Haggerty: Don't expect huge deadline deals for Bruins

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Haggerty: Don't expect huge deadline deals for Bruins

ST. LOUIS, MO Those expecting Rich Nash, Ryan Suter or Zach Parise to strut through the door with a hockey bag slung over their shoulder ready to play for the Bruins at the NHL trade deadline are likely going to end up slack-jawed and crestfallen.

Those throwing out the idea of Boston trading for Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban might have been hanging out with Puff the Magic Dragon for far too long.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is working the phones while potential trade pieces are being dealt to other teams with needs around the NHL. So there is work being done to consummate a deal, but Chiarelli has also deliberately stressed over the last month that there arent an overwhelming number of names on Bostons big board of players available via trade.

Theres a lot of players that are locked up with contracts, said Chiarelli. I have all the names on my board of potential UFAs, and its not a real big list.

In a perfect world players like Pavel Kubina and Dominic Moore might have been useful pieces for a Bruins team in need of some healthy, energetic bodies. But they went elsewhere with the Bs no longer holding their own second and fourth round picks in this summers draft.

Theres also a flat refusal to entertain trade talks centered on Tuukka Rask or the rights to potential franchise defenseman Dougie Hamilton a pair of players that would be the centerpieces to any deal with Columbus for Nash. The Blue Jackets are a team in dire need of talented, young goaltending, but they wont be getting it from Boston.

The Bruins arent exactly loaded with prospects at the AHL level this season, either. Thats been another impediment toward potentially making a deal for any players still available on the trade market. Carter Camper will get a chance to show his potential value now that hes been recalled to the NHL level on Monday, and that along with a pick may be enough to get something done if he flashes offensively.

But nobody around the NHL envisions Zach Hamill, Anton Khudobin, Matt Bartkowski or Craig Cunningham as potential answers for their team.

Thats just the way it is.

There are still deals to be made for a team thats gone 7-9-1 over the last 17 games and now finds themselves only two points ahead of the streaking Ottawa Senators for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Bruins look like a tired bunch getting beaten to the punch in the third periods of games. Theyre getting out-muscled in all phases of the game in the intimidation department thats been their bread and butter for the last five years.

The Bruins are missing two of their most offensively gifted right wingers in Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley, and that opens up a major need for a talent infusion.

The Capitals continue to flounder in the Southeast Division, and Washington GM George McPhee insists embattled Caps veteran Mike Knuble isnt going to be traded but that might just be one of those little white sports lies that executives tell when subterfuge is the name of the game.

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Antoine Vermette isnt prolific. But hes a potentially solid depth acquisition, and he does all of the little things correctly. He could help the Bruins if hes willing to show the same versatility Peverley did upon arriving in Boston last year.

More importantly he wouldnt be an expensive get and hes a close friend of Patrice Bergeron while serving as his main off-season workout partner in Quebec during the summer.

One name you can summarily cross off the list is Ray Whitney.

The Phoenix Coyotes are 7-0-1 in their last eight games and theyve become buyers in the trade market rather than sellers. Phoenix GM Don Maloney has gone on record saying that he wont be trading any of his desirable commodities leading up to the deadline.

Thats been big part of Chiarellis challenge: too many teams with valuable commodities are still heavy in the thick of the playoff hunt.

Theres still a chance the Bruins will pay the premium price of a first round pick and a prospect for Carolina Hurricanes winger Tuomo Ruutu, who still hasnt signed any kind of extension with the Canes while sitting out injured.

None of the Eastern Conference teams on the bubble are in a hurry to improve a Bruins team thats already proven they pound most everybody else into submission when things are going well. The teams that are way out of contention have been retaining their players rather than casting them off in a strange departure this year.

That makes for a difficult landscape to net a significant deal ahead of the trade deadline, and all of those factors make it nearly impossible when Chiarelli correctly refuses to part with anything making up the nucleus of a Stanley Cup-winning club.

Right now the Bruins appear to be battling through the heavy legs of fatigue, Perhaps theyre even going through a second Cup hangover phase after theyd seemed to escape it following the first 10 games of the season.

But the Bs have still earned the right to defend their Cup with minor nips and tucks in lieu of the extreme roster makeover necessary to pave the way for the showy hockey household names being tossed around as available.

Nash, Suter, Parise and Subban arent walking through those doors, and if they did theyd be coming at a player asset cost the Bruins would be crazy to bankroll.

Horford admits he was 'very emotional' after 'special' win

Horford admits he was 'very emotional' after 'special' win

CLEVELAND – For about 30 or so seconds following Boston’s 111-108 Game 3 win over Cleveland, Al Horford was not Al Horford.

He’s a passionate player, but seldom is it on display in as outwardly a fashion as it was following their Game 3 victory.

In an interview with CSN’s Abby Chin after the game, Horford tried to put into words what the victory meant.

But the aggressive high-fives to teammates passing him by, the intense way he looked into the camera … that spoke volumes about what this game meant to the veteran big man.

“It’s big, it’s big!” Horford said in between high-fives with Jonas Jerebko and other Celtics who came past him.

“A lot of people doubting us out there!” Horford said, staring intently into the camera as if he was saying, ‘yeah, I’m talking about you!’”

Less than 24 hours after the game, Horford’s emotions had cooled down considerably.

“It was an emotional game,” he told CSN following a short practice at the Q Arena on Monday. “Just, having to hear … since the blowout, everybody counting us out. Everybody really believing that it was over.”

The Celtics came into Game 3 having lost both Games 1 and 2 at home by a combined 57 points which includes the worst playoff loss (Game 2, 130-86) in franchise history.

So with that as the backdrop, knowing full well that no one outside of their locker room gave them an ice cube in hell’s chance at winning Game 3, the victory brought about a level of satisfaction that Celtics players had seldom experienced before if at all.

“The emotions at that time were high for our group,” Horford admitted. “And it shows what we’ve been talking about all year, a resilient group that has a lot of fight in them. We were hit with some adversity with Isaiah being down but our group responded.”

Thomas re-aggravated a right hip injury in Game 2, and was later ruled out for the rest of the playoffs. 

After falling behind 77-56 in the third quarter, the Celtics closed out the third with a 26-10 run to come within 87-82 going into the fourth quarter. During the run, Marcus Smart had 11 points which turned out to be equal to LeBron James’ scoring output … for the entire game.

This is Horford's 10th NBA season, all of which have included a trip to the postseason.

That, combined with having won a pair of national championships when he played at the University of Florida, serves as a reminder that the 30-year-old has been on the winning ledger of big games before.

But even he acknowledged Sunday’s Game 3 win was … different.

“I have had plenty of moments like this,” Horford said. “But this was definitely emotional. This was very emotional, exciting, on the road, no one really giving us any chance. To be able to come through like that, it just felt great. I’ve been part of emotional wins, but this one was a special one.”

That was evident in Horford’s energy-charged, post-game comments.

“Heart! Heart! This team got heart!” he yelled. “We got beat bad (in Game 2), but it’s all about how you rebound!”

And we get that message, loud and clear!

'Ecstatic' Thomas was with Celtics teammates via FaceTime after Game 3 win

'Ecstatic' Thomas was with Celtics teammates via FaceTime after Game 3 win

CLEVELAND – Gone but definitely not forgotten.

Isaiah Thomas, out for the rest of the playoffs with a right hip injury, wasn’t in the Q Arena physically, but his presence – and his face via FaceTime – were inside the locker room in the initial moments following their 111-108 Game 3 win over Cleveland.

“We called him right after the game,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “He got to celebrate with us a little bit. It’s sad that he’s not here. We wish he was here with us. We just want him to get better.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens added, “I didn’t even realize that had happened until later on. one of my first text messages was from Isaiah.  He’s hurting not being out there but he’s completely invested, for sure.”

He initially suffered the injury on March 15 at Minnesota, but re-aggravated it in the first half of Boston’s Game 2 loss to the Cavs. Less than 24 hours later, Thomas was deemed out for the remainder of the playoffs.

Instead of Thomas being the rock of sorts that the Celtics lean on with his play, he has become their rallying cry for the remainder of the playoffs.

“All we can do is play hard for him,” Bradley said. “He was excited with the way we played. We’re a family. Other guys got an opportunity to step up for us. Marcus (Smart) had a big game for us. It could be somebody else next game.”

Smart led the Celtics with a career-high 27 points which included a career-best seven 3’s going down.

And most important, the Celtics avoided going down 3-0 which would have all but sealed their fate in this series considering no team in league history has ever come back for a 3-0 series deficit.

Doing so without Thomas, the Celtics’ leading scorer and the top regular season scorer in the Eastern Conference, made the win all that more impressive for Boston.

“It meant a lot,” Horford said. “We know, Isaiah gives us so much and gave us so much this year. For him, we definitely wanted to come out and fight for him and our season and our team. It felt good to keep believing despite being down big. Just felt good to win the game and bring life back to our locker room. Because going down 3-0, that’s a death sentence pretty much. This was big.”

Not only to the Celtics players but also to Thomas who also texted head coach Brad Stevens full of excitement following Boston’s surprising win.

“He was excited,” Horford recalled. “He was ecstatic. I know he wishes he was here being part of it. We just need to keep doing it for him and our group and doing the best we can.”