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.


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