Celtics vs. Wizards: Keys to the game

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Celtics vs. Wizards: Keys to the game

WASHINGTON When you've struggled the way the Boston Celtics (5-9) have, there's no such thing as a sure win. But facing the Washington Wizards (2-13) comes pretty darn close. Boston has won both of their previous meetings this season, each by eight points. In those games, contributions came from an array of players -- the kind of play we've seen from the C's in past years. But the past will do the Celtics little good today . . . even against the woeful Wizards, who are treading a historically bad run at home.
Here are a few keys to today's game to keep an eye on.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR - Rebounding, as is the case most nights, will be a huge factor in the game's outcome. Boston has to hold its own on the defensive boards, which, as we've seen, is easier said than done. It becomes a really big issue against the Wizards. Despite all their flaws - and they have plenty - offensive rebounding is the one thing they do pretty well. They come into today's game ranked 10th in offensive rebounds, while the C's are just 26th (out of 30 teams) in defensive rebounds. But the C's haven't been hurt too badly by second-chance points against Washington, which has outscored the Celtics, 26-20, in second-chance points this season.MATCHUP TO WATCH - Paul Pierce vs. Chris Singleton. On paper, it seems like a no-brainer to give this to Pierce. But the way he has struggled all season - career lows across the board - combined with Singleton's steadily improving play, this battle has the potential to be a lot closer than most would anticipate.
PLAYER TO WATCH - Ray Allen. He is the one Celtic whom the Wizards have had the most trouble defending. In the two games this season, Allen is averaging a team-best 20 points per game, which includes connecting on 8 of his 12 3-point shots. For Allen to be effective, that means freeing him up for shots - something the Celtics have not done a good job of lately. Allen averages 10.2 shots per game this season. He has failed to get double-digit shot attempts in the last four Celtics games, and five of the last six.
STAT TO TRACK - It's a four quarter game, obviously. But Boston's success - at least thus far this season - is usually known by halftime. The Celtics have only been tied or ahead three times this season at the half. Their record in those games? 3-0.

Blackhawks edge past Bruins with late goal in 1-0 win

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Blackhawks edge past Bruins with late goal in 1-0 win

BOSTON -- Anybody looking for an emotional, high-energy response from the Bruins after back-to-back putrid losses to the Islanders and Red Wings didn’t get it on Friday night against the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden.

Instead the Bruins had plenty of shots with zero goals to show for it, and then gave up a goal to Marian Hossa on a nifty tic-tac-toe passing play to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 regulation win over the Black and Gold. It was the third straight loss for a Bruins team that continues to sink down in the playoff picture at a time of years when the results are the only thing that matters.

The defeat could also very well cost B’s head coach Claude Julien his job as a lifeless Bruins organization looks for any way to get out of the mud they’ve been stuck in for the last six weeks.

The Bruins and Blackhawks couldn’t crack the scoreboard for the first 50 minutes in regulation, and the genuine scoring chances were few and far between for both sides.

Tim Schaller and Patrice Bergeron had scoring chances down low in the first period, and Joe Morrow had a breakaway turned away by Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling early in the proceedings. But the scoring chances and sustained attack really began to dry up in the second period, and it became a series of one-and-done shots on net for both sides.

As one would expect both goalies were stellar with Darling putting together a 16-save performance in the first period, and Tuukka Rask turning away several Blackhawks chances including an Artem Anisimov wrist shot off the rush with just a couple of minutes to go in the third period. Rask finished with 21 saves, and Darling finished with 30 saves in a big win for the Chicago backup netminder.