The National Hockey League gave the New York Rangers a reason to give thanks over this past holiday weekend as they scheduled a home-and-home matinee games with the Philadelphia Flyers who played like turkeys. The two wins were a needed boost for the Blueshirts who so far this season have not played like the team that went to the Stanley Cup Final six months ago.
The Flyers were so awful at the Wells Fargo Center last Friday that the home crowd started booing early in the first period and never let up. They were a pathetic 0 for 6 on the power play. The Rangers added insult to injury on the last Flyers’ power play. Even though they had one less player on the ice because of Chad Kreider’s four-minute penalty for high sticking, the Rangers nailed a shorthanded third period goal as Rick Nash scored on a three-on-one breakaway to put the puck past hapless Flyers goaltender Steve Mason. Flyers fans exited in droves at that point.
If a professional athlete is going to play in sophisticated cities as New York or Philadelphia then it’s imperative that he be candid with the media. Flyers captain Claude Giroux was certainly that when he was asked about the incessant booing that cascaded through the Wells Fargo Center rafters. “We’re playing like crap and we deserved it,” he answered forthrightly.
The mood was a lot more upbeat in the Rangers locker room. Future Hall of Famer Martin St. Louis scored a goal which turned to be his 1,000 career point in the NHL. I asked the 38 year-old alternate Rangers captain if it would be tough playing back-to-back 1 PM games since NHL players tend to be nocturnal. “Absolutely. On the other hand, it is nice to have your evenings free for a change,” St. Louis said.
Veteran hockey scribes Adam Raider and Russ Cohen have teamed up for a new book titled “100 Things Rangers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” (Triumph Books). While it is obviously intended for the sizeable Broadway Blues fan base, the authors’ breezy yet informative styles, make it a fun read even if you are a marginal hockey aficionado at best.
Raider and Cohen are able to capture nearly everything worth mentioning in the almost 90-year history of the franchise including the models that Rangers players married; the fight between teammates Ron Stewart and Terry Sawchuk that resulted in the latter’s death; a detailed history of the Blueshirts’ battles with their various nearby rivals; past Rangers broadcasters including Queens natives Howie Rose and Sal Messina; as well as trivia that will challenge the most ardent of Rangers fans.
In a nice touch, the Islanders are commemorating their last season at the Nassau Coliseum by having some of their greatest players, such as Billy Smith and Denis Potvin, take a curtain call before games.
It’s a sign of the Isles’ changing fortunes that two of their players, Kyle Okposo and John Taveras, were mentioned on the Post’s legendary gossip site, Page Six, this past Sunday where it was reported that both players were shopping for toys for needy kids. For years the Islanders couldn’t dream of getting ink on Page Six because their lack of success combined with playing in suburban Nassau County. I have a feeling that they will be getting more attention when they move to Brooklyn next fall.
The conventional wisdom going into the weekend was that Giants head coach Tom Coughlin would probably survive yet another dismal season while defensive coach Perry Fewell would get a pink slip. After Sunday’s disastrous 25-24 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Coughlin may be on the way out as well. Big Blue blew a 21-0 lead to the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that had won a grand total of one game this season. There are some losses that linger a lot longer when a season is over and this is one of them.
Jets QB Geno Smith will be playing not only for his career this month but he will also be playing for general manager’s John Idzik’s job security, or lack of it, as well. Idzik is the man responsible for drafting Smith in 2013. Historically, general managers stay with the players that they have acquired a lot longer than they should.
Baseball is better about certain things than basketball is. Prior to the Brooklyn Nets’ dreary loss to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, I asked rookie reserve point guard Markel Brown about his first NBA basket, a three-pointer against the San Antonio Spurs. In baseball, a player always gets the ball he hit after his first major league hit. Brown chuckled and said that he did not get to keep the basketball although he would have liked to have had it.
The Nets brought in Queens’ own Nigel Sylverster to entertain underprivileged kids at a Build-A-Bike event on Monday in which the team presented bicycles as a holiday present to 50 kids whose age ranged from 7 to 10. Sylvester is to bicycles what the late Evel Knievel was to motorcycles and what Tony Hawk and Shaun White are to skateboards. Nigel grew up in Queens and attended PS 132 and Cardozo High School and has always loved bikes. He is now a professional rider on the burgeoning BMX circuit.
My favorite Bruce Springsteen song is 1988’s “One Step Up” in which the Boss laments how “it’s one step up and two steps back” when it comes to his romantic relationships. Knicks fans must feel that way when it comes to their team’s health. Just when the Knicks get Jose Calderon back from the injured list, and who has been playing well since returning, they lose team superstar Carmelo Anthony, to back spasms. It is impossible to place a timetable on back problems.
It’s another year without a Major League Soccer title for the New York Red Bulls who lost their playoff series to the New England Revolution. The Red Bulls’ record against the Revolution mirrors closely that of the Jets’ futility against the Patriots. The Revolution and the Patriots are both owned by Robert Kraft.
“Watch!” is the bi-monthly glossy magazine published by CBS whose purpose is to promote television shows on networks owned by the Tiffany Network. While it is a house organ, “Watch!” doesn’t treat its readers with disdain as its articles are well-written and it spares no expense when it comes to photography and art work.
St. Albans native James Todd Smith, better known to most as actor and hip-hop star LL Cool J, graces the cover of the current issue. Also included are features on CBS Sports reporter Tracy Wolfson and WCBS-TV weatherman Lonnie Quinn who was on the Boston College swim team.