Patriots

Haggerty: Bruins hope answers lie within

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Haggerty: Bruins hope answers lie within

The Bruins got themselves some useful pieces at the NHL trade deadline that will complement a Stanley Cup-winning lineup, but there was nothing of the go for it variety secured on Mondays hockey shopping spree.

That made it a marked difference from exactly one year ago when Bs general manager Peter Chiarelli pulled off three separate moves that brought a pair of key forwards and an All-Star defenseman into the mix. The deals brought depth, speed and versatility that helped them win the Stanley Cup, but things are much different this time around.

This years deadline was an exercise in frustration for Chiarelli and most other teams around the NHL as the market was flooded with interested buyers, but didnt have the appropriate number of sellers providing available talent.

The trade deadline was just about the prices, the inactivity, the reluctance to do things . . . that was the feel I got. Its frustrating, said Chiarelli. Its frustrating when youre making calls and you feel the frustration on the other side of the phone because the guy youre talking to is feeling the same thing.

That was the theme for this year: frustration, but eventual fulfillment. Every deadline is different as far as needs. Last year I think we needed to improve a couple of areas, our depth, two-way play, and our puck moving. I guess this year is depth. But you talk to every team and they always want to improve their depth. In a playoff run, guys go down, and thats just what happens.

Sure the Bruins made a serious run at Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown before word got out that he was being shopped, but there was never any real danger of a big deal getting consummated this time around.

Instead frustration reigned for just about everyone, and the Bruins brought in a versatile 39-year-old forward enduring a rough season with the Islanders (Brian Rolston), a journeyman defenseman (Mike Mottau) that just came back from a stretch of 26 games missed with a concussion and a legit shot-blocking, stay-at-home blueliner (Greg Zanon) that will aid the Bs defensemen corps.

It wont knock the socks off Bruins fans, but employing Zanon and Dennis Seidenberg gives the Bs two of the five-best shot-blockers in the league and allows them to mimic the lane-clogging, shot-frustrating Rangers efforts to block scores of offensive chances if the mood strikes them.

None of this years acquisitions will have the impact of last years crop of hockey trades, and that means the team is rolling the dice again this year with the teams nucleus. Chiarelli was unwilling to move any players off the current roster, flat refused to include Dougie Hamilton in any deals and wouldnt deal talented roster players like Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask or David Krejci.

That didnt leave much in Bostons hockey asset cupboard and didnt give Chiarelli much to wheel and deal with. Instead it will be up to skilled young players like Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, Lucic and Patrice Bergeron to carry an offense regardless of what the team gets from Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley moving forward. Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Marchand are the only three players averaging more than .5 points per game during 12 games during the month of February, and no Bs player is even approaching a point-per-game pace during the past month of ennui-filled hockey.

It will be up to Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask to regain the form that made them the best 1-2 goaltending punch through Christmas. It will be up to Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and their new group of eight veteran NHL defensemen to hold things together defensively.

In the end Chiarelli decided that the 18 returning roster players from last years Cup championship deserved another shot at a Cup run without any major upgrades in any department. Rolston, Mottau and Zanon add up to better reserve options than Carter Camper, Max Sauve and Andrew Bodnarchuk when the inevitable injuries and ineffectiveness hit the Bruins.

Bergeron said last week that the Bruins players didnt need any saviors to rescue them this season, and the teams management has backed up that stance from one of their key leaders. Perhaps the Bruins could have traded for marginally better talent in Antoine Vermette or Johnny Oduya, but those players wouldnt be difference-makers on this Bruins team.

Youre gonna have to spend in player trades to acquire players, but the deals just werent there, said Chiarelli at the trade deadline. They werent there. Its as simple as that.

If the Bruins are to win another Cup this season it will be because the Bs best players once again used good health, good fortune and two months of good hockey to finish at the top of the NHL heap.

Report: In threatening Goodell, Cowboys owner insults Kraft

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Report: In threatening Goodell, Cowboys owner insults Kraft

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, upset over the six-game suspension of his star running back Ezekiel Elliott, has been fighting against a contract extension for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

How hard has he been fighting? Enough to reportedly insult Patriots owner Robert Kraft in the process. 

ESPN reports that on a conference call in August with Goodell and NFL general counsel Jeff Pash when Jones was informed of Elliott’s suspension for domestic violence incidents, Jones told the commissioner, “I’m going to come after you with everything I have.” He then invoked Kraft’s response to Deflategate and Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.

“If you think Bob Kraft came after you hard, Bob Kraft is a p—-y compared to what I’m going to do,” Jones told Goodell, according to ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham.

Elliott, like Brady, abandoned his court fight this week and will serve his suspension. Kraft, of course, produced the Wells Report in context website, but grudgingly accepted the NFL’s penalty in the Deflategate case. Jones has threatened to sue the NFL if Goodell’s contract extension is approved.   

 

Blakely: Work in progress, but oh, what progress

Blakely: Work in progress, but oh, what progress

BOSTON – The words of Stephen Curry following the Celtics’ 92-88 win over his Golden State Warriors had an off-handed, end-of-the-night throwaway feel to them, a statement that would soon be forgotten after the Warriors reel off what should be a long string of victories going forward.
 
“They’re playing the best right now in the East,” Curry said of the Celtics, who now have a 3-2 edge in their past five meetings following Thursday night’s thriller. “And obviously until they beat Cleveland, who's done it three years in a row … so we’ll see.”

CELTICS 92, WARRIORS 88

We already have, folks.
 
The Celtics and the Warriors are both quick to remind us all that we are only a month into the season and that there’s still lots of basketball to be played.
 
But the big takeaway from Thursday was that the Celtics’ ascension to the top of the NBA mountain is a matter of when, not if, it’ll happen.
 
Because what we’re seeing now is a team that is very much a work in progress, yet one that still manages to win games on a lot of nights that they have no business winning.
 
Think about it.
 
They shot 32.9 percent against the Warriors, the best team in the NBA, and still managed to get the win. According to NBA stats guru Dick Lipe, it was only the second time in the past 35 years that the Celtics shot less than 33 percent from the field and still managed to win.
 
That speaks to how well Boston defended the Warriors, who came in averaging a league-best 119.6 points per game.
 
But more than that, it shows this team has a will to win that’s almost unheard of for a group whose pieces are so relatively new to one another.
 
Of the 14 Celtics with guaranteed contracts on the roster, all but four are in their first season in Boston.
 
But even with the new guys coming together quicker than anticipated, Boston should not all of a sudden be considered the favorites in the NBA.
 
Even with the victory, Boston still has some ground to make up if they are to be on the same level as Golden State, a franchise that has been to the NBA Finals each of the past three seasons and has emerged a champion twice.
 
“It takes a lot of basketball to get there,” said Warriors guard Klay Thompson. “They have a good, young, hungry team. You have to give them credit. They have a better record than us, so you can say they’re better now.”
 
And while Thompson didn’t place an emphasis on it, the last word in his comments, “now,” is why Thursday’s victory leaves the Celtics cautiously optimistic.
 
Because as we’ve seen time and time, regular-season success does not always travel well beyond that and into the playoffs.
 
Still, Thursday’s win provides something for Boston beyond hope and optimism.
 
They now have results to go with the work they’ve put in to be a better team and compete with the league’s best.
 
And they’ve done it under less-than-ideal circumstances.
 
Gordon Hayward went down with an ankle injury less than five minutes into the season and he’s expected to be lost for the rest of the season. Al Horford missed two games while recovering from a concussion while Kyrie Irving missed a game after suffering a facial fracture.
 
So in other words, the Big Three that Boston was set on unleashing to the rest of the world has logged less than five minutes together all season.
 
And yet there are the Celtics (14-2), tops in the NBA while riding a historic 14-game winning streak, and there's reason to believe that maybe, just maybe, these two will be the last teams standing when all is said and done and some of those customary throwaway lines uttered by Curry might have some value after all if these two wind up meeting in the NBA Finals.

“I hear the weather is great here in June,” Curry said.