Bruins keep eyes on the scoreboard, look to extend lead

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Bruins keep eyes on the scoreboard, look to extend lead

EL SEGUNDO, CA The Bruins know theyve got a golden chance to wrap things up after two months of struggle.

All of the players, coaches and management in the Bs organization freely admit theyre checking the scores at dinner, and Tyler Seguin admitted he has the TSN application on his blackberry to check the standings and scoreboard. The Bruins know theyre three points ahead of the Ottawa Senators in the Northeast Division, and they also know that they gained another potential game in hand when Ottawa dropped a 5-1 decision to the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.

That makes it three losses in a row for a Senators team that magic carriage appears to be turning into a pumpkin at the end of the regular season. Now only a few wins from the Bruins could sew things up for the Northeast Division tile.

With cell phones now youre always at dinner checking your phone for the scores. Its not too easy getting hockey here in LA with the basketball games going on right now. This time of year youre always scoreboard-watching, said Julien. Thats a natural thing. Ottawa has given us an opportunity here, and weve got to seize it. They lost last night and now weve got another game in hand. Weve got to win those if we want to finish in that position.

With the new rules in effect that place importance on regulationovertime wins as the first tie-breaker while excluding the shootout wins its another nuance within the box score that the Bs coach is paying close attention to in this final handful of games.

Florida is right behind us as well and Buffalo is pushing from underneath now too. Its on us to take advantage of the opportunities given to us. Its in our control. The real interesting thing this year is the regulation and overtime wins, said Julien. Youre watching those too because theyre going to count this year as a tie-breaker if it goes down to that kind of stuff.

Clearly the Florida Panthers are still close at hand with a chance to overtake the Bruins for the No. 2 seed in the East, but that should only add to the urgency this weekend with tonights tilt against the Kings followed by Sundays showdown with the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center. After dropping the first game on the West Coast with an offensive no-show against the San Jose Sharks, the urgency has heightened for the California weekend of hockey.

This is a good opportunity for us, said Tyler Seguin, who was among the Bs forwards that never found their legs Thursday night in San Jose. We looked at this trip as an important one before we left Boston. With the time changes, the flights and the quality of the teams we were playing against, we need to play good hockey and hopefully that will be reflected in the standings.

The Bruins now have their chance to crush down those teams attempting to catch them from behind in the standings, and this weekend will tell the tale of whether they take advantage of it.

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Steve Bulpett joins Mike Felger to weigh in on the NBA trade deadline and the lack of moves made by Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics thus far.