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.

 

 

Boston Bruins: First Two Weeks By The Numbers – 10/24/14

It has not been the prettiest of starts for the Boston Bruins in 2014-15 as they look to rebound from their early playoff exit last spring. With a fair share of injuries in the first two weeks, the B’s have struggled through their first nine games, but have shown signs of improvement after putting up a dismal four goals in their first four. Some of their most reliable offensive weapons have gotten off to slow starts and a lot of guys have had to learn to play with new linemates. Here is a deeper look at how Boston has fared statistically through the first two weeks of the season with some interesting nuggets on player, team and opponent stats.

boston bruins

Boston’s Carl Soderberg falls to the ice in an early-season shutout loss to the Washington Capitals.

0: The 4-0 loss to the Capitals on Oct. 11 was Boston’s worst shutout loss since falling, 6-0, to the Sabres on Feb. 8, 2012.

0.4: Danny Briere’s goal with 0.4 seconds left on the clock gave the Avalanche a 2-1 win over the B’s on Oct. 13.



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1: Bobby Robins picked up a fighting major in the second period of his first career NHL game on Opening Night – nine days shy of his 33rd birthday. He took on Luke Schenn of the Flyers.

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B’s Beat: Chris Kelly’s Outstanding Start

Chris Kelly

Last night was another reminder of a trade prior to the beginning of the season, in which a beloved fan favorite Johnny Boychuk, was shipped to the New York Islanders in exchange for 3 draft picks. Though the trade needed to be done to free up sufficient cap space; it still left a bitter taste in the mouth of every single Bruins fan.

“Why didn’t they just trade Chris Kelly”? They said, “Matt Bartkowski sucks, why not him”?



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It’s essentially the same pissing and moaning I have grown accustomed to from a continually spoiled Boston sports fan.

While I have a “take him or leave him” attitude with Bartkowski, I can’t say the same about Chris Kelly. Whether or not you like him, you can’t deny that he has far and away been the best player on the B’s so far this season.

Through all 8 of the B’s games so far this season; Kelly has 2 goals, 7 assists, and a +4. He is currently tied for the team lead with David Krejci. Yes, Krejci’s only played 6 games this season and put up the same numbers, but I expect that from a number one center. Kelly is a third line winger/center on this team, and typically plays a more defensive role. He leads all forwards on the team with an average of 2:18 minutes of shorthanded time per game, and has seen literally seen 40 seconds of powerplay time all season.

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Thanks To Peter Chiarelli, Bruins Defense Is A Shell Of It’s Former Self

bruins defense

 

Sloppy…

Mental mistakes…

Defensive breakdowns…

These are words/phrases you seldom heard about the Boston Bruins defense over the last 4 years.

However, this season is a different story.

The B’s “D” just seems out of sorts and at times downright lost.

The pre-season trade of Johnny Boychuk was a complete jarring jolt to the Black & Gold’s roster and their play showed it at the beginning of the season (1-3). Johnny Rocket was perceived by many to be a top four defenseman for the Black & Gold this year.

NESN:

Johnny Boychuk is one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL as a strong two-way player. He’s entering his sixth season with the Boston Bruins and will play a top-four role on one of the league’s best blue lines.

Peter Chiarelli’s unloading of salary, threw a 500 pound monkey wrench into the defensive pairings and put more pressure on the young d corps (Miller, Hamilton & Krug).

The Bruins GM felt that he could overcome the loss of Boychuk with the team’s blue line depth. Well through 9 games this season, his depth is becoming depleted with the loss of Kevan Miller to a dislocated shoulder and Zdeno Chara suffering a knee injury.

This leaves Dennis Seidenberg, who is still shaking off the rust coming back from a major knee injury. Adam McQuaid, who is a shell of his 2011 (+30) self, playing just 70 total games over the last two plus seasons. Dougie Hamilton, who has struggled mightily with Chara on the team’s top defensive pairing registering a collective – 4. Torey Krug, who is great offensively, but needs a defensive minded partner to cover up his mistakes. And Matt Bartkowski is the equivalent of a 43 car pile up.

Granted, there are over 73 games left in the season, but there is a pattern developing with the once solid defensive corps of the Boston Bruins….they are SLOPPY in their own end. They are coughing up the puck in front of their own net, leaving Rask & Svedberg out to dry.

And to add insult to injury, the defending Selke trophy winner, Patrice Bergeron appears to be human and is struggling as well. He is actually a minus player right now.

They are far from BIG & BAD right now and a big part of that mindset is now wearing the blue, white & orange of the New York Islanders.

If you are a Bruins fan, be concerned and scared. This is not the exception, this looks like the rule.

And you can thank Mr. Peter Chiarelli for doing a great job managing the salary cap as owner Jeremy Jacobs so eloquently put it.

B’s Beat: Still Waiting For Brad Marchand To Step Up

brad marchand

I don’t know about you, but when I hear that Brad Marchand is coming into camp with a “chip on his shoulder”, and the best shape he has been in as a pro yet, I assume he is going to turn that into results on the ice.

Before we focus on his play through the first 8 games, let’s take a look at this “chip”.

The media in Boston, many of whom (including myself as a suggestion), alluded to the fact that he may be a trade candidate. He obviously began to take this stuff very personally, and used it to drive himself in the offseason.

I can’t say I blame him for reacting the way he did to the news. It has to be tough to play in a city you love; you have won in, and sacrificed in, only to find your name on the chopping block again and again. I always feel bad for the players that are traded from places.

We’ll talk about whether it was a fair trade or not, and the player will be picking his kids up from school and putting them in another school with strangers in a state or possibly country (often the case with older players). It is an unfortunate part of the business, but these are things you accept when you’re a pro.

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Bruins Goalie Tuukka Rask Rocks Out Behind The Drums (VIDEO)

Tuukka Rask Rocks Out Behind The Drums

Everyone knows that Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask rocks between the pipes, but did you know he rocks out behind the drums?

It has been well documented that #40 is a raging metal head, but he also like his share of jam band music.

This past Saturday night in Buffalo, Rask backed the band, The Mustn’ts on a Phish cover.

Tuukka knows how to bang the skins but I rather see his drumming talents at work during a Metallica or Megadeth metal skull crusher….

Pot Of Baked Beans Goes To Jam Base!

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