Thursday, May 30, 2013

New York Rangers Fire Coach Tortorella


NEW YORK RANGERS - When And Who Is Going To Fire Glen Sather?

First let me say with haste, I do not concur with the decision to dismiss John Tortorella.  If Glen Sather has done anything right in the epoch he's been here, one was hiring Gordie Clark to take care of minor league drafting and development, and the second was hiring John Tortorella to be head coach.  In my opinion, those two were chiefly responsible for building up the current Rangers.  And if anything, those two helped cloak Glen Sather's abysmal record as General Manager of Tex's Rangers.

This organization just took another step backwards under Sather's watch. In the hundreds of words Glen Sather uttered during Wednesday's presser, he said absolutely nothing. I reiterate, he said absolutely nothing - nothing of value - nothing of worth - nothing substantial, and certainly nothing that means anything to me as a Rangers fan.

The notion John Tortorella is a star destroyer is a myth.  Marian Gaborik scored forty goals under Torts, as well as sucked under Torts.  So you tell me.  Brad Richards plays like he's ready for the glue factory for crying out loud.  And maybe this is hindsight, but Rick Nash absolutely looked fat, and out of shape.  Period.  What have these players ever provided that makes fans forget their ridiculously onerous burden on the salary cap, that by the way, will be shrinking next season?  If Glen Sather doesn't have the answer, maybe Scott Gomez, Wade Redden and Chris Drury do.  Why not additionally ask all the failed skaters he's carousel-ed through Broadway trying to replace Colton Orr, and the irresponsible dollars spent in the process, when all he had to do was sign the guy he already had - just like Sather again declined to sign Brandon Prust.  And so the search for answers continues.  Ask all the carpetbaggers, and overall tools who Glen Sather ever imported over the years, what they ever contributed to this organization.  And with the surety of death, I'm positive the answer will be nothing, just like Glen Sather's words at the presser - hollow, empty, void, or consistent of nothing.

The notion John Tortorella won't trust young players and keeps the hinges on his dog house greased at all times, is a myth.  The Ranger got where they did these last years, because Gordie Clark drafted many of your current Rangers favorites, and John Tortorella insisted on keeping them together.  Don't think for a New York minute Glen Sather would not have traded Callahan, Girardi, Staal, (Sauer), and so many others who came through the system, for some has-been, if not for Tortorella's influence and/or insistence in preventing such buffoonery.  Of course, that's just my opinion.  Just don't forget, when he first arrived as head coach, he selected youngsters Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal, Brandon Dubinsky and Dan Girardi to form his core.  In the next wave, he continued teaching a class including, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, the acquired Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto, and you know the others.  Those are the authors of the Rangers recent success story, as taught to by John Tortorella.  It has been Glen Sather's alternative acquisitions which have spoiled the soup.  Torts took kids, gave them an identity, and turned them into Eastern Conference contenders, while Sather's money suckers have come up small when it mattered most.

I understand why Torts got fired, but in Glen Sather, I lack trust.  That said, maybe the exit interviews went horribly wrong.  We don't know.  Maybe Torts really did wear thin on his team.  We won't find out yet.  His system was fine for his personnel right up until last season.  However, he needed to be more flexible this season, and wasn't.  It is fine when you take a large group of kids and turn them into grunts together.  They all responded like excited puppies.  But once you incorporate the more skilled players of the league, you simply have to let them play hockey.  Torts I admit, couldn't - not with his "my way or the go f$!%# yourself" plan.  But he should have been given next year to try.

I offer no defense for the power play.  That's on both Torts and Glen Sather, for failure to provide a player with an potent shot from the point, and on Torts for lack of creativity.  But how dare Glen Sather put this all on Coach.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Is Honoring Mariano Rivera At Citi Field Tonight The Right Thing To Do?

From the desks of:
Mets Lead Series 1-0
I - NYM 2; NYY 1
Citi Field
Flushing, Queens
Mariano Rivera will be throwing out the first ball this evening at Citi Field.  Not only is that fine with me, it is the right thing to do.  If you do not concur, odds are you are roughly half my age.  One, I'm not trying to make a blanket statement, and second, that's not an indictment, so much as think this is mostly a function of time and change.
When I was a younger lad back in the seventies especially, and the eighties, we fans took it upon ourselves to single out visiting players we knew were deserving of recognition, and rendered our respect willingly, and may I add, without encouragement from the organization.  We did it with Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Willie Stargell just to name a few.  Back then, fans headed to the park already knowing the day or night would be special to an extent, for the way Mets fans used to appreciate visiting players.  We were by no means happy they came to town and helped beat us.  It had everything to do with an appreciation for baseball and the grand history of the game.  This is my opinion, but if you care not to recognize Mariano Rivera tonight, or choose not to cheer him, or whatever, then the night is about you then....isn't it?
N.Y. Yankees   1
N.Y. METS      2
...And take that on the way out too!  Two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Mets a come from behind 2-1 victory against the greatest closer of ALL TIME!  It was his first blown save of the year, and the first time ever he blew a save without so much as recording an out.
Matt Harvey pitched eight full innings, allowing only one earned run on six hits.  He walked no batters and struck out ten.  Scott Rice gets the win in relief however.  Of concern, Matt Harvey endured three or four come-backers hit against him - two struck him.  Is the book out - take Harvey up the middle?  Stay tuned.
I though Daniel Murphy was going to break Valdespin's hand on the high five in the dugout after he scored.  David Wright continues to have success against Mariano, and Lucas Duda continues to surge.  It was good that The Duda got the game winning hit - his confidence should benefit.
Let's Go Mets!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Subway Series 2013 - Yanks Invade Citi For Game One

From the desks of:


Flushing, Queens

Give credit where it's due.  I would never have predicted the Yankees would be playing .612 baseball on May 27th - not with the calamity of injuries they sustained even before Opening Day.  As a matter of fact, I didn't.  In my 2013 A.L. East Preview, I predicted the Yanks would fight with Toronto for second place, while Baltimore took the division.  The standings haven't gone askew on my yet, but to date, Boston and Toronto certainly have thrown a wrench in my spokes.  Otherwise, club members of the A.L. East have been beating each other senseless, which is exactly what I predicted.
If it wasn't for bad luck, Curtis Granderson would have no luck at all - tough break for him, and the Yankees.  Names like Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, etc. reads like a hospital wing softball team.  Mariano Rivera is amazin'.  pardon the pun.  At least the Mets won't have to face CC Sabathia - not that it matters after getting creamed by the Rays.
I'm setting the over/under for Ike Davis strikeouts at nine, in recognition of Carlos Delgado's nine RBI day at Yankee Stadium.  Lucas Duda has been hot lately, so maybe he can so some crushin' against the Yanks this week.  I look forward to the Mets opportunity to tee-off against Phil Hughes.  Everyone else has.  I would have liked an opportunity to tee-off on Joba as well - if only for his disrespectful treatment of Mariano.  But he, like Andy "Oh yeah, I did it twice" Pettitte are currently with their other team mates back in the infirmary ward.
There's nothing to get overly scientific about.  Let's all have some fun during New York's Subway Series.  Let's go Jon Niese, time to get your season turned around.  Seize the moment, and beat the Yanks at home tonight.
Bronx Yankees   1
Queens METS    2
The Captain launched a deep fly to right field in Sunday's game that would have left Shea Stadium - right/center, David Wright's wheelhouse.  Ownership took that away from him with their new park and a contrived wall scheme.  So what did Wright do last night?  He launched a ball high and far to left.  We know when David is going to right, he is going well.  So, which would you rather see?
Bobby Parnell looks to be getting real comfortable as a closer, and is throwing a lower, more biting curve ball these days.  His high knuckle ball still flutters to the plate, but he's throwing something else now, and I like it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

New York Rangers: Game Five Gambit In Boston


2012 - 2013
Round Two - Semi Finals
Boston Leads Series 3-1
I - BOS 3; NYR 2*
II - BOS 5; NYR 2
III - BOS 2; NYR 1
IV - NYR 4; BOS 3*
Boston Bruins
Northside, Beantown

With Rick Nash Relegated To Playing An Assisting Role,
The Rangers Need To Keep On STEPAN On!

With every pun intended, the man sporting a lush, rich beard has so far been relegated to one goal.  The scoring threat the Rangers sorely needed last season, and acquired over the off-season, has been relegated to an expensive assists man - a set up man - playing a supporting role to a guy who can barely shave.  This is not to say Rick Nash has not played well.  He's been good enough, only if you fail to consider so much more was anticipated, and expected from him.  Instead, it has been Derek Stepan, a veteran of last year's conference finals, who's played with the smarts, skill, wisdom and instincts of a seasoned star.  The play of Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin have gotten the Rangers this far......

NEW YORK RANGERS: Do The Blackened And Bruised Blueshirts Have Anything Left?

One game - a victory in Game Five changes eveything.  It's their only link to a possible Game Seven.  So, the Rangers at least have that - win in Boston, and everything is possible again.  But do they have the horses to get them through?  Is there anything left for this afternoon?  Coach's limited rotation, double-shifting, and long overall physical minutes put in by the blue liners without Marc Staal, against four fresh Boston lines have clearly taken their toll.

The Rangers are tired.  The size they should have brought into this series never made it on the ice, meaning Darroll Powe and Ryane Clowe.  No offense to Michael Haley and Kris Newbury, but they weren't the original plan, and now they're being asked to forge a forecheck together.  Plus, the Blueshirts just used their get Out Of Jail Free card when Tuukka Rask sat helplessly on his posterior watching a puck snail over the goal line.  Boston's goalie has made his share of clutch saves this series.  This afternoon however, boils down to creating more scoring chances against him.  But since we're back to relying on Brian Boyle again for goals, I hope we have a better plan.

If Game Four taught us anything, part of the plan should be keeping the game away from Chara.  That means taking shots in front of Chara, instead of working through him, and attempting to slide passes beyond his long reach.  But even before things progress that far, they need to relearn the art of dump and chase.  Have you seen the way the Rangers, and MattsZuccs in particular, consistently get stood up at the blue line?  Ponderous.  You also have to consider if utilizing Chris Kreider is a case of too little, too late.  Truly paramount for success this afternoon I think, still boils down to being more decisive on the power play.  Forgo the extra pass, shoot, and be there for rebounds, because overall, the Rangers are still not making the Bruins defend.  You only do that with motion, taking shots, and getting heads and bodies moving in confused directions.

Defensively, if Henrik Lundqvist feels compelled to play the puck himself again, we are doing something terribly wrong.  The Rangers better figure out a way to neutralize the Bruins forecheck pronto, especially on Boston's ice.  I understand long passes to the blue line facilitate tempo, but they should consider skating a little closer together, providing each other with more puck and pass support, and ideally get out of the zone on a rush.  Easier said than done.  But we know Boston's shots from the point and the right circle, while three Bruins crash the net, have created horrible screens for Henrik to contend with, and that's something within the Rangers ability to prevent.

Have you seen the weather outside today?  This isn't the ideal time to start a summer vacation.  Let's extend the season this afternoon, and bring hockey back to Madison Square Garden.

Let's Go Rangers!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

N.Y. Mets: Build It In Binghamton, And They Will Come

From the desk of:   HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS - Breaking Through The Wall.  For Long Mets Prospects Have Hit A Dead End In Binghamton....

In recent years, there has been a renaissance in minor league development, but for long now, we've heard how AA is the new AAA.  Whenever assessing the health of the New York Mets minor league operations, I've always looked to Binghamton first.  For the great majority of minor league players, AA is the level demarcation.  Here, is the teetering point in a minor league player's career - a level where no one is allowed to linger long.  This is where players either get demoted, promoted, or disappear.  In general speak, under-perform and it's back to class-A.  If a player excels, he can potentially expect a major league debut within a reasonably quick time, with only so much as a brief stint in AAA.  Otherwise, time marches on for borderline players and perpetual bus riders excluded from the 40-man roster.  Facing those who cling-on long enough, inevitable waivers, Rule V, minor league free agency, or a jump to the independent circuits awaits them down the road.  Such is the life of an aspiring affiliated baseball player.

Triple-A ball, you have to admit, is overpopulated with rehab assignments, stop-gap one year free agents, and career minor leaguers.  Naturally, that comes with the territory of being a major league affiliate, but to an extent, these are all contrary to the developmental process.  Somewhere along the line, AAA players became akin to weeds - if they were hard to grow, everyone would want them in their gardens too.  Since I'm a little old school, l like to think playing at AAA still offers a genuinely quality experience, yet I understand the prevailing trend is to overindulge in AA players, and can't say that I'm opposed.

Crowning their inaugural season at Binghamton, and first as a New York Mets affiliate, the B-Mets won the 1992 Eastern League championship, repeating the feat two short years later.  The Mets long time AA affiliate of twenty-two years reached the playoffs again in 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2004, but not since.  The last time they finished above .500 came in 2008, when they concluded the season in third place with a 73-69 record.  Only one player from Binghamton's 2008 season currently plays for the Mets - David Wright.  In fact, there is nary a current major league player among the 2008 roster.  That's just one very strong indictment of their system among many.   Since 2008, the B-Mets have posted a 253-312 regular season record, finishing sixth once, and fifth three times. Extend out to encompass the eight year period covering the Omar Minaya and Sandy Alderson era, the Binghamton Mets have posted an overall 520-611 mark.  That said, maybe we can better appreciate the efforts of second year manager Pedro Lopez and the 2013 Binghamton Mets.

With a 26-20 record prior to Thursday's action, the B-Mets are currently tied for second most wins in the Eastern League, and lurk just one game out of first place.  They are one game over .500 on the road, and 15-10 at home.  Both offensively and on the mound, their overall team comparisons actually rank middle of the league.  They lead the circuit in one category, stolen bases, with fifty-three.  That's it.  Instead, they have a solid overall team effort going.

Individually, several players share responsibility for Binghamton's strong start.  More importantly however, two outfielders are trying to make themselves known to Mets hierarchy.  Cory Vaughn, 24, had a tremendous professional debut season with the 2010 Brooklyn Cyclones, leading the New York-Penn League with a .557 slugging average, as well as a .953 OPS.  He finished runner-up in both home runs with fourteen, and runs batted in with fifty-six, and batted .307 in 264 at-bats, all in what is widely considered to be a pitcher's league.  In light of this year's June 6th amateur draft,  Cory was a 2010 fourth round selection.  His performance and luster diminished somewhat during two seasons playing at Savannah and Port St. Lucie, as numbers of Mets fans soured on him as a future Flushing hopeful.  Presently making the most of this year's promotion to AA-Binghamton, Cory Vaughn is fresh off winning the Eastern League's offensive player of the week, for May 13th through the 19th.  For the season, he is batting .301 after 126 at-bats, and with fifteen walks his OBP is up to a .389 mark.  Vaughn has five doubles, five home runs and twenty-seven runs batted in.  Needless to say, after thirty-four games this season, he is making a compelling case for getting back in Mets fans good graces and maybe even earning a ticket to Flushing sometime soon, so as to help alleviate the big club's outfield woes.

Fellow outfielder, Cesar Puello, 22, was a young free agent signed out of the Dominican Republic, who started playing for the Mets Gulf Coast Rookie squad at age seventeen.  After full stints at Kingsport, Savannah and Port St. Lucie, the Mets promoted him to Binghamton for the 2013 season.  He is currently hitting .303 after 132 at-bats, and sports a .366 OBP.  He is slugging a career high  .523, with seven doubles, two triples, and a team leading six home runs.  His twenty-seven runs batted in tie him with Cory Vaughn for the team lead as well.  In thirty-nine games, he additionally has nine stolen bases, forty hits, and twenty-four runs scored.  His previous best season came in 2011 with St. Lucie, when he only batted .259, but hit twenty-one doubles, ten home runs and drove in fifty runs in 441 at-bats.  He displayed good speed with nineteen stolen bases, but lacked discipline at the plate, striking out 103 times.  With thirty-one strikeouts this season, he is off to another prolific rate.

Juan Lagares deserves an honorable mention after spending all of 2012 in Binghamton.  He batted .346 in seventy-eight at-bats for Las Vegas this season, and has been playing for the Flushing Mets since April 23rd.

Binghamton is an early season contender because of their pitching.  Starting with the bullpen, Jeff Walters, 25, was the Mets 2010 seventh round selection.  He currently leads the Eastern League with twelve saves.  He owns a 2.60 ERA after 17.1 innings pitched, has eighteen strikeouts, but allowed sixteen hits and five walks to give him a 1.212 WHiP.

Southpaw Jack Leathersich, 22, continues to pitch with eye-popping results.  A 2011 fifth round selection, he has sixteen appearances with 21.2 innings pitched as the set-up man.  Jack has limited opponents to just four earned runs for a 1.66 ERA.  Fourteen hits allowed and twelve walks give him a somewhat lofty 1.200 WHiP.  His H/9 average is down to 5.8, while his W/9 is improved at 5.9 percent.  His rate of strikeouts continues to skyrocket.  With thirty-eight strikeouts so far, he is averaging 15.8 per nine innings pitched.  Jack has two saves and has finished nine other games.

John Church, 26, was the Mets 23rd round selection of the 2009 draft.  I like him because he's big, as in 6'2'', 235 lbs., big.  Jack Leathersich tips the scale at 205 lbs., while Jeff Walters only comes in at 187 lbs.  In nineteen appearances and 23.1 innings pitched, Church has allowed six earned runs for a 2.31 ERA.  Surrendering nineteen hits and six walks gives him a 1.071 WHiP, a 7.3 H/9, and a 2.3 W/9.  His twenty-five strikeouts gives him a 9.6 K/9 average.

As the outfield and the bullpen are clearly what ail the New York Mets most, these aforementioned players can potentially help the Mets later this season, or by Opening Day 2014, or mid-summer thereof.  Additionally, next year's starting rotation stands to look quite differently than today's version.  By then, the Mets should be featuring Matt Harvey, Jon Niese and Zack Wheeler, complimented in the back of the rotation by the winners of an open competition.  Depending how the rest of Dillon Gee's 2013 campaign goes, he should no longer be a lock for the fourth spot in the rotation.  It stands to reason then, two spots in the starting rotation will be up for grabs next spring, if not sooner.

The 2014 regular season is still too early for tapping into the Mets cache of young pitching currently in Savannah and St. Lucie.  That's why we should sooner expect a pair of this year's Binghamton starters to join the upcoming competition.  With Rafael Montero temporarily in Las Vegas, Logan Everrett continues to solidify the B-Mets starting rotation.  Of course while in Binghamton, Montero is/was getting the lion's share of notoriety.  And why not?  In eight starts and 46.2 innings pitched, his ERA only recently escalated to a 3.47 mark.  Command of the strike zone however is what keeps pushing Montero through the Mets system.  He has only issued six walks while striking out fifty-four.  He averaged 10.4 K/9 and just 1.2 W/9 before being summoned to Las Vegas.  In his much hyped start for the 51's, he pitched 6.2 innings of four hit ball.  Montero allowed two earned runs, one home run, walked one batter, and struck out five, but turned out earning a hard luck loss.

Right-hander Logan Verrett, 22, continues leading Binghamton's rotation with a 6-2 record.  He has a 3.28 ERA after nine starts, and 60.1 innings pitched.  Logan has limited opponents to forty-nine hits, and issued fourteen walks for a respectable 1.044 WHiP.  With forty-five strikeouts and a 6.7 K/9 average, he is not the power pitcher so many others in the Mets system are.  However, in just his second full season of minor league ball, he's making quite a name for himself.

It is hard to predict how soon current select B-Mets can help the big club.  If you believe that if a player succeeds at AA, then the majors are not far off, there you go.  I imagine their continued levels of proficiency will decide how soon we'll ultimately see them in Flushing.  Of course we know success at this level guarantees nothing.  Case in point - Ike Davis, who in 2009 wielded a bat which contended for the Eastern League triple crown, currently has more problems than a math book.  Wilmer Flores batted  .311 for the B-Mets last season, but has yet to find his stroke with Las Vegas.  His replacement at shortstop, Wilfredo Tovar enjoyed a good second half promotion with the B's last year, but so far has stumbled out of the starting block this season as well.  Lastly, Cory Mazzoni is finally back to pitching regularly again.  Following his first start on April 4th, Mazzoni missed the next month, but has now reeled off three starts in May.  Cory is 2-1 in four starts this season, with a 3.60 ERA.  In twenty innings pitched, he has allowed twenty-five hits, but has only walked three batters and struck out eighteen.

The real point is to recognize there is life pumping through the arteries of Binghamton again.  In fact, the Binghamton Mets currently seem quite vigorous.  Recent drafting and replenishment of system's lower levels appear poised to pipeline Binghamton with promising prospects for a few more years to come.  Surely, this year's class and subsequent seasons of Binghamton baseball stand to provide their parent club with more than just one player worthy of major league play, unlike the paucity of promotable prospects on the B-Mets 2008 roster.

So, every time the 2013 New York Mets make you sick this season, take a look towards Binghamton to gauge the real health of the organization.  There is nothing overwhelmingly great going on their, but at the moment, the talent at Binghamton is good, and getting better.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

N.Y. Rangers: Game Three Lacked Heart - Rangers Face Elimination



The time of Boston's goal - 16:29 of the third period, scored by Sheer Mayhem - primary assist goes to Mass Confusion, secondary assist to Utter Chaos.  They might have well been the Hanson Brothers, because Boston's third and fourth lines are pummeling Coach Tortorella's short rotation as if they were.  And the longer this series goes, the more Boston bears down on the Rangers with their size, depth, coaching and cohesion.

The Boston Bruins keep it simple - get the puck to the point, or continue working it around to the right circle, get off quick shots, and devour rebounds.  Off those two quick, decisive shots, the Bruins have made Henrik's crease area as busy and dangerous as a hornets nest.  And off those two simple shots, they managed to stay in the offensive zone most of Game Three.  Otherwise, the Bruins forecheck pushed the Rangers off the puck like they were playing their kid sisters.  The New York Rangers now look like the freakin' Keystone Cops on ice.  I wasn't ready to say that until the conclusion of Tuesday night's match.  Game Three's effort really was pathetic, not even minor league.  Their forwards played with a tremendous disconnect, skated with no flow, and certainly lacked continuity.  In fact, the Rangers offensive plan and application wasn't even up to frozen backyard ice standards.

Instead of winning the game's opening face-off and getting off to an aggressive start, the Rangers spent nearly the first two minutes of the game in their defensive zone.  Those two minutes however, were an omen as the game disintegrated from there.  This was supposed to be the game in which the Rangers forwards had Henrik's back.  But this team's most expensive and highest scoring forwards turned their back on their liege, and left him to face the Bruins alone.  Outside of Henrik Lundqvist, this team regressed, and now faces elimination.



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bryan Banes Pitches Eight Strong But Loses Duel - Newark Bears Fall 1-0 To Quebec

From the desk of:   THE BROAD STREET NINE


NEWARK BEARS - Offense Falls Flat Wasting Stellar Effort By Starting Pitcher Bryan Banes.

The Bears did well in coming back over the weekend to win the final two games against the Rockland Boulders, and gain a split of their season opening four game series.  Newark took their 2-2 record to the Great White North this evening, to challenge the four time defending CanAm champs, Quebec Capitales.  Bryan Banes took the hill for the Bears, opposed by Quebec's Dustin Crenshaw.

The two hurlers engaged in an old fashioned pitching duel, white-washing each other's line-up through the first five innings.  Banes retired the first six batters he faced, and nine of his first ten. Quebec finally broke the scoreless stalemate with a run in the bottom of the sixth.  Center fielder Sebastien Boucher drew a walk off Banes, then came around to score on DH Rene Leveret's double.  And that's the way the game ended folks, in a 1-0 final.

The Bears out-hit the Capitales seven to three, yet came up short.  Bryan Banes pitched very well over eight full innings.  He allowed the one run on three hits, walked two and struck out four in what amounted to a complete game - a hard luck loss in his first start of the season.  He walks away from tonight's game with a nifty 1.12 ERA and a 0.630 WHiP.

For the Capitales, three pitchers combined to secure Quebec's shutout.  Dustin Crenshaw pitched seven full innings, allowing no runs on five hits.  He walked one and struck out three before departing on the winning side.  In relief, Casey Harman pitched the eighth, while Chris Cox pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.

Only Bears' center fielder Brandon Newton and right fielder Carlos Guzman failed to hit safely.  Otherwise, seven Newark batters each had one hit apiece.  Third baseman DAngelo Jimenez' double was the Bears only extra base hit.

The now 2-3 Newark Bears have two more games in Quebec before moving on to face the expansion Trois-Rivieres Aigles.


Henrik Lundqvist's Sore Shoulder Means Forward Lines Need To Step It Up


2012 - 2013
Round Two - Semi Finals
Boston Leads Series 2-0
I - BOS 3; NYR 2*
II - BOS 5; NYR 2
Boston Bruins

NEW YORK RANGERS - The Better The Forward Lines Play, The Less Action Henrik Will See.

I found myself disagreeing with Coach regarding many things this season.  My son never got over his treatment of Sean Avery.  Frankly, neither did I.  We could really use a player like Avery right about now.  I digress.  Nor did I appreciate Tortorella's recent dress-down of Carl Hagelin.  I know coaches only say things about their players when they want them to hear it.  What Torts had in mind, I don't know.  Coach's characterization of Hagelin's struggles on the PP were rather two face considering his season long protection of Brad Richards.  That's the guy who's PP performance and overall play deserves a tongue lashing.

But when it comes to questioning or critiquing Henrik Lundqvist into a microphone or to a reporter, I'm behind Coach Torts one hundred percent.  I'm not going there either.  After eight seasons of brilliant goaltending, Henrik Lundqvist has earned at least that.  I'll tell you how to react to Game Two - silently.  Because any audible rant as it pertains to a goalie who stopped 92% of all regular season shots taken against him in his career is irresponsible.

Next year Henrik Lundqvist will most surely win his 300th NHL game, but yes, he is still looking to hoist his first Stanley Cup.  If he had to do that yesterday, his shoulder might have been too sore for lifting. If you've ever bruised your shoulder, you know its nature is to feel worse before getting better.  The best report out of Rangers camp since Game Two regarding Henrik's shoulder was that it was stable.  How vaguely unreassuring.  Henrik added today, it was under control.  That means pain management to you and me.

There is no getting around Lundqvist had a bad Game Two, and that the Rangers did many things right.  The Rangers benefited from Boston's sixteen give-aways, and wound up with more SOG, including numerous quality chances.  Credit Tuukka Rask.  The Rangers also won more face-offs.  It is still wholly unfair to demand perfection from Henrik however, when he is surrounded with such overall offensive ineptitude, on the power play in particular.  Fewer and fewer of us civilians have  confidence in this offensive system anymore and the lack of goals it creates.  In the name of Patrick Lester, they can't even enter the offensive zone with a man advantage, much less score.  Two power play goals in the playoffs?  They were 0 for 5 in Game Two.  Save me Henrik's overtime record.  Goalies like Marc Andre Fleury, who got the stuffing beat out of his pads by the Islanders, can't hold Henrik's stick, yet Pitt's offense gets him through round after round, and year after year.  Goals cover up many many mistakes and poor play.  We're lucky Henrik is cool cat, because he goes off somewhere after nights like Game Two, and performs his ancient Swedish pagan meditation ritual, then returns to the ice good as new.  But this is not a case of - here we go again.  Henrik put it best in saying this is a different round against a better team.  So if there is a directive for the Rangers forwards to follow heading into Game Three, it would be to show up in defense of their goalie, play in Boston's zone, stay low and go right at their defensemen, punish Tuukka Rask, score goals, and protect this house!

It was nice that Rick Nash finally decided to score.  Perhaps he can inspire Brad Richards now.  But if you're like me, you stopped relying on the names on the back of their jerseys last round.  This is my position on Rick Nash - once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a trend.  Show me.  In the mean time, Derick Brassard, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, and Ryan Callahan have been the primary scorers, and they'll need to continue doing so.  Their mission - Make Tuukka Rask lose this game.

The blue liners are not without blame.  Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto need to play better than they did in Game Two.  All of them need to do a better job of keeping the slot closed to traffic, and keeping Henrik's lanes clear.  They should be alert to all Bruins skaters and all four lines because every Boston player minus one, had at least one shot on goal in Game Two.  Four different Bruins topped out at three each.  Conversely, the Rangers had five players with four shots on goal and three players with no shots.  That tells me the Rangers are pressing with limited line-ups, while the Bruins are sharing the puck and throwing fresh lines on the ice.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mets Promote Pitcher Rafael Montero To Las Vegas For Spot Start

From the desk of:   HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS - Promoting Rafael Montero For A Spot Start Is A Curious Move.

Mets standout pitching prospect Rafael Montero was promoted from Binghamton to Las Vegas this afternoon, in what is being described as a short visit.  Lynn Worthy, who covers Binghamton  University sports, and the Binghamton Mets for the Press And Sun-Bulletin newspaper tweeted,

Adam Rubin confirmed Montero's move to Vegas.

For the moment, perhaps we should take this news at face value.  This is Rafael Montero's first season pitching at the AA level.  To his credit however, Montero has impressed.  There is no doubt he has fabulous command of the strike zone, demonstrating a high level of proficiency in Brooklyn, Savannah, St. Lucie, and again this season at Binghamton.  In eight starts so far, he has a 3.47 ERA in 46.2 innings pitched.  Rafael has allowed forty hits (7.7 H/9) and only walked six (1.2 W/9), for a 0.986 WHiP.  He has fifty-four strikeouts, good for a 10.4 K/9 average.  Prior to his arrival in Binghamton, Rafael Montero totalled thirty-seven appearances in his two previous seasons.

If AAA-Las Vegas suits him, by all means, let him stay there.  The Pacific Coast League could have different effects on different pitchers.  Zack Wheeler mentioned the difficulty he had keeping his fingers moist in the Rocky Mountain dry air, while Collin McHugh appeared to have no such troubles.  Ideally, I prefer that Rafael Montero not pitch in Flushing this season.  For me, it all goes back to polish.  This is a curious move to say the least, but Montero deserves this promotion, albeit a tentatively short one, based on his fine performance.


N.Y. Knicks: Series Over - Donnie Walsh Leaves Old Team In His Dust

From the desk of:   DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP

NEW YORK KNICKS - Grunwald's Geezers Run Out Of Gas.


What started out a few years ago with Stephon Marbury being nailed to the bench for a grossly under-manned Knicks team, ended Saturday night in Indiana's field house, as Donnie Walsh's Pacers dismantled the Knicks, eliminating them from this year's playoffs, four games to two.  New York's off-season uncertainty

The Indiana Pacers' executive man in charge sat quietly absorbed, triumphantly observing his newest creation defeat the team Jim Dolan hijacked from him.  How does an NBA owner hijack his own team you ask?  When Commissioner Stern orders him to hire Donnie Walsh in order to halt one of the league's marquee franchise's decade long free fall into basketball Tartaros.  For with blind love, devotion and negligence, Jim Dolan allowed Isiah Thomas to put the Knickerbockers organization through hell.

Fast forward to the signing of Amare Stoudemire.  Donnie Walsh did everything that needed getting done in order to gain salary cap relief, regardless of LeBron James' pending free agency.  Personally, I felt securing Stoudemire was the owner's knee jerk reaction for failing to secure James, but more, a desperate last minute signing mandated by Dolan before the market closed.  If the Phoenix Suns were only willing to offer Amare three years, I had, and still have zero reason to believe Donnie Walsh wanted to pay him a day longer or a dollar more, especially under an uninsurable contract.  Only owners do that, not GMs, and certainly not the Donnie Walsh of a reasonable mind.

Fast forward to the Carmelo Anthony trade.  In direct conflict with Dolan's preference for the star system, Donnie Walsh effectively got fired because he tried building a team.  When Melo trade talks between Denver and the Nets picked up , Jim Dolan succumbed to the threat of direct competition from Brooklyn, and swooped in to kidnap Anthony.  Shortly thereafter, Dolan pushed Walsh out the door.

Let's be clear - all things considered, the Knicks do not reach the playoffs in consecutive seasons without Donnie Walsh's prior ground work, or without Carmelo Anthony for that matter.  These days, Donnie walks needing the assistance of a cane, but the man knows how to run an organization.  As it pertains to Saturday night, the Indiana Pacers made it to the Eastern Conference Finals before the Knicks did - two franchises that began at the same starting line after the Patrick Ewing and Reggie Miller days passed them by.  Donnie Walsh had a hand in the Pacers of that era, and will now face the Miami Heat - the team, and an era, the Knicks are still chasing ever since Pat Riley split town via fax.

Game Six Final
Knicks       99
Pacers      106

If the Knicks were guilty of anything, the post-Walsh Knicks stamped their luggage with NBA Finals stickers months ago, not coincidentally, around the same time gas mileage on present GM Glen Grunwald's Geezers started registering true.  During the season's most important minutes, in the team's most important games, Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd, and Kenyon Martin were all out of leaded gasoline.

The Knicks were surviving Game Six largely on the strength of Melo's usual star performance  and  Iman Shumpert's hot hand.  Was Iman really the plan?  Hardly.  Truth is, no one showed up in support of the team's star.  Ray Felton scored two points - Tyson Chandler had two points - Pablo Prigioni had six points - Kenyon Martin had five points - Camby and Novack did not play.  And lastly, Jason Kidd failed to score a point in any of the six games - not one.

Fact is, the Pacers represented a horrible match-up for the Knicks.  Tyson Chandler was flat out  deleted by Roy Hibbert inside.  Hibbert dropped twenty-one points on Chandler, pulled down twelve rebounds, and blocked five shots, one of which became an instant ESPN classic against Melo.  How much of Roy's performance was due to Chandler's bulging disc problem is still, and may remain  unknown.  Roy Hibbert however, was only the beginning.  Lance Stephenson scored twenty-five, and pulled down another ten rebounds.  For the game, Indiana cleaned up 43-36 on the glass.

The Pacers also scored fifty-two of their 106 points in the paint, while the Knicks only managed twenty.  By relentlessly pounding the Knicks interior, they additionally put themselves in the bonus early.  Indiana pummelled the Knicks from the line, sinking thirty-four of forty-six attempts.  The Knicks only made it to the stripe eighteen times.  Tyson Chandler was one of three Knicks to foul out of the game.  Shumpert and Kenyon Martin joined him.  Carmelo Anthony ended the game with five fouls.

J.R.Smith contributed fifteen points and ten rebounds an otherwise nice game.  Let's be honest though.  Ever since his ill-fated elbow and suspension in round one, his game has effectively disappeared.

When Mike Woodson took over as head coach, he made it very clear that Carmelo Anthony was his star player, clearly in line with the Dolan Doctrine, and that he was going to ride Melo like a mule for all he's worth.  Compared to Mike D'Antoni, that was probably the smart way to go.  For the first three quarters of the game, Melo took care of business, with Shump and Smith providing points as well.  Carmelo finished with a game-high thirty-nine points, pulled down seven rebounds and had two assists.

What of the fourth quarter then - closing time?  Melo tied the game 81-81 with a layup in the last seconds of the third quarter.  So, this game was there for their taking.  But after allowing thirty-four points in the third quarter, Indiana clamped down on defense, limiting the Knicks to just eighteen points in the final twelve minutes.  Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith both only shot two of seven from the field during the quarter.  And in a game in which Iman Shumpert had already scored  nineteen points, and was five of six from beyond the three-point line, he failed to take a single shot in the fourth quarter.  That's hard to understand.  Ponderous!

On the heels of an abrupt ending such as this, there will be those looking to cast blame.  Which ever way you size this up, the local story will read how a bunch of no-names overcame Carmelo Anthony.  Did Melo come up small in crunch time?  Has he reaffirmed his playoff legacy?  Did Mike Woodson mismanage the Knicks this series?  Was the Knick relying too heavily on Glen Grunwald's geriatrics a huge mistake?  Does Ray Felton get a chunk of blame, who, as the primary point guard, failed to orchestrate?  Is there more?

In the immortal word of former Knicks broadcaster Marv Albert - YES!


N.Y. Rangers: Blueshirts Need To Overcome More Than Just Game One


2012 - 2013
National Hockey League Playoffs
Round Two - Semi Finals
I - BOS 3; NYR 2*
Boston Bruins
Not The Old Garden
Northside of Beantown

NEW YORK RANGERS - Getting Pushed Off The Puck;
The Blueshirts Needs To Grow Some...Physicality By Game Two.

Now what?  You do not practice NOT taking penalties.  You just try not committing them.  Boston scored the tying goal on a power play.  But that third period shot by Torey Krug was not deflected, nor was Henrik screened on the play.  That's right, I'm going there.  Lundqvist had a clean look.  I'll leave it at that.  The simple solution is to remain penalty free like the Rangers did in Game Six versus Washington.  That's not realistic however, so we shouldn't be making that the issue of Game One against the Bruins.  There are currently more pressing issues conspiring against the Rangers.

Game Two is all about making corrections and adjustments.  So, I hope they learned something from Game One.  That would be to shoot the puck.  Boston out-shot the Rangers 32-20 in regulation time.  That's ponderous to me considering how physically compromised Boston's blue line is, minus three starters.  Even more disturbing, the Rangers were outshot by an absurd 16-5 in overtime.  And if you haven't noticed, getting woefully outshot in overtime has become an alarming trend.  The fact Henrik Lundqvist is 0-3 in O.T. this tournament doesn't concern me nearly as much as getting outshot 8-0 in Game Two, by a less severe 8-6 margin in Game Five against the Caps, and then again Thursday night.  That equates to a 32-11 differential.  On that, I have two points - first, this is a Rangers problem as this occured against two different opponents.  That points directly at Coach Torts.  Secondly, and obviously, your chances for losing skyrocket when you allow that many chances.

In all, Henrik Lundqvist faced forty-eight shots, versus thirty-five for the Rangers.  That's wholly unacceptable, and doesn't even take into account the times Boston hit the post.  Credit the SOG differential to an even bigger problem.  With Ryane Clowe and Darroll Powe out with concussions, it will be hard to match-up size wise against Boston.  Game One proved that, as the Rangers were out-hit, and got pushed off the puck.  As a result, the Blueshirts turned the puck over four times as many (17-4) as the Bruins.  The Rangers also lost the face-off battle, something they did very well against Washington.

If that's going to be the case, the Rangers better start optimizing their opportunities.  They need to keep creating chances like Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan did in the third period, as the Rangers continue to generate offense from the dots.  This time the Blueshirts picked off a puck in the neutral zone, and as Hagelin arrived at the right circle, connected with Derek Stepan in the slot for their third period goal.  That's been a very successful formula in the playoffs for them.

Rick Nash truly is the 800-pound gorilla on the ice.  In Game One, he led the Rangers with six shots on goal, and by far has more shots in these playoffs than any Rangers forward.  Yet he remains scoreless.  If you recall, Nash had eight shots against the Caps in Game One, then was effectively shut down.  Defenses will target him, as they should.  The Rangers are now 4-4 in the playoffs.  Considering Derek Stepan now has three goals, Carl Hagelin two, and Brassard has nine points, one has to wonder how a few goals by Nash could have improved Blueshirt fortunes.  But as a coach, when you start trying to force feed your star unwarranted opportunities, there are bound to be ramifications and repurcussions somewhere else on the ice.  In Game One, that came in between Henrik's pads.

There was no reason to be double-shifting Rick Nash during overtime - None!  That's 100% on Coach.  As a result, Boston's game winning goal started back in the Bruins defensive zone with a horrible cross ice pass attempt by Derick Brassard trying to force the puck to Nash.  The pass was picked off by Chara and the play went the other way.  Enter Matts Zuccarello, who had little chance of covering Brad Marchand rumbling down ice.  The fact MattZuccs and Ryan McDonagh were switched out of position is another matter.  While something needs to be done in order to get Rick Nash started - agreed - however, I do not think double shifting Nash in overtime was the way to go. Was he a fresh skater?  Perhaps, as he was only appraoching twenty minutes for the game.  But you let the game come to you.  Sound familiar?  You do not force the game where it doesn't belong.  The only reason Brassard's pass was picked off was because Rick Nash was on the ice, and that was John Tortorella's decision to put him there.  That pass should have gone into the slot to Derek Stepan, like they've been doing sucessfully all playoffs long - like in the third period.  However, the coach's  mandate was on the left wing with his stick on the ice.

On a side note, MattsZuccs looked like he was trying to stay away from getting whistled.  Maybe he should have been more blatant by actually bringing Marchand down for a real penalty.  That's twenty/twenty hindsight.  But it could have been a smart penalty.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Newark Bears Drop Home Opener; Rockland's Pat Moran Fans Nine - Boulders Win 3-1

From the desk of:   THE BROAD STREET NINE

NEWARK BEARS - I'm Sure Someone Advised Coach Garry Templeton That Life In The Den Is Never Easy.

The Newark Bears kicked off their sixteenth season Thursday night in Rockland, New York, dropping a 6-4 decision to the Boulders.  This evening, the Bears opened the gates on their fifteenth campaign at Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium, this time hosting the Rockland Boulders for the next three games.

Bears starter Brian Parker had the distinction of making this year's Opening Day start, opposed by Rockland's Pat Moran.  The Boulders wasted no time, scoring a pair off Parker in the first on a two run home run struck by Chris Edmondson.  Brian Parker also needed to pitch his way out of big trouble in the third inning.  After allowing Rockland a third run, he worked out of a one out bases loaded situation by striking out the last two batters.  In the bottom of the third, the Bears got a run back on Brandon Mims' first home run of the season, to make it a 3-1 game.

Brian Parker lasted six full innings, allowing three runs on eight hits.  He walked one batter and struck out three before exiting the game.  Reliever Sergio Espinosa was summoned from the bullpen to take over in the seventh and pitched a scoreless frame.  Rockland's Pat Moran pitched 6.1 very effective innings, allowing the Bears one run on just three hits.  He walked no batters and struck out nine before departing.

Bears reliever Ryan Fennell turned in a scoreless inning for Newark in the top of the eighth, in what was still a 3-1 game.  In the bottom of the eighth, the Bears faced Rockland's Alex Kreis, pitching his second inning of relief, and went down quietly.  Ryan Fennell again turned the Boulders back in the top of the ninth, setting up last licks for Newark with their numbers three, four and five hitters due up against Rockland's closer, Kevin Fuqua.  Center fielder JJ Sherrill led off for the Bears and struck out swinging.  Next up, left fielder Jamar Walton reached safely with a single.  With right fielder Carlos Guzman up, Walton advanced to second base on a passed ball.  That mattered little as  Guzman worked out a base on balls.  Kyle Lafrenz was next in the order, and struck out on five pitches for out number two.  First baseman Matt Huggins then stepped in, and worked a 3-0 count before Kevin Fuqua ran the count full.  After fouling off a pitch, Huggins grounded to second base for the last out of the game.

Rockland defeated the Newark Bears for the second night in a row, this evening by a 3-1 final.  Newark's Brian Parker suffered his first loss of the season.  Rockland's Kevin Fuqua earned his second save in consecutive nights.  Starter Pat Moran rightfully gets credit for his first victory after a fine performance over the Bears.

The teams will meet again Saturday evening in the third match of a four game set.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Newark Bears Rally Comes Up Short In Rockland; Drop CanAm Season Opener To Boulders 6-4

From the desk of:   THE BROAD STREET NINE

NEWARK BEARS - The Resilient Urban Species Begins Another Season In A Wild Yet Dwindling Environment.

The 2013 Canadian-American League regular season is open for business.  Welcome to year nine for the old circuit, reorganized in 2005.  Many teams have come in and out of the league, and this year is no different.  The Can-Am League will try to make a full season of it with five teams.  Returning from last season are the Rockland Boulders, New Jersey Jackals, Quebec Capitales, and the Newark Bears.  The league welcomed a new expansion team this season - the Trois Rivieres Aigles, which gives the Quebec Capitales a local Canadian rival.  Missing from last year's group are the Worcester Tornadoes.  They similarly went the way of the Pittsfield Colonials and the Brockton Rox  respectively, after the 2011 season.  The Can-Am League will once again play inter-league games against the independent American Association to facilitate a one-hundred game schedule.

The Quebec Capitales have won the last four CanAm championships consecutively.


Garry Templeton - a veteran of sixteen Major League seasons, is famously known as the shortstop traded from St. Louis to the San Diego Padres for Ozzie Smith.  He was the first switch hitter to achieve one hundred hits from each side of the plate in the same season.  He led the National League in triples for three consecutive seasons, and led the circuit in hits once.  This season, Gary Templeton is the new manager of the 2013 Newark Bears.

The Newark Bears opened their season this evening at Provident Bank Park against the Rockland Boulders.  Returning for another season to bolster the Bears rotation, Mike Ness took the mound opposed by Rockland's own veteran hurler, Bobby Blevins.  The visitors gave Mike Ness an early 1-0 lead in the first, when Bears right fielder Carlos Guzman doubled off Blevins, to deliver DAngelo Jimenz with the game's first run.  In the bottom of the frame however, Rockland struck back for a pair.  With two outs, Jerod Edmondson drew a four pitch walk.  The following batter, Chris Edmondson then connected off Ness for a two run home run.

Rockland center fielder Donnie Webb led off the bottom of the third inning with the Boulder's second home run off Ness.  In the fourth, Boulder's DH Johnny Welch led off with yet another home run off Mike Ness, giving Rockland a 4-1 lead.  The Boulders continued with another run in the fifth, on Jerod Edmondson's sac-fly, giving the Boulders a 5-1 lead through five complete.

After allowing Newark's first inning run, Bobby Blevins tamed the Bears over the next four.  Through five innings, he allowed Newark six hits, walked none, and struck out five.  His counter-part, Ness allowed five earned runs on six hits, walked one and struck out four.  Both pitchers continued through the sixth.  The Bears finally mustered another run off Blevins in the top of the seventh.  Designated hitter Brandon Mims and second baseman Brandon Newton struck consecutive one out singles.  Third baseman  DAngelo Jimenez then doubled to deliver Mims from second, to make it a 5-3 game.  In relief of Mike Ness, Coach Templeton tasked Ryan Carr with pitching the bottom of the seventh.

With one out, the Bears put a runner in scoring position in the eighth.  Jamar Walton drew a walk off Rockland reliever Nick Serino, then promptly stole second.  Kyle Lafrenz came through with a clutch base hit to score Walton, making it a 5-4 game.  In the bottom of the frame however, Rockland picked up an unearned run off Newark's veteran pitcher Kyle Morrison.

Newark put the tying runs in scoring position in the top of the ninth after Brandon Mims drew a walk and Brandon Newton doubled.  But that's where they stayed, stranded.  Reliever Kevin Fuqua recovered to retire the next three in order, picking up his first save of the regular season.

Bobby Blevins picked up his first victory.  He pitched 6.2 innings, allowed three earned runs, nine hits, and struck out five Bears batters before exiting.  Mike Ness suffered his first loss.  In six innings of work, he surrendered five runs on six hits, three of which were home runs.  He walked one and fanned five.

Newark's Opening Day is tomorrow, Friday, at Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium, where the Rockland Boulders will visit for the next three games of the series.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rangers vs. Bruins - The Round Two Trolley Preview


2012 - 2013
Eastern Conference - Semi Final Round
Boston Bruins

Sizing Up The Blueshirts And "Weighing" Their Options.


Rangers versus Bruins, an Original Six match-up...Nice!  Aint nothin' wrong with a little old school for us old fools.   ...But some older than others.

I was too young to remember when the Blueshirts and Bruins last met in the 1973 playoffs.  The NHL was different when I was a kid.  Teams had to play out of their own division before meeting the other division winner in the Eastern Conference Finals.   I first became a Rangers fan soon after the blockbuster trade that sent principle players Brad Park to Boston in exchange for Phil Esposito, who not incidentally became my favorite player.  After Espo retired, I put myself in Ron Greschner's corner.  This match-up already brings back memories.  This series should be epic.

I have good news Rangers Fans, I think this is a great match-up for the Blueshirts.  The Rangers have the better goalie, I think they play better defense, and they are faster than Boston up front.  I have but two main concerns.  Will the Rangers match Boston's grittiness?  Second, I fret over Boston's ability to knock the Rangers off the puck, and crash the net.

Speed and Size

The key for the Rangers will be striking a balance between maintaining speed and size on the ice.  Let's call this a Six and Six Formula.  The Rangers have speed with Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Ryan Callahan, Rick Nash, Derick Brassard and Matts Zuccarello on the ice.  These are the six who ideally need to score goals against the Bruins.  Coach Torts did well to open up the offense a bit, but they can't open things up too much against Boston.  While the Blueshirts were successful creating offense further up by the circles, their shots from the point are still relative duds - Not enough power in those shots.  Therefore, they need to remain a little closer to the dots, like they've been, and find the guy in the slot.

Boston likes to grind out games too.  That's where the Rangers Bigger Six come into play.  Generally speaking, the Rangers need to prevent themselves from getting pushed off the puck.  That won't be easy.  Everywhere you look, the Bruins have size.  They have six wingers who weigh over two-hundred pounds each.  The new Rangers might even enjoy a good grind.  So, in order to compete, the Rangers will need to maintain a physical presence on the ice and bang bodies.  Arron Asham, Taylor Pyatt, Brian Boyle, Ryane Clowe, Darroll Powe and Chris Kreider all need to throw their bodies around and thump with the Bruins, and when the offensive opportunities present themselves, crash the net with reckless abandon.

I would have never thought Arron Asham could be this important to the Rangers.  Yet, against the Bruins, he becomes even more important.  I guess timing is everything.  I wish other Rangers were as decisive with the puck as Asham.  Chris Kreider and all of his 226 pounds of mass needs to be on the ice.  Period!  In Game Seven against the Caps, he was throwing his body into every red jersey he saw.  Put him on a line with Taylor Pyatt (230 lbs.) and Ryane Clowe (225 lbs.), and let those guys go bang all night.  They are the Rangers three biggest players, and they have skill to boot.  A tough, skilled line like that can propel the Rangers throughout the series.

If you noticed, I made no mention of Brad Richards.  Why do you think that's so?  The answer is the same reason why Coach Torts should not give him any ice time.  He is horrible at the point, he is slow, and he's just an overall lagger.  That's right.  I said it - a lagger.

Boston eventually won their series against the Toronto Maple Leafs for the way they collapsed on Toronto's net.  They took booming shots from the point and cleaned up rebounds.  In Game Seven, they were all over Toronto's James Reimer like flies on crap.

Marc Staal's return is still questionable.  Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and John Moore played outstanding hockey against the Caps.  Steve Eminger had a very good series as well.  They all need to keep the ice in front of Henrik Lundqvist free of Bruins.  The key player will be Michael Del Zotto.  First, he needs to stop the Jekyll and Hyde act.  He needs to be consistent game in, and game out.  The Rangers need the Del Zotto who lays big hits.  We've seen him do it before.  That's the Del Zotto we need now.  And the Rangers need his booming shot from the point.  He possesses one of the few booming point shots the Rangers have.

If you think about it, Henrik pitched regulation time shutouts in games two, six and seven.  In games one, three and four, he allowed nine goals.  So how many games will Henrik Lundqvist need to steal this round?  The consensus says, two or three....again.