Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New York vs. New England in Playoffs -- As of May 14, 2013


The Stanley Cup's Conference Semifinals are set.  The New York Rangers will play the Boston Bruins, American hockey's oldest continuous matchup.

Last night, in Game 7s, the Rangers beat the Washington Capitals, 5-0.  It was the first time the Rangers had ever won a Game 7 on the road -- with best-4-out-of-7 matchups being possible in the NHL since 1939.

In a matchup of "Original Six" teams (which, of course, the Rangers also are), the Bruins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime, after trailing 4-1.

I don't know who should be more ashamed of themselves: The Caps or the Leafs.  Who loses a Game 7 at home, 5-0? Who blows a 3-goal lead in a Game 7?

At least the Leafs can say they've won the Stanley Cup.  13 times.  Although they haven't done it, or even been to the Stanley Cup Finals, since 1967.  The Caps have been playing since 1974, and have been to the Finals exactly once, in 1998, and they got swept by the Detroit Red Wings.

This was the first season since 1996 that all of the "Original Six" teams made the Playoffs: The Rangers, the Bruins, the Leafs, the Wings, the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks.  All but the Canadiens and the Leafs are still in it, 4 of the last 8.

And this will be the first time since 1973 that the Rangers have faced the Bruins in the Playoffs -- 40 years.  Indeed, that year, New York beat Boston in the Playoffs in both the NBA and the NHL.  The Knicks have already beaten the Celtics this time...

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The history of the New York Tri-State Area (New York City, Long Island, the Lower Hudson Valley, North and Central New Jersey, and the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven) against New England (the entire States of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island, and the Connecticut Counties of Hartford, Middlesex, New London, Tolland and Windham) is rich and complicated, and has given both sides plenty of measures of what ABC's Wide World of Sports called "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat."

Note that the following does not include regular-season finales, such as the 1904 4-game series that ended in a Pennant for the Boston Pilgrims (Red Sox) over the New York Highlanders (Yankees), or the 1949 2-game that the Yankees had to sweep, and did.

While the New England Whalers reached the Playoffs in all 7 seasons of the World Hockey Association (winning the first time, 1973), then entered the National Hockey League as the Hartford Whalers in 1979, and made the Playoffs 8 times before moving to become the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997, they never faced a New York Tri-Area team in either the WHA or the NHL Playoffs.

This time, I've decided to count matchups in all major leagues, including women's basketball and soccer.  However, the New York Cosmos of the old North American Soccer League (1971-85) never played a New England-based team in the postseason.  And I'm not counting games in college football (there would be hardly any, anyway) and college basketball (do I count only the NCAA? The NIT? The Big East Tournament?).

Matchups that were, or led to, a World Championship for a New York Tri-State Area team are in bold.  Matchups that were, or led to, a World Championship for a New England team are in italics.

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1884 World's Series: The Providence Grays, Champions of the National League, defeat the New York Metropolitans, Champions of the American Association, in 3 straight. Yes, it was called "the World's Series" (but not "the World Series," and is not officially recognized as such by Major League Baseball), and the Metropolitans were known as the "Mets" for short. But they have no connection to the New York franchise that began in the NL in 1962, except for the name.

1912 World Series: The Boston Red Sox defeat the New York Giants, 4 games to 3, with 1 game called due to darkness while still tied. This was the Series whose Game 8 went to a 10th inning, and the Giants led 7-6, before Fred Snodgrass' "$30,000 Muff" led to a Sox win. It would take 74 years for New York could make New England pay for that.

1916 World Series: Red Sox over Brooklyn Dodgers, 4 games to 1. At this time, the Dodgers were officially called the Brooklyn Robins, in honor of their manager, Wilbert Robinson, a.k.a. "Uncle Robbie." Although it was possible for the Boston Braves, 1914 World Series winners, to play the Yankees in a World Series from 1903 to 1952, it never happened: The closest call, and also the closest call for an All-Boston World Series, came in 1948, when the Braves won their last Boston Pennant, and the Yankees finished 1 game behind the Red Sox and Cleveland Indians, who then had a Playoff for the Pennant at Fenway Park, which the Indians won. The Indians then beat the Braves for what remains their last World Championship. The Yankees and Braves have played each other in 4 World Series -- twice while the Braves were in Milwaukee, and twice thus far while the Braves have been in Atlanta.

1927 National Hockey League Stanley Cup Semifinals: Boston Bruins over New York Rangers, 3-1 in a 2-game total-goals series.

1928 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals: Rangers over Bruins, 5-2 in 2-games-total-goals.

1929 Stanley Cup Finals: Bruins over Rangers, 2 straight.

1939 Stanley Cup Semifinals: Bruins over Rangers, 4 games to 3.

1940 Stanley Cup Semifinals: Rangers over Bruins, 4 games to 2.

1951 National Basketball Association Eastern Division Semifinals: New York Knickerbockers (or Knicks for short) over Boston Celtics, 2 games to 0. Knicks-Celtics is the most common New York-New England postseason matchup, having happened 14 times. Rangers-Bruins is next, with the matchup about to happen being the 10th.

1952 NBA East Semifinals: Knicks over Celtics, 2 games to 1.

1953 NBA East Finals: Knicks over Celtics, 3 games to 1.

1954 NBA East Semifinals: Celtics over Knicks, 3 games to 1.

1955 NBA East Semifinals: Celtics over Knicks, 2 games to 1.

1958 Stanley Cup Semifinals: Bruins over Rangers, 4 games to 2.

1967 NBA East Semifinals: Celtics over Knicks, 3 games to 1.

1969 NBA East Finals: Celtics over Knicks, 4 games to 2.

1970 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals: Bruins over Rangers, 4 games to 2.

1972 Stanley Cup Finals: Bruins over Rangers, 4 games to 2.

1972 NBA Eastern Conference Finals: Knicks over Celtics, 4 games to 1.

1973 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals: Rangers over Bruins, 4 games to 1.

1973 NBA East Finals: Knicks over Celtics, 4 games to 3. This was the first time the Celtics had ever lost a Game 7 at the Boston Garden. The Knicks went on to win their 2nd title in 4 seasons. They have never won another, while the Celtics have since won 6.

1974 NBA East Finals: Celtics over Knicks, 4 games to 1.

1978 American League Eastern Division Playoff: Yankees over Red Sox, 5-4. Although MLB counts the Boston Tie Party as a regular-season game, it came after the regularly-scheduled Game 162, so I'm counting it as a postseason matchup. Bucky Blessed Dent.

1980 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals: New York Islanders over Bruins, 4 games to 2.  The Isles went on to win their first Cup.

1983 NHL Wales Conference Finals: Islanders over Bruins, 4 games to 2.  The Isles went on to win their 4th straight Cup -- the last Cup they've won.

1984 NBA East Semifinals: Celtics over Knicks, 4 games to 3.

1985 American Football Conference Wild Card Playoff: The New England Patriots over the New York Jets, 26-14. Although the Jets and Pats were both original American Football League teams from 1960, being in the same Division made it impossible to play each other in the AFL Playoffs until 1969. This was their only Playoff game against each other in their first 46 seasons of play.

1986 World Series: New York Mets over Red Sox, 4 games to 3. Nearly three-quarters of a century after Fred Snodgrass, the Sox blow a 2-run, 2-out, 2-strike lead in Game 6, and then Bill Buckner's name gets written into the history of sports gaffery. The Mets haven't won the World Series since -- the Curse of the Bambino may be dead, but the Curse of Kevin Mitchell lives, born right after the Bambino Curse's most dastardly effort.

1988 NBA East Quarterfinals: Celtics over Knicks, 3 games to 1.

1988 NHL Wales Conference Finals: Bruins over New Jersey Devils, 4 games to 3. The Devils had made the Playoffs for the first time ever, eliminating the Rangers (who, like the Red Sox, are called The Scum on this blog) on the last day of the regular season, then beat the Islanders and the Washington Capitals in the Playoffs. But while the Bruins were the more experienced and probably the better team, and had home-ice advantage for the series, it will be forever remembered for the officiating (Same New England, always cheating) that had Devils coach Jim Schoenfeld yelling at referee Don Koharski, "You fat pig! Have another doughnut!" The Devils haven't lost a postseason series to the Bruins since.

1990 NBA East Quarterfinals: Knicks over Celtics, 3 games to 2. The only to charter 1946-47 members of the NBA still playing in their original cities, they played each other 13 times in the Playoffs in the NBA's first 44 seasons, but not at all in the last 21 seasons.

1994 NHL Eastern Conference Semifinals: Devils over Bruins, 4 games to 2.

1995 NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Devils over Bruins, 4 games to 1. The clinching Game 5 was the last competitive sporting event ever played at the 67-year-old Boston Garden, and the Devils went on to win their first Stanley Cup.

1999 AL Championship Series: Yankees over Red Sox, 4 games to 1. The first official postseason series in the Hundred Year War, the Sox won Game 3, 13-1, pounding their ex-hero Roger Clemens while Pedro Martinez pitched well. It was the only game the Yankees lost in the '99 postseason, as they won Game 1 on a walkoff homer by Bernie Williams, and used Sox errors (and some dodgy umpiring) to turn a 3-2 lead Game 4 into a 9-2 win that had the Sox fans throwing garbage onto the field, permanently rendering ridiculous their self-proclaimed "Athens of America" status -- although anyone who's ever seen footage of a soccer game in Greece might say they fulfilled it!

2002 NBA East Finals: New Jersey Nets over Celtics, 4 games to 2. In Game 3, the Celtics erased a 21-point deficit to beat the Nets 94-90 at the building now known as the TD Garden. Did this loss crush the Nets? No, they've never lost another Playoff game to the NBA's most successful franchise, and went on to reach the first NBA Finals in team history.

2003 NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Devils over Bruins, 4 games to 1.

2003 NBA East Semifinals: Nets over Celtics, 4 straight.

2003 ALCS: Yankees over Red Sox, 4 games to 3. For the first time, New York and New England played each other in 3 out of 4 sports in a calendar year. Pedro tries to kill Don Zimmer, Grady Little leaves Pedro in, the Yankees come back from 5-2 down with 5 outs to go, Tim Wakefield throws Aaron Boone a knuckleball, and the Curse of the Bambino works one last time. Unfortunately, in the World Series, Joe Torre brought in Jeff Bleeping Weaver...

2003 Major League Soccer Eastern Conference Final: New England Revolution over New York/New Jersey MetroStars, 3-1 in a 2-games-total-goals series -- "3-1 on aggregate," as they say in that sport.

2004 Women's National Basketball Association Eastern Conference Finals: Connecticut Sun over New York Liberty, 2 games to 0.  The Sun are based at the Mohegan Sun Arena, on the grounds of Mohegan Sun casino-hotel in Montville, 106 miles from Downtown Crossing in Boston and 131 miles from Times Square in Manhattan.

2004 ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees, 4 games to 3. We now know that it wasn't so much the Yankees blowing a 3 games to none lead, the first MLB team ever to do so in postseason play, as it was the Red Sox cheating. The Yankees have clinched AL East titles over the Sox in 2005 at Fenway and 2009 at Yankee Stadium II, and knocked the Sox out of the race in a 5-game sweep at Fenway in 2006, and the revelations of the Sox' malfeasance is now known (if not fully accepted by the Sox-loving, Yankee-hating national media), but full revenge still does not feel like it has been taken. It may take another postseason series win over The Scum -- and at the rate said Scum are going, that may take years.

2005 MLS East Semifinals: Revs over Metro, 3-2 on aggregate.  These are the last games the franchise plays under the MetroStars name, as they become the New York Red Bulls (or "Red Bull New York") the next season.

2006 AFC Wild Card Playoff: Patriots over Jets, 37-16. The first matchup between the teams since Bill Belichick, who had been an assistant to Bill Parcells when he was head man of the Giants, then the Patriots, then the Jets, was hired as Jets' head man, then one day later quit and took the Pats' job, leaving a note saying, in its entirety, "I resign as HC of the NYJ." This was also the first Playoff matchup between the teams since Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady started winning Super Bowls, and going through the Jets (at least in the regular season) to do it. This was, however, before it was revealed that Belichick was a cheating bastard -- and an unrepentant one at that. In spite of the Jets and Pats playing each other twice a year since the last year of the Ike Age, New York vs. New England, as a blood-and-guts rivalry, had finally spread to all 4 sports.

2007 MLS East Finals: Revs over Red Bulls, 1-0 on aggregate.

Super Bowl XLII, 2008: New York Giants over Patriots, 17-14. Maybe the best Super Bowl of them all, Eli Manning led the G-Men on a drive that turned the Pats' undefeated season into a big honking asterisk. There is an intersection near my residence where U.S. Route 1 meets State Route 18. Officially, it's called the Brunswick Circle. I prefer to call it Patriot Circle: 18 and 1.

2008 WNBA Eastern Conference Semifinals: Liberty over Sun, 2 games to 1.

2010 AFC Divisional Playoff: Jets over Patriots, 28-21. The Jets finally slew the big cheating dragon. Then they went to Pittsburgh to play for the AFC Title, and laid an egg, and the Steelers fried it. In just 1 week, they forgot the wisdom of their former coach, Herman Edwards: "You play to win the game! You don't play it just to play it!"

Super Bowl XLVI, 2012: Giants over Patriots, 21-17.  A game with a lot of similarities to the one 4 years earlier, except this time, the Giants didn't merely believe they could knock off the Pats, they knew.

2012 WNBA Eastern Conference Semifinals: Sun over Liberty, 2 games to 0.

2013 NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Knicks over Celtics, 4 games to 2.  First Playoff series the Knicks won over the Celtics in 23 years, first they won over anyone in 13 years.

Knicks: 7-7
Yankees: 3-1
Devils: 3-1
Rangers: 3-6
Giants: 2-0
Islanders: 2-0
Nets: 2-0
Mets: 1-0
Jets: 1-2
Liberty: 1-2
Giants (B): 0-1
Dodgers: 0-1
Mets (AA): 0-1
Red Bulls: 0-3

Baseball: 4-4
Football: 3-2
Basketball: 10-9
Hockey: 8-7
Soccer: 0-3

Total: Dead even, 25-25.

Does this mean I'm going to root for the Rangers to beat the Bruins?

Reasons to root for the Rangers: Give New York back the all-time advantage.  The Bruins, like all New England teams, are dirty cheating bastards: Rough play, weak ice.  And the last time I rooted for a Boston team over a New York team, the Bill Buckner Game happened.

Reasons to root for the Bruins: The Rangers are The Scum.  Do I need a second reason?

#BostonStrong #WickedAwesome #RangersSuck

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