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dividends and should only bolster a very solid bench
(SportsNetwork. [url=http://www.thedallasstarshockey.com/neal-broten-hockey-jersey/]Neal Broten Stars Jersey[/url] .com) - After failing to win consecutive games for the first time in a month, the Boston Bruins now try to avoid an eighth loss in 10 December games on Sunday evening when they take on the Buffalo Sabres. The Bruins snapped a three-game slide with an overtime victory at Minnesota on Tuesday, but capped a three-game swing the following night with a 2-1 setback to the Winnipeg Jets. Defenseman Torey Krug scored the only goal of the game for the Bruins and Tuukka Rask allowed both goals on 27 shots. Weve talked about keeping things going and getting in a groove by getting a win tonight, but we didnt, said Rask. The Bruins were hoping for their first winning streak since a three-game run from Nov. 15-21, but instead fell to 3-6-3 since that time. They also have been held to three goals or fewer 10 times in that 12-game span. Scoring goals, thats whats missing right now, Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara said on his teams website. You know, its one of those things that we need to I guess, a little bit of luck, maybe a bounce here or there. Hosting the Sabres could help. The Bruins have won three in a row in this matchup, including the first two meetings this season that both took place in Buffalo. They have won two straight and five of the past seven meetings in Boston. Rask is 6-5-1 in his career versus the Sabres with a 2.44 goals against average and .923 save percentage in 14 career encounters, all but one of those starts. The Sabres come into Boston at less than full strength, battling both illness and injury. Matt Moulson was a scratch in Saturdays 5-1 setback to the Colorado Avalanche due to flu-like symptoms, while fellow forward Patrick Kaleta was unable to finish the game because of feeling sick. Buffalo also lost defenseman Tyler Myers to a lower-body injury in the second period and he is questionable for tonights game. As a result, the Sabres had a six-game winning streak at home snapped and have been outscored 10-2 in back-to-back losses following a four-game overall winning streak. Johan Larsson had a third-period goal for his first career NHL tally. He was recalled late in the day from the American Hockey League to replace Moulson and didnt even get to the arena in time for warmups. He had to rush here. Under those circumstances, he played well, plus he scored his first (NHL) goal, said Sabres coach Ted Nolan. Jhonas Enroth stopped 18-of-22 shots for Buffalo, which will try to win for the first time in its past four on the road tonight. Michal Neuvirth could start this game for the Sabres and is 1-3-0 lifetime versus the Bruins with a 3.66 GAA and .861 save percentage in six meetings, including four starts. [url=http://www.thedallasstarshockey.com/cody-eakin-hockey-jersey/]Cody Eakin Stars Jersey[/url] .5 million, two-year contract with the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, a deal that covers his final two arbitration seasons. [url=http://www.thedallasstarshockey.com/shawn-horcoff-hockey-jersey/]Shawn Horcoff Stars Jersey[/url] . -- The NFL Players Association wants to determine if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leaked information about quarterback Josh Freeman being in the NFLs substance abuse program. [url=http://www.thedallasstarshockey.com/alex-goligoski-hockey-jersey/]http://www.thedallasstarshockey.com/alex-goligoski-hockey-jersey/[/url] .A. remained bitter for Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers on the long flight back home to New York.(SportsNetwork.com) - As we look ahead to the New Year, I have a feeling well have only two divisions that will be hotly contested. The Toronto Raptors and Portland Trail Blazers have very comfortable cushions with Toronto leading the Brooklyn Nets in the Atlantic by 8 1/2 games, while the Blazers are 10 1/2 games up on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Northwest. The Chicago Bulls lead the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers by 3 1/2 games in the Central, but with the loss of Anderson Varejao for the season and Kevin Love continuing to struggle, it doesnt look like the Cavs will be able to keep up with such a deep Chicago team. In the Pacific, the Golden State Warriors are five games up on the Los Angeles Clippers, who look like theyve taken a step back from last season. With Stephen Curry clearly better than Chris Paul, and the Warriors talent level clearly being better than the Clippers, I dont see Doc Rivers team being capable of staying with Golden State. So that leaves us with the Southeast and Southwest Divisions, which may not be decided until April. Lets take a close look at each race: SOUTHEAST DIVISION The Washington Wizards were the preseason favorites to win the division, but have been unable to shake the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks are one game up on the Wizards, but Atlanta has been the more impressive team. They have clearly been better against the upper level teams of the league. Atlanta is 7-3 versus teams that would currently qualify for the playoffs, while the Wizards are just 3-7. The Hawks lost their first three games of the season against such teams, but since are 7-1. Former Hawks great Dominique Wilkins, who is currently the teams television color analyst, is really excited about what hes seeing on both ends of the floor. Theres two things that excite me about the team: team defense and playing defense on the ball is the most impressive thing, said Wilkins. You see a lot of teams rely too much on help; the Hawks defend out front. Secondly, ball movement from side to side. They share the ball. They give up a good shot for a great shot. As for the Wizards, I have to wonder after hearing some comments from Paul Pierce following a win over the struggling Miami Heat on Dec. 19, if theyre as committed to being a top team as the Hawk are. We got to build ourselves on great habits, Pierce said, according to the Washington Post. Tonight I wasnt happy with the defense, especially against a team struggling to score 100 points. We allowed them to shoot too high of a percentage. So them arent the habits we want to have throughout the course [of the season]. I think the division will be up for grabs into the final month, but my gut tells me the Hawks will be the one to prevail. SOUTHWEST DIVISION The Grizzlies sit atop the division with a one-game lead over the Mavericks, 1 1/2 games over the Rockets, while the Spurs are five back. Heres a breakdown of each team: MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES The Grizzlies big three of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley have all played at a high level, and are mainly responsible for their 23-8 mark. Gasol is easily having his best season. In just his eighth year in the league, hes averaging a career-high 20.1 points, which is more than five points above his previous high. One problem with the Grizzlies is the secondary players who arent on the same level as those on the Spurs and Rockets. Up until Randolph missing the last five games with a sore knee, the Grizzlies have not had to deal with any injury issues, unlike two of their division rivals. Memphis lost the first three game without its starting poower forward, but then beat the struggling Heat, who were without Chris Bosh and followed it up with a win over the Spurs, who were missing Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. [url=http://www.thedallasstarshockey.com/dan-hamhuis-hockey-jersey/]Dan Hamhuis Stars Jersey[/url]. The bottom line is the Grizzlies can ill afford to lose any of their top three players for any period of time if they hope to win the division. HOUSTON ROCKETS Aside from James Hardens MVP-worthy performance so far, the big story has been the Rockets ability to overcome a ton of injuries. Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley have each sat out 12 games, while Terrence Jones has missed the last 26. During Howards absence, which included seven games without Beverley and Jones, the Rockets managed to go 8-4. The injury to Jones gave Donatas Motiejunas the opportunity for some big minutes and hes really blossomed, averaging 10.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in just over 27 minutes per game. The third-year power forward is now coming off the bench again after the Rockets signed Josh Smith following his release by the Detroit Pistons. Smith scored 21 points in his Rockets debut in a win in Memphis, but he combined to score just eight points on 3-of-13 from the field and committed eight turnovers over the next two games, which Houston lost. Does Will Smiths presence hurt the Rockets chemistry? Its certainly a question worth asking, as the Pistons have run off three straight wins after dumping the 10-year veteran. But the Rockets have another recent addition that has already paid immediate dividends and should only bolster a very solid bench. Corey Brewer, who was acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 19, is averaging 16.3 points in just over 24 minutes in four games with the Rockets, and is shooting 52.3 percent from the field and 59.1 percent from 3-point range. If Smith can fit in, I like Houstons chances to come out on top, especially with Harden playing at such a high level and the Rockets having so much depth SAN ANTONIO SPURS The Spurs have given the Rockets plenty of competition in the injury department. Tony Parker is dealing with a lingering hamstring injury which has caused him to miss 12 games, while Kawhi Leonard has missed 11 games with a bruised hand and is out indefinitely at this point. In addition to the injuries to two of their top players, the Spurs have had to deal with Tiago Splitter missing 22 games, while backup point guard Patty Mills has played just two games after finally coming back from offseason shoulder surgery. With Parker and Leonard having ongoing issues, and the need to also keep Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili fresh for the playoffs, dont expect Greg Popovich to push his team to win the division title. DALLAS MAVERICKS Rick Carlisles team will have to prove they can compete with the better teams and have to overcome the loss of valuable backup big man Brandan Wright, who was dealt to the Boston Celtics in the Rajon Rondo trade. The Mavericks are just 5-8 against teams that would currently qualify for the postseason, and one of those wins came against a depleted Spurs team playing without Duncan, Parker, Leonard, Ginobili and Splitter. The Mavs particularly have had problems in beating the other seven teams in the Western Conference that would qualify for the playoffs at this point. That mark is just 1-7. The addition of Rondo should help Dallas defensively in the backcourt, but it doesnt solve the problems in the frontcourt where Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons have problems with their lack of athleticism. Defensive deficiencies and the loss of Wright will make it difficult for Dallas to take the division. 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