C’s Pound Heat, Sox Pull One Out

 The Celtics played like an awakened giant last night (Thanks, Quentin Richardson!) and after a pretty tight first quarter blew the Miami Heat out of the building last night, rolling to a 106-77 win at the Garden to take a 2-0 series lead. Check the full coverage from all over the web at CelticsLinks.com.

The Red Sox looked dead in the water last night, as the Texas Rangers ran at will on the base paths. The Red Sox clawed to within two runs by the eighth inning, when last second callup Darnell McDonald hit a pinch-hit, game-tying two-run homer, and then in the bottom of the ninth hit a ball off the wall with the bases loaded and two out to give the Red Sox a 7-6win at Fenway. Check the full Red Sox coverage at RedSoxLinks.com. You can also get this one Reloaded.

Welcome back, Celtics – Paul Flannery greets the real Celtics, who finally showed up last night.

C’s do just fine without Garnett – Lenny Megliola has the Celtics getting a step-up effort from Glen Davis.

Their study is producing answers in test – Gary Washburn says that the Celtics have hit the reset button.

The rebirth of Ray Allen – David Willis looks at the Celtics guard playing at a Hall of Fame level last night. The Eagle-Tribune also unveils a new-look website. It’s an overall improvement from the old version, but the actual content is in a very narrow strip. It’s the second smaller paper in the region to redesign this week, as the NH Union Leader also has a new look.

Ray Allen puts the Heat on Dwyane Wade – Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics may have lost Kevin Garnett for this game, but they found Ray Allen.

The Mystery of Glen Davis – Rich Levine notes that whatever you may think of Glen Davis, you have to admit that the guy is a gamer.

Stingy defense rediscovered – Julian Benbow’s notebook wraps up a few other items.

A star is born in stunning Red Sox win – Amalie Benjamin reports on the newest Red Sox hero.

Wild win is exactly what the Red Sox needed – Sean McAdam says that this win was big for Boston.

Red Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald is an overnight sensation after 13 years – Ron Chimelis has more on McDonald.

A few things that Red Sox fans might not want to hear – Rob Bradford doesn’t want you fanboys to get too excited over last night’s win. (Actually the column is much better than the headline would indicate.)

Kevin Youkilis done with flip-flopping – Steve Buckley has Youkilis saying that he’s done moving back and forth between first and third on a game-by-game basis.

Ellsbury, Cameron both down and out – The Projo Red Sox Journal has a number of news items and notes from yesterday.

LB Brandon Graham fits the Bill – Karen Guregian thinks that the Michigan linebacker would be a good fit for the Patriots.

Patriots add veteran Holt to receiving corps – Robert Lee reports on the Patriots signing of WR Torry Holt.

Rich Garven’s Mock Patriots draft – The T&G Patriots writer looks at who he thinks the Patriots will end up with.

Mark Recchi still has much to offer as wise veteran – Stephen Harris looks at the influence the veteran is having with the young Bruins.

Rask plays it cool in first playoffs – Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has the Bruins goaltender looking quite good in his first series.

Pats Pre-Draft Visits and Workouts – Scott A Benson has a complete look at the reported visits and workouts between the Patriots and possible draft targets.

On the downside today, you knew someone would suggest it, and who better than Ron Borges to say that since Glen Davis played so well last night, that the Celtics should sit Kevin Garnett in Friday’s game three as well.

Also, with the NFL and Patriots schedule coming out last night, you got some people already trying to project game-by-game how the season is going to go. Given how much rosters will change between now and September, it’s a bit silly to try and do this. OK, Mike Reiss, we’ll let you get away with it,  Hector Longo on the other hand? Not with that garbage you submitted today.

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Gary Tanguay will be back on the 98.5FM airwaves for this week’s Patriots coverage. The former mid-day host will be on the air from Gillette stadium for tomorrow night’s first round of the NFL draft, and will also be will Patriots Pre and Post game colleagues Andy Gresh and Scott Zolak on Saturday from 10-2 for another draft show.

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The Bruins and Red Sox are both scheduled to play 7:00 PM games tonight and NESN will deliver both games in standard and high definition.

NESN’s broadcast of the Boston Bruins – Buffalo Sabres Game #4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at TD Garden will be available on your regular NESN and NESN HD channels. The Boston Red Sox –Texas Rangers game at Fenway Park will be available on NESNplus and NESNplus HD channels.

NESNplus and NESNplus HD are a compilation of channels that distributors provide NESN to carry simultaneous coverage of Red Sox and Bruins games.

In most Comcast communities, the Red Sox – Rangers game NESNplus feed will be on channel 81 and the NESNplus HD feed on channel 894. For DIRECTV subscribers, the NESNplus channel will be 629 and the NESNplusHD will be on 629-1. For Dish Network subscribers, NESNplus will be on 450 and NESNplusHD will be 442.

A complete list of NESNplus and NESNplus HD channels can be found at NESN.com.

NESN will provide updates on a game-by-game basis regarding which game will be available on NESNplus and NESNplus HD channels and on which channels fans can find the game through their local provider.

Bruins Handle Their Business At Home

The Bruins took a 2-1 series lead on the Buffalo Sabres with a 2-1 victory at the TD Garden last night. In addition to the links below, get all the coverage at BruinsLinks.com.

The Red Sox are awful right now. Just awful. 0-for their last 32 with runners in scoring position, this is a team that just can’t get it going. The were pummeled again by the Rays, 8-2at Fenway yesterday. You can get the game Reloaded, but do you really want to?

The Celtics get ready for game two of their first round series with the Miami Heat tonight at the Garden, but will do so without the suspended Kevin Garnett.

The Patriots will find out their 2010 schedule tonight, as continue last minute prep for this week’s NFL Draft, starting Thursday night.

Seems like old times as Bruins outmuscle Sabres – Joe Haggerty has the gamer from last night, as well as  several talking points.

Old faithful – Jeff Hamrick of the Eagle-Tribune looks at 42-year-old Mark Recchi setting up the game winner for the Bruins.

A long wait between playoff goals for Bergeron . . . but it was worth it – Danny Picard has Patrice Bergeron scoring his first postseason goal since 2004.

Vladimir Sobotka snares spotlight – Stephen Harris has the Bruins fourth-line center being ignited in the postseason.

Savard is able to begin skating – Fluto Shinzawa’s notebook has Marc Savard stepping out on the ice for the first time since his concussion.

If the Red Sox keep struggling, it’s Theo Epstein who will catch the heat – Ron Chimelis says that Epstein, not Terry Francona should feel the heat if the team continues to struggle.

Red Sox clubhouse not a happy place – Mike Fine has Dustin Pedroia among those expressing dissatisfaction at his team’s play.

Right now, they can’t do anything right – Gordon Edes says that the Red Sox can’t hit, field, or pitch, and they can’t even win at Fenway Park.

The rotation was Lack-ing – Alex Speier says that with the three aces at the top of their rotation, the Red Sox were not supposed to go through a five-man rotation without a win.

No holiday in outfield – Scott Lauber’s notebook says that the Sox might be looking for some outfield reinforcements very soon.

Wallace’s world in Garnett’s absence – Scott Souza says Rasheed Wallace will get the chance to make up for a season of disappointments by filling in for Kevin Garnett tonight.

Celtics have been down this road before – Julian Benbow says that the Celtics know how to play in the postseason, and against the Heat, without KG.

What to watch for in Tuesday’s Game 2 – Paul Flannery has a few things to look for tonight.

Celtics must repeat the little things – Steve Bulpett has a few of the things you might not notice that will be critical tonight.

Doc Rivers has ‘Q’ for league officials – Dan Duggan’s notebook has the Celtics coach wondering why Quentin Richardson didn’t received more than just a fine as punishment.

Unproven ’09 picks make Patriots’ 2010 draft dicey – Tom E. Curran looks at three Patriots picks from last year, who could play a bigger role next season, but the uncertainty around them plays into this week’s draft as well.

Complete List of Patriots Daily Prospect Interviews – In all, Patriots Daily conducted interviews with 34 prospects heading into the draft. Check the complete list here.

Remodeling the system – Albert Breer looks at the importance of finding the right fit, rather than just going with prototypes.

Time to plan the fall season – Mike Reiss lists the things he’s anxious to learn during tonight’s schedule release.

A BSMW reader summed up Nick Cafardo’s column (High anxiety, as even Red Sox owner Henry shows concern) this morning thusly: “Sox can’t throw out runners. Angels may make an offensive catcher available. Where would he fit in here? Sox are 1-6 without Ellsbury. 3-3 with him. Team should have left him in center. Too driven by stats I don’t understand.”

2010 Season Already A Marathon For Sox

It’s another Patriots Day, AKA Marathon Monday here in New England.

The Red Sox are slumping, and the Bruins and Celtics are coming off weekend playoff wins. Kevin Garnett will be suspended for tomorrow night’s game two, after planting an elbow in the face of a yapping Quentin Richardson near the end of the Celtics game one victory.

This morning (NESN, 11:00am) the Red Sox look to salvage a game in this series, while tonight the Bruins look to take the lead in their first round playoff series. (NESN, 7:00pm)

If you want coverage of the Boston Marathon, I recommend Boston.com’s Boston Marathan Special page. WBZ TV will have complete marathon coverage. They will also be filing race updates via @bostonmarathon .

With so much going on, I’ve selected 20 great articles to get you going today:

Taking stock of the Sox’ predicament – Alex Speier with a solid look at a team and defense  that has been less than advertised to this point in the young season.

It’s early, but so far, the Red Sox look like a machine whose parts don’t fit – Ron Chimelis notes that at this point there is no doubt that the Tampa Rays are a much better team than your Boston Red Sox.

April slump has a different feel – Jon Couture notes that “every throwing gaffe and dropped pop comes with a snicker from somewhere in the corner pub or the press box.” Glad our objective media members are enjoying themselves in the early going here.

Red Sox toil through another ‘unacceptable’ outing – Mike Fine notes that the Red Sox have used that word so much early on that it might become one of those t-shirts the players seem to adopt every year.

Cameron still hasn’t found comfort zone – Amalie Benjamin’s notebook catches us up on the rest of the Red Sox news.

Bruins’ Recchi knows how to win – Joe McDonald has the 22-year NHL veteran stepping up his game in the postseason and sharing his experience with his younger teammates.

Boychuk coming into his own with the Bruins – Joe Haggerty notes that sticking with the young defenseman has paid off for both Johnny Boychuk and the Bruins.

Best offense is an offensive defense – Mick Colageo says that a new-found confidence the defensemen have with the puck is giving the Bruins a lift.

Claude Julien, team seize leadership role – Stephen Harris grabs you with the first line of his column today, and then examines whether the statement is true or not.

Adam McQuaid green, but solid on blue line – Steve Conroy’s notebook has the rookie defenseman holding his own on the defense.

Garnett to miss Game 2, but tone is set – Tim Weisberg says that the impact of the Garnett elbow will be felt for the rest of this series.

Davis ready to reprise role – Chris Forsberg has Glen Davis looking forward to another chance to fill in for KG in the postseason.

Heat now realize they’re in for a fight – Gary Washburn says that the Heat “have to prove they can do more than berate defenseless players.”

Paul Pierce not lured in by Richardson’s tough talk – Steve Bulpett says that Pierce says he isn’t taking the bait, but given the strong personalities involved, this series hasn’t seen its last incident.

Memories of draft day for local players – David Pevear with a very cool column, talking to guys like Lowell’s 90-year-old Ed Murphy, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1943, and other locals who were draft long before the Mel Kipers and Todd McShays took over the event.

Are Patriots thinking QB in draft? – Hector Longo with a fairly comprehensive look at the QB prospects in the draft, and looks at the Patriots’ experiments at that position in the Bill Belichick era. Tom E. Curran also looks at the QB prospects.

Tebow may be out of Patriots’ range – Mike Reiss says that Tim Tebow may have moved up and out of the Patriots draft range.

Jared Odrick sure he’d succeed in Pats defense – Karen Guregian has the Penn St defensive end feeling like he’s to guy to fill the shoes of Richard Seymour in New England.

Big void exists for Patriots at defensive end – Ian Rapoport has more on the need at the DE position for the Patriots.

Q&A With USC DE Everson Griffen – Chris Warner talks to another guy who has been mentioned as a possible Patriots selection at defensive end.

Sunday Quick Ten

Here are ten quick top items from today:

Bruins rally for stirring Game two victory – Joe Haggerty has the story of the Bruins 5-3 win over the Sabres yesterday afternoon to tie the series at a game apiece.

Key Bruins reappear in Game 2 upset – Dan Rowinski has several Bruins waking up in yesterday’s game.

AD orders up another round of whine – Tom E Curran reacts to yesterday’s article in the Globe on Adalius Thomas by Shalize Manza Young.

Patriots’ Mr. Versatile sees value in Tim Tebow – Karen Guregian talks to Troy Brown about how the Florida QB could possibly be used by the Patriots.

Should Pats consider move up for Suh? – Tim Weisberg wonders if the Patriots could and should make a move to trade up for the top defensive talent in the draft.

The Red Sox are in an early-season funk, to be sure. Check the reloaded from Jon Couture for Game 10 and Game 11 – both losses to the Rays.

Questioning adds to Garnett’s pain – From yesterday, Jackie MacMullan’s extensive talk with and feature on Kevin Garnett and his long and continuing recovery from last season’s knee injury.

Celtics defense was a sight to behold – Gary Washburn has the Celtics rediscovering themselves on the defensive end last night.

Kevin Garnett expects tussle to be costly one – Steve Bulpett says that it is almost certain that KG will be suspended for Tuesday night’s game two for an elbow to the head of Quentin Richardson during an altercation last night.

Tony Allen turns tide with D on Wade – The hero of last night’s game was….Tony Allen? Chris Sheridan explains why.

Los Friday Megalinks

Let’s do the Friday megalinks. Lots of stuff to get to so let’s not delay.

Of course, you can check out your weekend sports and entertainment programming by heading to the Weekend Viewing Picks.

National

We begin with John Ourand and Michael Smith from the Sports Business Journal who report that ESPN is dropping out of the bidding for the NCAA Tournament leaving CBS and Turner Sports the apparent winner of an expanded men’s basketball tourney.

John and Michael give more details of the bid in SBD’s Closing Bell. 

Liz Mullen of SBD writes that NBC Sports saw increased ratings for three Kentucky Derby prep race broadcasts.

Chris Littman in The Sporting News’ Sporting Blog gives us a look at how CBS/Turner would present an expanded NCAA Tournament. 

Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch gives us his March Media Power Rankings and a big thanks to Richard for giving Fang’s Bites a link in this month’s edition.

From USA Today, Michael Hiestand talks with Showtime’s boxing host Nick Charles who’s fighting an advanced stage of cancer.

Jim Corbett of USA Today writes that the New York Jets will be reality TV darlings this summer.

The Nielsen Wire blog notes that MLB Opening Week TV ratings are up in several local markets and notes the Red Sox still have the highest local ratings for all MLB teams.

Stuart Levine of Variety looks into why the NFL decided to push its Draft into primetime. 

Georg Szalai of the Hollywood Reporter says ESPN plans a huge promotional push for the World Cup.

Carolina Giardina of Hollywood Reporter notes that network sports TV executives want to take 3-D to the next level.

Alex Weprin of Broadcasting & Cable says TNT saw its highest ratings for the NBA since 1995-96.

B&C’s David Tanklefsky speaks with the NHL’s Chief Operating Officer regarding the league’s flat TV ratings and Versus’ deal with DirecTV increasing viewership.

Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press writes that Fox Sports will offer extensive NASCAR postrace coverage online starting this weekend. 

CNBC’s Darren Rovell writes that the NCAA ban on eye black messages is going to hurt a couple of businesses. 

Joe Favorito says beach volleyball is finding a way to bring its sport closer to the fans.

The Sports Media Watch says it appears that the NHL Stanley Cup Finals and NBA Finals will go head-to-head once again this year.

SMW says the NBA on ESPN saw decreased ratings this past season.

And SMW notes the NBA on ABC was a mixed bag.

Steve Lepore at Puck The Media says Versus opened the NHL Playoffs on an up note.

Steve notices that NBC used the wrong name to identify Ryan Miller in an NHL promo.

Owen Gibson in the London (UK) Guardian says ESPN UK is requesting greater access to players and the field when it takes over broadcasting England’s soccer tournament, the FA Cup next year. 

East and Mid-Atlantic

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe writes that John Smoltz has made a smooth transition to the broadcast booth.

Eric Gershon of the Hartford Courant says ESPN will end its use of outside security firms at its Bristol, CT headquarters.

Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News campaigns for Tim McCarver for the broadcasting wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

From the New York Post, Phil Mushnick feels CBS should have been tougher on Tiger Woods.

Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union has ESPN’s and NFL Network’s schedules for the NFL Draft.

Dave Hughes in Press Box writes that Baltimore’s top radio station is hiring a new sports talk show host.

Jim Williams of the Washington Examiner says the Capitals brought tremendous ratings to Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic for its NHL playoff opener.

Jim also goes over TNT’s ratings for the NBA regular season.

South

Rita Frankenberry of the Virginian-Pilot writes that the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Allen Iverson is being used to help area youth.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald talks with several NFL TV analysts about former Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall joining the Dolphins.

Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News speculates on how many primetime games the Cowboys will play in the 2010 NFL season.

Mel Bracht of the Daily Oklahoman is critical of a Dallas TV station for airing the now infamous video showing an inebriated Jerry Jones spouting off on a few subjects.

Midwest

Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press writes about a new radio announcer for the local minor league baseball franchise.

Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a primer on how to watch the Bucks in the NBA Playoffs.

Ed Sherman in Crain’s Chicago Business has his winners and losers for the week.

Jim O’Donnell of the Chicago Sun-Times is not a fan of TNT’s Craig Sager.

The Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin’s Paul Christian says it might be spring, but the winter sports will dominate the TV this weekend.

Bob Mayhall of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says former Cardinals and Red Sox slugger Jack Clark joins the local ESPN Radio affiliate as an analyst.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that the NFL Draft gave ESPN early credibility.

West

Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret (UT) News says the Real Salt Lake MLS Champion DVD is a bit deceptive.

Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune doesn’t like the NFL making the Draft a primetime affair.

On the other hand, John Maffei at the North County Times understands why the Draft has gone from a one day event to a three day primetime extravaganza.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star asks various analysts if the Los Angeles Lakers can make it to the NBA Finals this year.

Jim previews an ESPN special on the Lakers that airs tonight.

Diane Pucin of the Los Angeles Times previews the NBA Playoffs with various TV analysts.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News asks if Lakers coach Phil Jackson speaks, does he actually make a sound?

Tom has his usual media news and notes in his blog.

Canada

Bruce Dowbiggin of the Toronto Globe and Mail goes over the silly superstition of not mentioning a no-hitter during a broadcast.

Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star is amazed that the Maple Leafs despite a losing record can still draw TV ratings.

William Houston in Truth & Rumours is happy that CBC’s Bob Cole got an important assignment during the NHL playoffs.

The Canadian Press says CBC will have extensive coverage of the Commonwealth Games later this year.

And that’s going to do it for the megalinks.

Bruins Come Up Short In Game One

Last night’s playoff opener didn’t hold too many surprises for the Bruins. They got solid goaltending from Tuukka Rask, but couldn’t put the puck in the net, falling to the Sabres 2-1. Get all the coverage from last night over at BruinsLinks.com.

The Red Sox had nothing yesterday, falling meekly to the Twins 8-0. They return to Fenway tonight for a series with the Tampa Rays. Jon Couture has the game Reloaded.

There’s a lot going on, so we’ve got 20 – count ‘em – 20 links for you this morning.

Sabres get jump on Bruins, win Game One – Joe Haggerty says that the Bruins biggest mission should be to try and solve Ryan Miller before it is too late.

No surprises in Sabres’ Game 1 win over Bruins – Dan Rowinski says that Game 1 between the Bruins and Sabres stuck to the script.

Bruins pointed right way – Stephen Harris says that even if the Bruins get swept, if they play as they did last night, they will be able to hold their heads high.

Stuart able to put a finger on frustration – Fluto Shinzawa’s notebook has Mark Stuart musing over his unusual injuries this season.

Sam Jones remembers when ’69 Celts struggled, yet won title – There have been a few comparisions to this Celtics team which finished fourth in the Eastern Conference (50-32) with an aging nucleus and the 1968-69 Celtics which also finished fourth in the East with a 48-24 record, but turned things on in the postseason to win the final championship of the Bill Russell era. Sam Jones was also in his last year that season, and talks to Bill Burt about the experience. Good piece from Burt.

Tony Allen finally finds game, role with the Celtics – A. Sherrod Blakely has the sixth year Celtic being counted on to help defend Dwyane Wade in this first round series.

Breaking down the Celtics’ first-round opponent – Paul Flannery has five things to know about the Miami Heat.

Heat on Celtics to prove worth – Steve Bulpett says that it is put up or shut up time for these Celtics.

Celtics’ regular-season report card – Mark Murphy grades the Celtics.

 Smoltz slides easily into booth – Chad Finn’s Sports Media column has the former Braves ace adjusting to his new career in the booth. Finn also looks at some of the WEEI/98.5  ratings numbers.

Gloves and bats fail Red Sox in 8-0 loss to Liriano, Twins – Daniel Barbarisi has the Sox with a bad day all around.

Red Sox commence depth challenge – Alex Speier’s five things begins with the team’s depth already being used up.

Let’s see what Red Sox do at Fenway Park – Mike Fine looks at the early season struggles of the Red Sox, and tries to decide if this is going to be a trend or just early growing pains.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron sit, with DL a possibility – Michael Silverman’s notebook has the Red Sox outfield very thin at the moment.

‘Teammates’ together again – Thomas Grillo reports on a new statue depicting Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr and Dom DiMaggio set to be unveiled at Fenway later this year.

Ranking the Patriots’ needs – Mike Reiss has an in-depth look at the Patriots needs heading into the draft.

Old RBs run out of time – Ian Rapoport says that the Patriots will likely be looking for a running back at some point in this draft. Colleague Karen Guregian has more.

Patrick Chung could have increased role in second season with Patriots – Robert Lee has the Patriots top pick from a year ago working for an increased role in ’10.

McClain’s fire burns inside – Albert Breer has a profile of Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain. who won’t be available where the Patriots are set to pick, but would look awfully good here.

Patriots Daily Mock Draft, Part 2 – the guys look into the later rounds for some potential Patriots.

Week Log: The Ugly, The Bad, And Then The Good

After a week of filling out tax returns – mom’s, family friends’, kids’, mine – everything is still flowing like a Form 1040 to me. That is to say, backwards. So, in honor of Tax Day, let’s do things backward. We’ll start with our most taxing problems, then deduct from them until we’re left with something good to take into the weekend.

Celtics

All right, you work hard all year, maybe even a little OT, pouring into it everything you’ve got, then – very much like Uncle Sam – these 2010 C’s reach into your chest and take a pound of flesh come spring.

Take last night, where Green Street has the C’s honoring Fan Appreciation Night by sitting four starters en route to a 106-95 drubbing by the Bucks that culminated a dismal 24-17 home season. However, 30 minutes from Brian Scalabrine tells Celtics Life how meaningless this game was. North Station Sports fell into a Sheed-Trap, thinking the Bucks game an opportunity for Wallace to get his head together before something called the ‘Rasheed Season’ begins. Bingo Bar Blog goes so far as to tell us why they would have preferred Antoine Walker rather than Sheed coming off the C’s bench this year.

Lex Nihil Novi says that, at the end of the day, this team was never a team and that doesn’t bode well going into the postseason. Celtics Green runs through all apologies for the underachieving C’s and looks to 1969 for playoff inspiration. LOSCY has divested of all his angry stocks and – win or lose in the first round – he still likes this team.

Celtics Blog previews the opening round against the Miami Heat, who, unlike the C’s, are a team that takes good care of the ball. Celtics Hub takes note of the C’s recent cutback in turnovers but wonders if it’s enough to offset the deterioration in defensive efficiency heading into the playoffs.

ESPN Boston Celtics Blog has Doc Rivers calling reports of his potential retirement old news. Not C’s related, but Perk Is A Beast offers an interesting take on a perceived double-standard involving old friend Delonte West.

Patriots

The Pats are in that section where you declare what you didn’t realize you had, then watch it drift away just the same. Take Antonio Cromartie or Santonio Holmes, who were, in hindsight, there for the taking. Pats Chowder says their addition in New York makes Rexy’s crew look formidable on paper, although Mike Reiss says it’s going to take more than a few splashy, headline-grabbing moves in April for him to put the Jets in the Super Bowl come February. And with Brandon Marshall’s trade to the Dolphins yesterday, Boston Sports Blog says Foxborough has been about as active as the closed Circuit City store at Patriots Place.

Jade McCarthy reports all quiet along the Foxborough front, but suspects that will change next week. Tom E. Curran has Bill Belichick acknowledging the probability of picks being traded before the NFL Draft starting next Thursday.

The Masters

Okay, we’re at the bottom of the front page where the bad starts to turn to good. That would be Augusta National. Michael Felger thanks The Masters’ field for not allowing Tiger Woods to walk in with all that stuff floating around in his head and win a major. Joe Posnanski says Tiger should be bound by the same rules of sportsmanship as any 10-year-old kid. Hey, does Sportress Of Blogitude have someone to entertain Woods until his next tournament!

Woods’ tabloid act, alongside Phil Mickelson’s victory, make Sports Central question the legitimacy of golf’s status as a true sport, but We’re Just Saying has last Sunday’s final round upholding the Augusta National tradition of providing a slew of golf drama. Waggle Room has been won over by Mickelson, who embodies all that golf needs. Devil Ball Golf thinks Lefty won The Masters because Augusta National is molded for left-handed success.

Red Sox

Maybe you shelled out a lot of cash this offseason on things you really didn’t want to pay for – your mortgage, braces for the kids, Adrian Beltre. Well, now you get to itemize them and have a little of that pain lessened in the spring. That’s right: the Sox, for all that salary, are back to .500 at 4-4!

April showers bring . . . well, how about a flat Jon Lester? Touching All The Bases says not to worry, as he’ll be the best pitcher in the AL by September.

. . . or how about a punchless David Ortiz? Caught Off The Wall wonders if Big Papi’s decline is just as much a thunderbolt as his ascension was, while Toeing The Rubber feels he’s entitled to a honeymoon from the press while he gets his rhythm back.

. . . and how about a few pleasant surprises? Boston Dirt Dogs pines for Jeremy Hermida to stay in the lineup and Ortiz to stay on the pine, while Fenway Nation proposes a DH platoon of Hermida and Mike Lowell. Hit And Run With Dan Roche thinks Hermida got a wake-up call with his trade to Boston. Michael Hurley has the Sox not missing a beat with Marco Scutaro leading off. Nuggetpalooza has things going well so far when opponents hit the ball into the ground.

Fenway Pastoral is looking for a whole lot more reward for Jordan’s Furniture customers in the microscopically-probable event that a Sox slugger can actually hit that tiny billboard in the centerfield bleachers. Masshole Sports tells the Bronx its time to end this Weekend at Bernies charade and lay George Steinbrenner to rest already.

Bruins

Now the best part. Finding that your hockey team took the sixth seed and best possible first-round matchup when a month ago you didn’t think they’d make the playoffs is like getting some obscure tax credit you didn’t think you were eligible for. The Hub of Hockey has history on the B’s side as they start their 40th postseason series against the Sabres tonight in Buffalo. Kathryn Tappen has the B’s playing their best hockey of the season at just the right time. Danny Picard has ex-Sabre Daniel Paille a key to keeping Buffalo in check, while Barstool Sports assesses the rest of the playoff competition.

Boston Sports Then And Now applauds the B’s, who have found reasons to rally over the past month. James Murphy has Patrice Bergeron a key force in cutting through the frustration and adversity the B’s have experienced this season.

And the news gets better. Something’s Bruin felt a rush of relief when the ugly Panthers card was drawn at the No. 3 spot in this year’s 2010 NHL draft, thereby assuring the B’s of a top-two selection. With either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin in the bag, Bruins Draft Watch 2010 says the Kessel trade is finally vindicated. Black & Gold Blog thinks leftovers will never taste as good as those the Edmonton Oilers will leave for Boston on draft night.

Odds & Sods

. . . a random collection of tidbits like those little boxes where you’re asked to contribute to the Presidential Election Fund.

The BC Blog has hockey coach Jerry York grateful for senior Ben Smith, who led the Eagles to the school’s fourth NCAA men’s ice hockey national championship after beating Wisconsin Saturday night. BC Interruption advises us to sit back and enjoy this because a national championship is damned hard to come by, even with a coach like York.

Marathon Blog has Tom Petty’s words ringing true this week as they endure the hardest part of the Boston Marathon – the wait before Pasta Night. It’s all hard for Jerry Thornton, who thinks the Boston Marathon sucks.

Hey, don’t forget to sign those returns and attach but not staple your check. And bloggers, don’t forget that we’re two weeks away from Blogapalooza 2010 at The Baseball Tavern right in the heart of Red Sox Nation! See you next week.

Hermida Lifts Sox In Minny

Jeremy Hermida cleared the loaded bases with an eighth inning double in Minnesota yesterday, helping the Red Sox to a 6-3 win behind John Lackey. (Make sure you also get this game Reloaded.)

Get the full coverage from Minnesota at RedSoxLinks.com.

The Celtics wrapped up the regular season with a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at home last night, and will now face the red-hot Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs, starting on Saturday night. Hit up CelticsLinks.com for the full assortment of stories.

The Bruins start their playoff series against the Buffalo Sabres tonight out in western New York. Yes, there is also BruinsLinks.com to take care of you.

Here are the best stories from this morning, and there’s quite a few out there:

Next big hit: Jeremy Hermida – Michael Silverman wonders if Hermida could have a breakout year  in ’10 like David Ortiz did in ’03.

Just how powerful is Pedroia? – Rob Bradford looks at how offseason training has paid off for Dustin Pedroia, and four other items from yesterday.

Give Papi a chance – Gordon Edes is one of the last in the media willing to give David Ortiz more time.

Dustin Pedroia power – John Tomase’s notebook has the Red Sox 2B continuing his hot start to the season.

Stolen goods – Fluto Shinzawa has a feature on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who represents yet another theft of the Toronto Maple Leafs by the Bruins.

Milan Lucic’s time to shine – Steve Conroy has the Bruins winger looking to make up for a lost regular season.

The black is back – Rich Garven looks at how the Bruins might actually be playing with house money at this point.

Opening series figures to be a grind – Kevin Paul Dupont has two old Adams Division buddies renewing acquaintances in this series.

Honoring Satch — that’s cool – Bob Ryan has the cool beyond cool Satch Sanders being honored at the 25th annual Sport in Society’s True Heroes of Sport Awards.

Boston Celtics aren’t ready for anything now – If you think the Celtics can just flip on a switch for the playoffs, Mike Fine wishes to correct your thinking.

Not according to plan – Gary Washburn looks at how nothing has worked out this season for the Celtics, who await a summer of change.

Belichick unfazed by Pats’ rivals recent moves – Andy Vogt recaps what the Patriots coach had to say yesterday.

There’s time to wheel, deal – Shalise Manza Young looks at how the new draft format will give teams like the Patriots time to make trades.

Bill Belichick keeps it all on file – Ian Rapoport looks at the reams of information that the Patriots keep on file to pull up anytime.

Scott O’Brien, Patriots must find a new punter – Rapoport also looks at the Patriots need to replace Chris Hanson.

A few other links:

Patriots Daily Mock Draft, Part 1 – Chris Warner, Greg Doyle and Scott Benson wade through their ocean of draft materials and preparation and have a roundtable discussion on where the Patriots might go in the first two rounds of the draft.

How To Suck The Joy Out Of Watching Sports – If you’re a sports media guy, and feel that you’re not sufficiently pissing off your audience to the level of some of your peers, then you’re in luck – I’ve put together a quick, easy-to-follow primer just for you!

Squinting At The 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs – BSMW’s Joe Donahue picks the playoff winners.

ESPNBoston.com vs CSNNE.com vs WEEI.com

Boston sports are covered like nowhere else in the country. In addition to the double-digit number of newspapers that cover the New England professional sports teams on a daily basis, we’ve also seen multimedia outlets jump into covering the teams with reporters and columnists.

Sports radio powerhouse WEEI was the first to really jump into the written/online side with their revamped WEEI.com website back in 2008, stocking themselves with former newspaper reporters such as Rob Bradford. They quickly established themselves as a go-to destination for sports fans with quality, in-depth articles and breaking news to compliment the on-air side of things.

ESPNBoston.com launched last September, snatching Boston Globe NFL reporter Mike Reiss as their prize, and giving a local presence to ESPN. They feature daily Boston oriented “SportsCenter” video segments on the site, with highlights and news from Boston.

Comcast SportsNet also wanted in on this niche, and put together their own solid stable of print reporters for their all-new CSNNE.com website which debuted last fall. They also reorganized their on-air side of things, adding new sports reporters for new TV shows, and they also have Boston sports video updates on their site, updated several times throughout the day.

NESN also has a web presence, with a bunch of blogs and written material on NESN.com, but it is not nearly on the level – content wise, I mean – of the above three outlets. (Check the comments section below for a link that shows NESN beating WEEI and CSNNE.com handily in terms of traffic.)

So of these three relatively new sites, which is the best online destination for Boston sports fans?

As when comparing most things, each outlet has their strengths. We’ll look at each by team, and then by multimedia capabilities.

Red Sox

WEEI.com has the combo of Rob Bradford and Alex Speier covering the Red Sox. ESPNBoston has Gordon Edes and Joe McDonald on the beat. CSNNE.com uses Sean McAdam and Joe Haggerty over at Fenway.

As the Red Sox are the number one game in town, fittingly this is the deepest area of talent for the three sites. Each site is establishing their own style of Red Sox coverage. WEEI.com tends to come up with longer, analytical pieces, especially when Speier is writing. ESPNBoston seems to focus more on the “people” and their stories. Recently, they’ve been mixing in Boston-slanted stories from Jeremy Lundblad from ESPN Stats & Information to give them some of that new-age statistical analysis which is becoming more popular.  CSNNE.com puts out more of a traditional newspaper-type coverage, with a game story, side story and notebook. They also mix in quite a few video posts from their TV side.

Which one is better? I personally enjoy what Speier and WEEI have been doing. It’s a little outside of what everyone else is doing, and more in-depth. Being on-line, they’re not limited in their word count and space that they can devote to a particular story, and they take full advantage of that.

What I like about ALL these sites is that they typically stay away from the Red Sox soap-opera storylines so popular among their newspaper competitors.

EDGE: WEEI.com

Patriots

WEEI.com has Christopher Price as their main Patriots guy, and DJ Bean has been doing a lot of draft-related stuff for them. ESPNBoston has Mike Reiss, and he has been supported by Chris Forsberg. CSNNE.com uses Tom E. Curran to cover the Patriots. It’s another strong group.

Price brought over his popular “10 Things We Learned” post that he had used when he was at the Boston Metro. To an extent, WEEI.com also uses that format on their other sports (5 things for Red Sox, The Three-Pointer for the Celtics and “The Hat Trick” for the Bruins). Price is also the assistant site editor for WEEI.com. He also is busy on the blogs, and passing along Patriots press releases. The Mike Reiss model is all over ESPNBoston.com. He brought all the things he did at the Globe to this position – the weekly chats, the weekly mailbags, the countless blog entries, the “first impressions” blog posts, and in-game updates as well. ESPNBoston is using these techniques on their other coverage as well, particularly Forsberg when he covers the Celtics. On CSNNE.com Tom E. Curran mixes in humor in his coverage, and uses video more than the other two above. Curran’s national experience with NBC serves him well in calling on contacts for information on national stories. They’ve got Michael Felger in the stable, who also occasionally weighs in with a column on the Patriots.

You really can’t lose with any of these outlets on the Patriots. It’s all good. But…

EDGE: ESPNBoston.com

Celtics

Comcast SportsNet New England is the TV home of the Boston Celtics. They have A. Sherrod Blakely and Rich Levine covering the green for CSNNE.com. Blakely has been solid in his first season in Boston, but I get the sense he is still sort of looking to find what his “voice” should be here, coming from the outside. But overall he was a very good hire by CSNNE. WEEI.com uses Paul Flannery and Jessica Camerato on the beat, and they’re both very good. Interestingly the station doesn’t always send either one to road games, but I’ve come to the conclusion that that isn’t always such a negative. My theory is this…if a reporter is on press row, or in the press box, they’re going to be influenced by those around them. That’s why a lot of what you read when going over the various stories is repeated among reporters. When watching the game remotely, you’re forced to think on your own, to come to your own conclusions, and the coverage is likely to be a bit more original. ESPNBoston doesn’t have an official Celtics beat writer, Chris Forsberg the “roving reporter” has been handling the duties, but again, isn’t on the road with the team. Forsberg does a good job, and tries to incorporate a lot of the “Reiss-style” of coverage to the beat, which certainly isn’t a bad model to imitate.

So who has the edge? I’m going to have give it to the WEEI.com combo of Flannery and Camerato. They’ve always got in-depth coverage, and come up with new angles on stories that make it worth checking out.

EDGE: WEEI.com

Bruins

The fourth team on the Boston totem pole has gotten something of a boost from these outlets, which have provided new, fresh coverage of the franchise. ESPNBoston recently added Joe McDonald to it’s Bruins coverage, which had been anchored by freelancer Matt Kalman, who continues his solid work on the beat. McDonald splits time on the Red Sox beat, and has been a good addition for the outlet. WEEI.com’s Bruins has recently been provided by Dan Rowinski, and he’s been doing good work for them, especially in the three-part “Hat Trick” columns. CSNNE.com stole Joe Haggerty from WEEI’s Bruins beat, and he’s really blossomed with Comcast. His Bruins coverage has been very, very strong for them, with descriptive game stories, insightful commentary, and interesting tidbits. When the Bruins season is over, he’ll be spending his time next to McAdam on the Red Sox beat.

EDGE: CSNNE.com

Multimedia/Miscellaneous

WEEI.com has done a very good job getting their on-air audio loaded up to the website, integrated with their content, and arranged so that it is easy to find. They’ve done some experimentation with original videos, but most of their current videos consist of locker room interviews. They were using Kristine Leahy for a daily video segment called “The Five,” but have discontinued it.

ESPNBoston.com has the daily “Boston Sportscenter” video, and the ability to integrate video from the ESPN networks into their stories and content. I like the Boston Sportscenter segment, and the clips they use usually compliment the material pretty well. I also like that when there is a video, there is usually also a written summary of what it is about, in case the reader doesn’t want to load the entire video and sit through and watch it.

CSNNE.com has a ton of video, and one of the best things they have going is their SportsNet Central updates throughout the day. They record about four per day, as things happen, and post them to the site, giving them a jump on other outlets. They’re well done, and make great use of their expanded staff and facilities. Elsewhere on the site, they make use of video by grabbing segments from their various TV shows and put them into posts. My only complaint on these is that many times, they’re standalone, meaning the entire post is just the video. It would be nice to have a summary of the video, possibly even a partial transcript of the noteworthy stuff.

EDGE: CSNNE.com – they make the most use of their on-air side, and unlike ESPN, their videos are always locally produced.

Overall

Boston fans can’t really go wrong with any of these outlets. They all crank out good content combined with audio and video material, letting fans experience sports coverage in a new, modern way. It’s a tough call, but in the end, I’m giving the nod to:

EDGE: WEEI.com. Perhaps its just because they’ve been around the longest and have had time to work out what is going to be effective and how they want to do things, but they are solid in their coverage of all four major professional sports teams, and their blogs and multimedia elements are very good as well. ESPNBoston falls a little short in its Bruins and Celtics coverage, and CSNNE.com in some ways is too similar to newpaper coverage.

#2 is A-OK for Bruins

The NHL draft lottery was held last night, and for once the ping-pong balls fell the right way for a Boston team in a draft lottery. The Bruins ended up with the second pick in this year’s draft, just as Toronto’s record indicated they should. With two NHL-ready players sitting at the top of the draft, the Bruins will now be able to get one of them. Thanks, Maple Leafs.

Golden second chance – Kevin Paul Dupont has the Bruins excited to get an impactful offensive forward in the draft.

Rask, Miller hold key to Bruins-Sabres – Joe McDonald says that the goaltenders will be the key to this Bruins/Sabres playoff series.

Home team calls Doc Rivers – Steve Bulpett reports that we might be nearing the end of the Doc Rivers era, as he feels the pull of his family in Florida.

So this is what fourth place looks like – Jessica Camerato has the Celtics locking into the fourth spot in the east with their 101-93 loss to the Bulls last night.

From equipment manager to major-league prospect – Pretty cool story from Brian MacPherson about Daniel Nava, who has gone from being the equipment manager for his college team to starting in left field for AAA Pawtucket, one step from the majors.

His bat is spring-loaded – Amalie Benjamin has Adrian Beltre getting off to an unusually fast start with the Red Sox.

Ortiz’ leash is much shorter this year – Sean McAdam says that the Red Sox DH won’t be given as much time as last year to work out his early season struggles.

Bill Belichick likes where Pats stand – Ian Rapoport gets a chance to talk to the Patriots coach ahead of today’s pre-draft press conference.

Lewis will add depth to Pats’ defensive line – Robert Lee looks at the Patriots D-line, and what the team might be looking to add to that position in the draft.

Wilfork tackles a few topical issues – Shalise Manza Young has Vince Wilfork speaking on a number of issues from Gillette yesterday.

Wondering why the Patriots didn’t make a run at Brandon Marshall? Mike Reiss offers some insight.

With Bill Belichick set for that annual pre-draft press conference today, yes there is actually a column in a New England paper with the title “Don’t expect anything fresh from Belichick presser.” Do these guys everget tired of writing the same stuff over and over? Maybe show a little initiative, and perhaps get rewarded as Rapoport was above?

WEEI has been broadcasting from Fenway Park on game days for years now. Now 98.5 TheSportsHub will be doing the same, announcing the official opening of the new 98.5 The Sports Hub Ace Ticket broadcast studio, this week at 121 Brookline Ave in the Fenway in Boston.

The 98.5 Ace Ticket Studio is located at the Ace Ticket storefront property and will be used primarily for the Felger and Massarotti Show during selected baseball games.