Game Breakers: New York Rangers

Derrick Simpson, May 1

The 2nd seeded New York Rangers take on the 1st seeded Pittsburgh Penguins on May 2nd in the Metropolitan division final. The Rangers will have their hands full trying to handle Crosby, Malkin and the rest of the Pens. Here’s who’ll be their game breakers while taking on Pittsburgh.

rangers

Rick Nash

The former Blue Jacket was held goalless by the Flyers during the first round (although he did put up 4 assists and had a multitude of chances in game 7). It may be because earlier in the season he had a concussion, but Nash seemed to be afraid to drive to the net and was taking the majority of his shots from low percentage areas. If the Blueshirts  are to beat  the Pens, Nash will have to make better choices when shooting and must be willing to get a little dirty.

thehockeynews.com Nash had 26 goals during the regular season, he has yet to score in the playoffs.

thehockeynews.com
Nash had 26 goals during the regular season, he has yet to score in the playoffs.

Ryan McDonagh

Ryan McDonagh is the centrepiece of the Rangers strong blueline and he will need to be on his top game to shut down Crosby and Malkin. The Saint-Paul, Minnesota native will be relied on, along with Dan Girardi, late in games to shut down the Penguins. He didn’t play his best hockey in round one (0Pts, -2), and will most defiantly need to up his game against the 2nd place team in the East.

bleacherreport.com McDonagh averaged just under 25 minutes a game and was a plus/minus +11 during the regular season.

 

 

 

Henrik Lundqvist

The 2012 Vezina winner could steal the series for the Rangers. The Swedish silver medalist can potentially shut down Pittsburgh’s top scorers and his shallow playing style enables him to save rebounds and cross-crease plays much easier than other goalies.

Bruce Bennet/Getty Images Lundqvist should be Dan Bylsma and the Pens main concern

Bruce Bennet/Getty Images
Lundqvist should be Dan Bylsma and the Pens main concern.

Keys to Winning

The Rangers can count on their defensemen  to help them win. McDonagh, Giradi, and Marc Stall are all expected to be rock-solid defensively and even Anton Stralman looked great in round one versus the Flyers. And of course their goaltending should be topnotch. Also, don’t forget about the always dangerous Martin St Louis.

usatoday.com Deadline addition St Louis had a cool 6 points in the first round

usatoday.com
Deadline addition St Louis had a cool 6 points in the first round

Weakness

I may mention special teams a lot on All Day Sportz but that’s because they really are that important to winning (especially in the playoffs!). New York is struggling in both special teams departments with a 71.4% penalty kill and a 10.3% power play. To add, the Rangers can’t seem to win while they are leading in a series. In the past 3 years, all 4 series’ New York has won has gone to 7 games.

All stats are courtesy of nhl.com

See yesterday’s Game Breakers on the Bruins here:http://wp.me/p4zyyB-5x

Like what you saw? Don’t agree with me? Leave a comment below!

Derrick Simpson, All Day Sportz

Game Breakers:Boston Bruins

Derrick Simpson April 30

Round 2 kicks off tomorrow with the Boston Bruins facing off against the Montreal Canadiens at 7:30 pm on CBC. This series is poised to be a great one, as it features two of the most storied rivals in NHL history. In this article I break down who will help Boston the most and why.

boston

Patrice Bergeron

This guy is the perfect two-way player and is the heart of the Bruins stellar penalty kill (90%). The recent Olympic Gold medalist leads the Bruins in faceoffs taken and will play a big part in shutting down the Canadiens top guns.

good bergeron

Getty images Bergeron and Krejci will be huge deciding factors for the Bruins.

 

Milan Lucic

The Vancouver BC native had 3 goals in the first round and will be looking for more of the same against Montreal. However, Lucic’s responsibility versus a much smaller Montreal team will be trying to wear them down physically.

lucic

Getty images Lucic’s main responsibility will be to hit anything that moves

Tuukka Rask

While debating on whether to put Norris Trophy nominee Zdeno Chara or Vezina candidate Tuukka Rask, I realized that at the very least Tuukka will have to out play Carey Price(which is no easy task!). But, if anyone can go up against Carey Price and win, it’s Tuukka Rask. Against Detroit in round 1 he went 4-1 with a league leading .961 save percentage and a 1.16 GAA (also leading among goalies with at least 1 full game played).

Getty Images Rask will square off against Montreal superstar Carey Price

Getty Images
Rask will square off against Montreal superstar Carey Price

Keys to Winning

If the Bruins are to advance to the conference finals, they will do so with their great special teams (37.5% PP, 90% PK), elite goaltending, and by physically out playing and out working their opponents.

Weakness

Save for Zdeno Chara and newcomer Andre Meszaros, the Bruins blueline is young and inexperienced. Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton, and Matt Bartkowski have all played less than 25 career playoff games. While University of Vermont Alum Kevan Miller played his first ever playoff series against Detroit.

All stats are courtesy of nhl.com

Like What you read? Think I may be a bit off? Leave a comment below!

Check out yesterday’s Game Breakers here: http://wp.me/p4zyyB-4r

Derrick Simpson, All Day Sportz

 

Blue Jays Pitching Struggles

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At the start of the 2014 baseball season the major concern for the blue jays was the starting rotation but the bullpen was said to be one of the best in baseball. The starting rotation has so far done what they have been expected to but the bullpen is as far from what it was been expected to be.

 

Only one pitcher In the bullpen has an ERA under 4.00. That player is Todd Redmond who is currently serving in the role of the long relief man. In the month of April the Blue Jays have already blown 4 saves. One of them being the bullpens collapse in Minnesota, where three pitchers (Delabar, Santos, Happ) combined to give up six runs in the 8th inning. The twins where able to score there six runs by getting eight walks and one hit to win 9-5. Aaron Loup had his own collapse in the final game of their series in Cleveland. Loup was able to record the first two outs of the inning before walking the bases loaded and then giving up a bases clearing double to David Murphy. Loup was charged with the blown save and the loss in Cleveland’s 6-4 win.

 

Should people be concerned

So far the bullpens struggles have been problem for the Blue jays as they have given leads late in games but people shouldn’t be concerned about the bullpen. The Blue Jays have a solid bullpen with experience and have depth in the minors from players like Neil Wagner, Rob Rasmussen, and prospect John Stilson. The whether has also been a major factor as the Blue jays had to play in Minnesota when the temperature was around 0’c and snow. Then they went to Cleveland and played in some cold weather there. This would have affected them a lot by sitting in the bullpen when its freezing and then coming into the game late and asked to hold runners on. Expect the bullpen to improve In the month of May as the season moves on.

 

Gavin Lowry, All Day Sportz

 

Gamebreakers: Montreal Canadiens

Derrick Simpson April 29

The Montreal Canadiens will need everything they have and then some to take down the Big Bad Bruins. Here’s who they’ll need to step up the most and why:

nhlwallpapers10.net

nhlwallpapers10.net

Brendan Gallagher

The pesky Right Winger will be responsible for attempting to throw Vezina front runner Tukka Rask off his game. The Edmonton native will to go up against Zdeno Chara and the rest of the Bruins young but strong defense corps. If Montreal can consistently beat Rask during the series, Gallagher will receive credit.

habseyesontheprize.com Gallagher's play infront of the net will be crucial for Montreal's success

habseyesontheprize.com
Gallagher’s play infront of the net will be crucial for Montreal’s success.

PK Subban

If the Habs’ struggling power play (15.4%) is to have any success against the Bruins dominant penalty kill (90%) they will need Subban and his dangerous shot. The 6 foot defenseman was a force with the extra man during the season, racking up 23 points on the powerplay.

mtlblog.com Subban will need to return to his 2013 Norris Trophy winning form.

mtlblog.com
Subban will need to return to his 2013 Norris Trophy winning form.

Carey Price

Carey Price (4-0) will have to stand on his head for Montreal, especially because he will be going up against Finnish Superstar Tukka Rask. Price will certainly have to be on top of his game to shut down Boston’s strong forwards and their schorching powerplay.

 

olympic.ca Carey Price already has an Olympic gold medal. Can he add a Stanley Cup to his resume?

olympic.ca
Carey Price already has an Olympic gold medal. Can he add a Stanley Cup to his resume?

Key to winning 

The Canadiens will need to play a fast-paced skilled game in order to beat the Bruins. The can’t afford to get sucked in to playing Boston’s physical style.

Weakness

Montreal’s special teams will be a huge worry for Michelle Therrien. Their power play and PK struggled in the first round (15.4% and 71.4%, respectively), and the B’s have arguably the best special teams units in the league. In addition, unless Alex Galchenyuk returns from a lower body injury, the Habs will have trouble containing Boston’s forwards down low.

Like what you saw? Think another player may be more important to the Habs? Leave a comment below!

All stats are courtesy of nhl.com

Derrick Simpson, All Day Sportz

Blue Jays April Review.

The first month of the season has had its ups and downs for Toronto. The team is currently 3rd in the Al east with a record of 12-13 having lost 6 of their last 10 games. Toronto’s pitching set aside Mark Beuhrle has been disappointing. Ranking 25th in the league with a team ERA of 4.45 and 2nd in walks. The Blue Jays offence has continued to be their strength averaging 4.28 runs per game and 30 home runs.

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When will Stroman get his chance?

Marcus Stroman’s first MLB appearance is coming. Stroman will most likely take Dustin McGowen’s spot as the Blue Jays 5 starter. McGowen recently said that he is getting fatigued at the 60 pitch mark and is 1-1 with a 6.88 ERA in 17 innings pitched allowing 24 hits, looking to be the odd one out as he struggles with his control. This opens the door for Stroman who has been absolutely dominant in AAA, currently 1-2 with a 2.18 ERA and 26 strike outs in 20 2/3 innings. Stroman should make his first start in Kansas City but McGowen could buy him self more time with a solid start.

Why was Neil Wagner sent to the Minor Leagues?

Wagner was arguably Toronto’s best pitcher out of the bullpen this April. He gave John Gibbons another hard throwing righty that could enter in middle relief and let Cecil or Delabar pitch the 8th. Wagner pitched well and surrendered only three runs over 8 2/3 innings. Forget all that, Wagner was sent to Triple -A Buffalo because he still had options on his contract. As other pitchers can not be sent down with out clearing wavers.

When will the Moises Sierra saga end? 

Sierra is off to a bad start this season, but how long can the Blue Jays afford to keep him around. The problem comes up again as Sierra is out of options and cant be sent down with out clearing waivers. In the best situation, Sierra would be starting every day for Triple-A Buffalo. The 25 year old needs at bats to continue his development, but that’s not possible with Toronto. Sierra mostly sits on the bench and will get a start when Bautista or Rasmus needs a day off. Last season veteran Mark DeRossa was a perfect fit as he could play out field and infield. If the Jays are looking for a veteran utility man after parting ways with Sierra, I would start by looking in Triple-A Buffalo. Andy LaRoche the brother of Adam LaRoche would be a perfect fit as he can play the infield and out field or signing free agent out fielder Andres Torres.

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Who has been the Blue Jays biggest surprise and biggest disappointment?

The biggest surprise for me has been Melky Cabrera. There was always a possibility that he would bounce back after having a tumor removed from his spine last year, but i never thought he would be this good. This year he has hit for power and average, looking like the Melky we all saw in Kansas City. This season he leads the Majors in hits and has 2 more home runs than he did last year. Put in a .925 OPS, nine RBI, 17 runs and 3 stolen bases.                                                                                                                                     The biggest disappointment has been bullpen. Last season the team had one of the better bullpens in the league with the likes of all star’s Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar. The starting pitching of the Jays in 2013 was horrible as the team ERA was above 4 and this season has not got any better. With Toronto having an awful staff and bullpen this season, the future doesn’t look too bright for the Blue Jays

Dante Decaria, All Day Sportz

Weekend Wind Down: Top 5 Goalie Masks

Derrick Simpson, April 27

Every Sunday on All Day Sportz I write a countdown. This week I am ranking the Top 5 Goalie Masks of All-Time

 

5. Eddie Belfour

 

 

belfour

The 2011 Hockey Hall of fame inductee comes in at #5 for his signature eagle mask. The design even earned the Manitoba native the nickname “Eddie the Eagle”

Blackhawks backup goalie Antti Raanta loved the mask so much he donned a Belfour tribute mask for the Stadium Series game at Soldier field

raanta

Those pads are pretty sweet too!

 

4.Brian Hayward

other hay

Although he only played 25 games with the Sharks over 2 seasons, this mask painted by Don Straus was extremely creative as no one had seen anything like it before.

3.Jacques Plante

plante

It may not be much to look at, but Jacques Plante makes #3 for being the first NHL goalie to wear a mask during a game. During the first period of a game versus the New York Rangers on November 1st 1959 Plante took a shot to the face by Rangers forward Andy Bathgate. The Montreal goalie got stitched up and 21 minutes later he returned to play, this time wearing a mask. The Canadiens went on to win the game 3-1 and although many people didn’t agree with it Jacques continued to wear his mask and other soon followed.

2.Gilles Gratton

gilles

 

“Grattony The Loony” comes runner up for his masked based on the Leo astrological sign. Some people said that Gratton would growl at other players on the ice during games; he was well known for his crazy personality.

1.Gerry Cheevers

cheevers

Gerry Cheevers wore what was  arguably the most recognizable mask ever, and it looked like something that came straight out of a horror movie. Every time Cheevers took a puck to the mask a new stitch mark was painted on. The iconic mask now sits on the wall of his grandson’s bedroom.

In 2002 Steve Shields would pay tribute to the two-time Stanley Cup winner  with a modern Cheevers mask.

 

shields

Like what you saw? Think i left someone out? Leave a comment below!

 

Derrick Simpson, All Day Sportz

Are the Brewers for real?

The Milwaukee Brewers are off to the best start in baseball with a 17-6 record, but are they for real? The teams strength this season has been the pitching. Milwaukee is 2nd in the league with a solid 2.50 ERA, and 10th with an average 4.91 runs per game.

Brewers

Last season the Brewers finished with a 74-88 record ranking 4th in there division, unable to make the playoffs for the 2nd consecutive year, but the team also suffered a great loss this off season when right fielder Cory Hart signed with the Seattle Mariners. Soon after the Brewers traded speedy Japanese out fielder Nori Aoki to the Kansas city Royals for 24 year old reliever Will Smith, who pitched with a 3.24 ERA in 33 innings pitched last season. The 6’5 power lefty has not allowed a run in 10.1 innings, striking out 13. After freeing up some cap space the Brewers were able to sign starting pitcher Matt Garza and Mark Reynolds, a power hitting first basemen but with the tendency to strike out allot.

Yes, the Brewers have a good of chance at making the postseason.

If you look at Milwaukee’s line up from top to bottom you see power, leadership, speed and youth. The Brewers have many weapons to get you, with 2011 MVP Ryan Braun, all star center fielder Carlos Gomez who can hit for power and average, speedy short stop Jean Segura, elite catcher Jonathan Lucroy, up and coming second basemen Scooter Gennet and most importantly veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez. The two time all star has consistently put up power numbers each and every year and brings allot of leadership to a very young team, being in the playoffs 3 times with the Cubs.

Ramirez

Brewers pitching staff is the key to wining

With the resigning of 4 time all star closer Francisco Rodriguez and signing Matt Garza this off season the Brewers pitching staff looked average to most teams. Milwaukee’s staff consists of 2010 all star Yovani Gallardo, 16 game winner Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza,  young Wily Peralta  and Marco Estrada. If all these pitchers live up to there potential then there will be no reason to doubt the Milwaukee Brewers.

Zach Duke?

My final reason to not doubt the Milwaukee Brewers this season is Zach Duke. In 2004 Duke was ranked the number 4 best prospect according to Baseball America. This season the 2009 all star is pitching with a 1.74 ERA in 10.1 innings pitched, playing in the Brewers long relief position as he used to be a starter. In order for the Brewers to win, Zack Duke is the key to success.

The Brewers will look to extend the wining streak to 3 games tonight against Chicago Cubs as Marco Estrada will take the hill.

Dante DeCaria, All day sportz

 

Tito Vilanova passes away.

It would only be right for our first soccer topic to be Tito Vilanova.

The former Barcelona coach passed away friday, having lost his bout with throat cancer, he was only 45 years old. The club released a statement on friday afternoon, and reactions soon came from all over the football world.

Arch-rivals Real Madrid released a statement stating their support for Barcelona. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho – who infamously gouged Vilanova’s eye in a meeting between Barcelona and Real-Madrid- sent his support to Vilanova’s family in a press conference.  “Tito Vilanova’s passing is a sad day for football, for Barcelona and most importantly for his family and friends. On behalf of everybody at Chelsea Football Club I send my
deepest condolences at this most difficult time.

The most touching messages came from the Barcelona players themselves.

“I’m speechless. You have been and will be always an example. I will never forget you” Said Barce midfielder Andres Iniesta.

“Tito Vilanova, one of the best coaches I had in my career. Thanks for everything you gave us” – Victor Valdes, Barce goaltender

“Thanks for everything Tito. May your soul rest in peace,”- Midfielder Alex Song

Image

( Tito Vilanova, Pictured above, died yesterday of throat cancer)

 

Francesc ” Tito” Vilanova was an integral part of the Barcelona squad that won 14 titles. He served as an assistant to Pep Guardiola
from 2008 until 2012, when he took over the reins. In his first season season he won the league title and made it to the champions
league semi-finals. He planned to continue coaching but was forced to step down a month before the 2013-2014 began because is
cancer had  relapsed and it was no longer possible for him to manage. Tito is survived by his wife Montse, daugther Carlota and son Adrià.

He  will be missed.

 

Andrew Brennan, All day sportz

 

 

 

 

 

No Where to Go But Up for Clarkson

Derrick Simpson, April 26

After a disappointing campaign this year (to say the least!) David Clarkson will be hoping to bounce back next season. After a year starting with an undisciplined 10 game suspension and ending with just one point in his final 22 games there is Literally no where to go but up. The Maple Leafs' David Clarkson will suit up for Tuesday's pre-season game against visiting Ottawa. Head coach Randy Carlyle says it's important for Clarkson to<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> play as much as possible now before he's sent to the sidelines for 10 games, starting Oct. 1. David     Clarkson finished the season with just 11 points and was a -14. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Is Nonis to blame?

Although many think Leafs General Manager Dave Nonis is totally crazy for signing the former Devil to a 7 year, 36.75 million dollar contract, it was understandable.  The Leafs were looking for a hard-nosed player who could chip in some goals and help them make the playoffs.. Even though they paid too much to get him, he fits that job descripition perfectly  His 5 goals and 11 points this season were both a career low for the Toronto native and Nonis  has become a scapegoat for the right winger’s lackluster play. After all, Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish reportedly offered Clarkson a 7 year, 6 million dollar contract. However, the 6’1″, 200 pound winger chose his hometown over (slightly larger) money. On July 1st , Nonis was questioned for the signing but not entirely judged on it like he is being now . Sure, his contract is basically buy-out proof due to signing bonuses and he is arguably the most overpaid player in the league (I’m looking at you too Dany Heatley), but Nonis made the signing to improve the team. Although he overpaid and it has not went as planned he does not deserve the lion’s of the blame for this. Can

Clarkson Rebound?

There is no way Clarkson will live up to his contract, nevertheless next season will no doubt be better for Clarkson. There are many reasons for Clarkson to have hope, mostly because he couldn’t manage to do worse than he did this season if he tried to. His shooting percentage was 4.6%, he will definitely get more bounces next year.  As well, trying to live up to the hype of a big-time contract has Clarkson trying to do too much, too often, and ultimately it has blown up in his in his face.  Clarkson needs to go back to the game that got him here in the first place, and stop trying to score and start doing the little things. Also, he racked up many of his points in New Jersey on the power play. If Nonis and Randy Carlyle (assuming he returns) want to see a large statistical change from last year, he should be playing on the power play. Next year is certainly looking brighter for David Clarkson just maybe not as bright as everyone expected in July.

Derrick Simpson, all day sportz

Pineda 10 game pine tar suspension.

On Thursday Major League Baseball handed down a 10 game suspension to Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda for “possessing a foreign substance, Pineda had a big blob of pine tar on his neck and it was a violation of baseball rule 8.02, which states, “The pitcher shall not apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball.
This was the second time Pineda has used pine tar on the mound. He was seen with pine tar on the wrist of his pitching hand in a game against the Red Sox on April 10.

Why did Pineda use pine tar?

First I think Pineda deserved a 10 game suspension, what he did was very dumb. Who would ever think of putting pine tar on their neck in a major league stadium, with cameras every where. I mean I knew every one would be watching him as he got out of using pine tar the other game against the Red Sox.
More over, Pineda used the pine tar because he couldn’t grip the baseball in the cold weather. Do you know that feeling when you are in the cold and your hands are dry and numb. It is very difficult to grip a baseball when that happens. In that inning Pineda could not control his pitches, all though pine tar doesn’t allow the pitcher the make the ball move in weird ways, just ordinary ways.

Dante DeCaria all day sportz