Friday AM Links

The Patriots continue their preparation for Monday night’s game against the New York Jets in the last Monday Night game to be broadcast on ABC. Christopher Price notes that the loss in Miami last year to the then 2-11 Dolphins is still fresh in the Patriots minds and they don’t want a repeat this week. Tom E Curran has a thorough analysis of the Patriots defensive play on first downs this season and how an improvement in that area is probably the single largest reason for their turnaround. Albert Breer also looks at the Patriots success in avoiding giving up the long play as of late. Dan Pires has more on the Patriots resurgent defense. Alan Greenberg notes that the Patriots confidence is building, which as Bill Belichick points out, drives aggressiveness.

Nick Cafardo says that Tedy Bruschi deserves to be a runaway winner of the Comeback Player of the Year award. Who can argue with that? As Nick points out, Tedy could be the comeback player for all time. Ian M Clark examines the Patriots linebacking corps, and sees a whole lot of experience back there which is key to the success of the team. Michael Parente looks at the hard work Josh Miller has put in, which gave him serious consideration for the Pro Bowl for the season he has had this year.

Chris Kennedy’s notebook has Bill Belichick offering up some Monday night memories. Hector Longo’s notebook observes that the Patriots have been on a record run these last three games. Parente’s notebook has Belichick giving credit to Eric Mangini for his role in the defense. In Curran’s notebook, he talks to injured safety Guss Scott. John Tomase’s notebook has Belichick and the Patriots offering condolences to Tony Dungy on the loss of his son. Cafardo’s notebook has Rosevelt Colvin talking about his season and not making the Pro Bowl.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Stephen Harris report on the Bruins 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Banknorth Garden last night. Douglas Flynn says yes, that really was the Bruins on the home ice last night. Kevin Paul Dupont believes that for the Bruins to turn things around, it needs to start in net. Mick Colageo looks at the Bruins going with Hannu Toivonen in last night’s first game of a crucial home and home series with Toronto.

Karen Guregian looks at the signs that Alexei Zhamnov could be emerging from his season long slump. Fluto Shinzawa has David Tanabe getting over his disappointment at not being named to the Olympic team. Shinzawa also has more on Alexei Zhamnov. Elsewhere, Burrell’s notebook has Sergei Samsonov talking about getting Zhamnov going. Flynn’s notebook reports on Keith Primeau getting his first goal with the Bruins. Harris’ notebook has Brian Leetch making a statement with his three assists last night.

Gordon Edes reports on the Red Sox pursuit of free agent pitcher Kevin Millwood. Michael Silverman reports that the Sox are after both Millwood and seeking a trade for Troy Glaus. Rob Bradford says that life will go on for the Red Sox, and they were prepared for a Damon departure. David Borges explores why the Red Sox media will miss Johnny Damon. Chris Snow’s notebook and Silverman’s notebook report on the Red Sox signing backup catcher John Flaherty away from the Yankees.

Peter May and Steve Bulpett look at the struggling Brian Scalabrine, who admits that the catcalls from the crowd have started to get to him a little bit. Scott Souza has the Celtics feeling pretty good about themselves going into a short holiday break and onto a long West coast trip. John Howell looks at the broadcasting duo of Heinsohn and Gorman, and how they just keep going and going. Bulpett has a quote from Doc Rivers about Kobe’s 62 point game being too easy, and Bulpett’s notebook has a few notes on the Celtics who are off until Monday night when they play the Sonics in Seattle.

The New York Sports Pages still have plenty of Damon, and also Jets/Patriots and other items of interest.

Check back around noon for another edition of BSMW SporTView…

Two in a Row!

The Celtics finally managed to win two games in a row, becoming the last NBA team to achieve that simple mark. They defeated the Utah Jazz 101-89 at TD Banknorth Garden and now sit at 11-14 as they prepare for a tough five game West coast road trip next week. Shira Springer says that the win made for a happy locker room following the game and heading into a bit of a holiday break. Steve Bulpett notes that a few in-game corrections brought about this win for the Celtics. Shalise Manza Young notes the strong play of Delonte West in his first game back from the concussion of Saturday night as a key in the win for Boston. Mark Murphy has more on the play of West, who filled up the box score with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists 3 steals and 2 blocks on the night.

Murphy also looks at rookie Gerald Green remaining patient and saying that his game has improved three seasons worth since he arrived here. Peter May has a look at Utah coach Jerry Sloan, who has been at the helm of the Jazz since 1988, and isn’t yet used to having a young, struggling team. You can check the Salt Lake Tribune for more on last night’s game from the Utah perspective. Ron Chimelis reports that the grandson of Dr. James Naismith wants to sell the original rules of the game of basketball, which was invented by Naismith for $10 Million dollars. The notebooks focus on Tony Allen, who has apparently suffered another setback from his knee injury and was not in uniform last night. Springer’s notebook reports that Allen could be “shut down” for an unspecified period of time. Bulpett’s notebook says that Allen will give it a go at practice today to see how the knee reacts. Young’s notebook has more on Allen as well as the return of West.

Michael Felger has a look at how veteran cornerback Artrell Hawkins has stepped in off the street and filled the hole at safety for the Patriots who had had a revolving door at the position since losing Rodney Harrison. Michael Parente has more on Hawkins. Cafardo has more on Hawkins role in the new Patriots four corners defense. AP writer Howard Ulman also has a look at Hawkins. Tom E Curran has a look at the Patriots receiving duo of Deion Branch and David Givens and how the pair compliments one another nicely in terms of style.

Alan Greenberg analyzes how Tom Ashworth and Nick Kaczur have filled in for Matt Light, who was finally placed on IR last night, ending his season. Nick Cafardo looks at Tom Brady and Richard Seymour being named to the AFC Pro Bowl team. Chris Kennedy has more on the duo being honored with their third and fourth appearances respectively.Felger looks at Adam Vinatieri’s streak of 100 point seasons being put in jeopardy this year. Eric McHugh looks at the Patriots offense getting back in gear.

Cafardo’s notebook has more on Matt Light being placed on IR. Curran’s notebook looks at the strangely empty injury report for the Patriots. Felger’s notebook has more on the Patriots Pro Bowl selections. Parente’s notebook also looks at that topic.

Chris Snow and Michael Silverman look at the exit of Johnny Damon from the Red Sox and how this leaves with team with a gaping hole. Tony Massarotti notes that the Red Sox ship seems to be sinking and that this ownership group is setting a bad pattern of letting players leave because of an unwillingness to pay them. Bob Ryan says that we should remember that Damon didn’t owe the Red Sox or Boston anything, he was a free man to take the best offer, which is what he did, and we should remember all that he did for the team while he was here. Gordon Edes insists that it didn’t have to end this way. Up to a few days ago, even the Yankees didn’t think they had a chance at Damon. The Hartford Courant has a whole section of articles devoted to Damon to the Yankees.

Silverman reports that John Henry passed on a final chance to keep Damon in Boston. Rob Bradford says that it is time for plan B for the Red Sox, but we’re not sure what that is at this point. Alex Speier writes that the Red Sox are going to have to act quickly to avoid a winter of discontent among their fan base. Jimmy Golen writes on the Red Sox facing life without Johnny. Garry Brown looks at the huge hole facing the Sox in center field. Ron Chimelis has no idea what the master plan is.

Joe Haggerty also writes about the impact of the bearded one leaving Boston. Lisa Wangsness talks to fans angry about Damon leaving for the Evil Empire. Bill Reynolds says Damon will no longer be the fair-haired boy in Boston. Silverman & Massarotti talk to Bronson Arroyo and Terry Francona about the loss of Damon. David Borges wonders just how this all came to take place in this manner, Damon to the Yankees. Steve Buckley (subscription only) looks at the spin going on from the Red Sox after Damon’s departure. Art Martone has more on the Red Sox and their insistence that they will be fine despite having no center fielder, leadoff man or shortstop at the moment. Chad Finn gets a shot from the Globe of listing out some possible replacements in center.

Check the stories and reaction from the big apple on the New York Sports Pages. Also, David Scott has a special Damon edition looking at all the media coverage of the events of yesterday.

Snow’s notebook has newly signed Rudy Seanez hoping to make amends for his last, brief stop in Boston. Silverman’s notebook has the Red Sox expressing interest in Kevin Millwood.

Stephen Harris looks at the importance of the Bruins next two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell notes that Glen Murray misses his linemate and friend Joe Thornton, across the country in San Jose. Mike Loftus and Harris look at Brian Leetch feeling snubbed by the USA Olympic Hockey selections. Harris’ notebook has winger Marco Sturm heading for his third Olympics with Germany.

NESN has Bruins/Maple Leafs at 7:00. TNT has Cavs/Bulls at 8:00 and Mavs/Kings at 10:30. ESPN has the Las Vegas Bowl of BYU/Cal at 8:00. ESPN2 has the Poinsettia Bowl of Colorado St./Navy at 10:30.

Damon Heads To NY

The Red Sox lost a little more of their Idiot culture last night, as Johnny Damon agreed to a contract with the New York Yankees. It was yet another PR blow for the Red Sox this offseason, and you’ve got to wonder how they’re going to try to soften it.

You can check the links from around New England on the Red Sox Daily Links page. You can also get the reaction in New York on the New York Sports Pages.

Michael Felger has his Patriots Insider, which today has a look at Mike Vrabel who has made a seamless move to inside linebacker. He also has a number of other items, such as speculation among insiders that Bill Belichick’s contract might actually run through 2008. Felger admits that that is just a guess, however. Nick Cafardo’s Midweek Report has a look at the offensive line, which has been in transition all season. Plenty of snide comments from Cafardo about the “secret” methods used by the Patriots coaches. Eric McHugh says that the Patriots defense is looking more familiar to what we’ve seen in the past. Michael Parente says that we will see a “different” Jets team this Monday night. Tom E Curran looks at Deion Branch doing some work in the community.

Cafardo’s notebook reports that a Matt Light return this season is “iffy”. Felger’s notebook looks at Patrick Pass winning the Pro Bowl fan voting at fullback. McHugh’s notebook says that this week will be a normal week of preparation for the Patriots.

Bob Ryan has a look at the Celtics as they attempt tonight to end their distinction of being the only team in the NBA not to have won two games in a row this season. Mike Fine has a look at how the Celtics are dealing with the loss of Dan Dickau and having Delonte West banged up again. Stepping to the forefront has been Marcus Banks. Steve Bulpett looks at the progress Banks is making…with Doc Rivers right in his ear. Banks says all the right things in admitting that he needs the guidance from his coach. Peter May has more on Banks and the tough love he gets from Doc Rivers.Michael Muldoon also has a look at Banks and his strong return to the Celtics. Bulpett’s notebook has Delonte West shaking off the cobwebs from his concussion and practicing with the team. Scott Souza has a look at the Celtics youngsters as they struggle to find some consistency.

Yesterday afternoon on WEEI, Glenn Ordway proclaimed that Ricky Davis “sucks”. The BSMW Full Court Press swings into action on this proclamation.

FSN has Celtics/Jazz at 7:30. ESPN has Toledo/UTEP in the GMAC Bowl at 8:00. ESPN2 has a College basketball triple header, with games at 6:00 (St John’s/Duke) 8:00 (Illinois/Missouri) and 10:00 (Arkansas/Texas Tech) FSN has North Carolina/Southern Cal at 10:30.