“It ain’t over till its over,” as Yogi Berra used to say. And thanks to some nifty shot making by the Rangers young semi-rookie, Chris Kreider, the Rangers are still alive, gasping for breath, but still alive.
With established stars such as Brad Richards consigned to the bench, the Rangers struggled against the Bruins and seemed on the verge of elimination. Behind by scores of 2-0 and 3-2 in the third period, the Rangers kept coming back until they won the game in overtime thanks to Kreider’s goal.
The Rangers seemed like a different team. They even scored a goal on a power play, one of their weakest areas in the past. Now, however, it’s off to Boston where they will receive a distinctly different reception.
Only three teams in the history of the NHL have come back from a deficit of three games to zero, and the Rangers have started the process. However, the truism of taking one game at a time could not be more relevant. With the stellar play of Henrik Lundqvist backing them up, the Rangers are contenders in any game, and if they remember that, who knows what will happen?
So the Rangers survived last night to play again. But to relinquish the Boston Bruins will require them to continue the transformation they experienced, a difficult task at best.
It’s a lonely task to be a Mets fan these days as the team plummets downward amid a cacophony of critics, lineups and even well-meaning advice.
Well, to add to the chorus, the origins of the Mets situation are not hard to find. It is an unwillingness to pay for quality players, even those already on their team, combined with an unwillingness to enter the free agent market for the same reason.
The Mets managment has always been known for being stingy compared to their easy-spending neighbors next door. And the ensuing results shows the folly of their ways.
How much extra money do the Yankees earn from their entry into the playoffs each year? And how much more attendance do they generate, even in the regular season, as a result?
There’s a reason why free agents cost so much. The market supports them because they can create so much more wealth on the teams where they play. By eschewing this process, the Mets condemn themselves to be a second-tier team, even in the greatest city in the world.
There’s only so much loyalty that the Mets can generate by their once in a decade miracles. The Mets do not need a new general manager; they need a new owner. And until that happens, they will continue their inferiority complex to that other team nearby.
Henrik Lundqvist can’t carry the Rangers single-handed. Even the best goalie in the NHL needs his team to generate some offense, score some goals on a power play and win some faceoffs.
The Rangers failed on all fronts and, as a result, were unable to continue their winning streak at Madison Square Garden last night. They were outshot by the Bruins, and their power plays continued to be unproductive, making them 0 for 10 in the series.
Rick Nash, who was supposed to spark the Rangers offense, remained stuck at one goal in the playoffs. And from around the middle of the second period, the Bruins took over the game and spent most of their time in the Rangers’ end.
Eventually, with the conditions above, the dominating team will win and even though Lundqvist played valiantly, he couldn’t stop everything. Yes, the final goal took a weird hop, but the Bruins also had a few breakaways they should have scored upon as well.
With the series now standing at three games to zero, the Rangers face a long hill to climb to even get back into contention. And they face the first sweep against them in the playoffs since 2006.
Maybe, it was too much to hope for the Rangers to continue their breakout play from last year. But the players are the same, if not better. It’s just the will to win that seems to be lacking.
With the Knicks playoff chances over, and the Rangers seemingly going the same way, it’s back to our national pastime, baseball, for most sports fans. Following baseball is easy if you’re a Yankees fan but somewhat harder for the Mets.
I read an article in The Times today about the struggles of the Mets manager, Terry Collins, to put together a coherent lineup capable of winning some ballgames. With a cast of characters changing every day based on matchups and the inability of the top of the order to get on base, Collins is faced with a herculean tax to meld statistics with the undeniable lack of talent on his team.
Perhaps, if the Mets hadn’t traded Jose Reyes, the ideal lead-off hitter if ever there was one, his job would be easier. But relying on essentially minor league players instead has shown its limitations in the lack of performance results.
Now, with Ike Davis mired in a slump, they’re even talking about sending him back to the minors to build up his confidence. Well, most of the members of the team could go there, too, for the same reason.
The unwillingness of the Mets to play in the free agent market has undeniably led to this situation. Today, you can’t rely on just your farm system to produce a winner.
One thing the Rangers will find out. You can’t keep going to the edge and expect not to be hurt.
They did the same sort of thing last year when they seemed to be a better team. Going behind 3-2 in games, to the brink of elimination, in the first two rounds before rallying to win the series.
Well, that didn’t work in the third round last year, and it may not work in the second round this one. This year, the Rangers are getting even more extreme, losing the first two games of the series in both the first round and this one. But this time, it just may catch up with them.
I don’t want to be a killjoy to those die-hard Rangers fans out there, but you can’t keep losing the first two games of every series and always expect to win. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, no matter how many slap shots you block by sacrificing your body, won’t be enough.
Almost any respectable hockey team, and especially a good NHL team, knows how to win a series when they’re ahead two games to none. And the Bruins may just show the Rangers how it’s done.
So if the Rangers are serious about a Stanley Cup this year, let them win this series, granted, but let’s not go behind two games to none again.
The concussion sustained by George Hill, the starting point guard of the Indiana Pacers, must be handled under the new concussion policy of the NBA, a new policy that is far more directed at the good of the individual than the team.
Sports fans are used to players playing hurt, to downplay their injuries for the good of their teammates. This new concussion policy leaves no room for flexibility — playoffs or no playoffs, George Hill must now pass a series of tests at varying levels of activity before being allowed back on the court.
The Knicks are fine with that. Hill scored 26 points in Game 4 and was an elemental cog in the Indiana offense. Without him, the Knicks were able to dominate in the next game and could even win the series as a result.
Playoff victories are big money, and it is unusual in our society for big money to take a back seat to one player’s health. Players in many sports have been compounding the seriousness of concussions by this attitude. The “I feel okay” excuse will no longer cut it with the current level of knowledge about this injury.
Some things are more important than one game or even a championship. The sooner our society understands that — and I’m not sure it does yet — the better.
Instead of going out in a blaze of ineptitude and poor coaching, the Knicks got a second chance last night to keep their season alive and nurture hope for a comeback.
They played solid basketball last night and beat the Indiana Pacers by a solid 85-75 score, leading from the beginning of the game until the end. The team got off to a 7-0 lead and never looked back.
Coach Woodson abandoned his folly of changing around the Knicks lineup and playing philosophy in the middle of the post-season and let the Knicks return to what got them where they are: smart ball handling and shooting.
In the face of this renewed onslaught, the Pacers started to make mistakes. The turnovers rapidly mounted; they couldn’t hit a free throw; and the Knicks capitalized on their errors.
Meanwhile, the Knicks offense woke up with 41 percent shooting and good games from Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. The Pacers suffered from the loss of their point guard, George Hill, who is out indefinitely with a concussion.
The Knicks can force a game seven on Monday at the Garden if they can win the next game on the road. Only eight teams have come back from a 3-1 game deficit in the history of the playoffs, and the Knicks are looking to become number nine.