Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Blues

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Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Blues

ST. LOUIS, MO Here are 15 thoughts from the game with the Bruins taking down the St. Louis Blues by a 4-2 score after 60 minutes of action at the Scottrade Center.

FIRST PERIOD

1) Good first period for the Bruins against a team that came to play tonight in St. Louis. Have to like the way the KrejciLucicKelly combo is playing. They produced a pair of goals and have had five or six legitimate scoring chances in the first 20 minutes of play. It looks like Krejci might be playing on right wing for a time moving forward, and that would be perfectly okay as long as all three players produce.

2) BJ Crombeen is a winning type of player. Goes toe-to-toe with Adam McQuaid during a first period fight and then scoops up a garbage man goal in front of the net on a loose puck minutes later. He doesnt score a lot of goals, but hes an undeniable presence for the Blues.

3) Wondering what the referees saw when David Backes stuck out his right leg and leg-checked Brad Marchand near center ice in a hit that was as dangerous as it was obvious. Its becoming more and more clear that the Bruins are viewed through a certain lens when it comes to the NHL officials, and theyre buying into Bostons perceived reputation. Its costs them calls on their call and adds penalties on the other side.

4) Three shots on net, a pair of points and a plus-2 for Chris Kelly in the first 20 minutes. He came to play tonight in a game the Bruins desperately need and thats an example of one player doing their job to help raise the collective result.

5) Tim Thomas appearing to have a difficult time tracking the puck in front of the net. He totally lost sight of the puck that ended up on BJ Crombeens stick for the Blues second goal. Give Ryan Reaves credit for the screen in front, but Thomas needs to find that puck.

SECOND PERIOD

1) Tim Thomas keeping the Bruins in the game right now with the Blues out-shooting the Bs by a 14-4 margin in the second period. His best stop was a flashy glove save on Kris Russell through traffic in the closing ends of the second period that could have been a killer. Thomas with 22 saves in all against St. Louis tonight.

2) Jordan Caron appears to have hit the pine for the Bruins as the CaronCarter CamperBenoit Pouliot line has been getting dominated throughout the game. They actually look like theyre penalty-killing each time theyre on the ice because theyre chasing so much.

3) Speaking of underachieving lines, the Bs fourth line has been on the ice for two goals allowed. Give Shawn Thornton credit, however, for going out there tonight because he looks less than 100 percent. But hes gutting it out.

4) The Bruins are 12-0-0 this season when Chris Kelly scores a goal this season and hes provided the difference-maker thus far. Underscores the importance of Kelly kicking in the incidental offense and that link to the teams success overall.

5) St. Louis crashing the net in a big way throughout the game. Its been so frequent that Tim Thomas actually decked Chris Porter with his blocker on one overly aggressive situation crashing the net. Amazing there are no goalie interference calls tonight when the refs whistled four goalie interference calls at the beginning of this road trip. Absolutely no consistency there whatsoever. Give referee Ian Walsh credit, however, for playing through a fat lip that left him bleeding on the ice earlier. He had to leave briefly to get stitched up, but he was back out there at the end of the second period.

THIRD PERIOD

1) Brad Marchand had gone six games without a goal and hadnt been much of a factor at all. Looks like he might have been woken up by a dirty David Backes leg check in the neutral zone in the first period that went uncalled. Marchand potted a pair of goals including a great tone-setting pick-pocket of Kevin Shattenkirk before firing it past Brian Elliott. Then he potted another one on a breakaway in the third period as an insurance goal. His best goal in weeks.

2) Another rough day in the face-off circle (1-for-7) for David Krejci despite the solid game all-around.

3) Impressive work by the St. Louis Blues against the Bruins. Bs had to work hard for everything they got and got stormed by the Blues after getting an early 2-0 lead on them. This is a team that could surprise in the playoffs against some very good competition.

4) Bruins still not as physically dominant as they are when theyre really rolling, but the win over the Blues in their building is a good start. First third period win for the Bruins in their last four games after it was their calling card for the entire season.

5) Joe Corvo was actually pretty decent against the Blues tonight. He made good decisions in most instances with the puck and not too many soul-crushing mistakes with the puck, and it was his point shot that led to Lucic goal in first period. The Bruins need more of the good Corvo.

Blakely: Game 4 loss shows just how much Celtics miss Isaiah

Blakely: Game 4 loss shows just how much Celtics miss Isaiah

CLEVELAND --  Down the stretch in Game 4, the Celtics were desperate for someone, anyone, who could slow down Kyrie Irving.
 
But short of that, Boston could have used an offensive closer, too. You know, someone like Isaiah Thomas.

GAME 4: CAVS 112, CELTICS 99

 

The Celtics have relied on the two-time All-Star to carry much of the offensive burden this season, but he was almost always at his best in the fourth quarter.
 
A right hip injury knocked him out of this series after 1 1/2 games. Still, Boston managed to win Game 3 without him and, for large chunks of Tuesday night, seemed poised to beat the Cavs again on their home floor.
 
But as much as Game 4 was a reminder of just how special a talent Irving is (42 points, 21 in the third quarter when the game’s momentum swung in Cleveland's favor), it also provided a clue to the clueless who thought the Celtics were actually better without Isaiah Thomas.
 
Defensively?
 
Absolutely.
 
It’s no secret that teams go to great lengths to try and use his 5-foot-9 stature against him. And as we have seen, the deeper we get into the postseason the more trouble he and the Celtics seem to encounter from a defensive standpoint.
 
But just as we praise Irving for being such a special talent, Thomas has shown that he, too, has offensive gifts that, throughout this season, have left many fans, media and defenders befuddled as to how “the little fella” keeps coming up with one big play, one big shot after another.
 
But as we have learned, he has been dealing with a sore right hip injury for several weeks. The pain and discomfort eventually became too much to bear and so the Celtics did the right thing and shut him down.
 
Without him, the C's are still a good team that on any given night can knock off anyone, even the defending champs.
 
But as Game 4 reminded us, they need Thomas in order to be their best.
 
When Irving torched Boston’s entire defense with jumpers, ankle-breaking crossovers, Euro-step lay-ups and free throws, the Celtics had no one to turn to who could maybe, just maybe, go back at Irving at the other end of the floor.
 
That's what Thomas does that makes him such a special, unique talent in this league.
 
He can score in a variety of ways, with the best in the NBA.
 
We saw that this past season, when he led all players in the Eastern Conference in scoring with a 28.9 points-per-game average.
 
Boston’s excellent ball movement and high assist numbers are certainly important to the team’s success. But to make a deep and meaningful playoff run, you need one or two guys who can just go get buckets regardless of what the opponent does defensively.
 
That’s not Avery Bradley.
 
That’s not Al Horford.
 
That’s not Kelly Olynyk.
 
You can search, poke and prod this roster all you want, and you'll come up empty when it comes to finding a player like that . . . other than Isaiah Thomas.
 
The fact the Celtics were able to avoid getting swept is a victory of sorts in itself. Boston’s coaching staff, as well as the front office, has repeatedly said that as talented as their team is, they aren’t on the same level of the defending champion Cavaliers.
 
And yet here we are four games into this series and the Celtics are basically a bad half of basketball away from being tied, 2-2.
 
It says a lot about their mental toughness, their ability to handle and navigate past adversity to give themselves a chance to be competitive against any team -- including the Cavs.
 
But their success this season has always been about the collective group, regardless of how many late-game shots Isaiah Thomas knocks down.
 
And while he has his shortcomings defensively, not having him available is going to hurt them in those late-game moments when they need a closer. It’s not a coincidence the Celtics were just 2-4 when he didn’t play during the regular season.
 
So as cool as it was for them to win Game 3 without Thomas, he’s still the straw that stirs the Celtics emotionally, bringing them to levels few think they're capable of reaching.
 
They were able to get by for one night without him, but remember this: It took Marcus Smart having an Isaiah Thomas-like game of 27 points and seven made 3’s, for them to win.
 
No one did anything remotely close to that Tuesday night.
 
They looked like the Isaiah Thomas-less Celtics, which is a look they don’t need this time of year.
 
Because that look is so not about winning.