A hat trick for Martin Lapointe? Against Martin Brodeur? Once again, how does that happen? Steve Conroy describes the uneven, but winning performance by the Bruins last night. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell focuses on the Lapointe hat trick, and how pleased his teammates were for him. Kevin Paul Dupont says regarding the Laptoine performance: “there are natural hat tricks and there are the supernatural.” he notes that for now, Vin Baker is alone in the “city’s sports penthouse of pain.” Lifelong Bruins fan Ian Moran made his debut last night, Joe Gordon looks at his return home. Joe McDonald hopes Lapointe’s switch can stay on for the rest of the season. Douglas Flynn says the defense was the key last night. Dupont also gives us an update on Sergei Samsonov, hoping for an April Fools return. McDonald’s notebook has more on Samsonov. Conroy’s notebook looks at the mild surprise of Bryan Berard being a healthy scratch last night with the addition of Moran. Marrapese-Burrell’s notebook says while Moran played last night, the other new defenseman, Dan McGillis is at least a day away still.

Is there a team in the NBA easier to hate than the New Jersey Nets? Didn’t think so. Even as much as I hate the Lakers, the Nets are just even more unlikable. A lot of criticism of Antoine Walker on the radio this morning, but I have a hunch he might’ve injured himself early, which might have been a bigger factor than realized. Walker didn’t play in the fourth quarter, but Steve Bulpett reports that that was a part of a Jim O’Brien strategy. Shira Springer examines a possible rift between Walker and O’Brien, but Eric Williams denies any such thing. Dan Hickling says Bimbo Coles feels comfortable with his new teammates. Springer’s notebook has Williams thinking conspiracy theory. He shares the same agent as Ron Artest, which has him wondering about the quick ejection he got in the Spurs game. Bulpett has an interesting notebook as well. Rodney Rogers misses the Celtics, Vin Baker fires his agent, and Red comments on bobbleheads and the new owners firing a long time staffer.

Gerry Callahan, back on WEEI this morning after spending the last couple days on a movie set, talked today that columnists in some cases shouldn’t be in the locker room, because they’re going to get close to the athletes and lose their objectivity. He also noted that athletes generally don’t “get” sarcasm when its in print about them. Judging by some of the responses I get from media types about things said on this site, I’d say many sports media types don’t get sarcasm when it is applied to them, either. Callahan was on point early with several topics. (Did Greg Dickerson really say that “American terrorists should be targeting France”?)

Julio Zuleta finds himself the topic of a couple of articles today, the huge slugger finds himself making it difficult for the Sox to send him down. Michael Silverman looks at Zuleta and his 5 RBI day yesterday. Sean McAdam notes Zuleta’s 51 homeruns last year in AAA and winter ball and his .391 average this spring. Bob Hohler looks again at Tony Cloninger, back at work, doing the best thing he can to cope with this medical issues. David Heuschkel looks at the battle for the final utility spot between Boo hoo Lou Merloni and Damian Jackson. Dan Shaughnessy ventures over to the Yankees clubhouse to catch up with a reflective Roger Clemens. (hmmm…not a criticism of Dan…the column is good, but two days in a row, the Globe’s top columnists have done columns on the Yankees…Red Sox aren’t interesting enough?) Continuing the Yankees fascination, George Kimball looks at David Wells’ claims he was misquoted in his own book. Hohler’s notebook looks at a strong performance by Robert Person against the Yankees last night. Silverman’s notebook leads with more on Cloninger. McAdam’s notebook does likewise, as does the notebook of Heuschkel.

The Patriots buzz is slowly wearing off, and it’s down to reality. Nick Cafardo wonders which safety will the Patriots keep…Jones or Milloy? Tom Curran tries to unfold the various scenarios involving Jones and Milloy. David Pevear says all of a sudden, Bill Belichick is smart again. Mike Reiss has a very brief article but he does a good job clearing up the Franchise Tag rules.

The team could maintain a hard line, keep the "franchise" tag on Jones, and continue to negotiate with him after 4 p.m. today. There is a drawback to this, however. Should the Patriots reach an agreement with Jones anytime before July 15, the team would lose the ability to use the "franchise" tag on any player over the length of Jones' new contract.

He also goes on to say:

The team could simply keep the "franchise" tag on Jones and bring him back for the 2003 season, paying him the one-year, approximate $3-million salary. The Patriots could then continue to use the "franchise" tag on Jones in ensuing years..

Yesterday I got on Ron Borges for a comment he made on 1510 suggesting that the Patriots could essentially hold Jones hostage until June 1st, restricting his earning potential. I said the Pats needed to do something by today or they would lose the franchise tag for the length of any new deal they might sign with Jones. (Which is what Cafardo says today.) Borges and I were both half right and half wrong. I believe the statements by Reiss are the correct version. If the Patriots don’t make a deal with Jones today or trade him, any new deal made between tomorrow and July 15th would cause them to lose the franchise tag for the length of the new deal. Anything they do after that date would not cause them to lose the tag.

Jim Baker looks for contingency plans should a war interrupt CBS’s coverage of the NCAA tournament. Bill Griffith catches up with BU Hockey play by play guy Bernie Corbett.

Hoops, hoops and more hoops, that’s all you need to know for TV tonight. BC plays Pitt on ESPN at 7:00.