Old Friends/Bookends

Old Friends
Old Friends
Sat on their park bench like bookends …

A time it was
It was a time
A time of innocence
A time of confidences

Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you

-Paul Simon

This weekend Saturday and Sunday nights were hockey bookends for myself and Mr. Hurley. Saturday night we went to see the Detroit Red Wings play the Icelanders at the Mausoleum. Sunday we went to the Garden to watch the Rangers stumble through their second game in two nights against the LA Kings.

Whether at the Garden or on the Island, I always try to see the Wings when they come to town. Now, having moved from the Western to the Eastern Conference, I’ll be getting to see my second favorite team play more often. More Mule, more Zetterberg and especially more DATSYUK!

What a barn burner it was! Every time one team scored, the other answered back. The Icelanders went up 4 -3 at the 4:43 mark of the third period. It looked like the Fishsticks would prevail. Detroit pulled their goaltender and Pavel Datsyuk tied it with 43 seconds left in the third period for his second goal of the game.

The game went to the shoot out. Neither Datsyuk, Zetterberg or Bertuzzi could beat Poulin. Franz Neilson won it for the home team, scoring the only goal.

…from excitement to ennui in 24 hours…

The Rangers had a bookend weekend of their own. They shut out the Montreal Canadiens in Montreal for the first time since 1967. It was the first time the Rangers won in Montreal in their last 8 games at Le Centre Belle.

This was no mean feat for as we all know the calls usually go the way of Blu, Blanc et Rouge at home. It was a shut out for our new sensation, rookie netminder and Quebec native, Cam Talbot.

A mere 24 hours later and the Rangers lost by a score of 0-1 to the LA Kings.

As well as the Rangers played in Hab town, they played equally as badly in Rangertown. Not even a tribute to their biggest cheerleader, Dancing Larry, could rally the Rangers to put a puck behind Kings backup goalie, Ben Scrivens.

If it weren’t for our King, the score would have been at least 4-0. Granted, it was the Rangers second game in two nights. To make matters worse, fog delayed the Rangers return flight from Montreal and they didn’t get home until after 3 am.

Still, it’s early in the season. They just had three days off before the Montreal game. One set of back to back games this early in the season shouldn’t tire them out that much. No excuses. Perhaps Alain Vigneualt doesn’t demand the same level of conditioning as did his predecessor.

Speaking of predecessors, I had a nice pre-game conversation with my all time favorite Ranger coach, Tom Renney, at the Mausoleum on Saturday. Tom currently assists Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock.

We chatted for a few minutes about the Wings, the Rangers and our families. Tom looks great. So much less stress being out of the red hot spotlight that shines on NHL head coaches. So nice to see an old friend doing well. We are both a little older and a lot grayer but happy and healthy.

Speaking of old friends, I’d like to thank Rob Kowal of New York Hockey Talk for including me in on the group tickets his Long Island Dragons got for the Red Wing game. Sorry we couldn’t stay to watch the Dragons play. I’m sure we’ll pass each other in the night as we leave/arrive at some Long Island rink. :)


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Rangers Legends Cruise to Bermuda

The Rangers Legends Cruise is a seven-night modern luxury vacation to Bermuda on board the Celebrity Summit departing August 3, 2014 from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey.

Featuring Rangers greats Ron Duguay, Adam Graves, Ron Greschner and Stephane Matteau this rare vacation package will include unprecedented access to Rangers stars, as well as exciting activities onboard and ashore, including meet and greet events, shore excursions featuring quintessential Bermuda experiences, private receptions, such as a sunset barbecue on the ship’s pool deck, and more.

AAA Travel has shipboard credit, VIP embarkation and more…

To book your cabin call Margaret at AAA New York



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Hagelin, Hobbits and Hat Tricks

The Day of the Dead saw a Ranger team that is alive and well and prospering from their return home to the completely renovated Madison Square Garden.

Granted, they lost the home opener. It was a lackluster performance compounded by the ice being tilted against them. Last Monday was more about the new Garden and less about the Rangers.

But, the next three home games (I count the game at Nassau as a home game) saw this Ranger team start to come together under the puck possession, shoot first system Alain Vigneault has been preaching. The choir is starting to listen.

In my opinion, these last three victories have more to do with chemistry and less to do with systems. If you want to a fire you need a spark. If you want the fire to spread, you need a accelerant. In the last three games, Mats Zuccarello and Carl Hagelin are the accelerants. Being at home in front of the their own fans is the spark.

An accelerant can be any substance that can bond, mix, or disturb another substance and cause an increase in the speed of a natural, or artificial chemical process.

Hagelin’s first goal was a backhand shot. Not only does Hagelin have speed, he’s stealthy. In today’s NHL we see a plethora of slapshots and wristshots and not much else. Creative players are few and far between. How many times do we see players miss out on good scoring opportunities because they have to get the puck on their forehand and tee up the shot. Yawn.

Hagelin, Kreider and Zuccarello are fast and creative. They enable other players around them to excel. If I were Vigneault, I’d keep the Kreider/Stepan/Zuccarello line together until they start to run cold, returning Callahan and Nash be damned.

For all the whining I hear about Mats Zuccarello being too small, he doesn’t belong on the top lines, he’s a borderline NHLer, yada, yada, yada, last night’s performance should shut the naysayers up. The Hobbit is here for the duration.

Zucca assisted on all three of Stepan’s goals. The kid is a playmaker. He’s got incredible foot speed, as does Hagelin. He sees the ice like few others on the team. He’s creative. He and Kreider certainly brought out the best in Stepan.

Zuccarello and Kreider, two kids Torts threw under the bus. Torts can keep the Sedin twins. They just signed a four year contract in Vancouver. They’ll probably be there long after Torts gets the ax again.

I love some of the moron “Torts Supporters” out there in Rangerland. When the Rangers were struggling, the “Tort-ites” were asking if we missed winning under Tort’s “safe is death/shot blocking/no powerplay/two line only” system.

After watching the last three games, the Tort-ites need to STFU. Vigneault and the Rangers may have gotten off to a slow start. Hagelin and the Hobbit are anything but slow. Speed kills. The Rangers just need to keep their foot on the accelerator.

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Don’t Even Get Me Started…

How was Galchenyuk’s goal tonight allowed if Miller’s goal in Philadephia the other night was not? Would someone in Toronto like to show us replays of the two goals side by side and explain the difference to the fans in the stands that pay their hard earned money to watch their team get hosed?

Granted, the Rangers failed to score on their powerplay opportunities. But, again the officials on the ice at MSG and in Toronto determined the outcome of the game, not the players.

James Dolan should take note on how Bettman and his henchmen shit on his housewarming party tonight at the newly renovated Madison Square Garden, the world’s most famous arena…for patsies.

I’m sure Colin Campbell is smiling in Toronto. He and his staff of incompetent officials were able to effectively job the Rangers at home.  It’s a given that they can, and do, get away with it in Montreal. The Rangers should concede defeat whenever they play Montreal and save their time, our money and their energy.

How long is this vendetta going to go on? As long as Colin Campbell is in charge of officiating and Gary Bettman is the Commissioner. The Rangers aren’t the only team to be victimized by Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. Ask any team that has to play Montreal, Toronto and Pittsburgh regularly.

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A Bientot, Marty Biron

Here’s a big Bon Chance from this Ranger fan to GoodMarty. A few of us took to calling Biron GoodMarty as opposed to the EvilMarty who lives across the river under a rock.

Marty Biron is a good egg and had a hell of an NHL career. He was especially effective in Buffalo where he was at the top of his game for 5+ seasons until he had himself traded into goaltender hell in Philadelphia. What is it with the Flyers? They change goalies the way Paris Hilton changes boyfriends.

Marty then went to the Islanders who mistreated him in favor of the “never coming back” DiPietro. They should have had Marty at number one instead of Roloson.

The Islanders loss was the Rangers gain. GoodMarty came in as the perfect backup to Lundqvist. Steve Valiquette was not a major league backup. Too bad cheapo Sather didn’t pull the trigger on Marty before the Fishsticks did. Biron served the Rangers well and was great in the room to boot. A class act.

I think putting Marty on waivers was premature. The Rangers have been playing terrible defensively. Even the King is struggling early in this season. New pads, off season rust and a ridiculous road schedule have conspired to squeeze Marty Biron out.

I hope the hell Cam Talbot is up to the job of backing up Henrik in this Olympic year. The back up this season needs to play at least 25 games. Waiving Biron may come back to bit Sather in the ass. It’s always something, eh.

Good Luck to GoodMarty. He’s knowledgeable, entertaining and God knows he’s loquacious. He’s perfect for broadcasting. The NHL network needs a new francophone. Pierre Maguire is boring. They need an upgrade on the mic between the benches.

Marty Biron and a microphone. Perfect together.

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Rangers Need To Right Ship

Maybe John Tortorella was more important than anyone thought.

The former crusty coach of the New York Rangers had his flaws, but at least the team played hard. Now under Alain Vigneault, there is no discipline and no identity.

At least not yet. And the 1-3 record shows it.

And the last two 9-2 drubbing on Tuesday in San Jose and last night’s 6-0 shutout in Anaheim show it.

“The execution, making a tape-to-tape pass, has nothing do with systems,” Vigneault said. “Coming through the neutral zone and reading the other team’s pressuring gap and making the play with the puck has nothing to do with the system. These are all things these players have done their whole lives and that I’m confident they can still do.”

The Rangers seem lost. It may be because their training camp took them on the road and then opening the season with 10 games away from the newly renovated Madison Square Garden.

It also could be because Derek Stepan missed camp and now Rich Nash is out with a concussion.

None of this would have been predicted by williamhill betting.

Very well, but it is getting early fast. It’s not as dire as say, the New York Giants, but something needs to happen.

And they need to start with the simple things.

“We’re obviously trying new things here, a different look,” goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. “But hockey’s about – we talked about it after last game – it’s about all the small details in the game, and if you don’t do that right, it’s going to be a tough game …. If you lose the puck in the wrong areas, it’s going to cost you, and it did today. Probably four of the goals were we just lost the puck in the wrong area, and it’s deadly.”

It’s the first time since December 2006, when Tom Renney was the coach and Jaromir Jagr was the Captain the Rangers gave up 14 or more goals in two consecutive games, according to Elias Sports Bureau. That happened on a back-to-back, Dec. 16 in a 9-2 loss in Toronto, followed by a 6-1 loss the next night to New Jersey. The Rangers’ franchise record for most goals surrendered in consecutive games, according to Elias, is 21, set in 1944 with a 15-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 23, followed by a 6-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 27.

Fortunately the Rangers didn’t match that record last night and they did even out the game. But it was too little too late.

“I thought our effort was a little bit better, still not where it needs to be,” said current captain Ryan Callahan. “It’s disappointing. It definitely is. I expected a little bit more out of the group after what happened in San Jose, and we didn’t get that.”

Fortunately it’s only four games and the Rangers have a chance to turn it around. But they need to do it soon or risk the season falling into an abyss.







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What Happens In Vegas…

Just got back home from my junket to Las Vegas to see the Rangers play the LA Kings on Friday night at the MGM Grand. I also saw the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam, so the trip wasn’t an entire loss. (Rim shot).

But seriously folks, the Rangers “C” team played the Kings “A-” team. The Rangers also played their fourth game in five nights. And, Lundqvist played back to back games after getting blown out in Vancouver the night before. The fact that the score of this game was 4-1 is miraculous.

Who in hell made up this schedule? Isn’t the preseason schedule at the discretion of each hockey club? Considering that the Rangers are going to play the first nine games of the season on the road (the first seven as part of another western road trip), one would think the powers that be would have gone easy with the preseason travel schedule and stayed more local.

I had an opportunity to have a pregame conversation with John Giannone and Dave Maloney. I found out Lundqvist was in net. He wanted to shake off the previous night’s game in Vancouver. Maybe Henke should have let Marty Biron take this one. After being undressed by Anze Kopitar 18 seconds into the game, you knew it was only going to be all downhill from there.

Giannone said the Rangers flew in to Vegas right after the Vancouver game and that they were flying out after the Kings game. No overnight stay in Vegas. Way to exhaust the players. Way to disappoint the fans who had come out in surprising numbers to see the our boys in blue. No free Casino night for them!

Ordinarily, I would try to analyze the game but, why bother. It’s a meaningless preseason game. They had at least 10 players on the ice that won’t be in the lineup come opening night. That’s what the preseason is for, to iron out the line up and get the rust off the veterans.

Having said that, judging by Brad Richards total preseason performance, it’s going to take more then a box of Brillo pads to get the rust off him. I predict Sather is going to be kicking himself in the ass that he didn’t buy out Richards this summer when he had the chance. I know some fans who would gladly do it for him. Is Rick Nash a zombie? I was even a little disappointed in Aaron Asham’s play.

Most of the Kings fans were polite and respectful of the those in Rangers attire but you always have a few rude clowns who act like they are at a Stanley Cup final game. One guy in the stands started in with me when we stood up to cheer the Rangers only goal. I told him, “Dude, you’re playing our farm team. Chill out”. Other LA fans sitting behind us laughed and applauded. Most hockey fans are decent, fun loving people. The LA fans were fine.

The MGM Grand Arena wasn’t bad.They announced the attendance at close to 15,000 people.  I was very surprised. The sight lines at one end of the arena were almost as bad as the Barclays Center. Views in the corners were cut off, almost to the trapezoid. Hey, maybe Bettman should move the Devils or the Islanders to Vegas. They might have about better chance of succeeding there then in Brooklyn or Newark.

I went to the SportsBook at the Rio Hotel before we left Las Vegas and got the current line for the Stanley Cup Championships dated September 23, 2013:

Stanley Cup Odds 9.23.13



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First NHL Game In Brooklyn

The times they are a changing. Downtown Brooklyn is the living, breathing example. Twenty  years ago, most suburbanites would rather have a gun put to their head (a distinct possibilty at the time) then walk around where Atlantic Avenue meets Flatbush. The flagship department store of downtown Brooklyn, Abraham and Straus closed. Downtown Brooklyn had hit rock bottom.

Fast forward ten years. Urban pioneers  from Manhattan, no longer able to afford rents, pushed out into the poorer but close in Brooklyn neighborhoods (Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick sections) seeking more square footage.  They joined those who had earlier re-invented lower Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Prospect Heights. Thus, we have the current Brooklyn Renaissance.

Fast forward ten more years and you have Downtown Brooklyn getting its first major league sports franchise (the Nets) and venue (The Barclays Center). Last night, for the first time, an NHL game was played in Brooklyn. The big question that remains to be answered is whether or not hockey, more specifically the New York Islanders, will be able to retain some of its old fan base while gaining a new fan base in Brooklyn.

I’ve posted my thoughts on the subject here before. After visiting the facility and watching the game, I still say the Islanders prospering in Brooklyn is a long shot. While the Barclays Center is a very nice place, it was built as a basketball and concert venue. There is no way in its present state that it can ever function well as a hockey arena. Too many seats have limited views.  I sat in one of them. Not an enjoyable experience.

The Barclays Center is very well situated for public transportation, for people coming from Manhattan, Queens and other parts of Brooklyn. It will be a nightmare to get there by car and the Long Island RailRoad on a week night.

We went on a Saturday afternoon. I am familiar with downtown Brooklyn. I gave birth to both my children at Brooklyn Hospital, a stones throw from the Barclays Center. I can see how people from Nassau and Suffolk trying to drive in would freak out. The Brooklyn Queens Expressway is an intimidating piece of highway.

Parking close to the Barclays Center is about $35.00. A roundtrip rail ticket (off peak) from Zone 10 on the LIRR is currently $25.00. If you live on the Main Line or the North Shore lines, there aren’t many Westbound trains headed to Jamaica after 5pm. Added costs and travel times are one of the many reasons Long Island Islander fans, used to a thirty minute maximum drive to Uniondale and $10 parking, are not going to flock to Brooklyn.

As I see it, in order to optimize attendance for their established (Nassau and Suffolk residents) fan base, the Islanders have no other choice then to start week night games at Barclays at 730pm. To insure greater attendance at the Brooklyn games, I would have all weekend games played at Barclays and mid week games at the Mausoleum. Don’t know how that would go over with the Nets and Jay Z though?

And now, as a public service to all you poor, unfortunate Islander fans that choose to drive to Barclays Center, here’s a little advise.

Take the Northern State to the Grand Central Parkway. Exit for the Jackie Robinson Parkway and take it to the end. You will be on Jamaica Avenue in East New York. Take Jamaica Avenue four long blocks down to Atlantic Avenue and turn right. Proceed on Atlantic Ave for about 4 miles to the  Barclays Center.

So what if you have to drive all the way through East New York, Bed-Sty and Crown Heights? Suck it up. Do you really want to go over the Kosciusko Bridge and down the BQE? Just make sure your car is in good repair and you have cell phone, a Garmin and AAA.

Who said Ranger fans couldn’t be nice to Islander fans?

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Betting on the next New York Rangers Game

For New York Rangers fans, the previous hockey season didn’t end as they had hoped. However, now in the offseason, the Rangers’ fan base is again feeling hopeful that the next season will be better. With the hiring of the most preferred coach available in the NHL, many believe this could be a new chapter for the team. Given this information as well as player acquisitions, sportsbooks are also reflecting this in their futures bets.

Of course, sports bets cannot be placed on a single match since it is now the offseason. However, it is not too early to be placing futures bets for which hockey team will take the Stanley Cup at the conclusion of the 2013-2014 season. Currently, the odds for the Rangers are set at 20 to 1 which would mean for every $1 wagered, a winning bet would payout $20. This is a nice payout for a win. The only drawback is that it will take the entire season before one will know if their bet is successful. However, once the season commence, bets can also be placed on every match the Rangers play.

Not only can New York Rangers fans place futures bets on their team, but they can also enjoy hockey related games at online casinos like Lucky Nugget. A popular one is a slot machine game by the name of Break Away. One of the first things players will immediately notice are the 243 paylines that are formed across the five reels of Break Away. The wild symbol in this game is the Break Away logo. It can replace any symbol in this game but the scatter symbol. Stacking the logo on the last three reels can lead to a Smashing Wild Bonus feature. The hockey pucks are the scatter symbols. If these appear in a group of five, players win a jackpot of $12,500.

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HHOF Committee Pulls Head Out Of Ass

Congratulations to this year’s inductees to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Brendan Shanahan, Chris Chelios, Scott Niedermayer, Geraldine Heaney and Fred Shero.

After passing over Brendan Shanahan, the Hall of Fame committee rectifies last year’s faux pas and enshrines Shanny.

Brendan’s record speaks for itself. He should have made it in last year in his first year of eligibilty. Better late then next year. Even though Brendan played for the Devils, the Blues, the Whalers and the Rangers, he’ll always be a Red Wing to me.

Same for his teammate, Chris Chelios. I think even Cheli he would acknowledge that deep down, he’s a Wing. He won two cups wearing the Winged Wheel.

His record is outstanding. I was not aware of all his accomplishments until today. Playing to the grand old age of 47, Chelios earned his place in the pantheon of hockey’s elite.

Scott Niedermayer, meh. He was a Devil for the lion share of his career. I don’t like the Devils. I never will. Niedermayer, along with Stevens and Daneyko were the front men that made Marty Brodeur look good all those years. I guess Niedermayer’s accomplishments are impressive. I never paid attention.

Geraldine Heaney? I have absolutely no idea about her or her record. I suppose the HHOF committee knows what they are doing. Wait. They passed over Shanahan last year in favor of Adam Oates.

Lastly, they are finally lionizing Fred  Shero in the “Builder” category.  ‘Bout damn time.

Shero literally wrote the book on modern NHL hockey. I read it. I didn’t understand all the diagrams and systems at the time. I needed “Hockey for Dummies” back in the day. The man was an innovator and a true hockey genius.

More then that, he had a sense of humor. Ron Greschner tells the story of getting on the elevator with Shero in a hotel in an away city. Ronnie was out after curfew.

Ron was expecting to get his ass chewed out in the elevator. But Shero didn’t say a word. Next day at the game, Shero had Gresch on the ice for 35 minutes. You could say it was an in-game bag skate for breaking curfew.

The only fault I found with Shero is that he didn’t take Phil Esposito’s advise in 1979 in Montreal during the Stanley Cup final.

Having ELIMINATED the Islanders (one of my favorite Ranger memories – seeing Potvin on his knees in a dejected heap), the Rangers moved on to the final against the Canadiens in Montreal.

After winning the first game, Espo told Shero to sequester the players in their hotel. Dont’ let the “Oo-la-la Sassoon” Rangers out on the town. Shero didn’t listen. The Rangers lost the next four games and the rest is history.

Congratulations to all the inductees. Gotta love Cheli. He’s been a vocal critic of the Commish for a while now. No love lost there. Can’t wait to see the two of them at the ceremony in Toronto.

Should make for an interesting night.


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