Kaufman: Bruins Doubled Over, Celtics Clinch Playoff Berth, Red Sox Offense Thrives
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BOSTON (CBS) – If you’re one of those Boston fans who look at the schedule every day and thinks, ‘Okay, which wins are more important,’ then you probably woke up in a bad mood Sunday morning.
Sure, the Celtics and Red Sox were awesome in their respective victories, but the Bruins – despite playing well – ultimately fell just short against the Caps.
Now, for today’s rant…
1) A double-overtime loss? That’s one of those losses where the longer it goes on, the more invested you become as a fan in the outcome. Delusional as it may be, you start to feel like you want the win as badly as the players, coaches and management. You don’t. Still, that’s a part of what made Saturday night’s 2-1 Boston loss to Washington so disappointing. There’s a big difference between a 2-0 series lead heading to DC, and a 1-1 tie where home-ice advantage – for the time-being – has disappeared.
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Naturally, I’m as concerned as you are over the production from Boston’s top two lines. When third-liners Benoit Pouliot, Brian Rolston and Chris Kelly are your leading scorers after two games, something is either fantastically right or horribly wrong.
In a game that lasted nearly 83 minutes, Bruins fans are probably only marginally happier that Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin combined for 5 shots than Capitals fans are with Alex Ovechkin’s 3 (though he tallied an assist). It’s cliché, but time for the B’s to start playing their game, playing dirty and scoring some ugly goals.
Now, offense aside, the defense has been impressive (especially in regard to Washington’s prowess to block shots, and ignoring Boston’s costly turnover leading to the Game 2 winner) and the goaltending has been impeccable. Juicy rebounds aside, not even Braden Holtby’s parents expected the rookie to play so well in the crease for the Caps with 72 stops on 74 shot attempts, and you can bet he’d like that Pouliot goal back. Tim Thomas has been his usual playoff self (54 of 56), but he can’t do it alone, which is obviously a well-known fact in that dressing room.
My prediction entering the series was Bruins in 5. I’ll stand by it because you can’t change on the fly with those things – even if I’m now thinking B’s in 6.
2) If not for our Boston hatred of the Canucks, you almost have to feel badly for them. Almost?
Top-ranked Vancouver dropped the first two games at home to 8-seed Los Angeles, and no one seems to know if and when Daniel Sedin’s coming back from his concussion. This one’s got upset written all over it. Hope the Kings sweep ‘em.
3) If you spent the evening bummed over the B’s, you missed the Celtics clinch their fifth straight playoff berth in the latest ‘Big 3’ era. After a disappointing loss in Toronto, Boston took it to New Jersey (and took their time getting there – stupid traffic) and, as expected, got a way better game from Brandon Bass.
As I noted yesterday, he had a rough evening against the Raptors, but the x-factor had 18 points and 11 rebounds (and a +12 rating) in just 29 minutes, while Rajon Rondo continued to do what he does best as he piled up 15 assists. Much more of this and Danny Ainge will start losing friends if he puts the guard back on the trade block this summer.
Ray Allen was out again with that sore right ankle, but the other veterans were huge with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce combining for 38 points in 62 minutes. Pierce hobbled off early and hopefully he’s okay, but KG hasn’t been this much fun to watch in years. He’s healthy, playing more aggressive, sinking jumpers and pulling down a ton of boards. If I’m Danny and the price is right, I wouldn’t even hesitate to bring him back in 2012-13. In fact, if Garnett keeps playing the way he is, it might manage to look like a loss letting him go.
In the meantime, Charlotte’s up next Sunday night, and then we can stop talking about 3-in-3’s.
4) Life after Jacoby Ellsbury, now that he’s on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury, began yesterday and, for a day, it wasn’t bad. The Red Sox pounded the Rays again, this time 13-5. That’s 25 runs over the last two games. Of course, who of us ever said the Sox couldn’t hit?
Clay Buchholz spotted Tampa Bay four runs, but Jeremy Hellickson matched his struggles with five runs allowed and his bullpen didn’t fare any better.
Getting back to Jacoby, his absence meant the team needed help at the leadoff position and in centerfield and it got both. Mike Aviles had three hits from the top spot, and Cody Ross had a pair of hits, plus 4 RBI in center – and both men homered. Like I said, one day down and so far, so good. Five homers for the team and two straight wins. What 1-5 start? Right?
5) A parting baseball thought. I know it’s April 15 (Happy Tax Day, by the way), a mere week or so into the season, but it’s always strange seeing Baltimore leading the AL East, the Angels last in the AL West and the Mets eyeing the top spot in the NL East, isn’t it? Then again, I saw a kid wearing a Cal Ripken jersey on Saturday, so maybe it’s 1997 again?
Adam Kaufman, a native of Massachusetts, joined the Sports Hub as an on-air personality in June 2011. He has worked as a television and radio anchor and broadcaster for various outlets since 2004, and his written views on sports and entertainment have appeared on NESN.com and in the New England Hockey Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamMKaufman.