Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New York City's NHL Stadium Series

From the desks of:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bronx, New York

Scene From Sunday Afternoon

New York Rangers   7
New Jersey Devils    3

The standings remain a problematic situation for all three local teams.  Heading into tomorrow night's showdown in the frozen tundra of Yankee Stadium, a mere four points separate the Rangers from the Devils, and nine points separate the 2nd place Rangers from the last place New York Islanders.  The Devils play tonight.

After all these years, the Devils still have us asking ourselves - how do they do it?  But the answer is a different this time.  For starters, they have one identity during regulation time, but another beyond that.  New Jersey has 11 OT losses, good for 2nd worst in the league.  If they start converting some of those OT situations, the Blueshirts had better look out.

During Sunday's first period, it looked like New Jersey's geezers had Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers off their game.  Patrick Elias, the all-time Devils scoring leader, who will turn 38-years old in April, opened the afternoon's scoring with a goal 5:36 into the match.  After Dominic Moore tied the game, Elias scored again on a feed from Jaromir Jagr.  Travis Zajac then made it a 3-1 game on another feed from Jaromir Jagr.

Patrick Elias now has 384 goals in his long Devils career.  However, the Devils leading scorer this season is, of all people, Jaromir Jagr, who will turn 42-years old next month.  In the game, Jagr passed his one time former team mate Mario Lemieux, and now owns the 10th spot on the NHL's all-time assists leaders board, with 1,035 for his career.  He has 44 points in 53 games this season, while his 16 goals give him 697 for his career.  Only six players in NHL history have scored 700 or more goals in a career.  Jagr most recently passed Mark Messier on the list.  Since returning in 2011-12, after three years playing in Russia, Jagr has scored 51 goals in 171 games played.

Another Devil chasing the number 700 is Martin Brodeur.  He is 18 victories away.  He was respectfully given Sunday's start at Yankee Stadium.  But his first start ever in an outdoor game, turned into one of his worst.  After the Devils jumped out to a 3-1 lead Sunday, Brodeur went on to allow five unanswered goals, for a total of six on the day.  After the game, Brodeur complained of very poor ice conditions, and the Rangers coach agreed.  Nonetheless, instead of gaining career victory number 683 Sunday, Brodeur earned his 392nd career loss.  Marty will turn 42 years of age in May.  At this stage of his Devils career, there is no getting around the fact Cory Schneider is the better net minder, or, has been playing that way. Schneider started in each of the last five games prior to Sunday.  Perhaps Brodeur will agree to come back next season in a back-up role.

For the Rangers, Michael Del Zotto drew the ire of two coaches, and was dispatched out of town.  Rick Nash is playing with the consistency originally expected of him, but collectively, Henrik Lundqvist and the team were giving up more goals than scored...., until Sunday that is.  They exploded for seven goals in total.

Henrik Lundqvist is arguably having his worst season as a Ranger.  In my view, his newly minted contract, his play this season, and the play of Cam Talbot have created an interesting dynamic.  It will be interesting to watch this unfold.  It's a good thing you haven't heard from me in a month.  You don't want to know what I was really thinking.


New York Rangers
New York Islanders

On Sunday, Rick Nash scored for the 5th straight game.  He now has 27 points in 37 games played, with 18 goals and 9 assists.  Wednesday night, he'll square off against the Islanders John Tavares.  The Isles star has 64 points this season, with 23 goals and 41 assists. Kyle Okposo joins him with 23 goals and 57 points, and Thomas Vanek now has 38 points in 39 games played.  Brad Richards leads the Rangers with 38 points. There's a punchline in there somewhere.

What's with the NHL scheduling three NYR/NYI games in January?  Freakin' brilliant!  I'll be at the game.



Saturday, January 25, 2014

N.Y. Knicks: Melo Sets Team Record With 62 Points

From the desk of:   DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP

NEW YORK KNICKS: Move Over Bernard King, And So Long Kobe Bryant!  Carmelo Anthony Scored 62 Points Friday Night Against The Charlotte Bobcats.

Friday Night Final
Charlotte   96
Knicks     125

The new king of points at Madison Square Garden is once again a Knick.  Carmelo Anthony surpassed Bernard King's long held club record of 60 points in a game, and eclipsed Kobe Bryant's MSG record of 61 points.  Kobe Bryant achieved his mark five seasons ago, while Bernard King set the former club record of 60 points back in 1984 on Christmas Day.

Melo was off to a hot start with 20 points in the 1st quarter.  But, you knew something was brewing when Carmelo nailed a shot from mid-court as the buzzer sounded to end the first half.  That unlikely bucket gave him 37 points.  Then after three quarters, Melo had 56 points.  The rest is, as they say, history.

Anthony could have scored more, lots more, but opted out of the game after 39 minutes, and with the Knicks ahead by 30 points.  When he reached 62 points for the night, there were still over seven minutes left in the 4th quarter.

The man was also a model of efficiency Friday night, shooting 66% from the field.  He was 23/35 from the floor, including 6/11 from beyond the arch, and a perfect 10/10 from the line.

He led all players in minutes, which has become his custom this season, and for good measure, led all players with 13 rebounds, which made his effort even more unique.  ESPN Stats says Anthony is only the 6th player in the last 25 years to register at least 60 points and 10 rebounds in a game.  In fact, Friday night he was only player to pull down double-digit boards.

Loathe him or love him, but give the man his due respect.  Carmelo Anthony can now add this game to his Knicks resume, along with the NBA scoring title he won last season.

Friday's victory also snapped the Knicks five game losing streak, and for a night, made fans forget about injuries, a losing record, and the coach's job security.

Lastly, naysayers sniveled that Melo did not register a single assist.  I'm one of his naysayers, but on a night such as this, he shouldn't have any assist.  The idea was to get him the ball.  Instead, look around, as five other Knicks registered at least three assists.  And to put it plainly, it's not like the Bobcats forced the 'Bockers into making extra passes with good defense.

This game doesn't erase all the Knicks problems, but on this night, Carmelo Anthony was great.  I watched Bernard King post his 60 points in a losing effort.  This time around, Carmelo was the victorious king of Madison Square Garden.