Finally, time to update this thing!
Before the Devils and Rangers face off for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals in just over an hour (keeping me indoors on a beautiful 80 degree day in the Capital Region…at least I have a good excuse!), time for a few notes, and a collection of links for those that may have missed it or just want to read it again:
-A few seasons ago, during the River Rat days, one of their tag lines (I think it was for the 2000-01 season after the second NJ Cup win) was “We Breed Champions.” This season it’s bound to happen again, as there is at least one former River Rat or A-Devil on all but 2 teams across the three professional leagues (NHL, AHL, ECHL) with a chance to hoist a Cup (Stanley, Calder, or Kelly) in the coming weeks. Starting with the NHL: it’s pretty obvious in New Jersey. But two other NHL teams still alive in the Stanley Cup playoffs have Albany alumni: the upstart Kings, just one win away from a berth in the Cup finals as an 8 seed, have defenseman Willie Mitchell (River Rats 99-01) and forward Brad Richardson (River Rats 06-07), while across the ice in New Jersey this afternoon the Devils will face former Stanley Cup hero Mike Rupp (River Rats 00-03).
The conference finals are underway in the AHL, with Norfolk leading St. John’s 1-0 (Game 2 this evening in Virginia) in the East, and it’s 1-1 in the Western Conference between Oklahoma City and Toronto (Game 3 Monday in Canada). 3 out of the 4 remaining teams also have at least one Albany alumnus on their roster: in Norfolk, captain Mike Angelidis (River Rats 06-10); in Oklahoma City, Bryan Rodney (River Rats 07-10) and Bryan Helmer (River Rats 93-98; one of only 4 active players left from the lone Calder Cup Champions of 94-95. The other three? Steve Sullivan, Brian Rolston and Sheldon Souray); and in Toronto, Mark Fraser (remember him? That trade with Anaheim seems like years ago now doesn’t it?).
Finally in the ECHL, it’s down to Florida (who dispatched Kalamazoo in 5 games) and Las Vegas in the Kelly Cup finals, with the Everblades holding a 2-1 series lead after an overtime win last night at home. No matter which team wins the Kelly Cup, at least one former River Rat will be hoisting the hardware: Ryan McGinnis (River Rats 09-10) and Cedric McNicoll (River Rats 09-10) for Florida, and Ryan Weston (River Rats 07-09) for Las Vegas.
-And now for some pregame reading:
The New York Times had two very good stories on Stephen Gionta and Adam Henrique.
Speaking of Little Gio…nice video interview with him and older brother Brian.
The Globe and Mail on why you should be a Devil fan.
Um, really Rangers? That’s what I thought NJ Transit was for. Or in my case, a Yankee Trails bus. (For more laughs, click the YouTube video with the bad jeans commercial. You’ll never see that in New Jersey.)
And finally, I’ll leave you with a little Seinfeld reference, a familiar scene here and in the Garden State…