Bruins suffering through an identity crisis

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Bruins suffering through an identity crisis

WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins placed the bar extraordinarily high by losing only three times in regulation during the months of November and December.So some of the concern surrounding their recent 4-4-1 stretch is a perception issue.
But Brad Marchand made a good point on the heels of Bostons listless 3-0 shutout loss to Carolina on Thursday night.

It doesnt take a few losses for us to know that were not playing our best hockey. We can see it even when we win and play poorly," he said.
"The biggest thing is that we all sit down, regroup and refocus. We need to understand that coming down the stretch we need to be playing our best hockey going into the playoffs. We all know what its like, we know what its about, and weve been through this last year.We just need to make sure we turn it around and play better hockey."
The Bruins arent playing their customary tight defense and have slackened the normally ideal pace of their offensive attack. The emotion has been drained from their game, and the won-loss results have sunk into mediocrity.

"A lot of it is just our focus," said Marchand. "Were having little mental breakdowns that are costing us goals and opportunities. Theyre just little letdowns that are uncharacteristic of us. We have to just clean up some areas.
The Bruins know they must get that focus back if they want to avoid lineuproster adjustments from the coaching staff and management. Everyone knows this group is capable of winning a Stanley Cup if everything goes right, as it did last year.But theres only so long an organization will wait if things go flat.Changes will be made, whether they're simple line changes by coach Claude Julien or deals by general manager Peter Chiarelli.
The only way the Bruins can prevent that is by winning.

They havent been receiving full efforts from the entire 20-man roster over the last 10 games. Work ethic normally isnt a problem for the Bruins, as they so strongly proved in November and December, but it has been lately. And the players sounded embarrassed by their effort after getting shut down by the Hurricanes Thursday night in an inconsistent effort.
That embarrassment was replaced by determination during Fridays practice at Ristuccia Arena.

We all recognize the problem," said Patrice Bergeron. "We know its not going to happen overnight. We need to work through it. We need to make sure we keep working hard, but we need to work smart. We cant just go through the motions and expect that things are going to turn around.

Its obvious when you look at October and the last few games weve played and then look at how we played in November and December that there is a way we need to play and want to play. To get back to that level, we need to make sure we go back to the identity and the foundation that makes up our personality.

If hard work and a defensive mindset serve as that personality, then the Bruins have been grappling with an identity crisis over the last two weeks.
It's time for them to get their identity back.

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

BOSTON – This continues to be a historic season for Isaiah Thomas as more records fell in Wednesday’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee, and the company he’s keeping becomes even more exclusive. 

Thomas had a game-high 32 points on Wednesday which included five made 3’s on nine attempts. That gave him 223 for the season which is a new franchise single-season record for made 3-pointers. The previous record was 222 set by Antoine Walker during the 2001-2002 season.

And his 32 points scored gives him 2,012 this season. 

Only six players in franchise history (Paul Pierce was the last to do it during the 2005-2006 season) have scored 2,000 or more points in a single season. 

Oh, there’s more. 

With Wednesday being the 66th time this season he has had 20 or more points, Thomas has now tied Pierce (2005-2006) and Larry Bird (1985-1986; 1987-1988) for sixth on the Celtics’ single-season franchise list. 

“I didn’t even know that,” a visibly disappointed Thomas said following Wednesday’s loss. “It doesn’t feel that good right now. But when I look back on it, probably in the offseason, I’ll appreciate it a little more. But I’m just staying in the moment and try and play as best I can to lead this team to as many wins as possible.”

Other season milestones Thomas is in the mix for include the following:

  • The 5-foot-9 guard is one of three players this season to have 50 or more games of 25-plus points, joined by Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (57) and Houston’s James Harden (54).
  • Thomas has made at least one 3-pointer in a franchise-record 50 straight games (Dec. 3 – March 29). That’s also the longest current streak in the NBA. 
  • With 66 games of 20 or more points this season, Thomas is second in the NBA to Westbrook (67).

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

BOSTON – One of the more bizarre plays in Boston’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee came in the second quarter, requiring some explanation from the officials afterwards. 

With 3:55 to play in the second quarter, the officials had originally called a foul on Marcus Smart which he verbally protested that eventually led to him being whistled for a technical foul. 

After the officials reviewed the play, they changed the call to a personal foul against Khris Middleton but no change to the called technical foul against Smart who objected to a call that, upon review, they agreed was the wrong call to make. 

Official Sean Corbin, through pool reporter Ken Powtak of the Associated Press, acknowledged that the original call was a loose ball foul against Smart. 

“The (officiating) crew got together, we met prior to video and we decided that we needed to look at video because both players were on the floor bleeding so we went to the video for a hostile act,” Corbin told Powtak. “In the review we noticed that Khris Middleton initially made contact to Marcus Smart’s face. That’s how the original contact to the play occurred.”

Fortunately for the Celtics, Middleton missed his technical free throw while Smart split a pair of free throws which cut Milwaukee’s lead to 49-40.

Still, that’s no consolation for Smart who was whistled for a technical foul on a play that the official acknowledged was the wrong call to make. 

In the fourth quarter, Smart was at the center of yet another controversial call that was also reviewed by the officials. The verdict wasn't nearly as good for Smart who was whistled for a flagrant foul after getting his feet tangled up with Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo who was called for a non-shooting foul in the play with 4:46 to play. 

Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws and on the Bucks' ensuing possession, he was called for traveling.

Smart was unavailable to talk after the game in part because the aforementioned incident left an abrasion to his mouth and, because of the technical foul, a little lighter in the wallet as well.