Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Sabres

696596.jpg

Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Sabres

Here are 15 thoughts from the game with the Bruins edging the Sabres by a 3-1 score after 60 minutes at TD Garden, and winning their first set of back-to-back games in nearly two months.

FIRST PERIOD

1) Slow-motion glove hand from Tim Thomas on a Jason Pominville bomb from the right face-off circle that admittedly had some steam on it. But thats a goal Thomas needs to find some way to stop when the Bruins have dominated the period and outshot the Sabres by a 13-6 margin. It appears that playing seven games in a row on top of last years workload and short offseason has started to really slow Thomas down.

2) Bruins dominated face-off circle by a 13-6 margin and fired off 13 shots on net, but couldnt get anything Jhonas Enroth. Not enough traffic in front of the diminutive goaltender as the Bruins dont have their blue collars on tonight.

3) The Sabres have blocked seven shots as opposed to three from the Bruins. Time for the Bs to start playing with a little more desperation.

4) Good scrappy efforts from the Sabres, who are pushing back with the Bruins and fighting a bigger, stronger team. Mike Weber didnt back down from an encounter with Milan Lucic in front of the net and Nate Gerbe taking puck hard to the net despite getting leveled by Johnny Boychuk.

5) Six giveaways by the Bruins in the first period including a pair by Tyler Seguin. The Bs need to take much better care of the puck.

SECOND PERIOD

1) Some much-needed offensive contributions from the fourth line there. Shawn Thornton hops all over a bad Christian Ehrhoff pass and tees up a slapshot that Gregory Campbell tips past Jhonas Enroth for Bostons first goal of the game. It looked like more offensive constipation for the Bs when Dennis Seidenbergs shot slammed a right post earlier, but they were finally able to break through.

2) Claude Julien makes a move that seemed to employ a lot of logic: he slid Jordan Caron up on the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and moved Brian Rolston with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot. Makes sense given Carons elevated play as of late.

3) A great stretch pass from Joe Corvo to Tyler Seguin for a breakaway that Enroth was able to turn away with a glove hand. It was a good example of Corvos offensive skills and further proof that the Bs defenseman has turned it around in the last few days. With defensemen depth finally a reality it appears that Corvo has stepped up his game.

4) The Bruins have won 28 out of 40 face-off attempts today and are working the Sabres in the draw. Patrice Bergeron is leading the way by winning 15 of his 19 face-off attempts.

5) Solid 8:52 of ice time for Mike Mottau so far with no real defensive breakdowns or issues around the net.

THIRD PERIOD

1) Special couple of shifts by Johnny Boychuk showing exactly why he earned that three year contract extension with the Bruins. He punished Thomas Vanek with a hit when the Buffalo forwards head was down and then scored the game-winning goal when he fired a searing slapshot through three Sabres defenders and into the top corner of the net.

2) When the Bruins have good energy in their legs they score in bunches and demoralize teams with the quick strike attack, and they did that in the third period to the Sabres. They followed up Boychuks goal with a Milan Lucic-to-David Krejci goal on a 2-on-1 immediately afterward to step down on the stunned Sabres. Krejci, Seguin and Lucic have combined for 20 points in their five games together.

3) Brad Marchand took a shot from Tyler Myers and skated off the ice in serious pain midway through the third period. He left the stick out on the ice as he skated hunched over toward the bench. Didnt see him back on the ice afterward.

4) Good job by Tim Thomas locking things down after giving up a tough goal at the end of the first period.

5) Jordan Caron notched an assist on Johnny Boychuks goal and now has six points in his last three games.

Sources: Bulls asking for picks, young veterans in trade for Jimmy Butler

Sources: Bulls asking for picks, young veterans in trade for Jimmy Butler

NEW ORLEANS – All-star weekend is winding down and the Boston Celtics once again are seemingly at the epicenter of most trade discussions.

That’s in part because they have the pieces to help pull off a blockbuster deal for themselves, or become the third team to help facilitate a trade coming to fruition. 

But in talking with league executives and scouts this weekend in New Orleans, all agree that the Celtics are focused more on making a blockbuster-type move, rather than a deal that could make them slightly better than they are now. 

“Anything is possible as you know,” said one Eastern Conference executive. “But they’re not Toronto which is basically 'all in' this year to try and get past Cleveland. Boston’s in the thick of it all, but not pressed to do anything unless it makes them a lot better and to be frank, there aren’t a lot of those potential deals out there for them.”

That’s because the Celtics (37-20) have the second-best record in the East despite their preferred starting five (Isaiah Thomas; Avery Bradley; Jae Crowder; Al Horford and Amir Johnson) having played a very limited number of games (21) together thus far this season.

Even when everyone’s healthy, Boston understands that they still may not be enough to get past the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers. So the addition of a likely role player at the cost of one or more of their major assets (this year’s right to swap picks with Brooklyn or next year’s Brooklyn pick outright), is reason enough for Boston to pause and assess whether the benefit outweighs the cost of what they will have to give up. 

Boston can make a push for Denver’s Danilo Gallinari or his teammate Kenneth Faried who are both available and would help Boston’s overall talent base. They could also revisit Jahlil Okafor discussions or Nerlens Noel with Philadelphia, too.

But for what they need to significantly improve upon where they are now, they have to add a game-changing difference-maker to the mix. 

Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Indiana’s Paul George and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins are three players who on paper at least, would meet that criteria. 

Multiple league sources this weekend confirmed that each of their respective teams isn’t making a push to trade them. But like every team in the league, they will certainly listen to any and all offers. Only Indiana and Sacramento have come out publicly to say they are not planning to trade their players, with the Pacers indicating they’re willing to give up their first-round pick in order to add a stable, proven talent to the mix in order to help George going forward. 

Meanwhile, the Bulls have been somewhat indifferent to potentially moving Butler, who is playing his third all-star game tonight. 

That’s why several teams, the Celtics included, have inquired about Butler’s availability. While the Bulls haven’t set any specific parameters, league executives believe they are seeking some combination of high draft picks and young veterans (players with experience who are either near the end of their rookie deals or have team-friendly contracts) just to consider moving Butler.

Boston has exactly what the Bulls are looking for if they decide they are going to move on from Butler and rebuild, but how much are the Celtics willing to give up?

That more than anything else, is what will ultimately determine if a deal between the Bulls and the Celtics comes to pass. Boston loves Butler, and believes he could be part of their continued surge towards becoming an elite team that can bring home Banner 18. But the Celtics are not convinced that the addition of Butler would necessarily catapult Boston to the same level of Cleveland or ahead of them. 

Even if the Celtics decide to stand pat with its team as they are now and let the Feb. 23 trade deadline pass without making a move, the Celtics are still working from a vantage point that few teams in the NBA can work from – a team near the top of their conference with relatively young players all with good team-friendly contracts, and draft picks in the next two years that are each likely to be high lottery (top-14) picks.

"They’re well positioned for the future,” said Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors and the West all-star team. “Because of the young talent, because of the coach (Brad Stevens) and because of the draft picks that they have coming up. They could end up with the number one pick in the draft which is remarkable.”

Kerr added, “That doesn’t happen often when you’re talking about a team that’s one of the best in the league already. Boston’s in a great place.”

Morning Skate: Brian Boyle embroiled in trade rumors

Morning Skate: Brian Boyle embroiled in trade rumors

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while enjoying Hockey Day in America. 

*Brian Boyle is the subject of trade rumors with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he wants to stay a member of the Bolts. 

*Watch out for the Florida Panthers, who swept the road trip through California and are now back in playoff position for the first time in a long time. 

*It’s great to see play-by-play man Dave Strader back in the broadcast booth doing what he does best after his cancer diagnosis. 

*Hats off to the Bruins ECHL affiliate, the Atlanta Gladiators, for the sweet-looking Boba Fett sweaters worn during this weekend’s Star Wars night. 

*It’s pretty amazing when you’re an NHL player and a former first round pick, and you’re the one most known for being somebody else’s brother. That’s life for Dallas Stars D-man Jamie Oleksiak. 

*Interesting piece about sportswriting, politics and a couple of worlds that were destined to collide at some point. 

*For something completely different: For the 40h anniversary of Star Wars, the toys are being used to recreate classic movie scenes.