Bruins Look To Close Out Lightning

The Bruins look to return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1990 as they face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in game six tonight, holding a three games to two series lead.

Bruins will show finishing touch – Joe McDonald is confident that the Bruins will be able to close out the series tonight. Fluto Shinzawa thinks that a fast start will be the key for the Bruins. Stephen Harris says that the Bruins cannot afford to think ahead just yet.

Bruins know clincher is always the toughest one – Ian Clark says that the Bruins know that they will have a fight on their hands tonight. Rich Garven says that the Bruins will need to play with more passion tonight. Mick Colageo examines the Bruins ability to handle pressure thus far in the postseason.

Sixty minutes from the Stanley Cup Finals – Joe Haggerty says that the Bruins have proved themselves time and time again. James Murphy has six keys to a win tonight for Boston.

What is Guy Boucher doing? – DJ Bean says that no one in the playoffs has been more captivating, mystifying, and puzzling all at once.

Bolts go back to Dwayne Roloson – The Herald notebook has Boucher going back to his veteran goalie for game six. The Globe Bruins notebook has the Bruins going with a three-center line at the end of game five. The Patriot Ledger notes from Mike Loftus has more on the Tampa decision to go with Roloson. The CSNNE notes from Joe Haggerty have Tim Thomas especially dominant late in games.

The Red Sox finally broke through against the Indians, with Josh Beckett pitching into the seventh inning and moving to 4-1 on the season and Jason Varitek hitting his first home run since last May to give the Red Sox a 4-2 victory in Cleveland. Get all the coverage at RedSoxLinks.com.

Josh Beckett dealing like an ace again – Michael Silverman says that the Sox righty is back at the top of his game.

Backstops become backbones – Nick Cafardo notes that both of the Red Sox catchers have been productive as of late.

A Hill of a streak: Rich Hill’s unlikely path to Red Sox history – Alex Speier has the lefty tying the team record for the longest streak of scoreless outings by a pitcher at the start of his Sox career.

Is Adrian Gonzalez the best hitter in baseball? – Kirk Minihane tries to figure out if there is anyone better in the game than the Red Sox first baseman.

Varitek does it all to beat Tribe – Maureen Mullen’s CSNNE notes have the veteran catcher doing it all last night. The Herald notebook from Scott Lauber has more on Varitek’s contributions. The ProJo Red Sox Journal has more on Hill getting the job done in relief. The Globe notebook from Peter Abraham has John Lackey feeling good about a bullpen session yesterday.

Bill Belichick Knows How to Play to a Crowd and 19 Other NFL Thoughts – Jeff Howe with a look at NFL news in the past week.

2011 Approval Ratings – Fluto Shinzawa

It’s been three years since the original round of BSMW Approval ratings were run. Things are much different now, people have come and gone, moved to new positions, and there are even new outlets that weren’t here previously.

The concept is very simple. Each day (or thereabouts) a short profile of a Boston sports media member is posted, and you simply choose “Approve” or “Disapprove.” There is no middle ground. Then tell us why in the comment section.

With the Bruins in the spotlight right now, it feels right to start things off with a member of the Bruins beat. Fluto Shinzawa is a 1999 graduate of Boston University, and started at the Boston Globe in 2002. He covered college hockey (with a focus on Hockey East) and NASCAR for the Globe before moving to the Bruins beat around mid-decade.

Prior to coming to the Globe, Shinzawa had worked for the Concord (NH) Monitor, where he also had a hockey focus, covering the UNH hockey team, as well as NASCAR and high school sports. At the time he joined the Globe, Shinzawa was employed as a senior editor for the RobbReport,  a luxury lifestyle publication.

Fluto Shinzawa 2011 Approval Ratings
Total Votes: 752 Started: May 24, 2011 Back to Vote Screen

Thomas Leads Bruins To Within One Win of Stanley Cup Finals

It wasn’t pretty, the Bruins were badly outshot and had stretches of time in which they just looked awful, but thanks to another terrific effort from Tim Thomas – including a turnback in the third period which was one of the most amazing stick saves you’ll ever see – the Bruins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 to take a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. With a win tomorrow night or Friday, the Bruins will advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Tim Thomas is the talk of the town this morning, and that is reflected in the radio side (a running joke on D&C this morning is about how Thomas can do anything) and all over the newspapers and newssites, as you’ll see below.

It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true – After a shaky game four, Thomas guaranteed a Bruins victory, and as Joe Haggerty notes, he backed it up last night. More on Thomas from: Kevin Paul Dupont | Stephen Harris | Jackie MacMullan | Mick Colageo | Jeff Jacobs | Bill Burt | Amanda Bruno | Eric McHugh | James Murphy | Matt Kalman

Bruins inch closer to finals by winning a losable game – DJ Bean has these Bruins somehow managing a win. More on the degree of difficulty from Bob Ryan and Douglas Flynn. On HockeyJournal.com, Jesse Connolly says that this one was undeniably ugly.

Zdeno Chara earning his captain’s ‘C’ – Joe McDonald has the big defenseman playing his best postseason hockey for the Bruins. Rich Thompson looks at the performance of Chara’s partner on defense, Dennis Seidenberg.

Phil Esposito full of memories from days with B’s, Bolts – Stephen Harris has the Bruins legend rooting firmly for the Lightning in this series, but with good reason.

B’s penalty-kill units shine at right time – Steve Conroy’s notebook in the Herald says that the Bruins penalty-kill units are helping them hold their own in the special teams battle. The Globe notebook from Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins finally putting Chara in front of the net during the power play. The CSNNE notes from Joe Haggerty have Chara coming up big all-around last night.

The Red Sox just can’t seem to beat the Indians this season, as Daniel Bard gave up an eighth inning lead as Boston fell in Cleveland 3-2. Get all the coverage at RedSoxLinks.com.

Surging Indians keep Bard, Red Sox from going over top – Peter Abraham has the Red Sox missing out on another opportunity to move into first place.

Sox see what may have been – With Victor Martinez no longer here, Michael Silverman looks at what the Red Sox gave up to get him – Justin Masterson, who has been very good for the Indians this season, and last night.

Setup needs some cleanup – Nick Cafardo has the setup role floundering as of late for the Sox.

Pedroia’s injury considered minor – Abraham’s notebook has the second baseman giving everyone a scare when he fell on the basepaths last night and had to be removed from the game. The Herald notebook from Scott Lauber and Michael Silverman has Tommy John surgery a possibility for Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is seeking a second opinion in Japan.

Mankins considers staying with Patriots – Tom E Curran has the Patriots guard softening his stance somewhat when it comes to a new deal with New England. More from Mankins through Karen Guregian.

As NFL lockout drags on, rookies continue to lose precious time – Christopher Price on the challenges rookies will face to contribute right away to their new teams. Tom E. Curran has Mankins saying that the rookies will be way behind when the lockout ends.

No fair market in owners’ system – Norma Rae Borges with a hilariously scathing column against the NFL owners. I love how he mentions teams like the Dolphins, which have been cutting the pay of employees, and then mentioning the Patriots, as if they are also doing it. (They’re not.)

Actual tease for a video segment on the CSNNE.com website:

Losing cred…

Tom Brady’s skills on the field are rarely questioned. His machismo? That’s another story, especially after the release of a few new vacation photos.

Red Sox/Cubs – Below Average Prices?

There has been quite a bit of talk this week about the demand for tickets for this weekend’s Red Sox/Cubs series at Fenway Park. (Yes, the first time the Cubs have been to Fenway since 1918, if you hadn’t heard already.)

But from this analysis, the average ticket price for this series is actually below the average price this season.

Click on the image for purchasing options.

Bruins Shut Out Lightning, Red Sox Walk Off Against Tigers

Not a bad night for Boston sports.

The Bruins took a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals with a 2-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Lightning down in Florida last night. Get the complete links over at BruinsLinks.com.

Glue guy kept it together – Kevin Paul Dupont has the return of Patrice Bergeron paying immediate dividends for the Bruins. More on Bergeron from Douglas Flynn | Joe Haggerty | Steve Buckley | Joe McDonald

Bergeron, Thomas show way – McDonald also has another piece on Bergeron and Tim Thomas leading the Bruins last night. Matt Porter has Thomas coming up with his second career playoff shutout.

Now that was more like it – Bob Ryan is on the verge of being excited about this Bruins squad.

Whether or not he gets credit, Andrew Ference earns it – DJ Bean praises the rock-steady contributions of the Bruins defenseman this postseason. Stephen Harris has Zdeno Chara coming up big last night.

Bruins show commitment to team – James Murphy has Bruins players making sacrifices for the greater good.

Tim Thomas beyond regular – Steve Conroy’s notebook has the goalie far more sound than he was in game two, as was the defense in front of him. The Bruins Journal from Matt Kalman has more on Bergeron’s return. The Globe notebook from Fluto Shinzawa has David Krejci getting a heads-up before a big hit from Tampa’s Marc-Andre Bergeron, which may have helped him avoid serious injury. The CSNNE.com notes from Haggerty have Krejci continuing his strong play last night.

The Red Sox get a walk-off hit from Carl Crawford last night as they beat the Detroit Tigers 4-3 at Fenway Park. Get all the coverage at RedSoxLinks.com.

Carl Crawford better of late – Scott Lauber has the outfielder cranking his third walk-off hit in 19 days. Maureen Mullen has Crawford and the Sox scripting another happy ending.

As the roster turns: Making sense of the reconfigured Red Sox – Alex Speier looks at the roster churn that sweeping the Red Sox right now. Michael Silverman has a stiff neck for Josh Beckett adding to the Red Sox worries. Gordon Edes has the Red Sox bringing in Kevin Millwood and Franklin Morales last night.

At low level, Ranaudo deserving high marks – Peter Abraham’s minor league notebook has the highly-touted Anthony Ranaudo getting off to a strong start with Single A Greenville.

Park benches, different views – Michael Vega’s notebook has Terry Francona able to see both sides of the Cubs and Red Sox. The Herald notebook from Scott Lauber has more on the acquisitions of Morales and Millwood. The ProJo Red Sox Journal has Sox reliever Rich Hill looking forward to facing his old team. The Patriot Ledger notebook from Mike Fine has Crawford starting to hit his stride with the Sox. The CSNNE.com notes have more on Beckett leaving the game with a stiff neck.

 Different views of Celtics for Tony Allen, Kendrick Perkins – Mark Murphy has a mini-feature on the two ex-Celtics and how they’ve grown since leaving Boston.

Eric Moore may make a rush for Patriots – Karen Guregian has the defensive end/linebacker hoping to be an impact player for the Patriots this season.

Ebersol walks away from NBC – Chad Finn on the shocking news of Dick Ebersol leaving NBC.

Media Roundup: Dick Ebersol Resigns, ESPN’s Tell-All Book Causes Stir – my SB Nation Media column has more on Ebersol, a look at the new ESPN book (as does Finn) and a number of other Boston media notes.

Young men tune out WEEI – turn on “Sports Hub” – As posted by Ken Fang earlier in the week, Jessica Heslam has 98.5 trouncing WEEI during April in the 18-34 male demo, including a 20.9 to 2.6 trouncing of Dennis and Callahan by Toucher and Rich.

On Wednesday, May 25, The Boston Globe is hosting its annual Business Breakfast.  This year’s topic is “Playing for Profit: The Business of Boston Sports.”

The breakfast will feature a panel discussion with  Larry Lucchino, president & CEO of the Boston Red Sox, Stephen Pagliuca, co-owner of the Boston Celtics and Charlie Jacobs, principal and co-owner of the Boston Bruins.  They will be joined by Patrick Moscaritolo of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau and Jonathan Paris of the Massachusetts Sports Partnership in a l discussion about sports as an economic driver for Greater Boston.  Boston Globe Business Editor Shirley Leung will lead the discussion and opening remarks will be offered by Mayor Thomas M. Menino. 

Tickets for the breakfast are $30.00 and are available online at http://www.eventmanagement.org/newengland/

Rainy, Foggy, Salty Night at Fenway

First of all, if you haven’t seen Ken Fang’s post on the April ratings numbers – definitely check it out-

Crown 98.5 The Sports Hub, The Sports Radio King of Boston

I haven’t verified these numbers personally, but if true, they’re mindroasting.

On another note, congratulations to Rob Bradford and company as WEEI.com took home the major market radio station web site of the year award in last night’s Radio Ink Digital Awards. This was for all radio stations, not just sports, and WEEI.com beat out a Washington D.C. all-news station and a Philadelphia hip-hop station for the award.

The Red Sox and Tigers battled the elements and each other last night, with the Red Sox coming away with a 1-0 win amidst the soaking rain and fog. Jarrod Saltalamacchia broke the scoreless tie with a two-out double off the wall in the eighth, which scored Carl Crawford from first base.

Clay Buchholz gives Red Sox staff a boost – Mike Fine has the starter giving the Red Sox seven shutout innings (career high 127 pitches) but ending up with a no-decision.

Sox count on Big Three for now – Gordon Edes says that the Red Sox will be leaning on their own big three of Lester, Beckett and Buchholz to anchor their rotation.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s coming around – John Tomase says don’t look now, but thecatcherwiththelongname has been playing very well as of late. Maureen Mullen has “Salty” coming up with the big hit last night.

Sox were in catch-22 with Martinez – Brian MacPherson looks at the tough situation the Red Sox were in with Victor Martinez. John Tomase says that they made the right call in letting him go.

Matsuzaka may miss a month – Michael Vega’s notebook has tests coming back worse than expected for the Japanese righty. The Herald notebook from Michael Silverman says that no surgery is planned for Matsuzaka. The Red Sox Journal says that it might be a long time before we see Matsuzaka again. The CSNNE notes look at a long night for Buchholz. The Patriot Ledger notebook from Mike Fine looks at the Martinez reunion.

The Red Sox still have another game with the Tigers tonight, but Dan Shaughnessy has already broken out his Chicago/Boston breakdown for the Cubs series, calling the franchises “Twins.” Pass.

Tuning In: Tyler Seguin’s sudden stardom awes Bruins radio analyst Bob Beers – Bill Doyle’s Thursday media column has a chat with Beers about the emergence of Seguin. Joe Haggerty says that the rookie has found chemistry with Michael Ryder.

B’s prepare to shuffle lineup – With Patrice Bergeron possibly returning tonight, Joe McDonald says that the Bruins have some lineup changes to make. Mick Colageo says that it will be a tough choice for Claude Julien.

Bruins finally find life on the power play – Haggerty’s notes have the Bruins finally making progress on their power play. The Herald notebook from Steve Conroy has Bergeron making the trip to Tampa with the team. The Globe notebook from Fluto Shinzawa has Seguin finding his place on the team.

Retooling won’t be an easy fix – Julian Benbow says that the Celtics will have some very tough decisions to make this offseason.

The Kid’s All Right

Hey, maybe this Tyler Seguin kid CAN play a little bit.

The Bruins pulled out a back and forth contest last night, 6-5 at the Garden to even the Eastern Conference Finals at a game apiece. Playing once again without Patrice Bergeron, the Bruins got a huge boost from the rookie Seguin, as he tallied two goals and two assists in the Boston win.

A star is born – Joe Haggerty compares Seguin last night to Roger Clemens striking out 20 in 1986, or Tom Brady leading the Patriots on a last-second drive to win Super Bowl XXXVI. More on the magical performance of Seguin and the rest of the game from: Douglas Flynn | Amanda Bruno | Joe McDonald | Bill Burt | Mick Colageo | Matt Kalman | Steve Buckley | DJ Bean | Eric McHugh | James Murphy

You’ll notice the absence of a story from the Globe in there. Apparently, after writing something like this on Monday…

The ever-correct fan base, of course, knows in its bones that Tyler Seguin (1-1—2 in his playoff debut Saturday night) is the cure-all to Boston’s poor start in Round 3. When the Bruins find themselves in times of trouble, the fans come speaking words of wisdom, and those words always include the inexperienced Seguin. Let it be, the Seguinaphants always say.

…it can be hard to then come out and unconditionally praise that same player. Right after the game in the Seguin press conference, Kevin Paul Dupont, who wrote the above on Monday, grilled Seguin about why we didn’t see this sort of performance in October.

Q. I think a lot of people are going to look at that game tonight and say why didn’t we see that in October or January or February. What’s your answer to that?

TYLER SEGUIN: I think it’s just a learning curve. It’s been a whole learning curve all year, and as the year went on, I felt more confident, more poised, and in big games I always want to step up. Tonight I had some lucky bounces, but I was trying to take advantage of all opportunities, and they were going in tonight.

This morning, he reminds the “Seguinistas” that the rookie scored exactly one goal over the final 23 games of the regular season, so Dupont says that Claude Julien was “absolutely not” wrong to have not played Seguin.

Now, while many are in fact going overboard in their praise and expectations of Seguin, especially after last night, the kid showed that many of the fan base were in fact, correct in calling for him to see the ice.

Then we have Shaughnessy. The downside of the Bruins making it this far is that we’ll now have columns like today’s, in which Dan compares Julien to Grady Little multiple times, and refers to Seguin as “teen angel.” How fun.

It is unfortunate that those types of agenda-riddled and inane columns overshadow the fine work done by the likes of Fluto Shinzawa at the Globe.

Thomas’ timely stops help B’s prevail – Tim Thomas was far from perfect last night, but he battled throughout taking a puck off his face, and Jesse Connolly acknowledges his efforts. More on Thomas from Jeff Hamrick and Stephen Harris.

Michael Ryder on move – Ron Borges has the winger again coming to the Bruins rescue in the postseason. More on Ryder from Danny Picard and Barbara Matson.

Bergeron continues positive strides – Shinzawa’s notebook has the assistant captain continuing to progress. The Herald Bruins Notebook has more on Bergeron. The Bruins Journal  from Dan Hickling also monitors Bergeron. The CSNNE notes from Joe Haggerty have more on Thomas coming up big when it matters. The ESPN Boston Rapid Reaction has a number of items from last night.

Big Papi reborn – John Tomase looks at David Ortiz, who is again one of the best DH’s in the game. Michael Vega also looks at Ortiz.

Alfredo Aceves stepping into starting role for Red Sox – Mike Fine has the right-hander replacing the disabled Daisuke Matsuzaka in the rotation.

Bowden will lend a hand in bullpen – Peter Abraham and Michael Vega have the righty getting a promotion. The Herald notebook from Scott Lauber has more on Aceves. Maureen Mullen has more on Bowden getting the call.

Russell still tallying assists – Julian Benbow and Gary Washburn have the Celtics legend being praised for his mentoring work.

The ‘What ifs?’ start with Tony Allen – Chris Forsberg says that Allen could’ve changed everything this season, and then translates that situation to the Celtics needing to make re-signing Glen Davis a priority.

HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” Features Red Sox Segment

Tonight’s episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO (10:00pm ET) will feature the following segment involving the Red Sox:

  *The Other Side of a Rivalry.  The rivalry of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox is perhaps the bitterest in all of sports, but in a moment of tragedy they banded together like true comrades for someone in need.  Last summer, Bridget Johnson, 11-year-old daughter of Red Sox first base coach Ron Johnson, was riding her horse, Rhonda, when they were struck by a car.  The young girl’s left leg was severed and her horse had to be put down.  The Red Sox immediately chipped in to help with the family’s mounting bills, and Ron Johnson’s longtime friend, Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, led a charge inside the New York clubhouse by rallying players to raise money for Bridget’s care as well.  In this REAL SPORTS/Sports Illustrated collaboration, correspondent Frank Deford learns more about the heart-wrenching event that changed the rivalry, if just for a moment, and Bridget’s inspiring recovery.

Orioles Big Lead Gonzo In End

For years, during rain delays and winter evenings, NESN has re-played the “Mother’s Day Miracle” from 2007.

After last night, they’ve got another option to replay, as the Red Sox trailed 6-0 heading into the bottom of the 6th inning. The Red Sox rallied scoring eight runs over the final four innings, capped by an Adrian Gonzalez two-run double off the wall to win the game 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth. Get all the coverage at RedSoxLinks.com.

Adrian Gonzalez has Red Sox surging – Steven Krasner has the Red Sox with the right man at the plate in the right moment. Rob Bradford says that the Gonzalez at-bat sent a message – in more ways than one. Michael Vega doesn’t want to overlook the contributions of Kevin Youkilis last night.

Feel-good win familiar – John Tomase says that with a few more games like last night, the glory days will be here once again.

Lackey put on disabled list – Peter Abraham has the Red Sox putting the struggling righty on the DL. The CSNNE notes from Danny Picard and Maureen Mullen have more on Lackey, as does the Herald notebook from Scott Lauber. Tim Wakefield will get the start tonight.

Tyler Seguin ready to power up – Joe McDonald says that the rookie may finally get his chance on the power play tonight.

Ice flow – Fluto Shinzawa has Patrice Bergeron practicing without contact yesterday, putting him closer to a return to action.

Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly at center of changes – Rich Thompson has the midseason acquisitions coming up big in the postseason for the Bruins.

Tyler Seguin may join PP – Steve Conroy’s notebook has more on the rookie getting his chance. The Globe notebook from Fluto Shinzawa has Peverley hoping to atone for a bad shift in game one.

Best options for the retooling Celtics – Peter May runs down some affordable free-agent options that might help the Celtics.

Doc swayed by players – Mark Murphy has the Celtics coach expanding on his reasons for returning.

Bledsoe’s career comes full circle with induction into Patriots’ Hall – Christopher Price has the former Patriots QB a little emotion after receiving the honor from the Patriots. Mike Reiss and Karen Guregian have more on Bledsoe’s emotions.

Lockout alters Bill Belichick’s plan – Ian Rapoport has the Patriots coach doing what he can to prepare for the season -whenever it begins.

Court sides with NFL on lockout – Greg A Bedard has the owners picking up a win in court yesterday.

Yay, We Have A .500 Baseball Team…

But on the downside, we’ve got Matsuzaka and Lackey pitching the next two nights…

The Red Sox hit the .500 mark last night by finishing off a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium. The 7-5 win put the Red Sox at 20-20 on the season. Get the complete coverage at RedSoxLinks.com.

Red Sox ‘making strides'; reach .500 – Gordon Edes has the Red Sox happy to get to .500, but with some quotes sounding disturbingly satisfied at having reached that break-even point.

It’s a 122-game season – John Tomase says that the team can start afresh now.

Time not on Yanks’ side – Michael Silverman says that the Posada incident will not be the last tough situation these Yankees will have to face. Jeff Jacobs says that as the Yankees core continues to age, these type of incidents will happen.

Three of a kind: Red Sox rotation shows striking early returns – Though the numbers might not show it just yet, Alex Speier says that this rotation “has shown the potential to be the most dominant in years.”

Boston Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron says waiting is the hardest part  – Ron Chimelis has the outfielder yet another veteran who is struggling to adjust to a new role.

Disorder has been avoided – While the Yankees’ situation with Posada exploded, the Red Sox have avoided having the same thing happen with Carl Crawford. Peter Abraham’s notebook explores why. The Herald notebook from Scott Lauber has Jason Varitek sympathizing with Posada. The ProJo Red Sox journal has Daniel Bard mixing in off-speed pitches with his heat. The CSNNE notes from Sean McAdam have Lester good enough for his 5th win of the season.

No easy fixes for Bruins’ breakdowns – Kevin Paul Dupont says that the Bruins lack of star power and power play ability will be tough to overcome.

When it comes to Tyler Seguin being ‘the kid’ before the man, Steven Stamkos’ knows the feeling – DJ Bean has the Lightning star able to relate to what the Bruins rookie is going through.

Bruins feel Patrice Bergeron’s absence – Joe McDonald says that the Bruins will not rush back their assistant captain. Stephen Harris says that this will be a very tough decision for the Bruins.

Why Danny Ainge is bringing back the big three – Paul Flannery looks at why we’ll see one more year of KG, Pierce and Allen.

C’s taken at face value – Mark Murphy and Jim Fenton each look at the roster player-by-player and assess the future.

Rivers: ‘This is a special place’ – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics coach talking to Dennis and Callahan this morning about his new deal and the future of the Celtics.

Kraft wants resolution – Karen Guregian has the Patriots owner tired of the bickering. Christopher Price feels the owner’s comments should be real cause for concern for the fans.