Celtics

Bruins hope to find a way for Corvo to fit in

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Bruins hope to find a way for Corvo to fit in

WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins had the sixth-best defense in the NHL this season and move into the Stanley Cup playoffs viewing it as one of their team strengths.

But the old hockey axiom goes that any defense is only as strong as their weakest link, and it looks like the Bruins will be exposing their weak link when the playoffs begin.

An injury to Adam McQuaid has created an opening among their six starting defensemen, and it appears that Joe Corvo will be getting the call as a bottom-pairing defenseman with Greg Zanon to start the postseason.

It appears Corvo will essentially be playing the Tomas Kaberle role from last years playoffs where the Bruins will limit the puck-mover to short shifts and power play ice time.

But theres only so much hiding one can do with a defenseman playing upwards of 12 minutes per game. Its also pretty clear in Claude Juliens comments about the defensemen corps, in general, that his faith in Corvo as a responsible defensive player isnt at all-time high. Julien ticked off the name of every other defenseman when listing their acumen inside their own zone, but left Corvo conspicuously absent.

Weve been through it before. We almost have to be careful that if Chara and Seidenberg are so good that we make sure the other ones are as well. We have a lot of confidence in our guys, said Julien. Johnny Boychuk is a guy thats got a lot of experiences playing against top lines, and Andrew Ference has had a great year for us.

Whether its Adam McQuaid, Greg Zanon or Mike Mottau everybody has proved that theyre capable of playing shutdown hockey, you know?

What about Corvo, who earned the nickname Uh-oh Corvo during his rocky D-zone days playing with the Ottawa Senators?

With Joe were smart enough to put him in areas where hes going to succeed, said Julien. He is a good player when we put him in those situations, so its us knowing our team and who to put out there against whom. Our guys have done a great job. We have trust in our whole D-corps and its up to us to find the right times to put them out there.

Its been a rough year for Corvo with the Bruins. His four goals scored havent been good enough to offset his defensive inadequacies.

His numbers arent awful with 25 points and a plus-10 for the season, but its less than his career norms. With his heavy shot and skating ability Corvo should have double-digit goals and upwards of 35 points in his sleep, but that never happened in Boston.

Corvo loses one-on-one fights for the puck in the battle areas inside the defensive zone, he gets caught up ice on bad decisions leaving his defensive partners hanging and he frequently leaves the front of the net.

That kind of play in the D-zone leads to a lack of trust from a defensive sticker for detail like Julien. Corvo has tried to improve, but he finished the season with three points and a minus-1 rating in his final 14 games. He also found himself as a healthy scratch as the Bruins found their stride in late March. And those two things didnt seem to be mutually exclusive.

Corvo's presence on the ice gives the Washington Capitals something to exploit. The Caps know just how shaky he can be after he was acquired by Washington in a trade during the 2009-10 season and finished with six points and a minus-4 in 18 games.

It's a few years later, but Corvo's issues struggles seem to have resurfaced. Its fair to say the more Corvo is forced to play in any of these games, the less chance Boston has to be successful.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

0:41 - The Celtics returned to their winning ways with a 118-103 victory over the Orlando Magic. Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Rob “Hardy” Poole break down the win.

6:58 - Tom Giles and Hardy discuss the Bruins’ four-game winning streak and how the success of Anton Khudobin has helped keep the team afloat.

11:39 - Is the Patriots' Week 12 matchup with the Dolphins a trap game? Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Hardy discuss where Miami ranks among NFL teams and how the Patriots should approach the game.

17:07 - With Black Friday upon us, the Boston Sports Tonight crew discusses what big-ticket item they would choose to buy for any Boston sports team. 

 

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

BOSTON – Boston made strengthening their depth at the wing position a priority during the offseason.

Well, that depth will be put to the test with the possibility of at least one and maybe two of their top wing players being out for Saturday’s game at Indiana.

Shortly after Boston’s 118-103 win over Orlando on Friday night, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens announced that Marcus Morris (left knee) would not travel with the team for Saturday’s game against the Pacers.

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Also, Jaylen Brown will be attending the funeral of his best friend (Trevin Steede) in Georgia on Saturday and isn’t sure if he’ll be back with the team in time for Saturday’s game.

“My intention is to make it back. If I can, I’ll definitely be playing,” Brown said. “But we’ll see.”

The absence of Brown would be a huge blow for the Celtics.

Boston only returned four players from last season’s team, none of whom have improved their overall game as much as Brown did during the offseason.

He came into the season focused on being a lock-down defender.

But Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury was a game-changer for all the Celtics, including Brown.

Not only would Brown be charged with being an elite defender, but Boston now needed the second-year wing player to become more of a scoring threat.

And to Brown’s credit, he has risen to the challenge.

In 20 games (all starts) this season, Brown has averaged 15.9 points per game which is second on the team to Kyrie Irving (22.9). In addition, Brown’s defense has been among the keys to Boston’s 17-3 start which is the best record in the NBA thus far this season.

His defensive rating of 95.0 is fifth among players to appear in at least 10 games this season, and tops among all second-year players. And of the four players ahead of him, two – Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart – are teammates.

But just like the Celtics gave Isaiah Thomas all the time he needed in dealing with the death of his sister right before the playoffs last season, a similar approach has been taken with Brown which he is admittedly appreciative of the organization for doing.

“Brad (Stevens) has been great in this process,” Brown said. “Just somebody to talk to, allowing me to deal with it in the best way our family and their family feels we can deal with it. He’s been great; we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can make it to Indiana; if not, I just have to re-group with my family and I’ll see you guys next game (against Detroit on Monday).”

While there's a chance that Brown will play against Indiana, the same can not be said for Morris who is definitely out.

Morris, who missed the first eight games of the season with left knee soreness, has been on a minutes restriction all season in addition to not being allowed to play in back-to-back games.

Following Friday’s game, Morris said the knee feels good but he understands the need to be cautious.

“It’s frustrating,” said Morris who acknowledged the decision was made by the coaching and medical staff. “I’m a competitor, so I want to be out there.”

He added, “Like I said, at this point I pretty much don’t have control over it when I’m playing. It’s a long season. I just want to be ready for June.”

With Morris out and Brown potentially out as well, the Celtics will be extremely thin and inexperienced at the wing position. Look for Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes to be in the starting lineup if Brown is out along with Morris.

Also, Stevens will likely use Terry Rozier and first-year forward Semi Ojeleye more in addition to increased spot-duty for another rookie, Abdel Nader. On Friday, Rozier had a career-high 23 points while Ojeleye and Nader had seven and three points, respectively.

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