Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kings outlast Devils, take game one of Finals

LA leads 1-0

They had their chances. With the score tied at one, the New Jersey Devils dominated the third period of play against the LA Kings in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals. They fore-checked extremely well, kept the Kings on their heels and were very aggressive with their shots on goal; yet it was not enough.

The Devils had two great chances to take the lead in this game. Two great chances to go up 2-1 and take a 1-0 series lead, ending the Kings long road winning streak.

Four minutes into the period, the Devils created a pile around Kings super star goalie Jonathan Quick, and Zach Parise had an open shot at the net, but Quick extended his hand the block the puck, and at the same time, bring down Parise with it. Parise then reached over and grabbed the puck with his hand, and shoved it into the goal. It was reviewed and the goal was taken away.

Six minutes later, Mark Fayne had a wide open shot at the back of the Kings goal, but his shot was wide right by just a foot. If he gave himself a second longer to set up he could have scored the goal. Instead he rushed the shot.

As for Martin Brodeur he did his part. Brodeur made 21 saves through regulation, including some incredible saves in the third period to preserve the tie.

However in overtime, the Kings took advantage of the Devils own aggression. New Jersey had front loaded their line inside the Kings blue line, thanks in part to multiple shots on Jonathan Quick. However, Jarret Stoll won the face off against Devils' Zach Pariese, and kicked the puck out to Anze Kopitar who skated right down the ice, unguarded, and scored on Brodeur in a one-on-one match-up to give the Kings the victory.

Los Angeles has won nine straight on the road in the playoffs.

New Jersey lost game one of a playoff series for the third straight series. They came back to win both of their series against Philadelphia and New York after losing game one. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Open Mike 05-30-12 Stanley Cup Finals Edition

In hour one of the Open Mike program, Michael Cohen talks wall to wall Devils hockey, as New Jersey enters the Stanley Cup Finals against the red hot Los Angeles Kings. Bret Leuthner, host of Hudson Hockey, joins the discussion as the two hosts break down the series.

Listen on Posterous

In hour two of Open Mike, host Michael Cohen welcomes back Mike Sanfilippo of Triple Coverage to get his take on the Devils-Kings series. Mike and Mike discuss the impact Game One could have on this series.
The discussion turns to the Mets, and the apparent lack of fan support for the franchise.

Listen on Posterous

Friday, May 25, 2012


NJ wins 4-2

Once again the Devils built a big lead early, once again the blew it, and once again the Devils found a way to win and beat their arch rivals the New York Rangers in overtime 3-2 to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Needing a victory to force a Game 7, the Rangers played with tremendous heart, taking 21 shots in the second and third periods combined and kept the puck inside the Devils zone for the most of the night. But, it was the play of Martin Brodeur, who was unbelievable behind the net making 33 saves. The 40 year-old goalie turned back the clock in this game, making one spectacular save after another in the third period, as the Jersey defense played on its heels for much of the period.

The Devils took the lead midway through the first period. Ryan Carter, who scored the winning goal in Game 5, scored the opening goal of Game 6 to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead. Three minutes later Ilya Kovalchuck scored his seventh goal of the postseason, on the Devils power play, to make it 2-0.

Then, the Rangers turned it on. They skated with great power, kept the puck inside the Devils zone, and New York inched their way back into the contest. Ruslan Fedotenko's goal to cut the Devils lead in half took the air out of the Prudential center. Then minutes later, Dan Girardi, who killed the Devils throughout the series did so again. His slap-shot to the net bounced off the shin of Ryan Callahan, and zipped into the net to tie it at two.

At that point, it looked like New York was on their way to repeating Game 6 in 1994. That day, Mark Messier guaranteed a Rangers win over the Devils in Game 6. NJ built a 2-0 lead that day, only to watch NY tie it at two and win it 4-2.

Only problem for New York, this wasn't 1994. It was 2012.

Broduer starred in the third period making one big play after another, and by the time the third period ended New Jersey started to pick it up on offense, taking three shots on Henrik Lundqvist in the final 90 seconds of the period.

In overtime, the Devils came out very aggressive on offense, pushing the puck immediately into the Rangers zone. Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexei Ponikarovsky did a great job in pushing the puck up against the Rangers net, forcing Lundqvist to play it close to the vest. Adam Henrique noticed that Lundqvist was not covering the back end of the goal, and snuck behind him. Kovalchuck saw Henrique and kicked the puck underneath Lundqvist to Henrique, who tapped it in to win it.

New Jersey will advance to the Cup Finals for the fifth time in 17 years. New Jersey's last trip was in 2003 when the beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in seven games. New Jersey will go up against a red hot Los Angeles Kings team that went 12-2 in the Western Conference playoffs. Game one is Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Channel.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Devils stun Rangers, take control of Eastern Final

NJ leads 3-2 

They came out like a bat outta hell at Madison Square Garden.

Three goals in the first 10 minutes by the Devils gave New Jersey a 3-0 lead that stunned the MSG faithful; the once impenetrable Henrik Lundqvist was suddenly unraveled. While the Devils jumped all over New York early in the game, they had to hold on for dear lifeasthe evening progressed. The Devils managed only 16 shots on goal and watched their 3-0 lead disappear as the Rangers came back to tie it at three. Yet, through it all, New Jersey never wavered but found a way to win a crucial Game Five.

If New Jersey should win on Friday night, the series will be over. The Devils then will advance to the Stanley Cup finals against the LA Kings, while the number one seed Rangers will limp home wondering what could have been.

The Devils wasted no time in this match. Three minutes into the opening period, Stephen Gianta pushed the puck past Lundqvist for the quick 1-0 lead. Two minutes later, Patrick Elias jumped into a fray for the puck with Carl Hagelin. As the two battled, Hagelin's skate kicked the puck into the Rangers net, giving New Jersey a 2-0 lead.

Five minutes later, the Devils offensive MVP of these playoffs, Travis Zajac, scored his seventh goal of the playoffs with an assist from Zach Parise and Bryce Salvador, making it 3-0 Devils.

While most teams would have crumbled, the Rangers never gave up. They took 28 shots on Martin Brodeur, including 11 shots in the second period, a period they clearly dominated.

The Rangers pulled to within one thanks to a Brandon Proust goal before the end of the first period and a Ryan Callahan goal at the start of the second. After the Callahan goal, the Devils played on pins and needles, as New York took shot after shot after shot.

Then, at the start of the third period, the Rangers finally scored when Brodeur made a huge error. While trying to return to the net, Marian Gaborik kicked the puck underneath Brodeur's skates. The veteran goalie saw the puck and tried to reach for it, but the force of his glove tapped the puck into the net tying the game.

Now the Devils turned. They limited the Rangers opportunities on their side of the ice and attacked Lundqvist. Finally, with four minutes left, Ryan Carter snuck around the Rangers defense and slapped the puck in, giving New Jersey a 4-3 lead. After New York failed to keep the puck behind the Devils blue line, Zach Parise kicked the puck out and slapped it across the ice into the net for an empty net goal cementing the Devils 5-3 victory.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Open Mike 05-23-12, Yankees, Mets, Devils & Rangers

In hour one of "The Open Mike Program," host Michael Cohen looks at the topsy-turvy status of Major League Baseball. The Orioles, Nationals, Indians and Mets are rolling, while the Yankees, Angles, Red Sox, Tigers and Phillies are struggling. What is going on here, as we hit the quarter pole of the season? Michael talks about it.
Listen on Posterous!

In hour two, Michael Cohen is joined by Sean Bretherick; the two talk Rangers vs. Devils as New Jersey jumps out to a 3-0 lead on the Blueshirts. New Jersey would go on to win 5-3. Listen to the two Jersey guys get pumped up about the one of most successful teams in the region.

Listen on Posterous!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

OPEN MIKE 05-16-12, Devils vs. Rangers playoff discussion

On this edition of Open Mike, host Michael Cohen and guest host Mike Sanfilippo talk about the Rangers-Devils Series, and what New Jersey has to do in order to get back into the series. The boys also look back at a failed post season for the Knicks, and a suddenly shaky Eastern Conference, as the Miami Heat are now the walking wounded.

In hour two, Mike and Mike talk about the upstart New York Mets, and whether this team can really be a contender in the Topsy-turvy National League. Also, the Yankees have been bitten badly by the injury bug and some bad pitching. Can the Yankees turn it around, or are they about to be buried by the Rays, Blue Jays, and, yes, the Orioles!

Listen to hour I
Listen to hour II

Monday, May 14, 2012

Rangers dominate Devils late in game 1

NYR lead 1-0
The New Jersey Devils were supposed to be the team that looked well rested and spry. They had several days off after their quick series against the Philadelphia Flyers, while the New York Rangers had exhausted so much energy to get through two seven game series against Ottawa and Washington. Yet it was the Rangers who looked like the team with the most energy.

After two scoreless periods, the Rangers broke through the Devils line, and beat up Martin Brodeur scoring three late goals on the future Hall of Famer. Dan Giradi got it going for the Blue Shirts with a wide open 47 foot slapshot, zipping the puck right past an unsuspecting Brodeur to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

Once New York scored, it seemd that the energy came out of the Devils balloon. They started to drag accross the ice, and were not as aggressive as they had been earlier in the game. Perhaps the fact that Rangers blocked 26 shots by the New Jersey, and the fact that Henrik Lundqvist had his best game of the playoffs with 21 saves proved too much for New Jersey to handle.

Minutes later, on the Power Play, Chris Krieder, who has had a very good post-season, snuck the puck underneath Brodeur to make it 2-0 Blue Shirts. W

With time running out, and MSG in a tizzy over a game one victory, The Rangers scored on the empty net goal to make it 3-0!

The Rangers hold a 1-0 series lead, and until New Jersey finds some offense, this could be a very short series in favor of the Rangers. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Andy Pettitte returns & falls in comeback


It was like a blast from the past!

Two years since Andy Pettitte walked off the Yankees Stadium mound with an injury that many thought ended his career, the crafty lefty returned to the Bronx with much fanfare. While he wasn't great, it wasn't a poor start either.

Pettitte's line: 6-1/3 innings, 7 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, 3 walks and two strikeouts.

Not bad. Not great, either.

Through three innings, it appeared that everything was going according to plan, as Pettitte ate up the Mariners lineup the first time through the order. He forced Ichiro Suzuki to ground into a double play to get out of the first. He then worked around a walk to get three ground ball outs in the second, and retired the side in order in the third inning. It was like time was nothing for Pettitte.

But, as we all know, reality bites.

After, Pettitte walked ex-Yankee Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak smoked one over the left field wall to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead. Then in the sixth, it fell apart for Pettitte, as he quickly tired. He gave up a single to Dustin Ackley to lead off the inning, then surrendered a two run homer to Casper Wells to make it 4-0 Mariners.

It was a rough afternoon, for the Bronx's favorite lefty. There were signs of hope with Pettitte's return, but the Yankees need him to get better fast, especially with a checkered rotation. 

Devils vs. Rangers for Eastern Conference Title

It has been many years since hockey mattered in New York City.

Not since the New Jersey Devils last Stanley Cup victory over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 2003, has hockey been on the tongues of sports fans throughout the tri-state.

Not since 1994, have we seen the two local hockey teams go at for all of the marbles in the East, with a trip to the cup on the line.

Two weeks ago the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers were on the cusp of being eliminated from the playoffs. Both trialed their respective first round series 3-2. Neither team had been past a first round in several years; and forget about the Rangers who have made playoff futility into a hobby.

Now both are here, back in the Eastern Conference Finals. In many ways as the season played out, it felt like a Rangers/Devils collision was going to happen at some point in the playoffs. If both teams could get by Philadelphia or Boston, or if both of those teams were eliminated, which they were, it would open the door for the Hudson River Rivalry.

Both teams feature two of the top goal-tenders in the sport. Martin Brodeur is still playing at a high level at age 40. It wasn't that long ago, that Brodeur was the young/talented goal-tender that led the Devils to three Stanley Cup championships. While Brodeur didn't have a great series against the Florida Panthers in round one, he was very good in round two against Philadelphia.

Offensively, New Jersey has been getting it done with the combination of Ilya Kovalchuck (5 goals, 12 points and 35 shots on goal), and Travis Zajac (5 goals, 10 points), who had a game winning goal in the Panthers series. Those two have been instrumental for New Jersey, and will have to be if they are to beat their Hudson River cousins the Rangers.

As for New York, the Rangers, goalie Henrik Lundqvist has taken over the region as the towns  top goalie, while Brodeur has aged. Yet, Lundqvist hasn't had a stellar post-season. He has given up goals at inopportune times this post-season, costing the Rangers games. But, when the Rangers need him to be great, he has been like in Game 7 vs. Washington.

Offensively, it has been Brad Richards, who has been leading the way this post-season for the Rangers. His goal in Game 7 was his sixth of this postseason. He has been huge for New York all spring. If the Rangers are to win this series, they need Richards, Martin Gabrick and Ryan Callahan to all play at their very best.
Plus, New York has played two straight seven game series, and it should be interesting to see how handle another long series, this time against their arch rivals.

Game one: Monday May 14, NJD @ NYR - 8:00pm (NBCSC)
Game two: Wednesday May 16, NJD @ NYR - 7:30pm (NBCSC)
Game three: Saturday May 19, NYR @ NJD - 1:00pm  (NBC)
Game four: Monday May 21, NYR @ NJD - 8:00pm (NBCSC)
Game five*: Wednesday May 23, NJD @ NYR - 8:00 (NBCSC)
Game six*: Friday May 25, NYR @ NJD - 8:00 (NBCSC)
Game seven*: Sunday May 27 NJD @ NYR-8:00 (NBCSC)

* - if necessary. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Caps defeat Rangers, force Game 7

Series tied at 3

With the New Jersey Devils paitiently waiting for an opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals, the New York Rangers are once again on the brink of elimination in this playoff season. In a series where they haven't played all that well, the Rangers lost to the Capitals 2-1 in Washington to knot up their best of seven series at three apiece.

After taking advantage of a late penalty in Game Five, a game New York was losing 2-1 with  six seconds to go, the Rangers tried to win it in overtime, but New York had no such luck this time.

Earlier, the Rangers fell behind when Alex Ovechkin scored in the first period to give the Caps a 1-0 lead. Washington built this lead to 2-0 as Jason Chimera scored his fourth goal of the series.

Offensively the Rangers had no answer for 22-year-old goalie Braden Holtby, who had 30 saves in 31 attempts on goal. Holtby had a very good Game Four for the Capitals before falling apart at the end of Game Five. He rebounded well on Wednesday night.

The Rangers will return home to play Game Seven in the hope they can close it out and steal another series. Meanwhile, their rivals, the Devils, will be fully rested when and if the Rangers advance. 

Knicks fall to Heat, crazy season comes to an end

HEAT 106

It got to a point in this dismal first round playoff series against the Miami Heat that no matter what the Knicks tried to do, the Heat would still come out victorious in Game Five at home. It was as if the Knicks never bothered showing up for this game; they went through the motions in a heartless 106-94 loss. As a result, the Knicks are eliminated from the playoffs.

The Knicks never gave themselves a shot in this game. They held an early 20-14 lead, thanks to a Mike Bibby three pointer, but that is where the Knicks momentum would end. A three pointer by Mike Miller cut the Knicks lead to 17-14. Then, Udonis Haslem's six foot hook shot cut the Knicks lead down to one, 20-19. After LeBron James tied the game with a free throw shot, Shane Battier and Miller went back-to-back from behind the arch to expand the Heats lead to four, 28-24.

At that point, it was down hill for the Knicks. They never led again and trailed by 11 at halftime. At one point, New York was down by as many as 19 late in the fourth quarter. Clearly, the Knicks had packed it in and were ready to head into the off-season.

Now that the Knicks season is over, questions will arise with regard to the job security of coach Mike Woodson. Reports on Wednesday morning asserted that the Knicks were leaning toward keeping Woodson next year as the full time head coach. There were rumors that the Knicks would pursue Phil Jackson, but there has been no indication that Jackson is interested in coaching again, and the Knicks have had no reported contact with him.

In addition, the Knicks already extended the contract of their once interim General Manager Glen Grunwald to full time status. It would make sense that Woodson would get similar treatment. Plus, out of fairness to him, Woodson hasn't had a chance to coach this team at full strength. He didn't have Jeremy Lin for the stretch run and didn't have Amar'e Stoudemire at different points in this season. It is only fair to see how Woodson does with a full training camp, and a healthy ball club.

If the Knicks remain healthy next year, maybe then they can be conisdered a legit contender; however, there will be questions about the durability of Stoudemire, and whether the Knicks want to keep him, especially after the fire extinguisher incident in Game Two of these playoffs. Also, Lin is a free agent. Do the Knicks break the bank for a point guard who hasn't had a full season as a starter? Do they dare look elsewhere and alienate a fan base that craves Linsanity? Those are questions that will have to be answered this summer and early fall.

It will be a interesting off-season.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mariano Rivera injured, tears ACL; may be out for the season

Mariano Rivera has been the greatest closer in the game of baseball. His tremendous career, begun in 1996 with the Yankees run at five World Series Championships, became one of the most storied careers in sports. When number 42 comes trouting out of the Yankees bullpen, it meant one thing: game over.

Eventually, the Yankees would have to get accustomed to life without Rivera. The closer hinted at retirement before this season started; however, no one thought that the Yankees would have to get used to it as soon as now. While exercising in the outfield in a game of catch before the Yankees played the Kansas City Royals in Kansas City, Missouri, Rivera jumped to reach for a ball that fell behind him. As he twisted, Rivera dropped to warning track holding his knee. Word is Rivera tore his ACL and will be lost for the season.

Rivera was put on a stretcher and carted off the field; now the Yankees are left to wonder. Watch video. Rivera will head back to New York where his injury will be reevaluated.

Manager Joe Girardi hasn't committed to a new closer yet, but he will have some good choices between veteran Rafeal Soriano, who was a closer in Tampa Bay before signing with the Yankees last year although David Robertson, might be the better option. In 11 innings, Robertson has 18 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.00. He has developed into a solid back-of-the bullpen reliever, serving primarliy as Rivera's set up man.

Nevertheless, stepping into Rivera's big shoes won't be easy. On the other hand, it could become closer by committee if Robertson doesn't nail the job down. 

If this is the end of Rivera's career, it is a horrible way for a great baseball player to go out. Maybe Rivera will be back in 2013, but fans will have to wait and see.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Knicks stink it up again, trail Heat 3-0

MIA leads 3-0 

Here is a record the Knicks won't be proud of: 13 straight, as in 13 straight playoff losses.

For three quarters,the Knicks showed their fans something they hadn't seen at all in this series against the Heat: some fight! Days after Amar'e Stoudemire smashed his fist through the glass casing of a fire extinguisher, that ill-consiered action may very well prevent Stoudemire from playing the rest of the season, New York trailed Miami by only two points.

They held their own against Miami's big three for as long as they could, and trailing 58-56 heading into the fourth quarter, the Knicks momentum was on the rise. Then, it all fell apart ... again.

The Heat outscored the Knicks 29-14, and, once more, LeBron James was at the center of it. James scored 17 points in the quarter, including two huge three pointers to build a ten point Heat lead three minutes into the fourth quarter. The Knicks had no answer for James who did whatever he wanted, including acting like a Drama Queen when it came to fouls, or non-calls.

Every shot the Knicks took in the fourth quarter missed and missed badly. They couldn't rebound and couldn't play a ounce of defense. Offensively,  the Knicks were nonexistent. Carmelo Anthony had only 22 points; Steve Novak didn't score a single point, Tyson Chandler only had 10 points, and JR. Smith 12. That was it.

The Knicks lifeless performance in the fourth quarter was a huge downer after this team came out hotter than a firecracker for the first half of this game. Now New York is on the brink of elimination. There is a chance that Amar'e Stoudemire will play Sunday. There have been rumors that Jeremy Lin would try to play too. At this point, it just doesn't matter because the Heat will win this series, and the Knickerbockers will have to live with another disappointing post-season.