Boston Celtics

Bruins looking for statement game vs. Rangers

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Bruins looking for statement game vs. Rangers

The Bruins have experienced plenty of statement games already this season with mixed results. Some have been wildly successful and others have been anti-climactic. Theyve got another on tap with the New York Rangers coming to town for their second Boston invasion on the last three weeks.

The Bruins were able to topple the Flyers and Penguins on the road when each team was leading the Eastern Conference earlier this year, but the Rangers have run away with the East down the stretch. The Blueshirts quietly matched the Bruins win-for-win during their hot stretch in November and December, and have kept right on winning as the Bs have tailed off into a .500 hockey club since early January.

The Bruins have dropped big home games to the Vancouver Canucks and these very-same Rangers on the TD Garden ice over the last six weeks, so now is the time to file some of the so-called statement games back into the home win ledger.

Theres no better test than the top team in the East right now, said Milan Lucic, simply and correctly. Weve come up short in a couple of these big games and marquee match-ups at home lately, so hopefully we can find a way to win one before we head out on the road.

In many ways the Bruins and Rangers are cut from the same roughly-hewn cloth: blue collar at their core with elite goaltending, excellent leadership and an opportunistic offense that jumps all over mistakes from their opponents. That presents the Bruins with a unique challenge against a hockey club thats consistently been their most difficult regular season opponent over the last five years.

Everybody knows who the Rangers are, how good they are and what they represent, said Claude Julien. I dont think thats necessarily an issue. Were a team that likes to put the focus on ourselves rather than who were playing or how good theyre playing.We need to look at ourselves because thats what has given us the most success in all the years that Ive been here.I think thats where we have to be right now. Nashville was a really good team coming in last weekend and all of our focus was on how well we were going to play. I think we need to do the same thing against the Rangers. We understand what New Yorks strengths are and you bring that to the attention of the team. But its really about how good and how hard are we going to execute the game plan.

Just look at the stats: the Bruins are 7-10-4 against the Rags over the last five years while building into one of the NHLs best franchises.

The Rangers hold a slight 33-29 scoring edge over their last 18 games, but an amazing 15 out of those 18 contests have been one-goal games with six of them decided in overtime or the shootout.

Plenty of that has to do with the elite goaltending at both ends of the ice, and thats also the reason the Bruins havent scored more than three goals against the Rangers since a Jan. 20, 2004 win.

That was obviously before the Henrik Lundqvist era on Broadway, which has been a truly stingy time for the Black and Gold. To put the offensively bereft BostonNew York rivalry into further perspective, the last time the Bruins put up a four-spot or more against the Rags Carl Corazzini, Jiri Slegr and Andrew Raycroft were the three stars of the game. A whole new generation of Bs followers probably doesnt even realize that all three were wearing Bruins sweaters on that day eight years ago. That is truly Old Time Bruins Hockey.

It seems like since Ive been here there have been a lot of 1-0 games and 2-1 games against the Rangers. I think 3-2 is the highest scoring game since Ive been here, said Lucic. They play a really stingy style. They play committed to their game plan. Theyre blocking shots and theyre being physical.

They do all the little things really well and I think thats what has given them a lot of success this season. Were going to have a find a way to battle through their defensive layers and push that pace like we did in the last game. Theyre a complete team and Lundqvist really makes them a complete team.

Theres more to Tuesday nights game beyond making a statement against the Rangers, however. Its about putting together two straight hard-working, solid performances over a 60-minute span against quality opponents rather than the fits and starts that have plagued the Bs over a six-week stretch. Shades of mediocrity have hung with the Stanley Cup champs since an emotional loss to the Vancouver Canucks in early January.

It would seem that another tight-checking, blue collar tilt against the Blueshirts will be exactly what the Bruins need to set them on the righteous hockey path with only two months left to fine tune before the postseason.

BST Podcast: How will Kyrie Irving fit into Celtics' system?

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BST Podcast: How will Kyrie Irving fit into Celtics' system?

A. Sherrod Blakely and Kyle Draper break down how Kyrie Irving will fit in Boston’s system and how much Isaiah Thomas’ contract impacted the Celtics to trade him at the 11-minute, 47-seconds mark.

Here are the rest of the minutes.

1:19 - Michael Holley, Kyle Draper, and Kayce Smith discuss the blockbuster trade that sent Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and Nets 1st round pick for Kyrie Irving and debate if it was the right move to make for the Celtics.

7:08 - Mike Gorman joins by phone to give his opinion on the trade, if the Celtics are in a better position now, and if he has any concerns with the deal.

16:54 - Chris Forsberg joins BST to compare the Celtics and the Cavaliers rosters now that they have completed this blockbuster trade. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. to get MRI after hurting thumb on slide

Jackie Bradley Jr. to get MRI after hurting thumb on slide

CLEVELAND — Jackie Bradley Jr. will head back to Boston on Wednesday morning for an MRI after he hurt his left thumb sliding into home plate in Tuesday’s 9-1 win over the Indians. X-Rays taken after Bradley was removed from the game at Progressive Field were negative.

Bradley was racing home in the seventh inning and went into a feet-first slide angled to the outside of the plate when he hit his hand awkwardly on the ground. Catcher Yan Gomes didn’t get the tag down in time.

“I’m not worried about it, no,” said Bradley, who will return to Cleveland later Wednesday, but is not expected to play right away. “Right now, it feels alright. I guess, as good it can be kind of after the injury. But, I feel like I’ll be alright.”

Bradley, who earlier in the game hit his 14th home run of the season, decided to change his slide at the last minute.

“As I was coming around third, a few steps before home plate I wanted to slide headfirst because I could control it,” Bradley said. “I wasn’t going to slide anywhere near him. I was going to slide headfirst and just have my hand just kind of reach around. But as I was approaching I kind of could see him gather it. He started coming to kind of block off the plate, so I kind of had to redirect my slide. 

“I actually slid feet first, but I also slid to the outside part of the plate, tried to avoid the tag and then slapped my hand at the back of the plate. And as I slapped the back of the plate, his glove kind of got me in the forearm, and my thumb got caught with the ground and kind of bent in all directions I guess.”

Sox manager John Farrell wasn’t pleased with the lane Gomes allowed Bradley.

But it’s hard to see what Gomes did wrong, by the rules, which state “it shall not be considered a violation of [the rule] if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in a legitimate attempt to field the throw.”

Gomes didn’t end up fully blocking the base line and he made what looked like a normal effort to get the ball where it was thrown. 

The initial safe call was challenged by the Indians and was upheld. Farrell was going to ask the umpires to look at a different aspect had the call been overturned

“He’s got to give a lane, didn’t feel like there was a lane being given at all,” Farrell said. “He had to reach back and unfortunately it puts him in a position where the thumb is exposed.”

Can't rush Carson

Carson Smith isn’t going to be rushed back because of Matt Barnes’ trip to the disabled list. Smith may pitch with just one day of rest in between Triple-A Pawtucket rehab outings this week, but he’s not in a position to race back after so much time missed.