Monthly Archives: November 2009 - Page 2

Giants Preview

The Giants go into Sunday’s match-up on a three game losing streak, the first one since the Superbowl victory for the Coughlin-led Giants. After starting the season 5-0 and looking like one of the most complete teams in the NFL, the Giants have dropped off. Eli Manning is playing like the shaky quarterback that almost got run out of town, and the defense is resembling the defense that used to be run by Tim Lewis. Despite this poor play the Giants still have a good chance to make the postseason as their record is still a pretty 5-3; however, a loss here can could be detrimental.

The Chargers allow an average of about 130 rushing yards per game, and recently the only thing the Giants have been doing well offensively is run the ball. There is a good chance that the Chargers will stack the box in an effort to slow down the Giants rushing attack but the Giants need to try to run anyway. Manning is hurting and has had trouble getting into a rhythm as of late. This has caused turnovers and too many three and outs making it hard for the offense as a whole to get into a groove and tiring out an already porous defensive unit. Gilbride needs to find a way to get this unit into a rhythm and the best chance seems to be on the ground. Jamal Williams is out for the Chargers and they are not as stout up the middle, an area Jacobs loves. I would send heavy doses of Jacobs mixing in some passes to the tight end and Smith to move the chains. If they can be successful with this they should help Eli get into a groove and keep the Chargers offense off the field.

Defensively there are a lot of things the Giants need to worry about. I would say the Giants don’t need to focus on the running game too much but after the touchdown run they gave up to Weaver, the Eagles fullback, I am not so confident in the Giant’s ability to stop anyone on the ground. There has been talk of problems with communication and that is something they need to work out. Everyone needs to stay in their gaps, stay with their man in coverage, and execute the blitz properly. There is not a big problem with talent except for safety so these issues should be able to be worked out. There are too many big runs from running backs, wide open receivers, and blitzes that don’t result in pressure. Because of this it is hard to say what strategy the Giant should best use as communication is the biggest problem right now. Obviously the Giants need to focus on pressuring Rivers and eliminating the big play. Rivers is going to throw some jump balls to challenge the secondary like Brees and Mcnabb did and the defensive backs need to come down with a pick or two.

This game can really go either way. These are two talented teams that are struggling and desperately need the win. Unfortunately with the way the Giants have been playing there isn’t one thing that has to go right. If the Giants can minimize the mistakes they made on both sides of the ball in the losing streak they have the talent to win. Ultimately I do think the Giants can pull the game out as losing four straight seems unlikely but I would not be surprised with a loss.

Islanders’ Win Streak At Four

It was euphoric at the Nassau Coliseum on Monday night when Brendan Witt scored his second goal of the game. It was at a fever pitch when he was going for his third. The 34-year-old defenseman notched his first career two-goal game, and despite missing the hat trick on an open net late in the third period, the Islanders’ stay at home d-man hit the final note on a 4-game win streak-symphony on the Island.

At 5-4-5 on the season, the Islanders now are 7th in the Eastern Conference and have 15 points after a dismal start that saw the team get only one regulation win against four losses and five overtime losses. Unlike the lowly Maple Leafs, who still only have one win on the season, the Islanders were able to stay fairly competitive until the win streak kicked in. Head Coach Scott Gordon’s “overspeed” system seems to be paying dividends early on: AHL-refugee Matt Moulson leads the team in points along with John Tavares, the first overall pick, who has lived up to every bit of pre-draft hype. Former first-rounder Kyle Okposo is one point behind Tavares and Moulson for the team lead, and has shown maturity and moves that belie his 21 years.

But the win streak, although a collective team effort (along with stellar goaltending from Martin Biron and Dwayne Roloson, who split time in net) could be called The Reemergence of Jeff Tambellini. The former-AHL stud and 27th overall pick in 2003 (by the L.A. Kings) who scored a record 76 points in 57 games in Bridgeport (AHL) in ‘07-08, is one goal behind his career high in the NHL. He’s already had more than half of his total points from last year (15) in only 9 games this season (he already has 8 this year).

Is it possible that the beleaguered winger finally has hit his stride? Perhaps. Gordon cites a Matt Moulson-esque mentality in Tambellini that has him driving to the net, shooting and converting more—he has had a stellar 24% of his shots go in the net so far. Capped off by his first career hat trick against the Sabres, Tambellini’s resurgence has been a revelation for the Isles. A genuine scoring threat, Tambellini’s confidence now seems to be overflowing; watching young Islanders like him, Tavares, Okposo, Moulson, and Frans Nielsen connect with hard nosed effort and often beautifully improvised and flashy plays, the Islanders have gone from a surefire repeat of basement dwellers to an exciting team in the course of a week and a half.

Captain Doug Weight, since returning from a bout with the flu, has made a noticeable difference in the surging Islanders’ game, often setting up drives to the net, especially from his linemates, Okposo and Tavares. Although the Islanders still have holes and haven’t proven they can keep up Gordon’s system over a full 60+ minutes, this progress has to be encouraging for the coaching staff. Despite last year’s first rounder Josh Bailey’s lack of production, a mediocre fourth line, and lack of production from the likes of Blake Comeau (a healthy scratch of late), it has been offset by solid offensive performances, an excellent defensive game by veteran Andy Sutton and Jack Hillen, and an improving Bruno Gervais.

As long as Gordon’s Isles continue to knock off good teams and get solid goaltending from Biron and Roloson until Rick DiPietro returns (sometime in late Novermber or early December), things are looking good for the upstart Islanders. For the first time in recent memory, there is good reason to be excited for the future of the oft-down and out team from Long Island.

By: Zach