Haggery's Bruins-Maple Leafs preview

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Haggery's Bruins-Maple Leafs preview

The Bruins and Leafs both desperately need a win.

Both teams have lost more games than theyve won recently, and both are back-sliding within the Eastern Conference.

Of course things are a little more real for the Leafs as they sit five points out of a playoff spot and have newly hired Randy Carlyle behind the bench looking to spark a Toronto team bracing for a collapse. The Bruins havent won two games in a row since Jan. 12 and are an imperfectly .500 hockey club dating back to the seminal regular loss to the Vancouver Canucks in early January.

While the Bruins were encouraged by the losing effort against the Rangers, its results that matter this time of year. They showed some emotional spark, they got secondary goal-scoring outside the trio of David Krejci-Milan Lucic-Tyler Seguin and they managed to come back twice against a Rags hockey team that simply doesnt blow two-game leads.

But they didnt get the two points and instead sit mired in a two-game losing streak.

We know they have a new coach and they played well in Montreal, said Chris Kelly. They had a big win there. Ive been in that situation before with a new coach and you want to play well and gain his trust. We know theyre going to come at us hard.

We want to be consistent. Thats our main focus. We havent been consistent for 60 minutes or in consecutive games. So consistency is our main focus against a team that should be motivated.

Itll be the hockey club desperately seeking consistency against a Toronto squad clinging to their very lives with a new drill sergeant in town.
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Tim Thomas has a .910 save percentage, a goals against average approaching 3.00 and a .500 record since the beginning of January, and needs to really show some of his characteristic moxie between the pipes. The Bruins need the 37-year-old goaltender to start raising his game and showing the Conn Smythe version of himself for last season as his teammates drop like flies to injuries all around him.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Im sure theyll be a little refreshed with a new coach. On the other side, though, we have enough that we have to worry about in this locker room. We have to get back to consistent hockey. Thats our focus right now. Shawn Thornton when asked if the Bruins are headed into a potential buzz-saw in Toronto with newly hired Randy Carlyle as Leafs head coach.

KEY MATCHUP: It will be the same as it always is when the Bruins and Leafs play each other these days: Zdeno Chara and Phil Kessel out on the ice attempting to conquer the other with their disparate skills. As with most years Chara has had the upper hand in this years battles and the Bruins are undefeated in four meetings with the Leafs entering tonights game. The 24-year-old Kessel is a point-per-game player in the NHL this season, but has a single assist and a minus-7 in four games against Boston this season.

STAT TO WATCH: 1 the number of years since anybody other than Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask has played in goal, dating back to April 11, 2009 when Manny Fernandez dropped a 6-1 game to the Buffalo Sabres.

INJURIES: Rich Peverley (right knee sprain), Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) and Nathan Horton (mild concussion) are long term injuries for the Bruins, and both Andrew Ference (lower body injury) and Daniel Paille (upper body) are day-to-day. Both Ference and Paille were expected to skate on Tuesday. For Toronto defenseman Carl Gunnarsson missed three games with an ankle injury but has returned to the lineup.
GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tim Thomas is expected to get the start against the Maple Leafs and will be appearing in his fourth straight game after appearing in 10 of 13 games during the month of February. Jonas Gustavsson will be getting his 36th start of the season sporting a 2.86 goals against average and a .905 save percentage as James Reimer has struggled in his sophomore season.

Tatum easing into new challenge with Celtics

Tatum easing into new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON -- While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told CSNNE.com. “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told CSNNE.com. “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder . . . we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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0:41 - Tom Curran, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and how that trade can actually have an affect on the Celtics plans.

5:06 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to talk about if the Celtics are the front runners for Paul George, what would be too much to give up to the Pacers, and why it’s important to sign Hayward before trading for George.

11:21 - Evan Drellich joins from Fenway Park to discuss Rick Porcello getting his 10th loss of the season and if the struggling offense might be a season-long problem. 

14:58 - Tom Curran and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Nate Burleson saying that Julian Edelman is the most under-appreciated receiver in the last 10 years.