Saturday, February 23, 2013

Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins: the BostonSportPage Bulletin 02/23/2013

February vacation is over and after this weekend it's back to nose to the grindstone.  Time to take a spin around the Boston sport scene.

BOSTON CELTICS:
The Boston Celtics made one small move at the trade deadline this week as they traded for some offensive scoring punch to come off the bench getting Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford in exchange for center Jason Collins and the already injured guard Leandro Barbosa, which left the Celtics, who already lacked quality front line big guys, even shorter in the depth department.  As a stop-gap, the Celtics signed forward D.J. White to a 10-day contract. Jordan Crawford is a gunner who can come off the bench and put up a lot of points in a hurry. Crawford will come off the bench and give the second unit a much needed scorer and offensive weapon.  Hopefully, his presence will keep the bench from giving up so many leads like they consistently have done these past few seasons.  Drop-off from starters to bench players is expected, but a bench needs to keep a lead when they're out of the floor, at minimum.  Crawford won't open eyes on defense, but he should be popular with the Green Teamers when he keeps popping off shots like he was Antoine Walker. 

D.J. White is not much to get excited about, as the former Charlotte Bobcat who played in the CBA this past year. No, not the Continental Basketball Association which ran out the Bay State Bombadiers playing in the Brockton High gym when I was a kid (yes, the CBA was the league former Pistons guard Isiah Thomas killed), but the Chinese Basketball Association. At this point, the Celtics would bring back 63 year-old hall-of-fame center Artis Gilmore to play center if they thought he'd play for the minimum for the rest of the year.  They need big bodies.  Rookie Fab Melo needs about two more years of development before he can help, and right now there is no one behind Kevin Garnett and Chris "My offensive game is to dunk the ball, nothing else" Wilcox.

BOSTON BRUINS:
Much has been made of Boston Bruins rookie sensation defenseman Dougie Hamilton and his excellent play as the desperately needed puck-moving defenseman that general manager  Peter Chiarelli has been actively searching for the past few years, and rightfully so.  On Thursday night he added two more assists as the Bruins beat the Tampa Bay Lighting 4-2. However, the continued solid play in net by Tuukka Rask has been a huge story line as the post-lockout Bruins have not skipped a beat without holdout/since traded/still in a bunker-in-the-woods former netminder Tim Thomas. Rask has had hiccups (he is really stepping in for the first time as the number one goalie, after all) but has been consistent, which with the defense in front of him is often all that is required. Add in the salary cap space the Bruins now have for the departed Thomas, and the switch to Rask looks like a win-win so far this season.

The other bright light has been the return of first line forward Nathan Horton.  Horton, who missed the second half of last season and the playoffs due to injury, has been the grit, toughness in front of the net, and goal-scoring that the team so desperately missed against the Washington Capitals last year when the Bruins were bounced from the playoffs.  With his ability to get to the net and work and will his way to a much needed goal, the Bruins have that last missing piece that eluded them previously. Remember back to the Bruins Stanley Cup run and it was Horton who seemed to always be scoring a huge goal in the playoffs. By adding him, the Bruins have that solid, first line goalscorer they desperately need to make a run in the playoffs.

BOSTON RED SOX:
The Red Sox have kicked off their grapefruit league slate of pre-season games and begin grinding towards April and the regular season.  Although the poor sportswriters suffering in Florida in February (deprived of this beautiful New England weather) have struggled to find real news, fortunately for the Sox, it has been Camp Tranquility so far.  New manager John Farrell has a line-up pretty much set, provided Mike Napoli and David Ortiz get healthy over the next month, and this early there are no take-aways about the pitching staff other than a few minor injuries (Clay Buchholz and Craig Breslow) which will be forgotten in April. At this point, it's a matter of getting everyone working towards opening day, and John Farrell getting Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and John Lackey back to contributing 200 innings and 12 to 16 wins each.  Without that, there is little chance of competing.  That is the big test this spring.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Links Edition:

My new post at MusketFire.com is up here: New England Patriots: Looking Ahead To 2013 – Part Two-Rushing Offense. Also, part one's look ahead at the passing offense is here

I'll be adding in features on the defense, specifically the run/base defense and nickel/pass defense.  In addition, I plan to take a look ahead at the offensive line.

You can check out my daily non-sports newspaper comics snark at The Daily Comics Review.

And, of course, plenty of content to add here with the baseball season coming soon and so much Red Sox news to get to over the next year.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Boston Sport Daily - 02/02/2013

by Hal Bent, BostonSportPage.com

A swing through all things Boston sports this fine Saturday morning in February while wondering if furry rodents predicting weather this day is really worth the attention it receives. Also, the Super Bowl is tomorrow night and the Boston sports community continues to struggle with the mixed emotions of the game: Both teams earned their way to the Super Bowl the old fashioned way--the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers both beat the best team out there, the New England Patriots, on their path to the big game.  My recap of how those games influence the Super Bowl are up at MusketFire here, and my domination of the Internet continues with The Daily Comics Review here. Now that I'm done with the shameless self-promotion, on to the Boston Sport Daily:

BOSTON CELTICS:

The season apparently ended early for the Boston Celtics when All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo was lost for the year with an ACL injury.  Without Rondo, the Celtics woke up, ended their six game losing streak, and ripped off two wins in a row.  Now that the Green Teamers have witnessed a few wins without Rondo, the chatter is all about how the team is better without Rondo.  Nothing like jumping to conclusions with a small sample size.  

Unfortunately, the news for the team in green just gets worse and worse: rookie power forward Jared Sullinger, who has looked like the top ten lottery draft pick he should have been this season, is out for the year now for back surgery, which is the reason he was available when the Celtics drafted him at the 21st overall pick. Losing Sullinger for the season is a blow, but if it means getting him back at full strength next season, it makes sense to have the surgery now and not miss training camp in the fall.  

Yes, having Sullinger have surgery now instead of after the season is throwing in the white towel, but I am sure it was going happen as it became obvious this Celtics team was headed for a battle to reach .500 and the final playoff spot.  The season was a lost cause from day one as this team just could not get in rhythm on offense and struggled on defense without guard Avery Bradley and any kind of defensive presence in the middle of the floor at center.  

I still maintain the team should consider trading anyone not named Bradley, Rondo, or Sullinger (and Rondo and Sullinger are not going anywhere since they are injured and out for the year) if it can help next season.  This season should be about sorting out the bottom of the roster to see who is a keeper and who is trade bait, getting forward/center Fab Melo as much court time as possible to expedite his development (Melo is on the Kendrick Perkins three-year plan) and speed up his contribution to the team down the road. 



BOSTON BRUINS:

The Bruins actually lost a game in regulation.  There, that monkey is off their back. Buffalo, playing with extreme emotion like it was game seven of the conference championships, came into the Garden and blew the Bruins off the ice after Boston led 3-1 early on.  I don't know what happened to the Boston defense, but you can only expose any goalie to so many odd-man rushes before disaster occurs. Goalie Tuukka Rask got plenty of practice for the next shoot-out as he faced far too many uncontested shots.

Beyond the loss, the Bruins lost forward Shawn Thornton for a week or so after he was forced to  fight against the Sabres' 6-foot-8, 258-pound John Scott early in the first period.  Granted, Thornton is the enforcer, but he got pummeled by Scott. The Bruins had one player on the roster capable of going toe-to-toe with Scott: captain Zdeno Chara.  Chara, all 6-foot-9 of him, was nowhere to be found leaving Thornton to get the crap beat out of him and be out with a concussion.  Not exactly how the team captain steps up and serves the best interests of the team and his teammates. 



BOSTON RED SOX:

Well, the Red Sox world series tickets are in high production: the Red Sox signed 36-year-old first baseman Lyle Overbay this week.  Adding a lefty, defensive specialist to play first base is hardly a move that will warm the hearts of Red Sox fans in early February.  In fact, Overbay continues the off-season moves by the Red Sox that looked good in 2010 but reek of grabbing everyone available, toss them in the spring training blender, and sort the wheat from the chaff. 

In other Sox news, young outfield prospect Ryan Kalish underwent shoulder surgery and is out for spring training and not expected to contribute until later in the season, if at all.  Kalish looked like a future star in 2010, but injuries cost him all of 2011 and most of 2012.  He's teetering on the cliff of "still a prospect" and "wash-out" and undergoing another surgery before the start of the season has not helped inspire faith in him fulfilling his lofty expectations. 

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