Listless Celtics Can’t Cut Down Nets

After a good start, the Celtics looked very much like a team playing out the string last night, losing to the New Jersey Nets, 88-79. Get all the stories over at CelticsLinks.com.

Uneven Celtics leveledGary Washburn has the Celtics falling short in Newark.

Celtics have back-to-back blues Paul Flannery looks at the Celtics struggling again on the second night of a back-to-back. Chris Forsberg has Rajon Rondo still slumping, and a few other thoughts. Evans Clinchy also examines the March Madness slump of Rondo.

Shaq’s done his partGerry Callahan says that Shaq could play now, but he’s playing the part of an injured center to keep fresh for the postseason.

Krstic fitting in with the Celts surprisingly wellA. Sherrod Blakely has the agent for the big man noting how well his client has fit with the Celtics.

Rajon Rondo’s been off latelyMark Murphy’s notebook in the Herald looks at the recent struggles of the Celtics point guard. The Globe Celtics notebook from Washburn has free-agent-to-be Glen Davis not worried about a new contract.

Lowrie learning art of diplomacyGordon Edes with a good feature on the Red Sox infielder and his fiancee, who works for the U.S. State Department.

Chili on rivalry menu - John Tomase has the new Pawtucket hitting coach talking about facing Pedro Martinez in 1999 as a member of the Yankees.

Cameron not a forgotten manPeter Abraham has the reserve outfielder being counted on as a big contributor this season.

Saltalamacchia expected to step up for Sox but questions remainLenny Megliola the 26-year-old catcher with a big job in front of him. Tim Britton has more on the young catcher.

Red Sox lineup comes together – The Herald notebook has Terry Francona’s lineup appearing to be taking shape. The Globe notebook from Peter Abraham has Alfredo Aceves looking good last night against the Yankees. Britton’s Red Sox Journal has more on the former Yankee reliever.

Bruins try to snap power-play slumpMike Loftus has the Bruins looking to get that area of their game going.

Task at hand? Players get itFluto Shinzawa has the club looking to improve their time of possession.

Even with lockout, Pats fans must pay - Ian Rapoport has the Patriots, like other NFL teams, still collecting season ticket money.

Madness worth watchingBob Ryan notes that much of the madness in college basketball involves the players themselves.

ESPN’s MLS Coverage has local flavor Frank Dell’Apa has a look at local ties to ESPN’s coverage of Major League Soccer, which kicks off tonight.

On a side note, if you’re an NBA fan, and especially one who grew up with the Celtics, I definitely recommend downloading The B.S. Report from last week where Bill Simmons talks NBA and Boston sports with Jackie MacMullan. Some great stuff on Larry Bird, Reggie Lewis, Shaq, Paul Pierce and many other topics.

 

The Bucks Really Stopped Here

After dropping two straight game, the Celtics were determined not to drop a third, and the Milwaukee Bucks were the unfortunate recipients of the wrath of the Celtics defense, as Boston set a franchise record (in the shot clock era) in holding the Bucks to 56 points in a 87-56 home rout. Get all the coverage at CelticsLinks.com.

On the Celtics postgame last night on CSSNE, Gary Tanguay made repeated references to the “shot clock era,” but neither he nor Donny Marshall knew exactly when that era began. I may have misheard, but it sounded like Tanguay guessed 1961 when asked (could’ve been 1951) but either one was wrong. The shot clock was instituted for the 1954-55 NBA season. It was a little embarrassing for guys who should know this stuff.

This is a small item, but I’ve always thought that sports media types should be at least as knowledgeable as a diehard fan. Perhaps a diehard NBA fan wouldn’t know the exact year the shot clock was instituted, but they would at least have a rough idea of when it was introduced.

For Celtics, good things start with DChris Forsberg says that it would be an understatement to say that this game was exactly what the Celtics needed.

Input on paltry (56 points) output - Gary Washburn observes that last night was a reflection on how strange the NBA can be on a nightly basis.

Baby much needed Big - Steve Bulpett has Glen Davis making a much-needed return to the lineup. Mike Fine has more on the return of Davis.

Has Ray Allen ever been better?Kirk Minihane has the future Hall of Fame guard continuing the best shooting season of his career.

West gets closer to a return – Julian Benbow’s notebook has Delonte West looking at a Wednesday return to action. The Herald notebook from Mark Murphy has Paul Piece tweaking BU fans. A. Sherrod Blakely has Troy Murphy (11 points) making the most of some extra floor time last night. Mike Fine’s notebook in The Patriot Ledger has more on the return of West.

Changing luck with Dice?Nick Cafardo has new pitching coach Curt Young attempting a change in Daisuke Matsuzaka’s between-game ritual.

For Red Sox reserves, versatility becoming name of the game – Tim Britton has the Red Sox backups attempting to make the most of their skills.

Trying to frame Beckett outingThe Globe notebook looks at a tough fifth inning for Josh Beckett yesterday. Britton’s Red Sox Journal has Clay Buchholz set to take his place behind Jon Lester in the rotation. The Herald notebook from John Tomase also looks at the change in routine for Dice-K. The CSNNE notes from Sean McAdam and Joe Haggerty have Alfredo Aceves replacing Buchholz in today’s game against the Yankees.

Ference would help team sharpen its skatesFluto Shinzawa has the return of Andrew Ference a possible boost for the Bruins.

In the NFL labor wars, it’s all relative - Michael Felger’s take on the NFL labor war. Michael Gee’s take is worth reading.

Plenty of teams in position to win NCAADan Duggan has an overview of the college basketball tournament.

Terriers hope to make splash in crowded, competitive pool - Bob Ryan looks at the tournament for the Globe.

 

Friday Quick Links; Bruins Lose To Sabres

The Bruins lost a two-goal lead last night against the Buffalo Sabres and fell in OT, 4-3 at the Garden. Check all the coverage over at BruinsLinks.com.

Just a few links for this posting, we’ll start with the media columns:

Pepperell native delivers Mut on your WEEI – Bill Doyle has an interview with new WEEI midday host Mike Mutnansky.

Brush up on these new Dance steps – Chad Finn has a look at the NCAA tournament TV coverage and some assorted notes.

NCAA Tournament Promises March Madness On Television – In my SB Nation Boston media column, I’m also looking at the NCAA schedule from CBS and Turner, and add in some notes at the end.

DJ Bean, Joe Haggerty and Joe McDonald have Zdeno Chara with no plans to change the way he plays the game.

New-look Green play deny defense – Steve Bulpett has the Celtics denying that they’re changing into more of an offensive-minded team.

Bigs problem is a small one for Celtics – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics focused on keeping their “bigs” healthy for the postseason. Julian Benbow and Jim Fenton have Nenad Krstic making a smooth transition to Boston.

The $20 Million Men: How opposites Ramirez, Crawford both attracted monster salaries – Alex Speier looks at how both outfielders got the huge contracts with opposite styles of play.

Still a champion of the Sox – Peter Abraham has Johnny Damon with praise for the Red Sox and wishing he had approved the trade to Boston last season. Michael Silverman has Damon and Manny Ramirez settling in with the Rays.

Unheard-of hoop glory within Harvard’s grasp – Shira Springer has the Crimson hoop team looking to get back to the NCAA tourney for the first time since 1946.

NFL words heated with day to go – Ian Rapoport has the millionaires and billionaires continuing their public squabble.

In case you hadn’t heard, Ron Borges is now on Twitter!

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Yes, I’ve heard the jokes about watching to see if he starts copying Tweets from ESPN_NFCWest.

Clippers Knock Off Celtics At Garden

The Los Angeles Clippers came into the Garden and pretty much had their way with the Celtics all night. After the Clippers had a lead of as much as 23 points, the Celtics made a run that closed the game to as close as three points, but the Clippers held on with some big shots down the stretch to beat the Celtics 108-103. Get all the stories at CelticsLinks.com.

Garden Clipping – Scott Souza says that the Celtics just didn’t deserve this one. Steve Bulpett says that though the bench struggled, this one was on the starters  – and the Clippers deserve some credit too.

Celtics have a bigs problem – Paul Flannery says that with just two “bigs” available last night, the Celtics struggled in the paint.

Krstic a throw-in? Not for the Celtics – With 20 points and 9 rebounds last night, Chris Forsberg says that Nenad Krstic is showing he has big value to the Celtics. Jessica Camerato has Krstic getting a crash course in the Celtics system.

Taming Blake Griffin doesn’t help Celtics – Jackie MacMullan has Boston keeping the explosive rookie under control, but still losing the game. Bob Ryan says that the Clippers deserved this win.

Guard Carlos Arroyo impresses in Green debut – Mark Murphy’s notebook has the newest Celtics playing some strong minutes last night. Julian Benbow’s Celtics notebook has Boston looking for reinforcements from their injured corps. Camerato’s CSNNE.com notes has the Celtics digging too deep a hole. The notebook from Jim Fenton has several Celtics meeting with President Obama on Tuesday night.

The NHL announced yesterday that Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara would not be fined or suspended for his hit on the Canadiens Max Pacioretty Tuesday night. Apparently though, the Montreal police are opening an investigation on the hit.

Zdeno Chara cleared – Stephen Harris says that the league made the right call. Mike Loftus agrees.

Claude Julien tweaks lines, searching for spark – Harris’ notebook has the Bruins coach trying combinations. The Globe notebook from Fluto Shinzawa has more on the changes by Julien.

Crawford gets up to speed – Peter Abraham has the outfielder settling in with the Red Sox as he prepares to see his former team for the first time today.

Dennys Reyes tale takes left turn – John Tomase explains how the right-handed Reyes became a lefty pitcher.

Westmoreland hungrier than ever – Joe McDonald with another update on the outfield prospect.

Juan Carlos Linares’ Impressive Spring Spurs Trade Talks and Eight Other Red Sox Thoughts – Tony Lee runs through several Red Sox items.

Buchholz is staying zeroed in – Abraham’s notebook has Clay Buchholz with another strong outing. The Herald notebook by Michael Silverman looks at Carl Crawford reunion with his former team today.

Florida sports radio host Dan Sileo was apparently among the first to report that Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather had shot two men. Of course, Sileo orginally reported that it was “Floyd meaweather” involved in the shooting. Deadspin (Patriots Safety Brandon Meriweather Accused Of Shooting Two Men During Brawl) then jumped on the story, which became topic # 1 on Boston sports radio this morning.

Sileo has been taking victory laps on the story:

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What’s not clear is if the story is actually true. While Sileo has been passing rumors, several Boston sports media reporters are actually gathering information on the story.

Attorney in Meriweather case has ‘doubts’ – WEEI had the attorney for the victims of the shooting on this morning (as did 98.5, but WEEI had them on first.) The attorney says he has doubts about whether Meriweather was the shooter, or was even there.

Sheriff: Meriweather not on police report – WEEI also followed up with sheriff’s department, which says Meriweather’s name is not on the police report, nor in any part of the investigation.

The man who raised Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather says of shooting allegations: “It’s not true.” – Ian Rapoport has the legal guardian of Meriweather saying that the Patriots safety was not at the scene of the crime, and was not involved.

So what’s the truth? Is this a money grab? Did it happen as the victims say? It is easy to rush to judgement on Meriweather, one of the least popular Patriots in recent memory, but there seem to be a lot of questions about this story right now.

Bruins No Match For Fired-Up Habs

To me, the Bruins are the very opposite of the famous Godfather quote. Just when I think I’m back in, they push me right back out again. I’m a casual/bandwagon Bruins fan at best. I was excited to watch last night’s game and see how the Bruins would respond in an extremely hostile environment.

They didn’t have a chance.

The Bruins were overwhelmed by a fired-up Montreal team and crowd, and meekly fell 4-1. To make matters worse, Zdeno Chara appears to be facing disciplinary action from the league for a hit, that from many viewpoints was not illegal (though deserving of a penalty) or particularly violent, but left a Canadiens player in thie hospital with a concussion.

Talk today on sports radio, especially the Felger and Mazz show, should be, um, spirited.

Or as Charles P. Pierce says:

(This Blog is anxiously awaiting evening drive on The New Station, since the warm-up for yesterday’s game was a festival of poopy-jokes, brain-dead xenophobia, and barely disguised gay-baiting unseen this side of a middle-school cafeteria. What new delights will ensue this afternoon?)

For all the Bruins news, go on over to BruinsLinks.com.

Not much fight – Kevin Paul Dupont looks at an ugly night all around in Montreal. Mick Colageo also weighs in on an ugly loss.

Bruins take a step back in Montreal – Joe Haggerty has some old questions coming back to haunt the Bruins last night.

The aftermath of an ugly loss to the Habs – DJ Bean looks at where this loss leaves the Bruins.

Zdeno Chara calls hit ‘very unfortunate’ – Steve Conroy has the defenseman and his coach talking about the hit on Max Pacioretty. James Murphy has Chara saying he doesn’t try to hurt people.

Goaltenders doing splits – Dupont’s notebook has the Bruins looking to get Tim Thomas some rest so they can ride him in the playoffs.

New point guard Carlos Arroyo was the focus at practice yesterday as the former Heat guard practiced with his new team and tries to settle in for a playoff run of backing up Rajon Rondo. Meet the newest Celtics with content from: A. Sherrod Blakely | Chris Forsberg | Mark Murphy | Jim Fenton | Julian Benbow | Paul Flannery

Rivers’ challenge: Finding a playoff rotation – Paul Flannery looks at the job ahead for the Celtics coach.

Big Baby unfazed by joining new play group – Mark Murphy’s notebook has Glenn Davis surrounded by a new bench crew.

Learning from the master – Gordon Edes has the new Red Sox first baseman already serving as a mentor to young Jose Iglesias.

Is this the end for Tim Wakefield? – Kirk Minihane has Tim Wakfield prepared to call it a career if he doesn’t make the Red Sox.

Beckett back on mound, in fine form – Peter Abraham has the Sox pitcher getting back on track. Maureen Mullen has more on a strong outing from Beckett.

Andrew Miller’s on his own – Michael Silverman has the Red Sox trying to make the high-ceiling lefty as comfortable as possible.

Red Sox sweep split-squad doubleheader – Mullen’s CSNNE notes has the Sox finding success yesterday. The Globe notebook from Peter Abraham and Nick Cafardo has Gonzalez hoping for game action next week. The Herald notebook from Scott Lauber and Michael Silverman has more on Gonzalez’s progress. The ProJo Red Sox Journal has more on Beckett’s performance.

Patriots Will Still Be in Good Shape in Event of NFL Lockout and 19 Other NFL Thoughts – Jeff Howe notes that the Patriots handed out pamphlets to their players with conditioning suggestions.

Mike Wright on schedule – Ian Rapoport has an update on the defensive lineman.

On opening NFL books and the crucial $1 billion – Greg A Bedard has some good insight on the latest roadblock between the players and owners in the CBA talks.

Some Details On Michael Holley’s New Book “War Room”

We’ve been hearing that Michael Holley has been working on a new book, and he’s dropped bits and pieces of hints here and there in his radio appearances. After noticing a placeholder on Amazon.com for “War Room” by Michael Holley, I decided to look around some more.

I found what I was looking for on the Harper Collins Catalogs web site, which has a listing for the book. Here’s the description:

Sports commentator and bestselling author Michael Holley will follow three NFL teams from training camp 2010, through the Super Bowl, and into the April draft, providing a new look at Belichick’s influence, which has now spread from the Patriots to other teams, particularly the KC Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons.

A little further down, it expands on the description:

This is a football book with three central characters: Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, and Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

Michael Holley will follow Belichick, Pioli, and Dimitroff through the entire 2010 season—from training camp 2010, through the Super Bowl, and into the April draft—exploring the personal connections of the three men and the increasing influence of the Patriot way. Belichick and Pioli have been friends since the 1980s, when Belichick was a young coordinator for the New York Giants. They worked together in Cleveland, New York (Jets) and New England. In 2008, Pioli left for Kansas City to build a Midwestern Patriots model. A year before Pioli left, Dimitroff was the surprising top GM choice of the Falcons, who dreamed of building Patriots South in Atlanta.

The culmination of the narrative will be all three men preparing their teams for the lifeblood of the NFL, which is the draft, as all three franchises seek to improve themselves through similar philosophies but perhaps different strategies.

Here is some final information given on the page about the book:

  • Michael Holley will have unique access to all three NFL teams throughout the entire season. And, during the three days of the draft, he will be in all three draft rooms. (Because of the labor uncertainty in the NFL, the 2011 draft just might be the last draft in league history.)
  • The minor characters in the book make up some of the most iconic names in league history. Bill Parcells is Pioli’s father-in-law; Chiefs coach Todd Haley is the son of Dick Haley, who is the most visionary scout in football the last 40 years; Belichick is the son of the late Steve Belichick, whose “Football Scouting Methods” book was one of the early bibles for football evaluators.
  • Holley is following head coaches from three NFL teams: New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Atlanta Falcons, providing three distinct and devoted fan bases that will come to this book.

I’m pretty sure that 2011 is not going to be the last draft in league history. But it’s a nice tease!

And finally:

  • Michael Holley is the author of the bestseller PATRIOT REIGN, which has sold more than 100k copies. Holley is in the inner circle of Boston sports media and is very connected. He was a sportswriter for the Boston Globe for ten years and currently cohosts the Dale & Holley Show on Boston sports radio station WEEI.

OK, so they need to update that last bit.

Overall, this looks like a very intriguing project, and it will be interesting to see how far Holley has come since the writing of Patriot Reign and what access he was given for this book, especially from the Patriots.

Tuesday Thoughts

In lieu of links this morning, lets go over a few things from the last couple of days on the local sports media scene…

The Mut and Merloni show debuted yesterday, and all things considered, I thought it was an encouraging beginning. I’ve probably listened to more Mike Mutnansky than most, having followed him on the NH stations over the years, and I’ve also found him to be knowledgable and hard-working. My concern would be if he was forced to buy into the daily contrived drama of WEEI, which too often has hosts trying to defend ludicrous “takes” on matters. (See Ordway and the Perkins trade.)

It’s been a roller-coaster with me on my thoughts on Lou Merloni. When he first started on the station, I enjoyed his fresh view and take on things. Then as he was on the station more and more, and asked to talk sports other than baseball, his thoughts and ideas at times seemed more like those of a casual (and sometimes uninformed) fan rather than a sports radio professional. With this gig, at first glance, he appears to be making the effort to be informed and knowledgeable. I’ll give them a chance.

I missed Dale Arnold’s Sunday debut, though I heard he had some comments at the start of the show along the lines of “remember me?” Having him on the last two mornings has been a nice change from the usual D&C fill-ins that have been trotted out there over the years. Having him  filling in all over the station will strengthen the station as a whole. While it isn’t great for Dale to be working different hours every week, the listeners will benefit.

Still not thrilled over the new “Big Show.” Glenn Ordway continues to pound on the Kendrick Perkins trade, stunningly overrating what Perkins brought to this basketball team. He’s not the only one. Dan Shaughnessy, writing for SI.com yesterday, compared trading Perkins to the 1980’s Celtics trading Dennis Johnson. Never mind that Dennis Johnson was a Hall of Fame player and Perkins, though beloved and hard working, is a one-dimensional, average NBA center, Shaughness went on to ask Danny Ainge why he “ripped the heart out of his team” with the trade of Perkins.

Ordway might not actually be comparing Kendrick Perkins to Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, but his reaction to the deal and the emphasis he is placing on what the Celtics are losing by trading the injured center make you feel like Ainge did trade away Bill Russell in his prime. Ordway was talking yesterday about how he is “scared as hell” about facing the teams in the Eastern conference without Perkins. How did they do the first half of the season without Perkins?

With Ordway and Shaughnessy lining up against the trade, it makes me feel a lot better about my position. Throw in the fact that Mike Felger also hates the trade, and cites the same reasons as Ordway, and I’m convinced this was a steal by Danny Ainge.

Speaking of Felger, everytime I’ve tuned into him this week, he’s been railing against fundamental religions and pounding the BYU topic. Great radio, it aint.

OK, I’ll say it. The media’s obsession with Tom Brady’s ponytail and their breakdown of his dancing in Brazil is downright creepy. I know it’s the offseason and they’re starved for news, but c’mon. This is pathetic.

Harvey Frommer is a prolific writer about both the Red Sox and Yankees. His latest work Remembering Fenway Park: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Boston Red Sox came across my desk and is worth a look. It’s a gorgeous coffee-table-style book with many vintage photos of Fenway that I hadn’t seen before. Check it out if you get a chance.

What’s up with NESN? Ratings (post below this one) aside, I’ve heard from several people that they’ve lost a ton of sales people, who complain it is a tough place to work. I’ve heard (not confirmed) that longtime technical operations manager Nancy Rose, who has been with NESN from the beginning, recently left the company.

They’ve also been adding head-scratching programming like “The Strega Life with Nick Varano” to their lineup, while not showing a willingness to cut into programming for breaking stories, even ones involving teams they broadcast for. A recent example was when the Bruins traded for Chris Kelly from Ottawa on February 16th. Comcast SportsNet New England broke in with live coverage and analysis of the deal, while NESN did not. They’ve attempted to expand their national presence with NESN National and teaming up with FOX Sports on the web side, moves that are curious in light of their apparent reticience in covering things locally.

Why doesn’t NESN have shows devoted to the Celtics and Patriots? If they truly want to be the New England Sports Network, they need to expand beyond the Red Sox and Bruins. Dropping SportsDesk in favor of NESN Daily was a disaster, one they’ve attempted to rectify by making NESN Daily more in line with what SportsDesk used to be.

NESN Ratings Updates

A couple updates from NESN on ratings for recent programming:

NESN Keeps Winning with Bruins Hockey

NESN garnered a 4.5 household rating in the Boston DMA for Saturday night’s Bruins OT loss to the Penguins, the network’s second best Bruins rating of the season. NESN’s best rating of the season was Thursday, March 3 against Tampa Bay when NESN garnered a 4.6 household rating. NESN’s season average is now a 3.0 going into Tuesday night’s highly anticipated contest against divisional rival Montreal. Coverage begins at 7 pm with WB Mason’s Bruins FaceOff LIVE hosted by Kathryn Tappen with Mike Milbury and Gord Kluzak.

Strong Red Sox Spring Training Ratings

NESN’s first three Red Sox spring training games of the season averaged a 2.4 household rating, up 85% over the first 3 spring training games televised by NESN in 2010, and the best 3-game spring training game average since the spring of 2007. NESN is scheduled to broadcast 13 spring training games in March. The next game is on Wednesday, March 9 at 7 pm when the Red Sox host Baltimore at City of Palms Park.

The Bucks Stopped Here

The Celtics traveled to Mike Felger’s home state of Wisconsin last night for a late (9:00pm start) with the Milwaukee Bucks. In all the years I’ve followed the Celtics, dating back to the 1980’s, this has always been a tough place for the Celtics to play. Last night was no exception, but the Celtics managed to execute down the stretch and pulled out a 89-83 win over a game Bucks squad. Get all the coverage over at CelticsLinks.com.

Late push enough for CelticsSteve Bulpett has the Celtics winning their fifth straight with a combination of smoke, mirrors and a defensive revival.”

The importance of getting the top seedPaul Flannery says that while this game will not make the postseason highlight DVD, it was nonetheless an important step towards a bigger goal for the Celtics.

Krstic excels in transition gameGary Washburn’s notebook has the big man continuing to seamlessly fit into the Celtics offense. A. Sherrod Blakely reported yesterday that Shaquille O’Neal will be out indefinitely with a sore foot. Chris Forsberg has a number of reactions following the game last night. Steve Bulpett‘s notebook in the Herald has more on the Celtics waiting on Shaq and the other injured players.

It’s all in placeNick Cafardo has a feature on why some left-handed hitters are made for Fenway Park, and he believes Adrian Gonzalez is one of those.

Healthy dose of optimismMichael Silverman has Red Sox team physician Dr. Thomas Gill hopeful that he won’t be quite as busy this season as he was last.

Sox duo feels for stealScott Lauber has Tommy Harper praising the base-stealing instincts of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford.

Expect big things from PapelbonJon Couture says that the Red Sox closer is going to have a monster season in 2011.

For Josh Reddick, the challenge is about more than just drawing walksBrian MacPherson has the outfielder honing his skills at the plate.

This smacks of real progressThe Globe notebook has Gonzalez taking his first live BP of the spring. The Herald notebook from Michael Silverman has Terry Francona watching the kids yesterday. MacPherson’s Red Sox journal has Papelbon’s mechanics back in sync.

Lately, Bruins taking it from the topFluto Shinzawa has the Bruins top line leading the way as of late. Steve Conroy has the Bruins getting ready for another challenging week.

Mankins isn’t first Pats’ front office/football squabble – Tom E Curran takes exception from a line in Greg A Bedard’s Sunday NFL Notes in the Globe (Unnecessary roughness with Mankins, team)

With Dale Arnold filling in for John Dennis this week on Dennis and Callahan, and the new Mut and Merloni show debuting this morning on WEEI, the stage was set for an awkward crossover between Arnold and the guys who replaced him on the 10-2 timeslot. WEEI smartly avoided this, on the first day anyway, by not having a crossover segment at all.

Bruins Continue Hot Streak With Home Win

Returning to their home ice after a 6-0 road trip, you might think the Bruins would be in for a letdown. It didn’t happen. The Bruins used a high-energy style to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 at the Garden last night. Get all the coverage at BruinsLinks.com.

Bolt cutters – Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins winning the battle for second place in the Eastern Conference.

Lucic brings the power for the Bruins – Joe Haggerty has the Bruins forward turning into a game-breaker for B’s. Stephen Harris and James Murphy have more on the big forward.

With fight night not an option, B’s will a high-energy win – DJ Bean has the Bruins winning a big game without their fists. Kevin Paul Dupont has the Bruins employing a grind-it-out style for the win.

Tim Thomas continues Vezina repeat drive – Rich Thompson’s notebook has the Bruins goaltender heading towards another award-winning campaign. The Globe Bruins notebook has Rich Peverley giving a boost to the Bruins third line. The Bruins Journal from Dan Hickling has the Bruins lining up the Lightning for big hits all night.

What can Jeff Green do for the Celtics? Good question – Paul Flannery has Doc Rivers still trying to figure out how to best use his new young forward. Chris Forsberg has more on how the Celtics are tying to find the best role for Green.

Sigh of relief by Glen Davis – Dan Duggan has Glen Davis expected to be out for a week with a strained patella tendon.

Sasha Pavlovic happy to be Green – Duggan’s notebook has the newest Celtic glad to be here. The Globe Celtics notebook has more on Davis.

Prospects good for SS – Scott Lauber notes that this has been a much easier spring for shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias, who has adjusted nicely to living in this country.

No grand illusions – Michael Vega has Daniel Nava trying to avoid being deemed a one-hit wonder.

Buchholz numbers may be deceiving – Jeremy Lundblad says that the sabermetric odds are against the Sox pitcher matching last season’s success.

Red Sox begin to embrace bunting –– in spring training, anyway – Brian MacPherson has the club putting a little more emphasis on the skill this spring.

Part of One Big Family – Daniel Barbarisi has the Yankees reaching out to assist Red Sox first base coach Ron Johnson and his family. Joe McDonald reports on the story for ESPN Boston.

J.D. Drew may opt to retire after year -Michael Silverman has the outfielder raising retirement as a possibility.

Bobby Jenks set for role – Lauber’s notebook has the former closer ready for his role as a set-up man with the Red Sox. The Globe Red Sox notebook has Josh Beckett cleared to throw a simulated game. MacPherson’s Red Sox Journal has Terry Francona happy that Cliff Lee chose the Phillies.

NFL’s CBA talks enter do-or-die phase – Michael Silver explains why today is a crucial day in the history of the NFL.

Extension in CBA talks creates small cause for optimism – Chris Price looks at the 24-hour extension as a good thing.

Preparing for new game plan – Mike Reiss has the Patriots players trying to treat this offseason as business as usual, conditioning-wise.

Retiring Stephen Neal puts his family first – The Herald notebook has the guard calling it a career after 10 seasons.

Pats Draft Scenarios: The Machines Take Over – Chris Warner scanned various websites for their top-rated draft prospects and matched them up with New England’s first six picks for 2011.

Merloni is finally a lineup regular – Chad Finn has the former Red Sox utilityman discussing his new everyday role on WEEI.