Saturday, March 31, 2012

N.Y. Rangers ~ Circling Sharks Smell Blueshirt Blood



Boston Bruins

33rd Street at 7th Avenue

Rangers Lead Series 3-0
*I - NYR 3; BOS 2*
II - NYR 3; BOS 0
III - NYR 4; BOS 3


Updated:  Sunday, April 1st
The Blueshirts' Magic Number to Clinch
#1 Seed in Eastern Conference:

3 Points

Montreal Canadiens  1
New York Rangers    4

1) - New York Rangers    107 Points
2) - Pittsburgh Penguins  102 Points
3) - Philadelphia Flyers      98 Points

#1 - x-New York Rangers   107 Points
#2 - x-Boston Bruins              96 Points
#3 - x-Florida Panthers         90 Points
#4 - Pittsburgh Penguins     102 Points

New York Rangers Stats:

I - 2011-2012 SEASON ~ As of March 31st:

First NHL Team to 50 wins
107 Points - #1 NHL
Goals Against (173) - #1 Eastern Conference; #3 NHL
Home Wins (27) - Tied #1 Eastern Conference
Road Wins (23) - Tied #2 Eastern Conference; Tied #3 NHL


100 Points ~ Seventh Time in Club History
112 Points ~ Team Record Set '93-'94
107 Points ~ Current; Four Games Remain

50 Wins ~ Third Time in Club History
1991-1992 - 50 Wins
1993-1994 - 52 Wins


38 Wins ~ Ties Career High

NEW YORK RANGERS:  There's Blueshirt Blood in the Water.  And the Sharks are Circling.

Over the course of the regular season, the NHL tides have rolled in and out like those of the oceans.  Some teams have been deposited like sand onto favorable shores within their Division and Conference standings, while others have been swept out to sea.

The tide came in for Eastern Conference teams like Washington, who recently gained eighth place after bobbing up and down this season.  The Devils are back after missing the playoffs last season.  And a newer, younger Florida club is back with their heads well above water.

Meanwhile, the tide has been rolling out and setting teams like Buffalo, Toronto, and Montreal, adrift.  Down the stretch, if Ottawa isn't careful, they could be pushed under the surf and drowned by a trio of Florida, Washington, and/or Buffalo.

The big prize fish lie in the deeper, more treacherous waters of the Eastern Conference, where it's sink, swim, or be swallowed.  There lie the defending Stanley Cup Champion Bruins.  And from the Atlantic Division, the Flyers, and more specifically the Pittsburgh Penguins, have ridden powerfully warm currents towards a hot regular season finish.  They've all gathered like sharks to circle around the Rangers whom many still regard as a hapless baby seal floating around on a melting piece of ice.

To the outsider, that my seem so.  Most recently, the Rangers were poised to suffer a deadly bite in their season when Pittsburgh faced-off against the New York Islanders for a home-and-home.  But the Long Islanders clubbed the Penguins silly with ten goals in two games.  The Rangers took care of their end with dramatic wins against Minnesota and Winnipeg, on clutch goals by Gaborik and Callahan, respectively.  And after Friday night's 4-1 drubbing of the Canadiens at the Garden, the Rangers remain five points ahead of the Penguins again.  But make no mistake, with only four games left in the regular season, the smell of blood permeates the waters off Broadway.

With Spring upon us, the ICEBERGS of MARCH are indeed breaking apart and have precariously brought the Rangers to within a game of losing their position atop the Atlantic Division, and Eastern Conference standings for a second time this month.  In response to both instances, they not only survived cracks beneath their skates, but resiliently went on to extend their lead again.

The young New York Rangers have deftly squeezed out another surge in their ride on top the ultimate wave they caught back on December 23rd, and seem determined to stand up all the way through April 7th, for one of the more fabulous finishes in Club history.  Because what we've learned about these Rangers over the last two weeks is that they never panic.  And they say that's key when surrounded by sharks.

The New York Softies have Boston; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; and Washington looming ahead.  They've come for us for it's Blueshirt Blood they smell.


Let's Go Rangers!


Vintage Baseball 2012 ~ Keepers of Our Pastime

From the desk of:  THREE HANDS DOWN

April 7, 2012


Smithtown, Long Island

VINTAGE BASE BALL ASSOCIATION:  The Players and Member Clubs Honoring 19th Century Baseball,  Are Back.

New York City's lone member club in the Vintage Baseball Association kicks off the 2012 season on April 7th, when the New York Gothams visit the Brooklyn Atlantics Baseball Club of Long Island.

Wickets, Stacks, and the rest of the Gotham Club play their home games at Hellgate/Whitey Ford Park; Astoria, Queens.  Entering their eleventh season of competition, the Gothams posted the club's highest winning percentage last season (.529) while matching their season high for wins with eighteen.  They have now posted double-digit wins in three of the last four seasons while averaging roughly thirty-four contests per season.

The Gothams' 2012 schedule includes a return appearance to the Old Stone House Field at Washington Park, Brooklyn, on April 29, for a game against the Flemington Neshanock Base Ball Club.

The Gothams' Opening Day opponent will be their long fabled rival; the Brooklyn Atlantics BBC; who begin their sixteenth season in the circuit and are the defending Mid-Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League Champions.  Last season they defeated the Elkton Eclipse BBC of Maryland to win their second consecutive title.

The Atlantics have been VBBA members since 1997, and play their games at Atlantic Park, in Smithtown, Long Island.  Some of the fine gentlemen returning for another season I assume will be TC, Hammy, Toothpick, and Shakespeare.  While averaging roughly fifty-four contests over the last three seasons, the Atlantics have topped forty wins in each year.

Their 2012 schedule also includes a stop in Brooklyn on August 8th, for a game against the Essex Base Ball Club, to be played at MCU Park in Coney Island.




Vintage Baseball Member Links:

Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia
Brooklyn Eckfords Base Ball Club
Brooklyn Stars BBC
Chesapeake and Potomac Nine of Baltimore
Cincinnati Red Stockings
Cleveland Blues Base Ball Club
Columbus Capitals Base Ball Club, Ohio
Diamond State Base Ball Club, Delaware
Dirigo Base Ball Club, Maine
Elkton Eclipse Base Ball Club, Maryland
Essex Base Ball Organization, MA
Excelsior Base Ball Club of Arundel, MD
Fair Play Base Ball Club, Easton
Frosty Son's of Thunder, Western PA.
Hancock Nine Base Ball Club
Havre de Grace Dauntless Base Ball Club, MD
Hingham Derbies and Hingham Coopers, MA
Indianapolis Blues Base Ball Club
Jersey City Skeeters Base Ball Club
Lyme Taverners BBC, CT
Mechanicsburgh Nine Base Ball Club, PA.
Melrose Pondfeilders BBC, MA
Mudville Base Ball Club, MA
Newark Eureka Base Ball Club
New London Thames BBC, CT
Newtown Sandy Hook Baseball Club, CT
Olneyville Cadets Base Ball Club, R.I.
Pittsburgh Franklins Base Ball Club

Providence Grays Base Ball Club
Roxbury Nine Base Ball Club
Saginaw Old Golds, Michigan
Springfield Long Nine Base Ball Club, IL
Talbot Fair Play Base Ball Club, Easton

Good Luck To All This Season.


UPDATE ~ A/O Monday April 2nd:
The New York Gothams have informed me they will be playing their home games on Governors Island this season.  Such a setting can only enhance the experience.  Can't wait.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

N.Y. Islanders ~ Long Island Clubs the Penguins..., TWICE!

From the desk of:   NYR  ~  A "RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS" - Special Report!

New York Islanders   5
Pittsburgh Penguins   3

NEW YORK ISLANDERS:  Hey Rangers!  Look What Long Island Did to Pittsburgh..., Again!

Tonight, the New York Islanders completed a two game drubbing of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  And no one is more happier than Blueshirt Nation.

In the series' first game played Tuesday evening in Pittsburgh, the Islanders repeatedly beat Marc Andre Fleury high on his glove side, on their way to a 5-3 victory.  Frans Nielsen netted two goals for the Islanders.  Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner, and David Ullstrom, also scored for Long Island.

The Isles jumped out to an early 2-0 first period lead.  But Pittsburgh answered back within the first five minutes of the second period to tie the game at two.  Long Island then reeled off three goals to close the period.  The Penguins picked up one more goal in the third.

Early in the third period, Ivgeni Nabokov left the game with an injury.  Al Montoya filled in.  He and the Isles held on for a 5-3 win.

The series shifted to Long Island Thursday night, where the Isles picked up where they left off.  Only this time, the Islanders found success against Pittsburgh's goalie by simply keeping the puck on the ice and sliding it passed him.  In the two games, the Isles wound up giving Marc Andre Fleury the 'ol High-Low treatment.  In outplaying Pittsburgh over the course of six periods, the worst scoring team in the Eastern Conference clubbed the Penguins with ten goals.  The NHL's top scoring team responded with six against two different Islander goalies.

Former Rangers' farm hand, Al Montoya made Thursday's start for the Isles in place of injured Ivgeni Nabokov.  He faced twenty-nine shots.  And over the first eighteen and a half minutes of the game, he limited the Penguins to just two goals.  In all, he stopped twenty-six shots for his seventh win of the season.

In the first period, Marty Reasoner scored his first goal of the season to stake the Isles to an initial lead.  After Pittsburgh tied the game 1-1 midway through the second period, Kyle Okposo scored on a power play, and Josh Bailey scored a shorthanded goal to close the period.

Kyle Okposo's third period goal was his third in two games against Pittsburgh, and his second of the night.  Then Pittsburgh struck back.  After Jordan Staal scored to make it a 4-2 game, Al Montoya gave up a late goal to Ivgeni Malkin with a minute and a half left in regulation to bring the Penguins to within 4-3 of the Isles.  But with ten seconds left, Josh Bailey out hustled Pittsburgh who had six skaters on the ice, and scored his second goal of the game into an empty net.

The Islanders skated away with their second straight 5-3 victory over the Penguins.

Brilliant!  Great freakin' job!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

N.Y. Rangers ~ Battle to be Number One Continues Tonight

Last Updated:  7:15pm



New York Islanders   5
Pittsburgh Penguins   3

New York Rangers   3
Minnesota Wild        2

103 Points; 1st Place Atlantic Division; #1 Eastern Conference

100 Points; 2nd Place Atlantic Division; #4 Eastern Conference

Both Teams Have Six Games Left


Winnipeg Jets
The Great White North


Pittsburgh Penguins
Uniondale, Long Island

Thank you Islanders!  I appreciate that!  And may I add, the way you beat Pittsburgh last night was rather impressive.  There was a time during the Rangers game against Minnesota when I thought the Blueshirts were being unappreciative of your efforts against the Penguins.  But the Rangers managed a third goal against the Wild for the win, which increased their lead over Pittsburgh to three points thanks to you guys.

I spent more time watching the Islanders play the Penguins than I did watching the Rangers.  The staggered start times were key.  And let me tell you, the Islanders just reopened the book on Marc Andre Fleury.  I don't have much respect for him to begin with.  So I'm happy to report the Isles  continually beat the Penguins goalie high on his glove-side.  They did it once, twice, three times.  Twice can be a coincidence though.  But three times is a pattern folks.  There-in lies some food for thought for the next time the Rangers play Pittsburgh.  I hope Coach Torts saw the tape.

The Penguins will visit the Islanders Thursday night in Uniondale in the second game of a back-to-back, home-and-home series.  The Rangers visit the Winnipeg Jets tonight.

Any chance you guys (NYI) can pull off another upset tonight?  Thanks alot.

NEW YORK RANGERS:  Room to Breathe, But No Time To Rest.  Blueshirts Can Not Afford to Lose Altitude Against the Jets.

Is it wrong to consider these must win games?  After all, we already clinched a playoff spot earlier than we have in decades.  Me?  I look at the home stretch as a test of character for these Rangers.  I'm looking to see if their identity will hold up.  I'm looking to see if the younger players are ending a season or are just getting started.  I want to be certain the star players on this team are intent on leading.  I'm looking to see if they are all still up to the grind.

I believe in finishing strong.  I want winning the Atlantic Division over Sidney Crosby and Pittsburgh  to matter.  I want the number one seed.  I want to see the Blueshirts go into the playoffs on some sort of roll.  And I'd like to see them do it with power.  And if many of these youngsters can manage to grow some beards in April..., all the better.

I do feel like these are must win games.  For I have a great dislike for the Penguins, and I don't want to get passed by them.  But I will say it now; what ever happens after these next six games, happens.  This was me just talking in a perfect world.

The Rangers reality is that Henrik Lundqvist will be starting in his seventh consecutive game tonight.  But this will only be his 58th start of the season.  All that rest over the regular season was designed for precisely this time of year.  Spring is upon us, and the hopes are that Henrik Lundqvist is fresh, and ready for the challenge ahead.  Even in what for him was an abbreviated season when compared to the last five seasons, The King is only two wins away from tying his career high (38) for wins in a season.

It's a tough call as to whether Marty Biron will get at least one more start over the five games that will remain after tonight.  If he doesn't get Friday's game against Montreal, chances are Biron does not see ice again.  Tonight may be an indication, as this will be the first time all season Henrik will be making this many consecutive starts.  So I guess it's safe to say Coach Torts places a lot of value on home ice advantage.

Brad Richards continues to elevate his level of play.  He set up the go ahead goal in the third period last night with a magnificent pass from the left circle to Marian Gaborik waiting between the dots.  Gaborik's own stick work on the play was just as stellar.  Brad Richards' assist on the play was his team leading thirty-sixth of the season.

The baffling season Marian Gaborik and Ranger Fans suffered through last year seem like a very distant memory now.  Marian Gaborik has played as a member of the NHL's elite all season.  He now has thirty-eight goals this season, and seems destined to break forty goals again for the second time in three seasons as a Ranger.  He also broke forty goals in his last season with Minnesota.


...and let's go Islanders!  Beat the Penguins..., Again!


N.Y. Jets ~ 2012 Guaranteed to be a Memorable Season

NEW YORK JETS:  Write This In Stone; The 2012 Jets' Season Will Be One of the Most Tumultuous Campaigns in Team History.

Jet Fans, let's get right to the heart of the matter.  The triumvirate of Rex Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum, and Woody Johnson, are turning your team into a circus.

Let's lead off with the Head Coach, shall we?  In just speaking of this last season alone, Rex Ryan remained disconnected from the offensive side of the ball.  He antagonized his "little Brother" and paid a Big Blue price for it late in the season.  Then on the heals of back-to-back AFC Championship appearances, Rex's team failed to make the playoffs for the first time since taking over.  Once the season ended, certain players started airing out their dirty laundry to the Media.  And when questioned about his team's alleged grievances, Rex Ryan denied knowing problems existed amongst his players and pleaded ignorance to any simmering locker room animosities.  It just never occurred to him that his locker room was in dire need of an attitude adjustment.  And to me, that's a failure to capture the pulse of the team.  But how could he, when he himself was involved in a falling out with his offensive coordinator and was constantly jostling with the Media and creating his own controversies?

He remains unaccountable for a team that continues to lose it's identity - an identity (see Ground and Pound) that he never truly established, or, committed to, in the first place.  Over all, what the Jets have achieved so far under Rex has been arrived at more so through his words, than through deeds.

That's the outsiders view.  But I'm a local.  I get Rex Ryan and I like Rex Ryan, even though you folks know I'm a Giants Fan.  None of this should come off as hatin' either.  I understand Rex's in-game, and his methods.  He's cool with me.  But the record speaks for itself, and sometimes you need to be called on the carpet just to keep you honest.  I will say this though - his style has a short life span.  And a General Manager can only exasperate the situation by continually bringing in the wrong kind of players.

Mike Tannenbaum deserves his third-share of blame; if not more.  I believe Mike Tannenbaum bears the most responsibility for last season's disappointment.  And it is precisely because there has been no philosophical consistency from him.  I get no sense he has a coherent plan.  What I see is more of a Fantasy Football approach these last two seasons.  He also strikes me as a swinger.  When Eric Mangini was still coach, Tannenbaum operated with a more conservative and business like tact.  With Rex, Tannenbaum has again taken on his Head Coach's persona; if not in similar fashion to Rex's overt brashness, but through his splashy, risky, yet fearless transactions.

He put together a fine team in 2009, but has literally spent the last two seasons sabotaging it.  More and more he's proving himself to be exactly who Bill Parcells thought he was bringing to the Jets; a CAPologist - and nothing more.  He is nifty with numbers, and is extremely well spoken.  But with each passing season as GM, he's proving himself to be an inadequate team builder.  I say that because I feel he caused this team to take a series of backwards steps.

Somewhere in between Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum lies the curious case of Braylon Edwards. By the time of initial his signing, Tannenbaum was already committed to taking chances on players with a checkered past.  As things worked out, Braylon would have run through walls for Rex in addition to working well with Mark Sanchez.  The Jets then decided Santonio Holmes was who they really wanted.  But with Santonio in, and Braylon, and Jerricho Cotchery out, Peace; Love; and Harmony; left the building.  That, if anything, seems representative of Mike Tannenbaum's plan.  And well, in two short seasons, his transactions have polluted the locker room.  And now the Jets are considering a return of Braylon Edwards again.  That's what you call a circle folks.

Look what the decent from 2009 has done to your quarterback.  Mark Sanchez took major strides backwards last season.  But if you dig a little deeper than just the prevailing opinions about him, you would know so many things around him failed or broke down; to include his offensive coordinator.  But only QB's get blamed.  While everyone is busy dumping on Mark Sanchez, a sub-par offensive line goes largely unspoken about.  And now through their actions, the head Coach and the GM have given every indication they are about to turn on their quarterback.  In football terms, the contract extension the Jets gave Sanchez was more like a kiss of death.  The organization can spin this any way they want.  Mark Sanchez is now walking a tight rope without a net.

Sometimes locker rooms get polluted because you populate them with the wrong kind of people for the wrong reasons.  There's always the business side of Football to contend with.  And that's where the owner comes in.  Many believe Woody Johnson is the instigator of some questionable moves made by the Jets.  After all, he has a brand to sell.  And many think he encourages his organization to conduct it's business in a manner that strikes me as more flamboyant, than fundamental.  Overt attention grabbers and trying to win the back pages of the tabloids are not what winning football teams are made of.  But this is exactly what the Jets are being accused of.  Starved for attention in the shadow of the N.Y. Giants, many accuse Woody Johnson himself for taking the team down this path.

THIS IS THE WORLD....  Tim Tebow is now a part of.  And the fact Rex Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum, nor Woody Johnson were on hand at Tebow's press conference was plainly and simply - negligent; if not laughable.

What starts now is something of a completely different matter.  What dynamics Tim Tebow will, or will not bring to the Jets' offense, remains to be seen.  It is only March, and what we already know is that the Jets' 2012 season will be one of the most tumultuous campaigns in the organization's history.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

N.Y. Rangers ~ Let's Go Islanders!!



101 Points; 1st Place Atlantic Division; #1 Eastern Conference
Minnesota Wild

Land of 10,000 Lakes

The Battle To Be Number One Starts Now!

NEW YORK RANGERS:  Hey Brotha!  Can Ya Spare a Win?

Beard growing season is almost upon us and from One through Eight, the Eastern Conference standings are still far from being settled.  For the Rangers, winning these next two games are paramount in deciding not only the Atlantic Division, but the Eastern Conference's number one seed as well.

If there is a soft spot for both the Rangers and Penguins in their remaining regular season schedule, these next two games are it.  And that doesn't exactly bode well for the Blueshirts.

The Penguins start a home-and-home against the Islanders tonight.  For Ranger fans, that's the same thing as saying the number one scoring team in all the NHL hosts the Eastern Conference's weakest scoring team.  Only three Western Conference clubs have less goals scored than the Islanders.

The Penguins are one point behind the Rangers heading into tonight's action.  They will get to play at home this evening, while the Blueshirts play the first of two games on the road against a moribund Wild team in Minnesota, followed by the Jets in Winnipeg.  Even though Minnesota is the weakest scoring team in the league this season, Winnipeg is on par with the Blueshirts' scoring.

So, advantage; Penguins.

Tonight can turn into the flip-game.  With a Rangers loss and a Pittsburgh win, the Penguins will take over first place in the Atlantic Division, and the Eastern Conference lead.  Should that happen, it will be hello to fourth place for the Rangers; which will also bring them face to face with Philly.

I know we're old time rivals with little love lost between us regardless of how lean the times have gotten in Uniondale.  But sometimes New Yorkers need to unite in a common cause, ya know?  If you (the Islanders) can find it within yourselves to beat the Penguins in Pittsburgh tonight, we Ranger Fans would be mighty grateful.  And maybe in return, we can beat some teams next season and help you carve out a path to the playoffs also.

I have no doubt you guys will try your best tonight.  That's all we can really ask.  And if not, well, Potvin still Sucks!  So, that said.., beat The Penguins Tonight!  And...,

Let's Go Islanders!


New York Islanders
Pittsburgh Penguins
100 Points; 2nd Place Atlantic Division; #4 Eastern Conference

West of Amish Country


Monday, March 26, 2012

N.Y. Knicks ~ Amare's Back is Knicks Pain

From the desk of:   DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP

NEW YORK KNICKS:  Amare's Back and Knicks Season Bulging With Concerns.  MRI Reveals Bad News.

Wonder Twins Powers - deactivated.  If it wasn't Melo's team before, it certainly is now.  And guys like me, who aren't exactly on his side, need to grasp that.  The Knicks' remaining regular season and their playoff aspirations now lie singularly in his hands.

An MRI revealed Amare Stoudemire has a bulging disk in his lower back.  The Knicks said he will be out indefinitely.  Naturally, Amare is headed to Miami for a second opinion.  But I think you can pretty much etch this one in stone.  He'll be lost for a considerable time.  MRI's like this are pretty cut and dry.  And plus, you never know with backs.  Once compromised, a bad back never seems to go away.  And I think Amare's first inclination is to treat this without surgery.  As this is only day one of the news, I guess we'll learn more as we go.

Two local players come to mind when thinking about this type of injury; Don Mattingly, and former Knick Larry Johnson.  Before back problems and before becoming a Knick, Larry Johnson was Grand Mama for the then, Charlotte Hornets.  After back surgery, Johnson continued his career as an effective player, and helped the Knicks reach the Finals.  But he had to drastically alter his style of play in order to do it, as he was no longer able to elevate and ceased to be a thunderous dunk waiting to happen.  He became a mid-range perimeter shooter, and a (I hate saying finesse..) creative, multiple-move player, down in the low post.  His ability to drive the basket with power however, was all but gone.  Grand Mama had become, Mr. Lay-Up.

Who knows if that's what's in store for Amare Stoudemire.   But many aspects of Amare's game this season come into better focus now.  There have been nights with nary an attempted rebound on his part, and on other nights, he could hardly jump at all.

I guess this is the time when we start asking ourselves if his off-season work-out regimen might have been a contributing factor?  Amare himself described his off-season strength conditioning program as new, and intense.  While that's speculative, this certainly shouldn't strike us as a surprise.  Everyone questioned whether Amare Stoudemire's body would hold up over the course of Commissioner Stern's post lock-out compressed schedule.

So here we are.  As I watch tonight's game, the Knicks are a game and a half ahead of Milwaukee for the eighth playoff spot.  And with a sub-.500 record I might add.  But dare I say the Knicks job just got easier?  At least now, we know exactly who's getting the ball.  The game goes through Melo by necessity.

All the debate about what Coach Woodson would do differently, etc. etc,.. are all moot points now.  Time and time again, sports reminds us things have a way of working themselves out.  Injuries usually play a large role in that.  If anything, I'm looking for Tyson Chandler to pick up a lot of the slack in Amare's absence.  I'm actually expecting Melo, Chandler, and the three-headed monster at the point, to mesh even better now.  And none of that should be a knock on Amare.  It's just without him, things get simplified somewhat.  Just like when Melo was hurt and Jeremy Lin became unleashed.  Winning without Melo, was again, just a matter of having things simplified somewhat.

The Knicks bench is an entirely different story.

After the way Amare came to town last year and took a bunch of unknowns under his wing, and made the Garden a fun place to be again, I have nothing but compassion for the man, and wish him a speedy recovery.  Amare Stoudemire is definitely one of the good guys.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

N.Y. Rangers ~ Blueshirts Hit Century Mark Against Toronto


NEW YORK RANGERS:  Blueshirts Earn Points Number 100 and 101 on the Season.  Accomplish Feat for Seventh Time in Their History.

You lose 4-1 against Buffalo at home and maybe think, what happened to Henrik?  The answer is nothing.  But he's had better weeks.  However, if we're pointing fingers, blame the defense for a series of crippling brain cramps.  Regardless, Henrik was brilliant at times against the Sabres.  But Buffalo's goalie, Ryan Miller, was equally brilliant; if not a shade better this time, for the Rangers were 3-0 against Buffalo this season.  That Ryan Miller had an insane night between the pipes should not go under spoken when talking about the Rangers deflating loss Friday night.

The MSG crowd; me included; were denied their chance to see the Rangers gain their 100th point of the season on home ice.  And as far as how the Rangers did, over this now concluded seven game home stand, things could have gone better for the Rangers.  By Friday night, the Rangers lead over Pittsburgh was down to one point.  And so in hindsight, the Blueshirts missed a great opportunity to gain a little separation from Pittsburgh, as the Penguins were idle Friday night, and lost to Ottawa Saturday evening.  So instead of having a four or five point lead with seven games left, the Rangers will settle for a three point margin.

Friday night, Buffalo got on the board first and had the Blueshirts playing catch-up the rest of the way.  Truth is, once the Rangers attention to detail began to break down in the second period, they never stood a chance.  After a slow first period, Buffalo stampeded.  They were a far different team in the second and third periods of Friday's game than the group of the opening session.

Truth is, the Rangers had their share of opportunities to score in Friday's game; loads of  'em.  And even though the first period ended tied at one, I thought the Sabres were getting out skated.  To me, it just seemed as if the Blueshirts' shots on goal weren't accurately reflecting what I was seeing.  And I thought it was only a matter of time before we cashed in on a few more opportunities.


Buffalo's third goal came on a horrible turnover by John Mitchell above the dots in the Rangers offensive zone.  The result - an odd man rush the other way.  When the Sabres made the score 4-1, my son and I promptly left the building.  Yet another odd man rush was too much to bear.  That was the story of the night.  No 100 points for you.  And to make matters worse, Mats Zuccarello sustained a broken wrist Friday early in the game.

Then it was off to Toronto for Saturday's game.  The Maple Leafs pummeled us in each of our first two encounters.  The Blueshirts finally got a game back the previous time we met.  And now in our fourth meeting of the season, the Blueshirts got 'em again.  But not before the Rangers gave us every indication they were picking-up where they left off Friday, by allowing Toronto to score on yet another odd man rush.  Stu Bickle got caught too deep in the offensive zone, and off went Toronto the other way to make it a 1-0 game.

Marian Gaborik promptly tied the game at one apiece.  Then in the second period, Toronto went ahead 2-1 again.  This time, Brandon Dubinsky, who is playing much better hockey of late, scored his 9th goal of the season, for a second Rangers tie.

Marian Gaborik gave the Rangers their first lead in their last six periods when he scored his second goal of the game and his 37th of the season.  But just eighteen seconds later, Toronto tied the game again at three apiece.  And that's the way regulation time would end.  The Rangers were headed for their fourth overtime game of March.  In bitter-sweet fashion, the Blueshirst had just earned their 100th point of this NHL season.  Could they get another?  To keep more than two points between them and Pittsburgh, they needed to.

They played five more minutes to no avail.  In the ensuing Shoot-Out, Henrik stood strong long enough to allow the Captain; Ryan Callahan; to take the last; deciding; and winning shot in yet another game.

So make that 101 points now.  That's three points better than the Pens, and it ties us with the St. Louis Blues for the NHL lead.


Friday, March 23, 2012

N.Y. Rangers ~ Henrik Will Start Fewest Games in Six Years


NEW YORK RANGERS:  If You Need Something Done, You Have To Do It Yourself.

First Place Atlantic Division ~ #1 in Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins
Second Place Atlantic Division ~ #4 Eastern Conference

Thank you Nashville -  For Nothing!  Pittsburgh won Thursday evening 5-1 over the Predators to close within one point of the Rangers again.  So forget about getting any help from anyone.  We're on our own Ranger Fans.  We have to match Pittsburgh win for win, until we meet them for the final time of the regular season on April 5th.

With an overtime win over Detroit Wednesday evening, the Rangers still hold a precarious lead in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference standings.  The Blueshirts are now one point shy of reaching 100 points in a regular season for only the seventh time in their history.  But Pittsburgh now has ninety-eight points to discourage any sense of Blueshirt accomplishment.

The Penguins have bull rushed the Eastern Conference with twenty-seven points and a 13-0-1 record over their last fourteen games.  Over the same span, the Rangers have struggled to gain sixteen points in the standings, and have played to an 8-6 record.

Both teams have nine games remaining and will face equally tough competition down stretch.  Neither team will have a discernible advantage in terms of strength of schedule.  The Rangers have games remaining against BUFF this Friday night; then Toronto; Minnesota; Winnipeg; Montreal, Boston; Philadelphia; PITT; and finish against Washington.  The Penguins will play Ottawa next; then New Jersey; and back-to-back games against the New York Islanders.  A game against Buffalo rounds out March.  The Pens will then finish the regular season against Philadelphia; Boston; N.Y.R.; and Philadelphia again.  So I'm not sure one team has an easier itinerary than the other.


Detroit Red Wings   1
New York Rangers  2

Wednesday's game against the Red Wings was the Rangers' third overtime game in March; and sixth in their last seventeen games.  They clearly don't have the fire power Pittsburgh has.  That's why they've been having to take a little extra time lately in trying to secure a second point.  After losing three in a row on the road, the resilient Blueshirts are now 4-2 during the current home stand.

In Wednesday's first period, Brad Richards' took off puck-handling on a line-to-line jaunt up ice that more resembled a football player's run for daylight.  Detroit, who rarely gets caught out of position defensively, found themselves parting the Garden ice like the Red Sea during a Ranger power play.  The fact Henrik Lundqvist received an assist on the play, was truly incidental to Brad Richards' first period tying goal.

The goal came during a lengthening stretch of good games for Richards that gives Coach Torts a measure of vindication for being so patient with his forward, and shielding him somewhat, from the Media.  It was also a goal which Rangers fans hope was a message to us; and well as to his team mates; that he intends on being the difference he was brought here to be.  Your leaders have to be your best players.  Brad Richards is among that group and has started playing the kind of hockey the Rangers greatly need.  Additionally, and probably even more important to the Rangers' cause, his goals have been coming on the power play.  And we all know, no team plays deep into the playoffs without a good power play.


As mentioned, Henrik Lundqvist recorded his second assist of the season.  Look out - He may start to like this sort of thing.  But what he does best is still stopping pucks.  And after allowing Detroit's  Henrik Zetterberg to score just three and a half minutes into the game, he would shut-out the Red Wings the rest of the night.  In all, he stopped twenty-six of twenty-seven shots on goal for his thirty-fourth win of the season.  His career high is thirty-eight wins set in the 2008-2009 season.

Last year, Henrik Lundqvist just missed starting 70+ games in net for the fifth consecutive season as an injury to Marty Biron altered plans to give Henrik more rest.  From 2006 through 2010, Henrik started 70; 72; 70; and 73 games respectively.  Last year he came in at sixty-eight games.  This season however, Martin Biron has been a force as back-up to the King.  When he's kept on his normal schedule, he has flourished.  But when pressed into duty; as in having to start for Henrik when he had the flu; his game, and the defense in front of him, have faltered.  But he has indeed been the best back-up goalie in hockey this season.  He started twenty games this season and has twelve wins.

The plan is to have Henrik Lundqvist healthy,and fresh, heading into the playoffs.  Coach Torts has long maintained Lundqvist was starting too many games in recent years, and that it has left the goalie gassed heading into the Spring Tournament.  Well, as a direct result of the season Marty Biron is having, Henrik has only started fifty-four games to date.  He will not come close to sixty-eight, much less seventy starts this season.  Now we'll start to find out if all this rest will pay off.

The game winning overtime goal?  Ryan Callahan took care of that.  He's developing a knack for that, isn't he?

Up Next - The Buffalo Sabres.  Our last game against them on February 25th wasn't easy.  They too took us into overtime before the Rangers pulled it out.  That game was also won on a Ryan Callahan overtime goal.

The teams have met three times this season in the Battle for the Empire State.  The Rangers have taken all three games.  On February 1st, the Rangers won in a shoot-out.  On December 10, the Rangers overwhelmed the Sabres 4-1 in Buffalo.



Buffalo Sabres

33rd Street at 7th Avenue

See you there!

Let's Go Rangers


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

N.Y. Mets ~ Chilling Numbers and The Met Estate

From the desk of:   HEAD BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS:  According to My Math, Fred Wilpon's Numbers are Chilling!  And He Should Give His Laid-Off Employees Their Jobs Back!

The smoke is still clearing from the Madoff/Picard flame-out.  But that account will be settled soon.  The dollars involved are no longer a mystery.  The bank loan is paid off, as is Fred Wilpon's loan from MLB.  This year's debt payments on Citi Field are now up to date.  Pay roll should have been set aside by now.  And I guess the lawyers have been paid too.  They always get paid.

Using very very round figures, I think The Saul B. Katz Dilemma books look something vaguely like this:

2011-2012 CREDITS:

$250 Million - Proceeds From $20 Million Dollar Per Portion Cupcake Sale
$480 Million - My estimated Citi Field/Gate Related Revenue, *based - 2.4 million spending $100; all inclusive.
$730 Million - Gross

2011-2012 DEBITS:

$1 Million and change - Bobby Bonilla Payments
$10 Million - Picard Related Lawyer Fees
$60 Million - Bank Loan
$25 Million - MLB Loan
$70 Million - Stated Citi Field and Gate Losses 2011
$70 Million - Team's Projected Citi Field and Gate Related Losses 2012
$140 Million - 2011 Player Salaries
$90 Million - 2012 Player Salaries
$200 Million - Unscientifically Arrived at Citi Field Debt Payments, etc. 2011-2012
$666 Million!  Chilling!  Isn't it?


$64 Million


*$162 Million Due in Three Years.

I will subtract payment for YEAR ONE = $54 Million



Fuzzy math aside, There are obviously more revenue streams not discussed here, as there are also more debits (I'm sure) not discussed as well.  For argument's sake, let's call those undisclosed figures, a wash.  And let's leave Fred Wilpon in the black at $10 million dollars.  That's not a bad way to end the day after being faced with potential financial ruin.

And Now..., A Message From Your Real Sponsor:

Fred Wilpon sure looked like a happy man Monday - didn't he?
Now I wonder if he'd consider giving the office employees he laid-off their jobs back?

C'mon Fred, don't be the Beast of Flushing.  Do the right thing.  Imagine all the good publicity you'd get for doing something like that.  Or at least give them an "I'm Sorry" check to show remorse for what you did.  I'm sure their families could use the money.  Give them something to smile about too.

We Are the Third Met Estate

We the Met Fan, in order to form a more perfect ball club.....

Many of the money woes Fred Wilpon encountered are now finally on their way to getting resolved.  But there is still the matter of US to deal with.  He knows we aren't on the best of terms right now.  So I'd appreciate it if he wasn't so coy about owning this team forever, as he says.  We get that.

Here's the real bottom line.  The fact is, according to my numbers, we the Fans, can bail him out of his remaining financial mess by busting the Gates of Citi Field with 3 1/2 million strong.  That is, IF we wanted to.  We can do that easily.  Just ask the Yankees!  And if we can't save him by the end of this season, I'm sure we can come close.  Then another season of busting the gate with three million fans should have Fred's team of accountants very busy indeed.

Even though he's made the cost of attending a game substantially more difficult to budget, trust me Fred, we still want to go to the park and spend some money.  However, he needs to make us want to.  Only we decide when we want to go to a game.  For my part, he underestimated our willingness to sit patiently through a rebuilding period.  Too many organizational missteps, increasing off-field issues, and a lack of forthrightness, negatively influenced many fans' willingness to be part of the walk-up gate.  That's where the real money is made.  Teams already know how much the ticket subscribers spent.  The walk-up gate is the unknown.  It can be a total disappointment, or a pot of gold.

We all know Fred is not out of the woods yet.  The obvious former stream of revenue worthy of mention - the Madoff Gravy Train went POOF!  That is discretionary income this organization  will no longer have to play with.  Then there is the matter of a few new owners on board.  Fred Wilpon will either have to pay back all the money he raised by selling off $20 million dollar shares in the Club, with the agreed upon interest, or, lose a corresponding share of ownership in the team.

And as far as I'm concerned, the cash infusion the shares provided were raised in part by double-dipping.  Multiple shares were purchased by Jeff Wilpon; Saul Katz; and the SNY partnership. So it seems to me as if the demand for "no-rights shares" wasn't exactly as high as Wilpon originally hoped.  And to me that belies true confidence in his plan.

But congratulations.  At least there is finally some faint light flickering at the end of his tunnel.

Mr. Wilpon should consider this a new beginning.  As smartly as he can as an owner, getting this house in order again and rethinking what kind of relationship he would like to have with his team's fan base is in his best interest.  Maybe, we can reach some sort of settlement too?

I'll only say this - I don't like being duped; especially at these prices.  He was never terribly forthright about the organization's money woes.  And ever since buying out his former partner and gaining full control of the Mets, he has effectively reduced our Empire City Baseball Club into a third world team.

We the Fans, have the power to wipe his financial slate clean, or, by not showing up at all - wipe him out.  So things are going to have to be different than they've been around here if we are to affect a positive influence on Fred Wilpon's and our team's behalf.  After all, his situation is invariably our situation too.

It seems like a crummy deal.  But it is what it is.  So allow me to reintroduce ourselves.  We Are New York Met Baseball Fans.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

N.Y. Mets ~ The Age of WILPONianism Continues

From the desk of:   HEAD- BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS:  Duped Again!

That's it?  No gavel?  No judge?  No prosecutor theatrics; no mindless testimony; no witnesses; no cross examinations; no objections; no hung jury?  What!?  No days and nights spent watching epic ESPN courtroom footage of rich old guys getting older while they fight over millions?

All we get is a settlement, a handshake, and a promissory I-Owe-You note?  What is this, Barney the Dinosaur Esquire..? - where everyone litigates politely and asks the judge, please Mother May I?  What ever happened to tapping into their best Devil's Advocate impersonations and blazing each other up with evil and setting the court room aflame?  That might be a bit out of order, but, in the name of everyone from Matlock; to Sandra Day O'Connor; the People's Court; and to Judge Judy - What A Jip!

We got duped...AGAIN!  This is right up there with failing to play meaningful games in September. Once again, Fred Wilpon has denied us of our bitter-sweet glory. What a tease.  Where the hell was  Otter with that little black doctor's bag when we needed him?  And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, go ask your father what was the best college movie ever made.

Look - I'm not a lawyer.  Nor do I play one on TV.  And I haven't stayed in a Holiday Inn recently either.  So I'm not interested in speaking about legal details, and delving too deeply into the agreement Fred Wilpon and Irving Picard struck just before the gavel struck to put court in session.

But the bottom line as I understand it is, even though the burden of proof was on Fred and Saul, Irvin Picard had no real way of proving his allegations against Wilpon and Company.  Since lawyer fees  alone are enough to make you want to jump off a bridge, maybe Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz felt it in their best interest to reach a compromise on the money and just accept a fixed, and therefore, a much more manageable dollar amount.  Not to mention by doing so, they get to keep any skeletons they may have, safely in the closet.

In the big picture, for a man of Fred Wilpon's stature in life, $162 million dollars is a small price to pay for the chance to walk away with a good name and a clean record. -  Especially when you're already going broke, and you have three years to pay it off.  Language in his agreement with Picard absolves Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz of knowingly, and willfully, turning any blind eyes, and have been declared free of any Bernard Madoff related wrong doing.  However, the real net balance of this settlement is still to be determined, and dollar wise, even stands a chance to work out slightly better than anticipated for Mr. Wilpon.

Alas, the Mets' owners finally have their long desired closure.  This latest episode of the Saul B. Katz Dilemma is done.  WILPONianism has survived it's latest calamity.

Good for him.  And I think I speak for the many when I say - Woe is us.

This still doesn't mean we get to put away the official Saul B. Katz Dilemma abacus.  Fred might have denied us a solid two weeks of writing material by reaching a settlement, but there are still boring numbers to crunch.  For us, that's unfortunate on a few levels.  The team is still trying to cool off a financial meltdown.  But for today, where's the fun in that?  I'm a sports fan, not an accountant.

That's enough out of me for now.  There's too many layers to this whole situation to deal with in one sitting.


N.Y. Rangers ~ Still Leaders of the Pack


Battle of the Hudson


N.J. Devils       2
N.Y. Rangers  4

Rangers and Devils end season series tied 3-3

NEW YORK RANGERS:  Clinch Playoffs With Win.

Salute the colors of the night; Ranger Blue; Devils' Black; and Bloody Face Red - Ryan Carter's, that is.  In truth, all players skated off the ice Monday night sporting bruises in all three hues of pain.

Before the scheduled hockey game was to be played, there were some season long, and not so old grudges stemming from Game Five to settle.  Coach Peter DeBoer sent out a starting line of his lesser skilled, more physically spirited attitude adjusters and mood managers on the ice.  It's interesting he did that.  In Game Five of Battle of the Hudson, New Jersey resoundingly pummelled the Rangers.  Was his thinking, keep a good yet struggling team down by beating them down?  If you ask Ryan Carter, he might say his Coach's plan backfired.  He might.  I'm just saying.

As the home team, Coach Torts recognized DeBoer's move, and say what you will, gladly accepted the challenge by sending out his own line of Reckless Rangers.  Needless to say, it only took three seconds after the initial drop of the puck till the ice was littered with gloves and elbow pads.

In New York's corner - Brandon Prust; Mike Rupp; and Stu Bickel.  In New Jersey's corner - Eric Boulton; Cam Janssens; and Ryan Carter.  Of the six purpose players, Ryan Carter suffered the most damage.  During his game opening fight with Bickel, he opened up a head wound after falling in a vulnerable face/head first manner.  His dripping blood stained the ice.

For the Devils, it was an omen.  That melee was quite literally the beginning of the end to their night.  Less than two minutes into the game, Brandon Dubinsky put the Rangers ahead.

Thirty-three seconds into the second period, Dan Girardi put the Rangers up by two.  Then the Devils struck.  Patrick Elias made it a 2-1 game.  Mats Zuccarello had an answer for that however, when he scored at 7:33 of the period making it a 3-1 Rangers' lead.  But half way through the period, Petr Sykora made it a one goal game again.

The game stayed that way for the first 18:50 of the third period until Derek Stepan deflected a puck by Martin Brodeur to seal a Rangers 4-2 victory.

The Rangers and the Devils end this regular season's Battle of the Hudson tied with three wins apiece.  The victory now gives the Rangers ninety-seven points.  In the tight Atlantic Division race and in the Eastern Conference standings, that's three points better than Pittsburgh and five better than Philadelphia.  Overall, ninety-seven points is the second best mark in the NHL behind St. Louis, who have already hit 100 points.

The biggest reward of tonight's rebuking of the Devils?  The Bueshirts have officially clinched a spot in the 2011-2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.  That's another small step for Rangers Kind.

Next up:

Wednesday, March 23, 2012

Detroit Red Wings

33rd Street at 7th Avenue


Monday, March 19, 2012

N.Y. Rangers ~ Devils; Battle of the Hudson - VI




New Jersey Devils

33rd Street at 7th Avenue

Devils Lead Series 3-2

I - NYR 4; NJD 1
II - NJD 4; NYR 3*
III - NJD 1; NYR 0
IV - NYR 2; NJD 0
V - NJD 4; NYR 1

NEW YORK RANGERS:  March Has Been Madness on Ice.


I'd rather know what this team lacks heading into the off-season, than to have rued the day we destroyed what we once had and worked so hard to build.  Would Rick Nash, minus Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan McDonagh, or Michael Del Zotto, have helped us beat the Penguins or the Avalanche?  Against Pittsburgh; I doubt it.  Against Colorado; we took our highest shots on goal total of the season and overall did more than enough in the game to win.  But Colorado's Semyon Varlamov did what he did to us a few years ago in the playoffs when he tended net with Washington; which was shut us down cold..., again.  So my answer is no.  Rick Nash wouldn't have made the difference.  Would he additionally have provided the difference against the Chicago Blackhawks?  Again, I don't think so.

That said, perhaps better goal tending on our part could have served us better.  Marty Biron certainly had better days and Henrik is coming off the flu.  Ryan Callahan and Michael Del Zotto missing several games hasn't help either.  But I'm not one for excuses.  While the Rangers are winding down a great regular season, there are still problems that stem back to multiple early season poundings suffered against Toronto and Montreal, followed by season long problems handling Ottawa, and New Jersey, whom (minus Ottawa) we will all face next.  If not for Marc Staal, they all defeated us during our healthiest times.

March has been Maddening for the Rangers.  They are 4-6 this month, and are losers of four of their last six games.  And YES! - The Penguins are at the gates.  They are now only one point behind the Rangers for the Atlantic Division lead and two away from knocking us down to fourth place in the Conference where Philly lurks; and who will want to have a say in the final standings too.

On Sunday, the Pens lost to Philly ending their eleven game winning streak.  So for the moment, everything is fluid.  The Rangers must take advantage and gain two points against the Devils Monday night.  For points are now of the utmost impotance in order to gain some separation over Pittsburgh before we meet them again for the final time this season.  The reappearance of Sidney Crosby just makes things that much more tougher for the Rangers on all counts.  In any scenario, the Rangers now most likely have to win that game and many more in order to preserve their current standing.  They will have to do this while the Pens are playing incredible Hockey.  It's a simple as that.  No team has had an answer for them in the last eleven games until Philly finally beat them.  And Sidney Crosby is only getting started.

But to panic now would be wrong.  I am very glad the Rangers held their ground during the trade deadline.  This team is still telling us who they are and look like they have a lot more to say before being through for the summer.  The season they've had already is well on it's way to making a lasting mark in 'Ol Tex's history book.

The Rangers have been flying high since December 23rd.  But now, the late in-season corrections are taking their due course.  The defending champion Boston Bruins aren't proving themselves to be too formidable anymore.  Unlike last season, New Jersey isn't playing as feeble.  And Washington has played it's way back into the pack.  The Rangers will fall in line where they fall.

The Blueshirts have 95 points with eleven games left to play.  For the moment, it is safe to say they will achieve the century mark in points for the first time since the 2005-2006 season (100 points), and for only the second time since their last Stanley Cup (112 points) winning season.  In all, since 1926, they have gained 100 points in a season six times.

Recent Ranger history says seasons like this only come along once every nine to ten years.  Overall, Ranger history says it only happens once every fourteen and a half years.  But the Rangers never earned more than 100 points in a season before the 1970-1971 season.  Between 1970 and 1973, they managed the feat three consecutive seasons.  They gained 100+ points twice more in the 1990's, then did it for the last time during the 2005-2006 season.

As Ranger Fans, how can we be critical of that?  Therefore, do not lose sleep over the Penguins.  The final stretch is going to be great.  You watch.  I suggest you sit at the edge of your seat at home or in the Garden, and enjoy it.  The end of the regular season will be like an old school 15th round of a heavy-weight title bout, only reoccurring eleven times.

After the Devils, they will face the Red Wings; Sabres and Maple Leafs.  Fast-forward two games, and waiting for them will be Montreal; Boston; Philadelphia; and Pittsburgh again.  They will finish the regular season against the resurgent Washington Capitals.  As we see, in the context of this season, the Rangers still have a daunting task ahead of them.  However, within the context of their storied history, we are in the midst of something great and still developing into something special.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS:  With Mighty Pitchforks in Hand,
the Devils are Back and Offering No Quarter.
Just Ask the Rangers.

Very quietly, the Devils have tormented Eastern Conference souls this season.  Like many teams, they may have gotten drubbed by the Penguins recently, but they are savvy, cunning, and smart.  They are also powerful, and dangerous, and offer no quarter.  Just ask the Rangers what happened to them the last time they played each other.

These Devils are playing more in line with New Jersey teams of old than last year's squad.  They are well on their way to officially reducing the 2010-2011 season to a complete aberration within the Devils' brief, yet very successful history.  After a disastrous start under Coach John MacLean last season, the Devils came on like a bat out of hell under Jacques LeMaire to make the final games of the regular season matter.  But by Devils' standards, they only finished the season with thirty-eight wins and eighty-one points.  Unable to overcome a debilitating 9-22-2 start, they failed to make the playoffs for the first time in fourteen years.

With ten games remaining on their schedule this season, they already have eighty-seven points, and under Coach Peter DeBoer, have regained their forty-win form by winning forty-one games to date.  Last year's disappointing campaign broke a run of thirteen consecutive seasons with at least forty wins.  Last year also marked the first time in fourteen seasons they didn't break ninety-points, and only the second time they didn't break one-hundred points in a season.

In their 2010-2011 season, their defense wasn't too far off from playing up to their yearly averages but grumblings about Martin Brodeur's advancing age and ability to stay healthy got louder.  Offensively however, particularly early on, they struggled mightily as newly signed Ilya Kovalchuck's scoring touch disappeared and Zach Parise was lost for the season before ever making it to New Year's Day.  The team failed to score over 200 goals for only their second time in their New Jersey history, and narrowly averted breaking their record low of 136 goals scored set however *in the strike shortened 1994-1995 season; the season incidentally, they won their first Stanley Cup.  So yes, last season marked their all-time scoring futility.

This season, a well adjusted Ilya Kovalchuck; a healthy Zach Parise; and life-long Devil Patrick Elias; have provided consistent season long scoring.  The three have combined for eighty-two goals so far and are all over sixty-points.  Add in David Clarkson's twenty-eight, and the Devils' top four scorers have 110 goals this season which is more than half of New Jersey's total.  As a team the Devils have 198 goals on the season.

The Rangers have scored 195 goals in one less game played and only have one player above sixty points; Marian Gaborik.  The Rangers' top three goal scorers; Marian Gaborik; Ryan Callahan; and Brad Richards; have combined on eighty-four goals this season.  Of course, the Rangers' League true advantage this season is on Defense.

The Devils are currently the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.  They've managed this playing in the NHL's toughest division.  Four of the five Atlantic Division teams have at least forty wins this season.  If the season ended today, I can certainly envision the Devils getting passed the Florida Panthers in a first round match-up.  But for now, they have Ottawa fast approaching in seventh place with eighty-four points to worry about.

The 2011-2012 season was a season in which New Jersey retired #27 in honor of long time favorite and Devils great, Scott Niedermeyer.  And this was also the season in which Patrick Elias played in his 1,000th game as a Devil.  On December 17, 2011, he also passed John MacLean to take over the New Jersey Devils All-Time lead in goals scored.  He broke Johnny Mac's franchise record with his 348th goal.  To date, he has 359 goals and counting.  Elias, like the Devils, has already out-produced last season's output.  He finished last season with sixty-two points.  This season, he is up to sixty-eight.

While the Devils are at the tail end of a glorious run, they have shown this season, that it's not over yet.  Not if Martin Brodeur has something to say about it.  There is still greatness left in the All-Time NHL wins leader. - Enough for this season at least.  Again, you can ask the Rangers about that.  He shut them out 1-0 back on February 7th and helped the Devils become the first team to beat the Rangers three times this season.

Hey Devil fans, even you have to admit I give the Devils a fair shake.

*CREDIT - Devils Playground Graffiti; Bushwick