Haggerty's Bruins-Senators preview

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Haggerty's Bruins-Senators preview

Tonight the Bruins have some new parts to add to what they hope will be a Stanley Cup-winning machine, but the focus remains the same: Beat down your closest opponent. The Senators stand only three points behind Boston in the Northeast Division race, though the Bruins also have four games in hand against trailing Ottawa.

That shouldnt matter to a Bruins team that still hasnt won back-to-back games since the middle of January. Rather than getting caught in Joe Corvo seeking retribution, or in making things easy for the newcomers, the Bruins need to concern themselves with getting results.

Our guys do a pretty job of doing research on the players, their character and everything else around them, said Julien. The chemistry of a team always revolves around the guys in the dressing room, and the guys in the dressing room are good people. You can ask guys like Benoit Pouliot and Joe Corvo that have just come in. Those are guys in their first year and theyd tell you that its amazing how well theyve been treated.

Thats what makes us a good team. They bring everybody else right into the fold. If they dont fit in then they wont be around.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Theres little question Joe Corvo annoyed the Bs coaching staff by verbally challenging Kyle Turris a day before the big rematch against the Ottawa Senators. The Bs veteran can still salvage a very mediocre season if he can finish with a strong 22 games to end the regular season and that starts tonight in a game he should be highly motivated to play in. It should be interesting to see if he goes after Turris after backing off of his comments from Monday. It's worth noting that his playing time could be in serious jeopardy after the B's acquired two defensemen at the trade deadline.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Ive always said that Id take a puck to the teeth for a chance to play for the Boston Bruins. Now Ill be getting that chance. newly acquired defenseman Mike Mottau, who grew up as a Bruins fan in nearby Avon, Mass.

KEY MATCHUP: The Bruins forwards vs. Ottawa rookie netminder Robin Lehner. The Bs forwards did the job against a shaky Alex Auld on Saturday night, and now theyll have to deal with a promising young goaltender in Lehner looking to step in for Craig Anderson. Lehner is big between the pipes and has plenty of big game experience below the NHL level, but the Bruins still have a chance to rattle the rookies cage a little bit if they can get traffic around the net. Traffic, rebounds and general havoc around the crease were big keys to Saturdays win.

STAT TO WATCH: 1 That's the number of two-day breaks the Bruins have for the rest of the season as theyll be playing 22 games in 40 days for a regular season gauntlet to the finish.

INJURIES: Johnny Boychuk (mild concussion), Rich Peverley (right knee sprain) and Nathan Horton (mild concussion) are out for the Bruins, but Shawn Thornton makes his return after battling a nasty flu that knocked him out for Saturdays game. For Ottawa, goaltender Craig Anderson remains out after cutting his hand with a kitchen knife, and both Peter Regin (shoulder) and Jesse Winchester (concussion) have missed significant time with injuries.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tim Thomas is expected to get the start against the Ottawa Senators with sterling numbers against them over his career. He is 13-1-0 against Northeast Division opponents this season with 12 straight wins. Robin Lehner made 28 saves in a Sunday victory over the New York Islanders and is at the beginning of his second promotion to the NHL this season. With Anderson injured and Auld struggling, the promising Lehner appears to their only hope between the pipes right now.

Celtics move into No. 1 spot in East as Cavs get crushed by Spurs

Celtics move into No. 1 spot in East as Cavs get crushed by Spurs

SAN ANTONIO -- The Cavaliers acknowledged having heavy legs, yet there is something far weightier on the minds of the defending NBA champions.

Cleveland is in the midst of one of its worst stretches this season and there is little time to fix it.

Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs dismantled the ailing Cavs 103-74 on Monday night in a much-anticipated showdown that turned into a major letdown for Cleveland.

"The way we've been struggling, (the Spurs are) the last team that you want to play," said LeBron James, who was fine after taking an elbow to the neck. "A well-oiled machine like this, they exploit everything that you're not doing well at that point in time of the season and right now we're not playing good basketball."

James, who finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 29 minutes, said he will play Thursday at Chicago.

Cleveland (47-26) dropped its second in a row, set a season low for points and fell a half-game behind Boston (48-26) for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Cavaliers have nine games remaining, all against teams in the East, including a visit to Boston on April 5.

James said the standings "always matter," but playing more consistently is far more important and he refused to blame injuries or an arduous schedule for the team's troubles.

"It matters more that we're playing better basketball than where we're at," he said. "If that results in us having the No. 1 seed, the No. 2 seed, 3 or whatever the hell it is, we need to play better basketball. That's what it comes down to."

What Cleveland is seeking, the Spurs have already found.

San Antonio (57-16) is two games behind Golden State (59-14) for the league's best record entering a home game against the Warriors on Wednesday.

The Spurs have won five straight and 8 of 10 after sweeping the season series with the Cavaliers.

"It was a big game, but in the end, it's just one game, and one win," San Antonio guard Tony Parker said. "We're trying to be consistent. We're trying to play the same way every game. It was definitely surprising. Coming off a loss, I thought they would play with a lot more energy, but it can happen. It's a long season. It's just one game and I'm sure they're going to bounce back and use this game as motivation."

LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol added 14 points apiece for the Spurs.

San Antonio led by as many as 33 to the delight of the sold-out crowd, and the Spurs' bench outscored the Cavaliers' reserves 49-24.

"We did a good job coming out early and then keeping our foot on the pedal," Leonard said.

Cleveland, which was already without injured Iman Shumpert, received more bad news Monday morning when it was announced that Kyle Korver will miss at least two more games with a sore left foot.

"You lose Korver and Shumpert off your bench and things tend to change," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. "With those two guys out, we tried some different things and it didn't work. It was not on the bench. It was on me."

Cleveland opted to play its stars rather than rest them, but the trio of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat out the fourth quarter of the Cav's second lopsided loss in the past two weeks.

Lue said he has considered resting his stars over the team's final nine games, which James is not in favor of.

"Coach is going to have his logic of things, but we need to play," he said.

James exited with 25 seconds remaining in the third after taking an elbow to his neck from David Lee on a rebound. James continually rubbed the area before collapsing after he crossed midcourt. He remained on the floor for about a minute before walking unassisted to the bench.

James left for the locker room early in the fourth quarter during a timeout, but said afterward he is fine.

EXTRA SHOOTING

Irving returned to the court for about 15 minutes following the loss to work on his jump shot. The star guard had eight points and two assists in 26 minutes. He finished 4 for 13 from the field and missed his two 3-point attempts.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Cleveland completed its schedule against the West, finishing 16-14. In addition to losing to the Spurs by 29 points, the Cavaliers lost by 35 to Golden State and 30 to the Los Angeles Clippers . . . James needs 24 points to pass Shaquille O'Neal for seventh overall in career scoring. O'Neal has 28,596 career points . . . The Cavaliers averaged 116.3 points in their previous four games.

Spurs: San Antonio is holding opponents under 100 points per game for the 22nd straight season . . . Danny Green tied his season high with four blocked shots . . . Leonard has scored in double figures in 100 straight games.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: At the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

Spurs: Host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

Bertrand: Raptors a 'scary team' in the Eastern Conference

Bertrand: Raptors a 'scary team' in the Eastern Conference

Mike Felger and Marc Bertrand talk about the Celtics clinching the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference and other potential threats for the C's.