B's shut out for fourth time in 10 games, 2-0


B's shut out for fourth time in 10 games, 2-0

ST. PAUL, MN The Bruins are officially in a rut that they cant find the escape hatch for.

The Bruins dropped their second game in a row and their third in the last four contests with a sleepy 2-0 defeat at the hands of a desperate Minnesota Wild team at the Xcel Energy Center. Its the fourth time that the Bruins have been shut out in the 10 games since Nathan Horton went down with a mild concussion, and serves as a reminder that the Bs are struggling in just about every imaginable area.

After a competent, scoreless first period things started breaking down for the Black and Gold in the second period. The Wild were able to move the puck through the neutral zone with speed, and Chad Rau went to the net unmolested before looking off Tim Thomas and firing a seed short-side for the games first score.

A borderline tripping call on Chris Kelly later on in the period left the Bruins shorthanded, and Bs killer Matt Cullen made them by on his second-effort wrister after fanning on the first shot attempt.

The Bruins poured it on with22 shot attempts in the final period after being spurred on by a long Shawn Thornton bout with Matt Kassian. But Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom provided the exclamation point when he robbed Milan Lucic at the bottom of the right face-off circle in the final minutes.
GOLD STAR: Shawn Thornton ended with four of his lines nine shots on net and he tangled with 6-foot-5 Matt Kassian in the third period hoping to spark his teammates. He took a couple of big punches early, but got in a few of his damaging shots in the Bs longest bout this season. After the game Thornton was sporting a big red welt on his forehead and was still catching his breath after the exhausting bout, and had emptied the tank trying to inspire his team. Thornton was one of the few Bs players that gave everything they had against the Wild on Sunday.

BLACK EYE: Brad Marchand has three goals, and only eight points, in the 14 games since coming back from a five-game suspension and has been much more tentative with his physical play. Marchand was close to invisible in 19:24 of ice time in a sleepy effort against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday afternoon, and has only one goal in nine games during the month of February. He may have caught some flak for the clipping hit on Alexei Emelin, but playing with the edge is the only way to go for the Bs agitator.

HONORABLE MENTION: Niklas Backstrom made 48 saves and frustrated the Bruins to the point where Milan Lucic twice went on stick-swinging rampages in the third period including smashing his stick to bits on the bench at the end of the third period before throwing it onto the ice as the final buzzer sounded. Backstrom was very good early in shutting down attempts from Daniel Paille and Andrew Ference, and then made 22 saves when it counted in the final period. He didnt look at all like a goalie riding a personal five-game losing streak, so perhaps Tuukka Rask can take heart in the bounce-back effort.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a handful of excellent scoring chances early in the contest when it was still up for grabs, but Niklas Backstrom stopped Daniel Paille cold on a couple of quality chances and stopped Andrew Ference on a one-timer during Bostons first period power play. Once the early scoring chances were off the board, the Wild took advantage of the frustrated Bs and rode their two second-period scores to a clean victory.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 the number of times the Bruins have been shut out in 11 games without Nathan Horton after registering only two shutouts in their first 46 games with the Bs power forward.
QUOTE TO NOTE: Were a better team than we have been when weve been shut out lately. Frustration is something that can drag on for a long time if you let it. Like weve told the guys you can be bitter or better, so lets work on getting better here. Claude Julien on the mindset of the Bs team amid a 17-game stretch of mediocre hockey.

Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards


Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

NEW YORK - Russell Westbrook was voted NBA MVP on Monday night after setting a record with 42 triple-doubles last season.

Westbrook's victory ended the first NBA Awards show, which included two wins apiece for the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.

Westbrook joined Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double for the season, and he broke Robertson's single-season record set when he had 41 triple-doubles in 1961-62.

The point guard beat out Houston's James Harden and San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard to succeed Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards.

Earlier, Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon became the first player not picked in the first round to win NBA Rookie of the Year in the common draft era.

Brogdon was the No. 36 overall selection out of Virginia. The common draft era began in 1966.

"I think it's an example for guys that are told they are too short, they are not athletic enough, they are not real point guards, they are not real shooting guards," Brogdon said. "I just think it's an important message for people to see, and it can be done. It just takes a lot."

Teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo won the Most Improved Player award.

Houston coach Mike D'Antoni won his second Coach of the Year award, and the Rockets' Eric Gordon was Sixth Man of the Year after setting a record for most 3-pointers off the bench in his first season as a reserve.

The NBA formerly gave out its individual awards at various points throughout the postseason before switching to the awards show this season and presenting them all at once in front of the league's top players and stars from the entertainment world.

Two of the best moments came during segments that didn't include the NBA's six individual awards.

Bill Russell was presented the first Lifetime Achievement award, welcomed on stage by fellow Hall of Fame centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. The 11-time champion as a player and the league's first black coach first pointed at them and joked that he would have kicked their butts, then told them: "You have no idea how much respect I have for you guys."

Former Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams was given the SagerStrong Award for the strength he showed after his wife was killed in a car crash in Oklahoma City. He was given a colorful jacket like the ones worn by Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports reporter who died of cancer this past season.

Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics


Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

BOSTON — Matt Barnes has been coping with more than just a few bad outings on the mound, and he’s asking for help.

The Red Sox set-up man made some mechanical corrections that paid off in the eighth inning Monday night, when he struck out all three Twins he faced in a 4-1 Red Sox win at Fenway Park.

“I just simplified the mechanics,” Barnes said afterward. “Two days ago, I was trying to get with more of an up, down, and out approach. I felt better in that outing. I know I gave up a run and walked the one guy, but I felt better around the zone. And then just kind of went into a slide step, doing what Andrew Miller was doing.”

Barnes allowed four runs spanning his previous three outings, retiring just four batters while walking five. But Barnes has had a lot more to worry about than just a brief professional rut. 

He’s been devoted to helping his girlfriend, Chelsea, through the unexpected loss of her father, who was diagnosed with cancer and suffered a stroke

"Her father passed away [May 27]. That’s why I wasn’t in Baltimore for the two days [in early June], I was at his funeral,” Barnes said. "It’s tough, dealing with that, and she’s obviously having a hard time with it. She’s got her good days and her bad days. But it’s not easy. He was sick for a little while, and unexpectedly passed a lot faster than anybody ever expected him to. So, it’s been tough. She’s been alright, considering.”

There are a ton of medical bills still to be paid. A fundraising page has been set up to help the family with some large medical bills, and Barnes has asked on Twitter for people to spread the word if they’re able to.

“I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her which is nice,” Barnes said of his girlfriend. “Everybody who’s helped out with donations and spreading the page, I couldn’t be more grateful, and she couldn’t be more grateful.”

Barnes is a big leaguer, but he’s still young and making the major league minimum. For every $1,000 total donated, Barnes plans to send a signed baseball to a random donor.

“I felt like it was a nice way, if they’re going to help me out, I can at least do that in return for them,” Barnes said.