B's energy line lives up to its name

985691.jpg

B's energy line lives up to its name

Earlier this week the Bruins fourth line of Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille along with their coach Claude Julien lamented that they hadnt been as consistently good last year as theyd been in the Stanley Cup season.

So instead of coming up with excuses or simply accepting mediocrity, the Bs energy cranked it up like they main-lining Red Bull and became a huge factor in Bostons 3-1 victory over the Rangers on opening night.

They came as advertised: opportunistic offense, gritty and responsible defense and the courageous willingness to sacrifice their bodies for the purpose of spiking up the energy levels.

They did exactly what we expect them to do. Not so much the fight, which is something they do automatically. Thornton has always been there for us and Campbell always likes to take on bigger guys than he should, but that just means that he doesnt back down from everybody, said Claude Julien. Hes a trooper, no matter what, he was coming back in the third and he was going to play the same way. They did a great job.

Not only did they score the goal, they did a lot of good things. Every once in a while they were out there against some of their big lines. If you remember a couple of years ago, they were able to handle that. They were doing the right things and I felt like they were showing that again tonight, so they got that opportunity.

Paille finished with the game-winning goal in the second period after he redirected a long Gregory Campbell shot that dinged off the post, bounced off the backside of Henrik Lundqvist and rattled its way to the back of the net. That was the biggest portion of a solid night for the fourth lines left wing, but it wasnt long before his two fourth line partners got involved.

Thats something that weve been trying to drive through the net, especially our line, said Paille. When it works, it helps out huge for us to get some goals, and I think thats important for us for a good win like that.

Brad Richard rifled home a puck later in the second period that made it a one-goal game for the Rangers, but Thornton and Campbell factored in and changed that flow of momentum quickly. Thornton dropped the gloves with Rangers tough guy Mike Rupp and engaged in a minute-long dance that ended with the Bruins enforcer bloodying his Rangers counterpart with an overhand right straight to the face.

It had been awhile. Im sure its been awhile for Rupp too, said Thornton. They had just scored, I figured it was just as good a time as any to get the momentum going back the other way, maybe shake off some rust at the same time.

Then on the next face-off 6-foot, 197-pound Campbell took on the 6-foot-4, 207-pound Stu Bickel and fought to a draw after both combatants exchanged flying punches in an emotional bout.

Those two hockey fights wrested the momentum flow back away from the Rangers, and the Bruins put together dominant shift after shift to discourage New York before finally putting them away with Johnny Boychuks score in the third period. Paille, Campbell and Thornton spoke all week about the desire to bounce back from their combined minus-15 rating from last season, and to constantly provide the energy that arrived in erratic bunches last season.

Saturday was a good start for the trio in all of those areas.

Weve all talked about that line. Thats a line that gets us going. Weve seen that in the past years and again tonight and its the same thing again, said Patrice Bergeron. Its about getting momentum. A huge goal for us, but also those fights lift you up, and theyre always there for you so it means a lot for the rest of the team.

Two years ago the Bruins fourth line was called the best in the NHL when Boston captured the Stanley Cup, and nobody will ever forget the tone they set in Game 7 against the Vancouver Canucks. Its well-documented how important the energy line is to the fortunes of the Black and Gold, and it looks it could be a good year for both after a textbook performance on opening night.

Blakely: Celtics make a healthy choice in standing pat at the deadline

Blakely: Celtics make a healthy choice in standing pat at the deadline

BOSTON -- For the second year in a row, the NBA trade deadline has come and gone with the Boston Celtics making no moves.
 
The Celtics were focused on trying to land either Chicago’s Jimmy Butler or Indiana’s Paul George, but Boston’s efforts never gained momentum in the final hours leading up to Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.

And while there were a handful of potential deals that would have made Boston slightly better, that improvement -- and the cost attached to it -- was just more than Ainge and the Celtics were willing to pay. 
 
And so they hit the final stretch of the season with a roster that – for now at least – looks identical to what they had at the start of the season with one difference --health. 
 
Most of this season, the Celtics have had multiple players out with injuries or various ailments. Currently, Avery Bradley (right Achilles) is the lone Celtic dealing with a significant injury. 
 
And after Bradley practiced some on Thursday, there’s a chance that he might be on the floor Friday night at Toronto. 
 
But there is no question that a significant segment of Celtics Nation is disappointed that Boston didn’t engineer a trade of some sort.
 
“We’re trying to upgrade our team,” said Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “But it is a delicate balance between short-term goals and long-term goals. Obviously, both are very important. We’re excited where we are on a long-term basis. And this year we didn’t make any trades. Last year we didn’t make any trades.”
 
But in standing pat a year ago, the Celtics solidified their salary cap space to where they could have offered a pair of max contracts to Al Horford – which they did – as well as Kevin Durant who met with Boston but ultimately decided to sign with Golden State. 
 
And by not including their first-round pick last season, the Celtics have Jaylen Brown who is one of the better rookies in this year’s class. 
 
“So we’re happy with the direction that we’re moving,” Ainge said. 
 
But standing pat was not on the agenda for the teams surrounding Boston in the East.
 
Boston’s inability to strike a deal is in sharp contrast to what teams surrounding them did during this trade season. 
 
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the team Boston and the rest of the East are chasing. They acquired Kyle Korver earlier this month, a player who ranks among the NBA’s all-time great 3-point shooters. 
 
Washington added Bojan Bogdanovic from Brooklyn today, providing some much-needed firepower for a Wizards second unit that ranks among the NBA’s lowest scoring groups. 
 
Toronto recently traded for Orlando’s Serge Ibaka, giving the Raptors a defensive-oriented big man who can stretch the floor. 
 
Also today, the Atlanta Hawks picked up Ersan Illyasova from Philadelphia, which should help them space the floor better.
 
Each of those teams addressed a very specific need, something the Celtics were hoping to do. 
 
But more than a player, the Celtics could benefit from a roster with improved health. 
 
The team’s preferred starting five -- Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson -- has a 15-6 record this season. To put that in perspective, that’s a winning percentage of .714 which would be tops in the East and third overall in the NBA for this season. 
 
And with most of the players seemingly back to full strength health-wise now, it’s understandable to some extent why Ainge would be willing to stick with this group for the rest of the season. 
 
“As you’ve been watching lately, we’ve been winning a lot of games with everybody,” Ainge said. “Players ten through fifteen contributing to our wins. We like the depth of the team, we like the youth of the team, we like the energy and enthusiasm of the team and I’m very anxious and excited to watch in the second half.”
 
But just like when they stood pat last year, the decision puts the onus on the players and the coaching staff to step their game up. 

“I roll with the guys in this locker room until something changes,” Isaiah Thomas said prior to the trade deadline. “I always mean that.”
 
Said Jae Crowder: “We have to take care of what we can control and that’s night-in and night-out, try to get wins.”

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis hit three-run homers and left-hander Brian Johnson started and pitched two scoreless innings to help the Red Sox win their spring training opener, 9-6, over Northeastern University on Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Johnson, who made one spot start in his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2015 but then was derailed by injuries and anxiety issues last season, struck out three and walked one Thursday. He's expected to start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts in 2016.

Moreland, the left-handed hitting first baseman signed to a one-year deal after spending his first seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, and Travis, a right-handed hitting first base prospect coming back from knee surgery last season, each hit three-run homers in a six-run third inning.

Pablo Sandoval, attempting to reclaim the third-base job after missing nearly all of last season after surgery on his left shoulder, went 1-for-2 with a double. 

The Red Sox open Grapefruit League play Friday afternoon when they host the New York Mets at JetBlue Park.