Rask, Bruins Win a Big One in Atlanta

Clinging to a one point lead for the final playoff spot in the East, the Bruins faced their closest competition for that spot last night in Atlanta. Tuukka Rask pitched the shutout as the Bruins roared to a 4-0 win, pushing their lead to three points. Couple that with their win over the Rangers on Sunday, and the playoff picture suddenly looks a lot better for Boston.

We’ll go with 15 links from this morning:

Bruins march through Atlanta en route to playoffs – Joe Haggerty with the thorough game story and talking points from last night’s game.

B’s respond nicely to pressure – Dan Rowinski assures Bruins fans that the sky is not falling, after all.

Grinders Starting to Produce as Bruins Beat Up Thrashers 4-0 – James Murphy notes that David Krejci and Milan Lucic showed their form of last season in the win.

Student bodies may be on the way – Fluto Shinzawa’s notebook reports that the Bruins might be signing some college and junior players soon, including 2008 first round pick Joe Colborne.

Life caught up to Antoine Walker – Mike Fine looks at how the former Celtic landed himself in the financial mess of a lifetime.

Nate Robinson and the Art of High Energy Basketball – Jessica Camerato looks at why the Celtics guard is always high-energy.

Celtics unpack, look to get right at home – Mark Murphy has the Celtics hoping that a 12-day homestand can help get themselves straightened out.

Happiness, hope on the diamond – Gordon Edes gets J.D. Drew to talk about as much as anyone has since he’s been in Boston. He recalls making his MLB debut with the Cardinals on the day that Mark McGwire hit home run # 62 in 1998, and talks about his son Jack, who might face more surgery.

10 takeaways from breakfast with Belichick – Tom E. Curran reports on the media breakfast with Bill Belichick at the NFL Owners meetings.

Offseason Workouts a Time for Patriots to Bond, Jell as a Team – Jeff Howe (who was the first to report that Randy Moss and Tom Brady had reported to offseason workouts) tells us what the players are trying to accomplish in these sessions.

Patriots could benefit from draft change – Mike Reiss says that splitting up the draft over several days could help the Patriots ability to make trades.

For Hermida, patience will be a virtue – Brian MacPherson in the ProJo profiles the Red Sox new fourth outfielder, who will have to make a number of adjustments this season.

Sox’ catching prospects are being well-received – Amalie Benjamin has bullpen coach Gary Tuck talking about the future receivers in the Red Sox organization. Tuck is particularly high on Luis Exposito.

Buchholz’ bad habit makes unwanted appearance – Alex Speier has Clay Buchholz reverting to some old ways, showing that he remains more of a work in progress rather than a finished product.

Pedroia suffers wrist sprain – Sean McAdam has a plethora of Red Sox notes from yesterday.

On the downside, Jim Donaldson writes today about breakfast with Bill Belichick being like “dry toast” and that the Patriots coach has no “personality”, says he laughed at an out-of-town writer who asked him if Belichick had said anything “revealing”, that Belichick “is nothing like the colorful and quotable ‘Tuna'” (Bill Parcells) and that he approaches press conferences like a “root canal.”

How long has he been the coach here? Is any of this new? In Tom E. Curran’s piece above, he notes that Donaldson was “dominating the proceedings with even longer questions than mine.” Donaldson says he got maybe one morsel of interest from the session, while Curran came away with 10.

Maybe the problem is with you, Jim.

(Funny, in this picture from said event, the dry-toast Belichick is smiling, while I believe that is Donaldson (top left) happily eating his free food.)

Celtics Fall In Utah, Kraft, Belichick Speak

I’m still under the weather this morning, getting ready to head out for a visit to the doctor, but meanwhile, here’s a look at some of the top stories from the Boston sportspages today:

Belichick touches on coaches, signings – Mike Reiss scores a one-on-one interview with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick down at the NFL owners meetings.

Owner of strong opinions – Shalise Manza Young in the Boston Globe reports one what Patriots owner Robert Kraft had to say about the future of Tom Brady and other topics yesterday.

Rivers, Celtics tossed – Julian Benbow has the details of the frustrating 110-97 loss to the Jazz last night.

Just one of those nights – Paul Flannery has a few points from the Celtics loss last night.

Truth sets ‘stubborn’ Paul Pierce free – Mark Murphy has Paul Pierce admitting that he probably should’ve taken more time off this season, especially after insisting on playing in the All Star game and then needing to get his knee drained the next day.

Cloning Crawford: A look at Ellsbury’s breakout potential – Alex Speier examines the similarities between Jacoby Ellsbury and Tampa’s Carl Crawford, and even has Crawford himself talking about how similar they are.

Lock up Red Sox’ valuables – Gerry Callahan says that Theo Epstein needs to get an extension done right now with Victor Martinez.

10 reasons why spring training baseball is the best of the entire season – Ron Chimelis counts down why he loves spring training baseball.

Bergeron concerned about Savard – Joe McDonald has Patrice Bergeron talking about the long uphill climb that Marc Savard is going to face as he recovers from his concussion.

Bonser takes a step back – Sean McAdam’s notebook wraps up the action from Florida yesterday.

Also check out Chris Warner’s Q&A With ECU DL Linval Joseph on Patriots Daily.

On the flip side, Dan Shaughnessy’s column today is a series of fake stories where the Red Sox sign Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Grady Little and Carl Everett to one day contracts so that they can retire as members of the Red Sox. Yes, it is as bad as it sounds.

NESN will air tape-delayed coverage of Fox Sports North’s broadcast of tonight’s Red Sox-Twins game immediately following NESN SportsDesk at 10:30 PM.  Clay Buchholz is expected to start for the Red Sox with Connecticut native Carl Pavano expected to start for the Twins.
                     
The Red Sox game, which is being played at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida at 7 PM, will not air live on NESN because NESN has live coverage of the Boston Bruins at Atlanta Thrashers game beginning at 6:30 PM with WB Mason’s Bruins Face-Off LIVE.

Bruins Loss Earns Record Regular Season Rating for NESN

The TV ratings are  an indication of how anticipated last night’s Bruins game was among fans.

The game garnered a 6.2 household rating, which is the highest rated regular season game in NESN’s history, as fans tuned in to see whether the team would retaliate against Matt Cooke and the Pittsburgh Penguins for the hit that left Marc Savard with a concussion that likely ended his season.

Fans ended up the evening disappointed, as the Bruins suffered a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Stanley Cup Champions.

Bruins Can’t Punch Their Way Out

The attempted to put up a fight last night and extract a measure of revenge for their fallen teammate Marc Savard, but in the end it was, like much of the Bruins efforts this season, too weak, as they meekly fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 at the Garden.

To fans, job not getting done – There are times, rare occasions, when Dan Shaughnessy’s nastiness and acerbic writing are just what is warranted for the situation. Dan may actually have not been harsh enough on the Bruins in this one.

Bruins lose more than a game to Penguins – Joe Haggerty says that this defeat “might have just sealed this season as an abject failure.”

Score may be settled with Cooke, but loss to Pittsburgh leaves Bruins unsettled – Mike Loftus says so much “for the hope that the Bruins grasp the severity of their situation, and are determined to act accordingly.”

Matt Cooke, Penguins laugh it off – Steve Buckley has Pittsburgh laughing at the Bruins…and the media…after the game.

10 Red Sox campers who intrigued us, and 5 who haven’t – Ron Chimelis lists out young players and newcomers who have made an impression one way or the other during spring training.

Overlooked superstar: The perception of Kevin Youkilis – Alex Speier looks at why the national spotlight does not shine on Youkilis.

Bowden refines his pitch, to Red Sox’ delight – Sean McAdam has Michael Bowden coming to camp with a new, simplified delivery.

Scutaro, Pedroia blending in well – Peter Abraham has the Red Sox new double-play combination getting along well thus far.

Kelly will pitch in AA-Portland – Daniel Barbarisi’s Red Sox Journal also has an update on Ryan Westmoreland.

NESN is trying to solve a chemistry problem – Chad Finn reports that NESN is killing “Sports Desk” in favor of a new “issues-oriented show” called “NESN Daily” but is having trouble finding the right chemistry for a cohost to go with Jade McCarthy. Great, another show about “issues” and “takes”, just what we need around here.

Slamming this Patriots pair laughable – Ron Borges says that those criticizing Tom Brady and Ty Warren for not being in Foxborough this week for the start of offseason workouts are way off base.

Crumpler Pats’ latest attempt to stabilize tight end position – It has been reported that the Patriots have come to terms with free agent Tight End Alge Crumpler. Christopher Price examines the Patriots latest effort to patch the position.  Tom E. Curran is convinced that Crumpler will be a colossal bust with the Patriots.

Celtics survey playoff picture – Julian Benbow has Doc Rivers looking at first round playoff possibilities.

Danny Ainge: Kevin Garnett can’t do it alone – Steve Bulpett has the Celtics GM saying that others need to step up the games in the coming weeks.

Robert Morris gets excellent credit rating – Bob Ryan looks at the near-upset of Villanova yesterday.

A few others:

State of the Patriots: What the 2009 Film Revealed – Andy Benoit of the New York Times’ blog “The Fifth Down” tells us what a review of the Patriots’ season revealed.

It’s been reported that the Patriots have a workout scheduled with Indiana LB Matt Mayberry. He spoke with Patriots Daily earlier in the week.

Providence not kind to Cinderella - I try and spotlight some writers from the smaller papers around New England. Today Eric Rueb of the Narragansett Times gets a chance to write about the NCAA Tournament games in Providence. Also see ‘Nova avoids upset by Peter Gobis of The Sun Chronicle.

I’m not sure why anyone would be interested in reading Gerry Callahan’s column this morning: “Tiger Woods textbook example of real sicko.”  What’s the appeal? It’s predictable, and Callahan is much too talented a writer to be shoveling this sensationalistic-driven tripe.

With Mike Adams taking over the Big Show this week, my afternoon drive dial has been set solely on Felger and Massarotti, and Felger has been dead-on about the Bruins and this whole Savard/Cooke/Colin Campbell situation.

Mike Adams might be a good fit for the WEEI evening audience, who seem to be well into their nightly six pack by the time the phonelines open each night, but as an afternoon drive host, he’s horribly out of his league. (Though they’re not doing him any favors putting the likes of Larry Johnson and Steve Burton in there with him.) He isn’t current on sports topics at all, most of the knowledge he does have is on the 1970’s Red Sox, (or on Manny Ramirez) and his attempts at humor fizzle quickly. A winning combination.

Week Log: Screw the Two, Get Sid The Kid

It’s the game you’ve had circled on your Bruins schedule for the 12 days since Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke cheap-shotted Marc Savard right out of the season. In fact, According to Cameron Frye says we’ve been waiting for it like an expectant mother. Yes, the Penguins come to TD Garden tonight, and there are much more important things to resolve than two points in the standings.

There are those like We’re Just Saying who fear the cost of retribution, feeling every point is vital. But back on March 7, the B’s wagered their self-worth by turning the other cheek to play for the almighty point and came away with neither. What did that do for our vitality? For the past fortnight, their inactions drained the rising tide that was lifting hockey in Boston on the heels of the Winter Classic and Winter Olympics. Now, how is this matter to be made whole?

Well, NHL “disciplinarian” Colin Campbell will be in the stands tonight, so he’s got plexiglass on his side. That leaves Cooke and Savard’s relative equivalent, Sidney Crosby, but it’ll be tricky since Bruins Blog has the league sending in the senior zebras. Jack Edwards says an injury attempt on Crosby would send a beastly message to the NHL that teams have to stand up for themselves because the league won’t. Kirk Minihane says to leave Crosby alone since this beef is with Cooke. Hockey Independent wonders who will be the next victim of a predatory hit given the open season Campbell’s ‘lack of precedence’ ruling has created. Probably not Crosby, as The Grinder has Campbell keeping an eye on “dangerous plays” affecting the league’s young star.

With the lack of any disciplinary action on blindside hits to both Savard and the Panthers’ David Booth, Hockey Journal says the NHL front office is trying to make a right out of two wrongs. The Sporting Blog says Sandra Bullock could have fixed this problem when Booth was blindsided back in October. The Old Bruins Fan says the blame for this mess lies not as much with Campbell or even Cooke as it does with Penguins management.

Blog Of Ice has this a costly 3-3-1 road trip, which included the loss of Savard and ended with Patrice Bergeron taking a puck in the knee down in Carolina. The Hub Of Hockey has the stats to show how much Marc Savard’s loss will hurt the B’s.

Big Bad Blog recounts flaws aplenty in the B’s 3-2 loss to the Devils Monday night, but Something’s Bruin has them opening a much-needed can of whoop-ass on the lowly Hurricanes on Tuesday. That win disappoints Bruins 2010 Draft Watch as Toronto now pulls to within four points of Carolina in the standings. Goodbye, Taylor Hall.

Hub Hockey has Shawn Thornton a healthy scratch in Carolina, no doubt resting up for some vigilante justice tonight. Errrr, don’t count on it says Masshole Sports, who has the Bruins’ goon sounding a bit soft.

NCAAM

We’ll need just two minutes on this college hoops season that wasn’t, as only one New England team has made it to the big dance. Joe Posnanski will take the first minute with his annual picks of the 63 NCAA men’s tournament games in 64 seconds and sadly, Vermont is gone in the first two. Sports Central doesn’t see a return of 2005, when the Catamounts shocked the Orange in the tournament’s first round. However, The BC Blog thinks Vermont is underrated and offers the best chance among this year’s No. 16 seeds to knock off a No. 1 for the first time ever. With first-round action going on right now at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Boston Sports Blog looks back 21 years ago when No. 16 Princeton almost did it to No. 1 Georgetown on this very floor. NESN University has Obama staying with a No. 1, taking Kansas to go all the way, and as a standing President he’s never been wrong . . . in picking national champions, that is.

In NIT roundups, UConn Sports has it a question of heart as Jerome Dyson helped the Huskies pull out a two-point victory over the Huskies of Northeastern. Projo College Hoops has URI’s veterans carrying the load in their win over Northwestern.

Red Sox

There’s a lot of focus on medical issues down in Fort Myers these days. Some good news on the Matsuzaka front, as Gordon Edes has Daisuke actually pitching to a batter for the first time all spring. Call Of The Green Monster bills it as the greatest bullpen session in MLB history.

Ryan Westmoreland’s brain surgery on Tuesday hits close to home for Joe Haggerty, who suffers from the same cavernous malformation and offers a gripping account of living with the condition. Full Count says the success of Westmoreland’s surgery will be measured by the return of his quaity of life, not his return to the field.

Boston Sports Then And Now states their case for keeping Mike Lowell. Despite a great spring, The Bottom Line is that Josh Reddick won’t make an impact this year at the major-league level.

Toeing The Rubber attacks the stereotyping of women as baseball fans who want to show off cute clothes at the park, while Mass Hysteria‘s nightmare of seeing Ronan Tynan in a Red Sox jersey anywhere has come true. Boston Dirt Dogs ushers in the Curse Of The Tenor era.

Celtics

A. Sherrod Blakely sees last night’s win over the Knicks as another in a line of dominant home performances this month, but CelticsBlog thinks it the luck of the Irish that the C’s drew such an easy opponent on St. Patrick’s Day. ESPN Boston Celtics Blog has old friends J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker making their return to TD Garden.

North Station Sports thinks the light switch has been flipped on with these two home games, which mark the first back-to-back double-digit victories since November. Red’s Army has Doc Rivers glowing with confidence over his team and his new guys as things seem to be turning the corner. Green Street has Doc looking to give Shelden Williams somebody else’s minutes.

Odds & Sods

. . . an unstructured wandering through the Boston sports world

Keeping with basketball momentarily, Celtics Stuff Live reacts vociferously to the folly of Bill Simmons running the Los Angeles Clippers.

Sabermetrics geeks rip Jerry Thornton a new one, then he rips them right back. And in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, The Mighty Quinn Media Machine has gone green all week, bringing us among other things the inductions into the Irish-American Baseball Hall Of Fame.

Jade McCarthy says cheering for Tiger Woods will never be the same, but she’ll be glued to The Masters anyway. And Bingo Bar Blog hears some cheers for 98.5 The Sports Hub but isn’t sure why they pose such a threat to WEEI.

Sorry I missed you last week. Sometimes, the day job just doesn’t cooperate. Anyway, enjoy the fight(s) tonight and another saintly celebration tomorrow, and we’ll see you here again next Thursday.

Will They Or Won’t They?

That seems to be the question regarding the Bruins and their matchup with the Penguins tonight. Will they attempt to retaliate for Matt Cooke’s hit that ended Marc Savard’s season? The pressure is on the Bruins players to make a statement, yet the league will be watching them closely and issuing warnings to both teams prior to the game.

This is the most the Bruins have been talked about since the Winter Classic at Fenway Park. The results might well disappoint, but the anticipation for tonight’s game is high, especially among those in the media.

Time to redefine Bruins hockey – Mick Colageo says that what happens tonight is important to this Bruins team’s identity.

Bruins may stir something up for Cooke – Fluto Shinzawa says that the Bruins have a chance to hold Cooke accountable for his actions, but at this point, they need points more than they need punchouts.

All eyes on Matt Cooke tonight – Stephen Harris notes that this whole situation is a result of Colin Campbell’s “disgraceful job performance,” yet the Bruins will be the ones punished if something happens.

Make the Penguins pay the right way – Ron Borges says that the traditional hockey fight route would be silly for the Bruins in this case.

 Celts take care of Knicks, 109-97 – Bill Doyle has Paul Pierce and the Celtics rolling over the Knicks last night.

Rajon Rondo’s game has its point – Steve Bulpett has Rajon Rondo focusing on his teammates rather than his own scoring.

Walker, Giddens getting their chance – Jessica Camerato has the former Celtics talking about their increased minutes with the Knicks.

Don’t expect talent show – Bill Doyle has commentators calling this year’s NCAA Tourney Field underwhelming.

 Familiar pass Patten for Pats – Glen Farley has David Patten remembering the glory days and explaining why he wanted to come back to New England.

Lackey on Beltre: ‘Dude can play’ – Gordon Edes looks at a spectacular play in the field by Adrian Beltre, who showed what some of the hype about his glove skills is all about.

Helping young players part of Cameron’s game – Daniel Barbarisi has Mike Cameron showing that his influence on a team extends well beyond his statistics.

Quick hits: Mets 4, Red Sox 2 – Edes recaps some of the other action from yesterday for the Red Sox.

In Chris Warner’s Q&A With Kent State TE Jameson Konz, the subject of Julian Edelman comes up, as you might expect.

Bruins Storm Through Carolina

The Bruins put forth a complete effort last night in a 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes down in Raleigh, N.C. It looks like the Patriots will be in Detroit on Thanksgiving to play the Lions, and the Celtics host the Knicks tonight.

Bruins blow by Hurricanes – Stephen Harris calls this one a “dreadfully important” victory for the Bruins.

In win, Recchi also earned a tie – Fluto Shinzawa’s notebook has Mark Recchi tying Guy Lafleur for 22nd on the all-time career goal list last night.

Westmoreland is more than a story to me – Turns out that 10 years ago Joe Haggerty was diagnosed with the same “cavernous malformation” that Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland had surgery for yesterday. A rare instance in which a media member can actually relate to what an athlete is going through.

Doubront joins line of Sox pitching prospects – Alex Speier has a peek at Felix Doubront, another in the long line of impressive Red Sox pitching prospects.

Red Sox remain calm under pressure – Halfway through spring training, John Tomase looks at what we’ve learned about the 2010 Red Sox.

For Johnsons, a moment to cherish – Daniel Barbarisi has Red Sox first base coach Ron Johnson, and his son Chris, a third baseman in the Astros organization, getting a rare moment to be on the same field.

Mayo hopes to follow Seau’s lead – Mike Reiss has Jerod Mayo looking to step up his leadership on the Patriots defense this season.

Pats name all-decade team – Mark Farinella with a pretty complete account of what went into selecting the Patriots 2000’s All-Decade team.

Celtics bench showing some signs of life – Mike Fine has the Boston reserves providing a spark in recent games.

Rivers flows with confidence – Julian Benbow has the Celtics coach using all his motivational tricks.

On Patriots Daily, Chris Warner has a very engaged Q&A With Wisconsin S Chris Maragos.

Also be sure to check out Chad Finn’s Nomah notes from the other night. Nice smackdown of Andy Gresh in there.

98.5 The Sports Hub announced today it will be the official radio broadcast partner of the 26th Annual Hockey East Tournament semi-finals and finals this Friday and Saturday night, March 19th and 20th..   Live coverage from the TD Garden in Boston will feature Ryan Johnston and Tony Amonte. Johnston is the former play-by-play voice of the Lowell Devils and is a weekend personality on 98.5.  The Hingham born Amonte played 18 years in the NHL for the Chicago BlackHawks, New York Rangers, Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers and Calgary Flames.  Amonte was a member of the U.S. Olympic hockey team in 1998 and 2002. He played his college hockey at B.U.

Hockey fans can hear all three games live on-air or online at 985thesportshub.com.  The schedule is as follows:

Friday, 5:00pm

B.C. Eagles vs. Vermont Catamounts

Friday, 8:00pm

B.U. Terriers vs. Maine Black Bears

The winners will play in the finals on Saturday night at 7:00pm.

Celtics Bounce Back Against Pistons

The Celtics had a quick turnaround after their loss in Cleveland, playing the Pistons at the Garden last night. They came out strong and sustained it for a 119-93 win over Detroit.

Celts needed a laugher and got it – Mike Fine has the Celtics making some progress with the blowout win.

Pierce, Celtics come together – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics captain getting on track early last night.

A boost from the bench helps the C’s pass the Pistons – Rich Levine analyzes the bench play for the Celtics, both last night and recently.

If the shooter fits . . . – Steve Bulpett has Michael Finley earning playing time by knocking down his shots.

Shaken after a rough ride – Julian Benbow’s notebook has a tough plane ride shaking up the Celtics on Sunday night.

Musings on Bill Walker, Dice-K n’ more – Lenny Megliola clears out the Rolodex of the mind.

Watson never caught on with Patriots – Michael Felger says that the Patriots made the right move cutting ties with Benjamin Watson.

Pats’ Adalius Thomas not yet set on Jets – Karen Guregian has the Patriots linebacker denying he ever said he wanted to go play for the Jets.

Words don’t match Patriots’ actions – Tom E. Curran hits on a number of Patriots topics, including Asante Samuel’s charge that the team doesn’t care about its players.

Bruins floored early – Kevin Paul Dupont has the Bruins unable to overcome a three-goal first period by the New Jersey Devils.

GM backs proposed rule – Dupont’s notebook wraps up the rest of the news from last night.

For Lowell, the test begins – Alex Speier marks yesterday as the first day of the rest of Mike Lowell’s life.

David Ortiz takes stance – John Tomase has the Red Sox DH saying that he doesn’t have to prove anything in Spring Training.

Quick hits: Orioles 8, Red Sox 4 – Gordon Edes wraps up the action from yesterday.

Nelson always ready to throw an inning in relief –– and sign autographs – Daniel Barbarisi with a look at the 35-year-old Joe Nelson, who is trying to win a spot in the Red Sox bullpen.

Notes:

I checked out some of the ESPN broadcast of  last night’s Celtics game. For the second straight game, it was Mike Breen calling the action. I have to say I couldn’t believe it was the same guy. Totally different when paired with Hubie Brown and Jon Barry than he is when he’s with Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy, more subdued, not over-the-top. Of course, neither LeBron or Kobe were playing in the game, but still, it was an amazing transformation.

The New England Revolution are coming to Comcast SportsNet. CSN has announced that they will be the new TV home for the MLS club, airing 27 games (out of 30) this season, all in High Definition. Veteran soccer broadcaster Brad Feldman returns for his 10th season with the Revolution and will handle play-by-play duties for all matches airing on Comcast SportsNet. He will be joined in the booth by Revolution legend and Longmeadow, Mass., product Jay Heaps, who begins his first season as color analyst after retiring from the Revolution in December following an 11-year MLS career.

The telecasts are produced by Kraft Sports Productions. The first game of the season for CSN is the team’s April 3 match at D.C. United.

I’ve actually missed Pete Sheppard the last few days, as WEEI has moved Mike Adams into the Big Show slot while Glenn Ordway takes time off. Nice move, Jason Wolfe, just hand the time slot for those times to 98.5 and Mike Felger – who has been dead-on about how Colin Campbell will be responsible for anything that happens when the Bruins and Penguins play on Thursday. Felger and Massarotti has been all over Campbell and how by saying that he’s going to be at the game on Thursday and addressing the teams prior to the game, Campbell is admitting that he screwed up by not issuing a suspension to Matt Cooke when he ended Marc Savard’s season with an elbow.

C’s Don’t Measure Up. Again.

The Celtics had another opportunity to make a statement yesterday. Once again a statement was made, but not the one that the Celtics and their followers were hoping for. The statement is that the Celtics are not a championship contender at this time, and until they start playing with a little bit of urgency, they’re not going to be one.

Lack of effort means trying times for Celtics – Julian Benbow has effort the biggest thing separating the two teams yesterday, as even LeBron James said that the Celtics look bored yesterday.

Time for some new math – Gary Washburn says that Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo need to take the mantle of leadership from the Big Three and make this their team.

Practice push might be just what these Celtics need – Tim Weisberg says that it might be time for Doc Rivers to push his team harder in practice.

Concern evident for Sox’ Westmoreland – Peter Abraham reports on the Red Sox concern over 19-year-old prospect Ryan Westmoreland (from Portsmouth, R.I.) who is suffering from a rare brain condition that requires very serious surgery that could lead to brain damage or even death if something goes wrong.

Expert: Westmoreland’s surgery has risks, but full recovery is likely – Daniel Barbarisi has more on the risks of surgery, and the overwhelming odds for a full recovery.

Jed Lowrie checks out OK – John Tomase wraps up many of the other items from camp in his Red Sox notebook.

Sammy Morris has book on free agent Josh Reed – The Patriots running back talks about his former Bills teammate and what he could bring to New England.

Watson leaves with mixed emotions – This is from the weekend, but worth linking here. Mike Reiss talks to Benjamin Watson about his time in New England, and the opportunity in front of him. Watson talks about meaningful conversation he had with Bill Belichick at the start of free agency, and his appreciation for the coach and franchise.  

Names to Know Who Could Be Bargains in NFL Draft – Jeff Howe tries to discover the next Tom Brady or Marques Colston.

They’re all in it to win it, but a final of Kansas-Kentucky would be shining moment – Bob Ryan looks over the NCAA tournament brackets.

When did Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy become so annoying? I’ve never liked Breen and his Kobe/LeBron loving-style, but that telecast yesterday was just awful. How long did they focus on Jackson’s wardrobe, past and present? I honestly could not listen to them anymore and watched the game on mute. In the past Van Gundy and Jackson were at least a bit insightful on the game and giving us the perspective of a former coach and point guard in the NBA, but now they’re bringing nothing.

But that wasn’t the most disturbing thing to me yesterday. That distinction would go to A. Sherrod Blakely referring to LeBron James as “Bron-bron” on Twitter - twice.

Mark Farinella takes a thinly veiled shot in this direction in his Ask Fearless (only linked so I’m not accused of suppressing criticism aimed at me) feature yesterday.  The “basement blogger” moniker is clever, witty, AND original. I’ll just say that if I did have an “anti-media agenda,” wouldn’t that by definition mean that I would be hating on all media people? The whole idea of the “Top ten” links to highlight the good that is out there, and to stay away from the bad. If I have an agenda, it’s only against the awful stuff out there that shouldn’t be promoted.

I do find it amusing that he does basically admit that there is an anti-Patriots agenda in the media, when he says that I am “as guilty of having an anti-media agenda as the sportswriters and other media members they accuse of being biased against the Patriots.” If he’s saying I’m guilty…which he is…then he is also saying that the others are guilty of their anti-Patriots bias. Or, if those sportwriters and other media members don’t really have a bias against that Patriots, then neither do I have an agenda, because he’s saying the two are comparable.

But as usual, the point is missed completely. I’ve gone over this a million times, lets try it again. No one has ever said that all fans want is for the media to “further enhance their blind love” for their favorite team. Fans do want to know where their team is failing short and what needs to be improved. That type of criticism is not only acceptable, it is welcomed.

What aren’t welcomed are the snide comments, personal attacks, doom and gloom, and glee over failure that is so evident in much of the reporting that we see today in this area.

What is so hard to understand about that concept?

Doing The Friday Megalinks

Let’s do the megalinks for you. Time to give them to you now.

As always, you get the Weekend Viewing Picks which this weekend has the skinny on the college basketball conference tournaments and other sports.

Now to your links.

National

USA Today’s Michael Hiestand looks at ESPN providing ABC with some sports programming starting in April.

Writing for SI.com, Kevin Armstrong profiles popular ESPN/CBS college basketball analyst Bill Raftery.

The Indiana University National Sports Journalism Center recognizes the winners of the Associated Press Sports Editors Awards.

Todd Spangler of Multichannel News says the ESPN Mobile TV service is being picked up by Sprint cell phones.

Multichannel News looks at Speed’s changes to its Formula 1 announcing crew. 

The Sports Media Watch notes that last Sunday’s NHL Game of the Week did not get a post-Olympics bump, but still did well for NBC.

SMW says last week’s NASCAR ratings dropped yet again.

SMW informs us that TNT’s Inside the NBA crew will be heading courtside to call its first game since 2001.

Joe Favorito can’t wait to see the new movie on Vince Lombardi which would star Robert De Niro.

Steve Lepore of Puck The Media says HBO Sports will focus its next documentary on the Philadelphia Flyers of the 1970’s.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe talks with long-time WBZ-TV sports reporter Alice Cook who was given the pink slip.

Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram interviews local native J.P. Ricciardi who goes from being Blue Jays General Manger to ESPN analyst.

Joe Haggerty from Comcast SportsNet writes about a new ESPN ad starring Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz and Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher.

A rare Neil Best sighting! The Boston Herald picks up a story from Newsday which continues to hide behind pay wall. In this story, Neil writes about CBS being poised to keep the NCAA Tournament. 

From the New York Daily News, Bob Raissman looks at the possibility of the NCAA opting out of its current contract with CBS.

Phil Mushnick in the New York Post is nitpicking over a dunk highlight.

Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union talks with CBS/Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis about Siena’s experience as an NCAA player.

Ken McMillan of the Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record has an appreciation of the late Merlin Olsen.

Tim Lemke explains why he is now a fan of the college basketball conference tournaments.

Jim Williams in the Washington Examiner says NBC begins its Paralympics coverage this weekend.

Jim transcribes an interview Billy Packer did with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Jim talks about a Baltimore radio host who’s conducting a contest to give Orioles Opening Day tickets to several families.

South

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald talks with sports radio host Sid Rosenberg about his new book.

Sarah Talalay from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel says JetBlue will unveil a Florida Panthers tailfin on Tuesday.

Ray Buck in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes that HBO has some big plans for tomorrow’s Manny Pacquaio-Joshua Clottey championship fight at Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

To David Barron of the Houston Chronicle who discusses the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Reggie Miller’s rivalry with the New York Knicks.

David catches up on some ratings news and notes since returning home from the Olympics.

Midwest

John Kiesewetter of the Cincinnati Enquirer remembers an interesting story regarding the late Merlin Olsen and former NBC NFL analyst Bob Trumpy.

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times writes that the White Sox have shot down manager Ozzie Guillen’s request for a website.

Ed Sherman in Crain’s Chicago Business has his usual Friday winners and losers.

Bob Wolfley in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Time Warner Cable gave subscribers frozen pictures that hampered fans from viewing of the Big East Tournament.

Paul Christian of the Rochester Post-Bulletin writes that hockey fans in the Gopher State will have plenty of action to watch this weekend.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says not everyone in the Gateway City will be able to see the Atlantic 10 Tournament this weekend.

West

Scott D. Pierce in the Deseret (UT) News says DirecTV subscribers won’t be able to see the Mountain West Conference men’s and women’s basketball championship games as they will be carried on Versus.

Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune speaks with Padres voice Dick Enberg who won’t be calling his first game until the season opener in April.

John Maffei in the North County Times says the San Diego State men’s basketball team might get some national love if they keep winning in the Mountain West Tournament.

Over to the Ventura County Star where Jim Carlisle says Hall of Fame defensive lineman Merlin Olsen was also a great broadcaster.

Jim is not a fan of the NCAA Tournament expanding to 96 teams.

Diane Pucin in the Los Angeles Times says both CBS and ESPN will be all over the NCAA Tournament selections.

In the Los Angeles Daily News, Kevin Modesti with help from Tom Hoffarth, has a remembrance of Merlin Olsen.

Tom has his usual media notes.

Tom has Dick Enberg’s thoughts on his former broadcast partner, Olsen.

Tom also looks back at the week in sports media.

Canada

Bruce Dowbiggin of the Toronto Globe and Mail says the NHL knocking out head shots was the right thing to do.

The Toronto Star says CTV has relented and will show the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympics live, but only in British Columbia.

Chris Zelkovich of the Star says the Paralympics are not a huge money maker, but are worthy of TV coverage for the Canadian Olympics Broadcast Media Consortium.

William Houston in Truth & Rumours says the head of the Media Consortium may be leaving.