Friday, February 11, 2011

Sympathy, and Hope, for the Devils

Please allow Jacques Lemaire... and perhaps also Patrik Elias, Brian Rolston, Jason Arnott, Ilya Kovalchuk, Colin White and Andy Greene, to reintroduce themselves. They are men of wealth and taste.

And, with the infusion of young talent like Mark Fraser, Mark Fayne, Henrik Tallinder, Adam Mair, Nick Palmieri and Mattias Tedenby, the New Jersey Devils have gotten off the deck, and started winning, and gaining ground on the Eastern Conference.

Their last 3 games have been wins, the last 2 coming from behind by a goal late in the 3rd period and winning in overtime.

Tuesday night, it was 3-2 over the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh. Last night, it was 2-1 over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto.

Ilya Kovalchuk, about whom so much fuss was made in the off-season due to the size and makeup of his contract and how difficult it was to get it approved by the league office, scored the winner last night against the Make Beliefs. I'm beginning to think "Kovalchuk" is Russian for "Alka-Seltzer." When he scored that goal, oh what a relief it was.

These last 3 wins have been with Johan Hedberg in goal, as Martin Brodeur got hurt in the win against the Canadiens this past Sunday in Montreal. There is still no timetable on his return from a sprained knee.

The Devils have now won 3 straight, 5 out of their last 6, and 12 of their last 15. And both of their recent losses were in overtime (to the same team, the Florida Panthers), so they even got points in those games. Meaning they've gotten points in each of their last 13, 24 of a possible 26 points.

They play again tonight, at home at the Prudential Center, against the San Jose Sharks. Then the Hurricanes at home again on Wednesday, then a week from tonight at home against The Scum, followed by another game the next day in Raleigh, for their 3rd game against the currently-8th-seeded Canes in a span of 12 days.

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I haven't done a countdown in the new year yet. Here goes:

Days until Yankees' pitchers & catchers report: 3, this coming Monday. Finally, a reason for me to look forward to February 14.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: 7, as I said, a week from tonight, against The Scum. RANGERS SUCK! They next play the Islanders on Sunday, March 6, a matinee at the Nassau Coliseum. Their next game against the Flyers is Friday, April 1, at home. Appropriate that they would play the Broad Street Bozos and their fool fans on April Fool's Day.

Days until the next North London Derby: Unknown. It was supposed to be Saturday, February 26, at White Hart Lane. But the League Cup Final (a.k.a. the Carling Cup Final) is the next day, at the new Wembley Stadium in London, and Arsenal advanced, to play Birmingham City. So the Derby had to be postponed. It could very well happen in May, which means, as Arsenal have twice before (1971 and 2004), they have a chance to clinch the league title at the ground of their most hated, and hating, rivals.

Days until the Red Bulls play regular-season soccer again: 36, the season opening at home at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, Saturday, March 19, against the Seattle Sounders.

Days until the Yankees' Opening Day: 48, Thursday, March 31, at Yankee Stadium II, against the Detroit Tigers.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 56, Friday, April 8, at Fenway Park. Just 8 weeks. Under 2 months.

Days until the Red Bulls play another "derby": 57, Saturday, April 9, against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. They next play their biggest long-term rivals, D.C. United, on Thursday, April 21, at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington. And they next play the team that SHOULD be their biggest rival, due to the whole New York-New England thing, the New England Revolution, on Saturday, June 11, at Red Bull Arena.

Days until Derek Jeter collects his 3,000th career hit: 123. About 4 months. (estimated: June 14, 2011)

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 200, on Thursday, September 1, home to North Carolina Central. Not UNC, a.k.a. Chapel Hill. Not N.C. State. North Carolina Central. They're in Durham, almost certainly set up as a black people's counterpoint to once-segregated Duke University in the same city. This is another chance for RU to play a historically black college (as we've recently done with Howard, Morgan State and Norfolk State), give them a huge payday, rack up a lopsided win, and hear their great band while booing our own usually good band for being inadequate by comparison. Because the Big East Conference still hasn’t set its conference schedule for 2011, this opener is 1 of only 5 Rutgers games that are yet set. The others are as follows: At North Carolina on September 10, home to Ohio University (thank God it’s not Ohio State) on September 24, home to Navy on October 15, and against Army at the new Yankee Stadium on November 12. In fact, aside from the Yankee Stadium date, every date is in flux, due to the whims of the TV networks: September 3, 10, 17 and 24; October 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29; November 5, 19 and 26; and December 3.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 208, on Friday night, September 9, 2011, and the opponent and location are TBD.

Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 275.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 286.

Days until the last Nets game in New Jersey: 437 (estimated).

Days until the 2012 Olympics begin in London: 493.

Days until Alex Rodriguez collects his 3,000th career hit: 841 (estimated).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 700th career home run: 963 (estimated).

Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 1,088.

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 756th career home run to surpass all-time leader Hank Aaron: 1,583 (estimated).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 763rd career home run to become as close to a "real" all-time leader as we are likely to have: 1,697 (estimated).

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