Mitch's Sports Report: For Bruins, Home Is Where The Heartburn Is

Feb 23, 2016

Home sweet home. Home is where the heart is. There's no place like home. Forgive fans of the Boston Bruins if they greet those well worn adages with a collective twenty-first century eye roll emoji.

The Bruins finished a season-high six game road trip with an inspired come from behind win against one of the league's better teams in Dallas, then came home to TD Garden last night only to let any momentum from that victory fade to black in the cavernous Bear cave of TD Garden. The last place in the Metropolitan division Columbus Blue Jackets hung a 6-4 loss on the B's. To be fair, the Jackets have been playing better of late under head coach and firebrand John Tortorella, winners of seven of their last twelve games, but the Bruins' struggles at home are truly bewildering. The numbers tell the story, even if the explanation for them is lacking. Boston has twenty wins, seven losses, and three ties on the road but just twelve wins, fifteen losses, and three ties in their own building. Maybe that could change come playoff time, when the energy of the crowd and the players is ramped up with the post-season atmosphere, but if the Bruins keep playing like they have at home they won't even make it that far. The eastern conference is an ever-shifting landscape with teams moving in and out of wild card slots almost daily, and teams underneath that water mark very much within striking distance. The Bruins got two goals apiece last night from Matt Belesky and Loui Eriksson, and part of the problem is that Eriksson, having a career year, is likely going to be shipped away within the next few days as the trade deadline approaches. The Bruins just don't have the salary cap flexibility to sign Eriksson to a high priced long term contract, which he'll be seeking next year as an unrestricted free agent, so they'll get what they can for him now, which will likely be prospects not ready for prime time, which will leave a gaping void at left wing. Boone Jenner scored twice for the Blue Jackets last night as they look to next year. Jonas Gustafsson took the loss in net for Boston in not one of his better back-up performances. The homestand continues for Boston with a number of critical games against eastern conference foes jockeying with them for playoff position and one of those teams, the much improved and Sidney Crosby-led Pittsburgh Penguins, visit TD Garden tomorrow night, so the road at home, as it were, gets no easier for the Bruins.

The Montreal Canadiens picked up a point last night in Nashville but lost in a shootout, 2-1, to the Predators. The Habs could still go on a run to make the playoffs but they'd have to leapfrog a bunch of teams to get there. Craig Smith scored the game winner for the Preds in the shootout after missing a wide-open net in the overtime period. Brendan Gallagher scored the lone goal for Montreal, his sixteenth of the season. No one thought when the season began that the Canadiens would be sellers at the trading deadline but unless they run the table leading up to the trade deadline, it's likely they'll be wheeling and dealing some veteran players to playoff bound teams.

In the NBA, the Boston Celtics got a look at rookie big man Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves last night and his twenty-eight point, thirteen rebound performance led the Wolves to a 124-122 win, a victory only secured when Marcus Smart's three-point attempt at the buzzer clanged off the back rim. The T-Wolves had a ten point advantage with ninety seconds left in regulation before the Celtics got it to within two. Jae Crowder led Boston with twenty-seven points and nine rebounds in the close-but-no-cigar losing effort.

The Boys' high school basketball playoffs continued at Barre Auditorium with two games last night. In Division two play, Dyland McDonough had a twenty-five point night to lead number five-seeded Woodstock over number eight Mount St. Joseph 66-47. The Wasps move on to face the winner of Lyndon against Enosburg, with tip off set for tomorrow night at the Aud.

In Division four, top-seeded Twinfield held off number four South Royalton 59-51 despite a game-high nineteen points from the Royals' William Wuttke. Connor Spencer had a team high seventeen points to lead the Trojans, who move on the finals against either Proctor or Danville, who go at it tomorrow night.

After one day of slalom runs in the high school district alpine ski competition, the Mount Mansfield girls hold a lead while Stowe leads the boys' division. MMU's Karin Rand finished first in the girls race, edging out South Burlington’s Annika Nielsen by two seconds. Rice’s Sarah Boland rounded out the top three. Stowe place two of its racers in the top three for the boys, with Ethan Schmitt finishing first followed by Mark Infante. Bennett Coseo earned second place for BFA-St. Albans.

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