Boston Sports Check-Up in January 2011

Look outside your window and what do you see? Snow? Ice? Freezing cold weather (not that you can tell or describe what “cold” or a temperature looks like), but exactly, what do you see?

Take that idea and apply it to our Boston sports scene. Currently, many New Englanders and Bostonians are continuing to mourn the Patriots exit in the NFL playoffs, which was provided by those New York Jets on January 16, 2011. Another reason to despise the New York sports teams!

Other fans are just happy that they can turn their attention to the Bruins and Celtics every night, as well as those who are eagerly waiting for the Red Sox pitcher and catchers workouts to begin in February.

Yet, no matter what, it is important to consider the current mood or feelings that are going around during this rather chilly time in January and check in on all four teams. So, here is our breakdown and current thoughts on the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox, enjoy!

New England Patriots: Watching the Patriots early exit from the 2010 NFL playoffs is still somewhat hard to grasp and dissatisfying. Not only did they lose to an AFC East opponent, but a New York team, which really puts a bad taste in any Bostonian’s mouth. Yet, finishing atop the AFC with a record of (14-2) and knocking off the “heavy-hitters,” Baltimore, Indianapolis, San Diego, Pittsburgh and New York once, is quite an impressive accomplishment and clearly, they exceeded their pre-season expectations.

Going into the off-season, there will be a lot of items that need to be addressed, but first, the  biggest task of them all will be if commissioner Roger Goodell and his team of executives  can get a new CBA in place for a 2011 season. Pending that there is a season come next  September, the Patriots will be faced with the daunting task of resigning all-pro  tackle, Logan Mankins, who had asked for a long-term contract prior to the start of the ’10   season, but his wish was not granted. Instead, Mankins held out of mini-camp and training-  camp and did not return to the team until the first weekend in November. He played an  important role in protecting his quarterback, but also opening up holes at the line for the  running game.

Of course there are other names too that will be important to address, such as Matt  LightFred Taylor, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Will  all these names return next season? Could we see some familiar faces in new places?

Then there is quarterback Tom Brady and his fractured foot, which could pose a problem f  for the upcoming season; yet, we shouldn’t doubt his toughness or love for the game. He,  unlike some quarterbacks is tough and mentally prepared every week to win, so don’t ever count out Mr. Brady!

All in all, their status here in January is somewhat quiet, but as they prepare for the NFL draft, look for the squad to continue to add pieces to this newly assembled defense and even add maybe an extra deep threat for Brady. Any chance that Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad OchoCinco could be a new member of the Patriots in 2011? The possibilities and thoughts will continue to run wild until kick-off next season.

Boston Celtics: The Celtics received great news on Tuesday, as they welcomed back center Kendrick Perkins, who not only returned three weeks earlier, but proved that he his hungry and wants another championship ring. Of course, Perkins has felt the sting from his injury, which occurred last June during the NBA Finals against the Lakers in game six. Had Perkins remained in the line-up, could they have beaten Los Angles and earned another NBA championship trophy and banner for the rafters? That’s debatable!

The Green and White have been hot as of recently and own one of the better records in the NBA. Having won 34 games and already past the mid-way point of the season, they certainly seem in prime position to go after Banner 18 in June. Although, there have been some great surprises thus far and they don’t all belong to Shaquille O’Neal. Forward Glen Davis has clearly matured and improved his game. Davis’s minutes have improved greatly, averaging close to 30-minutes a game. Other names that have been incredibly helpful this season are Von Wafer, Semih Erden and Luke Harangody.

Again, the Celtics own the best record in the East and clearly would earn the top seed to begin the conference playoffs, if it were to begin today. Yet, a big test will come Thursday, when they begin a four-game road trip, starting in Portland, Oregon. The NBA Finals rematch will take place on Sunday January 30, 2011, which promises to be something special. Besides, the Celtics want revenge, but can they get it?

As long as everyone remains healthy and Doc Rivers keeps coaching, then consider this squad dangerous for the remainder of the season, as well as in the playoffs too.

Boston Bruins: It seems that the Bruins constantly win, lose and win again, yet, what makes this team more enjoyable to watch compared to past seasons is their physical play and ability to skate for 60-minutes, rather than 40 or 45-minutes. Of course, there are certain games where fans want to pull their hair out and scream, but once they fully establish a decent rhythm, then this team will be ready to contend for their sixth Stanley Cup.

Head coach Claude Julien wasn’t too pleased with his teams performance a week ago against the Buffalo Sabres, especially since the Black and Gold played horrendous hockey in all three periods and didn’t have their usual, “pop” in them, which could be displayed when trailing in the third period. Julien did state during his press conference that the team was “flat” all evening. Great word choice, but in all honesty, they have struggled greatly against the Sabres this season and there may not be an answer to why that has occurred.

The recent injury to Marc Savard is certainly not good news and hopefully, the Bruins medical staff and trainers will help him remain off the ice, as well as let him take the remainder of the season off. Would it be wise to put Savard back on the ice in March or April? Also, goaltender Tuukka Rask can’t seem to win in net. His current record of (5-10-1) is nothing to write home about, but exactly, why do the Bruins played so poorly when he starts? At least Tim Thomas is succeeding between the pipes. Thomas is the top goaltender for the Bruins and owns a record of (23-5-6).

Finally, the Bruins do display their toughness, especially defenseman, Steve Kampfer, who has chosen to keep playing hockey and not have surgery on his broken nose.

The Bruins will host the Florida Panthers on Wednesday at the TD Garden and then enjoy some extra rest during the NHL All-Star weekend. The second half won’t be an easy beginning for a team that currently resides in third place in the Eastern conference, as Boston will face Dallas, San Jose, Montreal and Detroit to kick-off the second of their season, which may provide some idea about this squad, as well as help fans understand if they could be cup-bound in June.   

Boston Red Sox: It is not even April, but baseball is slowly creeping back onto our Noontime Sports radar. The Red Sox look ready to challenge the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, as well as win the division too. Yet, there are still a god amount of questions that remain, such as, can Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford remain healthy for an entire season? What will their impact be on the team? Will second-year pitcher Jon Lackey rebound from a rocky ’10 season and lower his earned run average? Can the bullpen shut down their opponents late in the game?

On the bright side, the club will be happy to have Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis back on the diamond and in the line-up, but they too are a year older and need to stay healthy.

Overall, it is still early, but pending how the team does during their February and March exhibition schedule could dictate a good or bad season.

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