The New York Rangers are in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 20 years and their success in the finals, which begins next week, could rest on the shoulders of Murray Harbour’s Brad Richards.
The Rangers will likely be heavy underdogs in the final against either the Los Angeles Kings or Chicago Blackhawks and they will need goaltender Henry Lundqvist to be at his best to stay competitive. To win, they will need Richards to score big goals as he did when he earned Stanley Cup MVP honours with Tampa Bay a decade ago.
The Rangers are not an explosive club like the Kings or Blackhawks and they play a tight-checking defensive style, as evident in their 1-0 victory Thursday night to knock the Montreal Canadiens out of the playoffs.
In the final, they will be facing a much bigger and better opponent than either Montreal or Pittsburgh, and a team with a lot more firepower than the light scoring Rangers.
Not many people, including the Sports Prophet, are giving the boys from Gotham much of a chance in the final, but they could upset. It will take great goaltending and most important of all for Richards to recapture the form that made him the most dangerous post-season sniper in the NHL.
The Charlottetown Gaudet’s Auto Body Baseball Islanders, of the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League, entertain Fredericton today at 2 p.m. in a twinbill at Memorial Field.
The Islanders (4-1) continued their surprising strong play in the senior loop by sweeping both games from Chatham last Saturday and defeating Hub City on Wednesday. The Islanders will be without lefty Brody McDonald, who is out with an ankle injury, and slugger Dillon Doucette, who is still working in Newfoundland.
Jordan Stevenson and Jacob Beck will likely draw starting assignments today for the Islanders and both are capable of strong performances. Veteran outfielder Sean Corcoran and talented youngster Dylan McKenna are expected to carry much of the offensive load for the local team.
Baseball fans are reminded that registration forms for the team’s major fundraiser, the July golf tournament at Avondale, will be available at today’s games. Let’s get out and support the local club, it’s the best entertainment value in the province.
In Major League Baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays saw their nine-game win streak come to end Thursday with a sloppy home loss to Kansas City.
The Blue Jays are better than the New York Yankees, Boston and Tampa Bay, but it remains to be seen whether they can hold off Baltimore for the league pennant. The Jays are the best hitting team in all of baseball, belting home runs at a torrid clip and, if their pitching stays healthy, they could make it into post-season play.
Live harness racing continues today at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park with a great card of racing. Post time is 6 p.m.
The $2,400 feature has attracted a tough field including, from the rail out, Sterling Seelster, Tempo Seelster, Perfect Escape, Machinthesand, Judge Jon, Touch of Lightning, R Son of Life and All Turain.
There’s great simulcast action available tonight from Mohawk with plenty of Island connections. There’s two $75,000 divisions of the Somebeachsomewhere stakes and some of the big boys are there including Always a Miki, Let’s Drink on It, SomeStarssomewhere, Melmerby Beach and Bugger Bruiser among others. Also at Mohawk, there’s two trot stakes at $178,000 and James MacDonald has a co-favourite in Muscle Babe for trainer Dave Menary.
Also tonight at Mohawk, the $159,000 stake for three-year-old fillies has Lady Shadow, Porsche Seelster, Artful Impulse, It’s Surfin Time and five others. The $150,000 Molson pace went last night at Western Fair and it was a sensational field with the likes of Foiled Again, Bandolito, Apprentice Hanover, P.E.I.-owned State Treasurer and four others. Mark MacDonald drove Bandolito and the 1:48 winning son of Ponder can fly.
I talked to Carl Jamieson this week at Mohawk and he told me he really likes his Sportswriter colt Sporting the Look, who already has been in 2:04. Also had a chat with Dave Menary and he has five by Sportswriter and so far they are doing everything right.
The local harness racing scene lost another of its most loyal fans with the passing of Rosemary Hill earlier this week. Rosemary and her husband Doug Hill campaigned the 1960s invitational favourite Dominion Byrd, who toured the Maritime free-for-all circuit against horses like June Byrd, Bob Brook, Willies Adios, Jim Fashion, Andys Son, Hi Jay, Comte Richelieu and McSampson. The Hills raced many, many stake horses during the years and still do and Rosemary was at the track watching her babies race. To Doug, son Jamie, daughter Rosemary and all connected to this lady, our condolences.
Fred MacDonald’s column appears in The Guardian each Saturday. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.