Hate Bobby but blame players

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Hate Bobby but blame players

Wow.

So I just finished Gordon Edes new anthology The Best American Bobby Valentine Rip Jobs and apparently the atmosphere over at Fenway is about as gross and dysfunctional as we all imagined. Coaches. Players. Physicians. The General Manager. Everyone has issues with Valentine. I mean, you wouldnt believe some of the stories coming out of the clubhouse.

Did you know that bench coach Tim Bogar is at his wits end over Bobby V. leaving the toilet seat up on the team charters? Or that Dustin Pedroia cant stand the way his manager uses a hard T in words like often and mature? Or how about the fact that David Ortiz was recently overheard lamenting to another team employee: Oh my God. Have you seen Bobby V. eat corn on the cob? Dios mio. Take a breath, man.

Of course, its at least a little suspect that Valentine's biggest and most vocal detractors are all founding members of the Terry Francona Fan Club. And is it any shock that the anti-Valentine crew has taken to voicing their displeasure to Ben Cherington, aka the GM who never wanted to hire Bobby V. in the first place? Of course not. I can see it now: Pedroia, Bogar, Cherington and (before he was traded) Youk, sitting up in the GM's office bitching like the girls from Sex in the City: "Ugh. He's so annoying!"

Yeah, so as fun and engaging as it is to sort through the Red Sox dirty laundry, we have to consider where it's coming from. And while we're doing that, here's something for Valentine's in-house haters to consider.

No one cares.

No one cares if you don't like your manager. No one cares if hes not as nice as the guy you had before (and treated like a steamy pile of crap). No one cares if he drops a "heads up" before giving you a day off. Or if he, God forbid, changes your spot in the lineup in the midst of one of the most injury-ridden few months in recent Red Sox history. No one cares if you're offended by what he says to the media or even how he says it.

All we care about is winning. And if you don't win, that's not going to fall on the manager.

Well, it might fall on the manager. If the Sox don't make the playoffs, it's reasonable to expect Valentine to lose his job. But my point is that 2012 won't be remembered as the year Bobby Valentine brought down the Red Sox. Those who hated him from the beginning will continue to hate him. Those who supported him at the beginning will continue to say that he never got a fair shot. That he was set up to fail. But either way, he won't be the story.

Nope. If the Red Sox go belly-up again this season, the story will be the players. The proud owners of a streak of four straight seasons without a postseason win. Who will have run not one, but two managers out of town, and still think it's someone else who has the problem. The story will be about the GM, who put petty personal differences before the good of the team. The story will be about exceedingly idiotic owners who don't know their ass from their elbow and have completely lost control of the franchise.

Sure, Valentine might be out of job. But he'll land on his feet. He'll run back to TV or Japan or go make another movie in the Dominican. He'll make a nice scapegoat, but when he leaves, he won't take the Red Sox problems with him. And his departure won't leave anyone in that organization any less accountable.

So enough with the bitching. Just win some damn games.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

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Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

BOSTON -- Noel Acciari missed a month of game action with a lower body injury, so it would have been perfectly acceptable to show plenty of rust in his game upon returning to the Boston lineup.

But the former Providence College standout didn’t look rusty, a step behind or out of place in any way as he played the fourth line energy forward role to a perfect fit after missing the last 13 games. Acciari did get in one game with the Providence Bruins prior to suiting back up for the Black and Gold on Saturday, and perhaps that helped him manufacture a couple of shots on net to go along with three thumping hits against the Maple Leafs.

The 25-year-old Acciari didn’t factor into the scoring at all for the Bruins, but that’s just as well given that his focus should be on killing penalties, being hard to play against and taking the body whenever the chance presents itself. Claude Julien reformed the B’s energy line that had so much success earlier in the season with Acciari, Dominic Moore and Tim Schaller, and didn’t hesitate tossing them back into the mix together while looking for energy and a spark for an offensively stunted team.

“It’s good to be back with my linemates, and you know, I think we kind of picked up where we left off, but there’s definitely things we need to work on. That’ll come with a couple more practices and games together,” said Acciari, who finished theSaturday loss with three registered hits packed into 11:35 of ice time. “Kind of getting back to our familiarity and kind of get back to where we were before I got injured.

“It was a good start tonight, but we definitely just weren’t clicking like we used to, but that’ll come. I think that will come. Like I said, a couple practices and just kind of getting some games in [are good things]. I thought we were pretty good tonight, but, you know, should get more pucks to score [goals].”

Clearly there is room for improvement for everybody including Acciari, but it was encouraging to see the fearless competitor again flying around on the TD Garden ice playing high intensity hockey for a fourth line that could use every little bit of that. 

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

BOSTON -- This may not come as a surprise, but the Boston Bruins are having some trouble putting the puck in the net.

Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by an 11-2 margin in the first period and outshooting them by a 32-21 margin over the balance of the 60 minute game, the Bruins scratched for just a single goal in a frustrating, constipated 4-1 loss to Toronto at TD Garden. Clearly some of the offensive difficulty was caused by a solid Frederik Andersen, who improved to 6-0-0 in a career against Boston that’s beginning to take on Bruins Killer proportions.

But a great deal of the B’s struggles to finish scoring chances on Saturday night is a malady that’s dogged the Bruins all season, and marked the 20th time in 29 games this year that Boston has scored two goals or less. In most of these games the Bruins have dominated puck possession and outshot their opponents, but still have come away mostly empty handed in the goals scored department while dropping deep in the bottom third of NHL offenses this season.

“It seems like every game we’re out-chancing teams, but we don’t outscore teams. That’s where the biggest issue is right now. Our scoring is not there and if you don’t score goals you don’t win hockey games,” said Claude Julien. “Because of that we criticize everything else in our game, but our game isn’t that bad.

“If we were scoring goals people would love our game right now, but that’s the biggest part. There’s not much more I can say here except for the fact that if we don’t score goals it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”

But the Bruins aren’t scoring goals consistently, their power play is below average while trending in the wrong direction and the team has been forced to watch steady offensive players like Patrice Bergeron suddenly slump in a concerning way. Clearly David Pastrnak is doing his part with 18 goals scored this season in 24 games, and others like Brad Marchand and Dominic Moore have also performed above, or beyond, their acceptable level of play.

But there are other players failing with the chance to make an offensive dent: Austin Czarnik has been on the roster for nearly two months, and has zero goals and two points in his last 15 games as the offense is again dried up on the third line. He missed wide on a shorthanded chance in the third period after a Moore centering pass set up him all alone in front, and was critiquing himself for fanning on a perfect dish to him in the slot.

Moments later the Leafs had an insurance score from James van Riemsdyk to make it a 3-1 game, and it was all over for the Black and Gold at that point.

Czarnik is an easy target because he’s young and inexperienced, but there is more than enough struggle and frustration to go around with a bunch of offensive players that can’t seem to get out of their own way. David Backes admitted it’s reached a point where the Bruins are frustrated when they can’t score enough to beat a team like Toronto, and that it falls squarely on the lead guys in the Black and Gold dressing room that are underperforming.

“I think offensive frustration is warranted at this point; we just haven’t done a good enough job scoring goals. We played a heck of a first period. We limited them to two shots and we had an opportunity to have a team that’s coming in here that’s a younger team, to really put them behind the eight ball,” said Backes. “Instead, they think they got a second lease on life and they were able to capitalize. All of the sudden, they were up 2-0 and we’re fighting an uphill battle again rather than -- we have that opportunity to play a heck of a first period and we don’t find a way – it’s easy to talk about, but it’s going out there and doing the job and putting it past or through the goalie, or however it needs to happen. “You’ve seen our goals; you want to do a study on it unless you’re Pasta [David Pastrnak] with the one-timer on the side, it’s been ugly, it’s been rebounds, it’s been greasy goals and that’s our equation and we need more of it, and we didn’t do it. They did a good job of being in front of their net and boxing out, eliminating those second chances. But, we’ve got good players in here that need to create more and find those second chances and win those battles, find those loose pucks, and throw them in the net.”

The Bruins have been talking seemingly all season about the need to get to the “dirty areas in the offensive zone”, and for players to jump all over the second and third chance opportunities currently going by the board unchallenged on goalie rebounds.

Now it’s about speaking with action for the B’s, and more specifically speaking volumes with goals and offensive finish instead of “chances” that aren’t doing much of anything if they’re not being snapped into the back of the net.