BLOOMINGBURG, NY – It was only a few hours to Game 4 puck-drop (Islanders won 4-1) at the disgracefully aging Nassau County Coliseum, which – if you will remember – was host to Wrestlemania 2 (I had Bob Uecker’s seats for the event). Had they updated the place known more recently as The Mausoleum just a decade ago, maybe the failed Barclays Experiment wouldn’t have happened to tarnish the old name of Fort Neverlose. To the Isles fans credit, they stuck it out and next year if the team can have an extended playoffs run you can catch the final leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown and a hockey game by just taking a shuttle from the track to the new arena which is a stroke of genius not seen in New York politics in a long while. Just ask JG Clancy for some handicapping advice and bring up Karma Shield in passing conversation. What’s needed to boost morale among MTM followers and contributors is a day at Belmont like we had several years ago. Who can say no to a good time, a tub full of ice cold beer, sandwich wraps and a sunny late Spring day?
Anyhow, I am posing a question today that sports talkies seem to have wrong when it comes to a best-of-7 series. The opinion that odd numbered games mean the most is bullsh1t, as is the theory that a series doesn’t start until the home team loses a game. There’s no bigger game than Game #4 and I will tell you why: the large percentage of series are 2-to-1 in games after three. Getting even at 2 or +/-2 at 3-1 settles the direction of the series and despite the lack of game to game carryover of momentum in this Bruins-Isles match-up, the winner of last night’s game will have an advantage as the series continues. What has become shift-by-shift momentum will turn quickly after Game 4. Had the Isles gone down two games, they would have created chippy hockey in a Game 5, facing elimination. If the B’s went up two and a chance to close things out in five, allowing their black and blue bodies to soak in an ice bath would have been plenty motivation. The tie at two games each is nothing less than a treat for hockey fans who are assured of two or three more games of hard-hitting, responsible 200-foot hockey, not to mention great goaltending and some serious offensive skill and overtime heroics.
As I watched the second period of pond hockey between Carolina and Tampa Bay – and as confusing as this sounds, I made predictions as to whom would today’s heroes for last night’s Bruins and Islanders tilt… Here’s what I wrote yesterday:
‘Kyle Palmieri is a Bruins-killer, as is J.G. Pageau, but the B’s have kept the latter quieter than normal. Palmieri just seems to be in the right spot all the time and is sneaky-good at creating his own shot… On defense for the Fishsticks, you have to believe Nick Leddy is overdue in hitting the score sheet… The visitors need to stop relying on the first line to continue carrying the team. I like Nick Ritchie’s size and determination and he is close to having a multiple point night even with Jake DeBrusk on the other wing. With the absence of Brandon Carlo on defense it’s a no-brainer that my boy Charlie McAvoy will be asked to do the heavy lifting and Barry Trotz will be taking every liberty with the NY kid… It’ll be up to Chucky Bright Lights’ Boston University teammate Matt Grzlyck to pick up the slack.’
Not too bad, eh? Palmieri and Pageau each potted a goal.
Happy Birthday to the man responsible for the term “power forward” to permeate the hockey world and current Bruins President Cam Neely who had 50 goals in 49 games on one good knee in 1993-94.