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Monday, February 28, 2011

Look out Canada: Bruins continue their rampage up North

Granted the teams they've played on this six-game road trip haven't all been Stanley Cup contenders (sorry Senators, Islanders and Oilers) but can you remember a more successful trip in the last few years than this current one for the Bruins?

I certainly can't as the Bs (36-19-7) won their season-high fifth straight in Canada, 3-2 last night over host Edmonton (20-35-8) at the Rexall Place.

There has been a new star each night and against the Oilers-the NHL's worst team-it was Michael Ryder (1 goal, 1 assist) and Nathan Horton (1 goal, 1 fight).

It's been very under the radar since he's so inconsistent by nature but Ryder has had a pretty decent season. The good news is that with Boston scoring so many goals this season, they don't have to count on his mercurial talents to show up in the biggest games (the playoffs). It's a bonus now when he does something.

Horton has also been on fire lately. Using his big body to stick his nose in front of the net while also playing more physical. He's been rewarded with a ton of points lately.

Tuukka Rask (15 saves; 8-11-1) got the start and gave up a goal to Ales Hemsky (from Jim Vandermeer and Dustin Penner) 1:05 into the game but he settled down from there and basically sat back and watched his teammates pepper Oilers goaltender Devan Dubynk (37 saves) with 40 shots.

Horton jumped Edmonton's Theo Peckham at 8:27 of the first period after Peckham had hit David Krejci hard. They got into a short-lived fight but Horton pummelled him and Peckham didn't return in the game.

Ryder tied it up at 15:30 of the first period with a sweet goal from Milan Lucic and Adam McQuaid. It was Ryder's 17th of the season and he waited for Dubnyk to make a move before he roofed it over him.

Horton made it 2-1 at 18:39 of the first period from Krejci and Dennis Seidenberg. Krejci found him with a sweet pass and Horton crushed the one-timer past Dubnyk for his 17th of the season.

Rich Peverley scored his first as a Bruin late in the second period (at 19:08) from Ryder and Chris Kelly. It was Peverley's 15th of the season and it was all him after he made a nice backhand fake on Dubnyk. Somehow the two newest Bruins forwards (Peverley and Kelly) have squeezed some life out of Ryder. Something fellow bum Blake Wheeler (now on the Atlanta Thrashers) could never do.

Gilbert Brule of the Oilers cut it to 3-2 at 3:14 with a tough-angle slap shot from Jordan Eberle and Jason Strudwick.

The battle of the NHL's top picks in 2010 never really materialized. Edmonton's Taylor Hall was held in check and as usual, Tyler Seguin's minutes were limited along with his impact.

Things got more chippy in the third period as Brad Marchand fought Andrew Cogliano and Lucic scrapped with Vandermeer in one of the better fights of the season.

The Bruins have the rare opportunity to cash in a perfect road trip if they can just get a win in Ottawa tomorrow night (where they played a week and a half ago in Tomas Kaberle's first game with Boston). Ottawa is still the worst team in the Eastern Conference and they've had a fire sale, getting rid of almost all their assets ahead of today's trade deadline.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Celtics beat the Clippers in the start to the post-Kendrick Perkins era

Beating the Clippers is not usually the start of something special in the NBA but it was interesting to watch the Boston Celtics last night as Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green made their debuts at the Staples Center.

Most have second-guessed the latest trades by the Celts (42-15) and it certainly wasn't looking good as they trailed Los Angeles (21-39) 47-40 at halftime. However, in a metaphor for both the trade and the season, Boston showed that having patience will pay off.

The Celtics played a solid second half and left with a 99-92 win. Neither Krstic (9 points, 6 rebounds) nor Green (7 points) had performances that will set the world on fire but what can you expect for a couple players that have one practice under their belt with their new team? Krstic showed that he can hit shots and has good hands while Green is athletic and can run the floor, basically what the scouting report was for both of them.

Paul Pierce led Boston with 24 points, Ray Allen added 22 points and Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Rajon Rondo notched 11 assists while Glen Davis put up 10 points off the bench. Delonte West looked comfortable with nine points and five assists in 19 minutes backing up Rondo.

Randy Foye was immense for the Clippers, putting up a game-high 32 points and seven assists while Blake Griffin, the darling of the NBA, had 21 points and 11 rebounds. Chris Kaman had 16 points and nine rebounds off the bench, showing why he should be starting now that he's healed (over DeAndre Jordan).

LA jumped out to a 26-18 lead after one quarter and then the 47-40 halftime advantage. I was more busy watching the Bruins game at the bar but I did notice the Cs make their move in the third quarter (34-21). They put the Clippers away with the fourth quarter (25-24).

The Clippers shot 46.1% to 41.1% for the Celtics. LA made one more 3-pointer (5-4) but Boston made 18 more free throws (35-17) and pulled down seven more rebounds (43-36). Los Angeles had four more assists (25-21), four more blocks (7-3) and four more points in the paint (42-38).

Boston travels to Utah tomorrow night to face a team that just lost its legendary coach (Jerry Sloan) to retirement and traded away its franchise player (Deron Williams) to the Nets. So yeah, the Jazz are a complete mess right now.

What else can you say: Bruins top the NHL's best team, on their own ice

It was the first time in ages (maybe ever?) that I watched a Boston Bruins game at a bar and what better occasion than last night as the Bs visited the Vancouver Canucks, the NHL's best team?

The other overserved patrons in Beverly, Mass and myself were pumped as Boston (35-19-7) pulled it out, 3-1 over the Canucks (39-15-9) at the Rogers Arena.

Hometown hero Milan Lucic had a goal and two assists while goaltender Tim Thomas made 27 saves to improve to 28-8-6.

Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo (22 saves) was fine but the high-scoring Canucks attack could never get going as the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler were all held scoreless.

The game looked destined for overtime but great hustle from David Krejci and Lucic was rewarded with the game-winning goal. Krejci dangled around one of the Sedins in Vancouver's defensive zone, went behind the net then threw it out in front of the goal where Lucic won a battle and flipped it past Luongo for his 27th of the season. Dennis Seidenberg also assisted on the highlight strike.

Manny Malhotra gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead in the first period at 16:58 with assists from Raffi Torres and Christian Ehrhoff. Thomas made the initial save but his defense didn't clear the traffic out of the way and Malhotra was able to score his 9th of the season.

After getting dominated in the first period, the Bruins awoke in the second period and tied it up when Nathan Horton scored his 16th of the season. Lucic and Tomas Kaberle assisted on Horton's goal. Like Malhotra it was the result of hard work in front of the net. The snake-bitten Horton's first shot was stopped as usual but he stayed with it and poked it in.

Patrice Bergeron put it away with an empty-netter with 1:13 left in the third period. Lucic also assisted on Bergeron's 21st of the season.

Boston travels to Edmonton tonight to face the Oilers, the NHL's worst team. Back-to-backs are tough especially on the road but the Bs should have enough talent to get by on this one.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bet the NBA wishes it had flex scheduling for TNT Thursdays

It's hard to remember a regular season marquee matchup on TNT that fell apart worse than last night's meeting between the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics from the Pepsi Center.

Denver had just traded franchise player Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks while Boston shipped five players away, most notably Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson.

So yeah, the fact that the Celts (41-15) dressed only nine players (including D-League callup Chris Johnson) meant this one was over before it began.

Boston actually led 75-73 midway through the fourth quarter but from there, the Nuggets (34-25) went on a 16-0 run to take it 89-75.

To call this game ugly would be an understatement on par with saying Chris Anderson and J.R. Smith enjoy the occasional tattoo.

Denver was led by Kenyon Martin's game-high 18 points and 10 rebounds. Haha K-Mart capped off the weird contest with a 3-pointer. New Nugget Wilson Chandler scored 16 points off the bench while Nene (12 points, 10 rebounds), Smith (12 points), Aaron Afflalo (13 points) and Ty Lawson (10 assists) all had decent showings.

For the Cs, Paul Pierce led the shorthanded squad with 17 points. Kevin Garnett had 14 points and 13 rebounds while Glen Davis (11 points) and Ray Allen (10 points) were also in double figures. The one positive to come out of this throwaway game was Delonte West (10 points) had a nice game off the bench.

The newest Celtics Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic will make their debuts tomorrow night in front of Bill Simmons as Boston visits the Los Angeles Clippers and Blake Griffin.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The NBA Trade Deadline is Danny Ainge's favorite day of the year

Just like any other normal day, I went to Planet Fitness this afternoon. Thinking that with very few tradeable assets and a true championship contender roster (when healthy) the Celtics wouldn't make much noise before the trade deadline (3pm today) proved to be one of my worst predictions in a while.

In a series of three separate moves, the Celts shipped away five players and got only two in return. Wait what?

At first blush, seeing Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson go to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, cash and the Clippers 2012 first round pick was shocking and I have to say that I didn't like it. However, upon further review I feel like you have to trust Ainge since he's been able to make other solid (albeit not as big) deals before and after (buyouts) the trade deadline in past seasons.

In addition, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 2013 second round pick. And finally, Marquis Daniels (who probably won't play this season due to his spinal injury) was sent to the Sacramento Kings for cash considerations and a protected second round pick in 2017 (haha really).

Whew and I thought the Bruins were the ones making moves before their trade deadline (next Monday).

Perkins is by far the biggest loss for Boston. He's their defensive stopper who's capable of guarding Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, etc. It makes you scratch your head since now the Cs will have to rely on Shaq or Jermaine O'Neal (don't hold your breath on that) along with Krstic who's not known for his defense.

For the time being, they called up Chris Johnson (2nd year 6-11 center from LSU) from the D-League since they only had eight players in Denver for their game vs. the Nuggets.

You always want to get the best player in a trade, not giving him up and it's obvious that in Jeff Green, the Celtics did so. He was drafted by Boston with the fifth pick in 2007 but then quickly shipped to Seattle for Ray Allen. We all know how that story ended up.

Green is young (24), big (6-9) and versatile. This was a move with the future in mind, a tough balance when you're trying to get Banner 18 this season. As my friend said, having Rondo and Green in a few years is much better than just Rondo and Perk. Plus, Perk's contract was going to be up after this season and I have to assume that the Celtics tried to re-sign him but couldn't so they wanted to get something in return while they could.

Losing Robinson isn't a big deal. Aside from a few playoff games last season, he never really had any consistent play. He's fun to watch but if they made a deal, you knew he would be involved. I'm also bummed to see Erden and Harangody go since they're both young players who could turn out pretty good but again, who else could they trade?

Daniels might still return next season. With two roster spots left, what does Ainge do? Troy Murphy, Leon Powe, James Posey and Richard Hamilton are names that have all been mentioned for buyouts. Murphy seems most likely and he would be a good fit: he averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds last season so he can't be completely washed up. Who knows how much Powe or Posey have left? Rip can still play but I don't see how Boston can afford him.

Got all that? It's going to take some time to digest these moves but one thing's for sure: Danny Ainge has the biggest balls in the world. The anti-Peter Chiarelli if you will. Rather than hemming or hawing for years about minor players, Ainge completely surprises you. Let's hope the Mormon is right again.

We'll miss you Perk.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bill Walton rules

First of all, I have to give props to Bill Walton last night. Taking over on the West Coast trip for Tommy Heinsohn, Walton was absolutely on fire for the entire game. Ripping players left and right, making fun of anything under the sun, it truly was a joy to listen to. I love Tommy and I'm sure Walton never wants to leave California but the Celts should find a way to incorporate him (for the playoffs?) more moving forward.

I've never drank Four Loko (my college experience sadly came a few years too early) but I imagine downing one of those is similar to watching the Golden State Warriors play basketball. One of my buddies from home has season tickets to the Warriors and at first I thought it was a waste of money since the NBA is seriously flawed. However, it would be a trip to see that team play a bunch of games. There's nothing like them: no shot is bad, no player is lacking for overconfidence, defense is non-existent.

It looked like the Celtics (41-14) might get run out of Oracle Arena but they recovered with a fine second half to take a 115-93 win over Golden State (26-30) in their first game after the All-Star break.

In any sport, a sign of a great team is that they can play any style and still beat you. Kevin Garnett (24 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists) and Rajon Rondo (19 points, 15 assists, 6 rebounds) especially seemed to pick it up against the layup line known as the Warriors.

Paul Pierce added 23 points and Ray Allen had 18 points while Glen Davis was nice off the bench with 12 points and 10 assists.

Besides the stud guards Stephen Curry (18 points) and Monta Ellis (15 points), Golden State now has some quality supporting players including David Lee (17 points) and Dorell Wright (19 points) who has become one of the NBA's best shooters out of nowhere.

Boston was up 31-30 after one quarter but it was tied at 60 going into halftime. The Cs won the third quarter (28-15) and the fourth was more of the same (27-15) as the team with the defensive identity showed up when it mattered.

The Celts shot 55.6% to 39.3% for the Warriors. Golden State made 14 more free throws (22-8) but Boston had 17 more rebounds (52-35) and assists (35-18). The Cs had a season-high 30 fastbreak points and 54 points in the paint. What a wacky game. You mentally prepare yourselves for a Warriors game but you can never imagine just how insane they play.

The only bad news for the Celtics was that Kendrick Perkins hurt his left knee although it didn't look too serious. He's questionable for tomorrow night's game in Denver against the Carmelo Anthony-less Nuggets.

Bruins knock off the NHL's hottest team (bad pun alert!)

The Calgary Flames were 11-1-2 in their last 14 games, an incredible stretch that had gotten them back from the dead and in the middle of a very messy Western Conference playoff picture.

No matter since with Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley playing their first game together, the Boston Bruins were the better team and came away with a 3-1 win last night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Milan Lucic scored two goals, David Krejci had two assists and Tim Thomas (28 saves; 27-8-6) looked like the brick wall we've all enjoyed this season (leaving his past three poor performances in the dust).

It only took Lucic 59 seconds to give Boston (34-19-7) a 1-0 lead. Krejci faked out Flames (31-23-8) goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff (26 saves) and dished across the goalmouth to Lucic (his 25th of the season) for an easy tap-in. Adam McQuaid also assisted.

After a scoreless second period, Marchand gave the Bruins some insurance with his 19th (!) of the season from Patrice Bergeron and Andrew Ference at 5:55 of the third period. Bergeron started the play with a great body check to keep the puck deep in the Calgary zone. Ference's shot went right to Marchand who is on quite a tear. He roofed it in a flash.

Curtis Glencross scored his 20th of the season, off a sweet dish from Jarome Iginla (and Alex Tanguay) to cut it to 2-1 at 17:27.

Lucic cinched it with an empty-netter with 47 seconds left. Krejci and Mark Recchi assisted.

So far the Bs are 3-0-0 on their pivotal six-game road trip. It doesn't get any easier as they matchup with the NHL's best team: the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thumbs up for the Bruins trade deadline moves

It's not every day that the Boston Bruins actually make a notable trade so even though it happened on Friday (when I was headed out of town), I have to give a short shout-out to GM Peter Chiarelli.

On Friday, the Bruins made two trades that shook up their roster. The big deal was Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle finally coming over for Boston's 2011 first round pick, Providence Bruin Joe Colborne and a conditional second round pick in 2012 (wiped out if Kaberle resigns or the Bruins get to the Stanley Cup Finals).

It's a beautiful thing to see Boston be aggressive for once and not just settle for assorted junk and rentals that won't have much impact. Kaberle is a three-time All-Star and he will help immensely on the power play (one of the Bruins' biggest weaknesses). He's not known for his defensive prowess but that's ok since we needed a defenseman with more offensive creativity.

Losing the first round pick isn't a big deal since we still have Toronto's this summer (which will be much higher) and Colborne was a first round pick last summer but he's clearly stuck behind many centers in the organization so a fresh start is probably in his best interest.

In addition, Boston got rid of some spare parts by dealing Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday for forward Rich Peverley and minor league defenseman Boris Valabik (who's a 6-foot-7 project).

Everybody in New England was tired of Wheeler's inconsistency and Stuart was solid but Adam McQuaid's production had basically phased him out of the franchise. Peverley sounds like another Chris Kelly, that is a third or fourth line forward that has the two-way game that the Bruins' brass and coaches covet.

Kelly and Kaberle played their first games in Black and Yellow (sorry Wiz Khalifa) on Friday as the Bruins won 4-2 in Ottawa.

Their third game of the road trip is tonight as the Bs visit the red-hot (what a terrible pun) Calgary Flames. It'll be interesting to see all three of the new Bruins in uniform. Watching the replay late Friday night, I honestly didn't notice much from Kaberle or Kelly but I was very tired after a long week.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bruins fist pump their way to a lop-sided win on the Island

For once this season, the Boston Bruins played well in front of Tuukka Rask and they jump-started their pivotal six-game road trip with a 6-3 thumping of the New York Islanders last night at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

It was a prototypical Bruins (32-19-7) victory with six different players notching goals (from all four lines) while Rask improved to 6-11-1 with 34 saves. They also snapped a three-game losing streak.

The Islanders (21-30-7) are still one of the absolute worst franchises in the NHL but there's been a little hope lately as they came in riding a four-game winning streak. John Tavares scored twice for New York but that was their only highlight since their goaltending situation is nothing short of a nightmare.

Blake Wheeler, the subject of constant trade talk, increased his value with a goal at 1:52 of the first period to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. It was a weak shot that he just threw at the net and Islanders goaltender Nathan Lawson (13 saves) showed why you've never heard of him. Tyler Seguin and Andrew Ference assisted on Wheeler's 11th of the season.

Nine seconds later, Zenon Konopka tried to fire up the home crowd and his teammates by fighting Adam McQuaid but I'd say it didn't really work since the Bs added two more goals in the first period.

At 7:03 Mark Recchi scored his 11th of the season after the puck inadvertently deflected in off his skate (no kicking motion). Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuck assisted.

Just over two minutes later, Gregory Campbell put a shot on goal that appeared to bounced off an Islander stick. It was Campbell's ninth of the season, unassisted.

The second period featured five goals as Boston scored twice more and New York got on the board with a pair.

David Krejci scored his ninth of the season 55 seconds into the frame, from Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic.

Tavares, the former No. 1 pick in 2009, finally got the Islanders a goal (his 22nd) less than a minute later from Blake Comeau.

Seguin notched his 10th of the season at 2:48 from Shawn Thornton and Wheeler. Like Wheeler, it was nice to see Seguin find the back of the net since those times have been few and far between lately. With that, Lawson was done and Al "Don't call me Aldo" Montoya (15 saves) went between the pipes for New York.

Josh Bailey cut it to 5-2 (from Comeau and Radek Martinek) but Lucic sealed it with his 24th of the season (on the power play) from Krecji and Zdeno Chara.

Tavares had the only goal of the third period (from Jack Hillen and Matt Moulson) but by then, the Bruins were doing what any sane person would do: they were dreaming about getting off Long Island.

Boston is right back at it tonight, taking on the Ottawa Senators. Expect Tim Thomas in net and the newest Bruin Chris Kelly (who's had mysterious Visa problems) should be in uniform to make his debut for the Bs against his old team.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Come on, you had to know the Boston Celtics wouldn't head into the All-Star break with a loss to the New Jersey Nets

The Boston Celtics went into the 2011 All-Star break with the best record in the Eastern Conference.

The Cs (40-14) dispatched of the New Jersey Nets (17-40) 94-80 last night at TD Garden in a game that was about as scattered as you'd expect given that Boston's four most important players are headed to Los Angeles this weekend for the All-Star game.

After just one point against the Heat on Sunday, Paul Pierce bounced back in a big way with a game-high 31 points while Kevin Garnett added 14 points and 10 rebounds and Ray Allen scored 12 points. Boston's other All Star Rajon Rondo had seven points, eight assists, five rebounds and three steals.

The Nets are still a mess and the on-going trade drama with Carmelo Anthony just gives a glimmer of hope to a terrible franchise. New Jersey has some pieces: Brook Lopez (18 points, four blocks), Devin Harris (16 points) and Anthony Morrow (14 points) but other than that, this Avery Johnson led team is devoid of any real talent.

Luke Harangody scored eight points while Von Wafer had seven points as Boston's bench had a good game (25 points) though they continue to be shorthanded. The NBA trade deadline is a week from today so it'll be interesting to see if Danny Ainge thinks this team needs another body or two for the stretch run (final 28 games) and playoffs.

Boston was up 27-22 after the first quarter but New Jersey came back to tie it at 47 at halftime. It was still tied (71-71) after three quarters but the Celtics clamped down in the fourth (24-10) to get out of town in a good frame of mind.

Pierce and Allen face-off in the 3-point contest on Saturday night then the Big Four will be coached by Doc Rivers on the Eastern Conference All-Star team on Sunday. Should be a fun weekend, the NBA's All-Star weekend is usually entertaining and LA seems like the perfect venue for this fluff.

We'll next see the full team together next Tuesday as they begin a West Coast trip at Golden State.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This man will helped break a 39-year drought, or something

I don't know which was more disappointing last night: the Boston Bruins' 4-3 gag reflex loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs or the trade that they made following the game.

I'm sure Chris Kelly is a decent player and a good guy but he got caught in the Bruins' impeccable timing as all day there were rumors of Toronto defenseman Tomas Kaberle getting dealt to the Bruins. He would sure up the power-play (a big weakness) and give us a puck-moving defenseman which makes us all weak in the knees.

Sadly, Boston's front office doesn't know how to make a big splash properly so even if that or something grander is in the works, you have to do that first. Trading for Kelly, a defensive center from the Ottawa Senators, for the minor fee of a second-round draft pick means nothing.

Kelly will be on the third line but explain how he's any different from Gregory Campbell or Daniel Paille?

Moving on. You had to know that ex-Bruin Phil Kessel was due for a goal against his former team. It turns out, he doubled his pleasure and fun as he and teammate Mikhail Grabovski both put in a pair of goals in Toronto's (24-27-6) comeback victory over Boston (31-9-7) at TD Garden.

The Bs lost their third straight and this one was inexcusable since they were playing a bad team and had a 3-2 lead with under seven minutes left in regulation.

Paille gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 8:04 of the first period when his pass deflected off a Maple Leaf skate. His second of the season was assisted by Mark Stuart and Campbell.

Kessel tied it up and broke his extended slump when he batted a rebound out of mid-air at 17:22 in the first period. It was his 20th of the season, on the power play from Dion Phaneuf and Joffrey Lupul.

Grabovski made it 2-1 at 4:35 in the second period from Mike Komisarek and Carl Gunnarson.

Campbell tied it up at 18:34 in the second period with a power-play goal (his 8th of the season) from Brad Marchand and Michael Ryder. Like Kessel before him, Campbell showed his quick hands by batting it out of the air.

Patrice Bergeron put Boston ahead 3-2 at 9:08 in the third period and his 20th of the season looked like it would be a fitting game-winner. Adam McQuaid and Mark Recchi assisted but Bergeron did the grunt work by fighting through a hit and putting the rebound past Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer (32 saves).

However, Tim Thomas (24 saves) and the Bruins couldn't keep the lead as Kessel (another power-play goal, from Lupul and Kaberle) and Grabovski (with 1:01 left in regulation, from Clarke MacArthur and Phaneuf) each undressed Boston defenders with individual moves and beat Thomas.

It was a bitter loss, one of the worst of the season, and that rancid taste was just added by the intrigue and then disappointment in the Bruins' trade. There's 12 more days (Feb. 28) before the trade deadline and it's clear this team needs more skill to get anywhere in the playoffs which is all that matters.

Boston will play six straight games on the road, starting with a back-to-back in Long Island tomorrow vs. the Islanders then Friday night in Ottawa (Chris Kelly night?).

Time for the Bruins to play better and beat all these crappy teams.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Boston Celtics still own the Miami Cavaliers

There will absolutely never be a better time for LeBron James and the Miami Heat to knock off the Boston Celtics than yesterday afternoon.

The Celts are losing players seemingly daily and are just trying to hang on (one more game) until the All-Star break next weekend.

It was very ugly but Boston (39-14) came through with perhaps its biggest victory of the regular season over Miami (39-15), 85-82.

With the win, the Cs moved to 3-0 against the Heat this season. Boston vaulted ahead of Miami to the top of the Eastern Conference and these teams will only meet one more time (April 10 in South Beach) in the regular season. Gee, do you think they'll play each other in the playoffs?

Rajon Rondo led the Celts with 11 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds while Kevin Garnett had 19 points. Kendrick Perkins notched 15 points and Ray Allen had 13 points.

With only two players that played significant minutes off the bench, Glen Davis (16 points) and Von Wafer (10 points) showed up in a big spot.

Chris Bosh paced the Heat with 24 points and 10 rebounds, LeBron added 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while Dwyane Wade was held to 16 points.

Miami led 20-15 after the first quarter and 43-39 at the half as it looked like injuries and old legs would be an easy out for a poor performance.

However, Boston played outstanding in the third quarter (35-18) which enabled them to hold on for a rocky fourth (21-11 Miami).

LeBron had a chance to tie it with two free throws with 12 seconds left but he bricked the first one and made the second. Finally, Mike Miller (who is a great shooter) had a wide-open look on a 3-pointer but he missed it as time ran out.

Paul Pierce was 0-for-10 and only had one point but an MRI on his left foot today was negative, meaning he'll play on Wednesday when the Celtics host the New Jersey Nets. Delonte West is expected to return and hopefully, Boston can hold the fort before the Big Four and Doc Rivers head to LA for the All-Star festivities.

Well the good news is that the next time the Boston Bruins could see the Detroit Red Wings is in the Stanley Cup Finals

Well I'm tired of seeing the Detroit Red Wings skate circles around the Boston Bruins, how about you?

While it certainly wasn't as embarrassing as Friday night's steaming turd at the TD Garden, the Bruins' visit to the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit yesterday afternoon had the same end result: a loss for the Black and Gold.

Detroit (34-16-6) won 4-2, erasing Boston's (31-18-7) 2-1 lead and sending the Bruins home humbled by the Western Conference's second best team. The only good news is that they won't see each other again this season, except if they meet in the Stanley Cup Finals. Haha, and if the Bs make the Finals, we have absolutely nothing to complain about and we'll cross that bridge when we have to.

After sitting for two games to get his head right, Tyler Seguin scored at 1:29 of the first period (his ninth of the season). Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder assisted on the rookie's nice work in front of Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard (23 saves).

Todd Bertuzzi is a bum against virtually every other team in the NHL but not against the Bs when he looks like a world-beater. Bertuzzi had four goals over the two games against the Bruins.

He continued his hot streak, tying it at 6:09 of the first period after Brad Marchand had a terrible giveaway in his own end. Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (32 saves) had no chance since he was hung out to dry.

Marchand atoned for his gaffe with a power-play goal at 12:17 of the first period (his 16th of the season) from Ryder and Mark Recchi.

Detroit never seems to be rattled, perhaps its because of their endless supply of talent they can keep rolling over the boards. Pavel Datsyuk tied it up at 3:54 of the second period (from Brian Rafalski and Jiri Hudler).

Kris Draper, who has to be about 80 years old, put the Red Wings ahead for good at 12:44. Patrick Eaves and Darren Helm assisted on Draper's goal when he broke loose and Eaves found him through the seam.

Bertuzzi scored his second goal, in the third period at 13:35 and that was that. Johan Franzen and Henrik Zatterberg assisted on Bertuzzi's second tally.

Boston has a good chance to right the ship on Tuesday as they host the hapless Toronto Maple Leafs and Phil Kessel.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

So that's what a real hockey team looks like

You have to admire the way that the Boston Bruins never let their fans get too high before quickly cutting them down to size.

I feel like anytime they play a great game, they follow it up with a dud that always leaves you questioning the team.

The latest chapter in this neverending give and take was last night at TD Garden as the Detroit Red Wings made their first visit to Boston since 2008. The Bs never ever play on a Friday night (especially at home) so naturally they treated they're hard-working fans to a diaper full of Indian food.

It was a fun night for Eminem, Kid Rock and all the other miserable souls from that wretched area as the Red Wings (33-16-6) won 6-1 in a game that didn't even feel that close.

To say the Bruins (31-17-7) didn't show up would be too kind. It was easily their worst performance of the season thus far. Tuukka Rask (14 saves) gave up two goals in the first 3:10 and Detroit added three second-period goals in this laugher.

It got so bad that Rask was booed then given mock cheers when he made routine saves. If that wasn't bad enough for his fragile confidence, Bruins head coach Claude Julien mercifully pulled him after two periods.

Henrik Zetterberg (1 goal, 2 assists), Jiri Hudler (1 goal, 2 assists), Todd Bertuzzi (2 goals), Tomas Holmstrom (1 goal, 1 assist), Daniel Cleary (1 goal, 1 assist) and Pavel Datsyuk (2 assists) led the Red Wings, who believe it or not came into town on a skid (losers of three of their last four, outscored 12-4).

Former University of Maine star Jimmy Howard made 25 saves for Detroit in a very quiet night's work.

Bertuzzi scored at 1:10 of the first period from Johan Franzen and Zetterberg. Cleary made it 2-0 on Detroit's second shot of the game at 3:10 from Jiri Hudler and Niklas Kronwall.

Boston's only highlight of the game was David Krejci's first goal in 21 games (his 8th of the season). It was at 17:53 of the first period on the power play with a nifty pass from Milan Lucic, who caught Howard out of position. Zdeno Chara also assisted.

Hudler (from Zetterberg and Brian Rafalski), Zetterberg (on the power play, from Holmstrom and Cleary) and Bertuzzi (from Datsyuk) all scored in the second period.

A third power-play goal, this one from Holmstrom, was the final Red Wings goal in the third period. Hudler and Datsyuk assisted on that one.

I figured it out, the Red Wings are the San Antonio Spurs and the New England Patriots. The robotically efficient teams that are always good but don't get any credit nationally since they're you know boring. It'll be interesting to see how they fare the rest of the season.

More importantly, the Bruins have a chance to atone for last night's stinker when they go to Joe Louis Arena tomorrow afternoon for a rematch with the Red Wings on NBC. Tim Thomas will be in goal to start and I'm guessing Boston will play just a tad better.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lakers beat Celtics on Ray Ray's big night

The fans that packed the TD Garden last night got what they wanted: Ray Allen broke Reggie Miller's NBA record for 3-pointers with a pair in the first quarter but the game (an afterthought) didn't turn out as perfectly as the Lakers won 96-92 in their only regular season visit to Boston.

It was a nice moment even though they didn't stop the game right away which was puzzling. The usually emotionless Ray got to hug Miller (commentating for TNT) and his family who were all courtside.

Buoyed by the momentum of Allen's (20 points) memorable night, the Celts (38-14) got up by as many as 15 points in the second quarter but LA (37-16) eventually wore them down with their big bodies.

More than ever (which is saying something), the Celtics have so many injuries. Nate Robinson went down in the second quarter with a knee injury (don't think it's too serious) while Shaq, Delonte West, Jermaine O'Neal and Marquis Daniels are still out.

Boston dressed only 10 players which leads to wacky things like Avery Bradley covering Kobe Bryant (23 points) for a couple minutes in the third quarter.

Pau Gasol had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Andrew Bynum scored 16 points with nine rebounds while Lamar Odom (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Shannon Brown (12 points) were superb off the bench.

Paul Pierce had 15 points, Rajon Rondo notched 12 points and 10 assists, Kendrick Perkins put up 12 points and nine rebounds while Kevin Garnett had a quiet 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Von Wafer was great off the bench with eight points while Glen Davis scored nine but struggled shooting (3 of 10).

The Cs were up 27-20 after the first quarter and 53-45 at halftime. LA worked them in the third quarter (27-15) and Kobe helped finish it off in the fourth (20-18).

For the game, the Lakers shot 47.9% to 40.2 for the Celtics. Boston hit two more 3-pointers (5-3) but LA made four more free throws (19-15). LA grabbed 11 more rebounds (47-36) but Boston had five more assists (25-20). The Lakers pounded it inside to the tune of 50-32 points in the paint while the Cs didn't get to run much (9-2) fast break points.

This gauntlet of games ends on Sunday as the Celtics host the Miami Heat. Boston has won both matchups so far this season but truth be told, those were very early in the season.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Old Time Hockey gives everyone pants tents

When the Boston Bruins had their fight-filled game against the Atlanta Thrashers right before Christmas, I didn't think it would be topped in terms of excitement this season. However, last week they staged a ridiculous game with the Dallas Stars which included three fights in the first four seconds. Again, I was too narrow-minded to imagine a regular season game that would be better than that.

Last night was proof that all the excitement of those first two games added to facing your most bitter rival (the Montreal Canadiens) can make for an absurdly entertaining contest that the Bruins won 8-6 at the TD Garden.

If 187 combined penalty minutes don't do it for you, how about 14 total goals? Truly, this game had it all and I'm insanely jealous of anyone that was in the building. The atmosphere was understandably electric and we can only hope that these teams meet in the playoffs.

Montreal had beaten Boston the first three times they played this season, they have two more left in the regular season.

Nathan Horton (1 goal, 4 assists) had his first career five-point game, David Krejci had three assists, Dennis Seidenberg had a goal and an assist while Milan Lucic (1 assist) and Michael Ryder each scored a pair of goals for the Bs (31-16-7), who stayed four points ahead of the Canadiens (30-20-5) with the win and on top of the Northeast Division.

For Montreal, Yanick Webber had one goal and two assists, Max Pacioretty scored twice while David Desharnais (1 goal, 1 assist), Brian Gionta (1 goal, 1 assist), Tomas Plekanec (2 assists), PK Subban (1 goal, 1 assist) and James Wisniewski (2 assists) all had multiple points.

To put a bow on it, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (27 saves) and Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (26 saves) even tried to have a goalie fight in the second period but it never really materialized since you know, neither knows how to fight.

This was one of those nights where I was thankful to have the night off from work since I got to watch this all unfold live and not second-hand through Twitter, AP stories and highlights then DVR when I got home.

The game couldn't have gotten off to a better start as Boston popped in two first-period goals for a 2-0 lead. Brad Marchand (his 15th of the season) scored one of the prettier goals of the season off assists from linemates Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. Then Seidenberg took advantage of a poor clearance by Subban to score his fifth of the season, from Horton. Those goals were 12 seconds apart (13:16-13:28), tying their quickest mark of the season.

As I always like to say though, nothing is ever easy for the Bruins and they immediately allowed Montreal to tie it early in the second period. Gionta scored 25 seconds in from Plekanec and Wisniewski. At 8:30 Subban put in the first of four power-play goals for the Canadiens. Gionta and Plekanec assisted on the rookie defenseman's slap shot from the point.

From there, things went absolutely berserk as Adam McQuaid scored his first of the season (from Horton and Lucic) at 9:48. Weber tied it at 11:01 from Mathieu Darche. Ryder scored his first goal (his 15th of the season) after a sweet pass from rookie Zach Hamill. Blake Wheeler also assisted on Ryder's tally. Lucic put the Bruins up 5-3 at 12:31 (his 22nd of the season) from Horton and Krejci.

Five seconds later, a flurry of scraps broke out (including Thomas and Price) which ended up with the comical sight of six Bruins in the penalty box at the same time.

Desharnais scored a power-play goal at 12:48 from Subban and Weber. At 14:49, Lucic scored a short-handed goal from Krejci and Horton that was key.

Pacioretty got his first of two third-period goals at 7:06 from Wisniewski on the power play. Ryder had a goal wiped out on a bogus call when Marchand was pushed into Price but he exacted some revenge a few moments later when he scored on the power play at 10:01 from Seidenberg and Steve Kampfer.

Horton gave Boston a three-goal lead with his 14th of the season at 14:54, don't ask me how Price played the entire game, before Pacioretty got a garbage time power-play goal at 19:46 from Desharnais and Weber.

Oh and there were two more huge brawls that were way too complicated to detail.

This game took nearly three hours and I feel like it will go down as one of the most memorable Bruins games I'll ever see. Just insane from start to finish.

No doubt, there will be a letdown tomorrow night when they host the Detroit Red Wings but hopefully Thomas can carry them enough and they'll wake up in time to get two points against one of the Western Conference's best teams.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Boston Celtics would probably lose to your high school team on the 2nd night of a back-to-back

Ok, I'll stop pretending that the Boston Celtics will ever win the second game of a back-to-back this season particularly if it's on the road.

It couldn't be more clear that the Celts (38-13) could care less since there's no back-to-back games in the playoffs. They lost their seventh back-to-back of the season last night in Charlotte, 94-89 to the Bobcats (22-29).

It was under special circumstances since Boston dressed only 10 healthy players (including Avery Bradley who they just brought back from the D-League). Still, there's no excuse to lose to a team that they continually embarrass.

The only good news to come out of the night was that Ray Allen (game-high 25 points) now sits just two 3-pointers from breaking Reggie Miller's all-time NBA record. The fact that the Cs host the Lakers on Thursday in a primetime contest is a better script than Adam Sandler has worked with in years.

Paul Pierce added 22 points, Rajon Rondo put up 10 points and 14 assists while Kevin Garnett (9 points, 14 rebounds) and Kendrick Perkins (8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks) had decent performances.

The NBA just announced today that both Pierce (defending champ) and Allen will compete in the 3-point shooting contest at the 2011 All-Star weekend.

Losing to Charlotte is always surprising but last night was particularly bizarre since their best player-Stephen Jackson (11 points)-was ejected in the second quarter due to overzealous refs.

Gerald Wallace had 19 points and 16 rebounds but believe it or not Shaun Livingston (18 points) and Gerald Henderson-who both came off the bench-were the main reasons why the Bobcats won.

The Celts led 29-25 after the first quarter but Charlotte was up one (51-50) at halftime. Boston won an ugly third quarter (19-14) but ran out of energy in the fourth (29-20).

Bottom line is that as frustrating as this loss appears on the surface, it doesn't mean anything. Charlotte might squeeze into the 7th or 8th seed in the Eastern Conference but is there any doubt the Celtics would crush them? Nope.

Onto the next one and oh mama, it's going to be a star-studded game full of all the Boston C and D-list celebs. It's LA's only regular season visit to the TD Garden so let's make it a good one. You never have to worry about this team showing up when the bright lights come on.

Monday, February 7, 2011

There is absolutely no reason to fear the Orlando Magic

Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers and his team have crafted the perfect way to shutdown the Orlando Magic: let Dwight Howard have a big day and try to make the rest of their one-dimensional players beat you.

That was the story yesterday afternoon as the Celts (38-12) won one of their most impressive games of the season, 91-80 over the Magic (32-20) at the TD Garden.

Howard had a game-high 28 points and 13 rebounds but the Cs held him to six second-half points. Even more pathetic or funny (depending on your allegiances) was the fact that Orlando went 3-for-24 as a team on 3-pointers.

Obviously, they are a great 3-point shooting team and that number is a season-low and an anomaly but it shows how they only know one way to win: dump it into Howard and if that doesn't work, bomb threes.

The Magic have a bunch of decent role players but nobody that can take over if Howard ever struggles. Ryan Anderson had 12 points and seven rebounds while Jason Richardson and Jameer Nelson scored 10 points apiece.

One of the most scary incidents I can remember in all the years I've watched the Celtics occurred early in the second quarter as swingman Marquis Daniels went down with a neck injury. He wasn't moving and was transported to New England Baptist Hospital. He has had neck issues in the past so it was a very serious issue and somber scene.

Credit to Boston for being able to rally from that emotionally taxing moment. Rajon Rondo was the star as he repeatedly drove to the hoop for a team-high 26 points and seven assists.

Paul Pierce added 18 points, Kevin Garnett scored 16 points and Ray Allen had 11 (he needs three more 3-pointers to tie Reggie Miller's all-time NBA record). Kendrick Perkins did his best Ben Wallace impression with 0 points and 13 rebounds while Glen Davis had 11 points and six rebounds off the bench.

Orlando got out to a 22-17 lead in the first quarter as Boston started off very slow in the Super Bowl matinee. The Celts took a 46-43 lead and never looked back from there. They took the defensive second half, 24-18 in the third and 21-19 in the fourth.

For the game, the Cs shot 47.6% to the Magic's 34.4%. The Celtics made 15 more free throws (28-13) while Orlando pulled down five more rebounds (46-41). Boston had eight more assists (21-13) and three more blocks (4-1).

As I always say with this team, back-to-backs are never easy, no matter who they face. Still, the Celtics completely own the Charlotte Bobcats (11 of their last 12) and even though the game is in North Carolina tonight, they should win.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bruins with a lifeless effort against the Sharks

I can't quite put my finger on it, maybe it's because the unwashed masses haven't been liquored up enough at the local watering holes but something seems off when you go to a Boston Bruins game on a Saturday afternoon.

It's the second time this season I've gone to a 1 p.m. start on a Saturday and once again, the Bruins lost. This time it was a completely lifeless effort, a 2-0 loss to former golden boy Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks.

Since the Bruins (30-16-7) had their most exciting game of the season on Thursday against the Dallas Stars, it was predictable that there was a big letdown. Still, it had to be one of the most boring contests of the season since Boston never really did anything against San Jose (28-19-6).

Antti Niemi (26 saves) held the fort, which wasn't too hard while the Sharks scored the only goal they needed in the first period. Rookie stud Logan Couture scored on the power-play(his 23rd of the season) with a weird backhander at 7:22 from Ryane Clowe and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Adam Mcquaid fought Ben Eager late in the first period and that was probably the highlight of the day for the Bs.

Devin Setoguchi scored an empty-netter (his 11th of the season) with three seconds left (from Clowe and Niclas Wallin) to seal it.

Boston goaltender Tim Thomas made just 16 saves in his quietest game of the season in terms of action.

The Bruins get back at it on Wednesday as they host the Montreal Canadiens. I'm thinking they won't have as much trouble getting up for that one against their bitter rival.

Jason Kidd's dagger helps Mavericks to a season sweep of the Celtics

Catching up with the Boston Celtics' disappointing 101-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night at the TD Garden.

It was a good, tight game but Dallas (34-15) seemed to make all the plays down the stretch, including a clutch 3-pointer by ageless Jason Kidd (10 points, 9 assists).

For once, the Celtics (37-12) completely crumbled down the stretch, something we're unaccustomed to seeing from them. I will always hate on the Mavericks for being regular season heroes but it is impressive that they won both games vs. the Celtics this season. I'd love to see them in the NBA Finals but frankly, I don't think Dallas will get through either San Antonio, Oklahoma City or the Lakers.

As always with the Mavs, Dirk Nowitzki was the star with a game-high 29 points. Tyson Chandler has been a great pickup for Dallas, he added 14 points and 15 rebounds while Northeastern product (Huskies!) JJ Barea notched 11 points.

Jason Terry (17 points) and Shawn Marion (13 points, 9 rebounds) were great off the bench in the win.

Speaking of ageless, Ray Allen paced the Celts with 24 points. Kevin Garnett added 16 points, Kendrick Perkins (in his first start this season) put up 13 points and 12 rebounds while Paul Pierce (12 points) and Rajon Rondo (8 points, 12 assists, 3 steals) were more contained.

The one bright spot off the Boston bench was Marquis Daniels (10 points).

Dallas was up 34-27 after the first quarter and 54-51 at halftime. Boston tied it at 77 going into the fourth quarter but the Mavs got it done in the fourth quarter (24-20).

The Celts are back at it tonight against another serious contender: the Orlando Magic come to the Garden for a pre-Super Bowl game. Should be another tight one.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fight Night in Boston

I have no idea what got into the Boston Bruins last night. A team that usually exhibits little heart got into three fights vs. the Dallas Stars in the first four seconds of the game at the TD Garden.

You can have NHL Center Ice (which I do not) and you can watch every NHL game this season but I doubt you'll ever see a more exciting or crazy period than the first. I've never seen anything like it (and probably never will again) as the Bs had four fights and jumped ahead 4-0 before they eventually held on for a 6-4 win.

For two teams that only play once or twice a season, it's hard to believe that the bitter feelings from two seasons ago could carry over to last night but that looked to be the case. The teams had a similar shitshow game in October 2008 in Boston.

As the game began, Gregory Campbell took on goon Steve Ott (most penalties in the league) one second into the action. Campbell took a beating and received a nasty gash on his face/nose but he returned soon after that cause hey, he's a hockey player.

One second later, Shawn Thornton fought Krys Barch with Thornton scoring the takedown. Finally, two seconds later Adam McQuaid absolutely blew up Brian Sutherby in a quick, Jersey Shore style brawl.

Oh and Andrew Ference one-punched Adam Burish ("one shot kid!") a few minutes later to complete the crazy beginning. Today, Burish went on IR.

Not only did the Bruins (30-15-7) beat the Stars (30-17-5) physically but they almost ran them out of the rink. Milan Lucic (his 21st of the season) scored 35 seconds into the game from David Krejci and Nathan Horton.

Then Patrice Bergeron put in a pair of goals (18th and 19th), from Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi both times. Former Bruins goaltender Andrew Raycroft was pulled after Bergeron's first goal, giving him a night's work of 1:20 (haha!).

Thornton put Boston ahead 4-0 late in the first period with a snipe that admittedly, Keri Lehtonen (29 saves) should have had but he probably thought he had a quiet night on the bench ahead of him. Daniel Paille and Zdeno Chara assisted on Thornton's eighth of the season.

Dallas began to wake up in the second period as Karlis Skrastins scored from Burish.

The Stars cut it to 4-3 in the third period as Brendan Morrow (short-handed) and Brad Richards showed why they each are over 20 goals this season.

This would have been an epic collapse for the Bruins (something which they specialize in) but thankfully, Tuukka Rask (30 saves; 5-10-1) made enough stops and Tyler Seguin broke his 10-game scoreless streak.

Again it was a soft one from Lehtonen but who cares? Seguin has been scuffling for a while now and seeing him get his eighth of the season (from Michael Ryder and Blake Weeler) at 5:31 was great.

Marchand capped it off with an empty-netter at 17:40 from Bergeron (who missed a hat trick bid) and Recchi. Their on fire line combined for nine points in the game.

The only bad news coming out of the game was that Paille was suspended four games after his dirty, Matt Cooke-esque hit. It's a fair punishment but don't get me started on how Cooke got off the hook last season.

I am going to Bruins-San Jose Sharks tomorrow afternoon at the TD Garden. I know there will be a letdown from last night but hopefully the Bs can send Joe Thornton and the Sharks home without any points.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Remember when the Sacramento Kings were one of the NBA's model franchises?

It seems like only yesterday that the Sacramento Kings played one of the NBA's most exciting styles of basketball and the Maloof brothers were loving life. Haha, I think one of them even dated Britney Spears for a second before she got prego and crazy.

For much of the last decade though, the Kings have been an afterthought. Since they're in one of the NBA's worst markets, it makes sense that once the product went downhill so did the profits.

The Boston Celtics toyed with the Kings last night in Sacramento but ultimately pulled out a 95-90 win which gave them a satisfactory 3-1 West Coast trip.

Sacramento (12-34) is still awful but at least now they have two potential franchise players: Tyreke Evans (20 points) and DeMarcus Cousins (20 points).

The Celts (37-11) are a much better TEAM and this was the typical game against a young team where they look good for the first two or three quarters and then they self-destruct in winning time.

Ray Allen led Boston with 22 points (he's having his best season yet with the Green, dude is ageless), Rajon Rondo had 17 points, 10 assists and four steals, Paul Pierce scored 15 and Kevin Garnett added 12 points and seven rebounds.

Off the bench for the Cs, Glen Davis (14 points), Kendrick Perkins (8 points, 10 rebounds)-who will be starting any day now-and Nate Robinson (5 steals) stood out.

Donte Greene had 15 points off the bench for the Kings and Beno Udrih added 12 points. Evans and Cousins are both intriguing prospects. Evans is a great athlete and so big but he can't really shoot. Cousins has all the ability in the world but he seems like he doesn't work hard at all and doesn't want to play in the post.

Boston led 27-20 after the first quarter and it looked like it would be a laugher. Of course, the Kings followed that with what had to be one of the their best quarters of the season (34-18) to take a 54-45 halftime lead. The Celts flexed their muscles in the third quarter (29-17) and held on in the fourth (21-19). With that, they earned another night in Sacramento since we're getting more Snowpocalypse in New England.

Things will heat up whenever they get home since the Celtics host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday and the Orlando Magic on Sunday. Should be two great games.

Fear not, Tim Thomas is still in the zone

There would be no post-All-Star break hangover for Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins.

After spending all weekend in North Carolina for the All-Star festivities, Thomas and Zdeno Chara got to spend a few extra days there as their teammates met up with them for last night's game at the RBC Center vs. the Carolina Hurricanes.

All in all, it was great to have some real hockey back as Thomas (24 saves; 25-5-6) continued to play like a man possessed and the Bruins (29-15-7) likewise played well with a playoff-like 3-2 win over the Hurricanes (25-20-6).

With the victory, Boston clinched the season series (three out of four) but let me be the first to say that I feel like they're going to see Carolina in the playoffs this spring and that is not something to look forward to since they're a solid team with a very good goaltender in Cam Ward (30 saves).

The goaltender duel between Thomas and Ward was expected. What was surprising for the Bs was who decided to hit the back of the net: namely Nathan Horton and Daniel Paille. It had been 11 games since Horton had scored a goal and Paille (who is arguably the last man on the roster) scored his first of the season. A nice reward for two hard-working players.

After a scoreless first period, that was only notable for a rare Milan Lucic fight (vs. Jay Harrison), Paille scored at 4:14 of the second period from Chara and Shawn Thornton. Paille tipped Chara's shot beautifully past Ward. It's ironic that he got a goal since in the first period he hit the post and later in the game he had a wide open shot which he put right in Ward's pads. Such is the life of Daniel Paille.

Jamie McBain tied it for the Hurricanes at 11:25 of the second from Sergei Samsonov and Erik Cole. McBain was in the right place (next to Thomas) when the puck magically found him through traffic.

Boston put it away with a quick pair early in the third period from Horton (assisted by David Krejci and Chara) and Patrice Bergeron (from Mark Recchi and Andrew Ference). Horton picked up a goal-scorer's goal, roofing it quickly over Ward while Bergeron took advantage of a Brad Marchand screen to get his 17th of the season.

There were some tense moments as Carolina's Joe Corvo scored on the power-play at 8:05 (from Cole and Samsonov) but Thomas stood on his head and Boston was able to come home with two points.

The Bs have another big test tomorrow night as they host the Dallas Stars, quietly one of the Western Conference's best team. I was shocked when I looked at their record at how well they've been playing. I'm interested to see what they're all about.