O'Neal makes most of time on court

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O'Neal makes most of time on court

BOSTON Jermaine O'Neal left the floor early in Boston's 81-73 win over Toronto, a scene that has never had a happy ending for him or the Celtics.

Not to worry, Celtics Nation.

O'Neal having a limited role on Wednesday was part of the game plan coming in, according to Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.

"I told Jermaine before the game that we were going to play Greg (Stiemsma) a lot," Rivers said. "We're going to try and get (Chris) Wilcox in that one little stretch in the second half. So I told him he wasn't going to play a lot."

But even with his minutes limited, there was no mistaking the impact that he made on defense.

O'Neal played less than 12 minutes, but still racked up four blocked shots and as well as a charge.

"His blocked shots, his timing, they're just amazing," Rivers said. "He looks great. What you saw is what he's been all camp. You rarely see a guy that blocks shots and takes charges. He does both. that's just unusual."

Celtics guard Keyon Dooling played with the Milwaukee Bucks last season, and said he considers Bucks center Andrew Bogut as a player like O'Neal in terms of having the ability to block shots and draw charges.

Still, Dooling recognizes that players who excel at both are rare.

"It's awesome to have guys like JO at this point in their career," Dooling said. "Where he understands the game, he understands his body, he understands what he can and can't do. He led our team in the preseason with charges. That's something that's very undervalued in our league, and that's points in the paint that he's taking away. He's going to be very important, especially with our lack of a lot of size."

Dooling added, "It really does something special for you team when you have a guy at the rim who can not only block shots but take charges, given the opportunity. It definitely brings an added dimension for us."

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.