Patriots

Haggerty's Bruins-Capitals preview: Game 3

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Haggerty's Bruins-Capitals preview: Game 3

WASHINGTON, DC With the series switching scenes to Washington, the Bruins get to show their road worthiness against a Capitals team thats been pretty good at home this year. Boston has witnessed the shot-blocking ways of the Caps skaters and experienced the 1-4 trap employed by Washington coach Dale Hunter, and say theyre ready to make adjustments against the Caps.

The bottom line: the Bruins need to win at least one of the two games in the Nations Capitals to reclaim home ice advantage and wrest control of the series. They need to be better on the power play, the need to show more grit in front of the net and the Bs defenseman need to find a way to snake more shots through the tangled trees of Washington defenders.

We just need to be more committed in certain areas of our game, said Zdeno Chara. Once we do that its going to be a much better feel on the ice. We just need to be better and more committed.

We all know its the playoffs and aint going to be easy. There are going to be some losses. You just need to put them behind you, regroup on the days in between and get ready for the game days.

With all of the criticism of Bostons top six forwards by their coach and the inordinate amount of praise going toward Washington goaltender Braden Holtby over the first two games, itll be up to the Bruins to reverse the course of conversation in a series that still has both teams minding their manners.

That may change in Game 3 if the Bruins hope to exert their will against a Capitals team thats been surprisingly non-compliant.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: No points in two games against the Capitals and little offensive involvement for Tyler Seguin in Game 2 despite 26:04 of ice time against Washington. Its time for the 20-year-old to start becoming a game-changing offensive force after watching his team struggle to total two goals in their first two games against the Caps. Seguin needs to battle harder and better in the offensive zone while fighting for pucks and possession it was far too easy for the Caps players to wrestle the puck away from him when he slowed down on the gas pedal.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Theyre going to be angry at him? I think everybody is angry at him because hes so good. You guys know him almost as well as I do. He doesnt give a shoot about that stuff. It doesnt bother him at all. Tuukka Rask when asked if he expects the Washington fans and their ObamaWhite House-themed chants to throw Tim Thomas off his game.

KEY MATCHUP: The thing to watch is whether Dale Hunter can get the matchups he wants with last change in his building. Clearly hed like to get Alex Ovechkin away from Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, and it will be up to Claude Julien to either split his defensemen or stay the course with different combinations out on the ice. The one real negative: Hunter is going to be able to get offensive lines out on the ice when the Greg ZanonJoe Corvo tandem is put out there at points during the game. Watch out for those scenarios.

STAT TO WATCH: 49 the number of blocked shots for Washington after two games leads the entire NHL postseason field. Nobody saw that coming and its been a big part of Braden Holtby shining for the Capitals.

INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) is working out with the team and close to a return. Nathan Horton (mild concussion) has been shut down for the postseason. Adam McQuaid (headeye) has missed six of the last seven games with an upper body injury and didnt make the trip to Washington DC.

ForWashington: injured goalies, Michal Neuvirth, practiced Sunday, but the other, Tomas Vokoun, did not. When asked about his goaltending situation, Dale Hunter said that Holtby "is our goalie" when either Neuvirth or Vokoun gets healthy.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Its a battle of goalies that have been very good through the first two games. Tim Thomas has a .964 save percentage and a 0.83 goals against along with a shutout in Game 1, but will be facing the Obama masks and White House signs for the first time in the series. Meanwhile Brad Holtby has become the darling of Washington hockey with a .973 save percentage and 0.83 goals against average in the first two contests. Hes saved 72 of 74 shots and has matched Thomas stop for stop throughout the first two games of the series. Hell need to continue being that good if the Caps are planning on playing the shot-blocking, gritty style theyve employed in the first couple of games.

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.