Haggerty: Ten thoughts from Bruins-Maple Leafs

707634.jpg

Haggerty: Ten thoughts from Bruins-Maple Leafs

Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins leading the Toronto Maple Leafs by a whopping 4-0 score after the first 20 minutes at TD Garden.

1) The Bruins needed to jump all over the Maple Leafs early to discourage their flickering playoff hopes, and thats exactly what they did while jumping all over Toronto with four goals. Instead of relaxing when they were already up a couple of goals quickly they kept pouring it on and lit up the scoreboard with two more goals. It included Chris Kelly opening things up and the Bruins are 15-0-0 this season when the third line center scores a goal.

2) The Bruins are back on the scoreboard and theyre also back on the fight card. Gregory Campbell scrapped with Luke Schenn after a scrum in front of the Boston net, and Milan Lucic followed with another one-sided beatdown of Mike Komisarek that was punctuated with a series of upper-cut rights that snapped the Toronto defensemans head back. Komisarek deserves some credit for going after Lucic, but hes never going to get the upper hand on No. 17 in a fight.

3) Funny that Shawn Thornton gets his two-year deal announced to cheers on the jumbotron, and then Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell a pair of pending unrestricted free agents that want deals just like Thornton scored the first two goals of the game. Looks like theyre making a statement about wanting to get taken care of as well, but Peter Chiarelli said it wont happen until after the year is over.

4) Bruins are 9-1-0 when Benoit Pouliot scores a goal. The Kelly and Pouliot stats continue to underscore just how important that secondary scoring is to the Bruins success this season.

5) The Leafs are just pitiful. Outscored 32-10 by the Bruins and about to go 0-6-0 against the Bruins this season. That is just domination for the Black and Gold.

Here are five thoughts from the second period with the Bruins leading the Toronto Maple Leafs by a whopping 7-0 score after the first 40 minutes at TD Garden.

1) Four points (1 goal and three assists) for Brian Rolston, who is suddenly finding the fountain of youth at 39 years old. It actually makes plenty of logical sense that Rolston is finding his game now as he was basically rotting away with the New York Islanders due to injuries, inconsistent playing time and a flat-lined environment. Now back with the Bruins Rolston has seven points in his last three games while gelling with Benoit Pouliot and Chris Kelly.

2) Joe Corvo has watched the Bruins play two of their best games in weeks with him as a healthy scratch up in the press box. Hes going to need an injury to get back into the mix with the playoffs fast approaching. Its been clear how much better the Bruins are around the net in their own zone without Corvo to worry about.

3) Will Marty Turco get into this game in the third period? It could happen. Thomas has only faced seven shots in the first two periods, but is Claude Julien going to take the Bs goaltender out of a shutout performance?

4) Greg Zanon with a shot, a hit, two blocked shots and a plus-1, and hes been playing better since being given a chance back in the Boston lineup at Corvos expense. Much better and more comfortable around the net, and his physicality is starting to shine through a little bit. It was Zanon throwing a shove at a rushing Leafs player that started the CampbellSchenn fireworks in the first period.

5) James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson just arent good enough as an NHL goaltending tandem for the Maple Leafs. Losing track of players with the puck behind the net, botching loose pucks around the trapezoid area and just flat getting beaten on glove-side shots. Toronto needs to upgrade in the offseason in that department.

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.
 
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."