Bruins top forward line finally explodes

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Bruins top forward line finally explodes

WASHINGTON The two biggest problems with the Bruins in their playoff series against the Capitals have been major ones: 1) Tim Thomas was being outplayed by his rookie counterpart Braden Holtby and 2) Bostons best offensive forwards were putting up more zeroes than can be found in Donald Trumps bank account.

Both trends needed to be reversed if the Bruins were going to taste success on the road in Game 6 and bring the series back to their own barn on Wednesday night.

Thats exactly what happened for the Black and Gold.

Thomas was much more like himself in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Capitals at the Verizon Center, and the trio of Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and David Krejci took things over in the second half of the game.

Im sure it helps. There is definitely a lot demanded out of the top forwards, but rightfully so because theyve shown what theyre capable of, said Andrew Ference. As a competitive team and an honest team you just ask that each guy play up to their capabilities. I think guys on our team took the right path and rose to the challenge. They didnt shrink away and it was great to see as a teammate.

Rich Peverley had been a one-man band through the first five games of the playoffs when it comes to the top flight offensive forwards on the Bruins roster, and some were wondering if Boston was simply missing Nathan Horton too much to generate any offense.

Apparently thats not the case.

"We really thought going into tonights game we needed to get production," Seguin said. "I thought we played well. The guys that were getting production this season really had a good game. There werent too many good bounces so far in the series so to see it happen tonight . . . to see the guys finally be rewarded is definitely nice.

The rewards were bountiful for all three players on the line and underscored the smart coaching decision by Claude Julien to load up his top line with offensive skill even though it might cause him a little D-zone anxiety from time-to-time. But for a team thats struggled to score more than two goals per game in the playoffs, a little more offense is just what the hockey doctor ordered.

Lucic finished with two assists -- including a deft pass to Seguin for the overtime game-winner -- in his first real offensive appearance of the series.

David Krejci ended a string of five invisible offensive performances by potting his first goal of the series in the first period, and creating the game-winning play when he schooled Nicklas Backstrom in his own end of the ice.

And of course Seguin brought the heat and the speed by turning his skating game up a gear and placing all kinds of pressure on a Washington defense that wasnt ready to handle it.

Much was expected from that trio of players, and they didnt deliver until Game 6 of the series against Washington. But better late than never.

Because of their Game 6 performances, the Bruins -- with their postseason experience and some suddenly hot offensive players -- are looking very formidable.

Celtics offseason focus is an All-Star frontcourt addition

Celtics offseason focus is an All-Star frontcourt addition

WALTHAM, Mass. – No matter how an NBA team’s season ends, change is inevitable.
 
And while there’s no doubt that the Celtics are on the right track in terms of their ascension in the NBA, it's too soon to tell how many players on the Celtics’ 15-man roster that Danny Ainge, the president of basketball operations, will bring back next season.

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“One thing I do know. He’ll make the best decisions for the team and if players don’t end up being back here, I wish the best for them,” said Avery Bradley.  “Those are my brothers. We all had a special year. I appreciate everything, all the time I had with them. I’d love for all those guys to be back. We’ll see.”
 
And with Boston coming off its first trip to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012, adding just any player won’t cut it.
 
The Celtics’ mindset now isn’t just to improve, but get good enough to where they can better compete with the likes of Cleveland, which just ended the Celtics’ season with a Game 5 thumping.
 
The most significant move made by the Celtics last offseason was the signing of Al Horford to a four-year, $113 million contract.
 
Like most of his Boston teammates this season, Horford is eager to see what changes are in store this summer.
 
“We just have to wait and see,” Horford said. “We had such a good year. A lot of positive things. It’ll be interesting to see what Danny, the organization feels is going to be the next step.”
 
Multiple league sources have told CSNNE.com in recent weeks that the Celtics are focused on landing an All-Star caliber talent in the frontcourt.
 
That makes sense when you consider how guard-dominant the Celtics were this season and how that had a negative impact on the team’s rebounding and, to a lesser degree, their defense as a whole.
 
Gordon Hayward has emerged as a target, but all indications – for now at least – point toward him returning to Utah.
 
The Celtics may pursue Los Angeles Clippers big man Blake Griffin. Although like Hayward, he too is expected to re-sign with his current team for a max contract (for Griffin that would be five years, $175 million).
 
While trades are certainly in the cards for Boston, at this point the Celtics seem more inclined to improve their overall talent base via the draft and free agency.
 
“It’s always a good thing when you have the opportunity to add value to your team and don’t have to change your team too much,” said Celtics’ reserve Gerald Green, who will be a free agent this summer. “I’m going to be very interested to see what they do as far as building a team. We’re in a good place right now as far as being where we want to be organization-wise. I feel like we’re one or two steps away from actually being at the Finals. I think Danny has some things to think about, but I’m sure he’s going to do the job. I’ve seen Danny go to work in these situations. He always makes the team better. I’m pretty sure he’s got something planned that, at the end of the day, is going to make this organization better.”
 
Indeed, the Celtics could very well strengthen their position for next season by simply locking up some of their core players who may hit the free agent market soon.
 
Boston may look to work out an extension with Isaiah Thomas before the start of this season. Because if he hits free agency in the summer of 2018, he will be poised to command a salary that in year one would be worth more than the entire four-year, $27 million deal he signed with Phoenix in 2014.
 
“Boston’s changed my career, changed my life,” Thomas said. “I would love to be here long-term and win championships here. But as you guys know, it’s a business and anything can happen. I know that and understand that. But I would love to be here. This has been everything to me. This city, this organization … it’s been good.”

Price on his return to Red Sox: ’There’s not a better feeling’

Price on his return to Red Sox: ’There’s not a better feeling’


BOSTON — Red Sox left-hander David Price is set to make his season debut in a holiday matinee Monday on the road in Chicago against the White Sox. 

Price, 31, starting the second season of a $217 million, seven-year contract, has been recovering from a strained pitching elbow since spring training.

“Excited, just to be back here,” he said Thursday. “There’s not a better feeling. You can’t replicate it anywhere else.”

Price allowed nine runs — six earned — and 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings in a pair of less-than-impressive injury rehabilitation starts at Triple-A Pawtucket. He struck out eight and walked two.

“A lot of pitches, in a short amount of time. I think that is more of a test to being healthy as opposed to going out there and throwing five or six [innings] in 90 pitches,” he said. “To do what I did in both of my rehab outings, I don’t think you can do that if you’re not healthy.”

The Red Sox (24-21) have won four in a row heading into their weekend series against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.

“He’s eager to get back to us and physically he feels great,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “His return to us will give us a definite boost but that’s not to de-emphasize he needs to go out and perform.”

Farrell hopes Price’s return has a trickle-down impact.

“It’s not based solely on the name on the back of his jersey,” Farrell said. “Hopefully it allows us to even out some of the performances within the rotation.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press.