DON’T LOOK NOW, but the Bruins are getting more and more interesting every day.
The question remains: Can they get even more interesting by Monday?
They made a trade Wednesday, bringing Charlie Coyle back to Boston and giving up Ryan Donato and a fifth-round draft pick. As people were saying GM Don Sweeney had more work to do before Monday’s trade deadline, the team went out and made it 5-0 on a difficult six-game road trip that concludes with a visit to the sizzling Blues on Saturday.
The five wins have come without David Pastrnak. Overall, they have won seven straight, have points in 12 in a row (9-0-3), they’re getting strong goaltending and the young defensemen are growing by the game.
In short, there’s a chance here. The Bruins are third in the league in points, with Tampa Bay running away with the division and the B’s fighting to stay ahead of Toronto for home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Can Sweeney step to the plate and make the kind of deal that gets people truly excited about their Stanley Cup chances? Coyle is a nice player. But a top six winger would be great, and the young resources are there for a deal to be made.
“There’s no pressing reason why the Bruins couldn’t go after Mark Stone and Artemi Panarin if they’re willing to pay the price,” Bob McKenzie said on Wednesday’s NBC Sports telecast.
David Backes, whose contract was bad from the day it was signed, won Wednesday’s game in the sixth round of the shootout.
“I was still in shock when he called my name with some of the guys that hadn’t gone yet,” Backes said. “I thought there was at least a handful before me, but got the call and went out there, I’m a shooter by nature … I tried low glove and it worked out and good ending to the fourth game of our trip. He’s (Marc-Andre Fleury) an all-world goalie altogether, but in shootouts he’s lights out.”
Also on the trip, Charlie McAvoy, emerging as a star, became the first Bruins defenseman in 28 years – since Ray Bourque — with two straight game-winning goals.
There’s been a lot of talk about what the Red Sox will do about Chris Sale (and Rick Porcello) beyond this year — or about what they will do about Mookie Betts after next season. There has been little talk about Xander Bogaerts, who is up after this season.
Bogaerts hit .288 with 23 homers and 103 RBIs last year. For some context, Manny Machado, who just agreed to a $3 million contract, hit .297 with 37/107 for two teams last season. Now, we’re not saying Bogaerts is as good as Machado, but he’s a good player and he’s 26.
For some reason, the new Baseball Prospectus has Bogaerts hitting just .267 with 17/72 in 2019.
“The Red Sox obviously have treated me well,’’ Bogaerts told The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy the other day. “It’s a place where anyone and everyone would want to play, and stay.’’
He signed with the Red Sox at age 16.
“Time flies,” he said. “We were in the World Series my first time and it took a while to win the other one, but my years in the big leagues have passed so quick. Sometimes it’s a bit unreal that this amount of time has passed.’’
Tweeted WBZ’s Dan Roche: “Tuesday: Machado 10 years, 300 million; Wednesday: (Bryce) Harper 10 years, 325 million (didn’t happen yet); Thursday: If I’m the Red Sox I offer.... Betts 10 years, 350 million.”
Betts on the Machado signing: “There’s still a lot more guys out there. “It’s good but when you have one of the best closers (Craig Kimbrel) in the game and another young guy (Harper) who’s one of the best in the game, too. So it’s kind of tough to say it’s good but it’s a step in the right direction.”
Asked if a market has been set for HIM with the signing, Betts said, “No, no. It’s still tough to do. I mean, it took this long for kind of this to go down. So it just shows that it’s tough to do. And there’s still a lot of guys out there. So it’s obviously not easy and just got to focus on what’s going on right now.”
The Red Sox announced Dennis Eckersley will be in the NESN booth for 85 games this season, teaming up with Jerry Remy for 30 games of some three-man booth work with Dave O’Brien. Carlos Pena and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will also be getting work.
Tweeted Eck, one of the best in the business: “I’m excited to announce my expanded role with @NESN. I just signed a five year deal to do 85 games, more games than ever! Looking forward to the 2019 season. Repeat! Go @RedSox #redsox”
From @SoxNotes: “The Red Sox are an MLB-best 294-192 (.605) in the last 3 seasons (2016-18), marking the most wins in any 3-year span in club history (previous: 288 from 2003-05). They won the AL East in each of those 3 years, including by a franchise-record 8 games in 2018.”
Agent Drew Rosenhaus says his client is thinking things over regarding his future.
“I checked in with Rob a couple of days ago. I talked with the Patriots about it,” he said of Gronkowski. “Right now, Rob is thinking it through. He is giving it a lot of thought. Rob will certainly, I think, make a decision in the foreseeable future. I don’t want to put any pressure on him and give him a time frame, but I would imagine that it will be sometime in the next couple of weeks.”
SB Nation ranked the 31 other NFL teams and their chance of trading for Antonio Brown and has the Patriots ranked 28th, with the words, “The Patriots could lose three of their top four wide receivers to free agency this spring, and Bill Belichick has been aggressive at the position in the past with high-profile acquisitions like Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco. The team traded for Josh Gordon this season and reportedly made a run at Odell Beckham Jr. last year. But do the Steelers want to deal an elite talent to a team that rules the AFC? Nope.”
Kyrie Irving, who seems to be in the news every day, whether it’s on or off the court, explained to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols why he reached out to LeBron James.
“Apologizing, that was a step for me just to move forward in my life,” Irving said. “It takes a very, very strong individual to replay a lot of the experiences that you’ve had,” he said. “A lot of anger that you had built up, where you didn’t address the situation and you allowed it to fester, and then it was just combustion. It came out, and then you realized, ‘Hey, I didn’t have to deal with that the same way I dealt with that (in the past). I didn’t have to go about it the same way.”
Irving also wasn’t thrilled about the storm clouds that were stirred by the video of him talking to Kevin Durant in the hallway at the All-Star Game. Folks quickly jumped to the conclusion that the two were discussing being teammates with the Knicks next season.
“I don’t dissect it at all,” he said of the talk. “I disconnect. So anybody’s stories or social media, like, I’m completely off it. I just don’t have the care for it. It ruins locker rooms. It ruins, like, confidence in people. And it’s just a fictitious way of feeling validated in the world. So it really doesn’t matter to me.”
I’m writing this hours from my 65th birthday — a life that has included 45-plus years in this business. Still being able to do this makes it a bit easier to hit these magic birthdays.
Finally, I was shocked to hear Thursday of the sudden passing of my old friend Nick Cafardo, the long-time true Boston Globe pro. Truly a great guy. RIP my friend!
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.