Patriots Add Good Solder To Front Line

What? You were expecting Bill Belichick to do something sexy and unexpected last night?

The Patriots used the 17th pick in the first round last night to select massive Colorado tackle Nate Solder. By all accounts he’s a “Patriots type” of guy – smart, versatile, athletic, and of good character. The Patriots then traded their second first round pick to New Orleans for a first rounder next season and a second rounder today (#56 overall).

The moves didn’t quite generate the outrage and headscratching among fans and media that we saw last year, when the Patriots traded down twice and then drafted Devin McCourty, but there still seems to be a bit of disappointment out there. Let’s see how the rest of the draft goes, OK?

Sold on Solder – Shalise Manza Young with a look at the newest Patriot, and for those wondering why the Patriots didn’t select Anthony Castonzo of Boston College instead, Young notes “it’s interesting to note that Scarnecchia ran the position drills at BC’s pro day, so he got an up-close look at Castonzo.” More on Solder from: Mike Reiss | Ian R. Rapoport | Jim Donaldson | Christopher Price | Tom E. Curran | Tim Whelan Jr. | Jeff Howe | Mark Farinella | Jennifer Toland | Hector Longo | Nick Underhill | Glen Farley  (Did I get everybody?)

Every second counts – Greg A Bedard says that today is when the Patriots need to make their hay on defense.

Day 2 picks are key to Patriots’ draft – Mike Reiss agrees that these picks tonight are crucial.

Bill Belichick Passionately Defends Drafting Philosophy, Sticking to What He Believes In – Jeff Howe notes that the Patriots head coach is used to hearing negative feedback about his draft-day performances.

League tells teams to open doors – Ian Rapoport’s notebook has the NFL opening for business at 8:00 am this morning. The Globe Patriots notebook has more on this, and a look at the trade with the Saints.

Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat series preview: In-depth statistical breakdown – Tom King with a detailed look at the upcoming series.

Legacies on the line: Paul Pierce and LeBron James – Paul Flannery looks at what is on the line for both teams.

Green’s turn has come – Amalie Benjamin has the young forward feeling more at ease and ready to contribute.

Smooth C’s lie ahead – Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics can beat the Heat if they stick to their plan. Scott Souza says that planning and execution are key for the Celtics, as opposed to the Heat, who can win on talent.

Adrian Gonzalez: Home runs will come – Gordon Edes talks to the Red Sox first baseman about his home run draught thus far this season.

Reddick is unfazed by crowded outfield – Michael Vega’s minor league notebook has the Pawtucket outfielder staying positive.

Bruins vs. Flyers matchups: Who has the edge? – DJ Bean previews the next round.

Series has redeeming quality – Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins looking for payback.

Edwards passion is undeniable – Chad Finn’s media column has the Bruins voice defending his on-air style.

Boston Bruins Madness Hits Boston – My SB Nation Boston media column looks at the TV schedule for the next rounds for the Bruins and Celtics.

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Bruins/Canadiens Game 7 Sets New Ratings Record for NESN

From NESN:

NESN set a new single-game ratings record for Bruins hockey last night with a 17.7 average household rating in the Boston DMA.

The game peaked at a 26.6 rating during the 10:00 PM quarter hour as Nathan Horton scored the game winner in overtime to propel the Bruins into the Eastern Conference Semifinals. NESN’s previous best-ever single-game hockey rating was a 14.1, set two years ago on May 14, 2009 in a Game 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

 NESN’s ratings numbers in most of the key demographic categories also set new network records, including a 21.5 in Men 25-54, 18.3 in Men 18-49, and 15.6 in Adults 25-54.

Best Playoff Series in NESN History

NESN’s coverage of the Bruins-Montreal first round playoff series dominated the Boston television market over the past 2 weeks.  NESN’s 7 telecasts averaged an 11.9 household rating, which made it the highest-rated Bruins playoff series in network history. NESN’s Bruins coverage was the top-rated program in the Boston DMA on 4 of the 7 nights. The previous ratings record for a series was set in 2009, when NESN garnered a 9.9 average household rating for the Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Playoff Pre and Post-Game Shows Also Enjoy Ratings Success

NESN’s ratings success extended beyond the games with impressive pre and post-game ratings throughout the series. Bruins FaceOff LIVE presented by Hess expanded to 60 minutes for the first round of the playoffs and averaged a 2.1 household rating during the series, including a 2.7 before last night’s deciding game. NESN’s post-game show, Ace Ticket Bruins Overtime LIVE, averaged a 4.1 household rating that was highlighted by an 8.4 after the Bruins’ exciting Game 7 victory.

Bruins Take Game 7 In OT, Eliminate Canadiens

The Bruins jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead last night, only to see Montreal tie things up and send the game to overtime, tied at 3. Nathan Horton, who had been one of the Bruins big offseason acquisitions last year did what the Bruins got him to do, putting the puck in the net 5:43 into overtime, to give the Bruins a 4-3 win which clinched the series, and saved the jobs of many of the Bruins – at least for the moment. Get all the coverage at BruinsLinks.com.

Bruins break from losing script – Mick Colageo has the Bruins finally breaking through in a game 7. Kevin Paul Dupont has more on the Bruins getting their first game 7 win since 1994. Stephen Harris says that the Bruins just never make it easy.

Victorious Bruins benefit from Julien doing things ‘My Way’ – Matt Kalman has the Bruins coach rewarded for doing things his way, and sticking with the players he has confidence in.

Nathan Horton, instant hero – Rich Thompson has Horton getting his second OT goal of the series, in what was his only shot of the game. More on Horton from: Michael Whitmer | Jeff Hamrick | Amanda Bruno | Mike Petraglia | Danny Picard | James Murphy | Steve Conroy

After sensational series, Kelly’s critics now singing a different tune – Jesse Connolly has Chris Kelly (six points in seven games) proving to be a good midseason pickup for the Bruins.

After changing Game 7 history, Bruins must now change history vs. Flyers – DJ Bean looks at what is next on the redemption tour for the Bruins. Joe McDonald says that the Bruins know that the Flyers are the real target right now.

Recchi an old pro at playoffs – Barbara Matson has the 43-year-old winger notching his 57th career playoff goal last night.

Final count 0 for 21 on power play – The Globe notebook from Fluto Shinzawa has the gruesome final tally for the series. The Bruins Notebook from Conroy has more on the contributions of Chris Kelly. The ESPN Boston postgame notes from Brendan Hall have more on the hustle of Kelly.

Patriots should go rushing after Quinn – Greg A Bedard thinks that the Patriots should move up and select Robert Quinn of North Carolina. Karen Guregian agrees that the Patriots need to grab a game-changer.

Patterns emerge in Pats’ draft-day trade plans – Tom E Curran attempts to find the method in the madness.

Humble draft suggestions for Patriots – Jonathan Comey has a few suggestions for the Pats.

Open to all options – Ian Rapoport says that the Patriots are ready for any scenario that may present itself.

Next step for some is limbo – Shalise Manza Young looks at the uncertain situation for those who would normally be undrafted free agents.

It was Giveaway Night for the Sox – Sean McAdam has the Red Sox giving one away last night in a 5-4 loss to the Orioles. Check RedSoxLinks.com for all the coverage.

Head-scratching: For now, parts not adding up for Sox – Alex Speier has the Sox stumbling after seemingly righting themselves on the West coast.

It had to happen: Breaking down Celtics series with Miami – Paul Flannery previews the second round.

Celtics counting on Green to help defend LeBron – Tim Britton has the Celtics reserve being counted on in this series. Amalie Benjamin has the entire bench looking to elevate their play. Scott Souza notes that the team is feeling comfortable with the new pieces.

Three Wednesday Afternoon Items

Just three media-related items that I thought I would pass along…

Sports coverage overdose – Emerson College journalism professor Mark Leccese writes the “Gatekeeper” blog for Boston.com. He touches on a lot of media items, and today his focus is on the saturation of sports media coverage in this area.

I agree with much of what he has to say. Part of what I try to do here is sift through some of that noise and get you the good stuff.

Robert Lee leaves ProJo sports department – I’m not saying this has anything to do with my blind item in yesterday’s post. Nope. Not saying that. But someone might.

The Enterprise mourns passing of former sports writer Win Bates – Longtime (1973-2008) Brockton Enterprise sports writer Win Bates passed away on Tuesday. Bates had covered the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins in addition to high school and college sports.

Bruins Can’t Close Out Habs, Game 7 Tonight

The Bruins could not overcome penalties, and once again could not get a single thing working on their own power plays, and fell to the Canadiens 2-1 up in Montreal last night. This forces a deciding game 7 at the TD Garden tonight. Get the full coverage over at BruinsLinks.com.

Special Teams Cost Bruins As Canadiens Force Game 7 With Pair of 5-on-3 Goals in Montreal – Douglas Flynn has the Bruins doing just fine when at even strength.

Bruins stretched to their limit – Joe McDonald has Boston headed to another game 7. Not a happy place for the Bruins. Joe Haggerty says that it is time for the Bruins to kill their game 7 demons.

Time to man up on advantage – Kevin Paul Dupont notes that the Bruins could be the first team to win a seven game series without converting a single power play goal. Stephen Harris says jobs are on the line tonight.

Botched call had them seething – No, Fluto Shinzawa’s notebook isn’t talking about a call against the Bruins, but rather a disallowed goal for the Canadiens.

Waiting for the Gonzo Show: Slugger’s power projections reconsidered – You might be wondering when Adrian Gonzalez is going to start hitting some home runs. Alex Speier got my attention by placing Gonzalez’ name in the same sentence as Red Sox busts Edgar Renteria, Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo.

Buchholz out of luck so far this year – Sean McAdam says that Clay Buchholz simply hasn’t been as lucky as he was last season.

What side of this argument are you on? – Nick Cafardo examines the lefty-heavy Red Sox lineup.

Terry Francona turns to Jason Varitek again – The notebooks today are all about the veteran catcher, starting with Michael Silverman in the Herald. Other notebooks from Michael Vega | Brian MacPherson | Sean McAdam

Jeff Green hasn’t found his way yet – Jackie MacMullan says that the new Celtic still has time to win over the fans. Mark Murphy has Green and Nenad Krstic still adjusting to coming off the bench.

Back to work: Celtics need to use their time off wisely – Paul Flannery says that the Celtics have plenty of things to work on this week.

So far, so good for Celtics – Bob Ryan says that the Celtics are in line to give Miami their best shot.

Kevin Garnett turning back clock – Chris Forsberg has KG playing vintage. A. Sherrod Blakely has KG showing he can still score.

Celtics’ Rondo figures to be a key in matchup with Heat – Jim Fenton believes the point guard is the key to the series.

Some interesting names may fall to Patriots – Tom E Curran wonders if some potential sliders would be of interest to the Patriots.

Vince Wilfork Believes Lockout Will Create a Change in Patriots Draft Philosophy and 19 Other NFL Thoughts – Jeff Howe cranks out some thoughts on the NFL labor situation and the draft.

For Patriots, it’s two drafts in one – Mike Reiss says that with two picks in each of the first three rounds, this is a unique opportunity for Bill Belichick.

Chris Warner’s Patriots Draft Central – Chris Warner has once again been prolific in preparing for the draft for Patriots Daily.

Cameron Jordan perfect fit for Belichick – Karen Guregian thinks the Cal defensive end is exactly what the Patriots want and need.

Tuesday Ramblin’

With no games for the locals last night, and a couple of appointments this morning, I’m falling back on delivering a few random thoughts, news items and observations from recent days.

I’ve had three separate sources, all very solid, tell me of a New England sportswriter recently fired for plagiarism. The sports editor of the newspaper in question referred me to the HR department, which has not responded to multiple attempts for a confirmation. The material in question was apparently taken from one or more NFL draft publications and used without attribution in NFL draft previews focused on the Patriots.

Neither side in the NFL labor battle is doing themselves any favors. The best hope for a 2011 season at this point seems to rest in the courts forcing the league to conduct business while an antitrust lawsuit moves forward. As each day goes by, I sense the anger (not “panic” as some reporters have termed it) of fans growing as neither side but particularly the owners, seem motivated to come to an agreement.

I heard a radio host this week make the suggestion that Patriots fans aren’t excited for this week’s draft in part because they know Bill Belichick will likely move around in the draft, and that the team probably won’t make both first-round selections. That’s ridiculous. Is it that, or is it because of the aforementioned labor unrest? While some might feel frustrated at the Patriots inclination towards moving around in the draft to maximize the value of their selections and stockpile future picks, the recent results have been solid.

I’ll fully cop to being a casual Bruins fan at best. But the adage that playoff hockey is a different animal than the regular season is 100% true. The last three Bruins games have been compelling, and impossible to turn away from. Jack Edwards takes heat from some corners for his outlandish scripted calls, but I enjoy his enthusiasm during the games. Tim Thomas might be the most underappreciated athlete in this town. The guy is an incredible story, and to emerge as he has late in his career to win a Vezina trophy and seemingly a lock for a second, he’s without a doubt one of the best at his position in the sport. Despite of that, his unorthodox style and uneven playoff record have caused some to downplay his success. However, his performance in game five at the Garden, especially in the overtime periods, is one I will not forget anytime soon. I’m rooting for him to be successful as much as I am the Bruins.

I’m enjoying how the goalposts are being moved for the Celtics and their playoff success. Prior to this first round series, I heard a lot of talk in the media about how the Knicks were the “most dangerous lower seed” in the playoffs, and how they would push the Celtics to six or seven games and tired them out while the Bulls and Heat breezed through their first round series and rested up for the second round. Now, after the Celtics executed a four-game sweep of the Knicks, talk is about how the first two games were too close, and that they gave up a run in the second half of game four, and how the Knicks were just a bad team. Certainly, the injuries to Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire of the Knicks must be noted, but I feel the Celtics would’ve still prevailed in four even with those two on the floor for New York. Now, the Celtics have at least a full week of rest and practice on tap before beginning the second round. While many still want to pick at the Celtics and find negatives, I’m feeling pretty good about their chances going forward.

There was a mild media uproar in some corners over the fact that Bill Belichick did not schedule a session with the local media prior to the draft. Instead, the Patriots had Nick Caserio hold a session, which from all accounts was a success in terms of information and interest. Yet, there was still some rumbling over Belichick not being available. In the last week however, the head coach made time for personal sessions with Tom E. Curran, (CSNNE) Ian Rapoport, (Boston Herald) Shalise Manza Young (Boston Globe) and Mike Reiss (ESPN Boston).  So while he may not have had a full group media session (which are mostly useless anyway) Belichick did provide access to himself for reporters who made the effort to contact him directly.

I enjoyed Peter Abraham’s feature on Jason Varitek this morning (Catcher was receptive) but it felt like it belonged more on the society pages than the sports section.

Do Dennis and Callahan have any clue how insecure their rants about ratings and media reporters last week made them seem? I doubt it.

Speaking of sports radio, I still have not settled on a preferred rotation between WEEI and 98.5. I suspect I’m not alone. In the mornings, I’m generally swapping between the two stations hoping to hear a good guest. If the hosts are just bantering between themselves, I’m inclined to click away. Mid-day’s I’ve been on Mut and Merloni quite a bit more than Gresh and Zo. I really don’t have anything against the latter, their show is good at times, especially if they have someone like Sean McAdam on the show. The bombastic, reactionary style sometimes turns me off though. The WEEI offering is still developing, but getting better. I find it ironic that in Scott Zolak and Lou Merloni, you’ve got two former local professional athletes, both backups, who were close friends to the star of the team in their era (Drew Bledsoe, Nomar Garciaparra) and who were popular among the fans, and turned that popularity into a media gig.

Both are also naturally much better at analyzing the sport they played than they are the other sports. I enjoy when either can bring their own experience as a professional athlete to bear on a certain current situation.  Zolak perplexes me at times. I think he’s very good as a football analyst. On Patriots All Access, his segments are very good. On the radio at times, he’s completely different and nonsensical. Merloni seems to have a better rounded knowledge of sports along with the advantage of having grown up around here, following these teams. Still, I find myself cringing at times when he attempts to talk about a subject you can clearly tell he isn’t up on. Those moments need to be eliminated.

In the afternoons, recently I’ve had days where I couldn’t listen to either show. Both at times seem intent on killing the winter sports team they held the broadcast rights to. Glenn Ordway still cannot get over the trade of his binky, Kendrick Perkins, and firmly believes it will lead to the Celtics doom. Felger loves to knock Tim Thomas (though he lets up a little bit today on CSNNE.com) and pound on the Bruins failures. However, I can handle that, because the hockey talk seems the most genuine of any topic they discuss on that program. They hate basketball, so the talk on that subject is limited, Patriots talk is absurd, usually sometime solely aimed at pissing people off, and the baseball talk is uneven, seemingly focused mostly on Josh Beckett. I swear, every time I turn them on and the Red Sox are the topic, they’re talking about Josh Beckett. On WEEI, Michael Holley is getting more comfortable, but the addition of Mike Adams has almost pushed me away from that show completely. I find myself, at least for the hockey playoffs, going to Felger and Mazz more than the Big Show as of late.

Anyone else think it was odd that with the Bruins and Celtics in the middle of playoff series, the Boston Globe decided to send Dan Shaughnessy out West with the Red Sox for an April road trip?