Category Archives: General

B’s Beat: Injured Bruins Set To Make Return

ZDENO

The last week or so for the Boston Bruins has been dreadful on a variety of levels. As they sit at home licking their wounds following a brutal west coast trip, the Chicago Blackhawks are heading to town in what will likely be another beating if the B’s can’t get it together.

Injuries have dominated the team for nearly the entire season thus far, and the team has struggled to stay afloat. While guys like Torey Krug and Kevan Miller have missed a few games here and there due to minor injuries, big fish like Zdeno Chara and David Krejci have missed nearly 17+ games apiece dealing with their ailments.

I know there are the tough guys out there who don’t like to make excuses for people, but any team would struggle without their number one center and number one defenseman. Would the Blackhawks still dominate without Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith? Would the Los Angeles Kings still be great without Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty? No, probably not.

Now before you go all crazy accusing of me of comparing those players to Krejci and Chara; I just want to make it clear that I am comparing these players’ importance to their team and nothing more. Obviously Toews is better than Krejci.

Fortunately for the B’s; both Chara and Krejci are practicing in full with the team, and it looks as if both could return to game action by the end of the week.

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Celtics Late Game Struggles Continue

As one famous Bostonian put it: “It’s the same old story, same old song and dance, my friends.”

The Celtics can’t seem to snap out of their late game woes, as any win-able game has seemed to slip out of sight. The way they have played, they’ve found a ton of different ways to lose in the fourth quarter of games. Honestly, it wouldn’t be too far off to call them choke artists.

How brutal has the late game play been? Over the last 9 games (1-8), the Celtics have been outscored by 76 points in the fourth quarter alone. In comparison, during the first three quarters the Celtics have outscored opponents by 11 points.

A combination of bad team defense, and careless, sloppy and unexecuted offense plagues this team at the most critical points. You could peg this on inexperience in late game situations (duh). You could make the case they run out of intensity and energy late in games too, sure.

Losing close games is much better for this team compared to last year, when the Celtics would not even be in close games. Still, it is very frustrating to watch games lost so dramatically and so pitifully in the fourth quarter. Tough times are bound to happen when in rebuilding with a young team and second year coach. They should not however, lose large 4th quarter leads in 6 out of the last 9 games. Needless to say, if I am Brad Stevens I am going to back to drawing board.

From this rough patch, the season could play out one of two ways. Before you learn how to win, you need to learn how to lose.. yadi yadi yada. The more close game situations this team faces, the more opportunities this team work out the kinks and find ways to win games. The team will find out their best go-to-players, late-game lineups, out of bounds plays, etc.

Or, they’ll continue to flail down the stretch of games. They won’t figure out how to win close games, which will hurt their confidence, and more so, their record. Marquee players like Green, Bass and Rondo will look to be shipped out of town. Rumors are already surfacing – don’t expect them to go away anytime soon if the Celtics continue to hand over games.

I’m not convinced the 4th quarter woes will subside. The team has not found a go-to player, which is a huge issue. The closest thing they have is Jeff Green. If I were Brad Stevens, I would integrate and test out a few different bench players to play with the starters down the stretch. Particularly shooters and play-makers on offense, like Marcus Thorton, Marcus Smart or even someone like James Young. If they hit a big shot or play well down the stretch, try them out again and see if they can come through for the team.

 

Marcus Thorton Shot

The Celtics desperately need clutch 4th quarter play. Could a guy like Marcus Thorton be the answer?

 

The Celtics are a young team, and because they are young, they lack leadership and go-to clutch playing down the stretch. These things need to be a priority for the month of December for coach Stevens.

The schedule gets easier for the C’s in the month of December. That, and the addition of Marcus Smart will solidify this team on both sides of the ball. In short, the Celtics have to dig themselves out of a hole and get close to .500 by the new year.

We will learn a lot about what this team is in the coming month. Their resiliency and mental toughness is being challenged after to a dreadful, heartbreaking month of November. How they play in December will be an indication as to what kind of team they will be for the rest of the regular season.

 

Twitter: @reelbigfish10

 

Boston Bruins: Last Two Weeks By The Numbers 11/22

Despite a couple of consecutive startling losses, the Bruins have weathered the storm without Zdeno Chara quite nicely over the last month or so. They are now…since losing their captain, including…over the last two weeks. Also during that time, one winger notched an offensive milestone, Toronto scored the most goals it has scored against Boston at home in 14 years and one Bruins leader had his worst individual game in over three years. This is Boston Bruins: Last Two Weeks By The Numbers.

The Bruins celebrate a goal during a come-from-behind win in Columbus.

The Bruins celebrate a goal during a come-from-behind win in Columbus.

1: Somehow, Simon Gagne, Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg were each plus-1 in the 6-1 loss to the Maple Leafs on Nov. 12 and no one was worse than minus-2.

1: Matt Fraser’s fight with Nathan Beaulieu of the Canadiens on Nov. 13 was his first penalty of the season in his 10th game.



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1: Matt Bartkowski recorded his first point of the season on Torey Krug’s Nov. 18 goal against the Blues though it was only his sixth game of 2014-15. Bartkowski, who still does not have a goal in 91 regular-season NHL games, notched his first point since April 3.

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Boston Bruins: Last Two Weeks By The Numbers – 11/9/14

Since losing Zdeno Chara a little over two weeks ago, the Bruins have collectively stepped up and gone 5-1-0 without their captain in the lineup. Guys like Dougie Hamilton and Brad Marchand have really started to take off and despite all of the injuries on the blue line, Boston now sits just one point behind the Canadiens. Here is a closer look at some of the statistics, which includes a look at just how hot Marchand has been, a first for one former Bruin and the continuing domination of the Black and Gold against one rival netminder. This is Boston Bruins: Last Two Weeks By The Numbers.

Brad Marchand has been a big part of the Bruins' success in the last couple of weeks.

Brad Marchand has been a big part of the Bruins’ success in the last couple of weeks.

0: The Bruins did not have a power play against the Panthers on Tuesday. It was the first time since March 17 of last season that they did not have a power-play opportunity.

1: Shawn Thornton played in his first ever game as a visitor at TD Garden on Tuesday night. It was also the first time he had ever played against the Bruins.

1: Zach Trotman picked up his first career point with an assist on Seth Griffith’s goal in the first period of the Oct. 28 game against the Wild.

1:28: Matt Fraser scored two goals in 1:28 in the second period against the Senators last Saturday to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead.

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Celtics Season Preview: Is Contention Out Of The Question?

 

A new Celtic season is less than a week away. This year’s team figures to be better than the team last year – at least that’s how it seems on paper and in preseason games. Nobody is expecting a run in the playoffs, that’s for sure. But at the very least, green-teamers like myself would rather see this team contend for a low playoff seed, than tank for a second straight year. What does this team need to do to make that happen, you ask? Well, in this 2014-15 Celtics season preview, here are five things that the team needs in order to be successful this year, and contend for a playoff spot.

 

The Team Gels and Finds an Identity

The Celtics roster boasts some good young talent, and the current roster as it stands is cut out to run. The team is surprisingly deep across all positions. In fact, almost too deep, to the point where some players may see undeserving time cuts. However, many players on this team can play multiple positions which gives Brad Stevens the ability to mix and match more lineups. Jeff Green can play both forward positions as can Gerald Wallace. Rookie point guard Marcus Smart may see some time at shooting guard backing up Avery Bradley, and so will Marcus Thorton and newcomer Evan Turner, who is slated to back up Green at the small forward position. Also backing up Green are Wallace, and rookie James Young. The power forward and center positions are not much different, with Bass, Sullinger, Olynyk and Tyler Zeller, the only “true” center on the roster. Many players on this roster could start, but outside of Rondo, nothing is set in stone. It will be interesting to see if Stevens can get all of these players into a rotation that can click and play team ball at all times. The deeper the roster, the more difficult that can get. Stevens has his work cut out for him this year.

 

Rondo Has a Max Contract Season

Rajon-Rondo

It does not matter how many times Ainge says he doesn’t intend on trading Rondo, or how many times Rondo says he wants to stay in Boston. He could still get traded, especially considering Ainge is prone to pull the trigger on the right trade. The Celtics will look at all options to trade their veteran point guard at any sign of a repeat of last year. It certainly does not help that Rondo is slated to miss the start of the season after breaking his hand in the shower. The Celtics will only go as far as Rondo leads them. It’s clear Ainge wants him to be the man who leads this team for years to come. Rondo needs to prove he can do that this year. If the team gets off to a poor start, he could be gone come trade deadline. If he is dealt, the promising rookie Marcus Smart would likely assume the point guard position.

 

Jeff Green Shows Consistency 

Only 28 years old and in the prime of his career, Jeff Green could be due for a much improved season. Despite having an up-and-down year last year, he still has a high ceiling as a player and as a leader of this club. Stevens has boasted about Green’s swagger that he has seen from him coming into training camp, which is a very encouraging sign. His main issue last year was his consistency both in his game and his intensity. Last year, he was considered the go-to-guy on a team that didn’t have many other options. With more scorers around him this year, a lot of that pressure could be alleviated.

 

Evan Turner Finds His Role

Evan-Turner

 

Evan Turner officially inked a 2-year deal on Monday, worth $6.7 million. As of now, Turner will back up Jeff Green and Avery Bradley at shooting guard and small forward. It’s unclear how much time he will see off the bench, especially with premium the Celtics have in the backcourt and at small forward. Turner was traded to the Indiana Pacers after what looked to be a break-out year for the 76ers. Coming off the bench did not suit Turner, as he struggled to contribute in a limited role down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs. The hope for the Celtics would be for Turner will find a way to make the most of his minutes off the bench as this team’s sixth man. I could also see him getting some action down the stretch in close games. He has a dangerous mid-range game and great court vision, and could gel well with the Rondo. However, with Avery Bradley’s new four-year, $32 million contract this offseason, it’s clear who the main man at shooting guard will be.

 

People Can Understand Gerald Wallace

That probably won’t happen. In all seriousness, Wallace may actually find himself playing some power forward this year, on a team that lacks some depth at PF and C. He is an above-average defender with a big enough frame to defend the PF position. Wallace is the team’s most veteran player, and plays a bigger role than most think in terms of veteran leadership and the intangibles, something this young team really needs. It would also be nice for the Celtics to get the most out of his $10 million contract this year.

 

 

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