Haggerty: No boos for Thomas a good thing for all

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Haggerty: No boos for Thomas a good thing for all

BOSTON -- Tim Thomas had braced for every possible reaction from his home fans.

Tuesday night marked his first game back in Boston following the controversial decision to skip out on the White House ceremony for the Bruins last week, and Thomas said he had mentally prepared for soul-crushing booing or goose bumps-inducing cheers.

He thought they would cheer given the hockey job that Thomas has helped provide Bruins fans with over his seven plus seasons in Black and Gold.

I was pretty certain it would be a good reaction, said Thomas. But having said all that I didnt take it for granted. I was mentally prepared either way.

Well, all that mental preparation along with the unavoidable media hue and cry for more than a week was much ado about nothing when the Bruins fandom clapped and cheered for their longtime Black and Gold goaltender in a moment of need.

Lucky for Thomas, the Bruins fan base cares a great deal more about stopping pucks than where the governments buck stops.

It was a respectful greeting from the sellout TD Garden crowd when Tim Thomas name was announced as the starting goaltender prior to puck-drop against the Ottawa Senators. There werent any standing ovations of support or soul-crushing waves of negativity; instead it was business as usual, with the kind of political apathy youd expect from a crowd of sports fans.

Thats why there wasnt a boo or hiss in the house even when Thomas seemed a bit off his game against an Ottawa Senators team hell-bent on making an impression on the Northeast Division-leading Bruins.

I didnt see an ovation; I just saw them cheering him, said coach Claude Julien. Everybody was probably waiting to see what the reaction was going to be, so it was pretty clear that they still respect him for his hockey skills. They certainly are not holding anything against him for his political beliefs.

The positive feedback for the Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophy winner should put the finishing touches on last weeks White House incident, and finally, mercifully allow the Bs goaltender to again focus on the business of minding his net.

Thomas said the warm reception from Bruins Nation made him want to win the game for them all the much more, and both the Bs goaltender and his teammates eventually came through with a 4-3 decision over the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden.

I was happy to hear the reception from the fans. It was just good to hear, you know? I wanted to get them a win real bad, said Thomas, who made a perfect seven saves in the third period to help shepherd his club to victory. When we got down there in the second I didnt know if wed be able to pull it off, but we found a way again.

The Bruins found a way by finally waking up in the third period with goals from Brad Marchand and Dennis Seidenberg while coming from behind against Ottawa, and the team appreciated the fan reaction to Thomas. The Bruins team to a man only cares whether Thomas is stopping pucks at a record pace as he was last season, and the fan base is much the same way.

Thomas is the best goaltender in the world, and that means he provides the difference between winning and losing. Thats why an overwhelming 38 percent of Hockey News readers tops in the survey -- picked Tim Thomas as their goaltender of choice for a Game 7 playoff start that absolutely had to be won.

Sure, he kicked up a rebound to Colin Greening that turned into an Ottawa goal, and Thomas wasnt able to stop a Kyle Turris hot-shot from the left face-off circle after a Daniel Alfredsson cross-ice pass had him sliding from left-to-right in a desperate attempt to smother it. The Glenn Beck-sized demons could have crept into Thomas head at that point, down by a couple of goals in his first game out of the All-Star break, but the Bs goaltender said the same thing that hes uttered many times over the years: Im not going out like that.

Instead Thomas locked things in and his fellow American goaltending counterpart on the other side of the ice, Craig Anderson, let a 90-foot Dennis Seidenberg shot from the center-ice circle trickle through his pads.

I was very glad. Our goal is to win hockey games. It doesnt matter what happened last week, said Seidenberg. Those are his views. Our goal is still the same as his, and thats winning hockey games. None of that White House stuff matters to us at all.

So now the trade rumors involving Thomas have been debunked and the team has moved on from the politically-motivated Obama incident. Thomas isnt going anywhere this season, and his team will need him to produce something special again down the stretch if the Bruins hope to win another Stanley Cup.

His owner is behind him. His teammates are behind him. Team management is behind him. An entire Bruins fan base is behind him. They certainly dont all agree with Thomas political beliefs, but they do all worship at the altar of wins and losses each and every week.

The positive TD Garden reception served as the final chapter of the Skipping out on the White House for Dummies book thats now been successfully written by Thomas, and its officially time for everybody not-named Obama to move on. Player and team both displayed just how easy that could be today.

Blakely: Celtics make a healthy choice in standing pat at the deadline

Blakely: Celtics make a healthy choice in standing pat at the deadline

BOSTON -- For the second year in a row, the NBA trade deadline has come and gone with the Boston Celtics making no moves.
 
The Celtics were focused on trying to land either Chicago’s Jimmy Butler or Indiana’s Paul George, but Boston’s efforts never gained momentum in the final hours leading up to Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.

And while there were a handful of potential deals that would have made Boston slightly better, that improvement -- and the cost attached to it -- was just more than Ainge and the Celtics were willing to pay. 
 
And so they hit the final stretch of the season with a roster that – for now at least – looks identical to what they had at the start of the season with one difference --health. 
 
Most of this season, the Celtics have had multiple players out with injuries or various ailments. Currently, Avery Bradley (right Achilles) is the lone Celtic dealing with a significant injury. 
 
And after Bradley practiced some on Thursday, there’s a chance that he might be on the floor Friday night at Toronto. 
 
But there is no question that a significant segment of Celtics Nation is disappointed that Boston didn’t engineer a trade of some sort.
 
“We’re trying to upgrade our team,” said Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “But it is a delicate balance between short-term goals and long-term goals. Obviously, both are very important. We’re excited where we are on a long-term basis. And this year we didn’t make any trades. Last year we didn’t make any trades.”
 
But in standing pat a year ago, the Celtics solidified their salary cap space to where they could have offered a pair of max contracts to Al Horford – which they did – as well as Kevin Durant who met with Boston but ultimately decided to sign with Golden State. 
 
And by not including their first-round pick last season, the Celtics have Jaylen Brown who is one of the better rookies in this year’s class. 
 
“So we’re happy with the direction that we’re moving,” Ainge said. 
 
But standing pat was not on the agenda for the teams surrounding Boston in the East.
 
Boston’s inability to strike a deal is in sharp contrast to what teams surrounding them did during this trade season. 
 
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the team Boston and the rest of the East are chasing. They acquired Kyle Korver earlier this month, a player who ranks among the NBA’s all-time great 3-point shooters. 
 
Washington added Bojan Bogdanovic from Brooklyn today, providing some much-needed firepower for a Wizards second unit that ranks among the NBA’s lowest scoring groups. 
 
Toronto recently traded for Orlando’s Serge Ibaka, giving the Raptors a defensive-oriented big man who can stretch the floor. 
 
Also today, the Atlanta Hawks picked up Ersan Illyasova from Philadelphia, which should help them space the floor better.
 
Each of those teams addressed a very specific need, something the Celtics were hoping to do. 
 
But more than a player, the Celtics could benefit from a roster with improved health. 
 
The team’s preferred starting five -- Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson -- has a 15-6 record this season. To put that in perspective, that’s a winning percentage of .714 which would be tops in the East and third overall in the NBA for this season. 
 
And with most of the players seemingly back to full strength health-wise now, it’s understandable to some extent why Ainge would be willing to stick with this group for the rest of the season. 
 
“As you’ve been watching lately, we’ve been winning a lot of games with everybody,” Ainge said. “Players ten through fifteen contributing to our wins. We like the depth of the team, we like the youth of the team, we like the energy and enthusiasm of the team and I’m very anxious and excited to watch in the second half.”
 
But just like when they stood pat last year, the decision puts the onus on the players and the coaching staff to step their game up. 

“I roll with the guys in this locker room until something changes,” Isaiah Thomas said prior to the trade deadline. “I always mean that.”
 
Said Jae Crowder: “We have to take care of what we can control and that’s night-in and night-out, try to get wins.”

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis hit three-run homers and left-hander Brian Johnson started and pitched two scoreless innings to help the Red Sox win their spring training opener, 9-6, over Northeastern University on Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Johnson, who made one spot start in his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2015 but then was derailed by injuries and anxiety issues last season, struck out three and walked one Thursday. He's expected to start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts in 2016.

Moreland, the left-handed hitting first baseman signed to a one-year deal after spending his first seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, and Travis, a right-handed hitting first base prospect coming back from knee surgery last season, each hit three-run homers in a six-run third inning.

Pablo Sandoval, attempting to reclaim the third-base job after missing nearly all of last season after surgery on his left shoulder, went 1-for-2 with a double. 

The Red Sox open Grapefruit League play Friday afternoon when they host the New York Mets at JetBlue Park.