The Bruins started off the Eastern Conference Finals just how they wanted, beating the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 in Game 1 on Thursday night at TD Garden.
Trailing 2-1 entering the third, the Bruins capitalized on two power-play chances to take a 3-2 lead less than three minutes into the period, as Marcus Johansson (3rd of playoffs, 2:26) and Patrice Bergeron (6th, 2:54) each found the back of the net.
Charlie Coyle's (6th) empty-netter with 2:13 remaining sealed it, while Chris Wagner (1st) scored an unassisted goal off a takeaway 11 seconds later, this time with Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek (23 saves on 27 shots) back in net.
Steven Kampfer, filling in the for suspended Charlie McAvoy on defense, kickstarted the Bruins' offense in the game. Playing in just his second career NHL postseason game (April 15 at Toronto), Kampfer opened the scoring just 2:55 into the contest, wristing a shot past Mrazek off a gorgeous backhand assist by Johansson:
The goal was Kampfer's first of his playoff career.
Tuukka Rask made 29 saves on 31 shots, improving to 9-5 in the playoffs.
Boston hosts the Hurricanes for Game 2 today at 3 pm ET.
The Celtics are officially out of the playoffs after falling to the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, as banner #18 will have to wait at least another year.
Milwaukee won the final four games by a combined 65 points after dropping Game 1 at home by 22 points.
Here were the scores of each match:
Game 1: @ MIL, 112-90 Celtics (4/28)
Game 2: @ MIL, 123-102 Bucks (4/30)
Game 3: @ BOS, 123-116 Bucks (5/3)
Game 4: @ BOS, 113-101 Bucks (5/6)
Game 5:@ MIL, 116-91 Bucks (5/8)
Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, who were absent from last year's playoffs, under-performed in the series for Boston to say the least. For Irving, after a 33-point Game 1 on 12-for-21 shooting, he averaged 19 points in Games 2-5 on 25-for-83 shooting (30.1%). Just not enough from the star player, despite leading the team with 20.4 points in the series. It was the final four games that just weren't anywhere near close to what was expected from him.
As poor as Irving was, Hayward was even worse. Almost a non-factor. He averaged just 7.4 points in the five games on a combined 12-for-35 shooting (34.2%), despite averaging 28.6 minutes.
Al Horford and Jaylen Brown averaged 16.2 points each in the five games. (Here's a complete stat page for the series.)
An extremely disappointing way to end the season after a convincing sweep in the first round against the Indiana Pacers, though it was fitting. The 2018-19 Celtics season was frustrating from beginning to end, and the ending basically summarized it.
Now the question that's on everyone's mind, is if Kyrie Irving will return to the team next season. He tried to take on the leadership role of the team, and failed. I sensed a divide between him and the younger players on the team which grew as the season went on. I really do believe that he was the core of the team's problems on and off the court.
This Celtics group was pretty much the SAME as it was last year. They came one game away from the NBA Finals WITHOUT Irving and Hayward. Throw 'em in there this year, and what happens? One win in the second round. Four straight losses, and the team's packing their bags.
So where does the franchise go from here? Obviously, changes must be made. But what will those changes be? Does Irving walk? Does he stay, and does Danny Ainge try to trade for Anthony Davis? Will the younger players drafted by the team be dealt?
It's going to be a busy offseason.
The NHL Eastern Conference Finals begin tonight at TD Garden between the Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes, with a scheduled start time of 8 pm ET.
Unfortunately for Bruins sophomore defenseman Charlie McAvoy, he'll be sitting out after being handed a one-game suspension on Tuesday by the league's Department of Player Safety for his hit on Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson late in the second period during Boston's series clinching win against Columbus.
McAvoy was assessed a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head.
This marks the first fine or suspension in the 21-year-old's career.
In McAvoy's place tonight will be veteran Steven Kampfer, who skated in 35 regular season games for the Bruins, as well as in Game 3 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round (3-2 loss, 11:06 ice-time).
He did it again.
Jackie Bradley Jr. may be hitting .142 now after going 0-for-4 last night in the Red Sox's 12-inning win at Baltimore, but he showed fans why he remains in the lineup.
Knotted in a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the 11th, Ryan Brasier let up a drive to left-center field off the bat of Trey Mancini, with a walk-off, solo home run written all over it.
Bradley Jr. had other plans, however:
Hell of a play by the Gold Glove winner. Not many other center fielders in baseball make that catch. Mike Trout is one of them who comes to mind.
Hopefully that ridiculous catch energizes JBJ and his bat wakes up. We know how streaky he is and how capable he is of going on a huge offensive surge.
Rookie sensation Michael Chavis had some thoughts on the play:
And even more worth it, because it led to a win.
Back to .500, time for the Red Sox to keep it going.
Red Sox Are Back To .500 After Beating Orioles In Extras, Sale Punches Out 14, Records Immaculate Inning
For the first time since they were 1-1, the Red Sox are back at .500 after beating the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 in 12 innings at Camden Yards last night, improving to 19-19.
Both of Boston's runs were scored on solo shots by Mookie Betts (7th, 3rd inning) and Andrew Benintendi's (4th) game-winner in the 12th.
With the win, Boston clinched the three-game series victory against Baltimore, their third straight series win.
Boston is now 13-6 in their last 20 games (since April 20) after starting out 6-13, a total flip-flop of success. It was only a matter of time before they got hot, and shame on everyone who declared the season over after a couple weeks.
You're all absolutely hilarious.
The real story of the game though was Chris Sale. In eight absolutely dominant innings, Sale allowed only three hits, one run, ZERO walks, and he punched out 14.
He also threw an immaculate inning in the 7th as Hanser Alberto, Dwight Smith Jr., and Steve Wilkerson went down on nine pitches—all swinging.
Sale is indeed back. In his last four starts, he's recorded a 1.73 ERA (five earned runs) in 26 innings with 42 strikeouts, lowering his ERA from 8.50 to 4.50 in that span.
Ryan Brasier (2-1) earned the win with a perfect 11th (with a bit of help from Jackie Bradley Jr.), while Heath Hembree recorded his first career save in the 12th, striking out the side in the process.
They're halfway there.
For the first time since 2013, the Bruins are heading back to the Eastern Conference Finals after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 in Game 6 at Nationwide Arena last night to win the series 4-2; Boston won the last three games.
The Bruins will face the Carolina Hurricanes beginning Thursday night in Boston.
Tuukka Rask made 39 saves in the series-clinching victory for his first shutout of the playoffs, and sixth of his postseason career. Rask stopped 201 of the 212 shots he faced in the series for a save percentage of .948.
David Krejci (4th of playoffs), Marcus Johansson (2nd), and David Backes (1st) accounted for Boston's three goals; Krejci's came 12:13 into the second while the following two came 8:58 and 10:39 into the final period.
The Bruins outscored the Blue Jackets 17-11 in the series, and 11-4 in the final three games.
David Pastrnak led the Bruins with four goals in the series, while Charlie Coyle (both in Game 1), Patrice Bergeron (both in Game 4), and David Krejci recorded two apiece.
Well, I'm back. This is my first post since March 24, exactly 40 days ago. I didn't anticipate that I'd take that long of a hiatus, but I did.
If I'm being honest, the reason for my break was nothing more than a total lack of motivation. I had no desire to write. I was lazy. I said to myself "Eh I'll write tomorrow" several times, but never did. At one point, I tweeted out I'd be putting out some new content later that day, but didn't (I deleted that tweet).
I had time to write, plenty of it, but I just neglected to do any.
That ends now.
When I started this site at the end of January, my goal was that it would lead to something great. And the last 40 days have been 40 days where I could've been putting out content.
It's time to get back at it.
In the last 40 days, there have been plenty of stories and headlines in the world of Boston sports. The Bruins and Celtics beginning their playoff runs, the Red Sox beginning their 2019 season, and more. Perfect things to write about. But, again, I had no motivation. That's the reason.
No more of that though. It's time to be more consistent. Consistency is the name of the game, one of the biggest keys to success. You've gotta chip, chip, chip away each week if not day to make your dreams a reality.
And it's time to be more consistent.
You'll be reading plenty from me in the coming days, weeks, and months.
I'm only getting started here at Titletown News.
Thanks for reading, everyone. I'll see you later.
Yesterday was a great day for Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. First, he signed a one-year, team-friendly contract extension. Then, in Boston's 7-3 win against the Florida Panthers—he made history.
Chara scored his fifth goal of the season 5:05 into the second period to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead. It wasn't just any goal, though—it was the 200th of Chara's career, as he became just the 22nd defenseman in NHL history to accomplish the feat.
Here's the Captain's milestone goal:
A simple, passionate, effective celly from the 42-year-old:
After the game, the future Hall of Famer dedicated number 200 to his father:
And it just so happened to occur in the game that the Bruins clinched a playoff spot.
What a day for Big Z and the Bruins!
It's the end of an era.
Rob Gronkowski has officially retired from the NFL after nine seasons as a New England Patriot, making the announcement on his Instagram account:
The greatest tight end of all-time is going out on top.
Thanks for everything, Gronk!
Following the Bruins' 19-game point streak, the team fell into a brief skid, going 0-3 on a three-game road trip against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Winnipeg Jets.
Thankfully, that was just a minor bump in the road, as the Bruins have since won four straight games.
3/16 vs Blue Jackets: 2-1 overtime win
3/19 at New York Islanders: 5-0 win
3/21 at New Jersey Devils: 5-1 win
And last night, 3/23, a 7-3 win against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center, falling one goal short of their season-high.
Boston's seven goals came from seven players. In order: Noel Acciari (5th), Brad Marchand (32nd), Zdeno Chara (5th, 200th career), Karson Kuhlman (2nd), Steven Kampfer (PPG, 3rd), David Pastrnak (33rd, second in three games since returning from injury), and Patrice Bergeron (EN, 31st).
With their fourth straight win, the Bruins improved to 46-20-9, putting them seven points ahead of the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference (both teams have seven games remaining).