Haggerty's Bruins-Lightning preview

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Haggerty's Bruins-Lightning preview

TAMPA BAY The Bruins limped into Tampa Bay wondering how many healthy bodies theyd be able to dress on Tuesday night against the Lightning, but it appears that they will have more than expected.

The Bruins will have 22 players on the ice for pregame skate including 13 forwards and seven defensemen, and theyll certainly have more than the battered and beaten skeleton crew of 15 skaters left on the bench for the end of their loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday.

Both Patrice Bergeron and Adam McQuaid took part in the Tuesday morning skate at the Tampa Times Forum and will be game-time decisions for a Bruins team that feared they had lost both just 48 hours ago.

Marty Turco will lead the Bruins onto the ice for the first time since arriving in Boston and the Bruins have another chance to utilize one of their games in hand tonight with the Ottawa Senators again idle on the schedule.

Its up to Boston to take out a Tampa Bay team thats seven points out of the playoffs and fading out of the picture, so a strong opening salvo from the Bruins could effectively silence the Bolts.

Thats the plan for a Bruins team thats found themselves down by 2-0 deficits in the first period in three of their last five games, and has been doing far too much chasing of the puck rather than seizing possession of it.

"We need a little urgency here. Not panic, but urgency," Claude Julien said. "Weve got to try to get some wins here. Thats what you have to do through some injuries and some guys are banged up and still playing right now. Every team is going through the same thing, so we need to make sure were ready to play hard and win some games. We want to be able to stay where we are in the Eastern Conference standings right now.

Once we got over this hump and were finishing a little better and get back to a healthier squad you hope it will pay off at that point.

Through all of the bad times over the last two months the Bruins have been able to avoid stringing together a three-game losing streak. Itll be a challenge to keep that from happening against a Lightning team with nothing to lose on Tuesday night against a Boston team that ousted them from the playoffs last year.

That seems like an awful long time ago at this point.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Tim Thomas needs to get air put into his tires and gas put into the tank after nine straight appearances that simply got worse as the 37-year-old went on. Thomas was pulled from Sundays loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins after allowing three goals on 10 shots, and is 3-4 with a 3.60 goals against average and an .860 save percentage during seven appearances in the month of March. Hell get his pit stop this week as Marty Turco gets the start tonight.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: We need a little urgency here. Not panic, but urgency. Weve got to try to get some wins here. Thats what you have to do through some injuries and some guys are banged up and still playing right now. Claude Julien on the need for the Bruins to still salvage points while going through the NHL gauntlet over the last month.

KEY MATCHUP: Marty Turco will have his hands full with Steve Stamkos, Marty St. Louis, Teddy Purcell and Ryan Malone attacking the Boston net with their typical flair and skill. For a goaltender that was out of the league for nearly a year, its a bit of a rude awakening to get tossed back into the mix against the Penguins and Lightning back-to-back. But thats the life of an NHL goaltender and hell have to show the same kind of life and energy he had in Pittsburgh while double-stacking into spectacular saves against Jordan Staal and Arron Asham.

STAT TO WATCH: 2 That's the number of goals for Daniel Paille in two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who tend to give up some short-handed goals while on the man advantage.

INJURIES: Rich Peverley (right knee sprain), Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) and Nathan Horton (mild concussion) are long term injuries for the Bruins, and Benoit Pouliot is out with a lower body injury thats caused him to miss the last two games. Max Sauve was sent back to Boston with a hip injury suffered Sunday and hes expected to be shelved for a lengthy period of time. Both Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and Adam McQuaid (upper body) skated on Tuesday morning and are game-time decisions for the Bruins. For the Tampa Bay Lightning Vinny Lecavalier (hand), Mathieu Garon (groin), Mattias Ohlund (knees) and Marc-Andre Bergeron (back) are all out of the lineup.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Marty Turco will be making his first NHL start in nearly a year against the Lightning after making 20 saves in the final two periods against the Penguins Sunday afternoon. Rookie Dustin Tokarski will be making his third straight appearance for the Tampa Bay Lightning following the injury to Mathieu Garon, and hes still looking for his first win with an .891 save percentage.

Stars, studs and duds at halftime: Isaiah Thomas opens with efficiency

Stars, studs and duds at halftime: Isaiah Thomas opens with efficiency

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics found themselves in an unfamiliar place for most of the first half against Milwaukee. The Celtics were playing from behind as the half ended, and were trailing the Milwaukee Bucks 55-49.

The Bucks opened the game with a 14-4 run, only for Boston to respond with 10 straight to tie the game at 14. Boston would take the lead but couldn’t put much distance between itself and Milwaukee, with their lead in the first quarter peaking at just four points.

After a 24-all tie to end the first, Milwaukee opened with an 8-0 run and played with the lead for the remainder of the second quarter in which their lead grew to as many as 14 points. 

But the Celtics chipped away at the Bucks' lead, getting it down to as little has four points on multiple occasions before the Bucks wound up taking a six-point lead into the half. 

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Wednesday’s game against the Bucks. 

STARS

Khris Middleton: Milwaukee’s ball movement created lots of open looks, and nobody seemed to benefit more from this than Middleton. He had 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting with four rebounds and two assists. 

Isaiah Thomas: He didn’t take a lot of shots, but made the ones he did take count. He had 20 points at the half on 5-for-7 shooting from the field. 

STUDS

Giannis Antetokounmpo: The Greek Freak was solid in the first half with 12 points on 5-for-11 shooting. 

Mirza Teletovic: He gave the Bucks a nice offensive spark to the second quarter, finishing with eight points on 3-for-5 shooting.

Avery Bradley: He managed to get some easy looks on cuts to the basket, finishing with eight points on 4-for-9 shooting and three rebounds. 

DUDS

Celtics composure: Both Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas picked up technical fouls in the second quarter, letting their emotions get the better of them. And on top of that, they turned the ball over 11 times which led to five points for the Bucks but even more important, took away potential scoring opportunities for the Celtics.  

Celtics co-owner pleased with present, future of team

Celtics co-owner pleased with present, future of team

BOSTON – Like most of us around New England, Wyc Grousbeck heard all the early praise doled out on the Boston Celtics as being one of the elite teams in the East prior to this season starting. 

“I felt before the season that maybe we were being overrated,” Grousbeck, co-owner of the Celtics, told CSNNE.com. “That we were maybe a top-10 team in the league and the top few in the East, maybe. But it still felt like a longshot.”

And here they are, preparing to play Game No. 75 this season, against Milwaukee, with the best record (48-26) in the Eastern Conference. 

“They’ve grown into themselves,” Grousbeck said. “They’re playing better than I probably thought.”

But Grousbeck has been around the NBA long enough to know there is still much work to be done. After all, the Celtics’ focus remains on winning an NBA title. But Grousbeck is wise enough to know that while that is the goal, it often takes longer to accomplish than anyone – himself included – would like. 

It’s even trickier when you consider how the East is still relatively close despite their being just a handful of games remaining. 

“There’s a bunch of teams scuffling around in the East, and we’re scuffling around with them,” Grousbeck said. “We gotta do something in the playoffs.”

This will be Boston’s third straight season advancing to the postseason. Each of the first two appearances ended with a first-round exit. 

But this year is different. The Celtics are on pace to finish with home court advantage at least through the first round of the playoffs. But if they’re able to win the games they are favored throughout the remainder of this regular season, they will finish with the top seed in the East and with it, home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. 

And as we’ve seen of late, home court has indeed been an advantage for Boston which comes into tonight’s game having won its last seven at home, which includes the first four games of a current six-game home stand. 

The success Boston has had thus far has raised the expectations of many. 

And while Grousbeck certainly wants to see the Celtics have more success than they have had the last couple of years in the playoffs, there’s no mistaking he is pleased with the direction of the franchise that just four years ago was a lottery team.

“There’s no reason to put a ceiling on the season,” Grousbeck said. “I think this season already looks good to me. I love our coach. I love our young players. I love our draft picks and our potential cap room (this summer); all of our fans. So I’m already happy with where the team is going.

Grousbeck added with a grin, “If we can speed it up all the better.”