Red Bulls Lose Leg 1 to Impact

The New York Red Bulls find themselves heading home down 1-0 on aggregate after falling in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in Montreal.

Impact forward Matteo Mancosu scored the game’s lone goal in the 61st minute with a brilliant strike. The Red Bulls had a couple of great chances in stoppage time, but Omer Damari‘s shot was saved and Bradley Wright-Phillips‘ follow-up went wide.

Damari will miss the second leg after receiving a red card for a late challenge in the final moments of the match. The second leg will be played on Sunday, November 6 at Red Bull Arena as New York tries to keep its season alive.

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Lots of Traveling, But No Place Like The Garden

After broadcasting the first-ever NFL overtime game in London yesterday, I received multiple tweets asking if I would make it back to The Garden in time to call the New York Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning matchup.  Considering the opening face-off took place less than six hours after the conclusion of the Washington Redskins vs. Cincinnati Bengals 27-27 tie, it would have been a bit of a challenge.

Too bad the Concorde is no longer in commission.

During the craziest times of the year for me, I often feel like I am in two places at once. In fact, during the past month, I experienced that sensation on numerous occasions as I traveled across the country (and the Atlantic Ocean) to call games in four different pro sports … in five different time zones!

During the month of October, my itinerary included stops in Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Manhattan, Boston, Brooklyn, Kansas City, and London. Working in “offices” such as the broadcast booths at Soldier Field, Nationals Park, Dodger Stadium, FedEx Field, Madison Square Garden, TD Garden, Barclays Center, Arrowhead Stadium … and the “Broadcast Gantry” at iconic Wembley Stadium.

I had the privilege of calling a classic Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals National League Division Series, including Game 5 – the longest nine-inning, postseason game in Major League Baseball history (Clayton Kershaw’s first career save); Jimmy Vesey‘s first NHL goal; the final two New York Knicks preseason dress rehearsals for what hopes to be an exciting 2016-17 campaign; Drew Brees’ record-setting 100th career 300-yard passing game; and the 17th installment of the NFL International Series in London.

Rangers Vesey Lightning Home 103016

It was an honor to work with some of the best analysts in the business during the past month, including Daryl Johnston, Harold Reynolds, Tom Verducci, John Lynch, Dave Maloney and Walt “Clyde” Frazier.

Between watching game film, reading mounds of newspaper articles and pouring through statistics, I visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in DC; as well as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, Harrods, Hyde Park and the U.S. Ambassador’s House in London.

As I fly back to the U.S. and prepare for tomorrow’s Rangers vs. Blues broadcast, the trick-or-treaters are out and we get set to flip the calendar to November.  The Blueshirts are off to a 6-3-0 start and the Knicks look ahead to a busy month after splitting their first two games.

Following a whirlwind October, I look forward to settling in next to Dave and Clyde for what is hopefully a thrilling next six months and beyond.  See you at the World’s Most Famous Arena!

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Joakim Noah’s Garden Debut A Reminder of his New York State of Mind

Some 45 minutes after the New York Knicks fended off the Memphis Grizzlies for a 111-104 win in their home-opener Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, Joakim Noah was dressing in front of his locker while about 45 journalists waited to get his take on his debut in a New York uniform.

Noah spent the first nine seasons of his career in Chicago — not exactly a media lightweight. And Noah, a Hell’s Kitchen native whose dad, Yannick, was a star tennis player, knows there is no place like New York.

Some athletes have wilted under the bright lights and probing questions. Others have embraced it.

Noah? Noah has pinned to his chest this opportunity to play in the Big Apple.

He played with such fire and utter disregard for his well-being, he literally bled for the Knicks.

He took stitches in his left ear. He fouled out. He thumped his chest. He dished out a team-high seven assists. He played physical Marc Gasol.

He did this with that feeling one gets in the pit of the stomach when the teacher announces, ‘Surprise quiz!’

New York Knicks center Joakim Noah dunks during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

“Game 1 at The Garden, stitched up, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Noah said. “Growing up here, walking distance [from The Garden]. I’ve been in this building for a lot of games as a fan.

“So just to be able to wear this jersey, it’s more than special to me.’’

I knew this long before Saturday night’s win; I knew it when he transformed from a passive post player into a relentless big man in the Rucker League.

I knew it when after winning the national championship at Florida, he stood on the podium and bellowed, “Thank you, Tony Rosa!’’ Rosa was his coach in the Rucker League.

You win the national championship; you don’t forget where you came from.

Noah is a New Yorker. He walks the streets hoping that most of the time he’ll go unnoticed, a tough task for almost a 7-footer. Several weeks ago when my son, Harry, spotted Noah on the street and politely (He called him, Mr. Noah) asked for a picture.

There you have it: 6′ 1″ towering over 4′ 5″ in a local neighborhood deli. That’s New York.

noah_kid

So is this. Forty-five minutes after a game, 45 reporters still hover around your locker. Cameras and microphones at the ready. Noah’s ear is bandaged. The emotion of the night seems to have drained him.

“It’s always like this?’’ asked Noah.

Yes, it’s always like this. But Noah knows this because he walks the same sidewalks and pops into the same neighborhood deli as you and I.

WINNING FORMULA

In the season-opening loss to the Cavs in Cleveland, the Knicks placed just three players in double-figures and had more turnovers (18) than assists (17).

Knicks Anthony Grizzlies Gasol Home

In the win over the Grizzlies, the Knicks placed five players in double figures and had more assists (24) than turnovers (12).

That’s part of the vision coach Jeff Hornacek sees for this team.

“We’re going to win by having everybody on our team play well,’’ Hornacek said. “If it’s just Carmelo [Anthony] that plays well or just Derrick [Rose], we’re not going to win. If they all play well, we can have a chance against anybody.’’

POINT GUARD MATCHUP – JOAKIM NOAH VS WILLIS REED

Willis Reed, forever The Captain, was reminiscing about what it was like to play for Hall of Fame coach Red Holzman.

“He said, ‘You get the rebound, everybody on the team, you can take the ball down the court except Willis and Phil,’’ Reed said. “I said, ‘That’s OK Red, I’m not going to worry about dribbling.’’’

“Now Phil never listened. Phil said, ‘Hey, I can take the ball down the floor.’ Phil takes it down the floor, sometimes he kicked it out of bounds, way up in the stands. That was Phil. He wasn’t going to be classified as a non-ball handler.’’

With Reed in The Garden Saturday night, it might have seemed like deja vu. Several times Noah would grab a defensive rebound and dribble into the forecourt.

Rose, who played alongside Noah in Chicago, had to remind Noah he’s a post man, not a point guard.

July 8, 2016: The New York Knicks introduce free agent signings Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee. (Credit: MSG Photos)

“Joe is Joe man,’’ he said. “You saw him push the ball up the court a couple of times. I got mad at him a few times, but we have that relationship. I can talk to him. He doesn’t take it personally. It’s always trying to win the game.’’

Perhaps Jackson, now the president of the Knicks, and Noah, can have a ball handling competition. Perhaps.

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What to Watch For in Islanders-Maple Leafs

By: David Kolb

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (2-3-3) @ NEW YORK ISLANDERS (3-5-0)

GETTING BACK ON TRACK

The Islanders begin their second five-game homestand of the young season tonight, and they must take advantage of the Barclays Centers’ home-ice to get back to .500 and into playoff contention.

MATT MARTIN RETURNS Islanders Martin Away 050816

Fan favorite and fourth-line fixture Matt Martin will return to Brooklyn tonight for the first time since he left the Islanders for Toronto via free agency this past summer. Martin, through eight games this season, is still looking for his first point as a Maple Leaf.

LEAFS FALLING ON THE ROAD

The Maple Leafs have yet to win a game on the road this season (0-2-3). The Islanders would be best served to come out of the gate quickly to get the weekend crowd behind them and force the fragile Leafs on their heels early.

AUSTON IN BROOKLYN

The New York area will get its first taste of 19-year-old sniper Auston Matthews, who has taken the NHL by storm scoring six goals with four assists for 10 points in his first eight games as an NHLer. Matthews centers the Leafs’ top-line, and needs to be matched up against smartly by the Islanders’ coach, Jack Capuano.

JT GETTING GOING

Islanders Tavares Stock 102316

John Tavares has four goals and two assists in eight games this season, with four points coming over the past three games. Tavares needs to take advantage of the matchups he will get on home ice during this five-game homestand to help get the Islanders rolling offensively.

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What to Watch For in Rangers-Lightning

By: David Kolb

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (5-3-0) @ NEW YORK RANGERS (5-3-0)

BOUNCING BACK

After falling in Carolina Saturday night the Rangers will look to get back in the win column as they return home to face the Lightning. The Rangers are 2-0-0 this season following a loss, outscoring their opponents 11-6 in those two contests.

ZUCCARELLO, MR. DEPENDABLE

Mats Zuccarello was stellar for the Blueshirts in a losing effort against the Hurricanes. Joe Micheletti and Dave Maloney break down his big game.

Rangers’ forward Mats Zuccarello scored two goals Saturday, giving No. 36 four goals and three assists in eight games this season. Tonight against Tampa, Zucc looks to build on his early season success, as he tallied three points (one goal, two assists) in three games against the Lightning last season.

AVOIDING 77 and 6

Rangers’ coach Alain Vigneault will do his best to keep his top scorers away from the Bolts’ top defensive pair of Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman. The duo is in their third season playing together and are recognized as one of the top defensive pairs in the NHL.

STOPPING STAMKOS

Lightning Stamkos Stock

With Lightning high-scoring winger Nikita Kucherov nicked-up and doubtful to play after missing Saturday’s game against the Devils, Tampa’s captain Steven Stamkos needs to carry more of the scoring load. Stamkos visits The Garden Sunday with five goals and four assists for nine points, leading the Lightning in scoring.

MIKA ON PACE

23-year-old center Mika Zibanejad gained an assist in Carolina Saturday, giving him two goals and six assists for eight points in his first eight games on Broadway. Zibanejad turned in his best season as a pro last season for the Ottawa Senators, scoring 21 goals with 30 assists for 51 points in 81 games.

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What to Watch For in Today’s Sabres-Jets Game

BY: DAVID KOLB | @DAVIDKOLBMSG

BUFFALO SABRES (2-3-2) @ WINNIPEG JETS (4-4-0)
GAME COVERAGE BEGINS AT 2:30 PM ON MSG WESTERN NEW YORK

WHATS AT STAKE?

The Sabres enter this afternoon’s contest hoping to sweep a back-to-back set following Saturday’s 3-0 shutout win over the Florida Panthers. A win in Winnipeg today would bring the Sabres back to .500 for the first time since the second game of the season.

POWER PLAY

The Sabres can find some real success this season if their ever-improving power play continues to produce. The Sabres found the back of the net twice with the extra man, as Kyle Okposo and Sam Reinhart tallied Buffalo’s second and third goals against Florida Saturday.

Sabres Reinhart Road Stock 101216

[Okposo – Win vs. Florida was the most complete game of the year]

TOP LINE LOCKDOWN

To defeat the Jets, the Sabres must focus on slowing down the Patrik Laine-Mark Scheifle-Blake Wheeler line. The trio has combined for 22 points in eight games.

HOLE IN THE LINEUP

Fourth-line right wing Nicolas Deslauriers left Saturday’s game after sustaining a hit. Coach Dan Bylsma said after the contest that Deslauriers was being checked by team doctors and could miss today’s game in Winnipeg.

YOUNG STAR ON D

Rasmus Ristolainen is quickly becoming one of the NHL’s top young blueliners. The 22-year-old uses his huge 6-foot-4 frame to full effect in the defensive zone and makes sharp outlet passes to go quickly from defense to offense. In seven games this season, the eighth pick overall in the 2013 NHL Draft is averaging an assist per game with seven assists.

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The Garden Comes Alive During Knicks’ Home Opener

NEW YORKJeff Hornacek knows a thing or two about crazy home-court advantages.

Hornacek played at Iowa State, where Hilton Coliseum — aka Hilton Magic — boasts as frenetic an atmosphere as you will find in college basketball.

That didn’t stop the first-year Knicks coach from being blown away by the passion of Knicks fans in The Garden.

“The crowd was great in preseason,’’Hornacek said.You don’t see that a lot in preseason games when you have a pretty darn good crowd and they’re into it and they’re chanting, ‘Brandon Jennings!

“The fans are passionate here. We’re excited to get going.”

The Knicks got their season going big time Saturday night as they held off the Memphis Grizzlies, 111-104, in the World’s Most Famous Arena to even their even record at 1-1.

It was an electric atmosphere long before the tipoff.

Joakim Noah thanked the fans for their support and by the time Sons of Serendip finished the national anthem, the building was shaking.

It stayed that way.

When Derrick Rose, the mercurial point guard who left the Second City (Chicago) for the First City (New York), was introduced, it sounded like the subway was running through The Garden, not under it.

Knicks Melo Grizzlies Home 102916

Kristaps Porzingis flushed a dunk for the first points of the 2016-17 season in The Garden. When Courtney Lee drained a baseline jumper, the Knicks were up 11-2, the Grizzlies were calling timeout and the fans had forgotten they had seats.

“There’s nothing like it,’’ said Carmelo Anthony. “Opening night, there’s no better feeling than running out there on that court. The opportunity that we have to create something here on home court for us, for our fans. We’re excited about that.”

Porzingis led all scorers with a game-high 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field.

From Hornacek’s chair, it must have felt like deja vu.

Hilton Magic. Garden Magic.

“There’s no place like playing in The Garden,’’ said Lee, who has played for Orlando, New Jersey, Houston, Boston, Memphis and Charlotte, but was always dazzled by fans in the World’s Most Famous Arena.

“The craziest fans,’’ Lee said. “The atmosphere is crazy. Just the tradition behind it.’’

The tradition. Seventy years of Knicks tradition being celebrated this year.

Before the opening tip, Noah stood at midcourt and looked at the Knicks banners that hang from the rafters – 1969-70 World Champions; 1972-73 World Champions; Frazier, Reed, Holtzman…

2016-2017?

“I’m hopeful,’’ said David Georgas of Tribeca, who attended his first opening night Knicks game ever with his sons Isa, 11, and Jibrail, 13, who recently celebrated birthdays. They asked their dad for this gift months ago.

“They made some big free agent moves getting Rose and Noah,’’ said Georgas, “experienced players that have gone deep in the playoffs.’’

When asked to rate on a scale of 1-to-10 how excited he was to be in the World’s Most Famous Arena on opening night, Jibrail didn’t hesitate.

“Eleven!’’

Isa agreed.

From the jumbo neon beach balls that bounced around courtside pregame, to the celebrities (Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Jerry Ferrara) that grace The Garden on a regular basis, this is what basketball in the mecca is all about.

“The lights get brighter,’’ said Anthony.

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Crispy’s Pre-Game Notebook: Knicks-Grizzlies

@mikecrispinonyk

  • The Knicks’ home schedule opens tonight with the Grizzlies in town and interest in the NBA at an all-time high, coming off a season when there was a record 723 sellouts and teams playing to 94 percent arena capacity league wide.
  • The NBA’s increased cap space, moving from $70 million to $94 million, inspired teams to “go deep” in trying to improve. A prime example is Memphis, which signed Chandler Parsons to a four-year, $94-million dollar deal! Parsons has been chronically hurt the past two seasons, making it a huge gamble.
  • The small-market Grizzlies also made history by signing point guard Mike Conley to a league-record five-year $153 million dollar contract in the offseason.

Grizzlies Conley

  • This season, the Grizzlies will try to extend their streak of seven straight playoff appearances — only San Antonio and Atlanta can match that — with a first-year head coach in David Fizdale. The 42 year-old Los Angeles native, and former point guard for San Diego St., had been an assistant for the past 12 years in Atlanta and Miami, winning two titles with the Heat in 2012 and ‘13.
  • Joakim Noah, a native of Hell’s Kitchen, will make his first home start with the Knicks, who are trying to erase the memory of Tuesday’s opening-night loss in Cleveland, where the defending champs served notice they are serious about repeating.
  • With 10 new players and the club looking to develop chemistry, an important factor for the Knicks in the early part of the season is to try and establish a home-court advantage. Last year, New York was 18-23 at The Garden. It needs to reverse that and then some to take the next step forward.
  • Fizdale is a rookie head coach, but he has a veteran team in Memphis that knows how to win. Last year, the Grizz played in 44 games where they were within five points with 5:00 left and won 26 times. Memphis’ three-year record is 88-48 in those games.
  • Jeff Hornacek will attempt to pick up his first win as Knicks coach and has a team looking to redeem itself after the sluggish second half Tuesday night in Cleveland.

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  • “When things get tough, don’t try to do it yourself,” Hornacek said. After allowing 69 second-half points Tuesday, Hornacek has challenged his players to “guard guys.” The key to that? “Communication,” he said. Jeff looks and listens for good D! The coach wants his players to “call out defenses” as the opponent plays fold.
  • Hornacek says the Grizzlies are a team that has tons of veteran experience. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are always looking for ways to get under the opposition’s skin. The Knicks will have to play through that to succeed.
  • Tonight will feature Garden debuts for Noah, Brandon Jennings, Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee and others. It also features a Garden return for Randolph, who is playing in his 17th year. A former Knick who loved playing at The Garden, Randolph has been coming off the bench for Memphis. And he appreciates his coach’s direct approach when communicating the move to him, “He was upfront and honest, telling me that it was best for the team, and best for me at this point in my career,” Randolph said. There’s that word again … communication. It’s better to know where you stand. Let’s see if it works for the Grizzlies.
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Devils Attempt to Bounce Back Tonight vs. Bolts

BY: DAVID KOLB | @DAVIDKOLBMSG

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (5-2-0) @ NEW JERSEY DEVILS (3-2-2)
GAME COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 PM ON MSG+

BACK AT IT

The Devils are back in action tonight after being handed a tough 3-2 overtime defeat by the Blackhawks Friday. Despite the setback, they have gained at least a point in all four of their home games at Prudential Center this season. Tampa comes into the contest with a 2-1-0 record in its road tilts this year.

SCHNEIDER BETWEEN THE PIPES

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A well-rested Cory Schneider will be in between the pipes trying to pick up his fourth win of the season and looking to avenge an Oct. 15 loss to the Bolts in Tampa. Schneider’s understudy, Keith Kinkaid, played well in last night’s OT loss to the Blackhawks, making 26 saves on 29 shots.

P.A. ON THE PP

P.A. Parenteau scored his third goal of the season Friday, giving him two goals in his last three games. The goal was Parenteau’s first on the power play, something the Devils hope to see more of from their September offensive-minded waiver pick-up.

PICKING UP THE SCORING

Goalscoring has been an issue for the Devils early on this season. New Jersey has tallied 15 goals in seven games — five of which have been scored by Taylor Hall — and will need to generate more offense, especially against a highly skilled team like the Lightning.

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What to Watch For in Today’s Sabres-Panthers Game

BY: DAVID KOLB | @DAVIDKOLBMSG

FLORIDA PANTHERS (3-3-1) @ BUFFALO SABRES (1-3-2)
GAME COVERAGE BEGINS AT 12:30 PM ON MSG WESTERN NEW YORK

THE BEGINNING OF A BACK-TO-BACK SET

Today’s contest will be the first of back-to-back games for the Sabres. Buffalo will head to Winnipeg Sunday after this afternoon’s contest with Florida. Anders Nilsson will get the start in today’s matinee and the expectation is that Robin Lehner will be in goal against the Jets.

Sabres Home Nilsson Stock 102916

OVERCOMING INJURIES

The Sabres have been ravaged by injuries early on this season with the likes of Jack Eichel, Evander Kane and Lehner all spending time on the shelf. A win today will help cure some of their early-season woes and help them stop their slide in the standings.

FINDING SPACE

The Panthers’ top defensive pair of Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad has been terrific through seven games this year. With the chance to make the last change at home, coach Dan Bylsma will attempt to keep his best offensive players away from Florida’s dynamic D-Men. More room to operate could be found against the Cats’ defensive pairings of Mark Pysyk-Alex Petrovic and Michael Matheson-Jason Demers.

MARCHESSAULT MARCHING

Panthers center Jonathan Marchessault will be looking to add to his team-leading 10 points (five goals and five assists). Marchessault played a bit-part role for the Tampa Bay Lightning last season and tallied seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points in 45 games played.

SABRES VS. LUONGO

After winning his first two starts of the season, Roberto Luongo has lost two out of the last three games. The four-time All-Star did have success against the Sabres during the 2015-16 campaign, compiling a 3-1 record with a 2.52 goals against average and a .910 save percentage.

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