The New York Rangers are on a pretty spectacular run. After defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games, the Rangers found themselves down three games to one to the Pittsburgh Penguins, only to win three straight, including two on the road, knocking off the Penguins in dramatic fashion in seven games. Rangers star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist keyed the rally, and joined Mad Dog after the big Game 7 win.
Listening to the Lundqvist clip, you can tell that the Rangers never panicked down 3-1. One reason is, of course, having Henrik in your net; knowing that he’s going to keep you in every game takes a lot of pressure of a team. What also helps – and the players will never state it – is Marc-Andre Fleury in the Pittsburgh net. Not that Fleury is a bad goaltender. He’s good, he’s won a Cup, but Fleury has had a mountain of postseason struggles. As an opposing offensive player, Fleury doesn’t intimidate. The opponent never feels Fleury is going to “stand on his head.” Knowing the huge advantage they had between the pipes was likely key to keeping the Rangers relaxed.
Speaking of Henrik, Steve in New Jersey called in before the Rangers’ Game 7 against Pittsburgh to argue the greatness of Henrik Lundqvist.
This is an argument that Chris has with Rangers’ fans constantly. Rangers’ fans think Russo is knocking Lundqvist. He is not. Dog thinks Henrik is great – a top three goaltender in the NHL and future Hall of Famer – but Chris likes to use the term “immortal.” He saves that term for the greats who rise above even Hall of Fame status. Goalies like Patrick Roy, Ken Dryden and Martin Broduer are immortals in Doggie’s eyes. Mad Dog’s argument is simply that Henrik isn’t there, and he needs to win a title before you can start making that argument. Even if the Rangers talent around him isn’t great, he needs to carry them to a Cup, and until he does that, he won’t reach that level. I agree.
While we are on the subject of callers, Rob in Florida called into Mad Dog’s show and had a spirited debate with Doggie. Rob didn’t like Russo’s take on the Jaguars’ first-round pick, quarterback Blake Bortles. Check out the conversation.
Arguing with Russo isn’t easy. Trust me, I have to do it every week. Rob made plenty of strong points early in the conversation, but once he tossed out Phil Simms’ opinion like it was some drunk guy at the bar, it was all downhill.
Aaron Hernandez indicted again
We had heard for several months that Aaron Hernandez was a suspect in a double murder in Boston in July of 2012. On Thursday, he was indicted and accused of ambushing and shooting two men to death after a chance encounter in a Boston nightclub. As shocking as it was for us to learn about the murder of Odin Lloyd last summer, this accusation is actually even more shocking.
Here’s why: The timeline on this is mind-boggling. The murder of these two men took place July 16th. Ten days later, Aaron Hernandez reported to Foxborough for Patriots training camp. Ten days after allegedly murdering two people, Hernandez is in the Patriots locker room shooting the breeze with teammates. Not even six weeks later, Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick sat in a room with Hernandez and shook hands with him after the Patriots inked him to a 5-year, $40 million contract. Again, this all took place after the murders. Meanwhile, the Patriots tight end took his new contract and his $40 million and suited up for the Patriots for 10 regular season games in 2012.
It doesn’t end there. Hernandez suited up for both postseason games and was one win away from representing the NFL and the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Again, this all took place after the murders.
We have learned over the last year, that although no one could have possibly expected this extreme with Hernandez, the character issues were well-documented for years, and the Patriots and the NFL looked the other way. Now they have the stain of an alleged double murderer playing in the league for an entire season. Horrifying when you think about it.
Knicks not getting their Phil
Steve Kerr’s decision to spurn his good friend, Phil Jackson, and head to Oakland to become head coach of the Golden State Warriors has to be eye opening to the New York Knicks organization. Kerr’s decision was definitely the best for him personally. Golden State has a greater talent pool, is closer to his home and his family, and gave him one more year guaranteed in his contract. Regardless, the surface simply says that Steve Kerr chose not to coach for his good friend, the “greatest city in the world,” and the big franchise that is the Knicks. He instead chose to go to Oakland and coach a team that, despite its talent, is barely on the national radar.
It leaves the Knicks on the verge of a potentially disastrous situation. Phil Jackson’s first attempt to right the franchise with his hand-picked coach ended up being a slap directly to the face, and now, the future of the franchise really hinges on Carmelo Anthony and his upcoming decision to stay in New York or leave for greener pastures. If Carmelo bolts Broadway to go to a team that has a better chance to win, the cupboard is going to be bare in Gotham.
The Knicks learned the hard way in 2010 that players don’t go to play for a “franchise.” They go to play for a team where they can win. A Melo-less Knicks team will not be a free agent destination. No one is going to line up to play with Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert. The Knicks have almost no draft picks upcoming in the next few years, leaving their only option to build in free agency. Will players play for Phil Jackson without Carmelo Anthony there? Doubtful. Will players play for a coach that is TBD? (And whoever that coach is, will hardly be bringing in an impressive resume?) Doubtful. Knicks’ fans know how dreadful the Isiah Thomas era was for the Knicks, and if Carmelo leaves, the Phil Jackson era may not be much better.
Stream of Consciousness
It amazes me that Stan Van Gundy and his zero championships are worth $35 million. Perhaps SVG is a steal if Steve Kerr with zero coaching experience is worth $25 million. … I said I was waiting for Henrik Lunqvist to do something special in the postseason; he’s now four wins away from doing just that. … Are the Mets starting to realize that Curtis Granderson can only hit in Yankee Stadium? … “Breakdown” by Gary Clark, Jr. … Did Zdeno Chara get one of the three stars for the Canadiens on Wednesday night? … Can I blame all the elbow injuries in baseball on Sabermetrics? … Chris Paul played the worst 20 seconds in the history of the NBA on Tuesday night. … Speaking of that game, the end of Game 5 between the Clippers and Thunder was the most exciting finish since Reggie Miller’s eight points in nine seconds. … I will be pulling for Mark Buehrle all season long. … Just like every year, the NBA played 1302 games this year before finally reaching meaningful basketball. … Is it too late to start watching Breaking Bad? … David Ortiz needs to worry less about his statistics. … Does anyone actually believe LeBron James would sit out next year if the Sterlings still own the Clippers? … I really hope the Rangers meet the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals. The sports world could use an injection of New York vs. Chicago. … If the Yankees reach the postseason this year, Masahiro Tanaka should win the MVP.
Tweet of the Week
Matt Pomeroy makes some interesting points regarding Kerr turning down the Knicks’ coaching vacancy for the Warriors.
Photo of the Week
“Eyes up here, Justin. “
This is the shortest press conference in the history of sports: Zero seconds.
Next week on MDU
Next week, the playoffs will really amp up in the NHL and NBA. We’ll be knee-deep in the conference finals in both sports, and we’ll discuss all week. A little Preakness on Monday as California Chrome goes for the second leg the Triple Crown Saturday on NBC. Former Yankee great/Met manager Willie Randolph will be stopping by in-studio on Tuesday, May 20.