Will third time be the charm for Notre Dame against BC?

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Will third time be the charm for Notre Dame against BC?

By JJ Stankevitz
CSN Chicago

The last 20 years have produced three legitimate championship-contending Notre Dame teams. The first two had those hopes dashed with losses to Boston College, with BC besting a pair of undefeated Irish teams in 1993 and 2002.

This year, though, may be a different story. The Irish have played markedly better away from South Bend than at Notre Dame Stadium, with an average margin of victory on the road and at neutral sites of 28 compared to 4.6 at home. Nobody around the team seems to know why, but that's certainly a point in Notre Dame's favor heading into Saturday's game at Boston College.

Notre Dame's offense, too, looks like it might finally be starting to click. Everett Golson struggled through the first three quarters against Pittsburgh, but engineered a 14-point fourth-quarter comeback in what turned out to be a miraculous win for the Irish last weekend. DaVaris Daniels -- son of former NFL defensive end Phillip Daniels -- may finally be taking a step forward and Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick and George Aktinson III comprise a talented trio of running backs.

Defensively, Manti Te'o has garnered plenty of Heisman Trophy hype as a linebacker, something that's pretty well unheard of. He won't win the award, but he'll likely join Ndamukong Suh as the only exclusively defensive players to earn a trip to New York as a Heisman finalist. Te'o is the emotional and physical leader of a suffocating defense, without which Notre Dame wouldn't be close to the 9-0 record they're currently sporting.

Stephon Tuitt is closing in on breaking Justin Tuck's single-season sack record at Notre Dame, and if he's leading the charge to pressure Chase Rettig, BC will have a tough time generating offense. Pittsburgh had success against the Irish last weekend largely on the ground and through a mix of screen passes, but BC doesn't have a running back the caliber of Ray Graham, so that Notre Dame's coming off a down week may not stand as a major reason for optimism.

But stranger things have happened in this series, and while the BC teams of 1993 and 2002 were better than this year's squad, that history is certainly in the back of the collective mind of Notre Dame fans. The 1993 game stands out, though, as Notre Dame was coming off a massive win over Charlie Ward's No. 1 Florida State squad. They were one win away from having a shot at a title in their bowl game, and lost 41-39 to BC.

"There was no consoling," former Irish safety Jeff Burris recalled Friday. "It was the complete opposite we have experienced the week before, obviously, when we were on the top of the world. And now you feel like you just let the world down. I honestly can't tell you I remember a word then-coach Lou Holtz said because I was so heartbroken."

Don't roll your eyes at the NBA's emoji tweets -- they're the best

Don't roll your eyes at the NBA's emoji tweets -- they're the best

On Wednesday, 👀aiah Thomas was up to his old tricks, sending out a cryptic tweet containing only the hourglass emoji. 

This followed Thomas’ infamous Monday night tweet of the eyes emoji, the same tweet he had sent just prior to the Celtics signing Al Horford in free agency.

Like Monday’s tweet, the internet dug into what the hourglass could mean, with a leading theory pointing out that the logo on Paul George’s new sneakers resembles a sideways hour glass. Or Thomas could completely be messing with us. 

Side-note, by the way: Basketball Twitter has it all over the other sports' Twitters. Football and baseball Twitter are generally lame because of years spent by the respective leagues with sharing video. Hockey Twitter is great but can be insufferable. Basketball Twitter rocks, though. The jokes are the best, the memes are the best, the people are the best. Plus Woj is there. Love that guy. 

Anyway, the point is that, yes, reading into what emojis grown men are sending out is a waste of time, but we’re talking about Twitter, which essentially has three purposes: reporting, freaking out about Trump and wasting time. 

Most people on Twitter are not reporters. Not all of them freak out about Trump. Wasting time is allowed by all, so really what’s the difference between tweeting emoji theories and sports fans giving you their takes on how teams to whom they have no connections will think? It’s all garbage. At least the emojis are cute. 
 

Haggerty: No move may be the best move for Bruins at deadline

Haggerty: No move may be the best move for Bruins at deadline

The NHL trade deadline is now less than a week away, with plenty of movement expected despite the perpetual lack of sellers, and an expansion draft perhaps preventing some teams from taking on players they will then need to protect. 

The Bruins shouldn’t be much of a seller as long as they can continue their current good stretch for three more games before the March 1 deadline. The expansion draft shouldn’t be much of a scare either based on the players {Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Malcolm Subban) they might be in danger of losing to the Vegas Golden Knights this summer.

With the Bruins currently outside of a playoff spot by virtue of the one game in hand held by the Florida Panthers (both teams have 66 points vying for the final wild-card spot), it would be no surprise if GM Don Sweeney wanted to be a buyer at the deadline for a Boston roster that could use a big top-six winger with finishing ability, a top-four defenseman that can move the puck and a backup goaltender should Anton Khudobin have any more struggles this season.

The Bruins and Avalanche had been talking steadily in recent weeks about a possible deal for 24-year-old left wing Gabriel Landeskog, but those discussions have hit a standstill with Sweeney refusing to part with either Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy in the trade package. That's the 100 percent right move for a Bruins team that shouldn't start trading away blue chip D-man prospects. 

Landeskog has made sense for the Black and Gold because he’s signed long term with a reasonable $5.7 million cap hit, and because he’d theoretically be a good, power forward fit alongside David Krejci.

It’s that type of trade Sweeney and the Bruins are looking to make for a young player with term that will be part of the long-term solution in Boston. They aren’t looking for a repeat of last season where they shipped off good future assets in exchange for pedestrian rental players Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles and missed the playoffs anyway after dipping into the trade market.

In other words, Sweeney doesn’t sound all that keen in dipping heavily into the rental market, for a Patrick Eaves or a Dmitry Kulikov for instance, as he did a year ago.  

“Do I think we have an opportunity to make the playoffs? Absolutely, there’s no question this group has a chance to get in. Whether or not I can find a player between now and the deadline that sort of fills all those gaps, that does remain to be seen,” said Sweeney at the time of the Claude Julien firing, prior to the current four-game winning streak. 

“But I think it dovetails with the fact that I’m not going to be short-sighted. I’m going to stick to the longer term view as to what I have put in place with the intention of being able to bridge and bringing in players like David Backes and surround our guys that we get a chance to win now and be competitive now.

“I’d prefer to err on the side of a player that will integrate into us on the longer-term. Last year, we gave up draft picks. I wasn’t prepared to move players that I felt in the same regard that teams had asked for in order to get a higher-level rental or a different kind of rental. I’m not going to deviate from what I said. Are there players and we have a surplus? That’s what I want to try and evaluate and find out whether or not we can deal from a position of strength.”

Some of that may change after a current four-game winning streak with a Bruins team that looks much more playoff-worthy than the aimless group that struggled through the first 55 games. But it would have to be the perfect rental at the right price for it to make sense for the Bruins this time around and chances are that might not materialize for a team just looking to hang in there until McAvoy, Anders Bjork, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and Zach Senyshyn are ready to contribute a couple of years down the road.

So, would people be okay if Sweeney and the Bruins stand pat at the trade deadline if they can’t swing a big hockey deal for a young player like Landeskog who would be part of the long-term plan? Is it acceptable to just let it ride with the current group that has suddenly shown a different gear under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, and bet on the core group rising to the occasion like they didn’t the last couple of years under Julien?

The answer from this humble hockey writer is that Sweeney should pass on anything less than a home run deal for the Black and Gold. The worst thing the Bruins GM could do is get in the way of the momentum that’s naturally starting to roll with his team, or make another severe misstep with his NHL talent evaluation. Right now, draft and development seem to be his strengths, and he should lean into those and away from being a wheeler dealer with wiser, more experienced managers around the NHL looking to once again rob the Black and Gold blind.

So, there’s a chance the Bruins do very little at the deadline and, after thinking about it, the fickle fans should be perfectly okay with that as they watch a newly transformed hockey club.