Saturday, May 31, 2014

N.Y. Mets: Third Estate Of Flushing Celebrates Anniversary

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS: Sandy Alderson Can Only Hope The Club's May Malaise Is Over.

It was the best of months.  It was the worst of months.

One third of the season has passed.  Controversy is on the rise.

Although Sandy Alderson's winter ended with mixed reviews, the Mets nevertheless started the 2014 campaign well.  But the refreshing, feel good atmosphere created by a solid opening month (in which they posted a 15-11 record) ended on Wednesday, April 30th, with delivery of the now infamous email - the one foolishly asking fans to sign a pledge of loyalty.

The backlash was immediate and intense.  What had generally been a very patient fan base to that point, felt insulted and responded with vitriol.  The local media was quick to condemn the move as well.  Soon after, even Ron Darling made the sports radio rounds admitting he failed to properly research marketing's open letter before adding his signature.

Just over a week ago, in what appeared to be a reactive measure, the Mets hired a gentleman named Harold Kaufman to be their new executive director of communications.  A smart decision I thought, believing the Wilpon's image is presently at an all time low, and that an objective executive influence could potentially help reconcile the great disconnect between ownership and fans.

Or, so I thought.

Last week, David Newman, the Mets senior vice president of marketing and communications, was quoted in the N.Y. Times as saying,
"Kaufman will help bring the Mets exposure in fashion, food, entertainment and lifestyle — things that target different audiences in addition to the sports audience.”
Oh.  Excuse me.

I guess the Third Estate of Flushing need not apply.

On a business level, many companies/corporations engage in this kind of courtship.  So it's no big deal. However, as it pertains to the Wilpon's sports audience, the majority of us "loyal" fans should be so lucky.

Attendance is up only slightly this season, but nowhere near levels needed to reduce ownership's nearly one billion dollars of debt.  Unless imagined or real personalities such as Oscar de la Renta, Emeril Lagasse, Beyonce or Martha Stewart willingly link themselves with a sub.500 club, and additionally coerce thousands of their rich friends to fill the Pepsi Porch, the left field stands and upper deck, I do not see where this strategy benefits the Mets.

In what is fast becoming the anthem of 2014, if the Wilpons would just put a better product on the field, all the designers, chefs, comics, Kardashians, and lowly fans, will come.

However, the Mets chose to follow a more taxing plan.  Mr. Autonomous - Sandy Alderson continues to insist increases in payroll must be funded by considerable increases in attendance.  That's a very interesting game of chicken he and ownership are playing, that I am confident they'll lose.

*          *          *          *          *

May also brought the firing of hitting coach Dave Hudgens, which I believe was warranted.  I agree with Sandy Alderson's assessment.  The team's situational hitting was depressing.  It's pointless debating what separates good hitting coaches from bad ones, as something clearly needed to be done about this particular situation.

I'm ultimately pleased that Hudgens' pre-occupation with Keith Hernandez' on-air criticisms, as well as his sensitivity to players getting booed, have been removed from the dugout.  I feel such worries are symptomatic of a loser.  Sorry to put it so plainly.

However, I do believe Hudgens when he intimated that Sandy Alderson's hands are financially tied.  When Alderson claims 100% responsibility for the roster, and defends maintaining one of MLB's lowest payrolls for two straight seasons as he did recently on the radio circuits, I simply do not believe him.

In my opinion, the general manager is still defending ownership.  Unlike the situation with Frank McCourt and the Dodgers, I tend to think Commissioner Selig offered Alderson's services as a way of maintaining a hands-on/hands-off approach with his New York National League club.

On that note, Friday marked one month since the club sent out that idiotic email.  Happy belated anniversary.

The month of May is now done.

Let June begin!


Today For Rising Apple: 5/30 Game Recap: Chris Young's 14th Inning Gaffe Ruins Brilliant Bullpen Performance

Here's my latest for

Join me every Friday for the Mets Game Recap.

Senior Staff Writer/Rising Apple

Saturday, May 24, 2014

L.I. Ducks: Flock Whitewash Skeeters For 5th In A Row

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: John Brownell Shows Old Form.


That's the reigning championship series MVP we remember.  John Brownell turned in a vintage performance Friday night in Sugar Land, Texas - shutting out the Skeeters in 7 full innings of work, while allowing 8 scattered hits, walking two, and fanning 7 batters.

Brownell earned his second victory, and lowered his ERA from 6.00, down to a 4.86 mark.  He also took over the league lead in strikeouts with 32 in 37 innings pitched.

The Long Island Ducks scored a pair in the 4th, and two more insurance runs in the 7th en route to a 4-0 whitewash of the Sugar Land Skeeters.

Kieth Castillo's double in the top of the 4th, plated Randy Ruiz and Adam Bailey with the game's first two runs.  Later, Dan Lyons reached on a one out single in the 7th, and came all the way around to score on Fehlandt Lentini's single, and an error by the pitcher.  Another passed ball spelled the end of Sugar Land's starting pitcher, Matt Wright.  Ramon Delgado entered in relief, and promptly unleashed a wild pitch allowing Lentini to score.

The bullpen handled the rest.  Eric Niesen took care of the 8th in relief of Brownell, tossing a scoreless frame and fanning two.  Leo Rosales closed out the Skeeters in a non save situation.

The Ducks are now winners of 5 in a row, and improved their season record to a 15-11 mark.  The Somerset Patriots were defeated by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, allowing the Ducks to pull within 1.5 games of 1st place.


Friday, May 23, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: The Habs Strike Back


Rangers Lead Series 2-1
I - NYR 7; MON 2
II - NYR 3; MON 1
III - MON 3; NYR 2*

NEW YORK RANGERS: A Very Costly Loss At The Garden...

When you expect to lose (at least) a game or two, does it matter how it happens?  Well, deep down the answer is yes.  But I digress.

Game Three was marked by not one, not two, not three, but four deflection goals.   You can't prepare for that.  Where P.K. Subban is concerned, that's what you call dumb luck.

Overall, the Rangers had several excellent chances.  But give credit where it's due.  Montreal's Dustin Tokarski was excellent in net making 35 saves to outlast Henrik Lundqvist, and get the Habs back in the series.

Honestly, who didn't expect Brandon Prust to continue seeking retribution for Carey Price, or to just continue doing the things he used to do so well for the Rangers?  I'm not necessarily sure he was known as a head hunter while with the Rangers.  But the intent behind his hit upon Derek Stepan was very, very questionable.  There was no call for Brandon's 1st period hit on Stepan, but, I'm not trying to be hypocritical of the situation.  I blame the refs instead.  They sucked - for both teams.

The league caught up to Brandon Prust this afternoon however, and handed down a two game suspension.   As a result of Brandon Prust's blind side hit, Derek Stepan's jaw was broken, which required surgery, and is additionally suspected of having suffered a concussion.

I also find Prust's cheap shot curious.  Could Brandon Prust still harbor resentment towards Stepan for holding out and getting paid, while Prust, who did all the team's dirty work, was unable to strike a deal with Glen Sather?  I find that curious indeed.

Circling back to the refs, by letter of the law, Dan Carcillo's 10 game suspension was warranted.  That last elbow did him in.  He would have escaped with just a penalty otherwise.  But I will question why the ref took such forceful hold of him, which triggered Carcillo's ire.  In fact, Carcillo was already in the process of putting distance between himself, and the fight between Prust and Derek Dorsett, when grabbed.

The substandard officiating is in no way limited to these instances.  Nuf ced.


L.I. Ducks: Flock Flying High After Completing Four Game Sweep Of Blue Crabs

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Flock Off To Go Mess With Texas.

Led by the bats of Cody Puckett and Adam Bailey, the Long Island Ducks completed a four game sweep of the visiting Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.  The Ducks rapped 13 hits against their opponents, and only fanned once in gaining an 8-3 victory in Thursday night's series finale.

Puckett was 2 for 4 with a double, a home run, and 3 RBI.  Bailey went 3 for 3, and likewise produced a double and his team leading 5th home run of the season to go along with a pair of RBI.  Lead-off batter Fehlandt Lentini also had a productive night at the plate, going 3 for 4, with a walk, an RBI and 2 runs scored.

Making his third start of the season, Jared Lansford climbed the hill for Long Island, and was opposed by Southern Maryland's Ian Marshall.  Jared pitched 5 innings, allowed 2 runs (but none earned) walked 3 and struck out 3 to earn his first victory of the season.  Ian Marshall was knocked out of the box after just 2.2 innings pitched, and allowing 5 earned runs on 8 hits.

The Blue Crabs picked up their third run of the game in the 6th off reliever Steve Garrison.  Otherwise, Josh Lansford continued his scoreless innings streak in the 7th, while Jon Meloan and Jeremy Accardo finished out the bullpen's contribution with 2 scoreless innings of work.

Defensively however, this was not one of Long Island's sharpest games, as they committed 4 errors.

With a 7-3 record over their last 10 games, the surging Ducks have transformed themselves into hottest team in the division, and now boast an overall 14-11 mark.  They remain 2.5 games behind the division leading Somerset Patriots (17-9), whom were Thursday night winners over Camden.

The Flock were forced into a hasty departure from Bethpage Park, as Friday evening they begin a four game Memorial Day Weekend series against Tracy McGrady and the Sugar Land Skeeters in Texas.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

L.I. Ducks: Flock Takes Third Straight Over Blue Crabs

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Stong Bullpen Work And Cody Puckett's Bat Lead Flock To 12-Inning Victory, And Third Straight Over Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.

The Ducks are roughly 1/6 of the way through defense of their back to back titles.  They've spent the last three nights getting healthy against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, with a trio of victories to get them above the .500 mark again with a 13-11 record.

Had Southern Maryland and the Somerset Patriots not switched divisions this season, Long Island would be in 1st place of the Liberty Division.   Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Pre-Game Stuff:

Entering Wednesday night's action, Blake Gailen of the Lancaster Barnstormers was the only A.L. player still hitting above .400, otherwise Ducks veteran Lew Ford entered the night 2nd in the circuit with a .375 batting mark, while his 22 RBI ranked 3rd, just 3 behind the league leader.

Lew Ford and Adam Bailey led Long Island with 4 home runs each.

On the hill, 3 of the league's top 7 strikeout leaders were Ducks.  Prior to Wednesday's game, Bobby Blevins led the league with 27, and John Brownell was tied for 2nd with 25 strikeouts.  Reliever Eric Niesen was 7th with 22 strikeouts.

Jeremy Accardo leads the Ducks with 3 victories.  However, Brownell, once again expected to fill the role of staff ace, is struggling with a 1-3 record, and an unsightly 6.00 ERA.

In the bullpen, Leo Rosales leads the circuit with 9 saves, and prior to Wednesday's game had a 1.59 ERA, while Josh Lansford has yet to allow a run in 11.1 innings pitched.

*          *           *           *

In the third of four games against the Blue Crabs from Bethpage Park, Fernando Hernandez climbed the hill for Long Island, and pitched effectively over 7 full innings.  He allowed a pair of earned runs on 7 hits, only walked one, and fanned three before departing to a no-decision.  His ERA rose slightly from a 2.16 before the game, to a 2.28 mark.

Southern Maryland scored single runs in the 5th and 6th innings to take a 2-0 lead.  Long Island then got one back in the bottom half of the 6th on Adam Bailey's two out single.

That's the way it stayed till the 9th.  Playing in his first game as a Long Island Duck, catcher Jan Vasquez homered over the right field wall to tie the score at two, and into extra innings they went.

Relievers Leo Rosales, Jeremy Accardo, and Eric Niesen then combined on 3 innings, surrendered no runs, no hits, and fanned four.  Circling back, in relief of Fernando Hernandez, Bret Lorin pitched the 8th and 9th innings, and surrendered no runs on one hit.  Leo Rosales lowered his ERA to a 1.46 mark.

In the bottom of the 12th inning, Joash Brodin reached on a one out single.  After advancing to second on Randy Ruiz' base hit, Brodin came around to score on Cody Puckett's game winning double.

Eric Niesen earned the win in relief - his first.  He now has 24 strikeouts to place him 4th among the league leaders, and like Josh Lansford, has yet to yield a run in 13.1 innings pitched this season.  He additionally has only issued 6 walks and allowed 5 hits.

Lew Ford raised his average to a .376 mark.  Joash Brodin was 3 for 5, and scored the Ducks first, and winning run.

Southern Maryland used 7 pitchers and the Ducks 5, who all combined to issue just 3 total walks for the game.

The Long Island Ducks will attempt to sweep the four game series on Thursday.  The Somerset Patriots fell to the Camden River Sharks, allowing the Ducks to pull within 2.5 games of 1st place.

After Thursday's game, the Flock will migrate to Sugar Land, Texas, for a Memorial Day Weekend four game series against the Skeeters.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: All Hail King Henrik The Lucky


Rangers Lead Series 2-0
I - NYR 7; MON 2
II - NYR 3; MON 1
III - Thursday Night

Montreal Canadiens
New York Rangers

NEW YORK RANGERS: Let The Blueshirt Bacchanalia Begin

With the incremental, methodical power of a glacier and the rogue intentions of a pillage thirsty viking, the New York Rangers entered the 2011-2012 Eastern Conference finals as the number one seed.

During the regular season, that team led the league in fighting (and fighting majors), and were especially feisty inside the first five minutes of any game.

Generally speaking, Tortorella instituted a strict defensive strategy, that mandated finishing checks and blocking pucks.  He demanded a stiff fore check, and capitalizing on opponent's mistakes.  Offensively, he was about possession, cycling the puck in an effort to create chances, and gobbling up rebounds.  In other words, grunt style hockey.

In watching the present day Rangers, one might be surprised to find out that Tortorella's team scored more regular season goals than this year's team.  But as we know, it only got Tortorella and those Rangers so far.

Alain Vigneault's team scored more regular season power play goals than did Tortorella's group of two years ago.  Improving the PP was one of the main reasons for hiring him.  The even strength results were odd, but most likely stemmed from having to learn a new system.

After five straight victories and taking a 2-0 series against the Montreal Canadiens, that system now appears to be in full effect.

Some of John Tortorella's tenets live on in the form of blocking shots and a solid fore check, etc.  But Coach Vigneault has handled the club very differently than his predecessor, or even from the way he himself handled the Vancouver Canucks prior to his dismissal.

Alain Vigneault presently trusts his 12 forwards equally.  With regards to combinations and time on ice, he roles out 4 lines with unwavering consistency.  Tortorella either trusted you, or not.  He picked his top five forwards of the night, and mixed lines throughout a game.  His top two forwards routinely clocked in 25:00+ minutes a night, where you'd be hard pressed to find a forward getting more than 20:00 minutes under Vigneault.

If you were among the untrustworthy and forbid, committed a mistake under Tortorella, there were huge ramifications.  Benoit Pouliot and Chris Kreider in particular, would have never been able to play through their mistakes.  Dan Carcillo would have been an unlikely contributor against the Flyers as well.

Chris Kreider has made a huge, if not dramatic impact since his return, enough to help the Rangers comeback from a 3-1 series dilemma against the Penguins, and propel them to a 2-0 lead against the Habs.   Since Kreider's return, his speed and physical play have so far gone unanswered.

The collective speed with which Kreider, Carl Hagelin, Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, and a few others are playing with is a far cry from the recent "ice age" to say the least.  The accurate open ice passing and skating also mark the team's biggest transformation.  And, they've shown toughness when they had to.

Yeah, I was down on this team throughout the year and all the way through game four against the Pens.

Would this style have worked against the Boston Bruins?  Who cares.  So far, it's working against the Montreal Canadiens.

After sucking the life out of the Montreal Museum, Tex's Rangers are back home in Madison Square Garden for games Three and Four.

As John Davidson used to say, Oh Baby!

A response to P.K. Subban's foolishness awaits.  Staked to a 2-0 series lead, I expect Thursday night's gathering at 33rd Street and 8th Avenue to be at its raucous best, with torch and pitch fork in hand.

Let the Blueshirt Bacchanalia commence early in Joe Louis Plaza, enter the building, fill the seats, sections and levels, then during the anthem and opening face-off, and on through the night, revel, and chant King Henrik The Lucky's name in praise.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: Deux Vers Le Bas , Deux Pour Aller


Rangers Lead Series 2-0
I - NYR 7; MON 2
II - NYR 3; MON 1
Madison Square Garden

Rangers      3
Canadiens  1

NEW YORK RANGERS: Les Chemises Bleues Gagner a Nouveau a Montreal!

Blueshirts Win 5th Straight ~ Henrik Lundqvist Makes 40 Saves

Rick Nash's 1st period goal was his second in as many periods (going back to the 3rd period of Game One).  That one was a bit inconsequential though.

This one mattered.  Just seventeen seconds after Montreal's Max Pacioretty opened the scoring 6:14 into the game, Ryan McDonagh tied the game (unassisted).  Then came the big one - and by that I mean a booming Rick Nash shot from the right circle.  Nash's goal to close out the 1st period gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

Henrik Lundqvist took care of the rest.  He face 41 shots, and stopped all but one to make Rick Nash's goal stand.

In a strange way, less proved to be more.  After 14 playoff games spent taking four and five shots a game, and coming up empty, Nash only took a pair of shots in Game One.  Monday night, he scored on his first attempt, and didn't take his second shot on net till the 3rd period.

Does this finally signal the arrival of Rick Nash?  These are after all, the Eastern Conference finals.  So, at the very least he is showing up at the right time.  His emergence also coincides with the the awakening of the power play.  They are now 4/10 in the series.

The timing couldn't be better.  The Rangers are half way to the finals.  If the PP and Rick Nash are about to heat up, then look out!

The Rangers carved up the Habs again.  It took magnificent play from Lundqvist, but the Canadiens have so far failed to keep up with Chris Kreider Carl Hagelin, and the Rangers speed.  They're also committing dumb penalties and paying a  price.

The series shifts to the Garden now.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Today's Rising Apple Podcast: An Off-Day Round Table Rant

Here's Monday's Podcast On

Tonight's Guests: Greg Prince and Jason Fry from

Terry Collins, Juan Lagares, Daniel Murphy, Dave Kingman, Rusty Staub, the 1975 Mets, Old Ownership, Ruben Tejada, New Ownership, Fan Vitriol, the Media, Sandy Alderson, Francisco Rodriguez, Gil Hodges, Citi Field, and much more....

Senior Staff Writer/Rising Apple

N.Y. Rangers: Blueshirts Should Expect Anything In Game Two


Rangers Lead Series 1-0
I - NYR 7; MON 2

Eastern Conference Finals

Montreal les Habitants
The Great White North

NEW YORK RANGERS: Upon Further Review..., Coach Therrien's Eyes Decieved Him.

Sacre Bleu! Rangers Rout les Habitants In Montreal Opener;
Ryan McDonagh Ties Brian Leetch's Record With 4 Points.

So which is it?  Did Chris Kreider crash Montreal's Price on purpose or not?  Depending when you heard Coach Therrien, you received conflicting answers.  Immediately after the game, Coach said he didn't believe Kreider's act was intentional.  Now that Carey Price reportedly will miss the remainder of the series, Coach Therrien is singing a different tune.

It looked like Chris was trying to apply the brakes.  The level of his actual effort to prevent a collision can be debated I guess.  But, ask Kreider if he enjoyed simultaneously taking the left post square in his back?   Better yet - ask Derick Brassard how he's feeling after taking a late hit.

Weren't Brandon Prust's slash, spear and cross check of Chris Kreider, in succession, just as dangerous?

Fact is, Carey Price played like crap.  He looked like crap on Martin St. Louis' goal, on Kreider's first goal, on Brad Richards' goal, on Mats Zucs goal - not necessarily in that order.  Everyone in front of Price played like crap.  Okay?

The Rangers are not collectively that fast, and the Montreal Canadiens are not that slow.  Just like the Rangers played horribly in Game Four against the Penguins, the Habs had their day of futility.  I expect a different Montreal club on the ice this evening.

Speaking of speed - Mats Zucs, Kreider, Carl Hagelin, and St. Louis seemed to be everywhere.  But, it was clear Montreal suffered from led feet.

I expect a much more physical game from Montreal in Game Two.  Does anyone remember how Max Pacioretty took runs at Brad Richards and Rick Nash last season?  I do.  Look for something similar tonight. I will.  I fully expect Brandon Prust to go after Chris Krider, if not more Blueshirts, and without a doubt expect to see P.K. Suppan hit anyone he can.

We'll get a better sense of how this series will go tonight.

Let's Go Rangers!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Brooklyn Nets: Wait Till Next Year Reprise

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Time To Hang Up The Sneakers Till Next Year.

BROOKLYN NETS: The Nets have a good jab, and an effective left hook, but they lack a straight right to put teams away.

Wasn't it a dependency on ISO (isolation basketball) that was partly, if not largely responsible for Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo getting fired?

So, there was Joe Johnson isolated on LeBron James to end the game....  By itself, that might have been fine.  But, in truth, the first thing that came to my mind was - there's no plan here.  I thought that, because in the closing minutes, I felt Jason Kidd was guilty of designing some of the poorest plays coming out of time outs (I'm talking Mike Woodson poor), punctuated by a horrific in-bounds attempt.

Indeed, there was something very Knicks-like about the way Game Five ended, which explains why the Brooklyn Nets are free to make plans for summer vacation.  They had 14 assists all game - pondersous.

Did the Nets get screwed on a couple of whistles, or lack there of?  Sure.  Different calls could have fostered a different outcome.  In fact, I'd love the for the league to explain how it was that LeBron James went to the foul line more times than the entire Nets team.

The Nets nevertheless beat themselves.  The Miami Heat were begging for defeat this series, but on three occasions, Brooklyn could not close them out.   That's what makes this all so frustrating.

Once again, the Nets faded away late in the game, while Miami finished on a 13-3 run.  It was actually worse than that.  After Joe Johnson connected on a jumper at 4:48, the Nets missed on their next nine attempts.  They went through the next 4:37 before Joe Johnson connected on another three-pointer with just 0:11 left on the clock.

By then, the look on Paul Pierce's face said it all.  He was clearly hacked by LeBron James in the closing moments, but was also guilty of an 0 for 3 in the final minutes as well.

This is the way Brooklyn's second NBA playoff ends, having played a series of good games marred by horrible finishes.  For the record, it ends in a (second round) Game Five 96-94 loss to the defending champions from Miami.

Now what?

For Billy King, it may not necessarily be back to the drawing board, unlike after the Nets inaugural season in Brooklyn, but at the same time, the fix may not be that easy.

Billy King's top two salaried bipeds suffer from chronic lower appendages.  Deron Williams is going for an MRI on both ankles, and of course, there's Brook Lopez.  It was painfully obvious the Nets could have used a healthy Lopez against both the Raptors and Heat.

Paul Pierce's contract will be expiring.  Shaun Livingston also becomes a free agent this summer, and should parlay this season into a substantial increase.  Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson aren't getting any younger either.

What became very clear in these playoffs, is that the Nets need someone who will provide a knockout blow. Collectively, the Nets have a good jab, and an effective left hook, but they lack a straight right to put teams away.

The off-season will be interesting to say the least.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: Back To The Eastern Conference Finals


Round Two
Rangers Defeat Penguins 4-3
I - NYR 3; PITT 2*
II - PITT 3; NYR 2
IV - PITT 4; NYR 2
V - NYR 5; PITT 1
VI - NYR 3; PITT 1

Eastern Conference Finals


NEW YORK RANGERS: Glen Sather Suplanted Much Of The Team's Toughness, But Alain Vigneault Coached The Blueshirts With A Lot Of Balls.

Brian Boyle spent the night throwing his body around, blocking shots, and silencing the Penguins fans by putting the first puck of the night passed Marc Andre Fleury.

Was it me?  But did the Rangers then go into a prevent defense?  I was agitated to say the least.

In the 3rd period, the Rangers opted for quick shifts, but continued playing not to lose.  What ever you call it, I thought Alain Vigneault was dancing with the devil.  In the end however, it went down as a brilliant defensive effort.

As I was saying, midway through the 3rd, Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis failed to capitalize on a two on one break, that I felt would come back to haunt them.  By the 10:00 mark, I was just waiting for the other shoe........

At 5:15 it almost fell off.  With the teams playing 4 on 4, Henrik Lundqvist was confronted with a furious Penguins assault on net, but The King held his ground.

Then I damn near blew a gasket at 3:14, when the Rangers willingly gave up the offensive zone and retreated back into a preventative posture again.  I thought - these sick bastards were just begging for overtime.

It never got to that.  Henrik Lundqvist made Brad Richards' 2nd period goal stand.  The King faced 36 shots in all, and turned away all but one.

The Rangers pulled it off.  While the Rangers were posting three straight victories, Henrik was limiting the Penguins to just a goal per game.  He has now won 5 straight Game Seven matches.

Tex's Rangers have arrived at the half way point.  They're going to the Eastern Conference finals.

Hopefully, this also silences those who demanded Henrik Lundqvist win a series by himself.  Our King is a benevolent king.

*           *          *          *

Can I have some salt, pepper and ketchup on the crow please?

If you ride The Trolley, or just follow RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS, then you know I've been one of the Rangers biggest naysayers this season, right through Game Four.  So, now, it's time I gave Coach Vigneault all the credit he deserves.  He did what other Rangers coaches could not, which was defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in a playoff series.

He matriculated his team back from a 3-1 deficit, damn near flawlessly.

There was no shot in hell, Coach Tortorella would have let Chris Kreider play down his mistakes.  There would have been less of a chance that Dan Carcillo would have seen ice time.  Benoit Pouliot would have surely been buried deep in Torts' dog house, what with all his dumb penalties particularly in the 1st round.   And, we know with certainty, that there would have been no 4th line to speak of, with a 3rd line being a highly questionable proposition as well.  That's just scratching the surface.  So, I'm here to give the "devil" his due.


Brooklyn Nets: Failure To Close Out Games Has Flatbush In A Bind

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

BROOKLYN NETS: Flatbush Needs Angry Deron Back.

Some things never change.

LeBron James' Monday night romp was no different than the way Michael Jordan used to come to town and light up the Knicks.  You knew he was going to get his points.  The objective was to shut down Scottie Pippen, and everyone else.

And, as was the case on many nights back when those Bulls visited the Garden, despite the main attraction putting on a show, this Miami Heats team, like those Bulls, have been similarly begging to lose.  But, now, as then, teams fail to step up, and suffer from poor late game execution.

In Game Four, the Nets simply failed to deliver a knockout blow.  Worse, they increasingly look discombobulated in the final rounds.  A failure to close out the Heat has now cost the Brooklyn Nets two games this series.  One more loss, and they'll have no one to blame for their elimination, but themselves.   They opted for a rope-a-dope in Game Four, and paid a price.  Now it is the Heat who are on the verge of delivering a TKO in Five.

The Nets were right there, in the middle of the ring exchanging haymakers.  But, we've seen this team suddenly go limp time, and again.  Thing is, Brooklyn took more shots from the field, converted more free throws, won the battle of the boards, distributed more assists, actually scored more points in the paint, and got more scoring from their bench.

But, you just can't let the Heat hang around.  You have to score late buckets with similar 1st quarter-like accuracy, or risk becoming undone.  That said, with roughly 4:00 left in the game, and the score locked at 92-92, that's exactly what happened.  The Ghoul of Flatbush reared its ugly head again to spook Brooklyn.

After Joe Johnson's free throws at the 3:55 mark, the Nets went 2 for their last 10 possessions, getting outscored 10-4 in the game's closing minutes.   Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Joe Johnson combined to shoot 0 for 4 from the field on the Nets final 6 possessions, while the Nets only points in the final 2:30 came on Kevin Garnett's 2 free throws, and Mirza Teletovic's layup with just 0:07 left.

Miami shot 52.9% from the field, while the Nets slumped in the 4th quarter to finish 43.6% for the night.   The Nets additionally only managed 20 points in the final quarter - their lowest output of the four sessions.

No one really expected the Nets to repeat their Game Three performance from beyond the arch.  Instead, Game Four was all about late, clutch, 2-point buckets.   The Nets even secured a series of defensive rebounds in those closing minutes, but failed to convert.  There's your game.

The Nets now face elimination for the third time in the 2013-14 playoffs.  They faced two straight elimination situations against the Toronto Raptors, and prevailed each time in games Six and Seven.  But, these are the defending NBA champions the Nets are now forced to defeat three straight times, and do it without the benefit of home court advantage.

I understand trying to slow down LeBron is a mixed bag of goods.  Over defending him will just set up the next guy's shot.  But, letting him start his drive from Calle Ocho, then allowing him to remain untouched all the way to the basket, is getting embarrassing.  I'd additionally keep a watchful eye on Chris Bosh too.  He's been slipping through the cracks and delivering big buckets.

On offense, the Nets need 10 points from Garnett, and can Deron Williams finally outplay Mario Chalmers for a change?  Deron's off-season narrative is going to be brutal as it is.  For now however, the formula is proven. When Deron plays well, the Nets win.   When he drives the lane and misses layups (or runs into three defenders without a plan, and turns the ball over), Game Four happens.

Where's the Deron Williams that got pissed off after getting torched by John Wall (back during the regular season)?  The Nets need Angry Deron back.


Monday, May 12, 2014

N.Y. Mets: The Saul B.Katz Dilemma Strikes Back

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

But, but, it's mine!  Daddy, do something!

NEW YORK METS: Uncle Saul Is Rumored To Be Sick And Tired Of Funding Fred Wilpon's Losing Enterprise!  Hurrah!


For the unlearned, a few years ago, I dubbed The Saul B.Katz Dilemma the proper name for:

The State of Chaos in which find our beloved NEW YORK METS ever since Nelson Doubleday found his partner (and son) so insufferable, that he felt he had no choice but to sell his half of the Team.

Refers to the Age of WILPONianism ~ Wilpon Family Ownership Since 2003
We are now inside MET YEAR TWELVE A.D. - (After Doubleday).

 - The Saul B. Katz Dilemma = Fred Wilpon and Jeff Wilpon.

 - Saul's Dilemma is being Parnters with the Wilpons.

 - His Quandary = The SAUL B. KATZ DILEMMA!

It's only a rumor!  But, The Saul B. Katz Dilemma may have finally had it up to here!

In a New York Times report,
(Saul Katz) has expressed a desire to sell his portion of the team because he has grown tired of spending millions to prop it up, according to several people in baseball briefed on the matter.
If you ride this Trolley, then you know I've been speculating this for years.  Partnering with the Wilpons has done nothing but cost Uncle Saul money - lots of it.  I'd be sick and tired too.  But, the latest scuttlebutt out of Camp Katz is that he vehemently denies these reports.  Should this be true, that he has no intentions of selling, then, the joke is on us, and how cruel it was.

Regardless, Mets fans never miss an opportunity to express their displeasure with the current ownership. This report was no different.  The fan base has had it with this situation, and this ownership.


NYC Subway Series: First Stop, 161st Street and River Avenue

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

With A Parking Lot That Cost A Fortune To Build,
But Is Too Expensive To Park In, And Thus Remains Mostly Empty.
161st Street and River Avenue

Entering the opener of this year's Subway Series, the Yankees own a 19-17 record, and the Mets own a 17-19 record.  Not much separates them, right?

One team spent $500 million dollars during the off season to refortify their roster, while the other team in town remains upwards of $850+ million dollars in debt.

One team will be retiring the number of a former manager, and adding three more plaques to Monument Park.  However, the other team in town severed ties with the first all-star the organization ever produced, for still unexplained reasons, nor have they made a motion, or entertained the thought of retiring the number of a HOF catcher, who recently passed away as perhaps the classiest member of the Mets last championship team.

Yes, it Subwayy Series time again, only one team might be showing up to Yankee Stadium this evening in Pedi-Cabs.

As a Mets fan, yes indeed, this was all pretty deliberate.  I'm in that kind of mood today.  But, it is an expression nonetheless, of my frustration with the disparity between New York City's American and National League clubs, that for all intent and purpose, should not exist.

Am I am a disgruntled Mets fan?  No, I am not.  Rather, I am a pissed off Mets fan.

*          *          *          *

Like everything else this season, this will be Derek Jeter's last Subway Series.  I've stated many times in this blog, that I do not want to see Derek Jeter ruin his career .300 batting average. He is presently batting .250, with 29 hits in 116 at-bats.  Derek started the season with a .314 lifetime mark, but has dropped 2 points, and presently owns a career .312 average.

*          *          *          *

My greatest Subway Series moment/game?
Carlos Delgado's Nine RBI @ Yankee Stadium


N.Y. Rangers: King Henrik's Plunder; Blueshirts Force Game Seven


Game Six Final:
Penguins   1
Rangers     3

NEW YORK RANGERS: Henrik Lundqvist Punches Blueshirts Ticket Back To Pittsburgh!

Rangers fans know better, but for the non-hockey members of the media (you know who you are) who insist Henrik Lundqvist needed to steal a game away from the Pens, well, there's your plunder.  Henrik is now 9-2 in elimination games,and Tex's Rangers are headed back to Pittsburgh for a Game Seven.

The Rangers have outplayed the Penguins by a combined 8-2 score in the last two games to even the series, and will now attempt an improbable third straight victory.

Henrik faced 37 shots from Pittsburgh and effectively stopped them all.  Most his saves were of the brilliant variety, with a few other incredible stops along the way.  The only goal Henrik allowed came off his own team mate, Kevin Klein.  Otherwise, Sidney Crosby, Ivgeni Malkin, Jussi Jokinen, Neal, and the rest of the Penguins were shut out.

We saw it in Game Five, and increasingly in Game Six.  The Rangers are now in the Penguins' heads - Sidney Crosby in particular, who is resorting to cheap shots, and as always, has his mates fight his battles.  It bears remembering how it was Pittsburgh who initiated the physicality of this series.  But, by Sunday night, the tables had completely turned.  The Rangers played as tough as perhaps I've seen them play all season.

Marion Gaborik who?  With 4 goals, Derick Brassard now shares the Rangers lead along with Carl Hagelin. While the speed of Hagelin, and Chris Kreider, is also giving Pittsburgh problems.  Hagelin gave the Rangers a back breaking 2-0 lead in the 1st period.  Later, Kreider was flat out robbed by the refs.

If you believe the conspiracy theory, then, yes, it seemed as if the refs did everything they could to propel Sidney Crosby and the Penguins into the Eastern Conference finals.

In the 1st period, the ref got in Carl Hagelin's way along the boards and tripped him up.  In the 2nd, Chris Krieder was pushed in the back, and into Marc Andre Fleury, but drew the penalty for (interference) crashing the goalie.  Not that that wasn't a good thing, but, those are just two instances of many nonetheless.

On this night, King Henrik ruled, but the night still belonged perhaps, to Martin St. Louis, who's emotional 1st period ignited the Blueshirts in a fiery night at the Garden.

The Rangers will now attempt to defeat the Penguins in a playoff series for the first time ever, and by doing so, advance to the Eastern Conference finals against the winner of Boston vs. Montreal.

*          *          *

The Rangers had 6 more power play opportunities, and failed to convert, which now makes them 5 for 56 (.08%) for the playoffs.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

BK Nets: A Team Grows In Brooklyn

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Game Three Final
Heat      90
NETS  104

BROOKLYN NETS: Someone Please Advise George Carl The Nets Play On Flatbush Avenue Now, But That We Appreciate His Minimalist Comments Anyway.

For his part, Jason Kidd again proved adept at making adjustments.  Just ask the 12 Nets players who touched the floor in Game Three.  It was evident in the Nets reaction to double-teams, and their overall ball movement.  It was evident in Kidd's decision to reinsert Andrei Kirilenko, who, after a DNP in Game Two, played brilliant defense over 19 minutes.

It should not go under spoken how hard it is to get teams tp buy into playing defense.  Yet Coach Kidd got his guys to reinvest themselves.  After allowing 52 points in the paint in Game One, the Nets allowed 34 in Game Two, then allowed just 26 in Game Three.  The Nets additionally held the Heat under 20 points in both the 2nd and 3rd quarters.

The Nets also wound up limiting the Heat to just 13 assists for the game, and out-rebounded them 43-27, with Andray Blatche leading all players with 10 boards off the bench.

Six of Jason Kidd's payers scored in double-digits - all dropping near 20 points each.  While the bench, led by Mirza Teletovic, Andrei Kirilenko, and Andray Blatche, inspired the still learning Brooklyn fans how to finally host a raucous playoff game.

Teletovic made particular impact with 12 points in 19 minutes.  All 7 of his shots from the field came from beyond the arch, and he connected on 4 of them.  He also pulled down 6 rebounds.  But, it was Andray Blatche who blistered the Heat with a personal career playoff high 15 points (and 10 rebounds).  He was 5 for 10 from the field, and damn near broke Chris Bosh's ankles with a devastating cross over move in the paint.

The Brooklyn crowd was on its game Friday, their best performance by far.  So were the Nets, who shot 52.8% from the field.  When the Nets shoot with that kind of accuracy, they most often win games.  It's when they fall to the 33%-35% range when things seemingly go awry.

Deron Williams was not among the team's double-digit scorers, but his did issue a game high 11 assists, and led the floor with a +18 rating in 40 minutes.  It was Joe Johnson who once again led the Nets with 19 points, on 7/10 shooting from the field.  Kevin Garnett contributed 10 points and 7 rebounds.

Another way of saying all this is, the Nets handed the Heat their first defeat of the 2013-14 playoffs, while another raucous night at Barclays Center awaits.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: One More Game Changes Everything


With Respect For The St. Louis Family,
A Moment Of Silence

NEW YORK RANGERS: Blueshirts Looking For An Extended Run Off-Broadway.

Tex's Rangers showed resiliency Friday night, and for a game, emerged as the more formidable team.  Or, Marc Andre Fleury finally performed as I expected.  In any event, the series is coming back to the Garden for Game Six.

The Rangers peppered Fleury with 34 shots, with 5 making their way through.  That's the rate I anticipated, although the Penguins goalie clearly had other plans in games Three and Four.  The Penguins answered with 31 shots on goal, but only one got by Lundqvist.

For the series, the Rangers have taken 133 SOG, and scored 9 times.  The Penguins have totaled 144 SOG, and have scored 11 times.

Chris Krieder, and his size, presence, and speed, are making an immediate impact.  Overall, the Rangers threw their bodies around much more effectively in Game Five.  Kreider was the one who set the tempo with his first period goal, and later assisted on Kevin Klein's 3rd period goal.

The Rangers best line in the playoffs took care of the rest.  Derick Brassard scored a pair of goals, Mats Zuccarello tallied another, and Ryan McDonagh scored his first of the playoffs.  It was only the 4th goal by a Rangers defenseman in the playoffs.

MatsZucs, Benoit Pouliot, Brad Richards, Carl Hagelin, and Derick Brassard are all tied for the Rangers lead with 3 goals each.

Kreier and McDonagh were also responsible for finally resuscitating the power play.  The Blueshirts were 2 for 3 on the man advantage, which now makes them 5 for 50 (10%) in 12 post season games.

Some things however, have not changed.  Rick Nash is now up to 49 shots without a goal.  His shooting percentage, is obviously zero.  He did however, notch (only) his 5th assist of the playoffs.

How Ivgeni Malkin split two Rangers defensemen en route to a 2nd period goal was a bit ponderous.  But in truth, it was a prime example of how bad a series Marc Staal is having.

Perhaps, Chris Krieder, along with Carl Hagelin, can continue speeding up play for the Rangers, and all the Blueshirts can crowd Marc Andre Fleury again, as they did in Game Five.

One win changes everything.


L.I. Ducks: Flock Opts For Difficult Road To Victory

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Flock Avoids Friday Night Collapse

Looking to turn their recent fortunes around with an old fashioned, rut altering, road trip, the migrating Long Island Ducks arrived in Lancaster for the back end of their home-and-home against the Barnstormers.

But, considering how the Ducks got swept on their field by the Barnstormers, Friday's series opener in Lancaster would have been an even harder pill to swallow.  That's because the Ducks jumped ahead 7-0 after 2 innings, then watched their lead erode to 7-3 after the 3rd, 7-6 after the 5th, and then ultimately an 8-7 deficit after the 8th.

Shaun Garceau made his 3rd start of the season, and in 5 innings, allowed 6 earned Lancaster runs on 7 hits, and 2 walks, with 2 strikeouts, yet managed to leave on the winning side of what was still a 7-6 game, while the bullpen work of Josh Lansford and Brett Lorin kept the Barnstormers quiet for another 2 innings.

In the top of the 8th, Jeremy Accardo broke a cardinal rule, and issued a lead-off walk to Blake Gailen that came back to haunt him.  A stolen base, a double, and a single later, and the Barnstormers were owners of an 8-7 lead.

In the top of the 9th, Adam Bailey pushed back with a one out solo home run to tie the game.  Then with 2 outs, Fehlandt Lentini's single plated two more runs, to give Long Island a 10-8 lead.

Coach Baez then turned to his closer Leo Rosales,who pitched a scoreless 9th inning to earn his fifth save of the season.

The Ducks will try an ensurer at least a series victory when the play the Barnstormers again this evening.


For Rising Apple: 5/9 Game Recap: Phillies Outlast Mets Bullpen For 3-2 Victory In 11 Innings

Here's my latest for

Join me every week for the Friday Recap

Senior Staff Writer/Rising Apple

Friday, May 09, 2014

Brooklyn Nets: The De-Evolution Of Deron Williams Continues

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH


Heat Lead Series 2-0
I - MIA 107; BKN 86
II - MIA 94; BKN 82

BROOKLYN NETS: Will The Player Formally Known As Deron Williams Please Stand Up?

Don't you hope, in some small twisted way, that the injection Deron Williams received after rolling his ankle against the Raptors, is really masking more than meets the eye?  If he is indeed ailing more than we're led to believe, it would at least account for some of what we've seen (or haven't seen) of him, and even come as a slight relief.  Because, on the one hand, where Deron's ankles have become a source of angst for many, on the other hand, such deterioration in play (while otherwise healthy) is fast becoming in need of some other metaphysical explanation.

In any event, we are witnessing the de-evolution of an NBA star.  Or, has the time come for us to refer to Deron Williams as a former star?  In 37 minutes played in Game Two, Deron was 0/9 from the field, 0/2 from beyond the arch, and 0/0 from the free throw line.  Add it all up, and for only the 3rd time in his career, Deron Williams was held scoreless. a playoff game.

Deron did pull down 7 rebounds and issued 6 assists, but posted a game high, and dismal minus-18 for the game.

The Nets lost to Miami 94-82, a 12-point margin - effectively the difference between Deron Williams contributing, or not.

While the Heat shot (35/71) 49.3% from the field, the Nets ended the game (33/78) 42.3% from the field.   The Heat connected on just 2 more treys than did the Nets, and as noted, Deron was denied from going to the foul line.  He was a non-factor in the Nets shooting 8/14 free throws, while Miami was 14/18 from the line.  He also failed to get to the free throw line in the series opener.

If Deron Williams figures only slightly in Game Two, this series is tied.

The Nets are now forced to return to Flatbush and win both games.


Thursday, May 08, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: Blueshirts Burried In Garden Of Errors


Penguins Lead Series 3-1
I - NYR 3; PITT 2*
II - PITT 4; NYR 1
IV - PITT 2; NYR 0
V - PITT 4; NYR 2

NEW YORK RANGERS: I'll Reserve Judgement Until ....

How on earth do teams play so miserably in such high stakes games?  No matter what team you root for, we've all been there.   The short answer, is, that's sports.  But, ask Rangers fans, and the conversation takes a radical turn.

Brutal play..., like Ryan McDonagh said, in every aspect of their game....  Game Four was by far their worst performance of the playoffs.

Brutal play in the defensive zone, brutal play in the offensive zone, and particularly brutal play in the neutral zone. - just brutal.

The Rangers only managed 15 shots on goal, they only won 18 face offs (vs. 31 by PITT), and turned the puck over 25 times.


And yes, Rick Nash got what he earned, which is different from "what he deserves".  I'm no one's ruler, and do not get to decide who deserves what.  Nash, however, earned the fan's ire Wednesday night.  A terrible turnover which directly led to a Pittsburgh goal, finally put everyone over the top.  Nash had four more shots in Game Four, which brings his total to 45 shots without a goal.

Truth is, that Nash went this long without catching hell shows how patient the fans have been with him.   Better players have gotten boo'd in this town for less.

The question still warrants asking - Where are the team's top players?  Nash, Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards.... are not getting it done.  Derek Stepan, who held out for his money, is not getting it done.  It was Mats Zuccarello, and Carl Hagelin again, each scoring their 3rd goal of the playoffs, respectively.

Speaking of Hagelin, as much as McDonagh's pass, it was Hagelin's speed which led to his 2nd period goal - something the Rangers have been ineffective utilizing with the absence of Chris Krieder.  His return is unfortunately too little too late.  On the other side, Speed is something the Rangers are getting torched by.   Just ask Marc Staal.

And, then there's the power play, that Alain Vigneault was brought in to improve. It is now 0 for its last 36 opportunities, and 3 for 48 (.06%) for the playoffs.

I can't wait to say what I really feel.


L.I. Ducks: Look What The Barnstormers Did To The Flock...Again

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Lancaster Leads Series 2-0
GM1 - LAN 5; LID 4
GM 2 - LAN 6; LID 5

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Lew Ford Is Hot; John Brownell Is Not.  Starter Still In Search Of First Victory.

On Sunday, the Ducks salvaged a split in their four game series against the York Revolution.  But, after a day off on Monday, they've spent the last two nights dropping a pair of one run games to the Lancaster Barnstormers.

In the series opener, Lancaster jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, only to have the Ducks scramble back, and tie the game at four.  However, the Ducks unfortunately fell in ten innings by a 5-4 final.  Lew Ford was 4 for 5 in the game, homered, and recorded 3 RBI.

Still in search of his first victory, John Brownell climbed the hill for Long Island Wednesday night, and was opposed by Lancaster's Chad Beck.

While Beck kept the Ducks silent over his 5 innings of work, Lancaster was busy chipping away at Brownell over his 6 innings.  The Barnstormers took an immediate 1-0 lead in the 1st, and by the 6th inning, owned a 5-0 lead.  All five runs were earned, and charged to Brownell, who exited after allowing 9 hits, one walk, and fanning 4 batters.

Long Island jumped back into the game in the bottom of the 6th with a 2-run home run by Adam Bailey, with Lew Ford on base.

With Brad Holt pitching in relief of Brownell in the 7th, Lancaster drew a one out walk, and singled, instigating Coach Baez to make another change.  Steve Garrison entered, and promptly surrendered a single to Fred Lewis to make it a 6-2 game.

That's important, because the Ducks rallied, but fell short by a run.  In the home 8th, Fehlandt Lentini led off with a double, and scored on Lew Ford's base hit.  Adam Bailey then doubled.  After a pitching change by Lancaster, Cody Puckett greeted reliever Brodie Downs with a single to center, delivering Ford, and making it a 6-5 game.  But, the rally ended there.  With 2 outs, catcher Brian Peacock struck out to end the game.

John Brownell took the loss.  His ERA inflated to a 5.50 mark, while his record fell to 0-2 in 3 starts.

Long Island fell one game below .500 with a 5-6 mark.

Lew Ford raised his batting average to a .341 mark, on the strength of 10 hits in his last 17 at-bats.

After Thursday's series finale, both teams will travel to Lancaster and play three more.


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: It's Time To Crash The Net


Penguins Lead Series 2-1
I - NYR 3; PITT 2
II - PITT 2; NYR 0

Pittsburgh Penguins
New York Rangers

NEW YORK RANGERS: Rangers Turning Marc Andre Fleury Into Ken Dryden.

The Rangers took 35 SOG in Game Three against just 15 for Pittsburgh, yet were held scoreless for the second consecutive night.   If you had offered me 35 shots prior to the game, I would have taken them.  I was sure 30+ shots against Marc Andre Fleury was good for at least a pair.

So, now what?  Take better shots?  Take smarter shots?  Take even more shots?  Lie? Steal?  Cheat?

All the above?

The power play is additionally now 0 for its last 34 attempts, and 4 for 42 in the playoffs.  I have no idea what to say of that.  And, of Rick Nash failing to score after taking 47 SOG in 10 playoff games, well, I'm speechless.

Brad Richards remains the team's leading scorer with 3 goals and 4 assists.

On Pittsburgh's first goal, Marc Staal couldn't handle Sidney Crosby's burst of speed up the left side.  On Pittsburgh's second goal, Jussi Jokinen had the Rangers beat right out of the penalty box.

This all sounds so familiar.

All it takes is one misstep - one misstep and a Penguin will get by.  Just ask Anton Stralman and Marc Staal. I feared Pittsburgh's forwards would be too fast for some of our blue liners, Stralman and Klein in particular. Watching Staal get toasted however, was discouraging.  I argued with Hockey Buddy, and he believes Staal had no chance to defend Crosby.  I say the pass to Crosby came from the top of the rear circle and hit the princess when he and Staal were near even just beyond the red line.


It's time to CRASH the net.