Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Giants Draft

I don’t get hung up on draft grades, nobody knows how these picks will perform until we see them on the field. (A good example of this is Mel Kiper giving the Giants 2007 Draft a C-)  What I grade a draft on is how well it appears to fill the needs of the team and from that standpoint the Giants hit a home run.

Think about the offseason.  The Giants lost Brandon Jacobs, Mario Manningham and Aaron Ross.  They didn’t bring Kareem McKenzie back and they lost two tight ends to injury in the Super Bowl.  And look what they did with their first five picks- RB, WR, CB, TE, OL.  In other words they went down their list of needs and filled them.

But beyond that, I like the picks they made. Wilson strikes me as a tough runner, someone who has speed but can also pound the ball.  Randle reminds me more of Steve Smith than Mario Manningham, but that probably works better in the Giants current scheme. Hosley fell down the draft boards because he failed a drug test, nobody doubts that he can play and you can never have too many cornerbacks.

Adrien Robinson struck me as a reach based on his production, but then I saw Jerry Reese compare his athleticism to that of Jason Pierre-Paul’s and I understood the pick.  I don’t mind taking a flier in the fourth round at all and I think they did that with this pick and their other 4th rounder- Brandon Moseley.  If they are right, they have their future starting TE and right tackle.  Matt McCants seems like a good depth player at left tackle.  Markus Kuhn gives them another body to rotate in on the defensive line.

Add it all up and I think the Giants did a great job reloading on offense.  The one thing they didn’t do is draft someone who can rush the passer.  That could prove to be a problem if the Osi Umenyiora situation continues to deteriorate.

 

 

Quite A Day

Please forgive the NY sportsfan in your life if he or she seems distracted today, but today is going to be a very busy day.  

It will all start at 12pm when the final four rounds of the NFL Draft start.  While these may not be the glamorous rounds, the Giants have shown how they are vital to winning championships. (More on the Giants Draft Monday)

At 3pm, the Rangers open their second round series versus Washington. Not that they needed any extra motivation, but the Caps have sent them home in two of the last three seasons. My pick is Rangers in six.

At 3:30pm the Knicks open their playoffs with a game in Miami.  For the first time probably ever, most of the U.S. will be rooting for New York. Unfortunately, that won’t get it done and I predict the Heat win in 5.  But, since the Knicks haven’t won a playoff game in 11 years that would represent progress.  (I am going to throw up now.)

At 4pm we have the Yankees and Tigers starting. Luckily, the Yankees have taken note of the two playoff games and decided to start Freddy Garcia to make sure fans can watch the Knicks and Rangers. 

And if you need a nightcap, the Mets are on a 8:10 vs. Colorado.  

This will be a fun one.  

“Game 7’s Are Awesome”

That was a quote left in the comments yesterday by BL and he is absolutely right.  The only thing better than a Game 7 in hockey is a Game 7 that has overtime.  And, we are about to get three Game 7’s over the next two nights.

Tonight we have the Bruins facing the Caps.  Just like the Rangers, the Bruins were heavily favored going into the series, lost Game 5 at home and then had to win Game 6 on the road.  You have to assume Boston has the advantage going into tonight, but Game 7’s are only predictable in their unpredictability.

Tomorrow we will have the Devils going down to Florida to decide their series.  New Jersey blew a lead in Game 6 and then scored in overtime to force Game 7.  Will Martin Brodeur add another highlight to a Hall of Fame career?

And of course we have the Rangers trying to get to the second round.  I am still very worried about the Rangers’ ability at even strength, but their power play is clicking and having Hagelin back is huge. I still think it will be a nervous night on the couch for me.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is that if Washington, New Jersey and Ottawa all win the Eastern Conference will have lost their top-4 seeds in the first round. I know that #8 seeds have upset #1’s before, but I can’t recall anything like that ever happening.  The games are all on one of the NBC networks, so tune in, you just might get hooked on hockey.

Do-Or-Die

If the Rangers’ season ends tonight there will be plenty of time to reconstruct how they reached this point.  For now, let’s focus on getting to a Game 7.  Obviously, the odds are stacked against them, but if they win tonight, you have to feel pretty good about their chances Thursday.  The thing is, how can they win tonight?

One thing in their favor will be the return of Hagelin.  Since he got suspended, the Rangers haven’t really clicked on offense and Gaborik and Richards have been put on a myriad of line combinations in an attempt to get them going. While you can’t blame all of the offensive woes on this, it is worth noting that the Rangers scored six goals in the first two games of this series and have only three in the last three. And, two of those three goals came on the power play. 

But, they will be without Brian Boyle.  Torts is quoted as simply saying “he is not here” when asked about Boyle, which I take to mean Ottawa.  If he has a concussion as has been reported, they probably didn’t let him fly up there.  So with Boyle gone, who gets his ice time?  My hope is Mike Rupp.  Rupp knows how to do the dirty work in the corners and he is a smart veteran. The Rangers signed him for games like this, but he has been buried on the bench, averaging five minutes per game.  Boyle’s injury should change that.

But ultimately, the Rangers will have to solve a very hot goaltender. Anderson has been amazing.  He singlehandedly held the Senators together in Game 4 and he made 41 saves in Game 5.  The Rangers out-hit and out-shot the Senators in Game 5, they will need to do so again and hope the puck bounces their way for really the first time this series.  

Will the Rangers succeed and avoid flushing a great season down the drain?  We will find out tonight. 

Scheduling

The Giants 2012 schedule is out and it looks pretty nasty.  Let’s walk through it week-by-week

No surprises in Week1, we already knew the Giants would face the Cowboys on a Wednesday night!

The Giants will stay home in Week 2 and play Tampa.  This should be a winnable game and will be interesting because they will face former Rutgers Coach, Greg Schiano.

Thanks to the NFL Network, Thursday football has been expanded this year and that means Week 3 the Giants face Carolina on a Thursday night. It should be fun to see them face Cam Newton, but having only one of their first three games on a Sunday?  Booooo!

On the plus side, the Thursday game will allow the Giants extra time to prep for a tough game down in Philly in Week 4. It’s the Sunday Night Football game, so the Giants will be on National TV for the third time in four weeks.

In Week 5, the Giants return home for a game with the Browns.  What can you really say about that?

Week 6 brings a big game, the NFC Championship rematch in San Francisco.  As an added bonus, the Giants will face Brandon Jacobs and Mario Mannigham for the first time.  This one should be a doozy.

The Giants will try in Week 7 to do something they couldn’t do in 2011- beat Washington.  I will try and stop shaking my head now.

Last year the Giants played two of their final four games against Dallas.  In 2012, they will finish with Dallas after a trip there in Week 8.

Week 9 brings the long anticipated “Rooney Bowl” to Giants Met Life Stadium when the Steelers come and visit. 

The Giants head back onto the road in Week 10 and face the Bengals. 

Week 11 brings a bye week, make your family plans now.

The end of Thanksgiving Weekend will be a good one as the Giants face Green Bay on Sunday Night Football.  Unfortunately, this opens up a really tough stretch to close the season.

Sure, go ahead and laugh, but after 2011, a late season game in Washington isn’t anything to sneeze at and that is the Week 13 matchup.

Week 14 brings the Saints in to face the Giants.  Does anyone have any idea what the Saints will be like in 2012?  I don’t think so.

The Giants close the season playing four-straight 2011 playoff teams and their Week 15 opponent is the one that got their run started- Atlanta.  This time though, they will have to win on the road.

Just to make things more interesting, they then head to Baltimore for a Super Bowl XXXV rematch with the Ravens.

And then they close things with a home game against the Eagles.  I’m sure that won’t be an emotionally charged affair!

Based on this and this alone, I will go out on a limb and predict an 11-5 finish for the Giants.  

When is a Loss a Win?

It’s never fun to see your team steamrolled, but that’s exactly what happened to the Rangers last night.  With a win they could have clinched the Presidents Trophy, but they didn’t come close.  Washington, which was playing for a shot at the division title, scored 32 seconds into the game and then again two minutes later. By the end of the first period, it was 3-0 and the Rangers never got closer than that.  It wasn’t a pretty night, but the Rangers may have won by losing.

First and foremost, they avoid playing Washington in Round 1 of the playoffs. Ottawa is a good team, but they do not have Alex Ovechkin. Everyone seems to focus on the fact that Ovechkin’s production has been down this year, but he still netted 38 goals, good for fifth in the league. This guy can dominate a playoff series like few others in the league, as Rangers fans well remember from last year. 

But secondly, the Rangers really had just a bad period, not a bad game.  They rediscovered their mojo in the 2nd and 3rd and played their brand of hockey.  They outshot the Caps 25-10 in those periods, but Braden Holtby only allowed one shot to beat him. 

So, it wasn’t the end to the regular season Rangers fans had hoped for, but I don’t see any reasons to panic heading into the playoffs.  We will find out later today when exactly the Rangers will get a chance to prove that hypothesis.