Thomas fights through it all, earns fourth straight All-Star win

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Thomas fights through it all, earns fourth straight All-Star win

KANATA, Ont. It was clearly established before this whole All-Star shindig got started that Tim Thomas would have the third period.

After all Thomas was going for his fourth consecutive All-Star game win at the Scotiabank Place home of the Ottawa Senators. There was also the small matter of the 37-year-old goalie being utterly incapable of slowing down in a meaningless exhibition game, and that trait making him the best possible closer for one of these type contests.

Thats exactly what happened for Thomas while stopping 18 shots in the final 20 minutes of Team Charas 12-9 win over Team Alfredsson a victory the Bs goaltender didnt even realize he wanted so fervently until he began getting a game sweat going on Sunday afternoon.

But by the time he stoned Daniel Alfredsson on a breakaway in the third period while the Sens hero was going for a much-anticipated hat trick, Thomas had the victory in his sights.

As has been the case when wins and losses are in the balance no matter what the contest, Thomas wasnt about to let things go.

Im very happy with the end result. Going into it I was shooting for four wins, but I didnt really realize how much I wanted it until we got into it, said Thomas after the All-Star festivities were over. Then my team came up big and scored a couple of goals early for me. Then I said lets do thisI might as well.

It was Zdeno Charas rifle shot in the third period that ultimately provided the difference-maker in the game.

Claude Julien said his other two All-Star goaltenders, Carey Price and Jimmy Howard, were more than happy to step aside for Thomas to chase another All-Star win and the duo actually played rockpaperscissors to determine which order each of them would play the first two periods. So that left it all up to Thomas, and he wasnt at all caught up in allowing Daniel Alfredsson his hat trick in front of an appreciative home crowd for sentimental purposes.

Nope.

That willingness to give in and give up arent present in Thomas DNA. Instead the Bruins goaltender turned away barrage after barrage from Team Alfredsson in the defense-free game that could have easily turned on one slippery puck.

A forgiving post also bailed out Thomas, and cancelled out any raining of the hats on ice for Alfredsson.

I wasnt thinking about Alfredssons hat trick. I just didnt want the other team to get any closer because all of a sudden the way goals get scored in these gamesboom, boom, boomyou could get three goals scored in a minute-and-a-half, said Thomas. I didnt want to let anybody score. It wasnt anything against Alfie, I guess.

Chara has seen that competitive fire burning in Thomas eyes far too often, and recognized it when he spotted it in the third period. Thats when the Bs Captain knew his team was going to win and Thomas was going to walk away with another All-Star W.

As we were going toward the end you could see that guys wanted to win. I didnt say a thing, said Chara. Thats Timmy. Hes very competitive. You cant blame him. Thats the only way he can play. Otherwise he wont be really as effective. Hes always competitive. Thats just him.

It was vintage Tim Thomas, and it was also classic Tim Thomas after hed been held under heavy scrutiny via the public microscope following his decision to skip the White House. He felt threatened and backed into a corner by the virulent public and media reaction. Thats normally when the goaltender-as-survivor comes out strongest and most defiant. Thats what happened in Ottawa despite the exhibition game environs.

Instead of getting bailed out by a team piling up goals in an All-Star game, Thomas was feeling it between the pipes just a little bit. He was truly in his happy place again where didnt have to do anything aside from stopping pucks cold.

Ive worked hard in all of the All-Star wins. Last year, actually, in Carolina I couldnt get a rhythm in the game. The team really carried me last year and they didnt have to this year, said Thomas. They got me six goals in a period rather than the three that everybody had been averaging. But this year I felt good. I felt like if I worked hard I could save a few shots that people wouldnt expect me to save.

Thomas was able to get through the attention of All-Star game weekend with his head held high -- and his teammates, ownership and coaching staff firmly backing him up as an individual. The on-ice performance was the one more piece on Sunday afternoon against the best players in the world, though they were admittedly playing the worse defense in the world.

But the final piece comes this week when Thomas inevitably jumps back into action for the Bruins at TD Garden. Hell get his first reaction, positive or negative, from the hometown fan base thats always loved him, and hes ready for rabid cheers or lusty boos. It may be a hope for the best, expect the worst situation for Thomas, but hes ready for anything after a turbulent week.

I havent put too much thought into it. Ill let the fans make their own decision and then deal with the consequences whatever they may be, said Thomas.

The betting here: a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe winning performance in last years playoffs will trump most peoples personal politics, but both Thomas and the world will know for sure in a couple of days.

Blakely: Celtics make a healthy choice in standing pat at the deadline

Blakely: Celtics make a healthy choice in standing pat at the deadline

BOSTON -- For the second year in a row, the NBA trade deadline has come and gone with the Boston Celtics making no moves.
 
The Celtics were focused on trying to land either Chicago’s Jimmy Butler or Indiana’s Paul George, but Boston’s efforts never gained momentum in the final hours leading up to Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.

And while there were a handful of potential deals that would have made Boston slightly better, that improvement -- and the cost attached to it -- was just more than Ainge and the Celtics were willing to pay. 
 
And so they hit the final stretch of the season with a roster that – for now at least – looks identical to what they had at the start of the season with one difference --health. 
 
Most of this season, the Celtics have had multiple players out with injuries or various ailments. Currently, Avery Bradley (right Achilles) is the lone Celtic dealing with a significant injury. 
 
And after Bradley practiced some on Thursday, there’s a chance that he might be on the floor Friday night at Toronto. 
 
But there is no question that a significant segment of Celtics Nation is disappointed that Boston didn’t engineer a trade of some sort.
 
“We’re trying to upgrade our team,” said Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “But it is a delicate balance between short-term goals and long-term goals. Obviously, both are very important. We’re excited where we are on a long-term basis. And this year we didn’t make any trades. Last year we didn’t make any trades.”
 
But in standing pat a year ago, the Celtics solidified their salary cap space to where they could have offered a pair of max contracts to Al Horford – which they did – as well as Kevin Durant who met with Boston but ultimately decided to sign with Golden State. 
 
And by not including their first-round pick last season, the Celtics have Jaylen Brown who is one of the better rookies in this year’s class. 
 
“So we’re happy with the direction that we’re moving,” Ainge said. 
 
But standing pat was not on the agenda for the teams surrounding Boston in the East.
 
Boston’s inability to strike a deal is in sharp contrast to what teams surrounding them did during this trade season. 
 
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the team Boston and the rest of the East are chasing. They acquired Kyle Korver earlier this month, a player who ranks among the NBA’s all-time great 3-point shooters. 
 
Washington added Bojan Bogdanovic from Brooklyn today, providing some much-needed firepower for a Wizards second unit that ranks among the NBA’s lowest scoring groups. 
 
Toronto recently traded for Orlando’s Serge Ibaka, giving the Raptors a defensive-oriented big man who can stretch the floor. 
 
Also today, the Atlanta Hawks picked up Ersan Illyasova from Philadelphia, which should help them space the floor better.
 
Each of those teams addressed a very specific need, something the Celtics were hoping to do. 
 
But more than a player, the Celtics could benefit from a roster with improved health. 
 
The team’s preferred starting five -- Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson -- has a 15-6 record this season. To put that in perspective, that’s a winning percentage of .714 which would be tops in the East and third overall in the NBA for this season. 
 
And with most of the players seemingly back to full strength health-wise now, it’s understandable to some extent why Ainge would be willing to stick with this group for the rest of the season. 
 
“As you’ve been watching lately, we’ve been winning a lot of games with everybody,” Ainge said. “Players ten through fifteen contributing to our wins. We like the depth of the team, we like the youth of the team, we like the energy and enthusiasm of the team and I’m very anxious and excited to watch in the second half.”
 
But just like when they stood pat last year, the decision puts the onus on the players and the coaching staff to step their game up. 

“I roll with the guys in this locker room until something changes,” Isaiah Thomas said prior to the trade deadline. “I always mean that.”
 
Said Jae Crowder: “We have to take care of what we can control and that’s night-in and night-out, try to get wins.”

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis hit three-run homers and left-hander Brian Johnson started and pitched two scoreless innings to help the Red Sox win their spring training opener, 9-6, over Northeastern University on Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Johnson, who made one spot start in his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2015 but then was derailed by injuries and anxiety issues last season, struck out three and walked one Thursday. He's expected to start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts in 2016.

Moreland, the left-handed hitting first baseman signed to a one-year deal after spending his first seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, and Travis, a right-handed hitting first base prospect coming back from knee surgery last season, each hit three-run homers in a six-run third inning.

Pablo Sandoval, attempting to reclaim the third-base job after missing nearly all of last season after surgery on his left shoulder, went 1-for-2 with a double. 

The Red Sox open Grapefruit League play Friday afternoon when they host the New York Mets at JetBlue Park.