Staying fresh: An update on Bruins overseas

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Staying fresh: An update on Bruins overseas

Though there might be some good news in CBA negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA this week, an even 10 Bruins players are still skating overseas waiting for the lockout to be over.

The actual count of Bs players overseas is nine with Tyler Seguin back in Boston this week during a two-week break from regular season games for his Swiss EHC Biel hockey club. Seguin finished his first stint with Biel totaling 13 goals and 23 points in 15 games, and racked up four goals in a game last Friday while the home crowd chanted Seguins name amid the offensive outpouring.

Here's an update on the rest of the Bruins overseas:

Zdeno Chara has two goals, seven assists and has a minus-1 rating in 11 games HC Lev Prague in the KHL, but he has been saddled with a lackluster team that lost eight games in a row after bringing the Bs captain on board. Its really not often that you see Chara as a minus player after a double-digit amount of games, but the speed of the Russian hockey league plays away from some of Charas strengths.

Tuukka Rask has bounced back nicely from his tweaked groin and is 6-2 with a 1.85 goals against average and a .936 save percentage for Plzen HC. The Finnish goaltender appears primed and ready for a return to Boston as the starter between the pipes for the Bruins.

Patrice Bergeron has 16 points (8 goals, 8 assists) and is a plus-15 in eight games for HC Lugano and has returned from an injured hand that kept him out for a few games.

Andrew Ference has three points and is a plus-1 in seven games for Ceske Budejovice HC, and also missed a game with a banged up finger after he took a shot off the hand during game action.

David Krejci has 14 points (seven goals and seven assists) in 12 games and is a plus-2 for HC Pardubice. He has been one of the Bs best performers overseas while skating in his home country.

Dennis Seidenberg has four assists and is a plus-5 in 10 games for the Mannheim Eagles while skating in his native Germany. Between Seidenberg, Chara and Ference skating in Europe and Dougie Hamilton playing for the Niagara IceDogs during the lockout, that means four of six projected Bs defensemen should be ready to hit the ground running when the regular season does begin.

Rich Peverley has 2 goals and 11 points in 14 games for JYP in the Finnish League, and is clearly thriving in a European League that focuses on skating speed and high-class offensive skill.

Goaltender Anton Khudobin is 3-6-2 in the KHL for Moscow Oblast-Atlant with a 3.02 goals against average and a .908 save percentage, and has remained healthy while playing in his native Kazakhstan.

In addition to Bostons NHL players overseas, the Bs 2012 second round pick Alex Khokhlachev has two points and is a minus-5 rating in 19 games for Moscow Spartak in the KHL. He is in Canada this week to play with Nail Yakupov for Team Russia in the Subway Super Series in Quebec. Its expected that his old OHL team, the Windsor Spitfires, is going to at least kick the tires on any potential interest Khokhlachev might have in returning to Canada after his struggles in his native Russia.

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

BOSTON -- Like most NBA executives, Danny Ainge loves to get as much intel on players before picking them as he can.  
 
And with the No. 1 overall pick, Ainge knows he has to do all he can to absolutely get this one right.
 
That’s why any thoughts he had of drafting Lonzo Ball are likely out the window after the talented UCLA guard refused to work out for the Celtics.
 
“We tried to get him in for a workout and he politely said no,” Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show.
 
Lonzo Ball’s desire (or his dad Lavar Ball’s desire; hard to say who in the Ball camp wants him in L.A. the most) to play for the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the worst-kept secrets leading up to next month’s NBA draft.
 
And with the Lakers holding the No. 2 pick in the draft, turning down the Celtics only increases the likelihood of  Boston passing on him and instead drafting University of Washington star Markelle Fultz.
 
“It’s not ideal,” Ainge said of Ball's decision to decline working out for Boston. “Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. It’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them. Sometimes players don’t want to come in, not because they don’t like you, they see our roster. They think they would prefer to go to another team.”
 
The Celtics, like most teams, have been mum publicly as to who they would take in the draft. But all indications at this point in the process are pointing towards them selecting Fultz with the top overall selection.
 
And the fact that Ball, the projected number two pick even before the draft lottery order was established, refuses to work out for Boston will only increase the likelihood that Fultz will be a Celtic and Ball and his camp will get their wish which has always been to don a Los Angeles Lakers jersey.

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

BOSTON – From the outset of this season, the Boston Celtics were swimming upstream when it came to getting respect. 

No matter how many wins they racked up, no matter how many upsets they managed to pull off, they were never going to do enough to satisfy the court of public opinion which wanted one thing and one thing only from the NBA: A third installment of Golden State against Cleveland in the NBA Finals. 

The Warriors did their part by running through the West with 12 wins in as many playoff games. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will try to not just stave off elimination tonight, but continue to delay what so many believe is an inevitable Golden State-Cleveland Final.

Boston’s Al Horford understands that while the league this season has seen lots of individual success as well as teams that have overachieved, the thirst for Golden State versus Cleveland remains stronger than ever. 

“We understand that’s what everyone has been talking about since the beginning of the season,” Horford said. “For us it’s just to focus … and play the Celtic way. And just come out here and fight and we’ll take it from there.”

The Celtics did that in Game 3 with Avery Bradley delivering one of the more memorable shots in the Brad Stevens era, a game-winning three-pointer that hit the rim four times before falling with 0.1 seconds to play as Boston squeaked out a 111-108 win.

Boston did a lot of good things in Game 4 and seemingly went into the half sensing that maybe just maybe they would even up the series at two games heading back to Boston for tonight’s Game 5 matchup. 

But Kyrie Irving picked up the slack for a foul-plagued LeBron James, lifting the Cavaliers to a 112-99 win which puts them now just a win away from advancing to the NBA Finals. 

Not only have folks both in the media as well as fans who have rooted for this series to be over, even merchandise sellers like Dick Sporting Goods have anticipated this series as already being over.

“It is what it is,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “It’s been like that all year; a lot of guys counting us out. At the same time, we’re trying to put ourselves in position to win each and every game.”

While that has been the goal, it certainly hasn’t worked out that way in this series. 

Despite Games 1 and 2 being at the TD Garden, the Celtics lost both games by a total of 57 points. 

And while they won Game 3 and had the Cavaliers on the ropes in Game 4 before losing, they know their chance to play NBA Finals spoiler is just about up. 

“We know that’s the Finals that everybody wants to talk about, what everybody is looking forward to,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “We understand it. But we work just as hard as these guys. We just have to keep going out there and working. We’re not going to give it to them, and stuff like that. We just have to make it tough on them.”