Maccabees Games

A look at the New York sports scene and the sporting world at large.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Quick Musings

Despite losing, the Rangers played hard and essentially outplayed the Devils last night. Sean Avery has been a major plus. The Rangers are still only 4 and 5 points behind the 7th and 8th playoff spot with 2 games in hand on both teams.

The Knicks, after starting off slowly, eventually played a good game and are hanging in with the Nets fighting for the last playoff spot. They now have one more win then they had all of last year.

The Nets, on the other hand, are rumored to be thinking of trading Jason Kidd to the Lakers but only if they can move Vince Carter as well to another team. It will be a sad day in Netsville if either of these two are moved – much less if both go.

Unless the Yankees suffer some injury in the outfield or at first, it doesn’t seem like Bernie is coming back, but that’s business.

Enough of the Jeter ARod controversy. They’re no longer friends and haven’t been so for a long time. It’s more important for the Yankees to have ARod stop making a fool of himself and play clutch baseball, if that is even possible.

If ARod won’t hit in the clutch then Torre must take him out of the lineup for one day and stop coddling him. Joe must tell him that he’s not hitting in the clutch and that he’s giving him a day off. That’s it. Moving him to eighth in the lineup just embarrasses him and plays with his head.

As for the Mets, Pelfrey and Humber should try out for the big club but should not be brought up until there are injuries and/or major incompetence. Aaron Sele and Chan Ho Park should be given every opportunity to make the club. The Mets should use whatever they can give until they become a major liability.

NY Giants Jerry Reese has gotten off on the right foot by dumping stars who have been injury-prone. Hopefully more deadwood will be let go soon. The hiring of Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator can only be an upgrade.

The signing by the Jets of Dan Quinn as defensive line coach is a good move. In his first year, 2005, as coach for the Dolphins, Quinn’s team tied the club single-season sack record of 49 with linemen accounting for 35 of this total. The Jets line will be much younger and hopefully will improve under his tutelage.

That’s all, folks.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Rangers Relapse

I am reluctant to comment on a game I did not see but I feel that I must.

Prior to the game against the Flyers, the Rangers had won three straight, the last two on the road. The wins came against two teams in playoff position and one fighting for its playoff life.

You would think that the Rangers with two straight wins on the road and eight of the next nine games being at home would like to get off to good start on their home stand. But that was not the Rangers’ mindset.

This Flyers team which just traded away Peter Forsberg, one of the premier players in the league, for essentially future draft choices and players with potential came out like gang busters.

Is it possible that the Flyers remember being outplayed at the garden on January 4th? Is it possible the Flyers were upset about losing to the Rangers in Philadelphia on January 27th? Do the Rangers remember that they only scored a total of 5 goals in those games? Do the Rangers remember that up until recently they’ve had an abysmal power play? Do they realize that with this game they are reverting to their old ways by being 1-7 on the power play? Do they realize that they embarrass themselves when R.J. Umberger, who could have been playing for the Rangers, if Ranger management had the foresight to see what type of player he would become, scores a shorthanded goal?

Now with Brendan Shanahan in the hospital with an almost certain major concussion and Henrik Lundqvist painfully shouldering the goaltending load, what can we expect from the Rangers? What can we expect from the Rangers coaching and management staff?

Do you think Kevin Weekes possibly injured himself because he hadn’t played since December 21st? Do you think this insulting effort by the Rangers contributed to Shanahan colliding with Mike Knuble?

Unfortunately, with the Rangers it seems to be the same sad old story.

If the opportunity to fail presents itself, the Rangers never fail to take that opportunity.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Rangers Lose

No, not those Rangers. Hapoel Tel Aviv defeated the Glasgow Rangers in the first game a UEFA Cup elimination soccer match.

It’s not that I don’t like these Rangers, I actually do. But whenever an Israeli team has an opportunity to advance in a world championship competition, I’d like the Israeli team to win.

Now why would I like these Rangers? Well, about a year and half ago I was in Glasgow, Scotland for Shabbos and I was walking from the center of town to the main Jewish area which was approximately six miles away. The Rabbi had invited me for Shallah Seudas and I said I’d give it a whirl.

Unfortunately, I would have to walk through a rough part of town and it was the beginning of the ‘football’ season. The Glasgow Rangers were playing the Glasgow Celtics. If you can believe it, this is worse than Giants-Jets Yankees-Mets Knicks-Nets or Rangers-Islanders.

The game had just ended at just about the point when I had arrived in the hooligan section of the city. People were leaving bars screaming and yelling. One guy starts after me and shouts in his Scottish brogue “Whur ya goin?” I basically ignore him but he comes at me again and says “Com ere, whur ya goin?” So I respond in my best imitation of his accent “Am goin.”

Well this went on back and forth for a bit, so I finally screamed back in my best Madison Square Garden chant, “Let’s go Rangers.” Well that did it and my fellow Rangers fan let me go.

Little did I know, but what I did find out later after arriving at the Rabbi’s home, the Celtic-Rangers fan base animosity runs quite deep. The Celtics fans are Catholics while the Rangers are diehard Protestants.

Rooting for the wrong team in Glasgow would be almost as bad as getting into a riff about religion in Northern Ireland.

Luckily, I love the Rangers – except when they play against Israel, of course.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Do or Die

The Rangers have 28 games left this season, 25 of which are against teams within their own conference. They will have 16 games at home and 12 on the road. 13 of those home games will be within the conference. All of the road games will be intra conference.

The Rangers will have to win more than two thirds of their games to make the playoffs.

19-8-1 should do it. That’s pretty much 12-4 at home and 7-4-1 on the road.

It’s looking quite ugly out there.

But let’s wait and see.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Marbury Finally Playing Point Guard

Last night’s performance by Stephon Marbury actually resembled one of another point guard playing west of the Hudson.

In the third quarter Marbury drove when he had to, shot from the perimeter when he needed to, passed when he was supposed to and played defense with a passion.

Oh, he’ll never be Jason Kidd. He’ll have too many turnovers. He’ll have few triple doubles or even double doubles. However, he actually seems to be growing into one of Isiah’s success stories.

Will miracles never cease?

The Clock is Ticking

Unfortunately for the Rangers, no matter how well they might play as they did overall versus New Jersey, the Devils were just one better and time is not on the Rangers’ side.

Most of the teams in the Rangers’ conference are gaining on them because all the ‘losers’ are moving up one point in the standings while other teams are either winning in overtime or in a shootout and gaining two points.

The competition out there is almost as much of a problem as the Rangers’ power play.

Whether Sean Avery will be helpful remains to be seen. Overall he played well, but he did get back late on one of the Devils’ goals.

However, the complaints against Tom Renney for putting in Cullen over Jagr are unfounded. Cullen had, I believe, seven shootout goals last year for Carolina and as recently as last month in a game against the Devils scored in the shootout against Brodeaur while Jagr did not. Jagr has been used infrequently this season in shootouts, possibly due to his injured shoulder and, to my knowledge, he has not scored a goal in the post overtime session.

Yet Renney’s move is more of an afterthought. The Rangers may need 94 points to make the playoffs. Time is not on their side.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Rangers Trade Move

The trade for Sean Avery, 26, of the Kings for Jason Ward is a move in the right direction. Ward, 28, an unrestricted free agent this summer, has been scratched in six of the last eight games.

Avery draws a lot of penalties and should put the Rangers on the power play more often. He is also an agitator, both on the opposition and on his own team. Hopefully he’ll wake up this sleepy bunch.

The prospects whom the Rangers are adding to sweeten the deal are no names. Marc-Andre Cliche, was a second-round pick in 2005, and forward Jan Marek is 27, and playing in Russia.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Revolting Rangers

When a team is playing at home against another team it is tied with in the standings, desperately vying for a playoff spot, it is expected to win. In fact, I expect them to blow out the opposition. I expect them to make a statement both to the opposition and to their fans.

The Rangers don’t do that. That’s not their ‘thing.’ Having John Amoronte sing the National anthem prior to the game and saluting the fans after a win is their idea of making a statement. Going to some boot camp prior to the past two seasons is also their idea of making a statement.

The Rangers are10-11-3 at home. Only the Flyers have fewer points at home and the Rangers had to beat the Flyers to even win 10 games.

Why must Tom Renney have to change lineups and line mates so frequently? Why aren’t the young players from Hartford playing more? What exactly happened between Darius Kasparaitis and Renney? Why isn’t Glenn Sather making any positive moves? Why isn’t Jim Schonfeld behind the bench putting some life into this team?

Whatever Renney has been doing is no longer working. It worked up to the first three quarters of last season. It hasn’t been working since then.

Regarding game time performance, there has been a complete lack of consistency with this club throughout this entire season. Whether it’s goaltending, scoring, defensive work, or 60 minutes of effort, you never know what you’re going to get each night.

If this keeps up, come playoff time, the Rangers will have the same win total as they did last year in the playoffs. Except this time, instead of being 0-4, they will be 0-0.

So much for improvement.