Haggerty: Frustrated Bruins need to regroup

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Haggerty: Frustrated Bruins need to regroup

WASHINGTON, DC Judging by the long faces, glassy eyes and finger-pointing taking place in the Boston Bruins dressing room following another formulaic playoff performance against the Washington Capitals, the Bs let a game they really wanted slip away.
Boston fired away 45 shots on net and worked to get a handful of chances close to the net, but didnt work nearly hard enough around the cage in a 2-1 loss to the surprisingly willing Capitals at the Verizon Center.
The Caps blocked 12 shots in the third period and showed the kind of blood-and-guts willingness that it takes to win playoff hockey games. The Bruins seemed to recline right back into some of the relaxed habits that have been dogging them since the start of the series.
Clearly there other forces against them as caterwauling Caps owner Ted Leonsis and Washingtons phalanx of fans, coaches, management and players curried a little favor with the league and Washington managed a 3-1 advantage in power plays along with a game-winning PP goal from Alex Semin.
But the bottom line was another postseason game went by with offensive no-shows from David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand. Rich Peverley is the only member of the top six forward fraternity thats made an impact offensively, and both of his goals have come off broken plays.
Krejci stood by his locker with watery eyes and a downcast head, and uttered the words frustration and panic over and over again as he searched for answers. The center said he felt good, but missed connecting on every pass coming his way near the front of the net. Krejci finished with zero shots on net despite a healthy amount of ice time, and seemed stuck in a pit of despair following the game.
I know hes a good goaltender, but we need to relax and do what we do during the regular season, said David Krejci. When we have chances we need to bury them rather than panic. Maybe we panicked too much, I guess? I don't know. I think we had so many chances we could have won the game. Thats the story of the game.
Seguin had chances and six shots on net to go along with it, but his ability to finish off scoring plays which has come and gone during the season has deserted him at the most important moments.
Marchand is a mere shadow of the rabble-rousing offensive playmaker from the regular season, and has been a big disappointment during the first round playoff series. By the end of the game it appeared the Marchand swagger was pretty close to gone, and he was simply firing the puck into Braden Holtbys chest as soon as it was on his stick in the offensive zone.
But perhaps worst of all was Bs goalie Tim Thomas rather pointedly throwing his forwards under the bus. The Bruins goaltender was asked what the Bruins problem was as he saw it, and the 37-year-old gave his position-playing teammates the kind of swift kick in the pants that he usually saves for Obamas health care plan.
"We had a lot of shots. But high-quality scoring chances? We didnt have many of those. You need people in front screening and tipping and that seems to be our problem in this series, said Thomas. We're not (getting bodies in front) enough. We did it in Game 3, but we havent done it consistently in the series."
Thomas was right, of course, but normally the goaltender is a little more circumspect when it comes to calling out his teammates for failing to get the job done. After all, Thomas was cleanly beaten by Semins stand-still wrist rocket from the left face-off dot during a second period power play. So Thomas wasnt better than his 22-year-old counterpart for the Capitals either.
But rather than blame each other for shortcomings in the series, the Bruins need to regroup at home while making some fine-tuning tweaks. Perhaps its time for Claude Julien to go back to the lines the Bruins played with for most of the season rather than forcing together forwards that havent really played with each other all season.
Its not secret that Marchand and Bergeron play better together after two years of success together, and thats what they should return to.
Maybe its time for Jordan Caron to enter into the series and utilize his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame to carve out some space in front of the net for rebounds and tipped pucks. Caron is the closest thing they have to a Poor Mans Nathan Horton, and that seems to be what the Bruins are missing at the moment.
The Bruins remain hopeful they can get on the same page, and find whatever inspired them to actually look like the Stanley Cup champs in Game 3.
Weve been through so many situations throughout these last couple of years, said Johnny Boychuk. We know how to handle it. Being at 2-2 we have the group of guys in here that can battle through anything to get wins.
Its a best of three games series now with two of those games potentially set at TD Garden, and the Bruins know what they must do to win.
Its just a matter now of getting out there and actually doing it now that a great chance to control the series has gone by the boards.

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

TORONTO – It’s far too soon to say if the Celtics’ decision to stand pat at the trade deadline was a mistake.
 
But the early returns aren’t encouraging.
 
Their 107-97 loss Friday night to the Toronto Raptors wasn’t because of Kyle Lowry (right wrist), who didn’t even play, or DeMar DeRozan, who played out his mind while scoring a career-high 43 points.
 
The game will be remembered by the new guys Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, both acquired at the trade deadline by the Raptors.
 
Ibaka, who was a bad fit, and on most nights a bad player, in Orlando, looked like the O-K-C Ibaka while scoring 15 points to go with seven rebounds against the Celtics – numbers that were better than his two games combined against the Celtics this season with the Magic when he scored a total of just 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds.
 
And then there was Tucker, who got a crash video course on Raptors playbook just hours before the game, and proceeded to show the kind of toughness at both ends of the floor that has made him one of the league’s more underrated defenders as he finished with a near double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds.
 
It was their first game with their new team, but you would have thought they had been with Toronto all season long with how seamless they seemed to fit in.
 
Ibaka draining jumpers, Tucker causing chaos defensively, while absolutely crushing the Celtics on the boards...their play was a painful reminder of what could have been for the Green team.
 
Both were rumored to have been in the Celtics’ crosshairs prior to the Thursday 3 p.m. trade deadline. The Celtics were lukewarm at best on Ibaka (they didn’t want what would have been a 25-game rental) and just couldn’t quite strike a deal and cross the finish line for Tucker.
 
It’s too soon to hit the panic button and rip Danny Ainge for not getting a minor deal done like adding Tucker or Ibaka.
 
Still, his players have to embrace the truth behind what transpired this trade season.
 
Ainge went big-game hunting, focusing most of the team's efforts on landing a major difference-maker, a la Jimmy Butler or Paul George.
 
When that didn’t work out, he settled for the next best thing, which was to keep this group together.
 
The onus is now on them to prove that trust Ainge has in them, was well-placed.
 
Putting too much stock in the first game after the break is a risky proposition that no one should subscribe to.
 
But in the loss, it revealed many of the concerns and weaknesses of this roster that tend to get magnified in defeat while glossed over when they manage to win despite those flaws.
 
Isaiah Thomas may be the best scorer in the fourth quarter, but he’s human.
 
There will be games when Mr. Fourth Quarter can’t get it done.
 
Friday night was that kind of game for him. He scored just four of his team-high 20 points in the fourth.
 
And as the Raptors blitzed him repeatedly with two and three defenders, his teammates failed to step up when the opportunity was there to make impactful, game-altering plays down the stretch.
 
Watching the Celtics’ defense in the second half was painful.
 
DeRozan got whatever he wanted, when he wanted it.
 
And when he missed, the Raptors controlled the boards, got all the 50/50 balls and repeatedly out-worked Boston.
 
It exposed Boston in a way that’s painful to see, especially when those inflicting the greatest amount of damage could have been in the Celtics huddle and not the one on the other sideline.
 
 

Hardy: 'Celtics haven't reached that next level status'

Hardy: 'Celtics haven't reached that next level status'

Greg Hardy, Chris Mannix, and Glenn Ordway discuss what the Celtics should have done before the trade deadline, and what they need to do in the offseason in order to reach the next level in playoffs.