Patriots

Haggerty: Staying healthy is Bruins' only goal

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Haggerty: Staying healthy is Bruins' only goal

BOSTON -- If the Bruins needed any more convincing that they should leave their core players home on Thursday when they play their final regular-season road game in Ottawa, the sight of Johnny Boychuk going down with an apparent leg injury during garbage time Tuesday night should do it.
Boychuks left knee buckled as he moved in for a big hit on Pittsburgh tough guy Arron Asham during the third period of Bostons 5-3 loss to the Penguins at TD Garden, and the rugged, big-hitting defenseman needed to be helped off the ice. Video replays showed Boychuks left knee bent inward during awkward contact with Asham.
With only two games left on the schedule and the playoffs looming little more than a week away, it was a reminder of how fleeting good health can be.
It didnt make sense that Boychuk should have been out of the lineup against the Penguins, given that he'd missed several games last month and needed the work, so there was probably no way to avoid the injury. Nothing has been diagnosed, of course, and perhaps its something minor that will only cause the defenseman to miss a couple of games. But the worst-case scenario is that Boychuk, one of the Bruins' top four defensemen, misses a healthy chunk of the playoffs, and that would push Joe Corvo back into a meaningful role.
Coach Claude Julien wasnt going there when asked if there was any way to rest his key skaters as the season winds down.
You dont have a choice," said Julien. "Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby were in the Penguins' lineup Tuesday. From their end of it, Kris Letangs in and hes had his fair share of injuries. Youve got to play. This is our job, weve got to do our job.
Theres no doubt you want to minimize ice time, youd like to keep guys out, and everything else, but you cant keep them all out. Its something that happens. Youre going to try and avoid it, and you do the best you can, but there are no hundred-percenters anymore.
But its the time of year when the Bruins are attempting to find ways to rest some of their key players. That should be a message sky-written across Bruins Nation with even more urgency know after watching one of their key playoff performers get injured.
Its always tough when you see a guy laying on the ice like that and hes not getting up, or even moving out of the position, said Milan Lucic. You know, three games left, now two, you dont want to see anyone get hurt, especially not a guy like Boychuk who plays a big role on this team.
Hopefully hes going to get through whatever injury he has. Hes one of the tougher guys that I know, so hes going to do whatever he can to make sure that he is right.
So the Bruins are expected to leave some of their biggest names Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara back in Boston when they face the Senators in an expected preview of the first round of the playoffs. Theres no reason for franchise cornerstone players to needlessly jump into message game against a Senators team that seems to be the one with something to prove and watching one player get hurt in a meaningless early April loss to the Penguins should certainly hammer that point home.
The Bruins were extremely fortunate to avoid any catastrophic injuries last season, at least until the Stanley Cup Finals when Nathan Horton went down with a concussion That good health was a big part of the Bruins capturing the Cup last season, as they won three Game 7s over 25 playoff games through parts of three months.
While its not yet known how serious the Boychuk injury actually is, it sent a signal through the Bs organization that they might not be as fortunate this time around. Thats why Julien and Co. need to do everything possible to keep the team healthy heading into the playoffs, which are set to begin April 12.

Have the offseason changes negatively affected the Patriots locker room?

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Have the offseason changes negatively affected the Patriots locker room?

The Patriots improve their record to 4-2 with a win over the Jets, but there are still a lot of concerning factors for New England. Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen talk about something the team isn't used to - close games.

Giardi also dives into whether there is a major problem with the locker room dynamic, and whether all the moves they made in the offseason were blown way out of proportion by the media and fans of the talent added, but didn't factor in the personalities they lost.

Koppen and Giardi also look at how the offensive line play has fallen off, despite the same personnel as last year. Finally, discussing the late scratch of Stephon Gilmore due to a concussion. Anything to read into the timing?

Why did Kyrie want to leave Cavs? He's not saying

Why did Kyrie want to leave Cavs? He's not saying

CLEVELAND – Tonight will be a homecoming of sorts for Kyrie Irving, who spent his first six NBA seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
Parting ways is a common occurrence in the NBA so that in itself makes Irving’s return pretty normal.

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Still, this basketball break-up was unlike any we’ve seen in the NBA in recent years.
 
At a time when most players are scurrying as fast as they can to latch on with a title contender, Irving literally went in the opposite direction and asked to be traded from a team that has been to the NBA Finals the past three seasons.
 
And he did so while coming off his best season as an NBA player.
 
So, it only stands to reason that he would be asked about that decision on the eve of his first game back in town.
 
However, Irving’s response to the question did not shed any light on the matter, which is just how he wants it to be.
 
“Well guys, going forward, I want to put that to rest in terms of everyone figuring out or trying to figure out or dive into or continue to dive into a narrative that they have no idea about and that probably will never, ever be divulged because it’s not important,” Irving said. “This was literally a decision that I wanted to make solely based on my happiness and pushing my career forward. I don’t want to pinpoint anything. I will never pinpoint anything because that’s not what real grownups do. They continue to move on with their life and continue to progress. And that’s what I’m gonna continue to do.”
 
Part of that push forward involves helping the Celtics get off to a good start tonight in their season opener at Cleveland.
 
This is a game that’s full of storyline and narratives that only enhance the matchup between arguably the top two teams in the East.
 
But nothing compares to the interest that still exists in Irving’s unexpected decision to ask for a trade back in July, which led to him being traded to Boston for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the rights to Brooklyn's 2018 first- round pick and Miami’s 2020 second-round pick.  
 
“I’m just happy to get the season started, regardless of who we play,” said Irving, 25, an All-Star in four of his six seasons with the Cavs. Obviously, it’s made a much bigger deal because it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers. The situation that happened this summer and being part of a great trade. I’m just truly appreciative of having the opportunity to play this game on the biggest stage and be back here in Cleveland to start the season, it feels different but I’m ready to get started.”
 
In addition to the excitement of the game, Cleveland has reportedly prepared a video tribute to Irving that will play at some point in a stoppage of play tonight.
 
“It’s a great honor and truly appreciative of all individuals who put the video together,” Irving said. “Those special relationships don’t go anywhere; just excited to see a lot of old friends and get on with the game.”

Ditto for Celtics coach Brad Stevens who, like Irving, has maintained a level-headed approach to a game that has so many subplots to it.
 
“I know this sounds like a broken record, but play the next possession to the best of our ability,” Stevens said. “What are we gonna do about that? Ultimately, we’re on the road, people are going to cheer against us. It’s the way it works in the NBA. It’ll be a great atmosphere in here tonight. Focus on the task at hand. We play 82 of these; get used to playing through distractions.”
 
Irving echoed similar sentiments while acknowledging how unique tonight’s opener is for all involved.
 
“It’s just one game,” he said. “We all understand that. For me, it comes with a lot of added incentive to go out there and really have fun and play the game I love. I’m really excited to start this season, and get started with the Boston Celtics and continue on with my career.”