Bruins

The Inept Axis is plotting

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The Inept Axis is plotting

By Adam Hart
CSNNE.com

Location: A secret underground lair in the outskirts of Indianapolis. Eleven men sit, gathered around an oblong table in a surprisingly well-lit room; it being underground and all. Come to think of it, a work order for new LED lights was filed last -- shhhhh, they're starting.

Bill Polian: Gentlemen, you all know why we're here: the Patri-oughts. They've beaten us, beaten us real bad. For some, it only inflicted minor damage. Others suffered catastrophic derailments.

Marv Lewis: Tell me about it. Twelve games later and we've only got two wins. TOcho doesn't deserve this.

Mike Tomlin: What TOcho doesn't deserve is Carson Palmer. He's about as accurate as the NFL investigation into my boy Big Ben's social outings. Am I right?
Crickets: This noise, unimpeded.

Rex Ryan: So what d'ya propose we do there old BPol?

Bill Polian: It's Bill.

Brad Childress: I say we exact cold, calculated revenge.

Ozzie Newsome: Sounds like a good idea.

Brad Childress: Seriously? You mean you guys are willing to actually listen to me?

Tony Sparano: Who wouldn't listen to you? You wear glasses. They're like ear magnets.

Chan Gailey: Wanna hear something crazy? With my glasses on, I kind of look like Steve Nicol, the New England Patriots' soccer coach.

Rex Ryan: That's some great insight there Channy. Remind me to call you next time I'm having trouble falling asleep.

Jim Schwartz: Wait, maybe he's on to something. He can probably waltz right into their offices, if he knows how to dance a waltz. And if he can pick up an English accent.
Chan Gailey: Well, I have been watching a lot of Michael Caine movies lately during our team film sessions. Maybe that'd help.

Bill Polian: But we can't stop there. These Patri-oughts -- that's how you say it, right? -- are primed to go on another of their Super Bowl runs if we don't stop them. For some reason fans value those silver trophies over regular-season greatness. I blame the media and it's love for shiny things.

Mike Martz: We'd all be fine if the NFL would just force all teams to move into domed stadiums. Everything would fall into place for us.

Brad Childress: Yeah, except for when that Wrangler-wearing, no-good Brett Favre isn't standing where he's supposed to when the roof collapses.

Ozzie Newsome: Umm, what?

Brad Childress: Nothing.

Mike Martz: I just can't believe the league is actually allowing a Super Bowl to be played in New Jersey -- far from tropical temperatures and wind-free domes.

Rex Ryan: Super Bowl? The Jets are going there!

Tony Sparano: . . . Right. You'll be tending to your pigskin graveyard.

Philip Rivers: Well, what if our only problem is having an inept coach? I think firing Norv would solve this problem pretty quickly.

Everyone else: No!

Rex Ryan: Hey, Phil, why don't you and your angry eyebrows hit the road? But if you decide to come back to apologize for bringing up the 'F' word, grab me a Chalupa or something . . . Ah, what the hell. Make it two.

Mike Tomlin: Can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm with Rex. Let's grab some gosh-darn lunch.

Jim Schwartz: Yeah, I'm happy with our progress.

Tony Sparano: Lunch it is.

Mike Martz: I don't know about this guys. My regular lunch time is 12:15. I have problems adjusting to pretty much everything.

Rex Ryan: Bet you even have a hard time adjusting yourself. Hehe.

Bill Polian: Ahem. Then we're agreed: we'll do something in the near to future to stop the Patri-oughts.
Brad Childress: Ok. But once we settle on a plan, no audibles. I can't take any more audibles.

Meanwhile...
Location: Gillette Stadium.

Bill Belichick: Alright guys. It's on to the Packers. We've got a big week ahead of us. They're great on offense, defense, special teams. Let's get to work.

Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

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Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Saturday night, which gave Boston four of a possible six points in its California road swing.
 
1) The kids stepped up at a great time for the Bruins. Boston needed some young players to step up and fill in for the injured veterans up front, and they got it on Saturday night. Jake DeBrusk was the main playmaker on both goals in the first period, and the Bruins got goals from rookies DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen. It was Cehlarik’s first NHL goal and the 10th point of the season for Heinen, who continues to show signs that he is going to be a productive, reliable winger  even though he didn’t start the season at the NHL level. DeBrusk finished with a goal and an assist and twice used his speed and aggressiveness taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances: On the first goal it was Cehlarik who finished the loose puck after DeBrusk’s net drive created a rebound, and on the second it was DeBrusk simply beating reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns to a race for the puck and then snapping it up and over San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell. Cehlarik became the sixth Bruins rookie to score the first goal of his NHL career with Boston this season, and it all shows tangible results of the youth movement they were fully embracing this season. There will be peaks and valleys with so many young players in the lineup, but Saturday night turned out to be one of those high-water marks.

2)  At their healthiest, the Bruins can be a fast-skating, skilled team that will be equal parts offense and defense in a hard-working style that features pace and creativity in the offensive zone. The Bruins aren't healthy right now, obviously, and aren’t going to find success that way as attested by the fact that they hadn’t won two games in a row this season until Saturday night in San Jose. With a number of players already out of the lineup, Torey Krug now injured as well and Tuukka Rask taking an extended rest in favor of a red-hot Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are actually playing a very different brand of hockey right now. With Rask not playing -- and not allowing the types of bad or soft goals he's given up so far this year -- they can play a little more conservatively and try to make a two- or three-goal output in a game actually stick as the game-winning margin. Just check the box score,  as the Bruins blocked a whopping 30 shots and conversely the Sharks blocked just 12. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Robbie O’Gara all had blocked shots in the final few minutes, and Brandon Carlo stepped in front of a wide-open chance for Burns in the third period off a clean offensive zone faceoff win for the Sharks. Those are all gritty, tough plays in the D-zone that you don’t always see, and it perhaps comes a little more naturally when the Bruins are making the clear choice to feature their defense and goaltending right now. It may not be sustainable once Anton Khudobin inevitably cools off a little bit, but for now it’s pretty darn effective.


 
3)  After watching him stop 36 of 37 shots for the win on Saturday night, the Bruins need to see this thing through with Khudobin until he loses a game. Khudobin is 5-0-2 with this season, with a .949 save percentage in three appearances in November. He's playing the best he's played in the last couple of years. Right now Khudobin is actually leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage for the season, and that really contrasts to Rask's .897 save percentage. Certainly part of it is about the Bruins selling out defensively in front of him and blocking 30 shots in the win while knowing they didn’t have to play again until Wednesday night. But it’s also about the Bruins backup goaltender playing himself into a position where the B’s should ride him until he cools down a little bit, and give Rask some more time to figure out what is slowing him down between the pipes right now.
 
PLUS
-- DeBrusk made a couple of big plays in the first period that led to goals for the Bruins, and he finished with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net in 15:49 of ice time. He has a goal and three points in three games since being a healthy scratch last weekend against Toronto.
 
--Khudobin made 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outshot 17-5 and it certainly seemed like they were going to get run out of the building. Instead Khudobin stood tall.
 
-- Heinen finished with two goals and three points on the three-game trip and iced the game for the Bruins with a backdoor strike in the third period after Kevan Miller had dashed up the right side of the ice to create the chance. Heinen is pushing up near the Bruins team leaders in some offensive categories and looks like he belongs in the NHL this season.
 
MINUS
-- Burns was burnt on each of the Bruins' two first-period goals, he actually missed the net with 12 of his 16 shot attempts, and he had seven giveaways in a pretty sloppy game managing the puck. Burns hasn’t had a great season to date, and Saturday night was a good example of things not going well for him this year.
 
-- Paul Postma finished with just eight minutes of ice time in the win, and was part of the poor defensive coverage on the Sharks goal by Joonas Donskoi in the first period that ended up getting overturned on video review. Postma didn’t show much else after that only playing a handful of minutes over the remainder of the game, and based on his early performance looks like he’s only going to be a seventh defensemen in Boston.
 
-- Here’s a hearty boo to the 10:30 pm West Coast starts on Saturday night that only the diehards, or those getting paid, are going to closely watch on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Congrats to you if you were one of the lucky ones that decided to stay up and watch a game that didn’t end until after 1 a.m. in the East.  

For Celtics, winning streak is history in the making

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For Celtics, winning streak is history in the making

BOSTON – Beating the Atlanta Hawks 110-99 on Saturday did more than just pad the win total for the Boston Celtics.
 
It moved them even further up the food chain to what has already been a pretty amazing season.
 
Saturday’s win was their 15th straight, which places them in the penthouse of great Celtics runs of success.
 
Only four other teams in this franchise's storied history have won more consecutive games than this year’s group.
 
Here at NBC Sports Boston, we take a look back at the four teams that are ahead of the Celtics in what has been one of the greatest streaks in franchise history.


 
19 straight wins:  Nov. 15, 2008 – Dec. 23, 2008
 
Fresh off claiming Banner 17, the Celtics were determined to take their place among the all-time great Celtics teams by winning a second straight NBA title. They seemed well on their way with a 15-2 start to the season and of course, their 19-game winning streak. But what turned into a season-ending knee injury suffered by Kevin Garnett later in the year derailed their date with destiny and instead ended with them being upset by the Orlando Magic in the second round of the playoffs , brining a quicker-than-expected end to one of the best regular seasons in franchise history.


 
18 straight wins: Feb. 24, 1982 – March 26, 1982
 
Boston was still considered the best team in the East, although Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers were very much closing the gap. The Celtics dodged a number of close calls during the streak with seven games decided by five points or less, including a 98-97 overtime win at Washington in which the Bullets (now Wizards) went into the fourth quarter with a nine-point lead. The Celtics’ streak eventually came to an end at the hands of the Sixers, which, in hindsight, served as a precursor for Boston losing to Dr. J and the Sixers in the playoffs.


 
17 straight wins: Nov. 28, 1959 – Dec. 30, 1959
 
The Celtics were defending NBA champions and seemingly off to a strong start, only to lose back-to-back games to Philadelphia. While it was still early in the season, they knew they had to quickly right the ship. And they did. During the 17-game winning streak, 12 were by double-digits with only three by five points. The streak ended on New Year’s Day 1960. But by then, the Celtics had re-established their presence atop the NBA landscape and would go on to claim the second of eight straight NBA titles.


 
16 straight wins: Dec. 19, 1964 – Jan. 22, 1965
 
There was little doubt in anyone’s mind that this Celtic team was going to have a special season. They got things going with an 11-0 record right out the gate. And they weren’t just winning games; they were thumping teams with flat-out beatdowns, which is evident by their average margin of victory being by 18.5 points per game. That’s not all that surprising when you consider most of Boston’s core group consisted of players in their prime such as Bill Russell and Tommy Heinsohn. The streak began with a double-digit win over the St. Louis Hawks and would roll along for another couple of weeks. During both the start of the season and the 16-game winning streak, both cemented Boston as the team everyone was chasing. And no one caught them. The Celtics continued to be the dominant force in the league and the season ended with another title, which was the franchise’s seventh straight.