It is almost halfway through 2019, and we just keep getting more reasons why Boston is the best sports city in the country this millennium. With the Bruins advancing to the Stanley Cup last week, Boston will have a chance to play for its third championship in the last seven months. While none of the other Boston teams made headlines this week, everyone in Greater Boston is holding their breath for the Stanley Cup to start.
The Bruins made quick work of the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals, sweeping them in four games and
outscoring them 17-5. The Bruins dominated throughout the series thanks to a devastating power-play attack and some phenomenal goaltending from Tuukka Rask.
After blowout wins in Games 1 and 2 of the series, the Hurricanes played their best hockey in Game 3 on Tuesday. They got a bunch of opportunities in the first period, many of them on the power play, but Rask denied all 20 shots that he faced in the opening period.
The Bruins came out much more aggressive in the second and were able to net a couple of goals early in the period.
Chris Wagner scored his second goal of the playoffs on a perfect pass from Joakim Nordstrom, and Brad Marchand scored his sixth playoff goal on a nice backhanded shot from the slot on the power play. With Rask’s continued spectacular play in net, those two goals would be enough for the win. The Hurricanes also scored in the second period, but they would only get that one past Rask, and the Bruins won 2-1 behind his 35 saves.
In Game 4 on Thursday, the Bruins had control of the game from the start, as they got numerous early opportunities. It wasn’t
until the second period that they finally cashed in though. David Pastrnak scored his seventh goal of the playoffs on a nice feed from Marchand on the power play. Then, Patrice Bergeron scored the next two Bruins goals. His eight playoff goals lead the team. Finally, Marchand scored the empty netter late to seal the 4-0 win and the 4-0 series sweep. The line of Pastrnak, Bergeron and Marchand has been a force all postseason and Game 4 was no exception.
Rask made 24 saves and recorded his second shutout of the playoffs. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara did not play in Game 4, but he was on the ice win full uniform after the game to celebrate with his teammates. He is expected to be ready for the Stanley Cup, which does not start until Monday, May 27.
The Bruins will be playing the winner of the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks series. As of Sunday, the Blues hold a 3-2 lead. This will be the Bruins third appearance in the Stanley Cup Final this decade and first since 2013. They will be seeking to bring home their seventh championship in team history and first since 2011.
Boston Red Sox
After a scorching hot 11-2 stretch, the Red Sox came back down to Earth, going just 2-3 in their five games this week. They split the two-game midweek series with the Colorado Rockies, and they lost two out of three to the Houston Astros this weekend. They still sit in third place in the AL East at 24-22, 4.5 games behind the first-place New York Yankees.
On Tuesday, Chris Sale was masterful on the mound. He struck out an incredible 17 batters in seven innings, but the bullpen
blew the lead after he left the game and the Red Sox lost 5-4 in 11 innings. On Wednesday, the Sox blew another lead, as they were up 5-0 early after a J.D. Martinez two-run home run. But the Rockies came storming back and tied the game at five in the seventh inning. The score would remain tied until rookie phenom Michael Chavis delivered the game-winning single in the bottom of the 10th inning to send the Fenway crowd home happy.
Then, the Astros came to town with the best record in the American League. They were winners of their last eight games, and they extended that winning streak to 10 with wins on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, the Astros won a pitcher’s duel by the score of 3-1 thanks to George Springer’s 17th home run of the season, which was Rick Porcello’s only mistake. On Saturday, Hector Velazquez let up five first inning runs, and the Red Sox were never able to recover, losing 7-3.
Finally, on Sunday the Red Sox pulled off a come-from-behind 4-3 victory. Chris Sale didn’t have his best stuff, and he walked five batters in 5.1 innings, but he gave his team a chance to win with just three earned runs and 10 strikeouts. Chavis hit a towering home run and Xander Bogaerts drove in both the tying and go ahead runs with a single in the fifth and a double in the seventh. The bullpen was terrific and didn’t allow a hit in 3.2 innings of work. Marcus Walden picked up his sixth win of the season and Brandon Workman recorded his first career save.
Next, the Sox will travel to Toronto for a four-game series with the Blue Jays. David Price is set to come off the IL and start the first game of that series on Monday.
The Celtics season is over, so there is not much news for them except rumors on potential trade and free agent targets. However, nothing will likely happen on that front until early July. The only thing we found out for certain last week is where the Celtics will be drafting in this year’s NBA Draft.
The draft lottery had both positive and negative results for the Celtics. The positive is that the Memphis Grizzlies got the No. 2 pick. If the Grizzlies pick was out of the top eight, the Celtics would have gotten it, but since it wasn’t now the pick turns into a top-six protected pick in next year’s draft. If the Grizzlies happen to retain their selection again next year, the pick becomes unprotected in 2021. This is good news for the Celtics because it gives them another asset that they can use to trade for a star (cough… Anthony Davis…cough).
The negative is that the Celtics pick from the Kings fell all the way to 14th in the lottery. The pick was top-one protected, so the Celtics could have gotten all the way up to the No. 2 pick, but the ping pong balls didn’t bounce their way. The Celtics as of right now have three first round picks: Nos. 14, 20 and 22. There are many different ways that they can use these picks, so we will have to wait and see what happens up until and on draft night.
New England Patriots
The big news out of Foxboro this week was that the Patriots signed linebacker Jamie Collins to a one-year deal. Collins was drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2013 draft, but he was traded away midway through the 2016 season to the Cleveland Browns. The Browns released him after last season, and the Patriots jumped on the opportunity to bring the veteran back for cheap (only 250k guaranteed). Collins became the second drafted Patriot to return this offseason after Benjamin Watson.
Collins was a great player during his tenure in New England, as he was selected to the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro team in 2015, but he didn’t carry that success into his time in Cleveland. He was hurt for much of the 2017 season and he had a pretty average year in 2018. Collins will look to carve out a role with the team that he rose to popularity with, but he is certainly not guaranteed a spot since the Patriots already have a bunch of linebackers on the roster. With his athleticism and experience though, Collins has a good chance to help the team next season.
In other news, the Patriots signed linebacker and standout special teamer Brandon King to a two-year extension. King made the team as an undrafted free agent in 2015, and he has been a steady presence on special teams ever since. With this extension, he will be with the team at least through 2021.
Bruins- Stanley Cup vs. St. Louis Blues OR San Jose Sharks starts on Monday 5/27 @ 8 p.m. Other games are Wednesday 5/29 @ 8 p.m, Saturday 6/1 @ 8 p.m, Monday 6/3 @ 8 p.m. and if necessary Thursday 6/6 @ 8 p.m. Sunday 6/9 @ 8 p.m. and Wednesday 6/12 @ 8 p.m.
Red Sox- Monday 5/20 at Toronto Blue Jays @1 p.m., Tuesday 5/21 at Blue Jays @ 7 p.m., Wednesday at Blue Jays @7 p.m., Thursday at Blue Jays @ 12:30 p.m., Friday at Houston Astros @ 8 p.m., Saturday at Astros @ 7 p.m., Sunday at Astros @ 2 p.m.
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