Celtics

Caron steps up, but can't prevent loss to Rangers

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Caron steps up, but can't prevent loss to Rangers

NEW YORK Jordan Caron hasnt been able to make the impact he probably wanted to while stepping in for the Bruins when injuries hit both Rich Peverley and Nathan Horton.

But the 21-year-old Caron seems to finally be settling in now that hes skating with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot on the Bs third line, and the former first round pick had his best NHL game with a pair of points in Bostons 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

I felt pretty good. Kelly and Pouliot were skating well. I thought we did a good job on the forecheck and that really made things easy for us, said Caron.

With his team down 2-0 and his coach just 24 hours earlier calling for more secondary scoring out of players like him, Caron made something happen for his team. The winger barreled into Rangers defensemen Michael Del Zotto while Chris Kelly attacked from the other side on the forecheck.

The heavy pressure caused Del Zotto to backhand a puck into the middle of the ice and Benoit Pouliot fired a shot past Henrik Lundqvist to give the Bruins a faint heartbeat in an important game. Then Caron notched his second goal in as many weeks when he intercepted a Dan Girardi stretch pass after hopping over the boards, sped into the offensive zone and whipped a wrist shot past Lundqvist from the right face-off circle to things up.

Pouliots goal snapped a stretch of one goal in his last 24 games and Caron had only one goal in his last 14 games headed into Sundays matinee against the Blueshirts, so it was vital they got untracked. Caron said some of it comes down to being comfortable with his linemates and seeing some reward for the effort theyre putting out there.

Every game we want to score. Who doesnt? Every game were trying hard to put up points and create scoring chances, said Caron. It isnt always easy, but I think weve been doing a pretty good job lately. Weve just got to start winning a little bit more and everything is going to be fine.

Certainly things didnt end well for a Bruins team that couldnt hold back the Rangers in the third period, but Julien did get the secondary scoring for players like Caron and Pouliot that hed been searching for.

We talked about it yesterday. We needed that. It gave us a chance to win a hockey game, said Julien. Besides some tough goals that went against us we could have won that game easily.

While it didnt prove to be the difference on Sunday afternoon, an elevated level of play from Caron could be a difference-maker for the Bs as they look for players to step up in the face of injuries.

Celtics won't be broken by Hayward's injury

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Celtics won't be broken by Hayward's injury

BOSTON -- These are tough, heart-tugging times for the Boston Celtics, who are less than 24 hours removed from the gruesome left-ankle injury suffered by Gordon Hayward in the first quarter of their 102-99 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday.
 
Hayward is scheduled to have surgery today, and potentially could be out for the entire season.
 
As much as their hearts go out to Hayward and his family, the Celtics know they can’t spend too much time sulking. The nature of this business won’t allow them, evident by the fact the C's step back on the floor tonight to host the Milwaukee Bucks.
 
“You hurt for him,” said coach Brad Stevens. “He’s put in a lot of great work. I thought he had his most comfortable week as far as feeling like he was going to play really well. It’s a tough, tough deal but I guess that’s part of it, the risk of injury. I really feel for him.”
 
But in the same breath, Stevens is a realist.
 
He's been in the league long enough to know that grieving for a lost player won’t help that player in the short-term. Or the team, for that matter.

MORE ON GORDON HAYWARD

 
The best way the Celtics can help Hayward is to continue to compete in his absence.
 
We saw that in last night’s loss to the Cavaliers.
 
When Hayward was carted off the floor, the Celtics were ahead, 12-9. The lead disappeared and was eventually replaced by an 18-point deficit, only for Boston to chip away and eventually go ahead in the fourth quarter.
 
But down the stretch, too much LeBron James and Kevin Love would prove to be too much for the Celtics to overcome.
 
While the loss was disappointing, it gave the team some insight into how to fight on now that one of its main guys will be out for a significant amount of time.
 
We saw Jaylen Brown emerge from being a second-year pro on the rise into a matchup problem who dropped a career-high 25 points on the Cavs.
 
And Jayson Tatum reminded us all that he’s a teenager in age only, finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds. The last rookie to tally a double-double for the Celtics in his opening night debut was Larry Bird in 1979, who had an identical 14-point, 10-rebound line.


 
But Bird didn’t have to play most of that game with one of the then top-three Celtics out for all but the game’s first five minutes.
 
When it comes to adversity, NBA players don’t have the luxury to pick which ones to handle and which ones to pass on. They either step up to the challenge or be consumed by it.
 
Under Stevens, Door Number One is the only option under consideration.
 
And since Stevens has been in Boston, his players have risen to the challenge.
 
That doesn’t mean they'll win every game, but they've shown the ability to at least be competitive. And in defeat, they'll refuse to use injury as an excuse.
 
That means younger players like Brown and Tatum will assume a larger role at both ends of the floor if Boston is to make it through these tough times relatively unscathed.
 
Veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Smart will be leaned upon more heavily to be leaders, both on and off the floor.
 
And Stevens, considered by many to be one of the better coaches in the NBA, will once again be tasked with making on-the-fly adjustments with his lineup and rotations under less-than-ideal conditions.
 
Nobody hurts more than Stevens when it comes to Hayward’s injury. Remember, he's known him longer than anyone associated with the Celtics, having recruited Hayward to play for Butler. It was the platform that launched both of their NBA careers.
 
Which is why the way he approaches not having Hayward is the example for all his players to follow.
 
Shortly after the loss to the Cavs, Stevens was asked about moving on while handling the emotional dynamics of losing Hayward for an extended period of time.
 
“We’ll be ready to play [tonight],” Stevens said with a heightened level of seriousness in his voice that spoke to how important it was to him and his players that they came out and performed at their best on Tuesday against Cleveland.

And that's the blueprint required for them going forward if they hope to be successful in handling adversity as it comes their way.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

0:41 - Kyle Draper, Brain Scalabrine, Tommy Heinsohn, and Mike Gorman break down the Celtics loss to the Cavs and Gordon Hayward’s injury.

4:22 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions to the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward and how it impacted the game.

9:39 - Dr. Chris Chihlas joins BST to give his medical opinion on Gordon Hayward and if he thinks there is a chance Hayward could return this season. 

13:40 - Chris Mannix and A. Sherrod Blakely discuss what the feeling was like in the arena when Hayward went down but how there is actually a 'cautious optimism' surrounding the injury.