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It will be tough for Bruins to better, but Iginla, Eriksson could make it happen

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  September 17, 2013 07:51 AM

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Ten free minutes for me, 10 free throwaway lines for you ...

c8a608d671b2464f868e833db39a9ce5-c8a608d671b2464f868e833db39a9ce5-0.jpg1. I'm not saying this year's Bruins are going to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals or beyond; the playoffs are such a brutal grind of attrition, a test of mental and physical toughness, that playing deep in to the postseason is a hell of an achievement in itself. But I'll say this, after our appetite for the new season was whet with a preseason-opening win over the Canadiens: I like this team of Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla better than I liked last year's admirable Eastern Conference champs. And I was a big Nathan Horton guy.

2. Angry Tom Brady was about the most interesting thing in that Patriots-Jets Thursday night slop-fest. I suppose he should probably refrain from castigating his receivers every time they go east when they were supposed to go west, or else we're going to have to retract a lot of late-'80s jabs at Dan Marino. But given that when it comes to the playbook they're still learning to add 2 plus 2 while he's mastered advanced calculation, chances are strong he's right when their pass-routes turn into non-linear malfunctions. (Yeah, that's right, I've got math jokes.)

3. Not sure if there's any substance to it or it's just the New York tabloids doing their speculation thing, but the rumors are floating that the Yankees will target Stephen Drew to play shortstop next year. I feel for the Yankee minion who has to break the news to Derek Jeter that he's not Imperial Shortstop For Life. Maybe A-Rod will volunteer to do it.

4. Sunday's Mariano Rivera tribute was good fun, and it marks the second time his humility and good humor has made a moment at Fenway even better. The first, of course, was when he doffed his cap on Opening Day 2005 and laughed along with us at the mock cheer for his "contribution" to the Red Sox' 2004 championship. The second was Sunday night, when the Red Sox dwelled a beat or two too long on their own successes against Rivera, making some of us briefly wonder whether this was a celebration of him, or one of the Red Sox at his expense. He does have 58 saves against them in regular season alone. Surely one or two could have been acknowledged.

5. I'm not sure why Rob Ninkovich remains so underrated. Maybe it's because of his fifth-round-pick pedigree, or that he bounced around between the Dolphins and Saints before settling in New England. But there's little doubt to those of us who watch him every Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday) that he is nothing less than essential to the Patriots' defense, and in a similar way to all that the celebrated Mike Vrabel provided years ago.

6. The huge Celtics banner outside the pro shop at TD Garden/North Station now features ... Avery Bradley. Nice player, right, but in a related note, I'm setting the over/under for Celtics wins at 22. And leaning toward the under. Tell me again that this team has more pure talent than the 15-67 team of 1996-97.

7. I'd rather the Patriots be staring at a 3-3 record after six games than have them hurry Rob Gronkowski back to the field before they are 100-percent certain he is completely healed from his 87 offseason surgeries. They're 2-0, it's a long season, and for once it would be nice to have him healthy for the playoffs.
8. Curious if, after a year away, Tim Thomas turns out to be the full embodiment of Eddie Andelman's old gag about the merits of a super-sized goaltender.

9. Tell me that Xander Bogaerts -- he of the .816 OPS and better-than-expected defense -- is a lock for the playoff roster. He is, right? Right?

10. As for Today's Completely Random Baseball Card:


Twenty-three right fielders are in the Hall of Fame. By Jay Jaffe's terrific JAWS system, Guerrero rates roughly in the middle statistically among those 23. He clubbed 449 homers, posted a .931 OPS, won an MVP and finished in the top three three other times, had throwing arm that made the NRA envious, and his most-similar-by-ages list includes Willie Mays five times and Manny Ramirez and Duke Snider three times each. He retired this week. He'd get my vote in five years.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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