34 Thoughts on First Two Games of the Cup Final

1. The only way Alex Ovechkin can be a better Caps captain is by being a twin. Since that’s impossible he’ll be welcomed on Saturday night in Washington for what he is; the most total forward in NHL history.

2. Never has there been a goal-king whose body checks are as hard as his shots.

3. If Game 3 is anything like the first two, we’ve got a heck of a series.

4. A bunch of Nervous Nellies out in Hockeyland are worried that a Vegas Cup win would be detrimental to the NHL. They argue that it would be too much, too soon for an infant franchise.

5. Nonsense. The Golden Knights Miracle has everybody talking about it because Gerard Gallant‘s team presently is enacting THE greatest hockey story ever told. Speaking of miracles on ice, my son, Simon, says, “Vegas is a latter-day NHL version of Uncle Sam’s 1980 Olympic team.”

6. And there’s no runner-up.

7. Sure Arizona, Buffalo, Columbus, Florida, Minnesota and Nashville — just to name a few Never-Cup towns — have a right to be jealous. Even Toronto has suffered without a Cup Final appearance since Expansion in 1967-68. So, what? It’s certainly not George McPhee‘s problem.

8. Among the truly amazing — make that magical — Knight-ly developments be sure to include the No-Names who have become Big-Names.

9. The Maven’s current favorite is Tomas (No Name) Nosek who scored the winning and insurance tallies in Game 1 of the Final. It was the lad’s first multi-goal game and game-winner. And this after 97 NHL contests.

10. Prior to his Vegas overnight stardom, No Nonsense Nosek, The Pin-Up Boy From Pardubice (Czech Republic) was drinking coffee up and down the Red Wings’ system with a grand total of one goal in 17 NHL games.

11. Captured by McPhee in the 2017 Expansion Draft, Nosek’s no-fooling fuselage produced 7-8-15 through 67 games in the regular campaign and now has added three goals and two assists so far in the postseason. Not bad for a castaway.

[Read More From the Maven]

12. And to think that, once upon a time, Gorgeous George McPhee actually ran a Mexican restaurant named Blue Moon on Manhattan’s Ninth Avenue. In the shadow of Madison Square Garden, it once was frequented by none other than Mister Devil, Ken Daneyko. And The Maven. Good, hot, eats, too.

13. How do you explain the Knights’ success? My sidekick, Gabbi Riggi of Edison, New Jersey says the team’s strength comes threefold: “No.1, no pressure, no problems. The expectation was to put a team on the ice for 60 minutes, leaving the Knights ample room to work with. Second is Gerard Gallant’s non-chastisement ways. They allow his players to make amends for penalties or problems on the ice. Last is the squad’s depth. When Vegas gets to roll with three third-lines and a punchy fourth the pace is unrelenting.”

14. This from my buddy, Beuk Forrest of Hillsborough, New Jersey: “I love the Knights’ Alex Tuch. With size like Eric Lindros, hands like Jaromir Jagr and a shot like the Rocket. That’s the reason he’s been on the first line alongside Erik Haula and James Neal. Ex-Wild GM Chuck Fletcher must be saying, ‘How did I let him get away?'”

WINNIPEG, MB – MAY 20: Alex Tuch #89 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrates after scoring a goal during the first period against the Winnipeg Jets in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell MTS Place on May 20, 2018 in Winnipeg, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead/Getty Images)

15. If the Knights could be compared to wildlife, my choice would be the piranha. Like the predatory fish of the same name, the Vegas sextet works best in packs. The Knights bite as a group.

16. Credit The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun with discovering that Neal came up with the nickname “Golden Misfits” for his no-longer-motley crew of teammates

17. My sidekick Matthew Blittner picks Haula as his favorite unheralded Knight. When I asked why, he said: “Haula experienced a career year across the board and is part of the reason the Wild have a new G.M.”

18. I ask you, the reader: Do the Capitals have an identity? They once were known as a skill or finesse team. Now they’re physical, shot-blockers.

19. Coach Barry Trotz answers that one, noting that his roster has changed significantly. “Right now,” said Trotz, “we’re just a good team and play the game the right way more often. We have more speed and more youthful enthusiasm.”

20. Why is this Ovechkin different from previous playoff Ovechkins? The Maven sees him as more focused — on a mission.

21. Few are aware that Trotz visited The Great 8 in Russia after the captain’s wedding to the magnificently beautiful Anastasia Shubskaya. “I told Alex to keep growing,” Trotz explains, “and not be a one-trick pony because the league keeps changing.”

22. Trotz’s hot lap to start off Caps practices is good for laughs — the first time. But it loses its humorous value after each Washington loss.

LAS VEGAS, NV – MAY 27: Capitals head coach Barry Trotz completes a hot lap at the start of practice during the Capitals practice for the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day on May 27, 2018 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

23. Interesting how Brooks Orpik has become a social media darling — at age 37.  He knows that this is his last really good shot at the champagne. He must be a lover of the Frank Sinatra tune, “All Or Nothing At All.”

24. Why does everyone but the Capitals love Marc-Andre Fleury?’ His boss, McPhee, knows: “He’s one of the finest people you’ll meet in this game. The way he carries himself is really impressive. It’s not contrived; it’s who he is.”

25. McPhee is pals with Washington GM Brian MacLellan. Fine, but that doesn’t mean there’s friendship when making deals: “We made our selection (in the expansion draft) and then MacLellan called and asked if there’s any way we could do a deal for him to get Nate Schmidt back,” McPhee recalls.  “We made a proposal that I didn’t think would work because our guys like Schmidt.”

26. When will goalies learn that the “Butterfly” (automatically dropping to the knees) Technique often does more harm than good? Neal’s opening goal in Game 2 would have been a Braden Holtby save had he stayed upright. Instead, Holtby went down, the puck went up — GOAL!  Automatic Butterfly is the definition of dumb!

27. This is one of the hitting-est series since the Toronto-Islanders one back in 1978. Vegas gives as hard as it takes. Good, clean high-sticking is the order of the night. I love it.

28. Favorite Doc Emrick words: JOSTLE, CHAOS, LOGJAM, A CROWD GATHERS.

29. Dmitry Orlov wins The Maven’s Best Mustache Award. His beard cops the “Where Is It?” prize.  Jay Beagle is runner-up on both counts.

30. Down 2-3 entering the third period of Game 2, the Knights’ late siege was chilling. But Holtby was hot. This time hot cooled chilling.

31. Tom Wilson has decided not to run for Vegas mayor.

32. But he will run at any Knight on any night.

33. Holtby’s paddle save on Tuch in the final minutes of Game 2 has to be The Save Of The Series; if not the entire playoffs.

34. This was his career game — despite that unnecessary “Butterfly” noted earlier.

[Read More From the Maven]

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Liberty Not Panicking

There was never any question that this was going to be a season of adjustment for the New York Liberty.

Katie Smith replaced Bill Laimbeer as the head coach.

The team moved its home court from The Garden to the Westchester County Center.

And the Liberty – a veteran, playoff-tested team – kept draft pick Kia Nurse, unlike last season when Lindsay Allen was waived out of training camp.

Knowing it would take some time to make it all work, no one associated with this franchise is panicking after an 0-2 start.

[Watch Liberty-Wings Tonight on MSG+ & MSG GO.]

“We can keep getting better in all aspects,’’ Smith said after Friday night’s gut-retching 78-72 loss to the defending champion Minnesota Lynx. The Liberty led by four with 1:39 left but Maya Moore’s 3-pointer with 19.5 seconds remaining gave the Lynx the win.

There were 15 lead changes as the Liberty went toe-to-toe with the best team in the WNBA.

“We’re going to continue to learn and to grow as a team. But I was really impressed with tonight’s performance,” Smith said.

Ed Cohen and Julianne Viani preview the Liberty's season outlook ahead of their home opener at Westchester County Center in White Plains.

The Liberty held the Lynx (2-1) to just 39% shooting from the field, a significant improvement from the 47.6% the Liberty allowed the Chicago Sky to shoot in the season-opening 80-76 loss.

The Lynx shot just 22% from behind the arc. Moore’s 3-pointer was one of just four threes the Lynx hit. They attempted 18.

“I’m never surprised when Maya lets it go,’’ said Liberty star Tina Charles of Queens. “There are more chances of her making it than missing it, especially with the game on the line. That’s her time.’’

Liberty center Tina Charles sets her expectations for the 2018 season and talks about taking on the leadership role for the Libs.

The Liberty are hoping their time is Tuesday night when they host the Dallas Wings (2-2) at the Westchester County Center (7 PM, MSG+ & MSG GO). A sellout crowd came to the team’s first game in its new home.

Owner James Dolan and team president Isiah Thomas both attended the game which had a big-event feel to it. The same in-game entertainment and performances that the Liberty enjoyed in The Garden were at WCC.

“This is a very great franchise and it’s been like that since the beginning,’’ said Smith. “You have loyal fans. The ownership has always had our backs. They’re a major part of what we do. They make sure we have everything we need so we can have success on the floor and it goes for all areas.

“The excitement from being here and having them here to watch us play was amazing. Even though it was a loss, we’re still going in the right direction and I can’t wait for us to lace up again on Tuesday.”

The players have quickly embraced their new home.

“We are very thankful and grateful for those individuals from the city that commute out,’’ said Charles. “You know my father is from Brooklyn and he came out, my mother is on Long Island and she came out.

“We are very thankful for the commitment for our season ticket holders and just what the New York Liberty management was able to do to make it as close to the same atmosphere and feel as Madison Square Garden.”

[Watch Liberty-Wings Tuesday on MSG+ & MSG GO.]

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Third Quarter Dooms Knicks Gaming

The Knicks Gaming team suffered their second straight loss Saturday, falling to Magic Gaming, 66-56, dropping their record to 1-2.

The hometown team made their entrance in front of a large and raucous crowd, looking to rebound after suffering their first defeat last week.

Knicks Gaming made a minor lineup change, moving G O O F Y 7 5 7  to center and IdrisdatGoat6 to power forward.

They jumped out to an early lead 11-4 lead thanks to some dunks from G O O F Y 7 5 7  and NateKahl.

However, Magic Gaming stormed back and at the end of the first quarter was ahead, 16-15.

The second quarter featured more back-and-forth action and the teams would head into the halftime break tied at 30.

NateKahl led Knicks Gaming with 10 points, while IdrisdatGoat6 had 8 points on a perfect 3-for-3 from the field.

Magic Gaming started off the third quarter on a quick 8-2 run and blew the game open from there, outscoring Knicks Gaming 22-8 in the quarter.

Knicks Gaming made a run in the fourth quarter cutting the lead to eight points, but it was too little, too late. Magic Gaming held on and earned their first win of the season.

UCMANNY of Magic Gaming led all scorers with 22 points while adding seven assists.

Next Game: Knicks Gaming has a doubleheader Saturday, June 2 against Kings Guard Gaming (Noon) at Raptors Uprising GC (4 PM). You can watch the NBA 2K League on Twitch.

Knicks Gaming Record: 1-2

Stat of the Night: Knicks Gaming was outrebounded 25-15

Tune In: Don’t miss the next episode of KNX Gaming: Inside the NBA 2K League Tuesday at 10 PM on MSG and MSG GO.

[Get More Knicks Gaming Coverage]

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Caps-Knights; The Most Unusual Playoff Final

Our resident hockey Maven, Stan Fischler, shares his thoughts on the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

To those who have just arrived from a Distant Planet, know this:

THE VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS WILL BE PLAYING THE WASHINGTON CAPITALS FOR THE STANLEY CUP.

The Maven puts these in Caps not because the Capitals will win the Stanley Cup, but rather to emphasize to newcomers that it’s not a joke nor a typographical error.

Yes, the NHL’s brand new team from Nevada has reached the final round in pursuit of hockey’s most coveted prize.

To call this feat astounding would be the understatement of the half-century. It’s so far beyond belief, you’d think 100 of Hollywood’s best script-writers had penned the Knights Saga.

Then, they’d all be fired because what has happened between October and Now is, well, even beyond The Maven’s highest compliment, A-Number-One-Yankee-Doodle-Ipsy-Pipsy.

WINNIPEG, MB – MAY 20: Alex Tuch #89 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrates after scoring a goal during the first period against the Winnipeg Jets in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell MTS Place on May 20, 2018 in Winnipeg, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead/Getty Images)

Even more astonishing is the belief that, yessiree, Bob, the Knights could very well win the darn thing. One trusty scout I know, Gus Vic, even tells me how.

“What the Capitals are going to find,” Vic explained, “is that the Knights’ speed, work ethic, tenacity, and discipline is going to be very hard to handle.

“Vegas’ neutral zone play is positively suffocating and gives the impression that the Knights have eight players on the ice while protecting leads.”

Hey, Sin City’s favorite team didn’t finish with the fifth best record — out of 31 — in the league for nothing. Matter of fact they finished one ahead of the very team they’ll be hosting Monday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Now that we have the unbelievability of coach Gerard Gallant‘s team taken care of, it’s worth noting that Barry Trotz coached a fabulously gutsy outfit which underlined that point in their the seven-game triumph over Tampa Bay.

Plus, the Caps boast the NHL’s Rocket Richard Trophy-winner in Alex (49 Red Lights) Ovechkin and a well-balanced team that features size, speed and savvy.

TAMPA, FL – MAY 23: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals skates with the Prince of Wales Trophy after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 23, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Washington’s goalie Braden Holtby enters the Final Round with two straight shutouts which is a feat that only can be beaten by three goose-eggs.

Then again, Vegas goaltending headliner, Marc-Andre Fleury has been the most consistently best post-season stopper in every one of the previous three series.

Here’s The Maven’s Scouting Report, starting with the visiting team:

WASHINGTON:

OFFENSE: A season earlier they averaged 3.18 goals per game and this year it was 3.12. What’s more, they stayed close even after losing Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson up front. After three 50-goal-seasons, Ovechkin slumped last year with 33 goals and 69 points. But what a rebound this term — 49 goals, 38 assists for 87 points. So far in the playoffs, Captain Ovi has totaled 12 goals and 10 assists for 22 points; slotting him second in goals and points.

The beauty part of the Caps attack is the emergence of other potent producers. Evgeny Kuznetsov has been a whiz-bang, ahead of Ovi by two points. Nicklas Backstrom and defenseman John Carlson also have provided pizazz. Not to be overlooked is the third man on the first line, Tom Wilson, who is a surprisingly effective point-getter despite his penchant for punching. Lars Eller, Chandler Stevenson, and Devante Smith-Pelly have delivered some effective work up front.

TAMPA BAY, FL – MAY 23:
Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) punches Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn (55) during the first period Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

DEFENSE: Minus Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt and Kevin Shattenkirk, the Caps still have survived. The response has been the ever-tenacious Brooks (Plus 15 in 19 playoff games) Orpik, Carlson’s career year along with Dimitry Orlov as well as Matt Niskanen and rookie Christian Djoos. All things considered, it’s not a knock-your-eyes-out blueline corps, but it got the Caps to the Final; didn’t it?

GOALTENDING: When it came to a Cup challenge, Braden Holtby always seemed to have his head in Nowheresville. So mediocre was his finish to the regular season, Trotz benched him in the first two games of round one — both losses — in favor of Philipp Grubauer; finally inserting Holtby in the third period of Game Two. Since then Braden has been nothing short of brilliant, especially out-goaling Andrei Vasilevskiy in the third round. He enters the Final having pitched two consecutive shutouts.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Since the playoffs began, Washington has featured the second-best power play (28.8 percent). However, their penalty-killing has been mediocre, but don’t tell that to the Lightning who went Oh-For-One in Game Seven.

INTANGIBLES: Head coach Trotz has surrounded himself with Grade A aides. These include Todd Reirden, Lane Lambert, and Blaine Forsythe. Consulting the goalies is the ever-popular and efficient Mitch Korn.

X-FACTORS: If he can stay out of the penalty box or the Player Safety Sinbin, Wilson brings a rare blend of toughness as well as the ability to work well with Captain Ovi. Orpik has playoff experience and is playing his best post-season hockey.

THE BRASS: G.M. Brian MacLellan has managed to lose name players on offense and defense yet supplement the lineup with lesser knowns, but with producers like young Chandler Stevenson. Trotz, whose contract runs out, should get an extension based on his superior work behind the bench.

VEGAS:

WINNIPEG, MB – MAY 20: Jonathan Marchessault #81, Reilly Smith #19 and William Karlsson #71 of the Vegas Golden Knights stand on the ice prior to puck drop against the Winnipeg Jets in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell MTS Place on May 20, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

OFFENSE: Experts will tell you that the toughest part of an Expansion Draft is finding a semblance of offense, but G.M. George McPhee pulled off a few miracles. Jonathan Marchessault and James Neal already were known for their Red-Light Ability and considered main drivers for goals. But nobody figured on William Karlsson, who tallied 43 goals in the regular season and is second on the Knights in the playoffs with six, two behind Marchessault. Reilly Smith, ex-of Florida, is no slouch, leading the team with 14 helpers and second most in points for his club. Huge in more ways than one, (6-4) Alex Tuch has been an energetic left wing who’s been a force physically and productively. Sneaky good, Erik Haula may not be that big, but he’s quick and has good hands. Pittsburgh’s loss is Vegas’ gain in monstrous Ryan Reaves, who scored the winning goal in Game Five of the Western Final against Winnipeg.

DEFENSE: Granted it’s a No-Name Defense but when you X-Ray the results, you can better appreciate the work of several blueliners. To wit: Nate Schmidt, Brayden McNabb, Shea Theodore, Derek Engelland, Luca Sbisa and Colin Miller. Ex-Devil Jon Merrill, Brad Hunt, and Jason Garrison provide depth. Put ’em all together and you get a solid unit that never should be underestimated.

GOALTENDING: Even though he’s already won three Cups, Marc-Andre Fleury has lifted his game to a stratospheric level never achieved in Pittsburgh. Amazingly, at the season’s start, he was injured. Yet the Knights survived with a merry-go-round of goalies including Malcolm Subban, Maxime Lagace, and Oscar Dansk. Fleury has been more than expert between the pipes. He’s not only the face of the franchise but also its inspiration.

LAS VEGAS, NV – SEPTEMBER 28: Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Vegas Golden Knights stands on the ice during a break in a preseason game against the Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena on September 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Colorado won 4-2. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

SPECIAL TEAMS: Nothing very special about the power play — eleventh in the regular season and so far tenth in the playoffs. Likewise, the penalty kill has been all right but hardly perfect. Karlsson and Smith have been the primary PP and PK fellows. Tuch’s size is a PP asset.

INTANGIBLES: The odds posted against Vegas winning the Cup stood at 500-1 last September in some quarters and 200-1 in The Hockey News. The point is that this club now is playing with house money. Ergo: they’ve got nothing to prove and nothing to lose.

ROOKIES: Tuch was a 2014 first-rounder who has a blend of skill skating and work ethic. Tomas Nosek is another who bears watching.

X-FACTOR: Fourth-liner Ryan Carpenter quietly has had an impact on the offense as a grinder. David Perron brings veteran experience and is quietly effective doing the little things necessary for a winner.

THE BRASS: George McPhee will be a landslide winner of the Best G.M. Award while ditto for Gerard Gallant as coach
————————————————————————————————–
HOW THE CAPITALS CAN WIN THE CUP:
Riding the momentum from their startling comeback against Tampa, Washington is motivated beyond all reason.

Led by the super-dynamic Ovi who almost can taste the champagne-on-ice and who’s aces with his every shift on the ice.

If Holtby maintains his hermetically-sealed crease as he did in Games Six and Seven, it’s in the bag for Trotz and Company.

Finally, this from scout Vic: “By playing a heavy, disciplined chip and chase game throughout the series, it would force Vegas out of the comfort of the neutral zone.”

Washington must get pucks in deep; don’t get caught at the blue line.

HOW THE KNIGHTS CAN WIN THE CUP:

Vegas skaters have to pound the foe. So far no team has been able to keep up with the Knights’ relentless forecheck. Their three-zone pressure package enables them to be hellbent on turnovers and transition hockey.

Thanks to Gallant, the club has had full buy-in through the regular season and playoffs. Not to be redundant, but Gerard has pulled off the most outstanding single-season coaching job in NHL history — as well in all of professional sports!

How does one beat a Cinderella story that goes on and on and on? Another thought — the team with the best Bottom Six often wins. Vegas has the topper in that realm.

THE MAVEN’S PICK: Washington in six; thanks to Ovechkin, Holtby, and Carlson!

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Rangers Embrace Rebuild With Quinn

David Quinn might hail from Rhode Island but the freshly announced New York Rangers head coach came across as a genuine New Yorker on Thursday, talking real and at times tough.

Quinn spoke about the wonderful opportunity he has with the Rangers while never shying away from the term rebuild, which was sprinkled throughout his introductory press conference.

After seven straight playoff appearances, the Rangers failed to make the postseason this year and finished with just 34 wins and 77 points, a steep decline from their form over the past few seasons. Quinn comes to this organization after five years at Boston University, where he made the NCAA Tournament four times.

[Watch: Get to Know David Quinn]

He is touted as having an eye for talent, an ear for the players and the ability to help grow and mature young players. Given that the Rangers are a young team, Quinn’s skillset will be counted on to turn this franchise back into a winner.

He comes with NHL experience, a former first round pick of the Minnesota North Stars in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft who found true success as a coach, including one year as an assistant with the Colorado Avalanche before going to Boston University. Quinn admitted on Thursday that he’s received other calls from NHL teams in the past few years while he coached in college but this one excited him – “When it’s the New York Rangers, it’s a little bit different.”

[Watch All the Interviews from Thursday’s Press Conference]

This, even as he acknowledged that the Rangers are in a rebuild. Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton acknowledged that the team is in fact rebuilding and said that Quinn is the right man to lead the team at this moment.

[Watch Gorton Discusses State of Rangers]

“I think it is pretty well documented that our team, we had a good run for a long time and we discussed that we got to a certain point where our franchise needed a change and to go in a different direction. So obviously a number of trades we made and transactions that led to where we are now,” Gorton said.

“It’s an exciting time. When you go through something like that, it is an eye-opening experience. It’s a hard experience but at the same time, it is really exciting as we look forward to seeing some of our young players coming. We have a lot of really good players on our team still too. We’re adding a coach obviously, we think a lot of to lead us in the future.”

The decision to leave Boston University wasn’t easy, with Quinn noting that he felt “there was some unfinished business” left at the school. But, during and after the interview process, Quinn recalls being struck by the synergy of his mentality with how the Rangers presented themselves throughout the process.

He saw a similar mindset in how the Rangers wanted to engage in this rebuild with his own philosophy.

[Valiquette on Why Quinn is the Right Fit]

Coming off being a college coach and transitioning to the NHL won’t be a huge challenge for Quinn as he did spend time in the league before as an assistant coach. As he takes over a young team in the midst of some drastic changes and a bit of an overhaul, he will be helped by this experience.

He has a reputation of developing young players, a positive given the Rangers depth of talent in their minor league system. But he also has been an assistant coach at this level, something that clearly will help Quinn manage veterans on the team and the free agents that will be needed to get this team back into the playoffs.

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Blueshirts Usher In New Era With Quinn

By Matthew Blittner
Special Contributor to MSGNetworks.com

A new day is dawning in RangersTown.

Less than 24 hours after being anointed the 35th head coach in Rangers’ history, David Quinn, 51, formally introduced himself to the New York media.

“A bit different from a B.U. press conference,” said the Blueshirts’ new bench boss.

And Quinn wasn’t the only one to address the media throng. Team President Glen Sather, GM Jeff Gorton and Assistant GM Chris Drury were also in attendance and spoke glowingly of their new head coach.

“It’s a very important day for the Rangers,” said Gorton. “We couldn’t be happier with our selection.”

“I’m really happy for him,” said Drury. “He’s dedicated to his craft and a very passionate, straightforward guy.”

Days like today are often a sign of change. And this was no exception.

The last time the Blueshirts hired a new head coach, they had just fallen short of their Stanley Cup expectations — getting knocked out of the playoffs in the second round by Boston in 2013.

John Tortorella’s ouster led to Alain Vigneault being handed the keys to the kingdom. And Vigneault promptly led the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final.

But nothing lasts forever. So, at the end of last season — when the Blueshirts decided it was time for a change — Vigneault was let go and Quinn became the next man up.

“I’m fair,” said Quinn, “And demanding. There’s no grey area with me and my players. It’s all about getting them to be their best. Practice is important, you have to show up every day trying to get better. I can’t wait to get started.”

“He was our first choice,” said Gorton. “It’s been pretty well documented that we had a good team for a long time. But it got to the point where we felt we had to start over. And we’re adding a coach that we feel can lead us in the right direction. It certainly helps when you know somebody for as long as Chris and I have known David. (Gorton and Quinn go back 25 years; Drury and Quinn 30 years.)”

“He was clearly the guy we wanted,” continued the Blueshirts’ GM, “His communication skills and attention to detail are very important. He’s a hands-on guy and a teacher. He’s here to help us improve and he’s the guy who will help us win.”

“Each day, talking with Jeff and Chris, it just became apparent that this was the perfect fit for me,” said Quinn. “When they first reached out to me it was different. But the more we talked, the more it seemed like this was a fit I couldn’t pass up.”

“At the end of the day, it’s about relationships,” continued Quinn. “It’s about having people skills and understanding what motivates people. All my stops helped prepare me for this. When I first left B.U. in 2009, I had knots in my stomach. But now, I feel ready. Like I said, it feels like a natural fit. It’s an exciting opportunity and our goal is to get better every day.”

And that exciting opportunity is only just beginning.

Learn the important facts about the New York Rangers new head coach David Quinn.

Now that the Blueshirts have their head coach, they have to fill out the rest of his staff.

“I hate timelines,” said Gorton. “We have a lot of work to do. There’s a lot of names out there. And for David, it’s important he has guys he can trust.”

It’s a busy time of year for hockey teams; the draft is only a month away. And so too is free agency.

For Quinn, there’s no time to stop and smell the roses. He’s being counted on to hit the ground running. And if there’s anybody that can succeed in such a situation, it’s him.

Today, Thursday, May 24, 2018, a new chapter in Rangers’ history has begun. And David Quinn is not only the subject, he’s also the author.

Welcome to New York!

[More From the David Quinn Press Conference]

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Who Prevails From Knights-Caps Cup Final?

Our resident hockey Maven, Stan Fischler, shares his thoughts on the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

1. You have to be from Mars to bet against determined Washington in the Cup Final, and from Venus to bet against magical Vegas. Down here on Earth, Stanley predicts that the Caps will win their first Stanley.

2. Expect the overwhelmingly underrated Golden Knights to give Barry Trotz‘s intrepid skaters all kinds of conniptions because Vegas’ sextet is the real goods.

3. But this Capitals club has more guts up and down the lineup than any in the franchise’s history. It proved it by rallying from two games down with Columbus and rallying right down to their astonishing comeback.

4. Alex Ovechkin has moved over Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Connor McDavid and the rest of them as King of the NHL. His captaincy has never been better defined than by the leadership he’s displayed throughout the post-season.

TAMPA, FL – MAY 23: Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates after scoring in the first period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

5. Dislike Tom Wilson if you will — and many of you will — but his fighting spirit galvanized his Caps in Game 7 as much as the Ovi dynamo and Nicklas Backstrom‘s non-stop slick moves and, hey, Braden Holtby‘s emergence as Mister Clutch.

6. When a goalie like Holtby glues two straight shutouts together, it means that Lady Luck is in love with him. But as Tom Wilson so aptly put it, “You gotta earn luck.” That Braden did in the first two periods. By the third, Washington’s goaltender had broken the Lightning’s spirit. No more, no less.

7. Marc-Andre Fleury is every bit as good as Holtby, but the Caps arsenal is more explosive. And don’t underestimate motivation. The Maven hasn’t seen a more motivated team than Trotz’s trotters in Games 6 and 7.

8. The Most Incredible Hockey Story Of The Century — Vegas in the Final — has provoked many questions. Topping them all is the query for Penguins G.M. Jim Rutherford: Why in the world did you allow Marc-Andre Fleury to escape your grasp?

9. Then again, I would add that Rutherford signed Ryan Reaves to protect Sidney Crosby in the playoffs, yet moved the Big Guy at the Trade Deadline. All Reaves did was torpedo the Jets with the Conference-winner on Sunday.

10. No matter how you shake it, the biggest winners-losers in the Vegas-Jets series were as follows. Winner: Gerard Gallant who out-coached Loser, Paul Maurice by two countries’ (Canada-USA) miles. Winner: Marc-Andre Fleury who kept his mouth shut and the pucks out vs. Loser, Connor Hellebuyck, who talked too much and stopped too little.

11. Forget about Gallant as Coach of the Year — he’s Coach Of The Century. He should write a book, COACHING 101, and distribute it free of charge to his NHL colleagues.

LAS VEGAS, NV – MAY 23: Head coach Gerard Gallant of the Vegas Golden Knights attends the team’s first practice since winning the Western Conference Finals at City National Arena on May 23, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights will play for the Stanley Cup beginning on May 28 against either the Washington Capitals or the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

12. Chapter One of Gallant’s coaching manual should be titled “ANALYTICS ARE FOR ASTRONOMERS, EYES ARE FOR HOCKEY COACHES.”

13. The difference between Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, Paul Stastny, Nikolaj Ehlers, Dustin Byfuglien and the Knights was teamwork.

14. Three words say it all for the Caps conquest: they deserve it. Trotz’s skaters came into the season with lowered expectations — but look who’s got the last laugh now.

15. The Caps gutsy game was evident by the manner in which they sacrificed their bodies to block shots throughout Game 7. Speaking of courage, how about Ovi defying tradition and embracing the Prince of Wales Trophy.

16. If I’m an owner of a team in the Missed Playoffs Club, I’d have my coaching staff analyzing Vegas tapes 24/7 until September.

17. Who do you figure to be the biggest Knights unknowns-to-stars after William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Nate Schmidt?

18. Erik Haula deserves a mention for netting 29 goals — his previous career-high was 14. Alex Tuch also provided good offensive output for his bottom-6 role (37 points in 78 regular-season games).

19. If any one player was snubbed for an end-of-season award, it’s Fleury. He didn’t get a Vezina Trophy nomination — likely because he played in 15 fewer games than nominees Andrei Vasilevskiy, Connor Hellebuyck and Pekka Rinne.

WINNIPEG, MB – MAY 20: Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Vegas Golden Knights makes a save during the third period against the Winnipeg Jets in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell MTS Place on May 20, 2018 in Winnipeg, Canada. (Photo by David Lipnowski/Getty Images)

20. If I had a vote, Fleury would get the nod over Vasilevksiy. Not to say Vas didn’t have a fantastic season — 44 wins as a 23-year-old — but he had an inconsistent second half and went 5-5-0 in the final 10 games of the season. Vas really bombed in Game 7. He blew Ovi’s opening goal and deflated the arena.

21. Had the Lightning not gone 15-3-2 in the month of October, Vasilevkiy’s inconsistency later in the year could have cost them the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

22. Too bad Hellebuyck didn’t study his hockey history before yapping about his goaltending compared to Fleury’s: “I like my game, I like it a lot more than his. I like my details.”

23. Something similar happened in the 1947 Final, only instead of Hellebuyck, the goalie was Bill Durnan. The multi Vezina Trophy-winner, Durnan pulled a no-no by ridiculing his Toronto foes. Habs lost in six games.

24. Kevin Cheveldayoff kept a low profile during last year’s off-season. I’d recommend he do the same this summer. The Winnipeg Jets don’t need to fiddle with their roster much — but it should be a top priority to bring back Statsny before he gets too tempted by the free agent market.

25. Perhaps John Carlson — most sought-after UFA defenseman — can replace Toby Enstrom on Winnipeg’s blue line. He’s younger, more effective on both sides of the puck, and wouldn’t cost too much more than Enstrom would; plus, Toby’s contract is up this year anyway.

26. Why does the NHL need to change its expansion draft process as a result of Vegas going on a remarkable run to the Cup Final? Is it the NHL’s fault that Karlsson had 37 more goals than the previous season? Or that Gallant can turn fourth-liners such as you or I into productive NHL players?

27. In victory — as a one-man band — Ovechkin is nonpareil. Never has there been a super scorer so consistently physical, so dynamic a presence and so compelling a character.

28. Finally, a tip of The Maven’s fedora to the Lightning; a superior hockey team; well coached and balanced up and down the line. Something went wrong in Game 6 — maybe the incessant pounding by the Caps — and they lost it all in the finale.

TAMPA, FL – MAY 23: The Tampa Bay Lightning thank fans for their support after the series loss to the Washington Capitals after Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 23, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images)

29. Here’s to The Final Two; The Believe It Or Not Knights and the Indomitable Capitals. I hope it goes seven games!

30. A pair of the classiest Bolts were ex-Rangers Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman. “Give the Caps credit,” Girardi concluded, “they played a heck of a game.” Stralman added, “The Caps deserved to win.”

31. Another way to put it, the Capitals bent but never broke; the Bolts bent and then snapped in the third period.

32. There are no “Do-Overs” in the playoffs. Had there been, Yanni Gourde would have stuffed the open-netter (how did he ever miss that?) and Alex Killorn would have scored on his breakaway.

33. Mister Keen, Tracer of Los Persons is still on the lookout for Nikita Kucherov.

34. This from my very sharp sidekick, Brad Polk: “How about the George McPhee side story. In his first year as Caps’ general manager in 1997-98, they made it to their first Cup Final. Ran the Capitals for 17 years. Now, he builds the the Knights and gets them to the Final in their first year.”

35. So it’s on to Vegas on Monday for arguably the most unusual Stanley Cup Final since — well — I don’t know when. Sit back and enjoy!

P.S. One more thing: If I could give an award for Best Fan Post-Game Playoff Comment it goes to Kevin Gold. He’s a videographer for Digital Evidence Group in Washington and lives in Arlington, VA. He watched the game on TV at packed Verizon Center. His conclusion: “It was the best game to ever be seen in Verizon Center and it wasn’t even played there!” Love it.

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Rangers Committed to Youth Movement With Quinn Hiring

By Matthew Blittner
Special Contributor to MSGNetworks.com

From a historical viewpoint, the Rangers‘ hiring of David Quinn represents only the second time in franchise history the team has hired a head coach from the collegiate ranks.

The first was Herb Brooks, who took the helm at the start of the 1981-82 season after coaching the U.S. Olympic Team in 1979-80 followed by a year in Switzerland, and lasted until the middle of the 1984-85 campaign.

Learn the important facts about the New York Rangers new head coach David Quinn.

Per the Rangers’ PR Department, GM Jeff Gorton released the following statement about the club’s 35th head coach:

“We are excited to announce that David will become the next Head Coach of the New York Rangers,” Gorton said. “In a coaching career that has spanned over two decades at the collegiate, pro, and international level, David has helped his teams achieve success while simultaneously teaching the game and helping his players develop on and off the ice. He is the ideal choice to bring our loyal and passionate fans the winning hockey they deserve.”

No freshman in the coaching business, 51-year-old Quinn has a sparkling resume and is exactly the type of “fresh face” the franchise desires.

[Watch David Quinn’s Introductory Press Conference Thursday at 11:30 AM on MSG and MSG GO]

BOSTON – OCTOBER 9: Boston University ice hockey head coach David Quinn. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Among his many qualifications are Quinn’s tenures as the head coach of AHL Lake Erie (three years), assistant coach of the Colorado Avalanche (one year) and the last five years as head coach for the B.U. Terriers.

In addition, he spent time on the coaching staff for the U.S. National Development League.

By accepting the position as Blueshirts’ head coach, Quinn joins an exclusive list of coaches to jump from the college ranks to behind the bench for an NHL team.

The first five were: Ned Harkness, Brooks, Bob Johnson, Dave Hakstol and Jim Montgomery. (Montgomery beat Quinn to the punch by a few weeks after being hired by the Dallas Stars.)

“With our youth, the new coach should probably be a hands-on guy,” said Gorton at his end of season press conference in April. “We have a lot of young guys on the team.”

Jeff Gorton explains the reason why the team parted way with coach Alain Vigneault and how he's approaching the search for the new coach.

By contrast, Quinn’s predecessor, Alain Vigneault was notorious for being less than favorable to the youth movement. And the No. 1 example of that is the emergence of J.T. Miller as a top-line forward with Tampa Bay.

During Quinn’s tenure with the Terriers, he led his team to the 2014-15 National Title Game; developing numerous young players — Jack Eichel and Charlie McAvoy to name two — along the way.

In a clip from "Beginnings," the Sabres' Jack Eichel explains how David Quinn had an impact on him at Boston University, while Quinn shares a story about a time Eichel was less than attentive in a team meeting.

Quinn’s first Training Camp as an NHL head coach will feature numerous players with NCAA backgrounds competing for a limited number of roster spots.

Neal Pionk (UMD), Brendan Smith (Wisconsin), Kevin Shattenkirk (B.U.), Jimmy Vesey (Harvard), Steven Kampfer (Michigan), Boo Nieves (Michigan), Rob O’Gara (Yale), John Gilmour (Providence), Vinni Lettieri (Minnesota), Ryan Lindgren (Minnesota), Chris Kreider (B.C.), Kevin Hayes (B.C.) and Brady Skjei (Minnesota) have all graduated from the NCAA ranks. But they’ll need to adopt a collegiate mentality if they’re going to succeed under Quinn.

Unlike the laid-back Vigneault, Quinn has a fiery — yet controlled — temperament. And he’s not afraid to let you know it either.

He’ll be a breath of fresh air to a Blueshirts’ organization looking to change its style of play.

As Gabrielle Riggi — an Arena Reporter for United States College Hockey Online — describes it:

“Unlike other college-to-NHL coaches (i.e. Hakstol and Montgomery), Quinn isn’t a strict systems coach. His style is high intensity on both ends of the puck but will never make defensive players sacrifice an opportunity to jump into the rush. The same goes for forwards, who need to match their offensive creativity with smart backchecking. They want to get the first stride on the opposition and have them chasing for the rest of the night.

“His Boston University teams succeeded by having every player contributing. It doesn’t necessarily reflect on having depth of scoring, but if you’re on the ice, you’re doing something in the play — even if that’s throwing a hit, squaring up for a block or putting in a good stick-check to deflect play away from the net. Tenacity is the name of a David Quinn game.”

And don’t be surprised if Quinn replicates his collegiate success at the NHL-level; especially sooner rather than later.

[Watch David Quinn’s Introductory Press Conference Thursday at 11:30 AM on MSG and MSG GO]

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David Quinn Named Rangers Head Coach

Courtesy of the New York Rangers

NEW YORK, May 23, 2018 – New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has named David Quinn the team’s new Head Coach.

“I am very pleased to welcome David Quinn to the New York Rangers,” said James Dolan, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Madison Square Garden Company. “David brings a diverse and successful coaching resume that includes extensive work in developing young talent. I am confident he is an excellent fit for our team, and know he will work tirelessly with Glen, Jeff and our entire organization to execute our plan to build the next Rangers Stanley Cup contending team.”

“We are excited to announce that David will become the next Head Coach of the New York Rangers,” Gorton said. “In a coaching career that has spanned over two decades at the collegiate, pro, and international level, David has helped his teams achieve success while simultaneously teaching the game and helping his players develop on and off the ice. He is the ideal choice to bring our loyal and passionate fans the winning hockey they deserve.”

Quinn, 51, becomes the Rangers 35th Head Coach in franchise history. He joins the Rangers after serving as Head Coach at Boston University for the previous five seasons (2013-14 – 2017-18). During this time, Quinn led the Terriers to a 105-68-21 record. Under Quinn’s guidance, Boston University captured two Hockey East Tournament Championships (2014-15 and 2017-18), two Hockey East Regular Season Championships (2014-15 and 2016-17), and The Beanpot in 2014-15, while also making four consecutive NCAA Tournament Appearances (2014-15 – 2017-18). He was named both Hockey East Coach of the Year and New England Coach of the Year during the 2014-15 season, when he oversaw the biggest turnaround in school history by guiding Boston University to a 28-8-5 record, an 18-win improvement over the previous season. In addition, Quinn was the runner-up for the Spencer Penrose Award in 2014-15, which is given annually to the top Division 1 Men’s Hockey Coach in the country. During Boston University’s four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances under Quinn, the school advanced to the NCAA Championship Game in 2014-15 and the Regional Final in both 2016-17 and 2017-18.

The Cranston, Rhode Island native oversaw the development of several of the NHL’s top draft picks during his tenure as Boston University’s Head Coach. Over the last three NHL Entry Drafts (2015 – 2017), three players who had already played at least one season under Quinn at Boston University were selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft (forward Jack Eichel – second overall in 2015; defenseman Charlie McAvoy – 14th overall in 2016; goaltender Jake Oettinger – 26th overall in 2017), while forward Brady Tkachuk is ranked second among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting for the upcoming 2018 NHL Entry Draft. In addition, either McAvoy and/or Matt Grzelcyk was named a First Team All-American in three consecutive seasons (2014-15 – 2016-17), while Eichel won the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in collegiate hockey in 2014-15. Quinn also coached current Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller for one season in 2016-17, who is one of three finalists for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year in 2017-18.

In addition to his head coaching experience at Boston University, Quinn has been a member of several coaching staffs at the professional and collegiate level. Quinn previously served one season as an Assistant Coach in the NHL as a member of the Colorado Avalanche’s coaching staff (2012-13). Quinn served as Head Coach for three seasons with Colorado’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, from 2009-10 – 2011-12 before becoming an Assistant Coach with the Avalanche.

He began his coaching career as an Assistant Coach with Northeastern University for two seasons (1994-95 and 1995-96). Quinn also worked as an Assistant Coach at the collegiate level with the University of Nebraska-Omaha (1996-97 – 2001-02) and as an Associate Head Coach with Boston University (2004-05 – 2008-09). In his final year at Boston University, he helped the school win the National Championship. He was responsible for working with the team’s defensemen and in 2008-09, he helped develop a defense corps that included current Ranger Kevin Shattenkirk, as well as former Ranger and the winner of the 2008-09 Hobey Baker Award, Matt Gilroy.

Internationally, Quinn has coached some of the United States’ top players in several tournaments, as well as helped develop players through the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP). He was named the USA Hockey Development Coach of the Year in 2002-03, when he served as Head Coach of the United States’ Under-17 Team in the USNTDP. He began his international coaching career as an Assistant Coach with the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team at the IIHF World Championship, and he helped the team earn a silver medal in two consecutive years (1999 and 2000). He has also served as an Assistant Coach with Team USA at the IIHF World U18 Championship (2003), the IIHF World Junior Championship (2005), and the IIHF World Championship (2007, 2012, and 2016), and as a member of the coaching staff at the 2016 IIHF World Championship, he coached current Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei. In addition, on April 20, 2018, Quinn was named Head Coach for the 2019 U.S. National Junior Team.

Prior to beginning his coaching career, Quinn played collegiate hockey at Boston University for four seasons (1984-85 – 1987-88). He was selected by the Minnesota North Stars in the first round, 13th overall, of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, and won a bronze medal while representing the United States at the 1986 IIHF World Junior Championship. In addition, the defenseman was a member of the Rangers organization for part of one season, skating in 19 regular season games and two playoff games with the Binghamton Rangers of the AHL in 1991-92.

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Shurmur Hopes to Rejuvenate Eli Apple

It is hard to believe that Eli Apple will turn 23 years old this summer and that he will do so in the midst of what will be his third NFL training camp.

It is even harder to believe that the New York Giants cornerback needs a clean slate at this point in his career, but that is what the organization and head coach Pat Shurmur are promising him.

[Dyer: Rookies Learning ‘Giants Way’ With an Edge]

Apple has a mulligan, a chance to start over again under Shurmur, who has repeatedly commented about how the former first-round pick is getting a fresh look from the coaching staff. It was a difficult 2017 for Apple, who had struggles on and off the field and was at one point suspended by former head coach Ben McAdoo.

A bounce-back year from Apple is not only possible but certainly plausible as he showed solid coverage and good instincts in 2016 as a rookie.

A return to form for Apple would be key for a revamped Giants secondary, a unit that struggled last year giving up plays over the top. The fact that Shurmur is so emphatic in wanting Apple checked-in and fully engaged is certainly the right approach as the team goes through a roster makeover.

The message of a fresh start, Shurmur said, was made clear to Apple.

“I did with all the players and I think that’s important,” Shurmur said Monday as the Giants started Organized Team Activities (OTAs). “What you’re trying to do is inspire these guys to play at their best and I hear things, but I can’t truly say I know exactly what happened because I wasn’t here. But, I do know this, there are guys out here that are very prideful, they’re very professional and they want to do really good things and Eli is one of them.”

Shurmur went so far as to say that in terms of stature and skillset, Apple is in many ways his prototype at cornerback.

Perhaps Apple, after health concerns for his family were a distraction and then an alleged falling out with the last coaching staff, will be free in 2018 to get back to playing football. His individual ability on a wide receiver has been strong, as his ability to read and react in coverage.

Combine that with another year in the NFL spent getting bigger and stronger and Apple could be primed to take a step forward. After all, he already has two years in the league at an age when many cornerbacks are entering their first rookie minicamps.

“I’m sure glad that I truly believe in a clean slate,” Shurmur said. “[Apple has] been nothing but professional, he’s been out here competing, he’s one of the guys that has been here almost every single day and I haven’t seen anything that somebody might have thought I heard. He’s been great.”

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