Celtics

Signs were there for Bruins letdown

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Signs were there for Bruins letdown

RALEIGH, N.C. Claude Julien and several of the Bruins players had been sounding off the warning sirens and caution alarms over the last two weeks.

Bad habits are creeping into the Bruins overall game and pulling them away from near perfection.

Breakout passes are getting sloppy, the action is getting a little too chaotic in their own zone and battles are being lost directly in front of their own net. Its been pretty difficult to miss.

Things have been creeping in the last three or four games, and tonight they bit us, said Patrice Bergeron. It hurt us. Were aware of it. I guess thats the good thing. But weve got to open our eyes and realize we need to play for 60 minutes and be consistent if we want to win.

Worst of all the ever-consistent Bruins arent putting together carbon copy efforts for the 60 full minutes in games, and instead theyre a hockey club overly reliant on an uncanny ability to pull things out in the third period.

Those final period triumphs were allowing the Bs to bank the two points in games they were winning ugly, and so the danger signs went unheeded and unattended. The Bs strolled into Carolina squaring off against an Eastern Conference cellar dweller, and leave Canes Country wondering what happened.

Instead of getting away once again with all of the inconsistencies and gaffes in execution it all came crashing down on the Bruins in a 4-2 loss at the RBC Center.

The Bruins dropped to 0-3 on the season against the Canes, and limped through one of the few lackluster third periods of the entire season. There wasnt much surprise or tremendous anger in the Bs dressing room after the defeat, but instead a resolve that issues need to be ironed out.

Weve talked about that since the Christmas break we havent really put together full 60 minute efforts when you take the Calgary game out of it, said Milan Lucic. It was eventually going to catch up to us. The goal to tie it had eyes before it went in.

But its unfortunate that we had to give up six points this season to the Hurricanes. Weve got to be better no matter who the opponent is.

There was little speed or extra burst to Bostons game, and the contest finished with the Bs on the short end of the registered hits battle, 18-14, in a rare sign of indifference to the physical game. The Hurricanes allowed the Bs to fire off 35 shots on net with everything coming from the perimeter. Normally staunch defenders like Dennis Seidenberg and Gregory Campbell were getting pushed all over the ice, and both finished minus-2 for the night.

As Claude Julien so aptly put it, the Bruins were getting beat at their own game by a team with little to lose.

Weve talked about finding ways to win when things are going well, but tonight we found a way to lose, said Julien. We had control of the gamenot that it was our best game. But we still felt we had a certain control and we had the lead. But we got knocked off the puck too much tonight.

They got it back and they made sure they knew that to do with it. I give them a lot of credit because I thought they played a really good game. They played with a lot of energy and they certainly had more than we did. We didnt seem to have the energy that we normally have. Weve got to get used to this kind of schedule.

On paper the first game of a four-game road trip against a team way out of playoff contention should have had trap written all over it. The Bruins stepped way too predictably into the pitfall.

Oddly enough things seemed like they were going to work out once again for the Black and Gold when Milan Lucic grabbed a loose puck and snapped a high wrister over Cam Wards shoulder for the go-ahead goal to start the third period.

But Cam Ward was able to turn aside a Daniel Paille scoring bid on the shift following Lucics goal, and the Bs domain the third period suddenly became winning time for the hungry, hungry Hurricanes.

A knuckling Justin Faulk shot managed to skip by Seidenbergs head before escaping Tim Thomas, and the Bs netminder never saw Jay Harrisons game-winning goal from the left point through heavy traffic. An empty-netter followed almost immediately and that was that.

It was nearly impossible for the Bruins to heed the ominous signs of a hockey club slipping into inconsistency seriously when the wins were still rolling through the zamboni door. But perhaps now that theyve been humbled by a Canes team that simply wanted it more and a team that seems to have their number the lessons will be accepted with a little more gravity.

The Bruins are viewed by the rest of the NHL as the Stanley Cup champs and the hottest team in hockey over the last three months. Saturday night was just a sample of the wallop that every teams best punch has cocked and ready to deliver. The Bruins need to match that emotion rather than lament the quality of the ice or the puck bounces enjoyed by the opposition.

Excuses are for losers and the Bruins are definitely not in that category. Its just been a long time since they were so clearly the lesser team as they were in Carolina when it came to winning or losing time in the final period.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Kyrie Irving’s struggles, not having Gordon Hayward, and the Celtics losing for the 2nd time in as many nights.

6:31 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to discuss the message delivered by Hayward to the fans before the game, what was going on with Kyrie’s shot, and why they failed in stopping The Greek Freak.

10:33 - Albert Breer joins BST to preview the Falcons/Patriots Sunday night game and if Atlanta is in the middle of a Super Bowl hangover.

15:40 - In a new game called On The Clock, each person gets 40 seconds to rant on their selected subject including if Red Sox fans can root for the Yankees if the playoffs and how painful the Bruins season will be. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long is donating his salary

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Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long is donating his salary

PHILADELPHIA - Chris Long is donating the rest of his year's salary to increase educational equality.

The Philadelphia Eagles' defensive end already gave up his first six game checks to provide two scholarships for students in Charlottesville, Virginia. Now, he's using the next 10 to launch the Pledge 10 for Tomorrow campaign.

"My wife and I have been passionate about education being a gateway for upward mobility and equality," Long told The Associated Press. "I think we can all agree that equity in education can help affect change that we all want to see in this country."

Long signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Eagles, including a $500,000 signing bonus and $1.5 million guaranteed. His base salary in 2017 is $1 million.

The charitable initiative encourages people to make donations to improve equal education opportunities. Long began his career in St. Louis in 2008 and played for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots last season. Long's foundation has selected four organizations whose missions focus on making education easily accessible to underserved youth while also providing students the support they need to develop strong social and emotional character.

The four organizations are based in the three communities in which Long has played during his NFL career. The city that raises the most money during the season will receive an additional $50,000 donation.

"There's a lot of opportunities to help out and they're wonderful organizations," Long said. "We have such a great platform as football players and hopefully fans get behind it."

Long grew up in Charlottesville and starred in high school at St. Anne's-Belfield before going to the University of Virginia. He was moved to start the scholarship program following the violent protests in Charlottesville in August.

"Our hometown is a wonderful place and I feel like people got the wrong idea about what the residents of Charlottesville are all about," he said.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE