NEW YORK (AP) - The Bruins can finish off the Rangers with a win tonight and move on to the Eastern Conference finals. Boston has surged to a 3-0 lead in the series. The Bruins held an optional practice at Madison Square Garden yesterday - the site of Boston's 2-1 comeback win a night earlier that pushed the Rangers within one loss of elimination.
NEW YORK (AP) - Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference isn't ready to return to the ice just yet. Coach Claude Julien tells ESPNBoston.com that Ference is "improving," but hasn't been able to skate yet. Ference suffered a lower body injury during Boston's first round series with Toronto.
BOSTON (AP) - Terry Francona returns to Fenway Park as the manager of the Cleveland Indians. Francona says he's sure he will "have a lot of emotions" on Thursday when his AL Central-leading Indians open a 4-game series at Fenway Park. But he adds that he doesn't want to be a distraction to his team.
BOSTON (AP) - Ryan Dempster takes the mound tonight in the opener of the Red Sox weekend series with the Indians at Fenway Park. He's 0-2 in his past three starts, getting tagged for 15 runs in 16-plus innings. He'll face Cleveland's Zach McAllister. The Indians have won each of McAllister's last four starts as he's gone 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA.
BOSTON (AP) - Tom Brady tells WEEI radio that he's not surprised about Wes Welker's free agent departure to the Denver Broncos. The Patriots quarterback says the NFL is "a very tough, competitive business." He says he still considers Welker 1 of his best friends.
ROME (AP) - Could the Pope be trading in his papal white for Celtic green? The Boston Globe reports Celtics minority owner James Pallotta presented Pope Francis with a Celtics Number 1 jersey with "The Pope" stitched on the back.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Harvard basketball assistant Yanni Hufnagel is taking an assistant coaching job at Vanderbilt. Hufnagel spent the last four years at Harvard, where he worked as a recruiting coordinator and also assisted in scouting and perimeter player development.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Longtime Alabama sports talk show host Paul Finebaum is joining Connecticut-based ESPN and the SEC Network. ESPN announced Thursday that Finebaum will host a daily radio show from Charlotte, North Carolina, starting in August. He will also make appearances on other platforms for the network. The SEC Network, scheduled to launch in August 2014, will simulcast Finebaum's afternoon show. He's the network's first on-air hire.
TODAY'S NEW ENGLAND SPORTS SCHEDULE:
NHL CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS:
Boston at N.Y. Rangers, 7 p.m.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL:
Cleveland (McAllister 3-3) at Boston (Dempster 2-4), 7:10 p.m.
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