Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Panthers

607728.jpg

Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Panthers

Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins and Florida Panthers locked in a scoreless tie after the first 20 minutes at TD Garden.

1)Good period from Jose Theodore making 12 stops to keep the Bruins off the board, and he made good stops on Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand on a shot-and-rebound flurry. But Theodore was also the beneficiary of three posts hit by Patrice Bergeron, Dennis Seidenberg and Nathan Horton.

2)Daniel Paille took a big hit from Krys Barch in the Florida tough guys first shift with the Panthers after coming over from the Dallas Stars, and never returned to the ice after looking wobbly upon getting up. Shawn Thornton followed up with a fight standing up for Paille after hed been run into the boards, but Barch had to have given Florida what they were looking for with that first shift. (Update: Paille will not return tonight)

3)Peter Chiarelli addressed the Dougie Hamilton contract prior to the game and indicated that he could threaten for a spot in Boston next season an interesting development considering Bostons defensemen situation.

4)Nathan Horton with a game-high three shots on net and two hits in a game against the Florida Panthers team that traded him to Boston two summers ago. Looks like Horton came fully motivated against his old hockey club.

5) Good job by the Panthers clogging up the lanes and area directly in front of the Florida net. If it looks familiar it should. Its the defense crafted by former Bs assistant coach Craig Ramsay that hes now brought to Florida with him this season. Ramsay and head coach Kevin Dineen are a big reason for the Florida turnaround.

Here are five thoughts from the second period with the Bruins and Florida Panthers locked in a scoreless tie after the first 40 minutes at TD Garden.

1)Johnny Boychuk with another big hit on Mike Santorelli at mid-ice and then drops the gloves with Jack Skille to defend his perfectly clean, thunderous hit. Love watching Boychuk fight in those situations. You can tell it takes getting hit with a punch or two before he really gets angry and starts throwing but he pounded Skille once he got going.

2)A team-high five shots on net for Rich Peverley in 12:17 of ice time, and its appeared the third line has enjoyed some of the best shifts in the scoreless contest.

3)An excellent game for Kris Versteeg, who has been robbed several times by Tim Thomas down close to the net. Not surprising that Versteeg is blossoming in Florida as that always seemed like a good setting for a player with his makeup. Toronto was never going to be a good fit.

4)Two shots on net in 11:21 of ice time for Tyler Seguin tonight. A couple of decent shots, but I havent seen the burst and compete level that he was displaying in the first two months of the season.

5)Four posts hit tonight by the Bruins. It looks like these games with the Florida Panthers could be exercises in defensive execution this season, and that means stretches of boredom for the fans and media.

Here are five thoughts from the third period with the Bruins falling to the Florida Panthers by a 2-0 score after 60 minutes at TD Garden.

1)One goal in the last 120 minutes of game action for the Bruins. Give credit to Ondrej Pavelec and Jose Theodore, but it looks like the free-flowing goals of November have stopped for the time being.

2)Jose Theodore stone-walling the Bruins? Where have we seen this before? Hmmm. A great effort with 38 stops for the Florida netminder.

3)Joe Corvo on ice for each of the last three even-strength goals surrendered by the Bruins. Looks like hes leaking some oil in the defensive end.

4)Zdeno Chara had a strange play where he was bunched with Adam McQuaid in by the right blue line, and his vacancy allowed a pick to slide out of the offensive zone. But Chara redeemed himself with a shift where he ripped three shots on net and set Tyler Seguin up for a golden scoring chance. Seguin missed the net with his quick wrist shot, however.

5) Yeoman work by Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron taking turns double-shifting in the absence of Daniel Paille early in the first period.

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

BOSTON -- While it’s debatable whether the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are rivals, there’s no question there has been a heightened level of animosity towards one another when they play.

When these two met on Jan. 11, the Celtics came away with a 117-108 win.

But the game itself featured plenty of back-and-forth trash talk, finger-pointing, cries of dirty play and NBA fines.

IN FACT . . . Washington plans to bury Boston

“It’ll be a physical game,” said Jae Crowder who was hit with a five-figure fine for his role in a post-game incident involving Washington’s John Wall. “We have to answer the bell; we’ll be ready.”

Crowder knows he and his teammates must balance being the more physical team, with not losing their cool because if tonight’s game is anything like previous ones, there will be trash talk … lots of trash talk.

“They talk a little bit more than other teams,” said Crowder who added that was a factor in the incident him and Wall which cost them $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Crowder said a flagrant-foul committed by Washington’s Bradley Beal against Marcus Smart was what really cranked the level of animosity that was already at a high level.

But Beal probably hasn’t fully put behind him an incident last season in which Smart broke his nose and put him in the league’s concussion protocol program on a Smart drive to the basket.

As far as the hard foul that Beal delivered to him earlier this month, Smart said, “you take exception to every hard foul.”

Smart added, “It’s the game of basketball. You play with your emotions and intensity and everything like that. It comes with the game.”

While Crowder understands the Celtics have to play a physical brand of basketball, he’s not looking to do anything that might result in him having to cut another $25,000 check which was the amount of his fine from the Jan. 11 game against the Wizards.

“I’m looking at it as another game we have to win,” Crowder said. “I’m not looking at it as a rivalry or anything like that. I’m not coming in talking; they might.”

For the Wizards, winners in four of their five games since losing to Boston, a major key to their success lies in the play of their backcourt.

John Wall and Bradley Beal are the latest high-scoring backcourt tandem that the Celtics have to be worried about.

And making matters worse for Boston, the Celtics will have to try and make due without Avery Bradley who is still dealing with a right Achilles injury.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the 6-foot-2 Bradley was not going to be with the team in Washington and would most likely be out all this week.

That means Boston will lean heavily on Smart to not only help the offense run relatively smooth, but also provide some much-needed defense to help limit Wall and Beal who collectively rank among the higher-scoring starting backcourts in the NBA.

“We have to slow them down; by any means we have to slow them down,” Thomas said. “We know they go as far as those two take them. It’s going to be a tough game. They have a lot of momentum at home. It’ll be a tough game for us. But we’re ready for the opportunity.”

Wall and Beal are just the latest in a string of high-scoring backcourts that the Celtics have had to contend with recently.

In Saturday’s 127-123 overtime home loss to Portland, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting from the field.

“This stretch of backcourts is exceptionally difficult,” Stevens said. “They (Wall and Beal) both should be and certainly are in the discussion for the all-star team. It’s a real difficult challenge. Our guys are going to have to be really good on both ends of the floor.”

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

For all the flack that Matt Ryan got heading into this season, he’s been a damn good quarterback. Is his career on the same level as Tom Brady’s? Of course not, but this regular season saw him stand as Brady’s peer, making him an MVP favorite.

One of Ryan’s biggest challengers for that hardware is the same man who stands in the way of him winning his first Super Bowl. Though he missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, Brady finished second in the league in passing yards per game and threw just two picks in 12 games while tossing 28 touchdowns.  

So Super Bowl LI will pin the quarterback with the best numbers overall (Ryan finished two touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers for the league lead but threw for 516 more yards and had a higher completion percentage) against the quarterback with the best touchdown/interception ratio ever for a single season. 

In other words, this is a Super Bowl that puts what one could argue are the season’s two best quarterbacks each other. That’s pretty rare. 

Going back the last 25 years, there are four candidates for such meetings: Manning vs. Brees in Super Bowl XLIV, Favre and Elway in Super Bowl XXXII (this one is a stretch), Favre and Bledsoe in Super Bowl XXXI and Kelly and Rypien in Super Bowl XXVI.. 

Why haven’t the two best quarterbacks squared off in the Super Bowl more often? Because Brady and Peyton Manning played their entire careers in the same conference, silly. It’s taken other players entering their echelon to even set up such a scenario, and that’s why Brees’ Saints beating Manning’s Colts serves as the only example during Manning or Brady’s career. 

The strong performances of those who dominated the regular season have often carried over into their Super Bowl meetings, but not always. Drew Bledsoe and Jim Kelly (both throwing two touchdowns and four picks in Super Bowl losses) are examples of the wheels falling off in the final game. 

Here’s a breakdown of past occurrences. Note that all four of them saw the winning team score at least 30 points, something the Pats have done just once in Brady's four Super Bowl wins: 

Super Bowl XLIV: Brees vs. Manning

Brees led NFL with 34 touchdowns in regular season; Manning finished tied for second with 33

Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17

Brees: 32/39, 288 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Manning: 31/45, 333 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Brees completed a postseason in which he had no turnovers and did so in a nearly exactly average game for him that season, as e averaged 292.5 yards, 2.26 touchdowns and less than one interception per game in the regular season. The two quarterbacks also combined for just one sack. 
 
Super Bowl XXXII: Favre vs. Elway

Favre led NFL with 35 TDs in regular season, Elway finished second in TD/interception ratio

Final score: Broncos 31, Packers 24

Favre: 25/42, 256 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, fumble lost 
Elway: 12/22, 123 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

Again, this is the forced one because Jeff George (3,917 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, nine interceptions) had the better regular season than Elway (3,635 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 11 picks). Elway may have been the winning quarterback, but he didn’t have anything to do with the win. Terrell Davis carried the Broncos, playing through a migraine and rushing for 157 yards with three touchdowns en route to Super Bowl MVP honors. 

Super Bowl XXXI: Favre vs. Bledsoe

Favre led NFL with 39 TDs, Bledsoe third with 27

Final Score: Packers 35, Patriots 21

Favre: 14/27, 246 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Bledsoe: 25/48, 253 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT

Both quarterbacks took five sacks in this game. For Bledsoe, it was the most he took all season. The game was the third four-pick performance of his NFL career. 

Super Bowl XXVI: Kelly vs. Rypien

Kelly led NFL with 33 TDs, Rypien second with 28

Final score: Redskins 37, Bills 24

Rypien: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, INT
Kelly: 28/58, 275 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, fumble lost

Turns out five turnovers (and being sacked four times) is not a recipe for winning the Super Bowl. Kelly’s 58 passes thrown set a Super Bowl record.