What’s Going on in Boston?

The first edition of the new sports column created by Pingree School

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Boston’s 4 Major Sports Teams

Bruins 

By Talia Goodman

There is no need to bury the lead — the Boston Bruins made the headlining move on trade deadline day by acquiring Buffalo Sabres’ Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar in exchange for Anders Bjork and a 2021 second-round pick. 

While Taylor Hall has been lacking the quality offense that made him the Hart Memorial Trophy recipient back in 2018, he was most recently on the Buffalo Sabres. I can’t name a single player who’s succeeding there. All it took was a second-rounder in a terrible draft and a player whose value is eerily similar to Lazar’s– and the result of acquiring Hall could be ginormous. If not, what did the Bruins lose? Not a whole lot. 

This week was a mixed bag for the Boston Bruins. In three games against the Philadelphia Flyers and two against the Washington Capitals, the team went 2-1-2. In a normal time, I’d be more skeptical of those two losses to Philadelphia, and even more critical of Sunday’s blowout loss to Washington, but with starting goaltender Tuukka Rask out due to injury and backup Jaroslav Halak out due to COVID-19 protocols, I’d say the week was a success in more ways than one. 

Seeing Jeremy Swayman in net was a pleasant surprise. He posted a 2-1-0 record along with a .929 SV% and a 2.35 GAA. If we’re being honest, no one expected this from the netminder who had spent the beginning of his professional career down in Providence with the Bruins AHL affiliate and was with UMaine the previous season. 

Monday’s game against Philly was their sixth matchup of the season, and with the Flyers sitting directly behind them in the East division’s standings, it was an important two points to gain. Unfortunately, the game was brought to overtime, and the Bruins were only able to hold onto one point. Travis Konecny scored on a breakaway chance in OT due to a stumble and tumble from Bergeron and a top shelf game-winner past Dan Vladar. 

Luckily, the game was part of a double-header and the Bruins successfully redeemed themselves and gained two points the following night. In a 4-2 win, Swayman really got to show off his talent, stopping 40 of 42 shots. Not only did he showcase his abilities, but Bergeron chimed in with a feat of his own: a hat trick.

Patrice Bergeron celebrating his hat trick on April 6 versus the Philadelphia Flyers. Credit: NESN

He scored the first two goals of the night and got the game-winning empty netter to complete the 4-2 win. It was his sixth all-time hat trick, and his first of the season. 

On Thursday, the Bruins took a break from the Flyers and took on the division’s best team at the moment, the Washington Capitals. This was a great game for the Bruins. Not only did they win the game, but their offense finally showed up. In the 4-2 win, Boston had goals scored from Jeremy Lauzon, Anton Blidh and Craig Smith. The Bruins desperately need their whole offense to start producing, rather than just the “perfection line” we know so well, and this game showed the potential for that.  

In their final game against the Flyers, the Bruins were outplayed to a 3-2 loss in regulation. This one hurt. The Flyers remain right below them in the playoff race, and for the Bruins to hold onto that last playoff start, they need to hold off the Philadelphia Flyers. 

I honestly don’t even want to write about Sunday’s game against the Capitals. Instead, I would like to erase it from my mind. An ugly 8-1 loss underscored the team’s need to add a top-six forward in Taylor Hall and bolster their defense as they attempted to do in acquiring defenseman Mike Reilly from the Ottawa Senators before the trade deadline. Even with players like Trent Frederic, Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk absent from the game, an 8-1 loss was unimaginable and embarrassing. 

With the hopes of getting Rask back this week, Bruins fans should (hopefully) look forward to improvements on all ends, some added depth and the return of some key pieces to come. 

 

Patriots 

By Chris Jimenez

NFL free agency began on March 17th, and the sports world was immediately buzzing about the Patriots as Bill Belichick went on to spend $159.6 million in nine days. 

Many, including myself, believe that the Patriots are going to come back roaring with a vengeance in 2021. Some speculate that Tom Brady winning a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay is going to make Belichick even angrier and cause the downfall of New England to continue further, but I believe that Belichick has been plotting a resurgence since Brady left. He is the Boogeyman of the NFL, constantly carrying an aura of mystery about him.

Belichick hasn’t succeeded in the draft for many years now, and that is likely why he spent so much money on free agents, which is very uncharacteristic for him. 

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick. Credit: USA Today

Actually, he is notorious for doing the exact opposite. 

When people are spending in free agency, he isn’t. When people are trading up in the draft, Belichick is trading back. His best trait as a general manager is the fact that he can be so emotionally unattached. 

Belichick is both the head coach and general manager for the Patriots, so if he knows he is weak at a position, he has the power to go out and fix it. The Patriots have been lackluster at the wide receiver and tight end positions for years now, and in free agency, Belichick went out and brought in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, two top ten tight ends, and Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor, two dynamic wide receivers. He also signed defensive players that he can configure within his system in hopes of improving this upcoming season. 

After all of this, Belichick is still lacking the most important position of all – a quarterback. The Patriots are still desperately missing Tom Brady under center and are looking for their next franchise quarterback to throw the ball to all of their new signings. 

The Patriots have the 15th overall pick in this year’s draft, and that is way too low to select one of the top quarterbacks in this draft. Reports have surfaced that the Patriots could try to trade up to the fourth overall pick in hopes of selecting a top QB. They do have a surplus of picks in the draft (ten to be exact), but this would likely cost a fortune, and even then, it’s predicted that three quarterbacks would be drafted ahead of them with the first three picks. This would presumably leave the likes of Justin Fields and Trey Lance on the board. 

Next year’s draft does not include superstar quarterback talent, and many teams are lacking a franchise quarterback to lean on this season, which is leading to this QB frenzy. 

Bill Belichick’s last successful quarterback pick was Jimmy Garropolo, who was selected in the second round of the 2014 draft. Tom Brady, despite being an anomaly of a quarterback, was selected 199th overall. The Patriots don’t necessarily need to take one of the most highly touted prospects. It is unlikely that the top five quarterbacks will drop to 15th overall, and the Patriots will need to solve their quarterback situation elsewhere.  Signing Cam Newton to yet another one-year deal doesn’t give the fanbase confidence that the organization views him as a franchise quarterback yet. 

There is still some hope that the quarterback situation will be solved before or in the draft and that Bill Belichick will pull off a miraculous stunt in finding the next long-term quarterback for the New England Patriots.

Celtics 

By Carter Segal

On Friday, April 9, the Boston Celtics faced the Minnesota Timberwolves in a game that went down to the wire. Due to health and safety protocols, Boston had to play without their notable trade deadline acquisition, Evan Fournier. On the other side, the 13-39 Timberwolves went into the game without their third-leading scorer, Malik Beasley, due to a grade-three hamstring injury.

The game got off to a rocky start for Boston, a recurring theme throughout this season. Poor defense, shot selection, and ball security resulted in the Celtics allowing 39 points in the first quarter alone. At that moment, it appeared the Celtics might once again lose to a less talented team. 

But Boston slowly fought their way back into the game due to solid play from Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart (who scored 26 and 24 points, respectively), and Jayson Tatum’s best scoring night of his career. Tatum finished with 53, in large part due to his aggressiveness getting to the rim. No Minnesota defender could guard him, and it showed. Tatum shot a career-high 16 free throws, and made 15 of them. In overtime, the Celtics played with much more defensive intensity, establishing themselves as the better team, winning in overtime by nine points. 

Sunday’s game against the Denver Nuggets was much more of a slug-fest. Despite the fact that 38% of all shots in the game came from behind the three point line, neither team shot above 25% from three. The Celtics were once again without Evan Fournier, while the Nuggets were without their second best player in Jamal Murray. 

Once again, the Celtics found themselves down double digits at the end of the first. But they managed to close the game with what might have been their best quarter of the season. Boston was aggressive getting to the rim, taking advantage of Denver’s lack of rim protection. Tatum scored a team high 28 points, and got to the line eight times. Brown scored 20 points of his own, getting to the basket at will.

Celtics standout Jayson Tatum. Credit: FanSided

On defense, the big man trio of Robert Williams III, Tristan Thompson, and Grant Williams did a phenomenal job of defending MVP candidate Nikola Jokic. The Serbian big, who averages 26 points a game on 57% shooting, was held to only 17 points on 40% shooting. The Nuggets were riding a seven game win streak going into the game, and they look like a true contender to make the finals this year. 

Boston is going to need to use this win as momentum as they head into the home stretch. Currently standing as the seventh seed in the east, the coming weeks will tell us a lot about Boston and whether they have it in them to make another deep playoff run.

 

 

Red Sox

By Matt Fonzi

April has arrived, which means the MLB season has commenced. Opening Day for the Red Sox was scheduled for April 1st, yet those April showers pushed it back a day. April 2nd would be the start of the season for the pride of Boston. This week consisted of three games against the Orioles and three games against the Rays.

The Red Sox had a fairly interesting off-season. Fan favorites Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. (JBJ) are both starting their 2021 season with a new franchise. JBJ is now a Milwaukee Brewer, and Benintendi is now in Kansas City as a Royal. The Sox had a few notable acquisitions, including the signing of Kike Hernandez, along with the hopeful returns of Eduardo Rodriguez and possibly Chris Sale. But the loss of their core outfielders left fans wondering how the new look Red Sox were  going to perform.

The first series of the season was similar to the Red Sox ghosts of years’ past, as they dropped the first three games to the Baltimore Orioles, getting outscored by 13 runs in the series. However, the Red Sox quickly flipped the switch, defeating the defending AL Champion Tampa Bay Rays 11-2 in their first meeting. The following night, the highlight of the week for the Red Sox came with their win in extra innings. 

Christian Vasquez sending the Red Sox into extra innings on April 6 versus the Tampa Bay Rays. Credit: Milford Daily News

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Christian Vazquez stepped up to the plate as the Sox were down 3-2 with no outs and no one on base. On a 0-2 pitch, Vazquez pulled a home run over the Green Monster in left field to tie the game at 3-3. The game would go into extra innings where both teams would test out the MLB’s new rules put in place to entertain more runs scored in extras. The most impactful of these rules is the new base running rule, where a runner begins on second, making extra base hits worth more than ever. 

Through two extra innings, not much had happened. Each team scored a run in the 11th inning, and in the top of the 12th, the Rays put the pressure on by getting one run scored. With two men on base in the bottom half of the inning, JD Martinez was up to bat. The tying run was at third and the winning run at second. Martinez had a rough outing prior to his late at-bat, going 0-3. But on a 1-1 slider that just broke down the middle, JD clipped the ball over Rays RF Randy Arozerena to bat in two runs and end the game. This gave the Sox momentum in the series and helped them complete the sweep with a 9-2 win over Tampa the next day. 

To end the first week of baseball on a good note, Eduardo Rodriguez got to start in the last game before a rest day against the Orioles. E-Rod threw for five innings, allowing four hits and three runs. It wasn’t exactly a stunning performance, but it was a good sign for the future of his season.

Fans witnessed a promising start from the Red Sox this week, especially considering the first three games were looking a lot like last season. There is hope that maybe the playoffs are in sight, but it is just too early to tell. This week, the Red Sox will be tested in a series against the 5-3 Minnesota Twins.