Celtics Getting Back On Track

With five straight wins under their belt, the Celtics appear to have broken out of the funk that they ended 2008 in.

 While the current streak is modest still, Steve Bulpett has the Celtics starting to trend in the right direction again. Robert Lee says that the Celtics went back to basics in order to break out of their losing ways. Jim Fenton notes that during their struggles, teams tried to guard Rajon Rondo with bigger bodies, and that Rondo appears to have made an adjustment in his game over the last few games. Patrick Gilroy has Doc Rivers approving of the direction his team is going.

Ray Allen was in Washington D.C. yesterday for the inauguration of President Obama. Celtics managing partner Steve Pagliuca was with Allen on the trip, and Julian Benbow has reaction from both on what the experience was like. Mike Fine has Allen awed by the event. Steve Buckley also has reaction from the pair on the emotional ceremony.

Red Sox

The Red Sox avoided an arbitration hearing with All Star closer Jonathan Papelbon yesterday by agreeing to a one-year, $6.25 million deal. Adam Kilgore says that Papelbon’s salary now is commensurate with his accomplishments. Sean McAdam says that the sides have even made some progress on a multi-year deal. Rob Bradford notes that Papelbon told us all that he would set the standard for closers, and he continues to do just that. Daniel Barbarisi says that both sides are relieved to get this done.

Gerry Callahan says that history tells us that fat guys don’t last, so Big Papi is DONE. Joe McDonald has a look at shortstop prospect Argenis Diaz, who is being compared to Alex Gonzalez defensively. The Lowell Sun pits writers Kathy Deschenes and Dennis Whitton against each other in debating what the Red Sox should do about their catching situation. Kirk Minihane has a Hall of Fame mailbag for WEEI.com. Bob Halloran examines Jason Varitek’s foolish decision to become a free agent rather than accepting arbitration.

Patriots

John Tomase looks at which players the Patriots might be checking out at this Saturday’s Senior Bowl. Chris Price talks to Tom Brady’s throwing guru, Tom Martinez, who points to Peyton Manning’s 2008 season as an example of what could happen to Brady – early struggles, and a strong finish.

Mark Farinella has the Cardinals no-show in Foxboro a turning point for their season. Michael Felger says that if only the Patriots could’ve gotten into the playoffs…who would you have taken in an AFC Title game matchup – Bill Belichick or Mike Tomlin? Bill Burt says that the Cardinals have zero chance of beating the Steelers.

Bruins

Stephen Harris has the Bruins hoping to regain their intensity in the final game before the All Star break. Fluto Shinzawa says that the break will be a much-needed one for the Bruins. Joe Haggerty has a midseason report card for the Bruins. Mike Loftus says that the Bruins will need to get back to basics.

Media/Misc

Dom Amore has a look at MLB Network.

Joe Zarbano on a WEEI.com blog reports that FOX Sports Radio has laid off Ben Maller and the rest of The 3rd Shift crew. The program aired locally from 2:00am to 5:30am on WEEI. No word on if this means anything for Maller’s rumors and notes site, which is a staple for many in the sports media biz.

Jeff Howe has a look at the biggest transitions in Boston sports since the start of the decade.

In wake of President Obama’s inauguration yesterday, Steve Krause compares the world of sports to the real world in terms of race.

Bob Ryan checks out BU/Stony Brook, which turns out to be a terrific game.

WEEI.com rolls out blogs from Dan Guttenplan and Cyn Donnelly, winners of their Next Great Sports Blogger contest.

Media Blitz Riles Up Steelers Fans

If you missed it from earlier, John Molori’s latest Media Blitz posting, Pittsburgh Cheap Shots Reign Supreme, has certainly riled up fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are coming in swarms to comment on the article.

If you want a more level reading experience, check out Making The Rounds by Chris Warner – a round-by-round look at the Patriots drafting this decade.

Doubleheader Split at Garden

The Bruins and Celtics both played at the Garden yesterday, with the Bruins falling to the Blues, 5-4 and the Celtics routing the Suns 104-87. The events allowed the classic time-lapse photography of the bull gang changing out the Garden between the game.

Bill Doyle has the Suns setting early last night in the Celtics blowout win. Frank Dell’Apa has the Celtics defeating a real opponent, in contrast to the last two blowout wins over the Nets. Steve Bulpett has Rajon Rondo leading the charge with a big game against the team that drafted him and traded him to the Celtics. Robert Lee has the Celtics using this game to avenge a loss to the Suns last season.

Mike Fine has Glen Davis getting a chance to show his mentor, Shaquille O’Neal, the tricks he’s picked up in the league. Lenny Megliola has a look at a reflective Shaq as his career winds down. Steve Buckley has Shaq applauding the Celtics for their championship last season. Paul Flannery has the Celtics cutting Shaq down to size last night. Marc J. Spears has a look at the impact Steve Nash has had on Rajon Rondo, and has the two time league MVP with some kind words for the youngster. Jessica Camerato has Rondo making the Suns pay for trading him.

Dan Shaughnessy says that Barack Obama’s love of basketball makes him OK in his book. Jim Fenton has Ray Allen heading to D.C. for today’s inauguration ceremonies. Tim Weisberg produces a midseason report card for the Celtics. Steve Buckley praises Kevin Garnett for speaking to reporters in everyday terms rather than clichés.  Jeff Howe looks at what Brian Scalabrine brings to the lineup for the Celtics.

Howe points out that many members of Team USA are having career years this season.

Doyle’s notebook  has Shaq giving props to the champs. Fenton’s notebook has the Celtics picking up their first win against a team with a winning record since December 17th. Dell’Apa’s notebook has more on Allen’s trip to Washington. Bulpett’s notebook has more on Allen, but also recounts a funny exchange during the game between Doc Rivers, Sam Cassell, Reggie Miller and Cheryl Miller. Lee’s notebook has Shaq praising the Celtics for putting the right pieces in place.

Bruins

Mike Loftus has the Bruins lamenting a “needless” shootout loss to the Blues. Bud Barth says that yesterday was a game that the Bruins didn’t deserve to win, but nearly did. Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins losing to the worst team in the Western conference. Stephen Harris points out that the Bruins were out-worked most of the day by the lowly Blues.

Barbara Matson has rookie Blake Wheeler putting blame for the loss on himself. Rich Thompson has more on Wheeler taking the blame.

Loftus’ notebook has coach Claude Julien continuing to juggle his lines in hopes of finding offense. Barth’s notebook has more on Julien’s lineup shuffles. Shinzawa’s notebook says that the injuries are finally taking their toll on the Bruins. Thompson’s notebook has Shane Hnidy with perhaps the best view of the tying goal by St Louis with one second left.

Patriots

Chris Warner kicks off the Patriots Daily draft coverage with a round-by-round look at how the Patriots have done in the draft during the Bill Belichick era. In the Metro, I’ve got a quick piece pointing out that the raiding of the Patriots front office and coaching staff this offseason is a  a clear signal that SpyGate was a media creation.

Mike Reiss and John Tomase have the Cardinals pointing to the 47-7 loss in Foxboro to the Patriots as the turning point to their season.

In the wake of the Ryan Clark hit on Willis McGahee on Sunday, John Molori looks at the history of Pittsburgh Steelers cheapshots in the postseason: Pittsburgh Cheap Shots Reign Supreme.

Bill Burt has Adam Vinatieri singing the praises of Tony Dungy.

Red Sox

Sean McAdam has the Red Sox and Jonathan Papelbon getting closer to having to go to an arbitration hearing. Rob Bradford says that Papelbon’s case could get tricky.

Curt Schilling makes the case for Jason Varitek. Amalie Benjamin reports on a minor trade by the Red Sox. Dan Duggan talks to Jonathan Keane, who was the four-year-old boy that Jim Rice pulled out the crowd after the boy was struck by a foul ball back in 1982.

MLK Day Quick Links

We’re off this morning, but figured we’d pass along the usual dashboards for catching up on the local sports links:

It’s a busy day at the Garden, with both the Bruins (1:00pm) and Celtics (8:00pm) in action today.

CelticsLinks.com – Celtics prep for the arrival of Shaquille O’Neal and the Phoenix Suns tonight at the Garden.

PatriotsLinks.com – Special Assistant Dom Capers is heading to Green Bay as the Packers new DC.

BruinsLinks.com – The Bruins have an afternoon matchup with the St Louis Blues today.

RedSoxLinks.com – Nothing new on the catching/Jason Varitek front.

The Friday Megalinks

Ken from Fang’s Bites with your Friday Megalinks once again.

I was working until 11 p.m. so I’m late getting the Megalinks to you, but I’m here and barring any emergencies, I’ll give you the Weekend Viewing Picks, then the rest of the links.

Sunday is probably one of the best days of the NFL season, Conference Championship Sunday. Both the NFC and the AFC Championship Games are taking place. Fox25 and Fox64 have the NFC Championship between Philadelphia and Arizona at 3 p.m. Then at 6:30 p.m., WBZ and WPRI carry the AFC Championship with bitter division rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh facing each other for the third time this season. NFL Network has a four hour pregame show starting at 11 a.m. Sunday. I have my recommendations for viewing in the NFL Viewing Picks for Conference Championship Sunday.

After a rare Friday night off, the Celtics spring back into action on Saturday with a trip to the Meadowlands Arena and an afternoon matinee against the Nets. Comcast SportsNet has the game starting at 1 p.m.

The Bruins are in Washington on Saturday to take on the Capitals. NESN picks up the broadcast at 7 p.m.

WHDH and WJAR will air the season premiere of the NHL on NBC with the New York Rangers visiting the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

Believe it or not, tennis’ first Grand Slam tournament begins Down Under in Melbourne as the Australian Open gets underway Sunday night at 7. ESPN2 and the Tennis Channel will combine for coverage with the Alleged Worldwide Leader providing the bulk, a staggering 157.5 hours for the fortnight. Unfortunately, Maria Sharapova withdrew last week, but there are plenty of others to watch.

The PGA Tour is still in Hawai’i and Golf Channel will provide thorough coverage of the Sony Open from the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. Third and Final Round coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

College Basketball is steaming ahead to traditional conference rivalries. Plenty of games to watch, CBS has a doubleheader on Saturday and ABC has regional coverage starting at 3:30 p.m. Saturday as well. I have the national and regional schedules in the College Basketball Viewing Picks.

HBO’s Boxing After Dark makes its season premiere with a WBC Welterweight title fight between champ Andre Berto defending his belt against Luis Collazo at 9:45 p.m. Saturday.

Now to your links.

National

USA Today’s Michael McCarthy asks you to choose your favorite NFL announcers.

The Big Lead gives its choices for the USA Today poll. And TBL has a very good interview with ESPN’s crazy man, Scott Van Pelt who talks blogs, Chris Berman and being charged up in Bristol, CT at 12:30 a.m.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell goes over the “Obamabilia” that’s being sold over the last couple of months. Darren talks with former tennis star and current philanthropist Andre Agassi. Darren reports that Kobe Bryant has signed a deal with a web site in Communist China.

Joe Favorito says the Harlem Globetrotters continue to expand their brand worldwide.

Keith Thibeault of the Sports Media Journal defends Joe Buck.

The Sports Media Watch says the ratings for the NFL Divisional Playoffs were down considerably from last year. And the SMW says despite all of the hype, ESPN did not see a big bump in ratings for the NBA game in which Dick Vitale worked.

Steve Lepore’s Puck The Media looks at the NHL if Fox got involved again. Steve suggests that the NHL spread its content over several of NBC Universal’s platforms. And Steve has NHL Network’s plans for the All-Star Game.

Linda Moss of Multichannel News says court papers reveal that the NFL Network and Dish Network entered into an agreement for carriage shortly before it obtained its 8 game package.

Noreen O’Leary of Adweek writes that Budweiser will use Conan O’Brien and the Clydesdales in its Super Bowl ads.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell of the Boston Globe discusses Gil Santos’ retirement from WBZ Radio.

Neil Best of Newsday writes that Mike Fratello was Charles Barkley’s replacement in the TNT studio on Thursday. Neil says NBC gets back into the NHL game this weekend. Neil also previews Real Sports’ profile on Al Michaels. Neil lists his Top 15 Sportscasters of all-time. And Neil talks with Civil War, The War and Baseball director extraordinaire Ken Burns.

The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman says legendary sports anchor Sal Marchiano is looking for a new gig.

The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick hates everybody.

Justin Terranova of the Post talks with CBS’ Phil Simms and Dan Marino and Fox’s Troy Aikman about the NFL Conference Championships. And Justin has five questions for Fox Sports’ Michael Strahan.

Pete Dougherty from the Albany Times Union writes about ESPN2’s extensive coverage of the Australian Open which begins in earnest Sunday night.

Ray Frager of the Baltimore Sun facetiously goes over the NFL’s conspiracy against the Ravens. And Ray does not like the cliche, “pack a lunch”.

Jim Williams of the DC/Baltimore Examiner writes that the NFL Today will be live from the AFC Championship.

Tim Lemke of the Washington Times talks with IndyCar racer Sarah Fisher about her new team and crying on national TV last year.

Midwest

The Dayton Daily News’ Marc Katz talks about ESPN airing Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discusses which quarterback is under the most pressure this weekend with CBS’ Bill Cowher and Phil Simms.

Ted Cox of the Chicago Daily Herald writes that the loss of Mike North still hurts WSCR.

Ed Sherman of Crain’s Chicago Business does not rule out the possibility of the Sun-Times and Tribune sharing sports coverage. Ed writes it’s a good thing the White Sox did not move to Tampa. And Ed wonders if Chicago could support two NFL teams.

Paul Christian from the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin says there’s some support among the NFL TV analysts for the Arizona Cardinals to go to the Super Bowl.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that the NFL’s Cardinals are still a ratings draw in town despite the team having moved two decades ago. Dan has some news and notes. And Dan has a look at the NFL playoff TV ratings both nationally and locally.

South

From The State, I believe Doug Nye wrote this story, but there’s no byline. Anyway, a former DJ has joined a sports radio morning team and is not missing the music.

The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson gives his best and worst announcing performances during the NFL playoffs.

Dave Darling in Friday’s Orlando Sentinel says a local ESPN Radio affiliate is now mixing in some local talk.

Also from the Sentinel, Jerry Greene writes that it’s time to stop bashing Versus.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Dallas Stars are changing radio stations for the first time in 15 years.

Ray Buck from the Star-Telegram writes that former King of Queens star Kevin James loves his Mets and Jets.

Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News feels the Stars’ move from its current home is a good one. And Barry writes that the Stars’ broadcast team of Ralph Strangis and Daryl Reaugh is Dallas’ favorite. Barry has some observations on the NFL Conference Championships.

Completing the Texas Trifecta today, David Barron of the Houston Chronicle writes that CBS News and Sports president Sean McManus is having a busy week coordinating coverage of the AFC Championship and the Presidential Inauguration.

David also writes about Ken Burns updating his “Baseball” PBS documentary.

Mel Bracht of The Daily Oklahoman talks with Fox’s Troy Aikman. Mel has some news and notes, but erroneously labels Al Michaels as being with ABC.

West

Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret (UT) News wishes DirecTV and KJZZ would stop fighting so Jazz fans can watch their games.

The Arizona Republic’s Jim Gintonio talks with Arizona State broadcaster Tim Healey.

Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune hopes the referees don’t get in the way of his enjoyment of NFL Championship Sunday.

John Maffei from the North County Times writes that CBS News and Sports president Sean McManus is pulling off a rare double.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventury County Star has quotes from various NFL TV analysts about Championship Sunday. And Jim says the Best Sportscaster of All-Time is a familiar voice to SoCal fans.

Diane Pucin of the Los Angeles Times says Dick Enberg is comfortable as being known as a tennis announcer first.

Tom Hoffarth of the crosstown LA Daily News looks at ESPN’s latest episode of “Homecoming” featuring John Elway. Tom has his extensive media news and notes in his blog. Tom shares his thoughts on ESPN’s latest gimmick. Tom looks at ESPN2’s coverage of the Australian Open. And Tom reviews his week in blogging.

Canada

William Houston of the Toronto Globe and Mail reports that CBC is dropping the Toronto Blue Jays due to declining ad sales.

Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star writes that the economy was a major factor in CBC’s decision.

And that does it for your Friday megalinks I’ll be back next Friday.

Getting Through Another Winter Week

For the second day in a row, I’m only too happy to lead off with the Bruins, who again last night came away with a pair of points, beating the New York Islanders in Nassau Coliseum, 2-1, for their seventh straight road win.

Stephen Harris was less than impressed with the B’s effort against the last-place Isles, excepting goalie Tim Thomas’s outstanding play. Kevin Paul Dupont counted 1,001 lost footraces as part of the B’s malaise, but he also counted 40 saves by Thomas that proved the difference. Joe Haggerty credits last night’s performance to coach Claude Julien for keeping his goalies fresh. Harris’ Bruins Notebook has Thomas keeping cool after losing his shutout bid, and offers some interesting reaction to yesterday’s crash landing of a U.S. Airways jet on the Hudson River.

Dupont’s Bruins Notebook has right winger Michael Ryder’s game getting back on the road after a season and a-half in the ditch. James Murphy says the B’s should hold their rich inventory of youth and talent rather than laying them down for Vincent Lecavalier.

Red Sox

Amalie Benjamin and Tony Massarotti report on Kevin Youkilis’s new 4-year contract. Sean McAdam also has the details, which could shore up the right side of the infield for the next five years. As for behind the plate, Curt Schilling states his case for why the Sox still need Jason Varitek. Paul Doyle has an update on David Ortiz’s wrist. With all the wear-and-tear on his body last year, does he really need to play in the WBC? The re-signing of outfielder Mark Kotsay tops McAdam’s Red Sox Notebook.

Brian MacPherson can tell the savvy players at the Red Sox Rookie Development Camp just by where they leave their gloves. If you could mix Gabe Kapler with Johnny Damon and Bill Lee, John Tomase says you’d get Lars Anderson. No, I’m not sure why either, but for this one article, Anderson did make me forget about Mark Teixeira.

Celtics

Mark Murphy features rookie Bill Walker and his tatoo reminding him to stay hungry. Jeff Howe has Brian Scalabrine putting his institutional knowledge to good use filling in for the injured Kendrick Perkins.

Paul Flannery debates the exact mid-point of the NBA season, but offers the story lines for the half that’s been and the half that is to come.

Patriots & Football

Christopher L. Gasper says there is much work to do in rebuilding a depleted coaching staff. Gerry Callahan says that recent Foxborough emigres are receiving a warm and sincere send-off from the HC. Mike Reiss says Larry Izzo will be playing in 2009, but might get one of those send-offs himself.

Steve Solloway has a grassroots piece on the Maine native who played on the 1947 NFL-champion Chicago Cardinals and has waited 61 years for a repeat.

Ron Borges has the Steelers, who are supposed to be playing the Ravens on Sunday, still focused on the Patriots. Gary Myers of the NY Daily News says the Apple would do well to stay away from T.O. if he gets released by the Cowboys. The New York Post has Plaxico Burress grasping at straws to get off on his latest gun charges.

Odds & Sods

Rob Duca updates us on efforts to return minor league hockey to the Cape.

Bob Ryan empties out his mind and there’s a lot in there as he touches on everything sports. Don’t worry, Bob: I’ve never seen a 24 episode either.

We’ve got Ken Fang checking in a bit later today and Bruce returning on Monday. I’ll be back with our new bloglinks next Thursday afternoon, but you can always reach me before then at [email protected]. With all this cold, I’ll be sitting by the computer waiting to hear from you.

Week Log: Fire on Ice

Second week brings first tweak. Bloglinks are being delivered a little earlier. Apparently, the Evening Drive slot is not the same in blogging as it is in radio. Go figure.

It was a pretty busy week in all four major Hub pro team camps, but we’ve got to lead off with the hottest of them all.

Bruins

I’m doing something lately that I’ve never done before. On game nights, I open up a Yahoo! Sports window and follow the Bruins’ play-by-play. Every five minutes, someone gets a shot on goal and I know about it as soon as it hits the goalie’s glove . . . well, at least by the next refresh. Come mid-third period, I’m heading down to the basement – the kids have Family Guy reruns on in the living room – to catch the NESN broadcast. I’m not big on hockey, but the Bruins have sure been fun. Hockey Orphan has the pros & cons of rooting for the B’s.

If it wasn’t clear before, the B’s now own Montreal after hitting that low-water mark last April when they lost their 13th straight. Stanley Cup of Chowder has reaction to Tuesday’s win over the Habs – the fifth in their last six tries – including the Stuart vs. Chipchura main event. Speaking of which, I can’t get enough of this hit Tim Thomas laid on Andrei Kostitsyn. Allright, moving on, Mazz is steep in his praise of Thomas for getting things done against the Canadiens with the glove . . . and the forearm. Pucks With Haggs says the B’s willingness to stick up for each other will help them survive this rash of injuries. And Rink Rap wants more red on the ice too, but its not the red you think.

Inside The Den reports on some returning troops for tonight’s game on Long Island. In NESN Bruins Blogs Kathryn Tappen is bullish on B’s wingmen.

Red Sox & Baseball

And Another Thing recounts the 15-year HoF ordeal of Jim Rice, which turned decidedly favorable in 2000 when he won over Bob Ryan. Boston Sports Blog takes BBWAA voters out to the woodshed for their many ballot vagaries. Mazz tries to sneak a glimpse inside the real Rice after his election on Monday. Brownie Points wants to do a little housekeeping with the numbers on the rightfield facade once #14 joins them. But The House That Dewey Built regrets that Rice’s induction will lower the bar for future nominees. And the Pin from Sox and Pinstripes is offended that Rice got into the Hall before the immortal Tim Raines, while his Sox partner is excited old 6-4-3 finally made it in at all. Sox & Dawgs gives us another look at Rice and Rickey Henderson working Letterman’s Top 10.

ShysterBall cautions us that John Smoltz is a one-and-done waiting to happen. That would be one game. Despite signing another ex-Brave, A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory still covets Tom Glavine. Dirt Dogs suggests Smoltz is in need of a little variety in the wardrobe department. One garment our animated buddy Doug from The Soxaholix does like is Smoltz’s cap. El Guapo’s Ghost sees an opportunity to get a Texas catcher in a Sox cap, courtesy of Michael Young’s recent malcontent. The Bottom Line considers other options for the Sox behind the plate. Fire Brand of the American League is all about keeping that young pitching for next year.

The Sox Fan half of YFSF is flexing his architectual muscle with a look at designs for the Sox’s new Sarasota training facility. Got beef? Kevin Youkilis does. Surviving Grady has more on the Greek God’s lunch. Projo Sox Blog has Mo Vaugn investing in the Lawrence community through his real estate development company.

38 Pitches, a/k/a Tampa Bay North, says the Rays’ Gabe Kapler signing will keep the A.L. East a three-team race. Over on Subway Squawkers, Met fan Jon is grateful for the Scott Boras door prize that is Alex Cora.

Celtics

Are the C’s really turning things around? The three-game winning streak of late is refreshing but certainly inconclusive. CelticsBlog says that, with a few more scheduling free throws and layups, this team may yet catch the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. Hey, you’ve gotta love this town’s hoop resilience.

In The Paint has all the game notes from last night’s 32-point walloping of the Nets. Paul Flannery wants to appoint a new backcourt king in the East. Well, Red’s Army says Rajon Rondo has a leg up on the crown, bettering Devin Harris last night.

Empty The Bench reminisces of those days before the C’s acquired Garnett and Allen – you know, back when the team was fun to watch. No I’m not making this up. Jessica Camerato has J.R. Giddens biding his time.

Patriots & Football

Where’s Trags? looks at Scott Pioli’s new digs and his first major decision concerning the fate of coach Herm Edwards. Mike Florio says Pioli can’t waste a Mulligan on Edwards. And, on ProFootballTalk, Florio suggests Pioli’s replacement, Nick Cesario, could end up in Cleveland. Notes From Lombardi heard the same thing back on Monday. Adam Shefter works the cap numbers fueling speculation that T.O. may be cut shortly by the Cowboys.

Also check out a Patriots Daily feature: Analyzing The Foxboro Carousel with our own Bruce Allen. Scott Benson and Greg Doyle also chime in.

We’ll close with a little fun. Try Standing Room Only‘s Boston salary quiz before you head home. Drive carefully and remember: keep clicking and we’ll keep klogging.

I’ll see you back here tomorrow morning when I fill in for Bruce. In the meantime, send any e-mails my way at [email protected]

Celtics Continue With Net Gains

The Celtics picked up their third win in a row last night with a 118-86 blowout of the New Jersey Nets at the Garden last night.

Bill Doyle has Paul Pierce powering the Celtics to a dominant win over New Jersey. Frank Dell’Apa has a huge third period the key for the Celtics.  Jim Fenton looks at a huge third quarter from Pierce, who hit five three-pointers in the period. Lenny Megliola says that the 27-2 Celtics reappeared for last night’s game. Jeff Howe says that the Atlantic Division is no match for the Celtics. Robert Lee says that the Celtics were in control from the get-go in this one. Mark Murphy has the Celtics making it look easy last night.

Mike Fine points out that the Celtics schedule from here on out will allow for more rest and more practice time. Steve Bulpett has the Celtics improving their play and outlook for the rest of the season. Two of the best point guards in the East squared off last night in Rajon Rondo and Devin Harris. Paul Flannery has a look at the two dynamic youngsters. Jessica Camerato has J.R. Giddens waiting for his shot. Bulpett has Sam Cassell itching to play this season.

Marc J. Spears has a mini-feature on Yi Jianlian, who could end up an Eastern Conference starter, thanks to votes from China.

Doyle’s notebook has Brian Scalabrine filling in at center again for Kendrick Perkins. Lee’s notebook says that the Celtics will get more practice time in the second half of the season. Dell’Apa’s notebook has Eddie House spraining his ankle late in the game, but saying that he’ll be OK. Murphy’s notebook has Perkins hoping to play against Shaq on Monday.

Red Sox

Jon Couture catches up with Lars Anderson – the only power hitting Red Sox prospect on the horizon. Jeff Goldberg says that Anderson’s time is near. John Tomase also checks in with Anderson.  Joe McDonald has the Red Sox prospects getting instruction from Cam Neely in this winter camp. Rob Bradford looks at how John Smoltz sold the Red Sox on himself.

Daniel Barbarisi has AA catcher Mark Wagner hoping to prove that he’s the future of the position for the Red Sox. Paul Jarvey has more Red Sox prospects eager for their shot to come. Amalie Benjamin has Daniel Bard making a huge turnaround in 2008, which could get him in the majors this year.

Jarvey’s notebook has Theo Epstein hoping to get in a break before spring training. Benjamin’s notebook has Paul Byrd taking the first part of the season off to be with his family. Tomase’s notebook has more on Bard adjusting well to life as a reliever.

Patriots

Mike Reiss says that Nick Caserio should be able to step right into his new role in the front office. Michael Felger has his latest mailbag. Bill Burt has a look at John Carroll University, who had alums Josh McDaniels and Nick Caserio get big promotions this week.

Reiss has Scott Pioli explaining the success in New England at his introductory press conference in KC. Felger looks at what made the Pioli/Belichick partnership great. Karen Guregian has Pioli starting life in charge of the Chiefs. Randy Covitz has Robert Kraft talking about how much he did not want to lose Pioli.

Ron Borges has long time Bengal Willie Anderson getting a taste of this first AFC title game this Sunday with the Ravens. Borges’ notebook has Trevor Pryce saying that Rex Ryan will make a great head coach.

Bruins/Misc

Mike Loftus says that despite not making it onto the scoresheet Tuesday night, Marc Savard had a good game against the Canadiens. Mark Divver has a look at the rise of David Krejci from low draft pick to highly regarded prospect. Fluto Shinzawa says that Aaron Ward will miss at least the next two games. Stephen Harris has the Bruins just trying to heal up.

Bob Ryan looks at the split personalities of the BC hoops team.

Bob Halloran claims that we can’t handle truth when it comes to sports.

Shorthanded Bruins Handle Montreal

Mike Loftus has the Bruins enjoying their third straight win over the Montreal Canadiens last night, with a 3-1 victory at the Garden. Fluto Shinzawa has Zdeno Charo setting the tone for the Bruins. Mick Colageo has Tim Thomas setting a physical tone of his own, crosschecking Andrei Kostitsyn after the Montreal forward had buried a hurting Aaron Ward. Stephen Harris says that the Bruins sent the crowd home having seen a pretty special hockey game. Bud Barth has Chara putting the Bruins on his back last night.

Rich Thompson has Chara coming up big last night with two goals and a number of punishing hits. With the rumors swirling that Vincent Lecavalier is heading to Montreal, Kevin Paul Dupont says that the Bruins have the means and the goods to make a deal for the Tampa Bay superstar.

Loftus’ notebook has Patrice Bergeron making progress in his recovery.Shinzawa’s notebook has Bergeron happy to be back on the ice. The Herald notebook has more on Thomas sticking up for Ward. Barth’s notebook has the injury list growing for the Bruins.

Red Sox

Adam Kilgore looks at John Smoltz being introduced as a member of the Red Sox, and how the longtime Brave feels the transition will go for him. Daniel Barbarisi has Smoltz feeling that he can be a winner with the Red Sox. Michael Silverman says that Smoltz was signed with the big picture – the second half and postseason – in mind.

Mike Fine has Smoltz saying that he likes how the Red Sox operate. Paul Jarvey has the Red Sox hoping to hook Smoltz up to the rejuvenation machine here in Boston. Lenny Megliola has Smoltz seeing an opportunity with the Red Sox that he wasn’t going to get with the Braves. Jeff Goldberg has Smoltz leaving the Braves after 21 season. Haggerty says that Smoltz sounded a lot like Curt Schilling.

Dan Shaughnessy has Carl Yastrzemski praising Jim Rice. Sarah Green says that now that Rice is in the Hall, the new controversy will be over Tim Raines. Nick Cafardo wonders if Rice is the first of a trend – players who get into the Hall because they are perceived as being clean of steroids. Steve Buckley has Rice answering the steroid issue with a comic touch.  Jim Donaldson says that Rice is good enough for Cooperstown, but not great enough to be a true Hall of Famer.

Kilgore’s notebook examines the still uncertain catching situation.

Patriots

John Tomase says that Scott Pioli is a huge loss to the Patriots.

Christopher Price has the Patriots losing an integral part of their team-building process with the loss of Pioli. Glen Farley has more on Pioli’s move to KC. Ben Swasey says that KC isn’t the worst of football situations, despite the 2-14 record last year. Paul Doyle has Pioli getting full control of the Chiefs football operations. Shalise Manza Young says that for Pioli, the timing is clearly right for an exit from New England. Donaldson looks at Nick Caserio as the likely Pioli replacement.

Rich Garven has the Patriots losing depth in their coaching staff. Donaldson says that if Josh McDaniels can be successful in Denver, it will be somewhat of a first for a Belichick assistant. The Globe reports on a change at special teams coach for the Patriots.

Seeing McDaniels smile and talk at his introductory press conference in Denver, Mark Farinella can’t help but take a shot at Bill Belichick and the way he deals with the press. He also intimates that Belichick might be too old and worn out for another rebuilding process with the Patriots, and seems to hint that McDaniels should’ve just taken over here.

Tomase’s notebook has more on Caserio.

They’re pumped out in KC, as Joe Posnanski and Jason Whitlock – via the Herald, can attest. (Aside: how can Kansas City have two columnists better than anyone in Boston – with the exception of Bob Ryan.)

Celtics

Frank Dell’Apa says that the absence of Kendrick Perkins for the next two games against the Nets will be a big loss for the Celtics. Mark Murphy has a look at Brian Scalabrine who will be starting the next two games against his old club. Robert Lee has rookie Bill Walker ready to play if his number gets called.

Boston College

Mark Blaudschun and Steve Conroy report on Boston College promoting defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani to head coach. Eric Avidon has BC finally getting their man, a guy who wants to be at BC and nowhere else.

Local Airing of Hall of Fame Presser

The Baseball Hall of Fame press conference for Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice which will be taking place in New York City at noon today will be broadcast locally by both Comcast SportsNet and NESN. CSN will be running the MLB Network feed.

Following the HoF press conference, NESN will also air the John Smoltz press conference from earlier this morning.