things to spark a team treading water, but it doesn’t feel like a major move is on the horizon with this Bruins team.

Trade talks are still in the formative, discussion stages as GMs like Joe Sakic and John Chayka are overvaluing their players looking for a king’s ransom for guys like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata. While Claude Julien should be under the microscope with a team sleepwalking its way through perhaps a third season in a row without the playoffs, it also doesn’t feel like the Bruins are going to pull the trigger on that move until the offseason at the earliest.

This humble hockey writer still insists that this playoff-caliber Bruins team plays at times like a one that needs a swift kick in the backside. Perhaps Julien isn’t up for it after 10 long, successful years of battles with the same core group.   

So, what is there to do then besides make cosmetic moves like shipping underperforming Anton Khudobin down to Providence, or rearrange the deck chairs on a third and fourth line that it’s difficult to tell apart on most days in Boston?

If the Bruins front office wants to truly get to the bottom of their team’s lack of urgency on the ice, perhaps a look in the mirror might be in order. Because that same lack of urgency is playing out with a management group that’s watching their team sink into the Atlantic Division muck right now and seems gun-shy on making a move that could rattle cages.

“Right now where we are in the standings, we’ve got a lot of games to play but we’re still in a playoff spot,” said Julien. “We try and play with the expectations that we have, and that’s to do the best with what we’ve got. We’ve got a lot of new faces and we’re trying to build with what we’ve got here moving forward.”

Certainly nobody is talking about trading away their blue chip prospects like Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy, but there are veteran players on Boston’s current roster that aren’t cut out for battling into the postseason with a young team. It’s plain to see when a middling hockey team can’t find the inspiration to go out and take care of business against a bad Islanders group on a sleepy Monday afternoon just a month after they made the same mistake against the same team on home ice.

The Bruins showed in a five-game stretch leading up to the Islanders debacle that they should be held to a higher standard - that of a team that should qualify for the postseason. But one question arose again and again watching the poorest of poor efforts play out on Monday afternoon: why should the Bruins players show any feet-in-the-fire urgency on the ice when it doesn’t feel like there’s much feet-in-the-fire urgency from upper management to improve the flailing hockey club?

Until that organizational dynamic changes, it’s difficult to see things getting much better, or worse, for a Bruins team that looks destined for the mediocre middle once again this season. 
 

Bruins cancel practice to 'regroup' after bad loss to Islanders

Bruins cancel practice to 'regroup' after bad loss to Islanders

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins were supposed to hit the ice for the eighth day in a row on Tuesday following their empty 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon, but those plans were scrubbed.

The reeling Black and Gold instead cancelled practice, with only Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes and Zane McIntyre taking the ice at Warrior Ice Arena and the rest of the B’s hitting the giant reset button after an embarrassing loss.

“I think it’s one of those [things] where you’ve got to regroup and recharge the batteries, and feel better,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Maybe a little bit of fatigue was part of it [Monday vs. the Isles] and you use a day like today to look forward, look at videos and be better the next day. It happens today and we have another game tomorrow [against Detroit].”

While it is true that the Bruins and Winnipeg Jets have played more games than anybody else in the NHL in this wacky season with a condensed schedule, the B’s leaders weren’t having it as an excuse with both the Maple Leafs and Senators holding an incredible six games in hand on Boston. Blown opportunities against bad opponents are exactly the recipe for missing the playoffs, as they have in each of the past two seasons, and the Bruins are tracking to do that again.

“All of the teams are in the same situation. It’s about managing and finding ways to be at your best every night and in every game. Yes, maybe [the condensed schedule] is part of it, but you can’t just put the blame on that. We’re professionals and we need to show up every game.”

The Bruins didn’t show up against the Islanders on Monday afternoon and basically pulled their second no-show vs. the Isles on home ice this season. There’s no excuse for that given the B’s current situation battling for the postseason. 

Maybe a day off the ice will improve that situation and maybe it’s simply rewarding a team that didn’t earn it on Monday afternoon, but the B’s have to hope it’s much more of the former than the latter.