Maven’s Ravin’

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Stunner! P.K. Subban Brings His Star Power to the Devils

Just when every Devils fan finished saluting Ray Shero‘s-nabbing-Jack Hughes, New Jersey’s General Manager made it a head-turning one-two punch. BAM-BAM; just like that, Newark’s hockey maestro then obtained dynamic, veteran defenseman P.K. Subban, thereby fortifying the one element that coach John Hynes needed fixing — defense. All things considered, the deal with Shero’s Nashville […]

Isles Have What It Takes To Knock Off Penguins

The New York Islanders know all about the “difficult” and the “impossible.” While constructing a 103-point regular season record, they surpassed weekly challenges throughout the 82-game marathon. Cynics waited for them to fold; but they never did. [MSG Networks To Air Extensive Coverage of Isles First Round Series] As coach Barry Trotz often said, “We […]

Devils GM Displaying Patience

Haste Makes Waste — Proverb Not Coined By Ray Shero That’s right, the New Jersey Devils general manager didn’t originate the above bromide; he just follows that bit of advice to the letter as he builds an NHL contender. Which explains why New Jersey’s hockey boss doubled as Mister Cool during the recent Free Agent Frenzy […]

Chatting With Lou Lamoriello

Pain And Progress — Title of Devils Book When Lou Lamoriello Became New Jersey GM In 1987 Nobody in the hockey world knows better than Lou Lamoriello that pain and progress are inseparable. The new Islanders boss applied that lesson orchestrating three Stanley Cup champions in the Garden State.   More recently, he experienced that […]

Is Free Agency Frenzy Over?

Is the Free Agent Frenzy (FAF) over, just three days after its frenetic John Tavares opener? If nothing else, JT’s headline-grabber has left a fallout of fan fury; at least in Islanders Country but that will diminish along with the free agent list. Still, there’s more FAF ahead but with diminishing returns and some compelling […]

Tavares Takes Stand on Departure

Freshly-minted as a Maple Leaf, John Tavares faced-off with some of his critics — mainly me — late Sunday afternoon in a conference call. Whether the ex-Islanders captain won the draw — or lost it, as the case may be — depends on where your rooting interest lies. John took the third-degree well, even got […]

Fans React To John Tavares’ Isles Exit

The Island Has Been Home, It’s What I Know; It’s Part Of Me. — Part of John Tavares’ Farewell Message To Islanders Fans. Likewise, in a positive statement, Isles hockey boss Lou Lamoriello thanked Tavares “for everything he has done for the franchise,” wishing John and his family “all the best.” In addition, Lamoriello added, “John […]

Tavares Gone; Can Islanders Survive?

The great Winston Churchill once said: A Pessimist Sees The Difficulty In Every Opportunity; An Optimist Sees The Opportunity In Every Difficulty England’s Churchill, the iconic hero of the Second World War, could have been talking about Lou Lamoriello today. Now that John Tavares has bid the Islanders adieu by signing with his hometown Toronto […]

What’s the Scoop on Tavares?

With the Free Agent Frenzy just days away, it marks just about 365 days since the first question about a certain Islander was uttered: Where will John Tavares wind up on July 1, 2018? Egad-What-A-Cad. (And I don’t mean John either). The F-A Madness is just around the calendar with the chief protagonist none other […]

Nine Challenges Facing Barry Trotz

Now that the euphoria surrounding the Islanders hiring of Cup-winning coach Barry Trotz is subsiding, the club’s challenges next will be addressed by the new mentor. Having watched the Islanders play virtually every home game in person this past season — and by television for road games — The Maven will point out key areas […]

Isles Get Their Trotz

With Lou Lamoriello already in the fold and Barry Trotz the latest to sign a contract, the Islanders have completed two-thirds of their personnel hat-trick. Completion, of course, will depend on whether the new Lou-Barry duet can persuade John Tavares to remain with the club as captain. That decision will likely come soon; around the July […]

Best Islanders Rookie Seasons

His new-to-the-NHL Islanders were so bad that general manager Bill Torrey liked to joke that he began thinking the Nassaumen’s real name was Hapless. “Every time we lost,” Torrey explained, “some writer would refer to us as ‘The Hapless Islanders.'” But not for long. Bowtie Bill — with plenty of help from aide Jim Devellano […]

Best Rangers Rookie Seasons

No team was more devastated by World War II armed forces enlistments than the New York Rangers. After finishing first in 1941-42, the Blueshirts missed the postseason for five straight years. Ever worse, many of the pre-war stars had lost their speed and were mere shades of their former selves. As a result, the Rangers […]

Best Devils Rookie Seasons

The magic of Lou Lamoriello can best be translated by examining his outstanding rookie collection, which began with center Kirk Muller, no Mario Lemieux but a solid citizen all the way, productive, too. Emperor of them all was Martin Brodeur, whose nonpareil puck-stopping caused double-takes in his freshman year and seasons after. Following Marty’s first […]

Exit Snow-Weight; Who Replaces Them?

Lou Lamoriello‘s double-edged axe has fallen on Garth Snow and Doug Weight. The new Islanders boss waited a mere two weeks before ousting the club’s general manager and head coach. [Read Official Press Release] Guessing on the replacements begins now with Barry Trotz a possibility if — as rumored — his contract is not re-upped, […]

Larrupin’ Lou Lassos the Isles

“I’ll Do It My Way.” (Song By Frank Sinatra, 1969; Lou Lamoriello Theme, Always) Minutes after his New Jersey Devils were awarded their first Stanley Cup by Commissioner Gary Bettman in 1995, Lou Lamoriello raced past me down the corridor at the Meadowlands Arena. “What’s the rush?” I asked the general manager who — I […]

Lou To the Islanders’ Rescue

In the most dramatic move since taking control of the Islanders, owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky have dropped the gloves and started swinging. The one-two punch resulted in the most stabilizing individual force available in the game — Lou Lamoriello. For the second time in three years, Lamoriello bounced off the canvas right into […]

Devils Look to a Glowing Future

“Pain And Progress,” Title Of Early New Jersey Devils History, 1992 The temporary pain of spring 2018 soon will fade while the long-term progress is inevitable. In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year for a future playoff-team, the Devils were built at least two years ahead of time. At a point in the […]

Bolts Close Out Devils’ Superb Season

This time, Goliath won. David — alias the amazing Cory Schneider & Co. — exits Stage Right filled with pride in their season and optimistic about their future. The 3-1 defeat (last goal an open-netter) Saturday afternoon at the Lightning’s Amalie Arena surprised few. Most observers thought the behemoth Bolts would sweep the series. Winning […]

Devils Burn Bolts at The Rock

The mountain that the Devils were challenged to climb now looks more like a hill, thanks to their Monday night machinations at The Rock. A win will do that and turn Wednesday night’s collision with the Lightning even more enthralling for the boys from Newark. After all, they matched first-place Tampa, shot for shot, hit […]

The Devils Are Down But Not Out

Down two games to none against arguably the National Hockey League’s best team, the Devils are in a reality show that could get worse if they don’t shape up in a hurry. The reality in this opening playoff round is that the steamrolling Lightning, led by captain Steven Stamkos, is strong in all areas and […]

Should the Devils Turn to Schneider?

Enigma. Riddle. Puzzle. Conundrum. Mystery. Secret. Take your pick of descriptions — personally, I like conundrum — and you have an idea how perplexing the next Devils‘ goaltending decision must be. With Game 2 of the New Jersey-Tampa Bay series slated for 3 p.m. today’s afternoon matchup, the odds — at least in The Maven’s […]

Lightning Strike One Against Devils

In Tampa Bay, Land Of The Stogie, the Devils need a good cigar because as they ready for Game 2 on Saturday, right now they’re just close — but no cigar! The experienced first-place Lightning, playing at home Thursday night, beat the inexperienced bottom wild-card outfit, 5-2, pretty much as the critics expected. Ever valiant, […]

Devils’ Fortunes Rest on Hall

Really, when it comes to New Jersey’s playoff hockey fortunes, it’s all about Taylor Hall, the club’s one and only phenom. Sure, there are a ton of other factors but in the end, as Hall goes, so go the Devils. As for evaluating the precise outcome of the Devils-Lightning series, which opens tonight in Tampa […]

How New Jersey Can Stun the Bolts

As absurd as it may have seemed when the Autumn leaves began falling last September, the New Jersey Devils survived the 82-game marathon as a playoff team in Spring. And I don’t mean maybe either. Neither does the NHL postseason schedule which lists the Garden Staters starting their playoff quest on Thursday in Tampa Bay. […]

Why Did Vigneault Get The Hook?

Why was Alain Vigneault relieved of his duties? For starters, let The Maven say that for weeks I have been asking assorted Rangers fans whether they wanted A.V. back behind the Blueshirts bench in 2018-19. About 75 percent asserted that he should be replaced — and for all the reasons you’ll find below. General Manager Jeff Gorton […]

The Miraculous Devils Await Playoff Time

Woe is the opponent destined to meet the magical Devils in the playoffs. Whether it’s Boston, Washington, Columbus, Tampa Bay or Pittsburgh, coach John Hynes‘ New Jersey sextet will be supreme underdogs. But this is one long-shot team that can pull an upset. “I’m excited,” said left wing Patrick Maroon, architect of both New Jersey […]

Grabner, the Devils’ Playoff Insurance

With the Islanders visiting The Rock on Saturday night for Patrik Elias Night, John Hynes‘ Devils will unveil a surprise present for The Honorable Patty. Michael Grabner. He was acquired from the Rangers in exchange for the Devils’ second-round pick in the 2018 Draft, and the rights to defenseman Yegor Rykov. [Press Release: Devils Acquire […]

Hall Has Guts, Glory and Glamour

He Shoots! He Scores! — Exciting! Yes!! Slogan accompanying a Table Hockey Advertisement. Take that Table Hockey ad and apply it to Taylor Hall and it fits as neatly as a pair of shinguards under the shooter’s stockings. Having swiftly surfaced as the battery that lights up the Devils, the Calgary native has quickly embraced […]

The Maven’s 3 Unsung Rangers Heroes

Call them Foot Soldiers, call them Grunts or call them The Underrated. Whatever you choose to call the likes of Jesper Fast, Boo Nieves or Marc Staal, they respectively remain critical to the success of the New York Rangers and their uptick after a slow start to their season. Though Mats Zuccarello and Henrik Lundqvist are […]

The Maven’s 3 Unsung Devils Heroes

Call them Foot Soldiers, call them Grunts or call them The Underrated. Whatever you choose to call the likes of Steven Santini, Blake Coleman or Stefan Noesen, they respectively remain critical to the success of the New Jersey Devils. [Watch Devils-Blue Jackets Friday on MSG+ & Download Free on MSG GO] With the spotlight currently on […]

The Maven’s 3 Unsung Islanders Heroes

Call them Foot Soldiers, call them Grunts or call them The Underrated. Whatever you choose to call the likes of Casey Cizikas, Jordan Eberle or Adam Pelech, they respectively remain critical to the success of the New York Islanders. [Watch Islanders-Penguins Tonight on MSG Networks & Download Free on MSG GO] Cizikas, sidelined with an injury, was conspicuous […]

Devils Make Dandy Deal for Vatanen

Poof! Just like that, the New Jersey Devils have established themselves as serious playoff contenders. And if there’s any doubt about that, well, forget about it. The trade General Manager Ray Shero pulled off, obtaining ace defenseman Sami Vatanen, 26, seals the deal. [Official Press Release: Devils Acquire Vatanen From Ducks] As one scout told […]

Surprise Packages Carrying Locals

When the first puck was dropped to launch the 2017-18 training season, a small forward from Braintree, Massachusetts named Brian Gibbons was not even on the Devils‘ depth chart. And why should he have been? Undrafted, the New Englander previously had been discarded both by the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets. At age 29, […]

Bailey’s Patience Pays Dividends

Like the obscured sun during an eclipse, for most of the 10-year career of Josh (Ace) Bailey has been virtually hidden from the glare of publicity. That is, until this season. Stealthily, yet steadily, Ace has moved to the sunny side of the NHL street where he’s become a balance wheel of the Islanders attack. […]

The Devils’ Reel is For Real

Check out a movie reel of the New-New Jersey Devils and you have to ask yourself, “Are these guys for real?” That’s what the Vancouver Canucks were thinking last Wednesday night after coach John Hynes‘ Garden Staters invaded Rogers Arena. Implausibly, the Devils were outshot, outplayed and even out-Corsied, yet exited laughing with a 2-0 […]

Pieces to Isles Puzzle Begin to Fit

There’s only one word to describe the Islanders situation after the club’s first eleven games of the season — hopeful. Granted that the franchise is a work in progress, but Saturday night’s emphatic 6-2 victory over the Stanley Cup Finalist Nashville Predators offers more optimism for the club than there was at this time last […]

Isles Head Out West Seeking Improvements

Prepping for their four-game road trip, the Islanders know that there’s work to be done offensively and defensively. Yet even after a shootout defeat on Monday afternoon at Barclays Center, they can feel proud of themselves. Seemingly down and out, 0-2, late in the third period, Doug Weight‘s skaters obtained goals from Andrew Ladd (13:04) […]

Devils Put Their Money on Severson

Ever since Hall of Fame, New Jersey legend Scott Niedermayer moved West to Anaheim and eventually retired, the Devils have sought a reasonable facsimile for their blue line corps. While finding needles in haystacks may be a lot easier than finding another Nieder-type, give the Garden State ice leaders marks for trying; and they just […]

Rangers Bring Back Leetch & Richards In New Roles

In this age of specialization in hockey, the Rangers under General Manager Jeff Gorton have been front and center at the apex. The Blueshirts boss underlined the point on Tuesday by hiring legendary Ranger Brian Leetch and former Blueshirts center Brad Richards, to further fortify the franchise. Taking on roles as Hockey Operations Advisors, their duties will encompass […]

Rangers’ Roster Taking Shape

By: Leo Scaglione Jr., Pinch-Hitting For The Maven The Rangers have been anything but off this offseason. The latest moves by New York include signing unrestricted free agent center David Desharnais and re-signing restricted free agent right wing Jesper Fast. In 453 career regular-season NHL contests, Desharnais has notched 254 points (81 goals, 173 assists). […]

Kevin Shattenkirk Is Coming Home

By: Leo Scaglione Jr., Pinch-Hitting For The Maven Kevin Shattenkirk dreamed about playing for the Rangers as a kid. Two decades later, the 28-year-old defenseman turned those dreams into reality. Shattenkirk, a native of New Rochelle, NY, signed with the Blueshirts Saturday after becoming an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. “This […]

Rangers Hold On To Valuable D-Man

By: Leo Scaglione Jr., Pinch-Hitting For the Maven Brendan Smith very much enjoyed his time with the Rangers after he was dealt to New York prior to the trade deadline this past season. “This was arguably the best team I’ve been on,” Smith, 28, said following the season. “I really enjoyed playing here. It was a lot of […]

Vegas & Expansion Draft Gambles

Poof! Like the shake of casino dice, big gambles were taken in the newest Hockey-land by The Strip. Naturally, the Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Sabres were all involved. Las Vegas welcomed the NHL Expansion Draft with all the hoopla one expected from the city, then got into the business of picking players. And as Islanders dynasty-maker […]

Housley Comes Back Home to Sabres

The expression “Genius will out” fits Phil Housley‘s appointment as new Sabres head coach like a bowling ball making a perfect strike. Arguably the greatest American-born defenseman in history, Phil now joins an impressive list of Uncle Sam’s ice geniuses populating major league hockey. Try Mike Sullivan and Peter Laviolette for starters. And for Buffalonians, […]

Isles Add to Staff, Sabres Mull Field

With their long-range target already in sight — a playoff berth next Spring — the Islanders have started what figures to be a chain reaction of positive moves from here to training camp. The opening decision was the naming of Luke Richardson as Assistant Coach under Head Coach Doug Weight. #Isles News: Luke Richardson has […]

Rangers Restructuring Underway

The immediate and long-range quest to improve the Rangers for the 2017-18 National Hockey League season has begun. Where it stops, only the Blueshirts’ high command — Glen Sather, Jeff Gorton, Alain Vigneault — will know after the Expansion Draft (June 21), Entry Draft (June 23-24) and Free Agent Frenzy play out their scripts. But […]

Blueshirts Pushed to the Brink

Senators 5, Rangers 4 (OT) Well, nobody said it would be easy. In the case of Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, taking the second series has now become a most dangerous challenge for the Rangers. Returning to New York for Game 6 on Tuesday night, the Blueshirts sit on the edge of elimination following […]

Blueshirts Win, Must Do It Again

RANGERS 4, SENATORS 1 “Hockey is a funny game — it’s played on ice.” Those deathless words were uttered by former Rangers goalie-coach-and-general manager Emile (The Cat) Francis. As far as the current Blueshirts are concerned, the bromide could be amended to read, “Hockey is a fun game — when it’s played on our home […]

Rangers Need a Rally at Home

Senators 6, Rangers 5 (2 OT) The Ottawa Senators can be beaten in the playoffs as proven by two first-round losses to Boston. It’s just that the Rangers haven’t found the formula so far. Although, as the late, great Yogi Berra would have observed, “It’s getting late early.” For the Blueshirts, that is, they return […]

How Do Rangers & Sens Stack Up?

It’s easy — perhaps too easy — to forecast a relatively comfortable Rangers romp through their second round playoff series with the Senators, which begins Thursday in Ottawa. But overall, the facts are more on the Blueshirts side, whether you’re talking goaltending, defense or offense. Not to put the smack on the Senators because they […]

Three Down, One to Go for Blueshirts

RANGERS 3, CANADIENS 2 (OT) Several games within the game ultimately will decide the Rangers-Canadiens melodrama now heading to Act 6 tomorrow night at The Garden. Many already have taken place now that the Rangers are one victory away from a series win. The most obvious drama has headlined the respective keys to conquest — […]

Rangers Respond at Home, Even Series

Rangers 2, Canadiens 1 With the Rangers and Canadiens jetting to Montreal for Game 5 Thursday night at Bell Centre, two evenly matched teams have created heebie-jeebies on both sides of the border. The Blueshirts’ rebound victory last night at The Garden not only revived the spirits of Rangerville, but also restored confidence in a […]

Home Ice Not an Advantage in Game 3

Canadiens 3, Rangers 1 It was easy to dismiss the Rangers‘ home-ice struggles during the homestretch as a mere aberration caused by the marathon schedule‘s Dog Days. However, it’s not simple — nor worthwhile — to dismiss losses at The Garden during the postseason because they could be playoff-fatal. When the Canadiens exited The World’s Most […]

Blueshirts Blank Habs in Game 1

RANGERS 2, CANADIENS 0 One down, three to go. [Rangers-Canadiens Channel Listings] With Game 2 of the New York-Montreal playoff slated for Friday night in Beautiful Downtown Montreal, the Rangers are secure in the knowledge that any Bell Centre House of Horrors jinx is as mythical as Mickey Mouse. But there was nothing mythical about […]

Eighty-One Down, One to Go

SENATORS 3, RANGERS 1 Rare is the evening when the Penguins invade The Garden for a game that does not affect the standings. But that is the case tonight as both Pittsburgh and New York skate on the ice in Game 82 before preparing for the serious season — the playoffs for The Stanley Cup. […]

Rangers Iced By Pens in Shootout

PENGUINS 4, RANGERS 3 (SO) Arriving on Seventh Avenue last night, losers of four consecutive contests, the Penguins looked more like a bottom-feeder team than defending Stanley Cup champions. That, however, was before the opening puck-drop at The Garden. The host Rangers had returned from a three-game West Coast expedition that left them with three […]

Sharks Top Blueshirts in OT

SHARKS 5, RANGERS 4 (OT) Hungry Sharks are a scary sight in any body of water. Ditto for skating Sharks starved for a victory. Defeated in their last six games, San Jose’s version of big, nasty ice fish turned on the Rangers last night at SAP Center, and the results were not pleasant for the […]

Ducks Ruin King’s Comeback

DUCKS 6, RANGERS 3 Talk to anyone connected with the Ducks’ high command and you’ll be told that the Anaheim sextet has been sick and tired of playoff failures. Chances are that Bruce Beaudreau would tell you the same thing. Matter of fact, that’s why he’s the ex-coach of the Ducks and Randy Carlyle is […]

Rangers Crumble Kings Castle

RANGERS 3, KINGS 0 For a team that not long ago had won two Stanley Cups in three seasons, the Kings have plummeted to a more prosaic place in the National Hockey League race. As a matter of fact, it will take a Hollywood script — perhaps science fiction — to just get the Tinseltown […]

Bad Luck Continues for Blueshirts at Home

ISLANDERS 3, RANGERS 2 In what often seemed like a playoff atmosphere, the desperate Islanders invaded The Garden last night hoping eventually to catch either the Toronto Maple Leafs or Boston Bruins. Naturally, the Rangers had no intentions of cooperating. After all, the Blueshirts were determined to launch a long-awaited winning streak at home. This […]

Rangers Tripped Up By Rivals at The Rock

DEVILS 3, RANGERS 2 Pride and motivation often blend to provide victories in the unlikeliest of places. One of them was Prudential Center in Newark last night when the significant underdog New Jersey Devils employed that storied formula to beat the Rangers. Virtually certain to miss the playoffs, coach John Hynes’ sextet also relied on […]

Rangers Rev It Up In Motor City

RANGERS 4,  RED WINGS  1 Having emerged from a Hurricanes blasting in Carolina, the Rangers jetted to Michigan where they hoped to subdue Detroit’s all-but-out-of-the-playoffs Red Wings. Losing two straight to NHL basement-dwellers is not a game plan for confidence nor a high place in league standings. Hence, a victory over the Winged Wheelers at […]

Blueshirts Cage Panthers

RANGERS 5, PANTHERS 2 Exhausted, but joyful, over Part One of their Florida Expedition in Tampa Bay, the Rangers hedgehopped over to Sunrise last night for Part Two. Facing them was a Panthers club not unlike the New Yorkers previous foe, the Lightning, in that each is desperately clawing for a playoff berth. As for […]