A few picked-up pieces while awaiting what ought to be a busy Thursday evening in the Boston sports world.

– Boston sports fans will undoubtedly have busy fingers on Thursday, with the Red Sox opening their American League Division Series in Houston, the Patriots taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Bruins dropping the puck on the 2017-18 season against defending Western Conference champion Nashville.

The Patriots sit at 2-2 and the sky appears to be falling, but we all know what happened last time that happened in 2014. Perhaps facing a third-year, somewhat-unproven quarterback like Jameis Winston on Thursday is the right medicine for Matt Patricia’s defense.

If the Pats make Winston look like Tom Brady, maybe it’s time to officially sound some alarms. But, Winston has never faced Bill Belichick. Edge: The Hoodie.

The young Bruins will be fun to watch this season, and unless Tuukka Rask falls flat on his face, should make the playoffs again. Nashville provides a formidable test right out of the gate.

As for the Sox? Memo to Chris Sale, this is why you’re here. If Boston wants to have any chance in this series, Sale has to pitch like the ace he’s been all year. The best bet would be to split the first two games in Houston and come to Fenway Park even.

– I know it’s only a preseason game, but if Sunday night is an indication, the Celtics are going to be fun to watch and tough to beat this year.

We all know what a good shooter Kyrie Irving is, but his passing skills will make guys like Gordon Hayward and Al Horford even more dangerous.

– Goaltender Jeremy Swayman, drafted in the fourth round by the Bruins last summer, looked sharp in his first game with the University of Maine last weekend. He has pretty good vision and moves well from post to post. If the pro careers of ex-Black Bears Jimmy Howard, Ben Bishop and Scott Darling are an indication, the Bruins long-term future between the pipes appears bright.

Rask turned 30 in March, so he’ll likely be 35 or older by the time Swayman is NHL ready. Time will tell, but the next great Bruins’ goaltender may be in Orono.

– This stat may quiet John Farrell’s social media critics for a bit: Manager John has won three division titles since 2013, a World Series championship, and has done something no other Sox manager has ever done: Lead the team to back-to-back American League East championships.

Think about that before you tweet “Fire Farrell” every time the Sox lose. Bobby Valentine could still be in the Fenway corner office. Farrell has done a remarkable job with this young, talented group of ballplayers.

– Hall of Famer and former Sox pitcher and NESN analyst Dennis Eckersley turned 63 on Tuesday. I wonder if David Price sent him any cake or ice cream.

– Since returning from his DeflateGate suspension, Tom Brady has racked up 38 touchdown passes and two interceptions over 16 regular-season contests. Safe to say 40 looks pretty good on the GOAT, doesn’t it?

– Fearless Bruins prediction: Second in the Atlantic, behind Tampa Bay. It’s a wide-open division, but if Steven Stamkos is healthy, the Lightning are the team to beat.

Ryan McLaughlin

About Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective with BDN readers about what's happening on the Boston professional sports scene.