Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Week Observations

Almost amazingly, we're about to celebrate a special time of year. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas bring out lots of Kool Aid smiles and holiday cheer. Even for this Jewish blogger who celebrated Chanukkah right before my birthday a couple of weeks ago, I admit to loving this festive time where anything seems possible. As passionate hockey bloggers, we are really fans first who root as hard as we can for our teams. Sometimes, you win and sometimes you lose. While we can go overboard at moments over some game a la yesterday's Giant choke against Mike Vick and Desean Jackson, it's worth pointing out that those of us who write about the sport we love are lucky. We all come from good families and have roofs over our heads. Imagine the great ordeal those less fortunate must go through everyday. Especially when it's ice cold.

So, while your teams may not be giving you much to cheer about, just remember it's not the end of the world. I can think of much worse things. We must appreciate every day we have because sometimes, you just never know. I lost a great friend earlier this year who was the kind of enthusiastic, happy go lucky person who made everyone around him better. It's still very difficult that he's not around. Many of our core only knew him for over a year but in that span, we discovered a special human being with amazing qualities, which made it feel like a lot longer. Every day, I think about you Lyndzay. You're always there. I love you.

Christmas is a time to be with ones you love and care about. A time to have fun and create new memories that we hold onto forever. Yes, we celebrated it when me and Justin were growing up. Many great moments that will never go away. I'm glad I can be around close friends that are like family. Being that we don't have much left, it means plenty. I'm real excited that Brian is coming in during the holidays. We will have more great times that to quote Sam Rosen, "Shall last a lifetime." If only I could get away from that year. Haha.

Other than the Rangers, this season hasn't treated Battle fans too kindly. As someone who sat through many forgetful nights during a brutal stretch that shall not be repeated, I can only sympathize with what Islander and Devil fans are going through. It's not easy. Sometimes, I wonder how we dealt with all the losing. All the jokes. NHL fodder. If that happened now, I don't think I'd tolerate it. In all those years, I can't ever recall the Rangers winning nine of their first 32 or losing 24 of 30 to start a season. To think the Islanders won four of their first seven before plunging like the great Stock Market crash in 1987. Not even the most negative Islander fan could've predicted that. The Devil start is well devilish and we don't mean that in a Satanic way. The numbers are so miserable that they're not worth repeating. At least Ilya Kovalchuk is scoring again. So, what do you say to our resident Devil writer who's not used to this? Stick it out. If anything, they keep losing and they're guaranteed to land a top 3 pick. For as poorly as Lou Lamoriello has handled the post-lockout cap, he's still got a solid Draft record. You know he won't sit still as the season slips away. Changes are a comin' in Newark.

Islander fans have been here way too frequently. Even that brief stretch where they made the postseason didn't produce a single first round triumph, meaning the once proud franchise of the Cup Dynasty (1980-83) has almost ceased to exist. There always seem to be distractions. Whether it's bad owners like John Spano or Charles Wang's Lighthouse fantasy to the mysterious dismissal of former PR man Chris Botta's credentials, it's always something. Of course, many could point to former GM Mad Mike Milbury for where they are. His trade of Roberto Luongo to Florida and drafting of Rick DiPietro are the stuff of legend. If only that were positive. Now, it's basically John Tavares by himself while Matt Duchene lights it up on a good Colorado team. Sure makes ya wonder if this team is hexed. I don't know what to say to an Islander fan. They have been put through so much that it makes James Dolan's Garden Empire look like the Yankees. Just root for your team and hope it turns around. They can't be this bad forever.

Meanwhile, it's not much better for Brian's Sabres who after an uninspired start, sit in 11th eight points behind eighth Boston. Part of it was rating Vezina winner Ryan Miller missing some games. He hasn't been as sharp either. Still, I can't think of a better netminder I'd want for one game. Miller is fully capable of getting hot and carrying this team to the playoffs. Thomas Vanek had a dreadful beginning but had turned it around recently scoring like the go to guy he gets paid to be. However, the club has dropped three of four and Vanek hasn't lit the lamp, posting only an assist while going a miserable minus-six. There was a horrible 6-2 loss at Florida in which Miller was bad as was their D. In the one win over the Bruins, classic tease Drew Stafford scored his third career hat trick. With underachiever Tim Connolly suffering a broken nose thanks to getting slammed hard into that unprotected rim Don Cherry always justifiably rants about, he'll miss the next two home games against Anaheim tomorrow and Florida later this week. Can a team that doesn't score many goals turn it around? Jason Pominville hasn't been the same since his concussion. They also need better from Tyler Myers. What to tell Bri who's been through this before? Not much. He's always echoed that management never does enough to make them a true contender. Off last year, it's hard to disagree.

Meanwhile, the Rangers don't play till Thursday. In their big showdown Saturday with the first overall Flyers, they fell 4-1, done in by ex-Ranger Nikolay Zherdev- who converted a breakaway out of the penalty box thanks to an amazing Mike Richards 125 foot outlet. It was another poor showing for sophomore D Mike Del Zotto, who misplayed a puck leading to the second goal and was out of position for another en route to a minus-three afternoon. What can be done about his play? He turns over the puck way too much and is weak around the net, making it harder on steadier partner Michal Rozsival. Who'd ever thought it'd get to that? Henrik Lundqvist couldn't be faulted unless you wanted to pin him for a rebound which Zherdev finished from an impossible angle, concluding the scoring. Marian Gaborik remained invisible while teamed with both Erik Christensen and Derek Stepan, who later was shifted to a different line and converted his ninth off a nice Alex Frolov feed. I don't get it. Gabby returns and outside of his second hat trick versus Edmonton, he's lifeless. Frolov has been much better since his trial with energizers Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust. Maybe it's time to stick Gaborik with them. Prust is like our mini-Cally. Tort needs to get Sean Avery more ice-time. Maybe reunite him with Gabby and Christy. Regardless of the result that was kind of tainted due to the refs taking away Dale Weise's first goal in an impressive debut that included a near miss and a win over pest Daniel Carcillo, the Rangers have made their fans happy this Winter. In a conference where there aren't many clearcut teams outside of the Big Four (Flyers, Pens, Caps, Habs), there's no reason our team shouldn't be playing meaningful hockey in the Spring. Once Ryan Callahan returns, they should be dangerous.

So, there's at least one team with a pulse as we get ready for stockings, presents and candy canes. There's still time for that to change. He's making a list. He's checking it twice. He's gonna find out who's naughty or nice. Santa Claus is coming to town. Or as The Boss would say:

Santa Claus is coming to town! Santa Claus is coming to town! Santa Claus is coming to toooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwnn!!!!!

1 comment:

Hasan said...

As bad as we think we have it with the Devils, the Isle fans have had to endure this and more besides for years although the sheer volume of off-ice nonsense for the Devils this offseason was pretty much unprecedented. The Isles are more or less the Clippers of the NHL though.

I'm not sure about Miller being the 'one game' goalie given his lack of success in the playoffs. I'd probably still go with Cam Ward. He's a lot like Richter used to be, sometimes his numbers are god-awful but he always seems to show up when the money's on the line.

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