Could Lightning Strike Twice?

Ron Borges has a pretty reasonable look at the Patriots playoff chances, (Although he does say that they have a better chance of having their plane struck by lightning for the second time this season than they do of winning a Super Bowl.) he says we should especially hope that the Patriots do not face the Bengals, Jets or Broncos in the first round. Michael Felger has his Patriots report card, which has solid grades across for the board, the “C-” handed to the receivers is the low mark of the bunch. Ian Clark also grades the receivers a “C”, but the rest of the marks are strong across the board in his report card. Rich Garven says that the Patriots much build on this win with tough tests against the Jags and Titans on tap next.

Alan Greenberg says that the health of playmakers Kevin Faulk, Benjamin Watson and Laurence Maroney is vitally important to the Patriots chances of success. Tony Massarotti can’t figure out the NFL. Michael Parente says that the Patriots accomplished their goal of winning a cleanly played game.

Christopher L Gasper has Jabar Gaffney not letting his first quarter drop on Sunday get to him, as he bounced back to catch a touchdown against his former team later in the game. John Tomase has Ellis Hobbs bouncing back to be a big contributor whatever he’s asked to do. Shalise Manza Young has a similar piece on Hobbs. Eric McHugh says that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady should be in better moods this week after the team’s performance on Sunday.

Gasper’s notebook has high praise from Bill Belichick to Mike Wright, who stepped in for Vince Wilfork on Sunday. Tomase’s notebook has Belichick dismissing claims made by Charley Casserly on CBS Sunday. I don’t know about you, but I find Casserly to be incredibly annoying on that show. Young’s notebook looks at the Patriots struggling a bit in the red zone on Sunday. Parente’s notebook says that the Patriots could be without Kevin Faulk this weekend in Jacksonville. McHugh’s notebook has Mike Wright and the defense passing their test of playing without Vince Wilfork.

Red Sox

Gerry Callahan effuses praise for the Red Sox in today’s column about the team’s pursuit and signing of Daisuke Matsuzaka. He has Tom Verducci calling Matsuzaka “the best pitcher in the world this year,” and manages a shot a Pedro Martinez in the process. Michael Silverman and Gordon Edes each look at Matsuzaka’s return to Japan, where he talks about his experience in Boston.

Gordon Edes has a look at the hangup in the J.D. Drew signing, which appears to be the condition of his right shoulder, as apparently doctors found something in the shoulder they weren’t expecting as a result of a previous surgery. Silverman’s notebook has the Red Sox and the Drew camp working towards resolving the situation.

Celtics

Peter May reports on the stiff suspensions handed out to Knicks and Nuggets players following the ugly brawl at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. Jeff Jacobs wonders how Isiah Thomas escaped punishment in all of this, while the Nuggets may have ruined their season. You can get more coverage on the New York Sports Pages.

Mark Murphy has Sebastian Telfair playing unselfishly during the Celtics winning streak, being more concerned with taking care of the ball and setting up his teammates than he is with scoring. Mike Petraglia has a look at the emergence of Al Jefferson as a key to the Celtics winning streak. May’s notebook reports that Michael Olowokandi might be ready to go tomorrow night against the Warriors, while Wally Szczerbiak is likely to miss the entire upcoming west coast trip for the Celtics. Murphy’s notebook has more on the fines from the brawl and the Celtics injuries.

Bruins

Steve Conroy has Zdeno Chara all business on his return to Ottawa for the first time since leaving the Senators and signing with the Bruins. His current and former teammates talk about the reception he is likely to receive from the fans there. Fluto Shinzawa has more on Chara treating the trip as just “business as usual.” Conroy’s notebook looks at how the Bruins have had little margin for error this season.

College/Misc

Michael Vega reports on Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator (and former BC offensive coordinator) Jeff Jagodzinski being set to be named as the next head football coach at Boston College, as soon as tomorrow. Steve Conroy says this move was surprising, not shocking, as Jagodzinski will probably keep at least a few members of the current staff on board, which was appealing to A.D. Gene DeFilippo. Lenny Megliola looks at Jagodzinski moving from Brett Favre to Matt Ryan.

Mark Blaudschun says that BC didn’t want too much change, so Jagodzinski was a safe choice as a replacement for Tom O’Brien. He notes that the new coach is something of an unknown, “Which is why there will be as many question marks as exclamation points this morning.”

Joe Sullivan of the Union Leader offers up his version of the “thoughts” column.

NESN has Bruins/Senators at 7:30. Versus has Blues/Penguins at 7:00. ESPN has Kent St/Duke at 7:00 and Missouri/Illinois at 9:00.