Collins suddenly at the center of things


Collins suddenly at the center of things

MILWAUKEE The spotlight for a reliable backup for Kevin Garnett has now landed on Jason Collins.
Once considered an end-of-the-bench addition to the roster, Collins has been the first big man off the bench for the C's the last few games to sub in for Garnett.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made it clear following Boston's 91-88 loss at Milwaukee on Saturday night that the decision to go with Collins ahead of Wilcox was not in connection with Wilcox's health.
Wilcox was unable to finish out Boston's loss to Brooklyn last week, in addition to missing a practice and the team's morning shootaround prior to defeating Portland on Friday, due to an illness.
"Jason gives us size and he's playing well," Rivers said.
It has been well documented how the Celtics struggle whenever Garnett leaves the floor.
After opening Saturday's game with a flurry of baskets and defensive stops, the C's had a 17-2 advantage when Collins entered the game for Garnett.
For a change, Boston actually increased its lead by a single point as Garnett spent the remainder of the first quarter on the bench while Collins helped the C's end the first with a 27-11 lead.
He finished Saturday's game with season highs in minutes played (14) and rebounds (5). It was the third straight game in which Collins played 10 or more minutes.
Meanwhile Wilcox had one rebound and one blocked shot while playing less than three minutes. It was the fewest minutes he has played since he logged three minutes against the Bucks on Nov. 2.
The use of Collins does not mean Wilcox won't have a role, although it's clear that Wilcox's minutes will be trimmed.
"He helps out," Rivers said of Collins. "Chris does his things, too. I got a feeling it will be back and fourth all year."
Whether he's playing as Garnett's primary backup or just another big man in the mix, Wilcox said he has no problem playing whatever role Doc Rivers asks of him.
"I just want to help this team win, man," Wilcox told "That's what everybody here wants to do; is win. When you have a team full of guys that are all about winning, you don't think a lot about role and things like that. Because end of the day, that doesn't matter. Competing, winning games; that's what you want."

Morning Skate: Robust trade market for D-men


Morning Skate: Robust trade market for D-men

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while prepping for Claude Bowl II.

*It’s going to be a robust trade market for defensemen with names such as Jack Johnson, Dion Phaneuf and Oliver Ekman-Larsson highlighting the group that’s available. Paul Martin will be in that select company if he clears through waivers and perhaps Niklas Hjalmarsson will as well with many teams holding D-men they’re willing to part with.

*The Buffalo Sabres apparently want four assets in any deal for rental Evander Kane that includes a draft pick, a prospect and an NHL roster player, and it’s hard to believe anybody is going to do that for a perennial underachiever who's never even scored 60 points in a season before.

*A tough end to the Andrew Cogliano iron-man streak as he’s been suspended for a couple of games after an incident last weekend.

*Brent Burns is the envy of many blueliners around the league because of his hard, accurate shot, which isn’t scoring him as many goals this season

*Year-round Las Vegas resident Deryk Engelland has been rewarded for being a member of the Golden Knights with a one-year contract extension.

*It sounds like the Philadelphia Flyers have got Shayne Gostisbehere thinking more about defense after some up-and-down moments last season in his sophomore effort.

*For something completely different: A profile on a UFC champion and a firefighter all at the same time. Sounds like an interesting dude.


Acciari misses Bruins practice with upper-body injury


Acciari misses Bruins practice with upper-body injury

BRIGHTON, Mass – Noel Acciari was in and out of the Bruins lineup in the Monday afternoon loss to the Dallas Stars with an upper-body injury and the fourth-line grinder was missing from the practice ice on Tuesday as well. 

Acciari has been able to stay healthy the past few months while helping to establish Boston’s fourth line and has added to his hard-hitting style of play with six goals in 28 games this season.

But there's been a litany of injuries the past few seasons given the physical pounding the 5-foot-10, 208-pounder takes given his rugged style of play. This current injury limited him to just 6:05 of ice time in an overtime loss to the Stars. Still, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was optimistic that Acciari would be able to suit up against the Canadiens on Wednesday night in Claude Julien’s return to TD Garden.

“Jake DeBrusk was under the weather and so was Kevan Miller, so they stayed home,” said Cassidy of Acciari, who has missed 14 games this season mainly due to a broken finger suffered blocking a shot on opening night. “Noel Acciari has a bit of an upper-body injury and it affected his minutes [Monday vs. Dallas]. He’s kind of day-to-day. I suspect that he would play tomorrow, but we’ll have a better idea on [Wednesday] morning.”

Both DeBrusk and Miller are expected to be fine to play against the Habs in their rematch from last weekend this time on Boston's home ice. Here are the line combos and D-pairings for the players that were on the ice for Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena: