Sunday, February 27, 2011

N.Y. GIANTS ~ Coach And GM Realize Mistake Too Late


My head is far away from Football right now.  But...

Holy Freakin' Cow!!!!

Since WEEK ONE and all season long I screamed for Brandon Jacobs to get more carries!  Now
Coach Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese had an epiphany and want Jacobs to carry the ball more? 2011.

C'MON Guys!!!?   Don't mock me like this!

First off, any talk about the misuse of Brandon Jacobs must also include a discussion about Coach Gilbride's play calling.  So it's all fine and well Coach and GM want Brandon to run more next season, but that subject must also be broached with their Offensive Coordinator.  I don't want Coach Gilbride fired but blame him and tell him to lighten up with the damn passing game.

If you followed this blog during the Football season, you know I was huffing and fussing till I was Big and Blue in the face about Gilbride and getting Jacobs more rushes.  So I'm not going to pound the keyboard tonight retyping what is already documented.  Instead, if you're in a Football frame of mind all year long, here are some of my past posts where-in I begged for Brandon Jacobs to be incorporated into the game more:

From Sept. 17, 2010 ~ Big Blue Thoughts; Week Two

From Oct. 3, 2010 ~ Big Blue Offensive Talk

From Oct. 21, 2010 ~ Mid-Week Big Blue Views; Offense

From Nov. 17, 2010 ~ Dallas Aftermath; Fourth Down And Gilbride To Go

From Nov. 26, 2010 ~ Now Fighting To Stay Alive

From Dec. 1, 2010 ~ Brandon Jacobs Started This Big Blue Engine

From Dec. 6, 2010 ~ Jacobs and Big Blue Rumble Over 'Skins

From Dec. 14, 2010 ~ Running The Ball Sending Giant Message

Some where in all those posts and bad grammar are my rants about using Brandon Jacobs more often.  I'm so glad Coach Coughlin and Jerry Reese finally got the memo.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be going back to rooting for my Rangers to make the playoffs, and putting my Baseball cap on.

Run Jacobs more indeed....Pffft!


Brooklyn Dodgers ~ The DUKE of FLATBUSH


Center Field; Brooklyn Dodgers

1926 - 2011


Rest in Peace.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

N.Y. RANGERS ~ Lucky Is The GM Who's Plan Fell Apart

NEW YORK RANGERS:  Blueshirts Acquire Florida's Captain; D-Bryan McCabe.

GLEN SATHER:  In the Eleventh Year, Our GM Finally Has A Clue.  But that Clue is named John Tortorella.

It's only taken him 11 years, but Glen Sather seems to be on to something.  I'm not quite sure what.  But he's on to something.  There are far more bad things to point out than good when talking about Glen Sather's time here as GM.  Let's not forget the GM's initial plan for the season was hinged on Michal Rozsival, Wade Redden, Chris Drury, Alex Frolov, Vinny Prospal, and Derek Boogaard.  But I'm not here to go through all the horrific moves Sather has authored over the last ten years as GM of the Rangers  We're fans, we know all about it, and there's no need to revisit the past although when it comes to Sather, we'd ritual chant to a picture of Lester Patrick if we thought it could get Sather fired.

The Rangers are where they are today, (seventh place in the Eastern Conference and seemingly surging again), because Glen Sather's plan for this club fell apart.  We've officially been on Plan-B since Thanksgiving.  That can not go under-spoken.  A kid like Michael Sauer or Ryan McDonagh doesn't get a chance to help the Rangers if Rozsival or Redden are still here.  Kids like Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, and Artem Anisimov don't get the ice time, nor does a tough Kris Newbury... -  A guy like Erik Christensen doesn't get to be a hero with two goals against the Washington Capitals Friday night if guys like Drury, *Prospal, Frolov, Boogaard, and *Fedotenko were around ineffectively gobbling up minutes for most of the season.

This season, injuries have been Glen Sather's saving grace; - that, and Coach Tortorella.  Coach Torts battled with Glen Sather over personnel matters even before the season started.  The biggest proponent of all the Blueshirt call-ups has in fact been Coach John Tortorella.  This club's reliance on the call-ups in my opinion is directly linked to Coach Torts.  Without him, the Sauer's and Stepan's; the McDonogh's and Anisimov's would all have been goners; all traded away.  I still believe the single most reason for this team's "success" this year has everything to do with John Tortorella and the way he is coaching, pushing and meshing the youthful roster.  And I believe when it comes to Glen Sather, the loudest voice in his ear is again, John Tortorella and Coach's insistence they follow this plan of youth and building a winner this way.

So when it comes to crediting Glen Sather for making a series of really good moves this year!...We are talking about just that; This Year ~ And lucky is the Man who's plan fell apart.  A decade of folly is hard to forget or ignore.

Miraculously ridding the team of Michal Rozsival and getting Wojtek Wolski in return still has me stupid with glee!  Recognition of the fact Wade Redden could not play for this team, this year, and going through the necessary steps to demote him was at a minimum, most prudent.  And No;  Glen Sather did not trade away the farm at any time.  It's also worth mentioning, he didn't trade away a farm he helped rebuild.

Once upon a time, when Don Maloney ceased drafting players for the New York Rangers and took a job working for Wayne Gretzky in Phoenix, I remember saying to myself, "we're doomed".  Who's going to draft for us now? - Glen Sather again?  If there was a worry about losing Don Maloney to Phoenix it's because we were the post-Lock-Out Rangers now, and the rules would be better suited for skating etc etc.  We made the playoffs riding Jagr's wide hips and we thought we were OK.  But hindsight is never wrong and we all realized and understand now Tom Renney wasn't tough enough and Don Maloney drafted what everyone always drafted for the Rangers; Smurfs.  You know who they were.  But after Don Maloney, Glen Sather put Gordie Clark and Jeff Gorton in charge of things.  What the hell, give a shout out to Jim Schoenfeld too.  And well, here we are.  If there's too much between us and Sather at this point, let's admit he hired good people and that our farm system is better than it has been in a very long time.  But that's just it, it's taken a very long time under this guy named Sather. 

Having said all that, the GM we love to blame for everything, is having himself a nice little bounce-back year.  In my most recent post, I questioned whether there was any life emanating from Sather's office as the trade-deadline neared.  Because a lot of times we don't even know he's alive.  He doesn't talk to the media.  He's hardly ever seen.  He's a friggin' avatar to us most times.

But let's give credit where credit is due (where ever he is).  Glen Sather traded for Florida's Bryan McCabe giving up Connecticut's Tim Kennedy and a (who cares) pick.  Brilliant!  My fear was Glen Sather grossly over-paying to acquire another washed up candidate for the Glue-Factory.  But Bryan McCabe is the perfect player to shore-up the Rangers' blueline and it cost us nothing we should concern ourselves with.  I think I understand Florida's angle.  McCabe will be 36 this year and Florida is just getting a pro-active jump on a roster shake-up.  But McCabe is a much needed influence on our young Blueliners and for the moment takes a lot of pressure off Marc Staal.  Bryan McCabe will be a definite help and is a very welcome addition.  He just may breathe some life into our power play also.  It may prove to be a very savvy trade by Mr. Sather indeed.

FINAL:  NEW YORK RANGERS 6;  Washington Capitals 0

The Rangers out-everything'd the Capitals Friday.  They Hit them; they Fought them; they Beat them down.  That was Playoff Game Minus-Twenty on the countdown.  Enjoy it...G'head.

Finished?  Good!  It's time to move on. 

Here's what sucks about Playoff-Pushes, they're never fun until you make the playoffs....; For us at least.  It's Miserable Fun.

This compliments a game from earlier this season when the Rangers drubbed the Capitals 7-0.  Forcing Alex Ovechkin to be responsible for his defense is really paying off for the Rangers.  Thank you Coach Boudreau, for the change in philosophy.  And welcome New York Rangers, to the 70 point club.  They've earned it the hard way and are deserving of a blow-out once in a great while.  Only, who knew they'd come at Washington's expense?  Our Boys looked good didn't they?

This game against Washington, coupled with the win against Carolina were HUGE!  The Rangers continue to be a very good road team.  These two games are also reasons why we are forced to pay attention to the Rangers all the way to April 9th no matter what happens between now and then.  They were perilously close to spinning out of control as recently as two games ago after suffering losses to Detroit and the Devils, and more than need mentioning.  But they regrouped splendidly these last two games with a shoot-out win and a blowout. 

Now they come back home to MSG where they haven't played as well as they have on the road.  Sunday, we'll try to gain some ground on Tampa Bay.  But more imperative to our cause is that we keep Buffalo at bay with a win over the Sabres on Tuesday.  Like many more games down the stretch, the Tuesday night game is one we can't afford to lose.  The Rangers need to make sure the teams below them, stay below them.

"Playoff Game Minus Nineteen"
P -19

Tampa Bay Lightning
35-18-7   77 Points
1st Place, SouthEast Division
33-26-4   70 Points
3rd Place, Atlantic Division

New York City


Friday, February 25, 2011

N.Y. RANGERS; Start Growing the Beards! This IS Playoff Time

For the first time this season, the Rangers were threatened with getting eighth place jammed down their throats.  That pill would have been hell to swallow.  For the Blueshirts, a loss to the Hurricanes Tuesday night might have also started the slippery slide out of playoff contention everyone has in the back of their minds.  For a very brief time earlier this season the Rangers have been ranked as high as fifth in the Conference and are currently engaged in an all out defense of their precious seventh spot.  A loss to Carolina would have put one Blueshirt hand on the exit door with their other hand clutching on to a Hurricane jersey.

The Rangers fought their way, and themselves, through another game. We all know Cam Ward and Carolina have always seemed to have our number. Carolina has a habit of giving us fits. They always manage to beat us at the most inconvenient times. That's why in this game, it was so refreshing to see the Rangers get out to an early 1-0 first period lead resulting from some nifty work by Sean Avery and a goal by Brandon Prust. We gave back the goal for a first period tie, but Ryan Callahan put us back in front just in time for the second intermission with a Power Play goal.  Yes, you heard correctly.  I said a Power Play goal.

The third period turned into the Jussi Jokenin Show for Carolina.  He beat Henrik Lundqvist for two goals and there went the Rangers' lead.  So much more could have been lost right then.  The Hurricanes held a 3-2 edge and seemingly had a hand around the Ranger season's neck.  The resulting choke would have been money in the bank, even right up until last season.  But that's why these guys are a little different that past editions of Blueshirts.  We no longer sit around waiting for the other shoe to fall off.  We no longer wait around for third periods where the Rangers built a reputation for collapsing like a circus tent at the end of another bad show. We now hang in there and fight because it's what we do best.

Michal Rozsival Wojtek Wolski decided to play Super Hero for a night and saved the Rangers in the nick of time. With less than two minutes remaining in regulation, Wolski beat Cam Ward for the Rangers' third and game tying goal. Glen Sather's pre-pre-pre trade deadline acquisition continues to play hard, effective hockey; fitting in seamlessly into the Blueshirts' lines while scoring the occasional big goal for us. No other Wolski goal has been as big as the one he scored Tuesday night.  It was also the Rangers' biggest goal of the year.  Yes, I think Wolski's goal was that important.  The short term goal for this team should be to never taste eighth place...ever!  ...from now till April.

Regulation expired as did over-time and the Rangers were still no better off than they were 65 minutes earlier. The Rangers last chance to put at least another point of distance between them and Carolina; teams Seven and Eight in the Conference standings, would be decided in a shoot-out.

Wojtek Wolski stepped up for the Rangers again and delivered the only puck to get past a Goalie in the over-over-time.  The diminutive forward scored the biggest goal of his short Rangers' career since the biggest goal he scored way back..... in the third period!  Hey, even Super Heroes have to work overtime once in a while.

Wojtek Wolski Michal Rozsival, stepped up Tuesday and shielded the Rangers' collective backside from feeling the frost of getting left out in the cold.  Eighth place has a way of pressing your butt against the cold door separating you from late February's chill..., and you never know when that door will bust open. When that happens, you fall down and roll out while another team sneaks into the House of Eight behind you and slams the door shut.  It happens like that all the time.  It's like Fred Flintstone trying to put out the cat every night.  Every episode is a struggle.

But this game turned out to be a reminder why we shouldn't be such a knee-jerk bunch when reacting to so many things about the Rangers; and namely the lack of scoring and a not so spectacular Henrik lately.  I personally am having a hard time taking frustrations out on the players.  They work too damn hard for that.

There are periphery issues with some players, but none that trump the aggravation I'm sure most of us share due to Glen Sather.  But the players?  No; - They are a good bunch worthy of supporting.

Thus far, those were two of the most important points the Rangers earned this season.  There are three points between us and the Carolina Hurricanes now.  The Rangers must continue to use Carolina as a buffer to protect against Buffalo, Atlanta, Toronto, Florida, and the hard charging Devils.  We can not taste Eighth place!


32-26-4   68 Points
7th Place, Eastern Conference


Washington Capitals
32-19-10  74 points
5th Place, Eastern Conference

Two points against Washington tonight gets us into the 70 point club.  All the Eastern Conference teams that matter have games in hand over us.  Any loss now by the Rangers shortens our season by a game on the back-end.  We'll have to play tonight's game without Marc Staal who got drubbed by his own brother during the Carolina game.  He'll be sitting out with a twisted knee and maybe even concussion issues.  This comes on the heals of losing Marian Gaborik to concussion symptoms.  Marian's return is still undetermined.  The Rangers have had to deal with a myriad of injuries to their forward lines.  Injury has now found our Defenses.  Marc Staal is the single-most player the Rangers can not afford to skate without.  We will see who Coach Torts will have out on the ice defending against Ovechkin's line.  But should Marc Staal miss any substantial time, I'll finally say we are in big trouble.  I've fought against feeling that way this long.  They've earned that from us. 

The playoffs have started early for the Rangers.  It's time to start growing those beards.  Playing with a sense of desperation is needed to carry us through to April.  There are exactly 20 games left on the schedule.  The battle to extend their season started Tuesday.  They need to dig deep within themselves now.

**The Trade Dead-Line looms and there's no sign of life coming out of Sather's office.  That may not be a bad thing.  I'm in no rush to start giving away any of our new young Blueshirts.  I'd rather see a cheap rental and more purging of the dead weight plaguing this roster.

** Ruslan Fedotenko returns to action tonight.



Thursday, February 24, 2011

N.J. NETS~Prokhorov Strikes Back; Acquire Deron Williams

New Jersey Nets:  Wednesday's Trade Is A Reminder For James Dolan That Mikhail Prokhorov Means Business.

Finally, something went their way.

After losing out on the weekend auction for Carmelo Anthony to the N.Y. Knicks, the New Jersey Nets finally made a high impact strike of their own; if not their first in the Prokhorov Era.   The Nets traded Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, and two first round draft picks (and cash) to the Utah Jazz for the very talented Deron Williams, who is arguably the most touted point guard in the League today.  And they did it on the day Carmelo Anthony would make his N.Y. Knick debut stealing back a little bit of local thunder.

The hope for the Nets here is that they can sign Deron Williams to an extension and prevent him from walking away when his current contract expires after next season.  In fact, he's in a similar situation 'Melo was if he becomes a free agent, in that it may not be as lucrative for him than perhaps signing an extension before the CBA expires would be.  If they can manage to retain him in a Nets uniform as they make their way to Brooklyn, having him and perhaps complimenting him with other acquisitions between now and the move, will set the team up nicely for a successful Inaugural Season at Barclays Arena.  They may have been losing the battle of public perception to the Knicks lately, but they still have much Cap flexibility that is yet to be fully utilized.  They still have draft picks to spare even after this trade, as they've been accumulating a few along the way.  Although for a big man, his lack of rebounding is a little befuddling, but Brook Lopez has still proven himself to be a legit scorer.  So, my point is, besides some minor setbacks, patience is still not a bad tact to take as the team and Mr. Prokhorov move forward. 

Then there is always the worry Deron Williams and Coach Avery will get along.  To say this trading of Williams by the Jazz caught everyone by surprise is an understatement.  But it comes on the heals of an escalating situation between Deron Williams and Coach Jerry Sloan, one that prompted Coach Sloan to hastily quit his position and retire from the Jazz.  Conspiracy theorists are having fun with that one, but the Jazz would have been in the same boat with Deron Williams as the Cavs were with LeBron and the Nuggets with 'Melo, which was watching them walk away or try and get something in return.  The Jazz chose to act early rather than too late.

Another hope for the Nets is this might finally trigger a string of better luck for Mikhail Prokhorov.  He's been the butt of some jokes in the papers lately, but I think that's just the hometown Knick-centric media talking.  But there is no denying Mr. Prokhorov can use a few more better days than he's been enjoying so far as Owner of the Nets.

I can't say I've ever really warmed up to GM Billy King, as I think Rod Thorn should still be with this organization were it not for a lack of communication on every-one's part in the Front Office.  But this trade is to be applauded.  And when the Nets absolutely needed a deal like this to get done sometime in the immediate future, he got one done while no one saw it coming.

The Nets are okay.  James Dolan made his moves.  Now it's the Nets turn to make theirs; just like moving the pieces on a chess board.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

N.Y. KNICKS ~ Necessity is the Mother of Dolan's Motivation

NEW YORK KNICKS:  James Dolan didn't care Isiah Thomas ran his team into the ground.  So why does he care so much now without him?

First...It's Never Easy Saying Good-Bye.

We hardly knew ya but you will be missed.

The Fans' favorite Knicks team over the last eight or nine years has been disassembled before they could even finish a season together.  Since last November till now, this season's Knickerbockers have done everything short of winning a Championship to earn back the respect and admiration of the fans.  Truth is, they only achieved a slightly better than .500 record together, but it was a spirited and entertaining first half (plus) of the season and an effort we were appreciative of, as it made us forget our miseries suffered over the previous decade. 

There were players spread-out across the floor in Knick uniforms that were building fresh, new fan followings.  The two players drafted by the Knicks we enjoyed watching fill-out and mature; Dalino Gallinari and Wilson Chandler will be missed.  No one feels good about trading away one of your own.  And Raymond Felton..., a two year underdog singing, turned out to be a little Super Hero for five months.  Even Mozgov found comfort with the fans.  That's why perhaps the big trade news is leaving Knicks fans a bit melancholy despite the team hooking one of the biggest fish in the NBA.

Last night those guys were traded away for Carmelo Anthony and others.  He and Amare' Stoudemire now comprise a fearsome twosome on the offensive side of the ball for the New York Knicks.  In a star-driven League, the Knicks now have two of them.

Did the Knicks empty out the roster to make this trade happen?  Yes.
Was the price we paid for Carmelo Anthony too high?  No.

Wilson Chandler was a goner anyway.  Raymond Felton was a stop-gap point guard until we had a shot at acquiring Chris Paul or Deron Williams.  So, was Gallo and the rest of the package worth it for 'Melo?  You betcha!  You secure a guy like 'Melo when you can; especially when you can pair him with a talent like Amare' and continue trying to upgrade from there.  You do it because this is what Donnie Walsh has spent the last two-plus years working towards.

Carmelo Anthony is a Knick today because Donnie Walsh's plan was followed.  He asked for two years and that he be judged based on year Three.  If the Knicks wound up not getting Melo, many in the Media were calling for Donnie Walsh's job.  He dumped salaries and freed up Cap space in a miraculously short time.  Yet, some in the Media called that feat simple and easy.  He added short-term upgrades to the roster and turned them into assets.  In Felton's case, the Media kept insisting he was a product of Coach D's system.  He then signed Amare' over the summer.  The Media then said the plan was to land LeBron and that Donnie was lucky to outbid the Suns by a year for Amare's services.  That's wrong!  LeBron was never the plan.  Donnie never said it was.  LeBron was available as a coincidence to the plan.  The Plan was to be in a position to sign Max-Contracts.  And now he has two after completing the trade for Carmelo Anthony with said assets and said cap flexibility.

For Knick Fans, you can start believing it now...., a plan actually came together for us.

There was a ton of speculation as to how much Isiah Thomas played a part in the negotiations to bring Carmelo Anthony here.  There is also rampant speculation as to whether James Dolan was intent on making this deal happen in defiance of Donnie Walsh' working model as the club's GM.  I was one of the skeptics..and still am.  I am not convinced Zeke's days with the Knicks are through.  Regardless,  Donnie Walsh laid many of the rumors to rest when he said he believed Carmelo Anthony was more intent on securing an extension before the CBA expires as opposed to becoming a free-agent.  That meant Anthony would have surely signed a more lucrative extension with the Nuggets or even the Nets than he would have otherwise.  Donnie Walsh believed that to be so...because Carmelo Anthony said so!  That's why Donnie said they signed off on the trade (while he was in Indianapolis and James Dolan in Los Angeles).

The trick now is to build a supporting cast around these two players.  The Knicks have about four years to accomplish this.  By no means is this a finished product just because 'Melo arrives tomorrow.  The need was and still is to play better defense and finding a quality Center to protect the paint.  We still don't have a Center and we certainly won't be playing any Defense now just because it's Tuesday.

The Knicks would be better served by getting Amare' back to his natural position and away from Center if they want him and 'Melo playing through a handful of injury free years together..  Additionally, someone needs to pull down some rebounds for this team.  This team can't even pull down a window shade as presently constituted.  Ronnie Turiaf obviously is not an answer at Center and he shouldn't even be a thought anymore.  You don't pump Regular into a Cadillac.  We've up-graded now and Center should be our next area of concern.

Chauncey Billups keeps the plan at point guard the same.  We're just waiting for other players to become available.  He isn't going to give us much defense either, but I have the utmost confidence he can still orchestrate from the point and set-up Amare' and Carmelo with smart professionalism.  That's all I'm really expecting from him.  Let's face it, we haven't been right at point guard since we traded Mark Jackson, so there's no reason for us to start snivelling about it now.

It's a TURF WAR.  It's as Simple as That.

But do you really want to know my unofficial, real reason why Carmelo Anthony is a Knick today?

As I eluded to in my recent post, Knicks-Nets; Tug Of War Spurs Rivalry , James Dolan all of a sudden has an active interest in his team?  With Dolan, it's never that easy.

James Dolan was never one to interfere in Isiah Thomas' affairs for the whole time Zeke ruled his Knicks.  A sexual harassment case brought against MSG, etc...was hardly enough to splinter James Dolan's support for Thomas.  Isiah had run of the ranch.  The only time James Dolan sprung to action is when a proposed West Side Stadium for the Jets was on the City's planning table.  James Dolan and MSG committed vast resources to thwart that from happening and preventing such a Stadium from infringing upon his MSG/Arena monopoly in the area.  Successful at blocking that project, he had no problem letting Isiah Thomas destroy the Knicks for as long as fans kept showing up to MSG with his monopoly intact.  In a city like N.Y. with it's immense population and tourism, not to mention arena events, an MSG void of fans or visitors is hard to pull off.

James Dolan never seemed troubled Isiah Thomas turned the Knicks into an unmitigated disaster.  Never.  The only thing that troubled him was that West Side Stadium and he threw loads of money at that problem.  James Dolan is only recently so concerned about his Knicks because:

ONE:  Like I said, he's a mess without Isiah.

TWO:  Being an owner of a crappy club never bothered James when Zeke was here, so why should he start caring now?  The biggest and real reason James Dolan all of a sudden cares about the Knicks and was seemingly so willing and desperate to trample over Donnie Walsh to get at Amare' Stoudemire; and why he pushed over baby-carriages and knocked over old ladies trying to get at Carmelo Anthony was because of.....

....Mikhail Prokhorov and the threat of Brooklyn infringing on his NYC monopoly. 

It's all Owners really care about.  They are all about the Capitalism aspect of it.  It's all they know and a good businessman can recognize a threat when he sees one.  Another team and another arena within the city limits is why to some extent Amare' and 'Melo are Knicks today.  I'm not saying Donnie Walsh or a good Exec wouldn't have made these moves as Knicks GM.  I'm just merely saying the only reason why James Dolan all of a sudden seems so preoccupied with the Knicks, unlike he was with Zeke around, is because his business is being threatened just like it was when the West Side Stadium talked popped up.  And just like then, he's throwing a ton of money at this problem.  Salary Cap, Shmalary Shnap ~ When Capitalists feel threatened, they throw money at their problems.

It doesn't matter who in the Knicks' Front Office collaborated on the Melo trade.  It doesn't matter if Zeke was in on it or not.  James Dolan the Entertainment Mogul was looking out for his business that's about to be faced with stiff competition.  For James, It's all about paying for a seat at MSG.  He didn't seem to care when the Knicks sucked and he was the only game in town though. 

Prokhorov hasn't spent anything yet.  But from one business man to another, Dolan knows his day is coming.


Monday, February 21, 2011

N.Y. RANGERS ~ Stabilize Now Or Spiral Out Of Control

I. - NEW YORK RANGERS:  Blueshirts must come together before their season falls apart.

II. - New Jersey Devils:  Playing like a Bat out of Hell!

Out of our minds and spinning in circles; that's what Blueshirt Fans are, and that's what the Rangers are doing.  They have three games coming up against the 'Canes; Capitals; and Lightning.  They need to salvage this next week before their season spirals dangerously out of control and the centrifugal force flings them out of playoff contention.

Friday night against the Devils, Ranger Fans got a quick re-education in the dangers of defensemen Pinching the Offensive Blue-line.  Marc Staal got his ankles busted and drilled into the ice like a screw at the blue line while trying to handle a bouncing puck (that he didn't put his body in front of) as New Jersey's Ilya Kovalchuk recovered said puck and sped by Staal on his way towards a break-away goal against Henrik Lundqvist.  That's it.  That's all there was.  Because that's all you get with the Rangers lately; great efforts, one mistake, and little in the way of positive results to show for it.  I'd like to stress - Lately.

In that game, the Rangers were 0-2 on the Power Play; no surprise there.  They managed no shots on goal in either man-advantage and only 14 shots on goal for the game.  The Rangers lost to the Devils 1-0 giving Johan Hedberg the shut-out who was playing in injured Martin Brodeur's place again.  The Rangers have lost their last two games played against the Devils and are now 3-2 against them this season.

Friday night, the Carolina Hurricanes retired Rod Brind'Amour's jersey reminding me they won a Stanley Cup more recently than the Rangers have.  They also won their ceremonious game that night to cap-off a stellar night of Ranger Hockey and keep things worrisome for everyone on Broadway.

Down goes Gaborik!  Down Goes Gaborik!  DOWN GOES GABORIK!
The Rangers followed up the Devils game with yet another Sunday matinee game versus the Flyers that yielded yet another Rangers loss on home ice to the Division leaders.  They lost more than just the game; they lost Marian Gaborik due to concussion symptoms...and the Rangers aren't entirely sure when the symptoms started and it's unknown when he'll return. 

No Ranger injury has come at a good time, but this injury to Gaborik comes at a horrible time just before the trade deadline making Glen Sather's decisions that much more complex.  Or should I say exposing him yet again as being terribly inept?  The Bruins; Avalanche; Maple Leafs; Sharks; Blues; Lightning... have ALL already made trades involving Defensemen.  Pittsburgh, in giving up defenseman Alex Goligoski to the Dallas Stars upgraded their Wing by acquiring James Neal in the absence of Sidney Crosby and Malkin.  Tomas Kaberle of Toronto has been available for some time now.  He finally ended up in Boston in return for a fine hulking specimen named Joe Colborne.  Mr. there a plan here?


Back on Saturday, the Devils completed the sandwiching of their Ranger victory, with two wins against the Carolina Hurricanes.  New Jersey beat them on Feb. 16 then repeated the feat Saturday Feb. 19th.  The Devils beat the Hurricanes a third time in February back on Feb. 3rd.  And so the Devils continue to chip away at the teams above them in the playoff standings while playing and winning at an outrageous pace.

Spinning a tangled web....
The Rangers next opponent on Tuesday? -  Yep;  The Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes represent the last barrier before the Sabres and Atlanta can gain a clear focus on our Blueshirts.  The Carolina protective barrier is now only 2 points deep.  To say a win against Carolina Tuesday night is of paramount importance to the Rangers is a gross understatement.  The Rangers are 2-8 in their last 10 games;  2-7 in February.  They are showing no signs they can do anything to improve their Power Play and over-all lack of scoring.  No amount of line-up shaking seems to be working for Coach Torts.  Additionally, there is no denying, we all feel the flames in Newark getting hotter.  The Devils lost their first four games of January to usher in the New Year on a rotten note which was really a continuation of the rotten 2010 portion of their season.  But since a January 9th win over Tampa Bay, the Devils have gone 15-1-2.  In February they are 9-0-1.  Those two over-time losses both came against Florida.  But they are starting to haunt everyone.

As of today; February 21, 2011....the standings are as follows:

7th ~ New York Rangers  ~  66 points.
8th ~ Carolina Hurricanes  ~  64 points
9th ~ Buffalo Sabres  ~  60 points.
10th ~ Atlanta Thrashers  ~  60 points.
13th ~ New Jersey Devils  ~  54 points ...and counting!

*The Rangers have the least amount of games remaining of the teams listed above.

The Devils are now just a mere 10 points out of the eighth place spot with only 23 games remaining.  Jacques LeMaire has this team of Devils playing like Demons once again.  After achieving the 600th win in his coaching career, he's still proving he has a few more tricks up the ol' sleeve.

Rangers Fans, we aren't falling out of the sky like a piano just yet.  But the rope holding us up might be getting ready to snap.  Look out below!  Because this is not just about the Sabres; Thrashers; or the Devils.  This has more to do with what we're doing (or not doing) than about what those teams are.

King Henrik hasn't been so royal to his subjects, not just lately, but all season.  There's been a-lot of inconsistency in his play.  And our scoring?  Well, it's just anemic.  There is no amount of line-changing Coach Torts can try that will change much about the Rangers' over-all inability to score.  He's just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic at this point.  These forwards have had their chances.  Many times they are in the process of out-shooting their opponents.  But I'm seeing Goalies play up to their grinding tempo and stymie the Rangers.  Call it dumb-luck or whatever you will.  Everything else about the Rangers is there.  Their attitude and work ethic is right where a Coach and Fan Base want it to be.  They play a tough, gritty, game and are very good on defense and the PK.  It's a shame the ultimate demise of this very likable bunch might be their inability to score goals and having no room for even a single mistake.

More frustrating about their inability to score goals is many times it takes on the appearance of being down-right feeble on special teams.  How many times have we gone without shots, or just attempting one shot on goal during a PP?  How many of you have had your faces contorted with disgust while watching them attempt to gain the zone, much less maintain a I have?

A loss against the Hurricanes will expose our back-side to the on-rushing teams who will no doubt want to do unthinkable things with their sticks to it should they get a view.  It's imperative we beat Cam Ward and the Hurricanes tomorrow.  Yes, I said Cam Ward.  He's been killing us!  I told you once before - the Carolina Hurricanes we coming to claim their playoff spot and that once they did, they wouldn't leave.  Well, they did; and now they're not.

So that just leaves US. 

We can either keep the "Canes between us and the teams headed our way with ramming speed, or, get exposed as the last in line.  This team needs to stabilize right now.  They don't need to do anything extraordinary; just stabilize themselves with a win against Carolina.  If they don't, and compound the bad month they've been having already with more losses this week, things can spiral out of control before March even begins.

Should that happen, the rope holding up our Blueshirt Piano will surly snap and our season will fall out of the sky and crash horribly upon the sidewalk of Seventh Avenue with a resounding......Pfft.

...but accompanied with a hardy "Fire Sather"  !!!

C'mon Boys!   Let's Go Rangers!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

KNICKS-NETS; The Carmelo Tug-of-War Helps Spur Rivalry

To say the Knicks and Nets maintain a contentious local rivalry is a lie; They don't - Or, they didn't - Or, not yet anyway.  But they will! 

Whether it's the NBA or ABA, you'd have to go back to the age of bell-bottoms, 8-Tracks, Watergate, and America's Bicentennial for the last time either team tasted a Championship.  For the most intensely contested portion of this Metro-area turf battle, you might refer to the days when Otis Birdsong, Chocolate Thunder, and Buck Williams took on Bernard King and company.  But during the Patrick Ewing Era, the Knicks' run of playoff appearances really put the Nets in the Metro-area's rear view mirror and kept the Nets' relevance around here fairly low.  Even back-to-back Finals appearances by the Nets did little to break the strangle-hold on local area support for the Knicks. 

However, Discontent found it's way to both the Knicks' and Nets' doorstep in this new millennium and some-what put these franchises on arguably, a competitive equal footing for a time.

Bruce Ratner purchased a Jason Kidd led team and announced plans to move them to Brooklyn.  What attention the news garnered was first diminished some by Ratner's first bad decision as owner.  In a cost cutting move, he put the kibosh on resigning a very popular Kenyon Martin.  Bruce Ratner then had to compensate by agreeing to import Vince Carter in what was obviously a purely corrective signing.  That team would eventually have to be dismantled anyway.  The then GM Rod Thorn, set out to remake the Nets yet again.  The team was stripped down.  With a total rebuilding program in full swing, last year a new batch of young Nets suffered through a 12-70 season.

The Kenyon Martin deal was the least of Bruce Ratner's problems.  Instead, it was only a beginning.  Years of delays and lawsuits prevented Atlantic Yards and Barclays Center from breaking ground on time; if at all many thought.  Every day the project was delayed and the Nets' move to Brooklyn was pushed back just served to chip away at the whole project's credibility.  For a brief time, the project seemed doomed.  Basketball wise, there was no more better Poster Child for Bruce Ratner's dilemma than Jason Kidd, as he gave the, "I'll believe it when I see it." mantra life, meaning, and momentum among the Metro-area locals as he left town.

Around the time Ratner purchased the Nets, the Knicks were a blur of wheeling and dealing as then GM Isiah Thomas went about revamping a roster that needed to make a final and definitive break from the Ewingless; ...Allan Houston, Sprewell, Van Horn, Layden Era.  That was all fine and well until we realized the Zeke Exchange never closed.  In the process he Capped us to high-holy hell and supposedly made a mockery of office decorum.  Even darker days lay ahead for the Knicks when he assumed Coaching duties as well as being GM of the full-blown disaster he put together. 

Donnie Walsh runs things now and has reclaimed Salary Cap flexibility as well as restoring Knick respectability.  He asked the Fan Base for two years of patience while he maneuvered the team in a different direction.  Now in year three under Walsh, the Knicks are better than they have been in eight years and can become (near) dangerous if they compliment Amare' Stoudemire with another transaction or two.

It's not that peachy at MSG though.  Donnie Walsh is being made to pay a heavy price for asking the fans to tank two years.  There are members of the Media calling for Donnie Walsh's job if he does not secure the services of Carmelo Anthony, regardless of the cost.  I myself find that notion preposterous.  But I do not matter as much as James Dolan does.  The spectre of Isiah Thomas has never left this organization.  Not too long ago, Isiah Thomas spoke to the Media about "things" and offered insights into his lingering Knicks "interests".  We all know Isiah Thomas still has the Knick's owner's attention and continues to share a bond with him.  Meanwhile, James Dolan still refuses to extend Donnie Walsh's contract, with nary a mention from the owner about the pending matter.  James Dolan is also known for preventing Donnie Walsh from hiring Chris Mullen to be part of the Knicks' Front Office.  Most agree, Donnie Walsh is running the Knicks more at the behest of David Stern than due to any decision arrived upon by James Dolan regarding management of the Knicks.  And this weekend; All*Star Weekend, James Dolan appears poised to step all over Donnie Walsh's toes trying to secure Carmelo Anthony while Donnie has been trying to take a smarter, more tactful approach regarding a pending deal for 'Melo while also trying to prevent the Knicks from getting fleeced of it's players.  So, what fans are left to deal with is a GM whom the owner is not committed to, and an owner who still befriends and takes advice from the man who almost ruined his team.

"Almost ruined" can also be used to describe the plight of Bruce Ratner.  But he faced a situation that as a real estate guy,  he's faced many times before.  He is a long time developer in Downtown Brooklyn and has fought the fight over land-grabs before.  Only this time, his problems were exacerbated when the economy tanked and his financing crumbled apart.  Finally, six years after announcing his initial plans, Ground Breaking for the Barclays Center finally took place in March of 2010 kicking-off construction of the Nets' eventual new home and starting the countdown towards relocation of the team to Brooklyn. 

This time however, there was a new player in the game; Mikhail Prokhorov.  Bruce Ratner struck a deal with the Russian Billionaire to sell him a majority stake of the Nets Club and a smaller stake in the Barclays Center.  The Nets received an extremely confident, passionate Basketball fan and deep pocketed owner in Prokhorov and Bruce Ratner gained much needed capital for Atlantic Yards (which requires a wholly different discussion at this point).  This now, for all intents and purpose, puts Bruce Ratner in the background of the Knicks/Nets conversation.  Since then, the Knicks and Nets have been mentioned in the same conversation together more than at any other time in their histories while sharing the "same" TV market.

Everything about the Knicks-Nets dynamic in the NYC area changes now.  You can wait twenty years for a documentary to be made of these days, or you can just pay attention to what's going on between these two clubs ever since Prokhorov came to rescue the Nets and Barclays Center construction finally started resembling an arena.

Participate in some imagination with me and call NYC....the Universe.  Scientists say the universe all started with a Big Bang.  Something triggered that Big Bang...Yes?  Of course.  With NYC as our Universe, I submit to you, we are in those days before the Big Bang exploded.  We are living through the rumblings; the turbulence; and intensifying heat that made something so infinitely dense get "really" hot and go BOOM.  There is a real rivalry brewing between these two local teams and it's set to go BOOM in 2012; just like the Mayans predicted.  But more seriously, this is a new rivalry in the making and we are on the ground floor looking in.  The night the Nets tip-off in Brooklyn changes everything.  There is a rivalry indeed; born of this still new and young century.  If you just pay attention you can witness the genesis of it play-out before our eyes.  From these days on, the relationship between these two teams will forever change.

The Knicks?  They are the Football Giants; the Yankees; the Rangers.  They are the establishment.  They bear the distinction of being forefathers of their League.  The Nets?  They were Rebels; Adventurers; a New Wave Order; they were rivals to the NBA.  They were the Jets; the Mets; the Islanders or Devils.  They were the ABA an Dr. J.   Both the Knicks and Nets were Champions of their Leagues once.  But that was so many decades ago.  Since then they have both lost in two Finals appearances.

And so, the dawning of a new rivalry is now.  The Knicks are far removed from their somewhat-glorious past as best as James Dolan can ensure it.  And with the Nets moving forward under Mikhail Prokhorov, neither team has any recent history of success to hang each other's hats on.  The Nets are the last organization between the two to make the Finals; and back to back no less.  So, let's be honest here. 

Knick fans have only ever seen James Dolan act in desperation when one; Isiah Thomas wasn't around, and two; under Donnie Walsh and during the Club's attempts to lure LeBron James and now currently in his want of Carmelo Anthony.  James Dolan never even flinched when Latrell Spreewell got all up in his face; taunting him during a game once.  But he's a mess without Isiah and the direct threat of competition coming from Mikhail Prokhorov and a team in Brooklyn has Dolan in fits.  James Dolan may very well make Donnie Walsh a scape-goat as a result of his own insecurities without Zeke should they not acquire 'Melo.  It now appears Carmelo is as much of a pressing matter to Dolan as the West Side Stadium for the Jets was to his precious MSG.  Dolan seems willing to invest as much energy and money into making sure he gets 'Melo (without Donnie Walsh) as he did to squash the proposed Jet Stadium on the West Side.  So, if you don't think Prokhorov is a major supplier of motivation and fear for James Dolan, you are mistaken.  That's just my opinion of course; nothing personal.

Mikhail Prokorov (and Jay-Z) in the meantime, instigated a battle of the billboards between the two clubs when he leased space to paint an advertising mural on a building side just a few short blocks from Madison Square Garden.  That was part of the Nets' lead-in to the NBA Draft Lottery Show when Mikhail would not only officially introduce himself to the greater public, but also represent the team in their bid to secure the Number One pick in the upcoming draft.  During an on-air interview with the new, still mysterious Mr. Prokhorov, he was asked for details about the team's future and about his own assertions the team would be in a position to compete for a championship with-in five years.  His response? -  "I would have to kill you if I told you."  I knew then Mikhail Prokhorov would have a friend in me.

But Prokhorov has been beset with a series of set-backs.  The Lottery didn't go his way.  The Nets couldn't convince LeBron to play for them.  And during that time, James Dolan struck back with his own billboard campaign with one ad landing inside the Atlantic Yards footprint and another ad atop Flatbush Avenue at 7th Avenue in Brooklyn. 

Now, both owners find themselves engaged in a tug-of-war over Carmelo Anthony.  The Nets have a better trade package than the Knicks.  Mikhail Prokhorov knows it and is behaving much more cooler about it than Dolan is.  The Knicks have a more desperate owner than the Nets and Donnie Walsh knows it and is also trying to stay cool about it.  Both owners are willing to sign Carmelo to his desired contract extension before the CBA expires.  The problem is, the Nuggets would rather take the Nets package but 'Melo is believed to only want to play for the Knicks.  And this is how, today, we have two owners in direct competition against each other as they become THEE Front Men of their respective organizations in trying to gain the services of a one, Carmelo Anthony and two, the loyalties of a city.

Mr. Prokhorov spoke bold words and uttered Championship talk when he arrived on the scene.  In a case of cause and effect; all of a sudden, James Dolan is worried about the Knicks (like he never was with Zeke around or when they were getting sued for sexual harassment) and now it seems both teams are in a hurry to win a title before the other one does.  Right now, this new rivalry is being built upon the strength of  "Owner vs. Owner".  Soon, this rivalry will take on it's new dynamic when it becomes Manhattan versus Brooklyn.  And if you don't think the sceptre of Brooklyn hasn't played a part already in the relationship between Dolan, the Knicks, the Nets and Prokhorov, the fans, and a stubborn Media regarding the move, you are sadly mistaken....again. 

Carmelo Anthony is available and the only reason the Nets are a viable option for him is directly due to the team relocating to Brooklyn.  And the only reason why James Dolan suddenly cares about the Knicks is because the commissioner took away his teddy bear and Mikhail Prokhorov came to town like the big bad wolf as his team is about to plant it's flag within the New York City limits to foster direct competition against Dolan.

NYC is a densely populated city; - Just as dense as that "what-ever it was" that BIG BANGED..billions of years ago.  Brooklyn has 2.5 million of it's citizens and Manhattan has less.  The other boroughs bring the number of citizens to around 8 million people in the city.  When the Nets arrive in Brooklyn, matters between the teams and the two Boroughs will just get hotter.  Very soon, in the NYC Basketball Universe, there will be one force in Manhattan on 33rd Street and 7th Avenue and another force in Brooklyn on Flatbush Avenue at Atlantic Avenue.  Billboards and Carmelo Anthony were only the initial tremors and turbulence to be felt before this thing blows in 2012.  When these two forces do collide, things will surly go BOOM!  The Rivalry will spread through the neighborhoods like galaxies through outer space; Our Space; Our Streets and Neighborhoods.

The media remains lukewarm to the County of Kings at best.  In this Brooklynites' opinion, they aren't taking the viability of Brooklyn hosting an NBA franchise seriously enough.  They laugh off any notion the Nets, or any entity there-of located in Brooklyn can adversely impact the New York Knickerbockers' dominant grip on NYC's basketball loyalties.  What they always fail to realize however is we (Brooklynites) could care less what happens in Manhattan.  For us "out here" this is what it has always boiled down to for us; - We are Brooklyn and the rest is whatever.  We make our own way.  We'll have Ours and Manhattan will have theirs.  And that's just the way we like it.  One day that will get played out on the court and not in the newspapers and on TAWK-shows.
Don't wait to read some nostalgic piece in some magazine or in a book about the birth of a new rivalry written later in your life when one of these Media naysayers decides to tell the story about this, and tell you how they were there When Brooklyn....blah blah blah...., No; not when so many of them are dismissive of the whole thing today.  I however, am living it.  And I don't do this to get paid either.  Just pay attention and put this story together for yourself.  It's happening.



Mike.BTB.... A Knick Fan since 1975 and life-long Brooklynite/Sport Fan.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

HOVVG Is Back In Session ~ 2011


This Season of HOVVG is now officially in Session.

**   **   **   **   **   **   **  **  **  **  **  **  **  **  **  **


Hall of Very Very Good
Constitution States:

* Any Member of the Hall of Very Very Good, who subsequently gets elected to
Must Be Evicted From The HOVVG.

Re-familiarize yourself with the HOVVG Constitution:

Bert Blyleven; 
originally voted into our HOVVG with a 92% approval rating.
He was elected to our HOVVG in our inaugural WEEK ONE Vote;
"My Friends Are Mostly Cardinal Fans"

To the newest Member of Baseball's

You here-by EVICTED from our HOVVG. 
You're just too good for us. 
Now Beat It!

**  **  **  **  **  **  **  **  **  **


Last season Cliff @
petitioned to have the HOVVG Constitutional Ban against Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose put to a vote for the purposes of lifting the ban against them.  The motion won approval through a vote of the fans.  The time to reward them with our approval or deny them entry into our Halls is now.  We'll pick up where we left off and begin 2011 with....


From the desk of:  CLIFF

**His candidates for election into the HOVVG are;
The two gentlemen;

We know all about these players, from their greatness to their ultimate downfalls.
Do they belong in our


**NOTE ~ HOVVG Constitution states:  One candidate per person per week.
This vote concludes the Jackson/Rose Amendment of HOVVG Constitution.

**  ***   **   ***   **   ***   **

From the desk of: RANDY

His candidate for election into the HOVVG is:

He Makes His Case:
Hey Mike,
Have I got a Week 8 submission for you: Kent Tekulve. Here it goes...

Who says sidearm pitchers are weak, worthless and absolutely nuts? Who says a baseball player has to look like Jim Palmer? Tek was the opposite of everything – yet he was one of the most effective relievers of his time. Started with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1974, Tekulve remained the mainstay closer through the late 1970s into the 1979 World Series. After 12 seasons in Pittsburgh, Tek crossed the Turnpike to Philly, ending his career in Cincinnati. The numbers are not bad: 184 career saves, 2.85 ERA and a 94-90 overall record. So? It’s not the numbers that make Tekulve stand out – it was the way his sidearm made the best hitters think twice about connecting off of it. It was that nasty! It still is.

Randy Stern
Robbinsdale, MN

That's his man; That's his case.


**   **   **   **   **   **   **   **

This concludes last season's unfinished business.

Send in your E-Mails to:

..with the candidates you want considered for election into OUR
Hall of Very Very Good.  Send a pic and state your case.  Then we'll take it to a vote.

A Ballot is Active for seven days.  But the ballot box is never closed until I close it.
We usually go from Sunday to Sunday.

You can check out the last Seven Weeks of voting

**  For those of you visiting me on Blogspot, you are welcome to participate here.  But I've been conducting this HOVVG on my page.  You can check that out here:
Everything I publish there is here on this blog site also.

Happy 2011 Season!


Friday, February 18, 2011

BROOKLYN ~ East River State Park

Did everyone enjoy 65 degrees in February today?

I took a little time to enjoy today's balmy weather down by the shore;
The BROOKLYN Shore.  Or, more accurately -

The Brooklyn Waterfront

Click all photos to enlarge.

Once upon a time, along Kent Avenue off North 9th Street,
this portion of the Brooklyn Water Front was furious with industry.
Today, we are far removed from those days when Brooklyn's western shore was busy serving as the mecca for East Coast shipping, freight and manufacturing.  Finally, after decades of neglect, deterioration and dilapidation, major portions of Brooklyn's waterfront are being reclaimed and converted into much needed park and recreation space.  From Red Hook to Greenpoint, Brooklyn's waterfront is slowly but surely being returned to the denizens of Kings County.



N.J. NETS ~ Carmelo Anthony Still A Possibility

NEW JERSEY NETS:  Carmelo; Come Home, - To Brooklyn.
I know the GM of the Nuggets is an Ol' Pro having been around the League for a long time.  But with the way he's fumbling around trying to grab the biggest bag of stuff in exchange for Carmelo Anthony, I don't think I'd trust him to mail a letter for me right now.  The reportedly hefty requests he made from the Knicks in return for 'Melo sound utterly preposterous.  And it may wind up the Nets had the best offer on the table all along.

The Nets reiterated their stance saying they are no longer in pursuit of Carmelo Anthony and will not actively seek a trade for his services.  But rumors are starting to swirl that Mikhail Prokhorov just might be speaking on his own behalf over the All-Star Weekend.  Then again this can all be a-lot of bunk out of Denver trying to get the Knicks to feel a little more desperate to secure Melo.

Pictures as of  FEB 16, 2011

But , c'mon; Carmelo......?
Don't you want to come to Brooklyn?  Don't you want to get traded to the Nets and sign an extension here?
Sure you do.  C'mon, - tell your GM.  Tell him to trade you to the Nets.  I know there's a-lot of money at stake because of the looming Collective Bargaining Agreement due to expire.  But, this is a once-in-lifetime situation tailor made for you.  Talk to Mikhail Prokhorov over the weekend (secretly of course) and see what develops.

Just think of the possibilities.  We could call this the "MeloDome. 
Your name on a Brooklyn jersey could be one of the hottest sellers in America.

Brooklyn is calling you Carmelo.  Listen to us.  This was your home once.  You belong here.
Look, we're building a new home for you to play in.

These views are from Pacific Street and 6th Avenue.

**Brooklyn Nets Jersey; Courtesy Junior's Cafe.
BTB has obtained permission for use of image.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rangers vs Devils ~ BATTLE of the HUDSON V




NEW JERSEY DEVILS:  Playing Possessed.

No one has been talking about the Devils Ownership situation as of late.  But the way they have been pounding opponents on the ice lately has put the Eastern Conference on notice.  They want a playoff spot and it's going to cost some team theirs.!

The DEVILS are only playing the most insane Hockey in the League right now.  And being that I am not taking the Florida Panthers nor the Toronto Maple Leafs very seriously, I fully expect the Devils to leap-frog over those two clubs.  The big question for the Devils is will they have enough games left in the season to qualify for a playoff spot?  Let's keep that far-off idea in perspective and just say it's the Eighth Spot we're talking about.  But, if they keep-up this hellish pace of play, in the last week of the regular season they can very well bump another team with playoff aspirations out of the tournament.  A few short weeks ago, we wouldn't even have entertained this topic.  Two weeks ago I laughed off the notion with some friends.  But I can actually envision the Devils sustaining this fury. 

The only problem I see with their pursuit of a coveted playoff spot is their goalie situation.  Johan Hedberg will have to be New Jersey's goalie to make that happen.  It's fair to question how reliable Martin Brodeur will be down the stretch.  I don't mean Marty still can't deliver them to a playoff spot, but the way it looks right now reliance on Johan Hedberg seems very necessary to their success.  Working in concert with Brodeur and having him agree to a more limited role more-so than he's used to seems odd in the land of Devils.  What's wrong with odd, if it works?  Plus, Marty has yet to prove he can be healthy this season and sustain it.

NEW YORK RANGERS:  This Game Against Devils Is More Meaningful Than I Care For.

Finally, a game! 

I hate extended breaks in the schedule.  But against the Kings, the Rangers for the most part didn't look rusty at all.  The off-days perhaps did them well.  But tonight's game was going to be exhausting.  You could see it from the start.  Both teams were in a skating and hitting mood. 

A sense of urgency and desperation might have sparked them tonight.  While the Rangers have been idle, other teams have been playing and accumulating points.  Then when L.A. scored first, Purpose finally entered the building and laced up some skates.  They rebounded in this game after giving up that early first period goal.  The Blueshirts played L.A. to a 1-1 tie after two periods.  Then a BIG goal by Gaborik seven minutes into the third period, off a defensive end turnover recovered by Sauer gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead.  It was Marian Gaborik's first goal in too long of a stretch.  I don't know the exact number, so I won't try.

But because we don't do things the easy way, the Kings made it 2-2.  Lundqvist couldn't react in time to a shot from the top of the right circle that deflected off Brian Boyle's stick.  That's so typical of the kind of goals that get scored against Henrik.  But The King came up with a huge save when L.A.'s Richardson received a sweet pass and snuck in with a clear path towards Henrik.  The King stopped him cold and made perhaps the save of the game.

With 3:08 left in the third period, Brandon Dubinsky scored on a wrap-around after an awful lot of hard work by Ryan Callahan that started on the other end.  Callahan caused havoc for L.A. along the far boards and heading towards the 7th Avenue end, fought his way up ice all the way towards net.  Dubinsky was there to clean up the play and stuffed a loose puck home with the Rangers' go-ahead goal.

Then Los Angeles scored again!  From behind the goal line, the Kings banked a shot off the back of Henrik's shoulder for the tying goal 47 seconds after the Rangers took the lead.  Hey, it was that kind of game, and for the second time, it was that kind of a goal. 

Regulation time expired and the Rangers, Kings and Madison Square Garden would go to over-time. Remarkably, with the Rangers in need of a big break at this point, they got one.  After Staal sustained a high-stick penalty called a double-minor to end regulation, they would go on a four-minute power play to start the five minute over-time.  But four Blueshirt shots later, the Rangers committed a penalty; a high-stick by Dubinsky.  ...And I'm thinking...You're kidding me...right?  So naturally, you know what that meant;
Three on Three Hockey!!!  Neither team could generate much.  There was just a-lot of jostling for the puck..  Four on four play resumed for the last minute of over-time which only resulted in 1 shot on goal for the Rangers. 

Over-time expired with the score tied 3-3.


NYR ~ Christensen; GOAL.
LA ~ Handzus; SAVE.

NYR ~ Zuccarello; GOAL.
LA ~ Stoll; GOAL.

NYR ~ Wolski; SAVE.
LA ~ Kopitar; SAVE.

...And the Rangers wound up victorious over a tough Los Angeles Kings team.

** GAME NOTE:   Henrik Lundqvist ~ Win Number 200 as a New York Ranger.

It was a rough way to earn two points.  But right now points are at a premium.  This is in no way a statement of panic on my part, but the Rangers' play-off lives are being played for, Right Now!...  There's a couple of teams bunched together in the neighborhood of 60+ points.  Carolina already came on like a Hurricane to join the Pack of Eight.  Buffalo has stormed back from the abyss to put themselves at the doorstep.  At this point, the top five teams in the Eastern Conference you can pretty much write in stone.  Those teams aren't dropping anywhere.  The sixth place team; Montreal....I'd write them in ink.  Then, like I said, that leaves us, Carolina, Buffalo and Atlanta all futzing around in our 60's.  And those Devils....What do we make of them?  They are now only 12 points away from 8th place Carolina.

This game against the L.A. Kings may have been Coach Tort's best game managing and distributing minutes amongst his forwards.  All game and past the half way point of the third period, Torts maintained a high/low ice disparity of four minutes on average.  We know from Coach's history, getting ice time from him is like a lightning strike.  He never seems to hit the same spot twice.  And knowing him, he's about to trim down his "set" lines to three and abandon a fourth line altogether.  Who's going to comprise those three lines?  I'm sure we're about to find out.  But with him, nothing has ever been set.

Friday Night Fights Hockey

February 18, 2011