Slumping Bruins given day off Monday

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Slumping Bruins given day off Monday

ST. PAUL, MN The Bruins skipped practice on Monday, but it wasnt for any fervent observations of Presidents' Day.

Bruins coach Claude Julien sensed his slumping hockey team is carrying a heavy load on their shoulders while mired in a 7-9-1 slump over the last 17 games. So Julien gave his hockey club the day off Monday, a scheduled travel day to St. Louis.

It seemed like the right thing to do after sensing frustration emanating from the room when the once high-scoring Bs were shut out for the fourth time in nine games Sunday in Minnesota.

Its true every good team has slumped at some point this season. Heck, the Chicago Blackhawks just kicked an epic nine-game losing streak that revealed some flaws within their team fabric. But those losing stretches have been five or six games in most instances before each of those scufflingteams snapped back into form. The Bruins have been fighting a midseason funk since just after theChristmas break. Since then they've been plagued by a long stretch of mediocre hockey with key injuries thrown in for good measure.

The creeping concern isnt about a game against the Blues on Wednesday night or the month of March, but more about snapping out of their team-wide malaise before the real season begins in April.

One day were saying lets get right back on the horse and go at it, and other days were saying 'Lets take a couple of days to regroup,' said Claude Julien in the lobby of the Saint Paul hotel as the Bs were checking out on Monday morning. Theres travel and hopefully a good practice tomorrow. When youre not winning you sometimes think that practicing will solve the issue, but I sense a lot of weight on their shoulders right now.

You can feel it. Its heavy. I dont know if practicing is going to make a difference. I know that our guys are a little tired as well."

The one thing the Bruins dont want to do is deviate from is the long term plan calling for pockets of rest after their elongated season last year. Just as the Bs had fumes in the gas tank starting this season, they now seem to be slogging through the February portion of the schedule.

If nowhere else, the proof is in a third period. Boston had mastered the final 20 minutes of games all season, but now they've watched the opposition outscore them 5-1 in the third over the last four games.

Its that time of year when you get that way, and you keep going back to what we said at the beginning of the year. We didnt have a very long summer, said Julien. All of the other teams and players had an opportunity to have more time off and we didnt. You cant say one thing at the beginning of the year and not stick with it because of the outcome. Its more about the long term plan.

The one thing I can tell you right now is that well get out of this. One thing Ive always said is tough times dont last, but tough players do. We have a bunch of tough players in there that will battle through it.

The Bruins players appreciated a day away from the rink to rest and regroup before seeing a St. Louis Blues team Wednesday that has shut down more than a few offenses this season. The Blues lead the NHL with a scant 1.88 goals per game, and both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have been excellent for St. Louis between the pipes.

Not exactly the recipe the Black and Gold are looking for to bust out while averaging 1.8 goals per game, but perhaps a day recharging the batteries will do the Bs some good.

Nobody likes losing and everybody hates thinking about the games weve played in the past few weeks. Its just not the way we want to play, said Dennis Seidenberg. Today is good to relax, shut off from hockey and well get back at it again tomorrow. Hopefully well get back to where we want to be and how we want to play.

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

Tatum 'can't wait' for 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.