Tuukka

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) congratulates goaltender Jaroslav Halak (41) after defeating the Calgary Flames at TD Garden Jan. 3, 2019.

SOME NOTES and quotes as you wait for the Patriots to get back onto the field:

• Interesting note picked up watching a late hockey game Friday night: Anaheim goalie John Gibson is the NHL’s all-time leader in save percentage among players with at least 100 career starts: .923. Four are tie for second at .922. One of them was Tuukka Rask, the goaltender Bruins fans love to hate.

• You had to feel bad for Dirk Nowitzki Friday night. With TD Garden fans cheering for him, he went 0-for-10 from the floor in what is likely his final game in Boston. On ESPN, Jeff Van Gundy, on the cheering, said, “That is what makes Boston great!!!”

• OK, if you had the Denver Nuggets leading the NBA Western Conference on Jan. 5, stand up and take a bow. Sit down. You’re lying.

• Column pal Glen Farley of the Brockton Enterprise led us to quotes from the great football coach John McKay the other day. “We didn’t tackle today, but we made up for it by not blocking,” was one. His all-time great came when asked about the execution of his winless Tampa Bay Bucs one day. He said, “I’m all for it.” Oh, and then there was, “We’ve proven we can’t win at home or on the road. We’d like to find a neutral site.”

• I’m all for the old NBA, where you ran actual plays and didn’t just fire the ball up from 25 feet away. But PLEASE do not lose sight of the number of bright, young stars in the game today, in a new golden era.

• Celtics coach Brad Stevens would love to join Spurs mentor Gregg Popovich on the USA Hoops staff. “He sets the bar for the rest of us, and I think we all feel that way,” Stevens said of the five-time NBA champion. “His teams always get better. His teams always play to their strengths. They always play as a connected unit. One of the things that you pay attention to the most is when they’re going through one of those really tough weeks like they did this year, and everybody that’s ever been a player or coach knows, the turnaround is going to be fun to watch. Some of the way they have played over the years has been a model and kind of a teaching tape for the rest of us.”

• The secondary ticket market for the National Championship football game has collapsed. Why? Well, Alabama and Clemson are a long way from Northern California, making it a difficult trek for even the most rabid fan.

• With Anthony Davis‘ future very much in doubt in New Orleans, this week he added to his ridiculous resume and to what he has been forced to endure. He scored 34 points and grabbed 26 rebounds in a game this week, and the Pelicans LOST.

David Robertson is a rarity in sports – the reliever represented himself in getting his two-year contract from the Phillies. But here’s a thing that makes you wonder: he got two years for $25 million. The Mets brought Jeurys Familia, with an agent, as a setup man, for three years/$30 million.

• From WBZ’s Dan Roche via Twitter: “Houston, Baltimore or LA is coming to Foxboro next weekend: “The Texans are 1-10 vs NE; -Belichick is 11-0 at home vs rookie QBs; Ravens start rookie QB Lamar Jackson; -Chargers QB Phillip Rivers is 1-5 (inc 0-2 in playoffs) vs NE.”

• Notre Dame is 0-6 in BCS bowls by a combined count of 219-86. The Irish have dropped eight straight “major” bowls and are 5-13 in their last 18 bowl games.

• From ESPN stats this week: “Joel Embiid was the first player with 30 points and 10 rebounds by halftime since Antwan Jamison on Dec. 3, 2000 vs the SuperSonics. Embiid has 10 30-point, 15-rebound games this year, the first 76ers player with that many since Charles Barkley had 11 in 1989-90.”

• Thanks to the MLB Network for telling us that, as the calendar turned to 2019, Wilbur Wood is the only pitcher in the last 100 years to finish a season 20-19 (1974, his fourth straight 20-win season).

John Wall is out for the season after foot surgery. The Wizards would love to move him but he has … get this … $170,912,000 fully guaranteed for the next four seasons.

• From NHL Public Relations: “Jake DeBrusk scored twice, including his 8th career winning goal as the @NHLBruins won their third straight game. Only two players from the 2015 draft class have more GWG since @JDebrusk entered the NHL: Connor McDavid (13) & Kyle Connor (9).

• Celtics VP Danny Ainge on LeBron James calling himself the GOAT: “His career’s not over. I’d just like to — why he’s saying that, I don’t know. Maybe he thinks that that sells. Maybe he’s taking the Donald Trump approach and trying to sell himself. I don’t know.”

• The Knicks’ Enes Kanter, a Turk, will not accompany his team on the coming trip to London for fear of his life. “I talked to the front office and they said I’m not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president (Recep Tayyip Erdogan),” he said in the New York Daily News. “There’s a chance that I can get killed out there. So that’s why I talked to the front office. I’m not going so I’m just going to stay here, just practice. It’s pretty sad because it affects my career, my basketball. Because I want to be out there but just because of that one lunatic guy, that one maniac, I can’t go out there and do my job. It’s pretty sad.” He said he could be killed “Easy. They have a lot of spies there. I can be killed easily.”

• As Tom Brady and so many others skip the silly Pro Bowl, Alex Ovechkin will be hit with a one-game suspension for skipping the NHL All-Star festivities.

• From stat maven Dick Lipe: the starting five the injury-riddled Celtics put on the floor Friday night had played a total of 11 minutes together in the previous four games.

• The Wizards are reportedly asking for two players and two draft picks for Bradley Beal.

• Congrats to ex-Pats Ty Law (third time) and Richard Seymour (first) for making it to the final 15 in this year’s NFL Hall of Fame class.

Bill Walton, never afraid to throw something out there, has nominated an interesting candidate to take over the UCLA men’s basketball program from the fired Steve Alford: former President Barack Obama.

• Guard Joe Thuney has played every offensive snap for the Patriots this season — the first Pat to do it since Brady and Ryan Wendell both did it in 2013. Thuney missed just nine snaps in his first two seasons combined.

• The following chat from Inside the NBA the other night:

Charles Barkley: “I’ll drop you like a bad habit Shaq.”

Kenny Smith: “What bad habits have you ever dropped?”

Barkley: “None. I wanna go to hell with the rest of my friends.”

• The Rays have shut the upper deck down and added premium lower seating at the Trop and will now have a 25-26,000 seating capacity. They averaged 14,258 last year, ahead of only the Marlins.

Russell Westbrook had a triple-double at LA the other night and shot 3-for-20 from the floor.

• How hot are the Tampa Bay Lighting? Well, they didn’t lose in regulation in December and, according to NHL PR: “This marks the first time in the expansion era and just the eighth time in NHL history that a team has led by at least 12 points in the overall standings at the mid-way point of their season.”

• From NESN’s Zack Cox: “Partial list of 2019 Patriots free agents: Trey Flowers, Trent Brown, Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson, Phillip Dorsett, Malcom Brown, Danny Shelton, Jason McCourty, Eric Rowe, Ryan Allen, Stephen Gostkowski — plus the potential for Gronk retirement and/or McDaniels/Flores leaving.”

• From @KevinOConnorNBA Friday: “James Harden last 12 games: 40.1 points, 9.0 assists, 6.6 rebounds, 64.0 true shooting percentage — Rockets are 11-1, went from the 14-seed to the 4-seed. Legendary run by Harden. Saved Houston’s season and making a run at a second MVP. Unbelievable.”

• Former teammate Tristan Thompson thinks Kyrie Irving is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Tough to argue.

• Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins is donating his $29,000 wild card game check to the family of a murdered 7-year-old. He tweeted: “When I see Jazmine Barnes‘ face, I see my own daughter. I’m pledging my playoff check this week to help her family with funeral costs and to support @shaunking @SherriffED_HCSO @SylvesterTurner in bringing this man to justice. On Saturday, I will be playing in your honor, Jazmine — Deandre Hopkins (@DeAndreHopkins) January 3, 2019”

Kawhi Leonard returned to San Antonio for the first time this week and was not exactly welcomed by his former home crowd. Tweeted Isaiah Thomas: “That man won a championship for y’all and u boo him?? That ain’t it!”

Sidney Crosby hears it all around the league. In the penalty box at Madison Square Garden this week, a guy really let him have it. After the game, a trainer found the guy and delivered a signed stick from Crosby, autographed with the words, “Good chirps – Take it easy on me next time.”

• AFC Least? This from Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard: The Patriots this year finished with a point differential of plus-111. In the division, they were plus-110. Outside of the division, they were a plus-1.

• From @PelicansPR: “Anthony Davis is the first player with at least 34 points, 26 rebounds and 3 blocks in #NBA history since Elvin Hayes (12/2/73).” And: “Additionally, with his four assists on the night, Davis is now the only player in #NBA history to record at least 34 points, 26 rebounds, three blocks and four assists in a game.”

• Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels coaching Baker Mayfield in Cleveland? Perhaps this time McDaniels actually shows up.

• Speaking of showing up, Jan. 1 marked the 19th anniversary of Bill Belichick walking out on the Jets after 10 minutes as the team’s coach. That didn’t change NFL history, did it?

• Column pal Sean Deveney of the Sporting News: The Hornets are trying to deal Frank Kaminsky, the former NCAA Player of the Year. Says Deveney: “This has a Celtics connection because remember, Danny Ainge offered FOUR first round picks to Michael Jordan for the No. 9 pick of the 2015 draft. Ainge wanted Justise Winslow. Jordan said no because he was so enamored of Kaminsky. Now he’s stuck on the bench and they’re trying to move him.”

• From Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is watching the postseason on TV: “Fact of the day: Water is not wet. Water is a liquid that wets things. “Wet” is the condition of a liquid sticking to a solid surface, such as water wetting our skin. We CAN NOT say that water is wet, because it takes a liquid AND a solid to define the term “wet.” Thanks for that.

• We got an up-close look at Luka Doncic Friday night and he didn’t disappoint. This from @NBADraft the other night: “Luka Doncic scores a team-high 25 PTS for the @dallasmavs, his 20th game with 20+ PTS. Luka is the only rookie over the last THIRTY years to score 20+ PTS in at least 20 games before New Year’s Day.”

• Finally, David Krejci joined Patrice Bergeron and Raymond Bourque as two Bruins with multi-point games the same night as the arrival of a new baby. “Just a special day and with a win at the end, just kind of the cherry on top of the cake,” Krejci said of the arrival of his son – plus two assists in a win. Bourque scored in overtime and had two assists at Hartford Jan. 29, 1986 after the birth of son and future NHLer Chris.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.