Patriots

Zanon ready to bring his 'warrior' game to the Bruins

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Zanon ready to bring his 'warrior' game to the Bruins

Greg Zanon doesnt have the kind of skill set thats going to jump out and take your breath away.

The former Minnesota Wild defenseman isnt the swiftest skater and hes not a gifted playmaker from the blue line, but he brings a warrior mentality and attributes that help hockey teams win games. All anybody has to know is that New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi is the only player in the NHL that blocked more than Zanons 212 blocked shots last year.

Its the hard hits and blocked shots that fit the 31-year-old Zanon right into the hard to play against mold and make him the biggest difference-maker that the Bruins acquired at the trade deadline. For a team that values the things that dont show up on the scoresheet and covet toughness over just about anything else, Zanon will right in with a banged up Bruins team.

Obviously the Bruins are a good defensive team. They play that physical style. Watching last year when they were making the run to the Cup, they beat up on teams just with their physical play and being able to get up and down the ice the way they do, said Zanon. I just hope I can fit in with my physical aspect of the game. Obviously Ill do anything to try to prevent a goal and just do anything that the team needs me to do.

Theyll let me know what somewhat of what my role is going to be when I get there, but the only thing I can do is come and just play the way Ive played my whole career. Hopefully it takes care of itself.

Many of the things that Zanon does well defensively sound eerily similar to Dennis Seidenberg: he blocks shots, creates a physical presence in the defensive end and can seemingly play through any level of physical pounding from attackers and fore-checkers.Zanons career-highs offensively are four goals scored, 13 assists and 15 points, so he wont be a power play factor or an attack zone force other teams will have to account for.

But with Zanon and Mike Mottau added to the Bruins defensemen mix, the Bs have eight available blueliners when Johnny Boychuk gets healthy from his mild concussion. Zanon wont be in Boston in time for Tuesdays morning skate prior to tonights game against the Senators, but it will be interesting to see how the defensive pairings change once he fully gets into the fold.

Were going to have eight defensemen with Johnny Boychuk healthy, so theres going to be two that are out there. Well figure that out over time, said Chiarelli, who has tracked Zanons career since he was drafted by the Ottawa Senators while playing at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. I dont know who will be in to start. Maybe the two guys we added wont be in to start when Johnnys healthy. Im not sure yet.

Weve had discussions with our coach leading up to this: that if we were to acquire should he play. We talked about these players prior to making the deal, so its a work in progress.It appears that adding some left-handed shot defensemen allows the Bruins to slide Dennis Seidenberg back up with Zdeno Chara as a top shutdown D pairing a la last years playoff run. It also provides a competitive message to a struggling defenseman like Joe Corvo that the Bruins have other answers if he cant consistently step up his game, and that a spot in the playoff lineup is not a given.

Theres a very real possibility that Corvos short-comings in the defensive zone will be exploited heavily by opponents once the Bruins get into the thick of the playoffs, and both Mottau and Zanon provided defensively sounder alternatives. Even better the Bruins now have plenty of defensemen as the war of attrition begins in the postseason as blueliners can begin to take a pounding.

Last year the Bruins only had a fading veteran with great leadership (Shane Hnidy) and a wide-eyed rookie (Steve Kampfer) behind their top-six defensemen, and there will not be a repeat of that situation this year.

I just want to come and do what Ive been doing in the league now for six years: just being myself, playing physical, trying to move the puck as quick as I can, solid on the PK, doing whatever I can to prevent the puck from going in our net, said Zanon. Maybe once in a while chipping in on offense at the other end.

Zanon doesnt need to do much at the offensive end to fulfill what the Bruins envisioned in giving up Steve Kampfer for him. Hes meat-and-potatoes all the way at the defenseman position, and thats exactly what the Bruins are looking for at this time of year.

Ryan's 2 TD passes enough as Falcons hold off Seahawks 34-31

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Ryan's 2 TD passes enough as Falcons hold off Seahawks 34-31

SEATTLE - Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons did enough through 3 1/2 quarters that even the best comeback attempt by Russell Wilson fell short this time.

A couple of yards short to be exact.

Ryan threw a pair of touchdown passes, Adrian Clayborn returned a fumble 10 yards for a score and the Falcons watched Blair Walsh's 52-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds fall short, holding off the Seattle Seahawks for a 34-31 win on Monday night.

Atlanta won its second straight to stay on the heels of New Orleans and Carolina in the NFC South, and handed Seattle a second consecutive home loss.

"What an absolute team win from the guys tonight," Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said. "Coming here, in this environment, with the crowd, we thought it would be two competitive, tough teams that were going to battle for it in the biggest way."

Ryan threw TDs to Mohamed Sanu and Levine Toilolo, while Tevin Coleman added a 1-yard TD run on Atlanta's opening possession.

But it was Clayborn's fumble return that helped break the game open early in the second quarter and gave Atlanta a 21-7 lead. He scooped up a loose ball after Wilson was crunched by Takk McKinley and Courtney Upshaw.

"I think we're moving in the right direction. We keep proving we can finish games and beat guys. We have to take the momentum and keep rolling with it," Clayborn said.

With Seattle down 11 points, Wilson hit Doug Baldwin on a 29-yard TD with 3 minutes left and then threw to Jimmy Graham for the two-point conversion. Seattle got the ball back and moved in range for Walsh, whose attempt was on line but landed short of the crossbar.

"That was in our range, and in hindsight I would have just driven it more," Walsh said. "I would have driven it more and not left it short. I was too accurate and didn't have enough on it."

Wilson again was the entirety of Seattle's offense, throwing for 258 yards and two touchdowns, and running for another 86 yards and a TD.

But it was an awful night for the Seahawks, filled with more injuries and questionable decisions by coach Pete Carroll. He called for a fake field goal late in the first half rather than attempting a 35-yard kick. He also made a questionable challenge in the fourth quarter that didn't go his way and left Seattle with just one timeout.

That lack of timeouts came back to haunt Seattle on the final drive when seconds ticked away and rather than running one more play, Walsh was sent out to attempt the 52-yard kick. His long for the season is 49 yards.

The conclusion only amplified Carroll's baffling decision at the end of the first half, when Seattle ran a fake field goal rather than having Walsh attempt a 35-yarder that would have pulled Seattle within 24-20. Holder Jon Ryan completed his shovel pass to Luke Willson, but Grady Jarrett read the play and tackled Willson for a 4-yard loss.

Willson said Atlanta's defense on the play was different than what Seattle had seen on film.

"It would have been a really good call if we had made it," Carroll said. "Terrific opportunity right where we wanted it and the defensive tackle made a better play."

Seattle played a game for the first time since the end of the 2010 season without Richard Sherman. His streak of 99 consecutive starts in the regular season was snapped because of a torn Achilles tendon suffered against Arizona. The Seahawks were also without safety Kam Chancellor because of a neck injury, leaving their vaunted secondary with several new faces.

"Those two are phenomenal players. ... It was a lot different," Sanu said. "They did a lot of different things but we just had to take advantage of our routes."

MATTY ICE

Ryan was more than happy to pick on a defense without Sherman and Chancellor. He was 19 of 27 passing for 195 yards and rarely faced pressure. Seattle had one sack, and the Falcons went 9 of 14 on third-down conversions.

Sanu made a great one-handed grab for a 2-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Ryan found Toilolo on a 25-yard TD in the third quarter to give Atlanta a 31-20 lead. Matt Bryant added a 19-yard field goal with 3:49 left to put the Falcons ahead by 11, and Wilson's late heroics weren't enough.

Ryan's streak of 64 straight games passing for at least 200 yards was snapped.

INJURIES

Seattle's injury woes continued. The Seahawks lost rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin to a concussion on the second play of the game, forcing newly signed veteran Byron Maxwell into a more prominent role than expected.

Early in the second half, promising running back Mike Davis was lost to a groin injury after taking a screen pass 21 yards. Davis had two receptions and had carried six times for 18 yards before getting hurt. Seattle also lost starting guard Oday Aboushi in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.

Atlanta got a scare when safety Keanu Neal was checked for a concussion in the first half. He was cleared to return.

UP NEXT

Falcons: Host Tampa Bay on Sunday to open a three-game homestand.

Seahawks: Travel to division foe San Francisco on Sunday.

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'Resilient' Celtics continue to find ways to win

'Resilient' Celtics continue to find ways to win

We have seen the Boston Celtics play less-than-stellar basketball for long stretches, only to turn it on in the second half and escape with a win.

But Monday night’s game at Dallas was different.

Usually it has been Boston’s offense that has kept the game closer than expected, but on Monday it was the team’s defense that struggled more than usual.

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But this team continues to show an ability to withstand all in-game struggles to eventually emerge victorious which was exactly what happened as the Celtics rallied from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to knock off the Mavericks 110-102 in overtime.

The Celtics (16-2) have now won 16 in a row which ties the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

But this win, like so many of its predecessors during this historic run, was not one to celebrate afterwards.

“Quite a resilient comeback in the fourth,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Not our best foot forward before that. Of all the comebacks, that did not look good for a long time. We found a way to win it.”

Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 47 points, 10 of which came in the overtime period.

But his performance was just one of many Boston needed to extend its winning streak.

“In a game like this, you have to do whatever it takes, both ends of the floor,” Boston’s Jayson Tatum told reporters afterwards.

And he did just that.

In the final seconds of the fourth quarter, Tatum’s defense forced a Harrison Barnes miss that would have won the game for Dallas.

And in the fourth quarter, Tatum’s rebounding was critical to Boston (16-2) extending its stay atop the NBA standings.

The 6-foot-8 rookie had a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds, with four of his boards coming in overtime.

Boston also got another strong game from Jaylen Brown (22 points, nine rebounds) and Marcus Smart, whose shooting was well off the mark most of the night (3-for-15) but like he has done too many times to count, Smart managed to make a positive impact on the game.

He led the Celtics with eight assists off the bench, in addition to a slew of hustle plays that included a desperation save of a ball going out of bounds that managed to find its way into the hands of Kyrie Irving, who drained a much-needed 3-pointer late in the game.

“Those are worth more than whatever the shot goes in,” Stevens said. “That’s why it’s hard to quantify Marcus Smart.”

The same can be said about Boston’s winning streak, which has come about despite several stretches, every game seemingly, where the Celtics struggle.

But to their credit, they don’t allow the in-game setbacks take away from their focus night-in and night-out and that’s to find a way, any way possible, to emerge with a victory.

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