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The Return of Basketball to the CIty

Posted in Knicks on February 19, 2012 by Matthew Werblin

Over the last two weeks, I have seen something that my eyes have never before witnessed in my life.  The Knicks are officially are the talk of the town.  Yes, Linsanity was the spark that allowed for this mediocre season to be turned into a linsational one.  But what is even more impressive is how this team is growing stronger as a group rather than a single player.  The knicks roster is stacked, with its two perennial all stars in Stat and Melo leading the group.  Then followed by Chandler, Lin, Fields, Shumpert, and even Jerod Jefferies.  The depth on this roster continues as it does  stop there.  There is a sharpshooter in Novak and possible  a strong backup if  Baron Davis if he manages to stay healthy.  Last of all, we have the newest addition to the Knicks in J.R. Smith an all around “baller”.  From a team that had little to no depth in the two weeks Linsanity has taken overall the whole dynamic of this team has changed.  Now fans find themselves talking about how we can manage to get everyone on the court.  This leads us to our next problem

Coach Mike D’Antoni finally has no excuses.  He has a strong roster and finally can implement his style in to the team.  Everyone in New York for the most part wants nothing to do with the coach.  I for one, have always liked him at the helm.  I think is offensive strategy will become a major game changer come postseason.  The question that must be answers is if Coach D  has the time to earn a contract extension.  From what it looks like the players are buying into his system.  If the knicks do make a strong postseason run, I strongly believe he should comeback.  The man coached here the last 3 years with 75 different players.  Finally, he has his pieces now, its time to judge the coach.  Forget the past and live in the now.  This team has something brewing.

In a city where the Giants just won the Superbowl and the Rangers are dominating the east, I have not seen so much attention garnered  to the knicks as this.  The Giants superbowl win feels like years ago and the Rangers won’t receive the attention they deserve until the playoffs.  What the last two weeks has shown me as a New York fan is how much of a basketball city New York is.  At the end of the day, everyone in New York loves having a basketball team to finally be proud of.  I will say with all this Linsanity and the Knicks being at the center of the basketball world this could not come at a worse time for The New Jersey Nets soon to be Brooklyn Nets.  Their credibility and even more so any chance at gaining fans has been lost.  The Mecca of Basketball has reestablished itself at the perfect time.  Chances are not many current New Yorkers or Brooklynites will become Nets Fan.  When all the dust settles we will see that no matter what happens as long as the Knicks are hot the City can’t get enough of it.   That is how we know the Knicks have returned.  A  franchise that has been dormant the last decade in a matter of two weeks has become the most popular and hottest item in the city that never sleeps.


Posted in Knicks on February 11, 2012 by Matthew Werblin

The past week has been a roller coaster of emotions for New York sports fans.  From the Giants winning the super bowl to the emergence of Jeremy Lin this has been one of the most remarkable and unforgettable sports week in my life.  When he was inserted into the starting line up a week ago and blew up I thought it was just a fluke.  Three games later and a defining win over Kobe and the Lakers those thoughts have been turned into a reality.

If Jeremy continues this then the Knicks are going to be an extremely dangerous team for the rest of this year.   As of now though Lin has brought the excitment and hype to this team that has been MIA for most of the year.  Leave it too a undrafted point guard to be the hero and glue for a franchise.  The last time the Knicks had such a profound undrafted fan favorite was John Starks.  We all know what happened when he was a Knick.

The one thing I do know is that last week has been the most exciting time to watch the Knicks this whole season.  To See a nobody keep spinning and winning while posting and toasting four games in a row is crazy.  Hopefully the Knicks can take a page from the giants book and start something now.  If so the spring of ’12 could be eerily similar to the spring of ’94.

New York Rangers

Posted in Rangers on January 10, 2012 by Matthew Werblin

After a busy end of the semester it is time to focus on the Rangers.  They have been on a roll.  They took care of business in the winter classic and have found themselves holding the best record in the league.  Every line has been delivering and the team chemistry is perfect.  If you haven’t caught an episode of 24/7 i highly recommend it.  You can see that the players buy into Torts system and fight for each other.

Tonight: They are playing the Phoenix Coyotes.  The last time these two teams met the Rangers found the net with .01 on the clock.  In their last ten games the rangers are 9-1.  Brandon Dubinsky has been picking up steam and his play and work is starting to work off.  Also, the emergence of Carl Hagelin has had a tremendous impact on the team.  His speed is dangerous and opens the ice for the team.  Gaborik has been lights out and is having possibly his best season as a New York Ranger.

Ranges vs Hurricanes

Posted in Rangers on December 1, 2011 by Matthew Werblin


When: Tonight 7 PM 

Where: RBC Center

Red Hot: The Rangers this season have exceed expectations throughout the National Hockey League.  They have the best home record and are in 4th place with 3 less games played then most other teams.  The rangers have been able to find chemistry early.  This is the best start the rangers have gotten off to in recent years.  They have numerous lines playing well and are getting solid goaltending from both  and Lundqvist.  With a quarter of the season done, as a fan i could not ask more.  They have dominated when playing at the garden and they are finding their game on the road.  By becoming dominate at the Garden the Rangers instill fear to visiting opponents the moment the puck is dropped.  This is the first season the rangers have been able to bring that element.

Emergence of Hagelin: When the Rangers called up carl hagelin who knew that he would provide instant offense.  He might be one of the fastest players in the game and is playing with confidence.  Us as fans are spoiled right now because it seems everyone youngster the Rangers call up is ready to play and looks as if the sky is the limit.

Streaking: This ranger team is very streaky.  We saw them go on a 8 game win streak followed by a 2 game losing streak.  As of now they are on another 3 game winning streak and just beat the best team in the nhl in the penguins.  Even without our best defender the Rangers are playing well defensively.  This team has to grow together for a championship but the wheels are in motion.

Prediction: After coming a big win against the crosbies.  The rangers must not take anything for granted.  The season is still young and wins are crucial .  Biron has played in a while so he might be rusty but the offense has to step up and dominate.  The powerplay has been strong and it has to continue tonight.  Gaborik played his best game of the season against the penguins and maybe this will be the start of something special for him.

The State of the Knicks

Posted in Knicks on November 30, 2011 by Matthew Werblin

With the end of the NBA lockout and the eve of a busy but shortened off-season, the NBA is going to have monumental roster changes.  The one thing we know as Knick fans is the fact that the Melo trade last season left the Knicks with major holes and depth in its rotation.  Yes, the Knicks have a dynamic duo but what will be the key factor for the franchise is how the build around these two elite players.  STAT carried the Knicks last year when they were a team of scrappy mix matched players.  Melo only had 17 regular season games and carried the Knicks when Stat went down in the playoffs. Last year’s sweep to the Celtics was a reality check for the Knicks and most importantly for the fans.  We saw that Jared Jefferies is not a viable offensive option since he single handly lost Game 2, even with Melo dropping 41.  The other major hole is the fact the knicks do not have a strong center on the roster.  Billups’ age also proved to take center stage during the playoffs last year.

The Knicks have to find answers fast before the window of opportunitycloses on their two superstars.  The Knicks lost many valuable trade assets when dealing for Melo.  All most every Knicks fan has heard the rumors at Melo’s wedding about how Amare, Melo, and Chris Paul were going to create their own “big three.”  But how can the Knicks trade for CP3?  It is almost impossible to put a trade together.  The only realistic trade that would work would be trading Landry Fields, rookie Iman Shumpart, and Chauncey Billups and a first rounder.  Unfortunately, this gives the Knicks even less options to build.  This would mean they would trade their two prospects and an aging Billups.  Since the Knicks have already traded most of its first rounders for next year, they can’t rely on three players to win a championship.  It’s almost impossible.  The Heat showed us last year that without depth and consistency, three players can’t beat a whole team.  The NBA is a league that over-hypes its superstars so much that fans and followers forget that a team effort is a necessity in basketball. Superstars help win regular season games but teamwork wins hardware.  Did the 1980’s miracle team have a superstar? No.  Did the 1969 Jets have a superstar? No.  Joe Namath is one of the greatest new york sports legends but was a mediocre quarterback for his career.  It is the passion of a team that drives them to win.

The question that has to be answered is will the Knicks sell out and try to bolster an all-star squad, or do they find the right players to build a team.  In the next few weeks we will witness what road the Knicks decide on but until then, all we can do is speculate.  Jim Dolan is known for being an awful owner and right now the Knicks franchise is at a fork in the road.  They have their first opportunity in a decade to build a winning team or go the other way and build an all-star squad.  One thing for certain is that in coming days we will hear many rumors about the Knicks and one might be STAT and others for Dwight Howard.  I personally think that STAT is the heart and emotion of the team and if you trade him, how can a fan follow the franchise?

With the emergence of the Brooklyn Nets, the Knicks reign over the city is in jeopardy.  If the Knicks hand out one-year contracts or decide to make a trade, we can imagine that they are going to go down the all-star road.  If they decide to build a team, than they have a shot with destiny.  All of these factors will play a role in which decisions the Knicks make. The bottom line is that this franchise is at a make or break situation.  I just hope the Knicks can be strong and have a few good seasons.

With the Rangers on the upside and the Knicks knocking on the same door, is it too crazy to think of another spring of 94?  The opportunity is there, its just a question if the Knicks have their priorities in order.

Rangers vs Hurricanes

Posted in Rangers on November 11, 2011 by Matthew Werblin


When: 7 pm on MSG

Where: Madison Square Garden

Thoughts: Tonight the Rangers will be battling the Carolina Hurricanes.  This is the first time the Rangers are facing the Hurricanes since Eric Staal concussed his brother and New York Ranger Marc Staal.  Marc has not played this season and has been nursing post concussion syndrome for the last few months.  A side note to this game is that since the injury Eric leads the NHL in a minus rating this season.  Look for the Rangers to lay a few hits on Eric.  This game has the chance to be very physical.  The rangers denied the Hurricanes a playoff berth last year.

The GAS line: Since the emergence of Anisomov-Stepan-Gaborik have collaborated on line one the Rangers offense has exploded.  All three players have collected points in the teams last few games and look to continue that tonight.  Anisomov has 6 assists in the last three games played.

Gameplan: The rangers are coming into form.  They have won five straight and are looking to make it six tonight.  The only problem is the Rangers have many off days between games right now.  The team has to make sure to play the way that brings them the most success.  Forecheck and strong defense.  These two aspects of the Rangers style opens up the offense for them later in the game.  With a win tonight the Rangers can join Pittsburgh on top of the Atlantic division.  Lundqvist is getting the start and he desperatly has to improve on his 4-3-3 record.  He has been playing well but the consistency needs to come before december starts.  The biggest concern I have is that in the last game the Rangers had a few days off and started playing Ottawa very flat.  They did not hit their stride until the second period.  The rangers only had 4 shots in the game until halfway through the second.  This can not become a regular routine or the Rangers will start losing.  Luckily, the Rangers are playing at Home tonight and the Garden faithful this year has sparked this teams play.

Prediction: This is going to be a close one.  As much as i would like the Rangers to win I think they’ll end up losing this one 3-2 .  If Gaborik has a strong game and Lundqvist is solid in net the Rangers can pull out the win.

Rangers vs. Canadiens Recap

Posted in Rangers on November 5, 2011 by Matthew Werblin

Final Score: MTL 3 vs. NYR 5

Recap: The Garden was electrifying tonight!  The crowd helped the Rangers off to a great start.  Once again we saw the defense only allow 3 shots.  This propelled the Rangers to get three goals from christensen, Del Zotto, and Dan Girardi.  It is nice to see the Rangers are starting strong when playing at home.  Once again it was a tale of two games in the 2nd.  The Canadiens scored twice and the Rangers once again looked sloppy.  Avery was not a factor at since torts started him off on the 4th line.  Brad Richards netted the fourth goal for the Rangers.  The third was not that much better than the 2nd.  Sloppy play and some luck allowed for the Rangers to held a lead until the last final minutes of the game.  MTL came within 1 but Ryan Callahan netted an empty netter.

Thoughts: by far this was the most exciting game to watch this season.  In the opening minutes there was a major brawl leading to 2 game misconducts.  Im glad to see that the Rangers were able to score another Powerplay goal but they did not even look good on other chances.

During this homestretch the Rangers have been able to beat teams on hot streaks.  If this trend continues the Rangers will be a force to reckon with. Yet there is still room for doubt.  The Rangers have to be more consistent in their games.  They start strong but cannot keep that level of play for a full sixty minutes.  If they dont this team will be a .500 team at best.  The chemistry is building from game to game but the Rangers are not consitent for a whole sicty minutes.  Right now this team does not have a killer instinct yet.  They hesitate when leading and along with that lose momentum.

The Rangers will have a quick turn around as they play Winnipeg tomorrow at 7 pm.  It is there first back to back of the season.  They are being tested and it should be able to tell us more about this team.

Rangers vs. Canadiens

Posted in Rangers on November 5, 2011 by Matthew Werblin


When: 7 PM on MSG

Canadiens- 5-5-2 VS. Rangers 5-3-3

Thoughts: This is the second to last game during this current homestretch for the New York Rangers.  In recent years the Rangers have had problems winning at home.  So far during this stretch at home the Rangers are 2-2.  They currently are on a two game win streak and look to continue to build on that tonight.  In recent days the Rangers have been filled with bad news.  Wojtek Wolski was placed on IR as we as Mike Rupp.  The rangers are still out without the best defenseman in Marc Staal.  The Rangers have learned in past years how important it is to get early season wins at home.  For the last two seasons there playoff faith has been decided during the final week.  This team is going to influence their style of play.  The defense has been very strong the last two games even with the  absence of Staal.  Lundqvist played extremely well on Wednesday and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does not have his best game of the season tonight.    Gaborik has been skating as he used to in Minnesota and his play is crucial tonight.

X-Factor: Tonights x-factor is Sean Avery who is making is Rangers season debut.  The crowd has been demanding him and now will get to see him.  With the injury to Wolski the Rangers need someone to step up.  This could not have worked out any better for Sean.  If he uses his swagger and stays smart his presence will defiantly be felt. The biggest concern is the fact that he is prone to taking bad penalties.  Besides Callahan not a single person on this team brings emotion to the game as Avery does.  He loves New York and wears the sweater with pride.  If Avery performs well the Rangers can survive with all of these injuries.

A side not to this drama is what happens if Avery does perform.  John Tortorella said that there are better players on this team than Sean.  Would we see him bite his tongue for once and admit he was wrong or find another way to hold his grudge on Avery.  It is clear that these two do not get along but their relationship can’t affect the team on the whole.  Someone has to be the bigger man and deal with it.  The last thing this team has to deal with is drama between a coach and player over personal vendettas.

Rangers Vs. Ducks Recap

Posted in Rangers on November 3, 2011 by Matthew Werblin

Final Score: NYR 2 ANA I 

Recap: The Rangers brought their game tonight in the 1st period.  They came out strong and dominated Woywitka scored his first goal as a New York Ranger.  Not to mention the defense held Anaheim to only two shots in the whole period.  The second period was more evenly matched.  The Ducks were able to get a goal from the star Bobby Ryan his fifth of the season.  The shots were also move evenly matched with the Rangers getting 9 while Anaheim had 10.  This was not the case in the third.  The ducks outshot the Rangers 15 to 4 and dominated the whole period.  Lundqvist was sharp with 27 saves and looked like his old self out there.  His counterpart Jonas Hiller kept the Ducks in the game.  He made save after save in the 1st before the Rangers could run away with it.

Thoughts: This one was a thriller from beginning to end.  Hats off to Jonas Hiller who was able to stifle the Rangers opportunities.  Without him the Rangers defiantly would have scored multiple goals in the 1st.  What the Rangers can build from this is how well they play when they stick to their game plan.  If they are able to get the consistency they had in the 1st the sky is the limit for this team.  They came out strong and fast and knew exactly what they needed to do.  The defense allowed for Henrik to get comfortable and he ended up having a few big saves.  This could be the beginning of a hot streak for him.  Gaborik has been skating well and its a matter of time before the puck starts going into the net.  Overall, the Rangers were able to get the two points and have a day off before they play Montreal on Saturday night.

Return of Avery:  It’s almost certain now that Avery will play saturday night due to the injury to Wotjek Wolski.  The fans prayers are answered.  It will be interesting to see what Avery can add to this team.

Red Bulls Vs. Galaxy

Posted in Red Bulls on November 3, 2011 by Matthew Werblin


When:    11 pm on ESPN 2

Tonight is the second leg of the New York Red Bulls Play-off run.  They lost the first game 1-0 at home and must score 2 goals at least to find a way to advance to the next round.  The Red Bulls season has been very tumultuous.  They by far have one of the strongest rosters on paper in the MLS and this has not translated to the pitch.  They have not been able to score and are lacking a killer instinct.   The coach Hans Backe could possible be out of a job if the Red Bulls aren’t able to salvage the season tonight.  They have one of the most exciting prospects in the MLS in Juan Agudelo.  Backe did not even use him in the first leg and tonight his presence might be need.  We have seen for the US national team and even for the Red Bulls this young gun has come through the clutch.  With the Red Bulls season on the Brink do not be surprise if Agudelo gets subbed in the Second Half.

The Matchup: Well this is a dream scenario for the MLS.  They have the two biggest markets playing each other in a play-off series.  The stars of the MLS are being showcased right off.  The emotion is going to be running high.  Especially with the drama at the end of the last game.  Rafeal Marquez found himself in a scuffle with a few Galaxy stars including David Beckham.  These teams have a decent rivalry for being on opposite coasts and tonight should be one of the most exciting games of the season.

Keys for the Red Bulls: They MUST score early and often.  LA has one of the best fanbases in the league and its going to be a loud environment.  The Bulls already have their backs up against the wall and must take the 12th man out of play.  If they give up an early goal the season is defiantly over.  The Red Bulls have to dominate in possession.  This one aspect is crucial in setting up their game plan.  If they are able to accomplish this they might be able to squeak out the win.

In the end this is all a fan can ask for.  Win and advance or wait for next year.  This game is going to be exciting and if you haven’t followed the MLS yet tonight is the night to start.