Friday, December 31, 2010

N.J. Devils ~ Don't THRASH the Past

NEW JERSEY DEVILS:  If you're going to the game this afternoon, take a second and LOOK UP!



The Devils host the Atlanta Thrashers later this afternoon to finish their abysmal 2010 portion of the schedule in which they could only manage twenty points.  They have literally crash landed into last place in all the National Hockey League.  Even after the Devils released John MacLean from his duties and brought back Jacques LeMaire to see if he can correct what is wrong with this team, they have not yet shown an indication they will be relinquishing their last place status any time soon.


The New Year doesn't seem any more promising than the last three months.  I don't have the foggiest clue how to fix the Devils.  I'm not so sure it's fixable because this is part of the natural downward progression of a DYNASTY.

The next great night in Devils' history will be when they raise John MacLean's jersey to the rafters. 

But the Laws of Diminished Returns are dusting off the snow from their skates and are knocking at the Devil's Door.  The LAST great night in this Devils' Era may very well be the night they retire Martin Brodeur's number and raise his jersey aloft with those of Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko and their three Stanley Cup Championship Banners.

The Last Great Days of Devils' Hockey will be what you can make out of watching Marty play out the season (or two) in the final days of his career as he tacks on perhaps a few more wins and shutouts along the way to finishing as the Best Ever in those respective categories.



We are watching the sad final gasps of a glorious Devilish Era coming to a most certain end.

Patrick Elias will be left behind to witness and suffer through the final crumbling of the Devils much like (METS Reference..) Jerry Koosman was left behind to pitch when the lights literally went out on the N.Y. Mets back in the Black-Out of 1977 after Tom Seaver was traded; ALONE.

There is no escaping the Salary 'Chuk HELL the Devs now find themselves in.  And there are no new "Lil Demons" coming up through the system.  That's the Devils' present.

In the near future, there is no last hurrah for Marty, Langenbrunner, Elias and LeMaire.  There will be no second shot at being a hero for Jason Arnott.  Zach Parise?  Sorry Bud...bad timing.

If you're going to the game this afternoon and find yourself getting "THRASHED" by Atlanta, look up, think back, and be grateful for a GREAT Run!

Somehow,  from parts out west, you guys moved into the most populous and crowded metropolitan area in the country and built an Empire that for the last twenty+ years, Be-Deviled everyone.

Hell never had it so Good.




Mike.BTB

Thursday, December 30, 2010

N.Y. Knicks: "The Stretch" is Over; How Ya Like Me Now?

NEW YORK KNICKERBOCKERS: 
The Media dubbed this "THE STRETCH".

So what do you think about 'em now, Knick fans?


If anything, we were entertained; and I think that's understating things..  There were definitely moments, plays, quarters, very good halves and some complete Basketball games over the last eight scheduled match-ups dubbed The Stretch that truely excited, and during the home games, shook the roof.

We held our own to start things off on the right "Chuck Taylor" against 'Melo and the Denver Nuggets.  Maybe seeing how well the Knicks played them will dissuade him from ever signing that extension with Denver.  We followed the Nuggets game with a gripping Regular Season Classic that put everyone through the ultimate high and disappointing low with a last second thriller against Boston that had everyone feeling good about the Knicks despite losing a very exciting, near-buzzer beating contest at the Garden.  And who wasn't feeling even better about our situation during the first half against the Heat?

OK...So the next six quarters weren't as good.  The second half against the Heat and the entire game against the Cavs kinda sedated fan enthusiasm a bit.  Actually, that Cavs game was rather disappointing.  Don't ya think?

But the Knicks returned with wins against Oklahoma City and Chicago before we got singed by the Heat again for Christmas.

If I remember all the scuttlebutt correctly, I recall the experts saying if the Knicks could manage a 3-5 record over That Stretch, it would have proved the Knicks indeed made real strides.  Anything above 3 wins and the Knicks would have to be considered as a legitimately competitive playoff team.  They were all calling this a litmus test to see how they stacked up against the League's better teams.

Well?  What do you think?  We went 3-5.  Who's saying they went 3-4 with a push against Boston?

We beat Denver when they weren't at full strength.  They didn't have Kenyon Martin (he's one of my favorite players) on the floor but their best player was.  So it was a victory well earned.  Wins against Oklahoma City and the Bulls were, I think, appropriate.  We've handled the Bulls and Derrick Rose quite well this season.

Are you going to give the Knicks an E for Effort against Boston?  I'm willing to.  C'mon, just compare that game to any game prior to this season and going back ...how long?  The Celts didn't have all their guys for that game like the Nuggets didn't.  Is a win just a win?

Was getting BURNED by the Miami Heat twice expected?  Be honest...it was right?  Sure it was.

The only real point of contention I think we will all agree on was that no-show against Cleveland.  It will stand out as the low point, for me anyway, of the last 8 games (including tonight's game with Orlando).  What would the high point be?  You know what?  They did a lot of things well worth mentioning.

There's no denying the Garden was electrified during the Boston game.  We lost, but we got OUR HOUSE back in order.  MSG became a mecca again that night.  And like I said, that first half against Miami on our court was furious too.  Is that odd I picked two games we lost?  No.  It just shows we are doing things correctly, more often.

Tonight, the Refs kept themselves front and center.  They ruined what could have been a great game-within-the-game between Amar'e and Howard.  But instead of letting them play and the fans getting to enjoy a great match-up,  Stoudemire remained in foul trouble all night.  Amar'e was playing with five fouls while Howard still only had three called against him by the fourth quarter.  Both he and Howard were served with Technicals in the first half also.  Incidentally,  Howard and Amar'e are one and two in the League receiving Techs.

After Amar'e received his third foul in the first half and had to take a seat, we found Wilson Chandler and Shawne Williams playing center?  Really?  Don't get me wrong.  Wilson Chandler is winning-over more and more people everyday, but he's no center!  Tonight he was carrying the Knicks.  We have to give him that.  But then Shawne Williams at Center?

Let's be happy with the way this stretch of games went.  There were an awful lot of positive things to converse about.  But this stretch was also a reminder Donnie Walsh still has some work to do.  Of course, my biggest hang-up is not having a legit center.  But something has to give.  Ray Felton and Amar'e need help from this bench.  That's Donnie's job.  This team needs another piece...obviously.  I said it once before, I Tweeted it tonight and I'll say it again now. When Ray Felton (14 points) and Landry Fields (zero points) do not score in double digits together, the Knicks do not win. Period.


Donnie has gotten us to this point; to the point where apathy isn't welcome at the Garden anymore.

Does Donnie Walsh have something brewing for the very near future or will a move have to wait till the deadline?  Both are fine by me.  Donnie Walsh deserves as much credit for the last eight entertaining games as the players and Coach D does.  Put the "L's" aside for a sec on this one.  Yes, more moves must be made but we all saw the Brand is much better.

Back to the litmus test?  The Knicks-Magic game just went final.  Knicks lost 112-103.  The Knicks got as close as 2 points with 4:10 to go.  But the Magic maintained a 10 point lead on the Knicks for most of the night.  If you want to connect Stoudemire's foul troubles with the Magic 6, 8 and 10 point leads, I'm definitely game for that.

I think The Stretch turned out to be an accurate barometer of who the Knicks are and where they are as a team.

We could very well be on-par with Denver and we have a couple of wins over the Bulls now.  I'll say we are better than the Thunder, and if it weren't for too many whistles, Amar'e and Howard may have banged bodies towards a closer score.

Are we as good as Miami or Boston?  No.  But we did show if they aren't careful, we can give them a lot of problems.  I also think we proved we can now "talk without laughing" about securing one of the eight playoff spots in the East.

Next month, the New Year gives us a little dose of the Western Conference.  That means the Lakers and Spurs.  I'm a big Tim Duncan fan, and I'm dying to see if we have an answer for him.  Quite honestly, I think there's still a lot of great Basketball in his big body and I feel like he's going to put us through a clinic.

I welcome you to prove me wrong Boys!


Let's Go Knicks



Mike.BTB

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Two Generations, Two Ranger Fans, and Two Rival Teams


NEW YORK RANGERS:  While NYC got snowed in, our Hockey Rivals have been ICED.


Because of no train service on the ELevated-portions of the system out here in Brooklyn and impassable streets, my son and me wound up eating our tickets to Monday night's game against the Islanders.  It was his birthday and he pretty much spent the day clearing snow with me.  He vented a lot of hate that afternoon..; - for Mother Nature, Bloomberg, the MTA, and with more venom than ever because of the way the day was shaping up, for the Islanders.

One of the things I had gotten him for Christmas was a new Ryan Callahan jersey.  I then gave him the tickets for the NYI game two days later on his B-Day.  My wife also got me a Lundqvist Retro jersey.  We were all dressed up with no-where to go except to the sofa where we'd watch the game together with our jerseys on.

Seven goals weren't nearly enough for him.  He really hates the Islanders, but that has more to do with two or three friends of his.  His hatred for them evolved that way; not "our" way.  In his youth he needed to be "learned" about the whole POTVIN SUCKS thing and about what exactly happened all those years ago.  He gets on me for saying I wish the Isles were good again.  He's young (20) and revels in their folly. 

Me?  I love the competition of playing top rivals when both teams are at their best.  Quite honestly, the seven goals we scored against the Isles was a bit of a bore.  I spend more time feeling sorry for their situation out on Wrong Island than I do spending time having "fun" hating our Traditional Rival these days.  It's just not the same anymore and hasn't been since the mid 90's.  I would really love for my son to fully understand the magnitude of this rivalry.  But unfortunately, he has spent the last 20 years growing-up while they've been so down.

I really wish Charles Wang luck with his plans for the team and if the LightHouse still has legs..  I'm a long time removed from relishing in their continued state of futility.  I want good Hockey in Uniondale again.  Only then will my son know the true magnitude and greatness of what this rivalry can be, and then I can finally channel some good old fashioned Hockey Hate on the Isles again.

But such as life.  Just don't tell that to the Devils.  I'm not Islander bashing here.  But I just find it incomprehensible the Devils being worse than the Islanders.  You have to admit, this hasn't been the case since the late 80's and early 90's.

The Devils' new, old Boss, Jacques LeMaire, said about the Battle of the Hudson rivalry between the Rangers and Devils, "There is no rivalry right now!  We have to start playing well.  Never mind the rivalry."  At this point Jacques LeMaire is still determining if this team is salvagable.

And because the Devs find themselves trapped in their own quagmire, both these rivalries; the Rangers against the Islanders and Devils are not delivering on the potential SIZZLE these teams can generate when things are well.  If you're a Rangers fan, who cares?  Right?  But I like the competition and welcome it.

I AM A RANGER!  But I've always had a slight liking for the Devils just as long as they aren't playing us.  Don't worry, my son kills me about it for you!

I was intrigued by them and about the prospect of having a third team in the area when they moved here from Colorado where they played as the Colorado Rockies.  All my hate was already invested into the Isles.

The Devils evolved into a great organization with players like Pat Verbeek, Stephan Richer, John MacLean, Ken Daneyko, Scott Stevens and of course Martin Brodeur.

I try to tell my son, you don't have to like Brodeur. - Just pay attention to him so you can say you saw the All-Time Wins and Shut-Outs Leader.  But he'll have none of it and abuses me anytime it comes up.  I think I taught him well.  My own evolution as a sports fan in middle age is a different animal.

I'm not a Devils fan because I don't feel the pain when they lose.  But I do like having them around.  I know full well I'd probably have a whole different outlook on the Devils had they beaten us in the 1994 Eastern Conf. Championship.  But they didn't, so I never really invested any hate in them.  Henrik has dominated the head-to-head match-ups against Marty also.  So, I'm sure that makes them easier to tolerate too.

My son?  If asked who he hates more, the Devils or the Islanders, he'll tell you...the Penguins.  But then he'd tell you he hates the Devils more.

To me (us), POTVIN SUCKS really means something.  For him it's just fun.  But when Martin Brodeur is topic one, he's the first to scream BRODEUR SUCKS!...while I just find the fun in it.

With three teams, The Metropolitan Area Hockey Scene is a unique situation in sports.  I try to enjoy that fact to the fullest by just being a NYC Sports fan.  But when it comes time to play the Rangers, there are few teams I enjoy playing and beating more than the New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders (..and the Flyers, Penguins and Capitals!)



The Rivalry ~ Game Four
MONDAY  December 27, 2010


N.Y. Rangers  7
N.Y. Islanders 2
FINAL

Tonight's Islanders/Penguins game went into a Shoot-Out.
Islanders win!
Final ~ 2-1
Sid "SlewFoot" Crosby had his consecutive points streak snapped.




Battle of the Hudson ~ Game Three
WEDNESDAY  December 29, 2010


N.J. Devils   1
N.Y. Rangers 3
FINAL





Mike.BTB

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

N.Y. Giants ~ BIG BLUE Apocalypse NOW

NEW YUCK! FOOTBALL GIANTS:
It's BIG BLUE Apocalypse Now!


The last game played by the New York Giants in the year 2010 was an unmitigated disaster.  This game was ruinous!....To their reputations, their season, their playoffs hopes, their Coach, their future and their fans.


It's as if they waited and waited, for the most recent one hour and eight minutes, late in this Football season, to don hooded capes and come riding in like the The Football Horsemen of the Ridiculous to unleash their ultimate and most calamitous lethargy upon the Land of Giants.

You might as well be reading this at the North Pole because the the compass needle of blame is spinning in all directions.


But first, a word from your sponsor (Me):

If you're a BTB reader and have been keeping up with my Giants' postings, you know most of my hang-ups with the G-Men this season have centered around Coach Kevin Gilbride, the health of our Offensive Line, the misuse of Brandon Jacobs and the overall running game.

I haven't berated Eli Manning for his never-ending interceptions and for the times he's looked absolutely amateurish.  I've had even less to say about the Defense this season, (odd, considering I'm a Defense First kinda guy), and I never chose to make an issue of our Special Teams, although I, with everyone, knew the Unit would sabotage us one day.

I haven't gone bonkers over all the turnovers (41 overall; 17 fumbles; and a career high INTs for Eli).  Actually I haven't gone over the deep-end (much) about anything other than the philosophical differences I have with Gilbride although some of these losses have been befuddling.

As a matter of fact, I tried my damnedest this season to stay positive, offer encouragement and exude confidence in my team.  I even dabbled in hyperbole but don't we all?  Phil Simms; 1986; and more recently 2007 references have all snuck into a posting here and there.

Week to week, different match-ups conjure different thoughts when I think about a game.  I don't try to over-analyze.  I just like to stick with what I think we need done and what works best for us with an appreciation for and adherence to Traditional Giant ways.

I'm not a Football expert.  I'm just a fan like you.  But I do take my previews a lot more seriously than I approach my reviews.  Outside of Brandon Jacobs and Gilbride, I really haven't singularly focused on anyone else...much.  But when I do have something or someone in mind, I mean it.


And now, back to our regularly scheduled posting:

In my Giants/Packers Preview Post I called on "four men" (the Def. Secondary unit) to play lead roles Sunday.  I felt the Packers couldn't rush the ball through plywood and that the Giants would contain their running game easily.  And the Giants did.  Green Bay only ran for 93 yards on 33 carries (minus Rodgers).  That's average (but the Packers owned them on third-downs with Kuuuuhn! ~ I get that).  So naturally, I thought that left Aaron Rodgers to throw the ball all night, which is what the Packers are all about.

Now, if I knew he was going to throw the ball all night, that means the Giants had to know he was going to throw all night, and that means Perry Fewell knew he'd throw all night.  So I said, Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips, Aaron Ross, Corey Webster, D.Grant and Terrell Thomas would have to be the key players for the Giants Sunday.

And they were key.  They were incredible even....; incredibly instrumental to Aaron Rodgers throwing for over 400 yards.  They were thee-key contributors to Rodgers' 4 touchdown passes on the night.  In that respect, they were brilliant.  In other words, the Giants' Secondary were complete failures with efforts so feeble against someone you knew would be throwing the ball upwards of 3 out of 4 plays.  The Jints got thoroughly undressed and at times looked like English ladies in their knickers chasing after Benny Hill with an umbrella.  Since we're still in the Holiday season, let's just say Ross, Webster, Phillips and Thomas and Rolle got lit up like a Christmas Tree knowing full well the Pigskin Ornament would be dangling in the air all night long. 

And this was not just the last two games.  I know many have forgotten by now the Secondary beat-down Peyton Manning laid on them against the Colts and an embarrassing display against the Titans.  Dallas wrecked our Secondary twice!.. - with Romo AND without him.  THEN came Philly.  THEN came Sunday versus Green Bay.

But that's just Sunday. What about the rest of it?

Let's get the stupid little stuff out of the way first before we get on with this.  The Giants have to beat the Redskins in Washington and the Packers need to lose to the Bears this Sunday in order for the Giants to make the playoffs.  There!  I'm done talking about the Packer Game and the playoffs.  If that's all you were interested in, you may slither back into hiding now.  See you in AUGUST!


But for My Trolley Riderz... Let's cut this open and make a BIG BLUE Bloody MESS trying to find the root of our ills.



COACH TOM COUGHLIN Is Caught In Maelstrom



But really, what is everyone talking about?  Topic One seems to be Coach Coughlin.  Is Coughlin really on the verge of losing his job?

On Day One when Tom Coughlin was announced as Jim Fassel's replacement by Ernie Accorsi, at his press conference Tom Coughlin expressed how much he abhorred injuries, penalties and turnovers.

INJURIES ~ If you can think back to those days, I think Coach Coughlin was taking jabs at suspected malingerers under the old regime.  That's my recollection.  Obviously the Giants have been decimated by countless injuries.  Outside of Steve Smith, we seem to have handled the ongoing crisis well.  I don't think we are in the position we find ourselves in,  is largely due to injuries.

PENALTIES ~ No penalty comes at a good time.  But Tom Coughlin's team is always among the League's lower-half penalized teams.  Jim Fassel's teams were consistently one of the most undisciplined teams in the League.

TURNOVERS ~ SHeeesh!  I'd be stupid to debate the fumbles with anyone.  Brandon Jacobs' fumble Sunday rendered anything I would have said a mute point.  But Eli's interceptions are a jambalaya of his own brain-cramps, Coach Gilbride's high-INT risk factor, high passes and tipped balls.

The over-talked about correction Coach Coughlin made to Tiki Barber's fumbling problems seems to have had a lesser effect on Ahmad Bradshaw.  Is that Coughlin's or Bradshaw's fault?  We know Coach demoted him for fumbling.  We know he told Ahmad how to hold it.  One thing Coach does is hold players accountable (while his predecessor ran a Country Club).  After that, doesn't the rest fall on the Running Backs Coach and the attention to detail and technique drills in practice?

The interceptions are trickier.  Some have been pure Eli folly.  Some have come from high Eli passes resulting in tipped balls and deflections.  Then there are the interceptions Coach Gilbride's passing game cries, begs, kicks and screams for.  But Coach Gilbride is for later.  Coughlin is topic here.

I will say Coach Coughlin needs to exert more of his own will upon Coach Gilbride and demand he adhere to the running game more, and in a drastically different form from which Gilbride is used to employing. The Pass Happy approach to glory is killing us!  So, if you want Coughlin fired based on turnovers, that's all I'm willing to give you to work with.

Moving on...

Coach Coughlin is the same Coach he was when he berated his kicker; Lawrence Tynes, on the field in Green Bay in January of 2008 as he was when he berated his punter; Matt Dodge, on the field in Green Bay in December of 2010.  His attitude, demeanor, character, expectations and approach to Football have not changed one bit since that night.  Your Head Coach hasn't changed but factors and conditions around him have.

First, I'll even share this with you.  I did not want the N.Y. Giants to make the playoffs during the 2006 season because that would have ensured Coach Coughlin would retain his job.  I wanted him fired then!  Now, I don't know what kind of creative names you can think to call me for changing from then, to defending him now.  But I am defending him, partly for the reasons mentioned above.

If you really want to point fingers of blame, point them at Coughlin's staff.  If you think his Staff is just an extension of Coughlin and representative of his overall management effectiveness, you too can drop off now.  The following will just fall on deaf ears.  For some, only Coughlin's removal will satiate their thirst for Big Blue Blood.

Trolley Riderz!?  Are ya still with me so far?

The Giants lost it's ability to FINISH-Out games on Defense when Coach Spags took the Head Coaching job in St.Louis; when Michael Strahan retired and at Linebacker when we never replaced Kawika Mitchell's (albeit one year under Spags) impact while handily complementing All-Pro Antonio Pierce.

There it is.  Perry Fewell is light years ahead of Bill Sheridan, but he's not at Coach Spags' level.  Coach Coughlin even put heat on Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell at mid-season, in-game and in full view.  Secure and confident coaches to that. 

The Secondary now is pretty much the Secondary then, if not better with a healthy Kenny Phillips and Thomas.  But we had one proven star linebacker (Pierce) and one linebacker Coach Spags turned into a "star" (Mitchell).  Antonio Pierce was always his own person, and so Michael Strahan took all them little young Pups like Osi, Kiwanuka, Tuck and Cofield and showed 'em how to play like a man.

And since we're on Strahan, don't forget, FIRST, Tom Coughlin was COACH enough to not only get Michael Strahan in line with the new regime, but Coughlin himself practiced a self-correction.  Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin were the impetus of Michael Strahan's Swan-Song.  Let's get that straight!  They are the one's who got Micheal's head thinking correctly and differently from the guy who lead a band of Idiots in 1997 and who got spanked in 2001 and originated and co-authored THE LATE GAME MELTDOWN in 2003 against the 49ers.  Thank Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin for Michael Strahan bringing that young Defensive Front along because for a while, he was a knucklehead.  He was our knucklehead and a great Giant.  But you might want to believe that Coughlin and Reese squeezed and wrung that Big Papa Leadership and New Attitude out of him and his 16 years of "individual" greatness.

But after digressing...., There it is folks.  There is your big difference between 2007 and 2010.  It's not Coach Coughlin.  He's the same guy.  What's missing is the best Defensive Coordinator we had since Bill Belichick; the retirement of a Hall Of Famer and never maintaining impact players at the Linebacker position.

You want an up-to-the-minute reason?  How's this?  TACKLE BETTER!

Offensively, Kevin Gilbride Coached that Super Bowl winning Giants team three years ago and we won that game in the end passing the ball to his credit.  I don't want him fired.  I just want him wiped, and re-programmed to think Running Game first.  We've been through all that before.  Coach Gilbride's Offense is Feast or Famine.  They either look unstoppable, or look like Sumo Wrestlers playing musical chairs.

Controlling the ball on the ground, dominating First-Down, managing the clock, being able to rely on the run game on Third-and-Shorts and keeping the other team's offense off the field is a defense in itself and would have been enough to beat the Eagles.  But when you routinely limit Brandon Jacobs to 8 or 9 carries a game, and average maybe 25 rushes from your backs per game, I'm sorry! ~ You're just managing to keep the other team in the game with questionable and plentiful pass play selections and incompletions that leave plenty of time left to get burned.

There is a reason Buddy Ryan punched Kevin Gilbride in the face when they were coordinators together in Tennessee.  Sometimes I want to punch him in the face too!

So this comes back to Tom Coughlin again.  Are the Offensive stalling(s) and interceptions more Tom Coughlin's doing or do they stem from Coach Gilbride, bad adjustments and him just being a Pass Junkie and Offensive Egomaniac with Eli sometimes taking remedial steps backwards?

Eli?  Shall we?  Only briefly.  Eli left too many passes high this season.  Part of the reason goes back to Gilbride for repeatedly asking Eli to throw incessantly while he shelves the running game.  The rest of the problem rests with Eli himself.  Take a look at a Tom Brady pass.  On TV it looks like it's headed into the ground.  When you get the 2nd camera angle, all Brady's passes come in waist high or below.  It's as simple as that.

I'll ask you again...How is that Tom Coughlin's fault when these are the attention to details and technique issues the Offensive Coordinator and the QB Coach should be addressing and drilling in practice?

It's just like our Special Teams.  Before you go dumping on Matt Dodge like Coach Coughlin did, you have to ask why Jeff Feagles isn't on this team?  Is that Coach Coughlin's fault or Jerry Reese's fault, or just a matter of circumstance?  Did not Coach Coughlin advise the "young Punter" to kick the ball out of bounds?  Did not Coach Coughlin ask his Special Teams Coach Quinn to be alert to an On-Side-Kick?  A lot of people are putting the On-Side on Coach Coughlin's rap-sheet, but then what exactly is the Special Teams Coach for?  Doesn't that job live for a moment like that?

Is it Coach Coughlin's fault that Matt Dodge did by accident this Sunday against the Packers what he could not do by design against the Eagles, i.e;- Punting the ball out of bounds? - And there-by ruining two punts?

Look to all the coordinators and specialty coaches who haven't impressed their will enough upon their assigned players in practice before you go after Coach Coughlin's job with pitchfork and torches in hand. Why is there such a lack of attention to details such as Brandon Jacobs holding the ball like a loaf of bread, instead of the way we know Tom Coughlin instructs them to?  That reinforcement of the Head Coach's edicts falls on the 2nd level of coaching.  The grass may not necessarily be greener on the other side.  But if you still want to argue, because all these coaches are part of his staff and therefore an extension of Coughlin; - That's fair.  It's just not me and not my take.

If you're interested in firing someone; If that will make you happy, I have a suggestion.  John Fox looks like he's going to get canned in Carolina.  I don't know if he'd accept a lesser job than Head Coaching at this point, but if he's willing, John Fox should be our next Defensive Coordinator.

John Fox coached a tenacious Defense when he was here last.  Perry Fewell has been much better than Sheridan, and like I said he's no Spagnuolo.  I do think John Fox would be a better Defensive Coordinator than Fewell if he could return to the Giants.

So..., do we still want to fire Tom Coughlin?  Decide now.  Don't wait till after next week.  That's too convenient and would be a very knee-jerk reaction.  Mister Mara and the Giants have never operated like that and aren't about to start now.

But I'd like to know who everyone has in mind for a next Coach?  Is this all about Bill Cower? 

He shouts too and gets all mean looking doing it..  His chin pops out and he's been known to inadvertently spit once or twice per rampage.  Is that what you want to replace slamming clipboards on the ground and on-field Kicker-abuse with?

Look, we have a lot of talent on this team, especially when we can all be healthy together.  That's why this is all so frustrating for us.  But no one actually needs to be fired.

Jerry Reese is my guy.  I think he's proving to be an excellent GM.  If he can regain an impact Linbacker and a capable sidekick, that would go a long way towards finishing games on Defense.  This year's assemblage of Linbackers were respectable but just not impactful.  Perry Fewell has made a star of no one.  Coach Spags turned Kawika Mitchell into a cleverly disguised Beast.  I believe John Fox can turn this present Defensive cast into something down-right sinister.

On Offense.  We have a Philosophical Issue.  Thats's something they need to figure out face to face back in the office; not on the Football filed.  Gilbride is Coughlin's guy.  And like I said I don't want him fired.  I just want him to come under control and familiarize himself with the history of the Giants' success running the ball.  Coach Coughlin should insist upon this from his Coordinator.

So if you're asking me, that's what all this Coughlin talk is all about.  So let's just deal with Sunday for now, and take things from there. 

They have one more chance to fend off the galloping Horseman of the Ridiculous.  It's an outside chance to still make these playoffs but they'll need help this Sunday because they are suddenly out of control after once topping out at 9-4 and being masters of their destiny.  Another let-down against the Redskins next Sunday in Washington might be somewhat anti-climactic because in most circles, the Giants' Apocalypse has already decended upon them Now.




Mike.BTB

Monday, December 27, 2010

N.Y. Rangers vs. N.Y. Islanders ~ Rivalry Game IV

Monday  December 27, 2010
WEATHER UPDATE:
Tonight's NYR-NYI Game
Is Still On

TONIGHT
New York ISLANDERS  vs.
NEW YORK RANGERS
from
Madison Square Garden

N.Y. RANGERS LEAD SEASON SERIES 2-1



NEW YORK RANGERS:  In defeat, We feel a Little guilty being too hard on them after two consecutive let-downs.

When a shoot-out goes 11 rounds, like it did against Tampa Bay in our last game, first, it's an unfortunate way to lose a point, but it's also just one of those things...ya know.  C'mon, eleven rounds?  They'll be no hassling Henrik about it.  Sometimes managing just one point is a very good thing depending how the game went.  Sometimes it's just okay.  Sometimes it's upsetting not getting two because of something that obviously went wrong.  This was one of those okay, one-point games. 

After taking two unlikely games from Washington and Pittsburgh in consecutive games and winning a third consecutive game, this time in shoot-out against Phoenix, they finally dropped one to the Flyers.  I hate the Flyers, but it's not a proper time to be critical there considering the busy schedule they just endured.  They had to play 6 games in 10 days from DEC. 9th through the 18th.

So far the Blueshirts are 6-4 for the month with two shoot-out splits.

Tomorrow night will be their second game in the last nine days.  They will certainly be fresher, we hope, and perhaps much more fresher than the Islanders considering the Isles played Sunday night.  But like any lay-off, the Rangers just might be rustier too and in that case, advantage Islanders who are playing good Hockey over their last five games.  They also get to sleep in their own beds tonight....(once they get home).

Ryan Callahan is going to be a huge loss; out until February.  The hope is Capt. Drury will counter Callahan's absence. And I will not rest until Coach Torts gives Sean Avery quality minutes on a quality line and stops speaking out both sides of his mouth concerning all things Avery.  Derek Stepan continues to impress and it looks like Coach Torts has his new Man-Crush.  Callahan might get jealous.  Artem Anisimov's game is re-emerging after a slight down-turn.  And where would we be without Prust and Boyle playing together.  And can Frolov actually be waking up?  He's been playing much better of late.

The Defensive Units have been an adventure.  Dan Girardi is playing bad games after good ones.  Michael Del Zotto needs his head unscrewed and re-attached; like a re-booting if you will. And Rozsival...Oh man, Rozsival.  How I detest thee..., let me count the ways.!  I can not bare to see him give up the puck in our own end anymore.  He is a skating crisis!

Monday night will be another adventure trying to get to the game with all the snow and the problems it represents getting around.  My son and I will leave that up to the MTA tomorrow night as we'll be donning our new jerseys we received for Christmas and root the Blueshirt on.  A pit-stop at the Tick-Tock Diner and then it's off to renew the great New York Rivalry between the Islanders and the Rangers,.






Break Up The ISLANDERS ~  They beat-up on the NorthEast leading Montreal Canadians on this snowy Sunday night winning 4-1.  Two even strength goals were complimented by two power play goals for the Isles.  NY-Roloson started in net while Rick DePietro continues to sit out with his re-injured knee.  Roloson stopped 39 shots while only letting one go by.  The Islanders were out-shot 39-25 but they made theirs count more.  They are 4-0-1 in their last five games after initially stumbling 1-8 through their first nine games under their new Coach Jack Capuano.  They will be feeling good about themselves heading into tomorrow night's game against their rival Rangers and looking to atone for two losing performances the last time they met during a home-and-home series.

The Islanders didn't even want tonight's game to be played because of the on-going blizzard and risks to their fans traveling in such bad weather.  But the NHL Office said the game must go on.

**Attendance: 3,136 brave fans showed up in Uniondale tonight and at least were rewarded for their efforts with a solid win against one of the League's best.

**The N.Y. ISLANDERS have announced any fan with a ticket for tonight's game may redeem it for ANY future home game, subject to availability of course.  Call the Islanders for more details.



These are two great articles I came across that I always meant to link-up:

LINKED ARTICLES FROM:    TheGlobeAndMail.com/Hockey


FIRST ARTICLE ~ THE NEW ISLANDERS PROBLEMS ABOUND

From ~ TheGlobeandMail.com
Article ~ Big Apple Hockey - Part One
Title ~ "Sinking Isles Need Lifeline"
By ~ David Shoalts
Article Link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/david-shoalts/sinking-islanders-need-a-lifeline/article1834140/



SECOND ARTICLE ~ On THE NEW YORK RANGERS; A GREAT THREE PAGE ARTICLE ABOUT N.Y. RANGERS' GENERAL MANAGER, GLEN SATHER.

From ~ TheGlobeandMail.com
Article ~ Big Apple Hockey - Part Two
Title ~ "Sather Returns To Familiar Formula"
By ~ Roy MACGREGOR

Page One:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/sather-returns-to-familiar-formula/article1834821/page1/

Page Two:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/sather-returns-to-familiar-formula/article1834821/page2/

Page Three:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/sather-returns-to-familiar-formula/article1834821/page3/

*To Read In Single Page Form:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/sather-returns-to-familiar-formula/article1834821/singlepage/#articlecontent






Mike.BTB

Sunday, December 26, 2010

N.Y. JETS ~ REX Jubilant After Getting Bear-Clawed

New York Jets:  Take One

JETS LOSE!!  WoooHooo?


NEW YORK JETS:  What a Bad, Great Day in a Bad News, Good News Sort of Way.

At 0.52 left in the fourth quarter with the Jets down 38-34, Mark Sanchez put up one last great looking pass, but one that wound up destined to stab the Jets' season in the ribs while Chicago twisted the dagger.  It was an intercepted pass that would haunt the Jets all week; all the way to next Sunday; all the way to kick-off against the Bills in what would be the Jets' last chance to determine their own future in the season's final regular season game.

Embattled Coach Rex and his tattered formation of barely flying JETS were spotted and shot down over the skies of Chicago this time....again.  Chicago jumped to an early 10-0 lead and scored again late to put it out of reach from a very game Jets team.

Coach Rex and the Jets now found themselves suspended on the strength of one STEELER thread thanks to last week's win but the stress put on that one steel strand looked to be all but snapped based on the look on Coach REX's face when the time came to face the media after today's loss.

But during Q&A a somber Coach had his spirits lifted when the Washington Redskins did what the Jets could not do this afternoon; Win.  The Jets couldn't take that last and final step towards getting a lot of crap lifted off Coach Ryan's plate.  So the media stepped in and at 4:22pm, told REX the Jaguars lost to the Skins and that the Jets had clinched their playoff spot.

The shine from REX's smile was a brilliant white and GREEN.  And now, with all the questioning he and his team have undergone; and the personal prying into REX's life; after some staggering defeats...incredibly,
Coach REX is the happiest guy in the world.

Congratulations Jets Nation, you're going to the Dance.




Mike.BTB

N.Y. JETS ~ YOUR COACH NEEDS YOU!

NEW YORK JETS:  They must play the Bears and win.  BUT this game is all about the Jets coming through for their COACH.

JETS ~ All season long your Coach has praised and lauded you.  He has been the front man, pitchman, spokesman, propagandist, apologist and media gauntlet for you.  Coach Ryan has been your biggest and loudest, if not the prettiest cheerleader you have!

He's exuded more confidence in his players more-so than any other Head Coach the Jets have had since maybe...Bill Parcells (that is not a Giants fan talking) and Joe Walton (because he never had a bad thing to say.  He truly cared and felt every player's pain for them).  I purposely left Herm Edwards because he coached scared late in games and that shows a lack of confidence...for as well as he represented his team and players. 

REX has done everything in his power to will the JETS to greatness while having to deflect every sling, arrow, grenade, cannonball, spitball, and snowball thrown at him and this team.  He's been turned into an over-sized pin cushion and punching bag. 

He's been subjected to personal ridicule and privacy breeches now.  Too many argue and champion the notion Coach Rex is merely making his own bed.  There aren't nearly enough friendly's in the media or the fan base willing to do for REX what he has done for the Jets and that's stand there to absorb everything the discriminating types can hurl his way and still try to make things right for his team.

The game against the Steelers was to save their season.  Today the Jets must come together, like their Coach did for them all season, and protect him.  The Jets must win today to stave off the attack against Coach Rex.

Yes there are playoff ramifications involved with today's game and this is no time to get emotional about things.  But the JETS, absolutely, positively, must show up today and rally around REX for their own sake.

The game started already.  The Bears just scored a TD to make the score 10-0 in Chicago's favor, with 5:00 left in the first quarter.

Rex is too big a man and too strong of character to admit, ever, he might be a little down. 

Your Coach needs you.  You have to come through today..........For him.



Mike.BTB

PIGSKIN ~ WEEK 16 Picks


Two Weeks Left in 2010 NFL Regular Season

*Whatever I say about the Cleveland Browns...go the other way!  I remain perfect picking the Browns in that I haven't pick a single game of theirs correctly this season.  You've been warned.


SEASON BAGEL COUNT:  +8
SHMEAR Of The WEEK RECORD:  8-5 (lost last 4 in a row).

Once upon a time not too many weeks ago I peeked out and my basket full of BAGELS added up to 24 or so.  Since hitting that peek number, I've been making more wrong predictions than a weatherman.


So without further delay, I present you with this week's suspect prognostications.

WEEK 16 Big BAGEL Roll-Out:
(Saturday NYDN Line)


BEARS -1 (Jets)
The Jets didn't score an offensive TD against PITT (except for Sanchez' boot-leg)..  I think this game will be an exact duplicate of last week for the Jets.  And Mark Sanchez may or may not be hurting.  There's also a chance he may or may not be good this Sunday.  Unlike PITT, this time I think Chicago wins at home by a very slim margin; just like the spread says.
WIN ~ 38-34 Bears

Giants +3 (PACKERS)
I'm not going with my heart here.  I just think the Giants are 3+ points better than the Packers.  A loss by the Giants...and they are toast.
LOSS ~ 45-17 Packers

Lions +3 1/2 (DOLPHINS)
The Lions will win in a battle of punts between two running games going nowhere.
WIN ~ 34-27 Lions

EAGLES -14 1/2 (Vikings)
Why not?!  Maybe Tommy Kramer is available to QB the Vikings.  Daunte Culpepper played in the UFL last season.  He might have a toss or two left in him.  The Giants aren't going to get any kind of help from Minny!
**Postponed till Tuesday/SNOW

JAGUARS -7 (Redskins)
Because I actually like Jack Del Rio as a Coach.  And because Mike Shanahan is one of the most over-rated Coaches...EVER!  No one seems to know what he's doing in WASH except for embarrassing McNabb.
LOSS ~ 20-17 Redskins  O.T.

RAMS -2 1/2 (49ers)
They may not be even mildly skilled but Coach Spags has that team's head in the right place.
WIN ~ 25-17 Rams

BUCS -6 (Seahawks)
Because the BUCS are flat out better than the SeaHags and they are still playing for a shot at the playoffs.
WIN ~ 38-15 Bucs

Patriots -8 (BILLS)
Anything different would be a major surprise.  So why is this shaping up to be a classic trap game for the Pats?
WIN ~ 34-3 Patriots

Ravens -3 1/2 (BROWNS)
* I really don't know what to tell you regarding this game.  I get Browns games wrong; plain and simple.  But c'mon...this is the Ravens.  They should win right?
WIN ~ 20-10 Ravens
Titans +5 (CHIEFS)
TENN's QB situation might be just a little more unsettled that the Chiefs, but these teams are practically identical in so many ways and statistics.  That's why I like getting the points with the Titans.  I thinks it's a high number.
LOSS ~ 34-14 Chiefs

Colts -3 (RAIDERS)
Trust me....I would love to pick the Raiders!  I'd love to be able to watch this one.
WIN ~ 31-16 Colts

Texans -2 1/2 (BRONCOS)
The Texans are really close to being a very good team.  The Broncos are suffering through a horrid Rocky Mountain Low.
LOSS ~ 24-23 Broncos

Chargers -7 1/2 (BENGALS)
Because the Chargers aren't going to lose any more games this season.  Remember?  And besides...No T.O. for Cincy.
LOSS ~ 34-20 Bengals

That's 13 BAGELS into the oven.



SHMEAR of the WEEK:  (8-5)
Ravens -3 1/2 (BROWNS)  ...because something has to give!
WIN




POSTGAME:

THE NEW YORK JETS CLINCH PLAYOFF SPOT.

7-5 for the Sunday games.  Hit the Shmear.

Season Bagel Count is now +13
Shmear of the Week Record,  9-5.


HAPPY FOOTBALL SUNDAY !



Mike.BTB

Saturday, December 25, 2010

N.Y. Giants ~ Must Avoid "PACKING" It In

NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS:  There's More Than Just A Playoff Spot On The Line.

BIG BLUE MUST RALLY AROUND THEIR COACH!



They had a chance to make this easy.  Now they must do it the hard way having no one to blame but themselves.  In a way, The Giants don't deal with prosperity very well.  So maybe being Road Warriors again is just what the Lords of Pigskin ordered.

The road map was unfolded with the route highlighted in Big Blue ink for them.  But they chose to get lost along the way instead.  They better find themselves quickly because the New York Giants return to Green Bay this Sunday needing to do what they did one night in January of 2008; - They must win a huge game.  They need to break out the tapes of that night and study them closely because whatever they did right that game, they'll need to repeat again this weekend or literally PACK it in.  They must do this against an excellent Packers defense who've given up a mere 220 points this season.  The G-Men need to win against a team which is equally, if not slightly more desperate for a victory.  The Packers' playoff chances rest with winning both of their remaining two games as both teams vie for the same Wild Card spot.

For the Giants, there is only one, and one way only, to look at this game; As a Must Win!

They need to win in order to gain back their self-respect and confidence after last week's melt-down to the Eagles.  They need to win in order to save their season and any hopes of making the playoffs.  They need to win and stave-off all the talk that will no doubt erupt about the Giants choking again.  And they also need to win in order to save their Head Coach's job because for whatever reason, his name is always the first one to come up when fans and media look to blame somebody.

Let's hope the ice in Eli's veins hasn't melted away from that night in Green Bay almost three full years ago.  And let's also hope his grip on the ball will be just as sure late Sunday afternoon as it was that dark, freezing night in TitleTown.  Because we absolutely can not afford Eli interceptions of the variety we've been treated to this season.  We need the amazing accuracy he displayed when even my finger tips were frozen just watching that game on TV three years ago.  But even that game, all the way up to the winning field goal in Over-Time was painful to watch.  And now we've all seen with our own eyes exactly how it is that a QB can have four TD passes, the running game rush for 100 yards and the team still loses in the most disappointing and incredulous manner possible.

Because we've been shown passing the ball ensures nothing (just like a once fabled Run-and-Shoot Offense) and is a bad way to manage the clock, once again we must turn to an old proven method; committing to, and running the damn ball....especially out in frigid Lambeau Field.  Coach Gilbride lost patience with a running game only making short gains against the Eagles.  Never mind they were effectively moving the chains and remained in control of the clock.  And never mind it remained something the Eagles had to respect and account for..(how do you think Manningham was able to get open all day?!).  But for inexplicable reasons, he made Brandon Jacobs disappear in the second half versus Philly like he did in the third quarters of games against the Skins and Jacksonville.  We finally need Coach to once and for all, learn the difference between controlling a game on offense rather that running tutorials convincing us to buy into the Wonder-Pass Method.

With a win Sunday the Giants can get the new 2011 year started off on the right foot.  But a loss would ensure them Sunday will be the worst day of the 2010 season for all concerned.  They can avoid that fate by just finishing what they start.  That right there, was there doom last week; the failure to finish.

I'll take you back to the Jets game against the Patriots when New England rolled all over New York.  With that game well in hand, Coach Belichick summoned his team together on the sideline and implored them to stay focused and to continue executing their assigned tasked.  Basically he told them they better not let up but more importantly...they better not screw up!

Compare and contrast the two methods of  handling a blow-out situation.  There's a huge lesson to be learned there.

As for the Packers, Aaron Rodgers got his CheeseHead rung a few weeks ago.  After missing last week's game, he returns for this week's game after suffering, and since being cleared from concussion-like symptoms.  He and the Packers can throw the ball with any team.   It's the Pack's running game that makes their offense a little one dimensional. 

That predictability should play right into the Giants' Defense and Perry Fewell's plans for Sunday.  Look for Kenny Phillips, Deon Grant, Aaron Ross and Antrel Rolle being the key to everything from helping the pass rush by disrupting patterns, disguising coverages and stepping up for the run.  This Unit allowed wide open receivers and failed to execute basics, highlighted by two missed tackles that victimized the Giants for huge yardage plays by Philly's Celek, Maclin and runs by Michael Vick.  But on the bright side, there hasn't been a quarterback we haven't been able to get our hands on yet.  Perhaps a sack or two of Aaron Rodgers will be just enough to get his thinking a little fuzzy again.

On the other side, I think our Offensive Line can be very effective against the Packers' defensive front.  If we see Safeties and Corners having to step up and tackle Jacobs and Bradshaw, Coach Gilbride should give them all their CheesyGreen bodies can withstand.  BUT Stick with it this time!  The effects of a pounding ground game are cumulative intended for controlling the fourth quarter.  Take the hint Coach, and let Green Bay absorb the hits.  Stop operating in reverse order and finally let the running game set up the play-action (I hate that term.  What ever happened to the fake?  Or play-fake?).

Whatever we try, they just better make sure it works, because there will be hell to pay if they don't.  Many people have a hard time explaining why, but Coach Tom Coughlin is on the hot seat even before this game gets under-way.  His on-field berating of Matt Dodge also seems to have raised the temperature a little.

Earlier this season Tom Coughlin kept what could have been a contentious situation with Brandon Jacobs contained.  In an earlier game this season Coach Coughlin could be seen in a dispute with his Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell while being quite verbally animated on the sidelines as the Giants were suffering major defensive lapses.  Since that minor altercation and Justin Tuck's emergence as a verbal leader the Giants defense has been far more effective.

When Ahmad Bradshaw continually fumbled the ball, Coach Coughlin called for the switch to Brandon Jacobs.  Ahmad Bradshaw has not fumbled since the first time they faced the Eagles when he originally lost his starting role.  His fumbling problem for the moment seems corrected much the same way Coach Coughlin corrected Tiki Barber's fumbling woes.

The truth is this Coach has done more to keep us participating in the playoffs than he's done to keep us out.  So why all the negative vibe about him?  Let's keep the blame for some Big Blue let-downs in proper prospectives shall we?.....With the players.

For all those clamouring for Bill Cower to succeed Tom Coughlin as Head Coach of the Giants, show me how he is a significant upgrade outside of an age difference.  The way I see it, Cower may not be significantly better than Coughlin, but Coughlin for whatever reason is a lot less liked.  That's just the perception.  But sometimes perception is reality.

But there is only one Reality the Giants need to exist in Sunday that will solve so many festering issues.  Their reality involves winning and losing.

Winning Sunday, at this point will be more of a relief than any kind of celebration for taking a step closer to the playoffs.  A loss will be nothing short of devastating which is the exact reality they are preparing to avoid against the Packers.

That's just Life!



BTB

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Happy Holiday ~ A Brooklyn Christmas Eve


Holiday Greetings From TheBrooklynTrolleyBlogger

video



To all I have ever come in contact with
through this Blog or on Twitter,

I wish you and your families all a
HOLLY ~ TROLLEY
CHRISTMAS
and a
Glorious Holiday Season


Brooklyn Style Of Course:







Ever Wonder What Really Goes On At The
North Pole?

video



video




Mike.BTB

Thursday, December 23, 2010

EGG CREAMS ~ Get Thee to The Brooklyn Farmacy!!


Trolley Riderz, I'm pleased to announce,

Aaron
From
BROOKLYN FARMACY
& Soda Fountain




As The Newest Member of BTB's
"THE EGG CREAM SOCIETY"
I was recommended by a friend to go to the corner of
Henry Street and Sackett Street
and try out a new Egg Cream shop.


What I found was a great looking place that really captures the Old Brooklyn neighborhood feel.
Aaron opened up back in June of this year and I'm sorry I didn't find out about
BROOKLYN FARMACY
sooner because he really got it right. 
Not only did he re-create a Brooklyn Classic with Soda Jerks and all,
 he whipped me up
one GREAT EGG CREAM!

It's rare when the last sip of an egg cream is just as deliciously consistent with the first.
The seltzer has a tendency to blend in towards the end losing it's effect,  if you're the type to nurse your Elixir slowly.  But today's Egg Cream stayed true through-out.  Sweet!


Do you see the three tiers off color?
That's not just well mixed; That's attention to detail.
That's ART!

Without a doubt, today's Egg Cream was
BROOKLYN AUTHENTIC!


It was also on-the-house! 
So if you find yourself in Carroll Gardens or you just have a yen for
a good Egg Cream,
stop by and tell Aaron the BrooklynTrolleyBlogger sent ya.






Mike.BTB

N.J. Devils ~ Coach John MacLean Fired by Devils

NEW JERSEY DEVILS: Former Devils' Great, Rookie NHL Coach John MacLean Gets Fired By Big Lou.


Lou Lamoriello: Outside of coaching changes, there's nothing else he can do to save his team from the Salary Cap Hell he put them in.


Coming into this season, most Hockey fans and experts were pretty much all sold on the notion the N.J. Devils would boast an above-average offense but that their defense would not meet the standards set by teams of their "trapping" and "post-trap" past.  But the Devilish irony that has repeatedly jabbed at New Jersey with a pitchfork this season is the complete opposite of what anyone expected.

While the low defensive expectations have indeed been unceremoniously met this season, the Devils scoring has been down-right malignant.  In a situation one can only ponder logically by setting all common sense aside, the New Jersey Devils are dead-last in all the National Hockey League in goals scored.

There are ten teams in the League that have surrendered 100+ goals this season.  And while the Devils are one of those teams with 103 GA, they aren't the worst of the lot which is no consolation...(I know).  That distinction is shared by Tampa Bay and Anaheim with 111 goals against.

What is alarmingly bedeviling though, is their paltry fifty-nine goals-for.  That goal total is dead last in the League; eight goals worse than the N.Y. Islanders.  On a team with Ilya Kovalchuk, Jason Arnott, Patrick Elias, S. Gionta, Travis Zajac, and guys like Rolston and Langenbrunner being enough to round out three quality lines, what they have combined to offer as support for their new Coach was nothing short of putrid.



The Team-First Philosophy of interchangeable players, all abiding by a system with no room for individuals is all but gone from an organization that worked incredibly hard for over two decades now, with limited means and less than sold-out games, to become one of the League's most consistently successful franchises.

Not only is the woeful play a radical departure from what used to be known as Devil's Hockey, the zeal with-which the organization insisted on signing Ilya Kovalchuk was very strange to all Hockey minded on-lookers.  With a fistful of money, they abandoned their own edicts like drunken sailors on shore-leave. 

The Devil's way was to develop a self-reliant, self-sustaining farm system, so as to seamlessly fit these players on the Big Lines and then make savvy trades at the dead-line.  Unless Ilya's signing is explained to me a different way, I can only surmise the Devils lusted for Kovalchuk, there-by clouding their better sense.  The temptation of "scoring" can be DEVILISH....right fellas?  They knowingly came into the season compromised on defense.  But they, you nor I ever anticipated this offense featuring Kovalchuk would be pathetically worse.  In a very unDevil-like transaction they bought into the STAR System.  After 33 games the gamble has been a complete and utter failure.  And this afternoon, after only 59 goals and 20 team points good enough only for Last Place.... it cost their rookie Coach his job.

John MacLean was relieved of his Head Coaching duties this afternoon by Big Lou Lamoriello in a move widely anticipated.  Not so long ago, Big Lou placed the onus on his star players to get the Devils out of their malaise.  When it was evident they were no closer to solving the team's problems, Coach John MacLean too, failed to continually find things to tell the media.  He literally ran out of words to say as he could no longer provide answers for them outside of, "I don't know."

For that; for a woefully underachieving roster with star players missing in action, and for the sake of loosening an increasingly tightening grip on last place that needed to be immediately addressed, John MacLean, a former Devil Great himself, had to be removed.  He was after-all a rookie Coach.  The position was tenuous to begin with.

Former two-time Devil Coach and Stanley Cup Champion Jacques LeMaire was named interim Coach for New Jersey.

You'll never go wrong hiring Jacques to coach your team.  He's a flat out winner.  But this appointment hints, to me, of something much darker and dire.  This points to something at the very foundation the Devil's Rock is built on....Lou Lamoriello himself.

He is arguably the best Sports Executive in the Metropolitan area.   But there is no ignoring an increasingly glaring problem.  The salary cap has perplexed even the best executives in Sports and Lou is no exception.  Lou has struggled with the salary cap repeatedly in the past and this Kovalchuk contract will be an albatross for years to come.  The farm system has hit a lull in productivity and things aren't as interchangeable as they used to be for Big Lou.

The task Jacques LeMaire has ahead of him pales in comparison to what big Lou has to deal with.  Jacques gets to do what he does best.  Somehow he and Devil Veteran Colin White have to find a way to get Andy Greene, Henrik Tallinder, Volchenkov and Anssi Salmela to play a style of defense that will get the offensive "stars" out of their funk and away from other responsibilities and there-by sparking transition in an offensive direction.

Yea....easy right?

Will this move be enough to dramatically save the Devils season that is more than one-third of the way over?  I doubt it.  It's not like Big Lou hasn't fired a coach before.  As a matter of fact he's more known for it.  But this may be more than just paint chipping off the walls and a broken window or two.  And we haven't even touch the Brodeur situation either....have we?

We just might be in the earliest days of the Fall of the Devil's Empire.




Mike.BTB