Hollins provides energy, hustle for C's

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Hollins provides energy, hustle for C's

ATLANTA On the same day that the Boston Celtics added former Boston College forwardcenter Sean Williams, the previous "new guy" to the Celtics frontcourt Ryan Hollins has his best game as a Celtic.

Coincidence?

No one knows for sure -- but you won't find C's head coach Doc Rivers complaining or questioning it.

"We always say you push and pull and if you're not playing and a new guy comes in and you think he's going to take your minutes, then you should play harder," Rivers said. "It's a man's game."

Hollins had eight points and five rebounds in Boston's 97-92 loss to Atlanta while playing more than 30 minutes - all season highs with the C's.

But his impact on the game had little to do with scoring and rebounding.

He provided energy, showed great hustle at both ends of the floor, doing many of the things that the Celtics were hoping to see him contribute once he signed with the Celtics.

However, with a lack of practice time and the Celtics fighting for the Atlantic Division title and the No. 4 seed that came with it, there just weren't many opportunities for him to play.

Now that the Atlantic division title has been clinched in addition to Greg Stiemsma having foot issues, Hollins is sure to see more minutes in the remaining games prior to the playoffs.

Stiemsma, who did not play in the second half of the Hawks loss due to soreness in his left foot (which has plantar fasciitis), was happy to see Hollins get a chance to play major minutes for a change.

"It was definitely good to see him go out and play aggressive," Stiemsma said.

Hollins understands that because of where the C's are positioned, these games will go far in terms of making an impression on the Celtics coaching staff as to whether they can rely on him in a pinch.

As much as the players pull for one another, none of them wants to ride the pine, either.

"I wanted to come out and kind of get playoff-ready (against Atlanta)," Hollins said. "Show coach (Rivers) the things I can do and give myself be ready to play those minutes on the court."

And while the scoring was nice, Hollins knows his greatest contributions to the C's most nights may involve him only touching the ball on rebounds.

"When I'm playing with the Big Four out there, my game is going to be trapping, rebounding, defending, those little things," Hollins said. "I'm not going to get touches. I understand that. The little things that don't show up, I can control that."

Spooner, coming to life with Bruins, feels Julien 'just didn't really trust me'

Spooner, coming to life with Bruins, feels Julien 'just didn't really trust me'

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins' third line has been reborn under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, and the players are now openly admitting they desperately needed a change.

Claude Julien never trusted Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes enough defensively to play them together, but this line has blossomed under Cassidy: Six goals, 15 points and a plus-11 in seven games. They’ve survived in the defensive zone by rarely playing there. Instead, they push the pace, make plays to keep the puck out of the D-zone and, most importantly, keep producing the secondary offense that wasn’t there in the first 55 games of the season. 

No one has been freed from the shackles more than Spooner, who is back playing his natural center position after being forced to play left wing under Julien. The 25-year-old said Tuesday that getting a clean slate with a new coach has been extremely beneficial to him, and that perhaps he didn't always love playing for the guy now minding the bench in Montreal. 

“I felt like the last coach ... he just didn’t really trust me,” said Spooner, who has two goals and six points along with a plus-1 rating in seven games post-Julien. “It might've been kind of on me not really playing to the potential that I have, but at the same time . . . I just don’t think that he really liked me as a player. It’s kind of in the past now. It’s just a part of the game. It’s up to me to just go out there and just play, and not have that stuff in the back of my mind. 

“I just kind of have to go out there and believe in myself and I think at times I wasn’t really going out there and doing that. Maybe that’s something to learn. This sport has ups and downs, and I’ve had my downs. You learn that you can just sort of push through it. If you do that then things can be good.”

Spooner has 10 goals and 33 points along with a minus-3 this season, and could potentially surpass last year's numbers (13-36-49) in his second full season. 

Most felt that the speedy, skilled Spooner would be one of the big beneficiaries of the move from Julien to Cassidy, and now he’s showing that with a new lease on life in Boston. 

Tuesday, Feb. 28: Nothing coming easy for Habs

Tuesday, Feb. 28: Nothing coming easy for Habs

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while it’s all happening around the NHL world ahead of tomorrow’s NHL trade deadline.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Eric Engels says that a torturous February shows that nothing will come easy for the Montreal Canadiens.

*Some raw locker room video from the Florida Panthers with local D-man Keith Yandle holding court with reporters.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has some early thoughts, and some praise, for the Washington Capitals landing puck-moving D-man and big ticket rental player Kevin Shattenkirk.

*The Toronto Maple Leafs up their playoff cred by landing gritty, big third-line center Brian Boyle ahead of the trade deadline.

*Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are the city of Chicago’s longest-tenured teammates having spent the last 12 years together with the Blackhawks.

*Patrice Bergeron and Toucher and Rich are getting together for their 10th annual Cuts for a Cause, which will be on March 27.

https://www.nhl.com/bruins/community/cuts-for-a-cause

*For something completely different: Jimmy Kimmel gives his perspective of the debacle that went down at the end of the Academy Awards on Sunday night.

http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/news/watch-jimmy-kimmel-on-oscars-best-picture-award-mistake-w469552