ENGLISHTOWN, NJ – After being foreclosed on and toying with the notion of being homeless, my Uncle John graciously opened his house to me. Since my arrival, we spend a great deal of time watching sports – when not watching the Republican News Network; more commonly known as the Fox News Channel.
Uncle John is not a novice when it comes to talking politics or sports. I have to preface this because during the New York Rangers 5-0 no-show at home in Game 4 of their series versus the Pittsburgh Penguins he asked a very good question concerning the just-pulled Henrik Lundqvist: “What has this guy ever won that they call him The King?”. My response was slow in forthcoming as he rattled off the names of multiple Cup winning netminders Billy Smith, Ken Dryden, Martin Brodeur, and Patrick Roy. All I could muster was “the Rangers would be fodder without him” as an excuse because until very recently I had the same burning question concerning the nickname.
In viewing yesterday’s season-ending 6-3 bloodletting in which Henrik Lundqvist was yanked from the ice for the second straight game, I don’t know who let The King “have it” more–the Consol Energy fans in Pittsburgh who serenaded The King with their haunting Lund-qvist chants or my uncle facetiously snickering in his recliner after every goal the Swede saw fly over his shoulder and into the twine behind.
The opening round of the playoffs read like a Greek tragedy. A king, normally a one-man moat to the castle/crease, was removed after the enemy raided and riddled him and his lieges ten times in forty-one tries over battles 3 and 4. Management dressed seven defenders and that wasn’t enough, as the sentry’s numbers could have been doubled to no avail. The throne may well be irreparable at this point after all the mileage on this team – a season’s worth of playoff games over the last five years will age you like no other sport.
Youth was served well – in case you couldn’t tell – as the Pens beat the opponent to loose pucks, pushed the Rangers off of others, and just outworked the older, slower, weaker opponent. In a close 3-2 game yesterday, you just got the feeling things wouldn’t stay that way for too long and they didn’t as 3-2 ballooned to 6-2 before they called off the dogs. This might be the end for this group of Rangers as we know them.
If you can’t beat The Matts, Meet the Matts:
Matt Cullen at 39, around since the Stone Age and about ten NHL teams (once a Ranger) into his career, outplayed the Rangers dinosaurs with regularity to the tune of two game-winning goals of the four.
Matt Murray, the 21 year-old playoff rookie and series-winning goaltender, out-dueled hockey royalty in the last two matches and has made a name for himself going forward.
Steven Matz. I’m sneaking a little baseball in because it capped off my uncle’s happy recap as a fellow Met fan. 6 1/3 IP, 2R in a victory over the Atlanta Braves. And guess who has the highest batting average for the Mets? It’s Matz.
Please comment below and come back tomorrow for DJ Eberle, who thinks his Sabres and Bills could be better than then Giants and Rangers next year. Just ask him.