November 12, 2013

Tom Caron: Now, about those other Boston teams

BOSTON — October is long gone. The Red Sox are (mostly) clean-shaven, and the baseball free-agent season is already upon us.

It’s time to look ahead. And as the Sox plan for the future, we begin to look around and catch up on what Boston’s other teams were up to during a baseball-crazed October.

You can’t watch every game, can you? That’s OK. We’re here to help. Here’s a primer on what you’ve been missing.

THE PATRIOTS

If you read the media accounts of the first nine games without looking at the scores, you’d think they were fighting for playoff survival.

In fact, the Pats have the third-best record in the NFL. They are 7-2 and have yet to play a game with Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen on the field at the same time.

In other words, an offense that put 55 points on the board against Pittsburgh in the last game before the bye week should have even better days ahead.

The defense has absorbed major injuries to key personnel. Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo are out for the season. But Aqib Talib is getting closer to returning, and the defense hasn’t hit the breaking point yet.

The Patriots may need Tom Brady to put more points on the board than he did through much of the first half of the season, but he’s done this before.

They’re not a shoo-in, but the Pats have reclaimed their status as one of the teams to beat in the AFC.

THE BRUINS

With new players like Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson blending into the mix, Claude Julien’s team has taken a little time to find its footing.

Saturday night’s 3-1 win over the Maple Leafs in a rematch of last spring’s seven-game thriller and Monday’s 3-0 win over the Lightning were an indication that the B’s are finding solid ground. We know they are sound defensively and as tough as any team in the league, but we’ve still wondered where the scoring will come from without Tyler Seguin.

The answer is that the scoring will come from many players. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are the guys who make this offense click, and Iginla and Eriksson will add more of an impact offensively as the season progresses.

The Bruins have been able to withstand Brad Marchand’s early season slump and have gotten offense from their young defensemen (Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton have combined for nine goals.) It’s tough to make it back to the Stanley Cup finals two years in a row, but this team has all the makings of a contender. Again.

THE CELTICS

They’ve won four in a row, but many fans think that’s bad news. Welcome to the 2013-14 Celtics season, where Ping-Pong balls, not wins, are what most fans what. Yet no one told rookie coach Brad Stevens this team is supposed to tank the season and hope for a high draft pick. The Celtics shocked the Miami Heat (and the basketball world) with a last-second win Saturday night. They have a cast of young players you’ve probably never heard of, and have no idea when Rajon Rondo will play again.

In the meantime, they are the biggest underdog we’ve had in this city for a long time. You may want them finishing last so that they can pick first, but I’m having fun watching them win against all odds.

After all, it’s not often we see a Boston team play with zero expectations. Everyone else in town has a real chance to follow their bearded brothers and ride a duck boat when the season ends.

Tom Caron is studio host for the Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.

 

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