The last time the Canadians’ came to Prudential Center, the intrigue was what, if any, would be the response after Habs goalie Carey Price pummeled Kyle Palmieri in the back of his head and kidneys with his blocker as punishment for encroaching upon his crease, and making contact, in the Devils’ 5-2 loss at Montreal on Dec. 8. But Price did not play in that game and he did not play in last night’s game at the Rock. Adding to that intrigue is the fact that the Canadians are now coached by ex-Devils coach Claude Julien.
There might have been intrigue, but it didn’t help. For the second time in as many games, the Devils blew a third period lead and lost in overtime, Allowing three third period goals to blow it in overtime. This has happened several times this season.
It started back in October. The team was playing the Chicago Blackhawks, with a lead in the third period. Vernon Fiddler took a four-minute double minor for high sticking with roughly five minutes left. Marian Hossa scored the tying goal with two minutes left. They lost in overtime. It happens again against the Penguins when Sidney Crosby scored with less than 15 seconds left. They lose in a shootout. It continues twice against the Edmonton Oilers. The Rangers did it against them twice as well, the last time was on Saturday.
In all, this has happened eight times this season. Eight times the Devils had a lead in the third period, allowed their opponent to tie the game, then lose in overtime or a shootout. Think about this for a second. If the Devils win all of these games, games they should win, the team has 70 points and they are the front runners for the last playoff spot. Instead, they sit in 7th place with 62 points and out of playoff contention.
Is it a curse or is it the team’s lack of killer instinct? A curse is a hex or a jinx, some form of magic. Not sure I believe in magic, but the Devils surely need it if there to make the the playoffs this season.
The Rangers are on a roll. Great hockey game last night, and another win thanks to Mika Zibanejad’s goal in the shootout. It was another goalie duel, as Henrik Lundqvist and Frederik Andersen made difficult saves look routine on a regular basis. Both goalies allowed just one in regulation, and neither stood a chance on those goals. Both were magnificent in overtime as well, stopping chance after chance. It was marvelous to watch. The Rangers really controlled play all night, and Andersen is the only reason why the Leafs didn’t lose in regulation. And it was a great overtime with each team getting chance after chance…it was both goalies putting on a show.
Aside from the goalies, Rick Nash was a machine again as he generated a lot of scoring chances. None found twine, but that’s more due to Andersen’s excellence. Honestly, I’m just (again) going to gush over the goaltender performances in this game. It was so much fun watching this game and watching these two battle it out. If the Rangers do meet the Leafs in the playoffs, it could be a classic.
Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei continue to play brilliantly on defense, but they sorely need another top quality defenseman if they’re going to make a legitimate cup run. As the trade deadline approaches, a deal for Kevin Shattenkirk might make their chances a bit more realistic.
The Blue Shirts are 8-2-1 in their last ten games, owning a +6 goal differential. In the ten game stretch prior, New York went 5-5, with a -3 goal differential. Perhaps more importantly, they allowed only 26 goals in this past ten game stretch. That’s eight fewer goals against than the stretch before. They have moved into 3rd place in the division with 80 points. I would say: they are on a roll!
A mere 37 years ago (and really it feels like just yesterday), the United States played in a hockey game. You might have heard of it. It was called: an Olympic semifinal I mean, the Miracle On Ice
Oh yeah, the United States of America back when it was really great, was able to beat the Soviet Union (today’s “Russia”) in a game without well paid professionals, like in today’s Olympics. It was a clash of two powerful economic ideologies that had dominated the global landscape for decades. The Russian team was considered the best in the world.
The coach was Herb Brooks, an NCAA coach and student of international hockey. Brooks had played for his country at two Olympics, and was the last man cut from the 1960 team, which won America’s first Olympic gold medal in hockey. He spent the 1970s as head coach at the University of Minnesota, leading the team to three NCAA titles and earning notice for his prickly personality and fanatical preparation. His team was a bunch of college kids who never played with one another until the summer before the games.
The year before, the Soviet national team had crushed the NHL All Stars 6-0 in the deciding game of a challenge series. The Soviet domination of the 1979 World Championship was absolute. Behind them was, was the great Vladislav Tretiak in net. The US team had a kid named Jim Craig. The Soviets beat the US team 10-3 in a exhibition match earlier that month.
To begin with, the US team entered the games seeded seventh out of twelve teams which qualified for the games. After a surprising start with a 2-2 tie against Sweden followed by a 7-3 victory against a very powerful Czechoslovakia team, the American team finished 4 and 0 with 1 draw to advance them to the medal round.
In the semi, tied 2-2 after the first period, the Soviets brought in the only goal for the second period. Mark Johnson's goal in the third brought the US back. With ten minutes left to the game, Mike Eruzione scored the famous fourth and winning goal and with Jim Craig's solid play at the net the US team defeated the Soviets 4-3. As broadcaster Al Michaels delivered the most famous call in American sport: “Five seconds left in the game! Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"
With only 4 national networks at the time, the game was played in the daytime and broadcast on tape delay. Soap operas had better ratings than Olympic hockey.
They actually beat Finland for the gold the day after, but everyone will remember THAT game. American hockey came of age on that day, February 22, 1980, when the young Americans took down the mighty Red Machine from the USSR. I think it’s fair to say It might just be the single most incredible moment in all of U.S. sports history. At least in my book it is.
Watched about 7 minutes of the NBA all-star game. Every time a ball was dribbled past half court, the defense just moved out of the way, allowing the ball handler to dunk or fire a 3 pointer, at the same time showboating for the crowd. Not sure why they even had refs. I read that a total of 280 field goals were attempted, or one every 10.3 seconds. The only thing rarer than a 24-second violation was a contested shot. I would have watched more of the game, but I like basketball.
The Yankees have agreed to a minor league contract with ex-Mets lefty Jon Niese. They’ll look at him as both a starter and reliever in camp. Do they really need a washed-up former Met?
Rutgers is bad at basketball. It is not breaking news for Rutgers to be bad at basketball. They haven't reached the NCAA Tournament since 1991. They are currently 2-13 in the Big Ten. Coach Steve Pikiell has Not turned this team around like everyone predicted he would. Thank god for the football team. Oh wait, they stink too!
Speaking of college hoops, my favorite conference has always been the Big East with the ACC a close second. On March 4, you'll turn on the TV again to see another epic season ACC finale between maybe the greatest rivalry in college hoops…Duke and North Carolina. The entire college basketball world should watch the action in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The outcome could greatly affect the March Madness seedlings.
Sutton United reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw has resigned from the club amid controversy over his decision to eat a pie during the FA Cup loss to Arsenal. Sun Bets, Sutton's sponsor for the matchup, had been offering odds of 8-1 on the portly 45-year-old eating a pie live on air, and he was caught on camera enjoying his dinner during the second half of the game last week. Sun Bets claims to have paid out a "five-figure sum" to those who placed money on Shaw eating during the televised contest. Shaw insisted he had been eating a pasty and not a pie. What in God’s name is a Patsy?
The news around the Jets last week was about Darrelle Revis. He actually hit someone.
It wasn’t enough that the Yankees beat Dellin Betances at their arbitration hearing, the Yankee President Randy Levine had to rip the Yankee setup man. Because beating Betances in arbitration apparently wasn’t enough, Levine jumped on a conference call Saturday and took shots at Betances and his agent Jim Murray for what he considered an unrealistic salary request. Nice going Randy.
Levine didn’t even pronounce Betances’ name correctly during the arbitration hearing, calling him Dylan instead of Dellin. He and about 10 staffers just proved over and over again that Betances wasn’t worth the 5 million he was asking for. Levine commented "It's like me saying, I'm not the president of the Yankees, I'm an astronaut. I'm not an astronaut and Dellin Betances is not a closer." He also commented “I feel bad that Betances was used that way by his agents." Needless to say Betances and his agent weren’t too happy.
Arbitration is an unfortunate part of the game, but it is part of the game. There’s a reason the two sides usually try like hell to avoid it. What is not part of the game, however, is holding a conference call to trash one of your best and most beloved players. Betances in the last 2 out of 3 seasons, threw more innings that any other pitcher in baseball. Even in his rough patch last year, he accepted blame and continued to do as his manager asked, and never complained. The guy has been a model employee. Levine showed what a jerk he really is, and its not the first time his mouth has gotten him negative attention. Think the A-Rod drama.
Betances responded by saying “You look at it a little differently now. I think (free agency) will be a little easier when the time comes.” Good for Dellin too. I could see him having a great year just to spite Randy Levine. And when his contract runs out, there’s NO chance the Yanks will ever get to resign him, he’ll be history.
If you’re a Yankee fan this has to make you sick. Can you imagine what the likes of Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, and all the rest of the Baby Bombers must be thinking about their future with the team?
Spring Training has finally arrived., so my thoughts today are on the game.
MLB in it’s infinite wisdom, is looking to improve the pace of play. Meaning, shortening games. A typical 9 inning game should take no more than 2.5 hours, but frequently go past 3 hours. It has formally proposed changes to intentional walks and the strike zone as well as extra inning games and time limits on pitching changes. My two cents…
As for extra innings...Like softball, every inning plays out the same: teams start with a runner at second. This is to promote scoring. In reality the first batter will bunt the runner to third, and the second batter is intentionally walked to set up the double play. Every single time. It’s terrible and horrible and I hope this rule change never ever comes to MLB. While I agree games take too long, this is not softball, where often more than one game is scheduled on a field. This baseball, and the proposal is laughable. Next will be re-entry.
This next one is simple. They want to the bottom of the zone approximately two inches, which would undoubtedly increase offense. Research has shown the strike zone has increased downward in recent years. Here’s my solution. Have umpires actually call the strike zone as it is in the rule book. When a pitch actually crosses just below the arm pits, call it a strike. When it crosses the top of the knee call it a strike!!
Intentional walks are too infrequent to make a meaningful change to the time of game. Want to improve pace of play? Cut down on mound visits. The catcher gets one per inning, per pitcher. Cut down on pitching changes. Lets make a pitcher pitch to a minimum of two batters, maybe three. Something like that. As for those pitching changes…Set a time limit and a warm up pitch limit. Why does a relief pitcher throw 20-25 warm up pitches in bullpen and then need 8 more pitches once he gets to the mound? Don’t you think 3 or 4 should be enough?
I’m an old school fan of baseball. I’m not into making so many changes, but lets face it, today’s average game just takes too long. The biggest problem I see is not so much the length of the game but the actual time the ball is actually in play. The biggest culprit is relief pitching, which is suffocating baseball, but that’s for another post. The biggest reason for all this is MLB does not enforce the 12-second rule between pitches, it does not enforce the one-foot-in-the-box rule, it does not empower umpires to “move the game along” and it allows players to call as many timeouts as they want whenever they want and for whatever trivial reason. Players play Major League Baseball at a slower pace than how they played baseball on every other level their whole lives. How about enforcing the rules you already have in place instead of making more changes that will never be enforced.
It is Valentine’s Day so I’ll try and share some love.
Victor Cruz and Rashad Jennings are no longer New York Giants. Both were released on Monday. The 30 year old Cruz became a fan favorite back in 2010 as an undrafted free agent out of Paterson, N.J. He’ll mostly be remembered for that 99 yard touchdown against the Jets, which helped the Giants win a playoff spot and face New England in the Super Bowl where he caught another TD pass to upset the Patriots. Two seasons later, he was ruined by a knee injury followed by a calf injury. The best of Victor Cruz, hometown kid done well, was over. He’ll be missed, it was fun having him around and you had to Love his Salsa dance.
The Rangers continued their trend of turning up their game in the third period, and were rewarded yet again with a come from behind victory over the Blue Jackets. It was their 6th in a row. The win pushed the Rangers into a virtual three-way tie for second place in the division. Much love to the blueshirts, who are the only good news around the Garden these days.
If you LOVE baseball you should be happy that Pitchers and catchers report today for the Mets and tomorrow for the Yankees. I wonder how the Met wives and girlfriends fell about that.
Playboy is bringing back nude models in its upcoming issue — one year after banning naked photos in an effort to boost circulation and attract more mainstream advertisers. Wondering if the plunge in subscription sales had anything to do with that change. Don’t get too excited guys, it’s butts and boobs only. And who doesn’t Love butts and boobs.
Congrats to Geno Auriemma's, UConn ladies squad for winning 100 straight. Auriemma has to Love the decision to leave the Big East and move to the AAC were the competition isn’t nearly as good.
A federal judge gave the green light Monday for a U.S. government lawsuit that accuses Lance Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France champion of fraudulently accepting millions of dollars in sponsorship money from the U.S. Postal Service. Don’t you just Love how our government spends our tax dollars?
We all know about the embarrassing event that took place at the Garden last week. But because this is the Knicks, and because this involves Knicks owner James Dolan, this story isn't that simple. It's never simple at 2 Penn Plaza, The Garden's address in midtown Manhattan and the epicenter of a never-ending stream of insanity over the past 15 years. That explains why the Knicks rather than just letting this story die on its own, threw a giant can of gasoline on it not once, but twice, with incendiary statements from their PR department (no doubt at the direction of Dolan himself, as a result of his longstanding feud with Charles Oakley). The first, which came Wednesday night, ended with, "He was a great Knick and we hope he gets help soon." The second, which came after Oakley spoke to media outlets Thursday, ended with, "Everything he said since the incident is pure fiction." That along with Phil Jackson taking veiled shots at Carmelo Anthony just convinces us that the Knicks are a mess.
To add to the embarrassment, Latrell Sprewell, along with Larry Johnson, Gerald Wilkins, Herb Williams and Kenny (Sky) Walker, were all invited to watch a game with “The Dolan”. Like that was going to make things alright. Like the Knick fans were going to fall for that and just forgive and forget. Oh and then there’s that losing record of 22-33 good enough for 12th in the Eastern Conference. Things are still a mess. And they are a mess because of James Dolan.
Since 1999 when Dolan’s business partner died, he has ruled the MSG by intimidation, fear and trickle-down paranoia. The Garden has become a place in which employees, especially the best ones, including holdovers from previous administrations, considered it a good day when they weren’t fired, humiliated or had avoided the suspicious gaze of Dolan and his seconds. (remember Marv Albert’s departure?) Dolan is a quintessential trust-fund baby villain, never positively distinguishing himself in any meaningful way but profiting handsomely despite serial incompetence, tone-deaf public relations, and a whole lot of arrogance.
To me it’s amazing that the Rangers, for the most part, have avoided the embarrassing Dolan failures. Perhaps one day Dolan will earn cheers from the Garden Faithful upon announcing his sale of the Knicks and Rangers. Maybe then he can focus on his true passion: fronting the blues band J.D. and the Straight Shot, whose gigs, Sports Illustrated reported, Garden employees are reportedly expected to attend.
Until then, it's just another day of James Dolan scowling his way to financial success built on the loyalty of a rabid fanbase that knows it deserves better, but is too fanatical to actually hit ownership where it hurts: in the wallet.
As if things aren’t bad enough for the New York Knicks, the circus made an unannounced visit to the Garden last night, when a Knick legend Charles Oakley, was hauled out of the arena by security, handcuffed and taken to jail in front of a stunned star-studded crowd just a few feet from Garden chairman James Dolan.
Oakley was one of the NBA's foremost enforcers during his playing career, and the 53-year-old's demeanor doesn't appear to have softened in retirement. Oakley got into a shoving match when security approached him during the Knicks' matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers last night. A police source said that Oakley had purchased a seat a few rows behind Dolan and was making comments at the Knicks owner, who eventually had security escort him from the arena. It’s no secret that Dolan and Oakley aren’t fond of each other. Knicks president Phil Jackson tried to calm down Oakley, who was yelling about Dolan and telling security he wasn't going to move as they handcuffed him outside the tunnel leading to the court. At one point, Oakley ended up on the ground surrounded by police.
This episode just adds to the dysfunctional Knicks' 2016-17 season, highlighted by the Jackson-Carmelo Anthony drama. Oakley's arrest might take some of the attention off Jackson, who has directly or indirectly, delivered several critiques of Anthony this season mostly via Twitter, while barely talking to the press. The Jackson regime, in its third season, has been a disaster. The Knicks are currently 22-32.
Oakley played 10 years for the Knicks and helped the franchise reach the Eastern Conference Finals in 1993 and the NBA Finals in 1994. Those were the days when NBA basketball was fun and I actually watched a game from time to time. Games used to be slugfests. Players like Oakley were defensive enforcers, grinding their way to victory, slowing offenses down to idling paces. Today it’s no defense; it's just run and gun, and showboating by selfish “hey look at me” players. High-powered offenses are revered. Impregnable defenses border on obsolete. The N.B.A. regular season is borderline unwatchable; I don’t know about you, but I’ll spend the rest of my winter watching Hockey.
I don’t know about you, but Im totally ready for pitchers and catchers.
Matt Ryan played brilliantly when he needed to play brilliantly in the first three quarters of Super Bowl 51. At one point he was 15-for-18 and 268 yards and there were times when it looked as if he could have completed passes to Lady Gaga if he wanted to. He still could have had a chance to win but never got that chance because of the most ridiculous rule in all of big-time sports: The one that says if you lose the coin flip, do that in a Super Bowl, the biggest game in your sport, and the other team scores a touchdown the first time it touches the ball, you don’t get to touch the ball again until next season. Duh.
Didn’t Mike Vick’s retirement announcement sound, I don’t know, a little redundant? Either way, good riddance.
If you think the former Baylor coach Art Briles and his assistants are the only ones in Major College Football America burying various kinds of player misconduct, well, think again.
Tom Brady has just about become Michael Jordan, the most spectacular team sports performer of this generation and likely all-time.
Yankee Catching phenom Gary Sanchez has changed his mind regarding the World Baseball Classic as he has instead elected to remain with the New York Yankees throughout spring training. Gary would rather prepare for the season than play in places like Miami with the Dominican Republic team. Wish Odell had done the same thing.
The Knicks rank in the bottom of the NBA in almost every single relevant defensive stat. Carmelo Anthony has the worst defensive rating on the team, with the Knicks giving up 110.4 points per possession when he’s in the game. The guy only cares about his scoring numbers and I could care less about anything he or Phil Jackson does. Now go ahead and tweet that!
What Is This?
It's a somewhat tongue in cheek OPINIONATED sports blog that promises to cover baseball, football, hockey, basketball, and any other INTERESTING, stupid, and absurd STORY related to sports.
All comments and opinions welcome.