Wakeup Call: The Price is right for Canadiens

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Wakeup Call: The Price is right for Canadiens

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, February 13:

BASEBALL
Let's go for another ride down Denial River: Gio Gonzalez says he's never taken PEDs and has no connection with the Miami clinic suspected of dealing them . . . (CSN Washington)

. . . and that goes double for Jesus Montero. (AP)

Joe Girardi insists that stashing A-Rod -- another guy who, I'm sure, never heard of PEDs and the Bosch Clinic -- in New York during his rehab from hip surgery has nothing to do "with trying to get rid of a distraction". In the classic words of Jim Gosger from the brilliant book Ball Four: Yeah, suuurrre. (AP)

Old friend Hideki Okajima thinks that, "with enough preparation and training," he'll be able to beat out some of these young guys for a spot in the A's bullpen. (CSN Bay Area)

And another old friend, Carl Crawford, is just about to face live pitching and says he's "confident" he'll be ready for Opening Day. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Crawford's new team was dissed by the Giants' Brandon Belt -- who, when asked about the Dodgers' profligate spending, replied, "All I can say is, you can't buy team chemistry" -- and Belt says he's "getting killed" for his remarks. (CSN Bay Area)

At last, it's a done deal for King Felix and the Mariners. (AP)

And now Hernandez has a new teammate: Joe Saunders. (Hardball Talk)

It's also a done deal for Mat Latos and the Reds. (AP)

And Brandon Inge and the Pirates. (Hardball Talk)

Rolen-to-English translation: Scott Rolen probably wants to play in 2013. Just not in Cincinnati. (AP)

Not a real good sign for the Mets when closer Frank Francisco -- shut down last September 16 because of elbow inflammation -- rests all winter, and then says the elbow still hurts on the first day of spring training. (AP)

Ryan Madson's going for an MRI to examine the elbow pain Mike Scioscia wasn't worried about yesterday. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
No. 25 Kentucky gets schooled by No. 7 Florida . . . (AP)

. . . but the far bigger concern is the knee injury suffered by the Wildcats' freshman center, Nerlens Noel, which, as you'll see in the video attached to the story, doesn't look good. At all. And without Noel, the defending national champs are going nowhere. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

What the injury does to Noel's career is even more worrisome, especially since Florida's Patric Young called it "gruesome" and Kentucky coach John Calipari said, "I'm physically sick for Noel right now." (Yahoo! Sports)

Another high-profile smackdown: No. 8 Michigan State wallops No. 4 Michigan by 23. (AP)

Makes you think we should reevaluate how we view the Wolverines, doesn't it? (College Basketball Talk)

Rutgers women's coach C. Vivian Stringer is denied her 900th career victory in a last-second loss at DePaul, and says she hopes she reaches the milestone soon because "it's a heck of a lot of burden and stress." (AP)

The center on Penn's 1979 Final Four team is stabbed to death in his sleep by his wife, who said she did it because she caught him looking at what she called child pornography on the Internet and "I had to do it." (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Nice program ya got there, Nick. (AP)

Sources say the reshuffled Big East is about to sign a footballbasketball deal with the NBC Sports Network. (AP)

GOLF
Last weekend's win at Pebble Beach was another sign that Brandt Snedeker is emerging as the next American star. (AP)

The new star, however, won't participate in the Match Play Championship because of sore ribs. (AP)

Michelle Wie was once the rising star of women's golf. But after the worst year of her career in 2012, she's revamping her game and will try to get back on track this weekend in the Women's Australian Open, which kicks off the 2013 LPGA season. (AP)

Wie and Snedeker both made names for themselves as youngsters in the U.S. Amateur Public Links. Now, however, the U.S. Golf Association -- saying it's following a trend that's being set at the local and regional levels -- is getting rid of the Publinx in favor of a U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. (AP)

HOCKEY
The Canadiens blow another third-period lead, but Carey Price saves them in the shootout. (AP)

Not sure I would have put much money down last night on the Hurricanes, since they were ending a six-game road trip playing their second game in two nights, and against the scorching Devils to boot. But that's why I don't bet. (AP)

Think Bobby Loo is still available? (AP)

New Blue Jackets head honcho John Davidson said he had "a gut feeling" that he had to fire general manager Scott Howson . . . so he did. (AP)

And it looks like his gut is telling him to hire Jarmo Kekalainen as Howson's replacement. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

OLYMPICS
The IOC tells wrestling "It's not you, it's me" as the reason why it's dropping the sport, which has been contested in every Olympics except one since 1896. (NBC's Olympic Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
So LeBron James has the new record for consecutive games with 30 points and 60 percent shooting? Who figures out this stuff? (AP)

Plain old 100 percent isn't good enough for Derrick Rose. No, no, he's not coming back until he's "110 percent" recovered from his knee injury. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Delonte West was picked up by the Texas Legends of the D-League on Jan. 25, but he still hasn't reported. (AP)

Who would've thought the Lakers could win a game when Kobe Bryant scored only four points? (AP)

James Harden plays through the pain of an injured right ankle and leads the Rockets past the Warriors . . . (AP)

. . . but it doesn't look like he'll be playing through it tonight. (CSN Houston)

Speaking of the Rockets, there may be a happy ending to the Royce White story, after all. (AP)

Temper, temper, Kevin! (AP)

And because we all miss Bob Lobel: Why can't we get players like that?!? (AP)

Lou Amundson is drawing lots of interest on the trade market. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Surprised that the Sixers are still in the playoff race? So are they. (CSN Philly)

PRO FOOTBALL
Well, as long as he needed the money for something important. (AP)

Chip Kelly's first move as Eagles coach: Shift to a two-back system. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

SOCCER
The prestige of the English Premier League may be at stake today when Manchester United goes against Real Madrid. (NBC's Pro Soccer Talk)

TENNIS
Rafael Nadal to the ATP: You don't care about us. (AP)

Andy Roddick's coming out of retirement . . . sort of. (AP)

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

The mission for the Bruins on their four-game road swing through the West Coast is certainly to keep the momentum going, but it’s also to quell any talk that the positive results will be short-lived following the coaching change.

The Bruins won there first three games interim head coach Bruce Cassidy headed into the five-day “bye week”, and they’ll come out on the other side with a potentially dangerous road swing through California that will finish up in Dallas next weekend. 

The Black and Gold have gone into death spirals before on the Cali trip, so that’s always a danger when going coast-to-coast to face tough teams in the Sharks, Ducks and Kings.

There’s also the fact that NHL teams are 3-10-2 as of Saturday afternoon in the first game coming back from the five-day midseason vacation. That means the B’s are going to face a stiff uphill battle on Sunday night against the Pacific Division-leading Sharks. 

The challenge is going to be there for the Bruins to answer all of those challenges when they’ve shrunk away from such adversity most of the season. It gives the Bruins yet another chance to show that the three games aren’t merely a sugar-high after cages had been rattled and is instead something that Boston sustains over the season’s final two-plus months.

“Our thinking is to try to win every game. We know the standings. We know it’s pretty tight. We put ourselves in some of the games in tough situations. Now, we’ve got to climb up and fight for every point,” said Zdeno Chara. “It’s going to be very important that we do that and play that way until the end.

“We can look at the standings as much as we want. I think that we really have to focus on how we play, how we want to go into every game, and what we can do to get as many points as possible.”

The good news for the Bruins is that the teams chasing them in the standings really haven’t gained ground on them, and they enter Saturday still in a playoff spot. So, the mathematics don’t look as dire for Boston as they did going into their rest period, and now they should be energized, recharged and highly motivated headed into the final 24 games of the season.

There’s also the fact that the Bruins were playing exciting, aggressive and winning hockey due to some of the tweaks made by Cassidy after taking control of the team. He finally got some production from the third line after putting forwards Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes together, a combo he never truly gave a look because he didn’t trust them to do the job defensively. Cassidy immediately placed 21-year-old Peter Cehlarik into a top-six role with power-play time straight from the AHL. That’s something one almost never saw happen with rookies and inexperienced guys during Julien’s run.

The B’s defensemen corps scored four goals in the three wins and showed aggressive, timely risk-taking to produce offense when playing it safe was normally the call of the day under Julien. The forwards were avoiding the low-to-high passing to the point that so often resulted in perimeter shots from the Bruins in the offensive zone, and instead attacked the net down low with the forwards looking to put some anxiety into the opponent’s D-zone coverage.

It all worked and it all looked remarkably different from the way the Bruins played in the opening 55 games.

“It’s something we need to bottle up and not change our approach, not change what we’re doing, make sure we’re moving [during the bye] and not just sitting idle and getting rusty,” said David Backes last weekend headed into the bye. “Make sure that mentally, we can have those same sort of mindsets for every guy to be contributing. It’s something that doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but guys are recognized in here for doing those things and that’s winning culture. That’s what we’re building.”

The Bruins now get their chance to prove this is a permanent change to a winning culture rather than a short term, three-game adrenaline rush after watching their longtime coach get fired. It won’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be for the Black and Gold if they’re finally going to earn their way into the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in three seasons. 

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while hoping that Purple Passion doesn’t try the same comeback as Zima.

*A Seattle investor says that an NHL team coming to that city is much more likely than a return by the NBA to the Pacific Northwestern city.

*Gare Joyce writes eloquently about the loneliness of a hockey scout, and how that world can sometimes come to a crashing halt.  

*Good piece from Arpon Basu giving the sights and sounds of Claude Julien’s second stint behind the bench with the Montreal Canadiens.

*The agent for Russian player Maxim Shalunov says there is a “10 percent chance” that he’s going to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks.

*Mike Babcock says not to expect any big trade deadline deals from the Toronto Maple Leafs as they push for a playoff spot.

*Henrik Zetterberg reflects on a difficult season with the Detroit Red Wings where it looks like things might finally come down to a crashing halt.

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nhl/red-wings/2017/02/17/red-wings-zetterberg-reflects-tough-season/98064530/

*The Minnesota Wild have underrated depth on their team, and the Hockey News says it might just be their scariest attribute.

*For something completely different: as referenced above, it looks like that Zima drink of the 1990s is trying to make a comeback. I was in college when the Zima people were seemingly flooding campuses with advertising and samples back in the day.