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:
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…