Joe Dyton

Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Rangers-Capitals Game Three recap

In NHL on April 21, 2009 at 6:06 pm

Well, the high the Rangers had me on after winning both games in DC was fun while it lasted.

 

I can’t say I was surprised by what transpired last night. The Capitals are obviously the more superior and talented team in this series, and they finally realized it yesterday. There was no way they wanted to go down three games to none, and they played like it last night.

 

What did surprise me was how badly the Rangers played. I think Lundqvist was the only Ranger who came back from D.C. Everyone else seemed to be in slow motion. Combine a lackluster effort from one team with a desperate, pedal-to-the-metal effort from the other, and you end up with a lopsided, 4-0 game like we got yesterday. If it wasn’t for King Henrik, the score probably (make that definitely) would have been a lot worse.

 

It really blew my mind how poorly the Rangers played yesterday. They played with such purpose, during the first two games, which were on the road by the way. It seemed like they’d be able to keep it up with their home crowd behind them. Then again, I guess the same thing could be said for the Caps when they were at home. Maybe this will be one of those bizarre series where the road team wins every time. That would be fine by me of course since the Rangers would be on the road for Game Seven.

 

But, as badly as the Rangers played, the Caps played just as well. They played with a purpose last night, much like the Blueshirts did in D.C. Rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov has made coach Bruce Boudreau’s decision to make a switch between the pipes look like a good one. The kid’s only allowed one goal during the last two games. And unlike Saturday’s game, he was tested last night. Going into the series, the one advantage the Rangers had over the Caps was goaltending, and now the playing field may have been evened up a bit in that category. Given the Caps outshine the Rangers in every other aspect of the game, this series could be turning Washington’s way in a hurry.

 

Here are a few other random thoughts about last night’s game…

 

*Rangers forward Ryan Callahan hitting the post and Caps going down and scoring was obviously the game’s turning point. If Callahan puts that shot another inch over, the game is tied at one, and who knows what happens after that. Instead, the Caps take the missed shot down to the other end and Alexander Semin gets his second goal of the game. Two-zip, Caps and I write, “Game Over” in my notebook.

Yes, I know it’s sad that I thought the Rangers were cooked despite the fact that they were only down 2-0 with 8:24 left in the first period, but I’ve been watching this team all year. I know these things. The Rangers have no offense. I still don’t know what Rangers GM Glen Sather was thinking when the let the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka and Brenden Shanahan go. When I looked at this roster at the beginning of the season, I couldn’t help but think, “Where’s the scoring come from.” It’s no surprise to me that they finished at the bottom of the league and scoring, and it was no surprise that they couldn’t come back despite having almost two and a half periods to erase a two-goal deficit. The Rangers’ only hope to win this series is to play like they did in the first two games, pick their spots, get a lead and suck the life out of the Caps’ offense. The Blueshirts are not built to mount huge comebacks.

 

*I despise all of the silly TV blackout rules. Honestly, I pay for the NHL Center Ice package all season, and when it comes to the playoffs, I can’t watch my team’s local broadcast because they’re playing the area team? It’s unfortunate the Rangers drew the Caps in the first round because I can’t watch the game on the MSG network. Since I live in the metro D.C. area, I’m forced to watch the Capitals broadcast and listen to Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin all night. It’s not that they do a bad job, it’s just that I want to listen to game from the Rangers perspective, plus at times I feel those guys openly are rooting for the Caps. It doesn’t make for a fun viewing experience, especially when the Rangers can’t get out of their own way. What was even worse was I thought I was catching a break with the game being on Versus last night. I figured, I may not get to watch the Rangers local broadcast, but at least I can watch a neutral, broadcast. Nope, when I turned the TV to Channel 603, the screen was black. I was actually forced to watch the game on Comcast SportsNet. Maybe I’ll make a complaint call to DirecTV tonight…

 

*I love what Sean Avery brings to the table, but he killed the Rangers last night. Not that it matters a whole lot, because the Rangers weren’t going to get a goal last night anyway, but Avery’s non-stop march to the penalty box last night, put them in an even bigger bind. Three penalties in the second period and one more in the third? Seriously? I will say that the officials seemed to have it out for him later on in the game though. That goaltender interference call was a joke. If anyone else had gotten pushed into Varlamov, a penalty wouldn’t have been called. I can’t just kill Avery though, the Rangers took too many penalties as a team yesterday; eight in all. They can’t score with five men on the ice, the last thing they need it to be continuously playing with four.

 

*Quick question, do the Rangers work on the power play in practice? Because during the games, it looks like they’ve never seen a power play before. Give credit to the Caps penalty killers too, but man, the Rangers have struggled with the power play all season. I don’t know if they just don’t have the right players to have a successful power play or what. But I do know when a Cap gets sent to the sin bin, I don’t get all that excited because I have no confidence the Rangers are going to take advantage of having the extra man. They were 0-for-6 on the PP last night. If they can capitalize on two of those opportunities, the game has a totally different feel. Unfortunately, with the lack of offensive the Rangers have, they need that man advantage to generate scoring chances, and it’s not working. During one of the Rangers power plays last night, I blurted out Jack Warden’s classic line from “The Replacements,” “I’ve seen monkey (crap) fights that are more organized than this.”

 

*Despite having a 2-1 series lead, tomorrow night is a must-win game for the Rangers. I know it sounds crazy, but it they head back to D.C. tied, 2-2, I think the Rangers are cooked. The Capitals will be flying high on the momentum, and will have their raucous crowd behind them in the pivotal Game Five. With the Rangers offense becoming more anemic by the second, do you really think they can win that game? I didn’t think so. So now they’d be down, 3-2 and would have to sweep the next two to advance. The sad thing is even, if they win tomorrow, I still wouldn’t write off the Caps. They forced a Game Seven last year after falling behind the Flyers, 3-1 and Philly is a much better team last year than the Rangers are this season. I think the only way the Rangers advance is if Lundqvist pitches a shutout the next two games. Stay tuned.

 

Joe Dyton is a marketing copywriter in Washington, DC. He’s a former assistant editor for The Dealmakers retail real estate magazine in Hamilton, NJ and a former sports writer and copy editor for The Trentonian in Trenton, NJ. He can be reached at thedytonian@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Rangers-Caps Game Two recap

In NHL on April 20, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Hello Puckheads!

 

I attended the Rangers-Capitals Game Two match-up on Saturday and wanted to share a few thoughts about the game before tonight’s big game three.

 

I am a Rangers fan living in the DC area, so when the playoff match-ups were set, I decided I wanted to attend one of the first two games at the Verizon Center. I opted for Game Two, and after watching the Rangers take the first one, I kicked myself because I figured there was no way that they’d take both game in DC, as the Caps are nearly invincible at home this season. But, I decided to suck it up and get a ticket anyway. It’s not often I get to see my team in the playoffs in person.

 

Well, I’m glad I went. The game was fantastic, especially since the Rangers won. I have admit, I was a little concerned for my safety (not really, but you never know); I was cheering on the bad guys after all. I have rooted for my Blueshirts at Verizon Center before, but not during such an important game to the home team. But, I was more than OK. I got a few Rangers (stink) barbs thrown my way, but that comes with the territory. I have to tip my cap to the Washington fans for gracious in defeat. I wasn’t sure how things were going to go when a near altercation broke out between a Caps and Rangers fan a few seats down from me during the national anthem. Fortunately, security got everyone calmed down, and the rest of the contest went on with out any further incidents.

 

As for the game itself, here are a few thoughts…

 

King Henrik is the man. What else can I say. Henrik Lundqvist was Superman on Saturday. He made 35 saves, several from point blank range. I will admit, I was dying for the Rangers to score another goal because I thought there was no way they could win that game, 1-0. The Caps’ offense is too good. But Lundqvist made sure Ryan Callahan’s goal stood up. Before the series started, I felt the only way the Rangers had a shot is if Lundquist stood on his head for them a couple of times, and he did it yesterday. The Caps could have easily won that game, 5-1.

 

It looks like Bruce Boudreau made the right call with the goalie switch. Statistically speaking that is. I know Jose Theodore let in some soft goals in Game One, but the Caps played much better defense in front of rookie Simeon Varlamov than they did for Theodore on Wednesday night. While all four goals Theodore gave up probably should have been saved, they were all uncontested shots. The toughest shot Varlamov faced was the one he let in. I can’t wait to see how the rookie holds up in Madison Square Garden tonight and on Wednesday, if Brodreu decides to stick with him.

 

The officiating was horrific for the Caps. And that’s coming from a Rangers fan. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to see the Rangers get power plays, even if they can’t capitalize on them (that’s a story for another day). But, some of those calls were pretty ticky-tack; none was worse than the call against Caps’ defenseman Mike Green for hooking Nikolai Zherdev. I felt like they bumped into each other, Zherdev took one, two steps and then fell down. I was just as shocked as the Caps’ faithful when the officials hand went up to call the “infraction.” After that, there was a steady, “Ref you (stink)” chant going, and I couldn’t disagree with the home crowd. It would be on thing if the bad officiating went both ways, but the Rangers weren’t called for a penalty until there was 3:43 left on the clock in the second period. And believe me, they could have been called for a few things before then.

 

And finally….

 

As much as I hate to admit it, the Rangers really reminded me of the Devils on Saturday. Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise wrote after Game One that the Rangers were a “dump-the-puck-and-pray” team. In his column today, he referred to the Blueshirts as the New York “Dump-the-Puckers.” Honestly, I can’t disagree with him. I know my team does a lot of dump and chase, but on Saturday, I felt like that’s all they did. After the Rangers took advantage of the Caps’ defensive breakdown to go ahead, 1-0, they looked like they had no interest in scoring another goal. It’s a borderline miracle they survived that game.

 

But, it did remind me of watching the championship Devils teams that would get a lead and then just suck the life out of the game. I for one am in the minority that doesn’t think the Devils and their trap ruined hockey back in 1995. I am fine with watching a well –played, 2-1 game. Anyway, it just felt weird to hear someone complain about the Rangers doing the same things that Devils did to make me roll my eyes at times when the two teams faced off.

 

I will be honest, I’d much rather the Rangers attack and get a couple goal lead before they go into dump and chase mode, but I’m fine with whatever it takes to advance.

 

And before I wrap this up, I have to give kudos to the Rangers’ defense. I know Lundqvist was phenomenal, but the Rangers blocked another 29 shots to go along with the King’s 35 saves. It blew me away how committed everyone was to playing shut-down defense. I’m hoping to see more of the same this evening.

 

Tonight, the action shifts to the Garden. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I have a feeling this series is far from over. Stay tuned.

 

Joe Dyton is a marketing copywriter in Washington, DC. He’s a former assistant editor for The Dealmakers retail real estate magazine in Hamilton, NJ and a former sports writer and copy editor for The Trentonian in Trenton, NJ. He can be reached at thedytonian@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

Friday Night Lights recap: “Tomorrow Blues”

In Friday Night Lights on April 11, 2009 at 2:49 am

Editor’s note: This entry was originally posted on January 19, 2009 after DirecTV’s run of “Friday Night Lights'” third season. It has been updated now that NBC has concluded its run and the announcement has been made that the show will be back for two more seasons.

Hello Dillon Panther fans! Tonight, NBC finished its Season Three run of “Friday Night Lights” with the season finale, “Tomorrow Blues.” Now everyone has had a chance to watch this wonderful season unfold!

As for the season finale itself, what else can I say besides it was excellent. Even without any game play, there were plenty of stories that kept us in suspense, mainly Coach Taylor’s future with the team. We also spent the hour wondering if Tyra would get into college and if Lyla would stick with her plan of going to San Antonio State with Tim or attend her dream school Vanderbilt courtesy of funding from Buddy’s less-than-beloved brother, Gary. Let’s take a look at what happended, shall we?…

Coach Taylor, thanks for the memories.

Wow, football really is a, “What have you done for me lately” type of business, isn’t it? Despite leading Dillon to three straight playoff appearences, which included a state championship and another state finals appearance, Eric was shown the door to make room J.D. McCoy’s personal quarterback coach, Wade Aikman. Did anyone find this as ridiculous as I did? I guess money talks, as the board felt they’d rather have Joe McCoy’s financial backing amongst the boosters than Coach Taylor’s coaching experience. I think what surprised me the most about the situation was when Joe was more or less threatening to have Eric fired, one of his demands that J.D. would be the starting quarterback next season. Was there any doubt he would be? The kid led the team to the state finals (although he was pulled), was named the high school player of the year and Saracen was graduating. Of course, he was going to start at QB next year.

Joe’s other demand is probably what more so made Eric tell Joe to “stick it.” He wanted Wade to call the plays, which would make Eric’s current offensive coordinator, Mac obsolete. I was happy that Eric stuck to his guns and told Joe he knew what he could do with his “opportunity,” even if it did cost him his job. I liked that Coach did the right thing and showed up at the board meeting to defend himself.

His speech was short and sweet, but true: “If you want to replace me with a guywith a lot money whose son has a rocket of arm, you are wrong. You are dead wrong.” I was paraphrasing, but you get the idea. And who knows, maybe by him showing up, it helped him land his new gig: as head coach of the East Dillon Panthers. I wonder if I could place a bet somewhere that next season, East Dillon will face Dillon in a crucial winner-take-all matchup. It’s just a hunch, that’s all.

Tyra’s going to be a Longhorn!

After what seemed to be an uphill battle a season and a half, Tyra battled her way into not only college, but a good one, Texas U. It’s funny how when this show started, she was more or less a fringe character, but now she’s front and center and a wonderful part in this cast. When she opened her acceptance letter, I felt that was one of the most triumphant moments in the show, maybe the most triumphant since Smash dove into the end zone to win the state title in the Season One finale, “State.”

With this storyline, came a great pep talk, or maybe it was more of a venting session from Landry. After Tyra stormed the Texas admissions office begging for a slot on the freshman call sheet and found out she had a one in a thousand shot of getting off of the wait list, she really began feeling sorry for herself. Thankfully, Landry, the voice of reason, finally got out of the car because he couldn’t take her whining anymore. Basically he told her she can be anything she wants to be and needs to believe in herself. I can’t help but wonder what will happen with these two, who make a good couple. They bring out the best in each other.

Lyla and Riggins part ways

Well, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Tim and Lyla were going to San Antonio State together in the fall. As it turns out, Buddy may have found a way for his fisrt-born to go to Vanderbilt after all. It seems like he’s willing to swallow his pride and his brother for the money. Which begs the question, why didn’t Buddy think of this weeks ago when Lyla moved out because she was so mad that he blew her college fund? Wouldn’t that have saved everyone a lot of heartache and aggrevation?

The answer is yes, but of course that would not have made for great drama. As great as “FNL” is, it is still a TV show.

To add more drama, Lyla had the ultimate decision to make: go to SAS with Riggins, or attend her dream college? She predictably decided to stand by her man and go to the lesser school. But Tim unpredictiably wouldn’t let her do it. He didn’t want to be “that guy” that asks his girlfriend to stay only to resent him for it later. I have to say that Tim has really grown from the slacker who only loved girls and football in the beginning of the series. He really has become quite wise, even if he almost decided not go to college. Thank goodness his brother Billy told him he had to go to college if for nothing else to show his future niece or nephew, or maybe even his own kids that anything is possible if you go to college. That was a very touching moment between the Riggins Bros.

Speaking of bad decisions…

Matt’s staying in Dillon?

Last week we learned out of nowhere that Matt was an incredible artist, which got him into the Art Institute of Chicago. Everything looked like it was set up for him to head up to the Windy City. He and his mother were packing up the house so Grandma Saracen could make her way to a retirement community. But then he pulls a 180 and decides to take his grandmother out of there and that he’s not going anywhere. Huh? I understand Matt feels he owes his grandmother because she’s the only person who never left him. And that he didn’t want to break up with Julie, I get it. But I just don’t buy him giving all of that up, even though it’s something his character would do. I guess I was more suprised that his grandmother didn’t give him the same “Go” speech that Tim gave to Lyla. I can’t wait to see what Matt’s doing with himself next season. I’m hoping after he and Grandma danced, she talked some sense into him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s working at the Alamo Freeze in the Season Four premiere.

What happens now?

With Riggins, Lyla and Tyra all headed of to college and Coach Taylor taking over a new team, our beloved show will have a new look next year. I have to give Jason Katims, the writer of this excellent episode, a lot credit. The episode ending the way it did (with Eric and Tami standing in the center of the poor-looking East Dillon field looking around) made it a perfect season or series finale. Fortunately, we now know that this was only a season finale.

Two random notes because I didn’t know where else to put them:

*I loved the cowboy hats Billy and his groomsmen wore during the wedding.

*How nice of the Eric and Tami to buy Julie her first car.

What did you think of this episode, and this season as a whole? How excited are you that “FNL” will be back for not just one, but at least two more seasons? Feel free to comment below!

Have a comment, question or criticism for Joe? He can be reached at thedytonian@yahoo.com.