Chara the lone spark for B's offense


Chara the lone spark for B's offense

SAN JOSE, CA Zdeno Chara could have had every excuse in the book not to play well against the Sharks on their first step of a three-game swing through California.

The 35-year-old Chara was on the same late season coast-to-coast flight as the rest of his team and he was asked to play upwards of 27 minutes in Bostons 2-1 loss to the Sharks at a sold out HP Pavilion in San Jose.

But Chara choked down the excuses and alibis and instead played like a warrior ready for the playoff challenge. The Bruins Captain soaked up the large chunks of ice time, finished with a game-high eight registered hits including a big statement hit on Michael Handzus in the opening minutes of the game and he scored the teams only goal in the third period. He also had a team-high three of the Bs pitiful 17 shots on net at the end of 60 minutes of hockey against a desperate San Jose bunch.

It wasnt enough for the Bruins to earn a victory, given that not enough of the Bs forward group came to play, but a reinvigorated Chara and Tim Thomas give the Bruins hope that things are indeed different this time around.

Not everyone was sluggish. Some guys werent. There were different reactions to the West coast travel, said Claude Julien. The Chris Kelly line was our best line tonight. Some of our top lines cant get scored on if theyre not going to produce.

Zee has been pretty good lately every night and leading us very well, and the Kelly line has been good for us lately as well. They had their legs tonight; you could tell.

Charas goal was a thing of marksman beauty when Chris Kelly had battled to get to the puck toward the net before throwing it toward the front while battling defenders. A spinning Benoit Pouliot had managed to graze the puck as it floated by him on the doorstep of the net, and by that time Antti Niemi had dropped onto his backside trying to cover the bottom of the net.

Chara was thinking pass to the front of the net until he saw goaltender overboard, and then he changed up and throw the puck at Niemi while using the goaltenders body as a bumper. It worked to perfection as the puck bounced off Niemis shoulder and into the back of the net to get Boston on the board.

But it wasnt enough.
I followed up the play with a few minutes left to go. The rebound came out after a few missed opportunities to shoot it and Brian Rolston did a good job of letting it get to me for a shot, said Chara. I was looking pass at first, but with so many bodies in front at that angle its almost impossible to make a pass. So I threw it at the goaltender and it worked.

"The first half of the game we werent generating enough in the offensive zone. We were playing way too much on the outside, said Chara. If we want to score then we have to put more shots on net. In the first half of the game we werent playing to our potential.

"It was still a close game when we made it a one-goal game, but to win games you cant rely on 20 or 40 minute efforts.

But the Bruins couldnt even get the puck out of their own end in the final minute to stage an empty net rally, and that was par for the course on a day of struggles.

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Dustin Pedroia is out of the lineup again tonight after leaving the Red Sox game Thursday night with knee pain in the fifth inning.

Josh Rutledge will start at second base as the Sox open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.  

The weather and sloppy field conditions were a factor in John Farrell deciding to get Pedroia out of the game Thursday and conditions haven’t improved significantly Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on that knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked the plunking war between the Orioles and Red Sox.

The full lineups: 

Jean Segura SS
Guillermo Heredia CF
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Danny Valencia 1B
Taylor Motter LF
Ben Gamel RF
Mike Zunino C

Yovanni Gallardo RHP

Mookie Betts RF
Andrew Benintendi LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Josh Rutledge 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr CF
Christian Vazquez C
Deven Marrero 3B

Eduardo Rodriguez LHP


Source: Celtics offseason focus is an All-Star frontcourt addition

Source: 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.


“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 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.”