Is there ever a differentiation? Is every loss the end of the world: trade everybody, fire everybody, shoot/stab/tattoo/scalp everybody?
I appreciate the emotional attachment you guys have, and the investment you make in these games, but seriously, that last night was not a loss. It was a tie. And not a terrible tie.
Now, onto my favorite subject, the skills competition (oh, tell me you weren’t expecting this).
1) If Atlanta makes the playoffs in the eighth seed, one point ahead of the Rangers, are you skills competiton fans still going to like the shootout?
2) It seems to me, somebody who played a little hockey and watched thousands of games in person, that the Rangers’ skills competition participants, no matter who they are, go at a different pace than the skills competitors from the opposition. You watch Kovalchuk and Kozlov and some of the other Thrashers last night and they go at a slow pace, taking it wide, then gradually picking up a little speed, but not so much where they’re out of control, or where pucks are going to slide off their sticks, or where they shoot wide or miss the net high. The Rangers, even the specialists like Kotalik and Christensen, go full-speed ahead, leaving them no time to adjust to what the goalie does, no time to pick one of the known five holes and hit it, no time to contemplate their next move.
The reason I bring this up is that these silly, stupid skills competitions—put in place to please those non-hockey cities’ fans disguised as chairs—really make a difference in the standings. If you don’t win your fair share of them, you can lose playoff spots, millions in revenues; people can be fired, traded, not re-signed, whatever, based on the results of this idiotic tie-breaking scheme.
Onto another topic: Dos Nueve.
Chad Johnson certainly was terrific in his first start, and he deserves another look, and soon—he shouldn’t sit so long where he has to go to Hartford and play a few games to get ready when needed. He looked calm, sounded calm afterward, and really should be proud of the way he played. But let’s not quite hand him a string of Vezina Trophies and heat up the talks of trading Lundqvist just yet, OK? It’s one game. Hockey history is littered with goalies of varying pedigrees who came into the league with a giant splash, some of whom even had magnificent full seasons, only to settle back into relative mediocrity or worse. It’s a tough position to judge, even after a full year or more. So let’s hold off on judging Ocho.
Because I know some of you guys are also baseball fans, I want to notify you of the Baseball Writers Association of America’s annual dinner, which is open to the public (Jan. 23 at the New York Hilton). The price is steep ($225) but if you really are a baseball fan, this is a legit star-studded affair. Here are the awards being given out that night:
BABE RUTH Postseason MVP—Alex Rodriguez
SID MERCER/DICK YOUNG Player of the Year—Joe Mauer
JOAN PAYSON—Carlos Beltran
BEN EPSTEIN/DAN CASTELLANO Good Guy —Jeff Francoeur
WILLIAM J. SLOCUM/JACK LANG Long and Meritorious Service—Don Zimmer
CASEY STENGEL You Could Look It Up—Ron Darling
WILLIE, MICKEY AND THE DUKE—Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte
JOE DiMAGGIO Toast of the Town—Derek Jeter
MILTON RICHMAN You Gotta Have Heart—Aaron Boone.
For info or tickets, contact Phil Pepe at either firstname.lastname@example.org or 201-871-5924.