New York Rangers Struggle in loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins

What a difference a couple of days makes. Two days ago, the New York Rangers scored four goals in the first period and chased Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry. On Thursday, the Blueshirts could only muster two goals against Jarry in a 5-2 loss to the Penguins.

Colin Blackwell scored the first Ranger goal at 2:02 of the second period. His power-play goal has given him six points in the last six games.

After falling behind by the score of 4-1, Kevin Rooney scored at 13:48 of the third period to close the gap. Adam Fox had the only assist. With the assist, Fox extended his point streak to 12 games. Per the @PR_NHL, his streak is the sixth time that a Ranger defenseman has posted a 12-game point streak or longer in franchise history.

The Rangers had plenty of chances to score more than two goals. Both Mika Zibanejad and Filip Chytil missed open nets. Chris Kreider came up empty on a penalty shot.

Igor Shesterkin made 27 saves as the Rangers’ four-game point streak and Artemi Panarin‘s streak of four straight multi-point games ended.

After the game in his Zoom conference, Zibanejad talked about the difference from the game two nights ago. “I think they (Pittsburgh) were obviously better this game. They made it hard for us and we might have been a little too stubborn with the puck. I thought we were trying to force plays too much.”

“I thought we had a bunch of things lacking tonight'” head coach David Quinn said in his Zoom conference. “Certainly taking advantage of a bunch of opportunities we had tonight and certainly it wasn’t what it was two nights ago. There were other issues that we had that caused us to be in this position.”

The New York Rangers and their road to the playoffs gets a bit tougher as they head out to Long Island to take on the Islanders on Friday night. The Islanders are 17-1-2 on the season at home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bellator 256 Preview: Ryan Bader – Lyoto Machida 2

Ryan Bader

Tomorrow night at Bellator 256, the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix officially begins. In the first matchup and in tomorrow’s headliner we will see former light heavyweight and current heavyweight champion, Ryan Bader (27-6), take on Lyoto Machida (26-10).

This fight is actually a rematch from 2012. Back in 2012, both men were still in the UFC and Lyoto Machida was able to knock out Ryan Bader in the second round.

Lyoto Machida is going to be looking to snap a two-fight losing streak tomorrow night at Bellator 256. The former UFC light heavyweight champion has lost back-to-back split decisions to Phil Davis and Gegard Mousasi.

Overall, The Dragon is 2-2 in his four fights since moving from the UFC to Bellator. On the other side of the cage tomorrow night is the Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader.

Bader joined Bellator back in 2017 and that is where his career took off. In his debut he defeated Phil Davis and then Linton Vassell to become the light heavyweight champion. After that, he went on a run at heavyweight to capture the title and his run included a knockout of Fedor Emelianenko.

The last time we saw Bader was at Bellator 244 in August. Bader made his return to the light heavyweight division for the first time since 2017 to defend his title. The former champion was knocked out in the second round by Vadim Nemkov.

Bellator 256 Prediction

I have to say that I’m incredibly intrigued by this matchup to open the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. Ryan Bader is the massive betting favorite and he should be considering his status and the fact that Machida is almost 43 years old.

Machida has also lost two in a row, but both fights were incredibly close. For Lyoto Machida, he has to keep this fight standing. He needs the main event tomorrow to become a point style striking matchup. If he can do that over three rounds, he can easily win a decision.

Bader cannot stand a lot with Machida. He’s going to be at a big speed disadvantage and we saw how rough that was for him against Vadim Nemkov. Bader needs to be aggressive and he needs to look for takedowns early in this matchup.

I can see both men winning at Bellator 256. However, I’m going to lean slightly towards Bader. I believe he’s going to be able to get this fight down just enough to earn himself a decision. However, I do see this fight going the distance.

Prediction: Ryan Bader by Unanimous Decision

New York Jets LB C.J. Mosley speaks after vaccination

New York Jets, C.J. Mosley

The New York Jets linebacker, who sat out last season due to health concerns, shared a message on Instagram after receiving his vaccination.

New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley announced through Instagram that he has been administered the first of two COVID-19 vaccinations. According to his post, Mosley has received the Janssen vaccine and is due for a second shot at a date to be determined.

In his message announcing the news, he encouraged others, including his critics to seek out their own shots.

“Let’s get back to normal, let’s be happy, let’s feel the love from our family and friends…LETS GET VACCINATED! [sic]” Mosley wrote in his caption. “ps if you got time throw in a football joke, you have enough time to type in your info to register to get vaccinated.”

The former Baltimore Raven opted out of his second season in green citing concerns about the NFL season proceeding in the midst of the ongoing health crisis. A four-time All-Pro nominee, Mosley signed a five-year, $85 million contract with the Jets in March 2019, but injuries and last season’s opt-out have limited him to two games in a New York uniform.

Upset fans inevitably filled Mosley’s post, facetiously hoping that Mosley’s vaccination means he’ll be able to partake in the upcoming season. Mosley responded to his detractors in stride.

“I’ve never said check my stats…. but check my stats!” Mosley said told one. “I’ve missed two years and my stats still up there with the best. This post is about the health and well being of myself and others. If you disagree, then all good brotha. BUT pleaseeeeeee spare me talking about some career games. [sic]”

Because I’m part of the 1% in this profession, not you. So just 🤫 until them gates open up at METLIFE! Then it’s go time.” [sic]

Mosley won’t be the only vaccinated one returning to MetLife Stadium this season. With vaccinations well underway across the nation, it’s highly anticipated that fans will be welcomed back to Jets and Giants games. The pair were two of 19 teams whose home games remained closed to fans.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Conforto’s Controversial Hit By Pitch Wins It In Mets 3-2 Walk-Off Victory

The New York Mets were a sleeping giant just waiting for someone to poke them, and Anthony Bass was the pitcher who suffered the consequences. Jeff McNeil‘s leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth woke up the offense, and Michael Conforto‘s awkward hit by pitch allowed the Mets to steal a 3-2 walk-off victory.

Both hitters desperately needed the big moments; the homer was McNeil’s first hit of the season, and Conforto was hitting just .176, which likely influenced him to lean his elbow guard right over the inside corner.  Overall, the Mets offense left eight runners on base and was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position before Conforto’s controversial HBP.

Conforto’s hit by pitch looked like it would have been strike three, and there is no doubt that he leaned into it. Since it was not a reviewable play, there was nothing home plate umpire Ron Kulpa could do about it. If it were reviewable, it was clear as day that Conforto failed to be discreet when leaning into the curveball.

Walker’s Debut

Taijuan Walker made his Mets debut and came out hot out of the gate. He reached all the way up to 97 with his fastball in the first inning. Walker started the game with 4.1 hitless innings before Brian Anderson’s single broke up the no-no. Walker’s final inning ended his start with a sour taste. Corey Dickerson‘s double tied the game at one, and Jesus Aguilar‘s single gave the Marlins a 2-1 lead they brought to the ninth. Walked finished the day with six strong innings, four strikeouts, and two runs allowed.

Nick Neidert was the spot starter for the Marlins and tip-toed out of trouble throughout his 4.1 innings pitched. He allowed three hits and five walks but held the Mets to just one run. Neidert and new pitcher Ross Detwiler had some help from center fielder Starling Marte with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning. Dominic Smith drove a majestic fly ball to center field, and Marte’s leaping catch on the warning track allowed just one run to score on the sacrifice fly. It seemed like the game saving play for the majority of the game.

The Marlins bullpen kept the 2-1 lead until Bass entered the game. Bass allowed three hits, one walk, and the mystifying hit by pitch to Conforto, which ended the game. It was his second blown save of the season, and he has allowed six runs in just 2.1 innings pitched.

The Mets get Friday off, then Jacob deGrom takes the mound for his second start of the season. Trevor Rogers will take the mound for the Marlins. The first pitch is another 1:10 p.m. ET start from Citi Field.

New York Jets ink versatile offensive lineman Corey Levin

The New York Jets have added more depth to the offensive line in the form of 26-year-old Corey Levin. Levin, a former sixth-rounder from Chattanooga, was a competent lineman for the Chattanooga squad before staying in Tennessee with the Titans. Levin now joins the Jets as a depth piece for next season.

How Does Levin Fit?

Levin has become somewhat of a journeyman in his brief career. After being waved by Tennessee, he’s found homes in Chicago, New England, and Denver all briefly. Now he finds a home in New York as a versatile depth piece moving forward.

Levin has yet to register a substantial amount of playing time in any of his last three spots, but he did dress for all 16 games his rookie year, playing snaps on special teams and rotating in at center and guard for one game.

Although there is not a lot to go off with Levin, one preseason evaluation from 2019 was encouraging as the Titan-sized site on SB Nation reported, “Offensive lineman Corey Levin was also a standout player. Levin could get some run at center this season, and he has the versatility to play elsewhere on the offensive line.” For a team that needs more bodies in the room, the addition of the young lineman is intriguing as the team fills out the roster before the draft.

David Michaud out of PFL headliner with Rory MacDonald; heart condition could force retirement

PFL is getting ready to kick things off this month. After having 2020 off due to the pandemic, the Pro Fight League has been gearing up for a major 2021 season. One of the division’s generating the most buzz has been the welterweight division.

The welterweight season is set to kick off on April 29th and PFL was putting forth a phenomenal main event to kick things off. One of the big storylines in 2020 was the PFL signing of former UFC and Bellator fighter, Rory MacDonald (21-6-1).

MacDonald didn’t get to compete last year, but many have been anxious to see him back. PFL was throwing a great fight at him right away by having him take on the 2019 runner-up in David Michaud (18-6).

However, we now know that the fight is not taking place. It’s not just that the fight isn’t taking place, but David Michaud might never compete in PFL and mixed martial arts ever again.

Today, Michaud took to Twitter to announce that he wouldn’t be competing at PFL‘s event on April 29th due to a heart condition. The heart condition is severe enough where Michaud may never compete again.

PFL’s Next Steps

David Michaud had a three-fight run in the UFC back in 2014/2015. However, it was his run in PFL that saw him really find himself in the sport of mixed martial arts.

When Michaud made his debut in the 2019 season, he was finished in the first 20 seconds. While it was certainly not the way he wanted to start his PFL journey, Michaud didn’t give up.

He went on to win three consecutive fights. That landed him with a shot at Ray Cooper III and one million dollars in the PFL finals. Ultimately, Michaud came up short and Cooper got the second round TKO win.

However, Michaud had been working extremely hard and wanted to show off his skills this season. PFL gave him the biggest fight possible, but due to this condition, we may never see him compete again.

Your heart has to feel for Michaud. At this time, there is no word from PFL on what they are planning on doing. They will likely add another welterweight to their season, but we could see a shifting in the opening matchups to keep MacDonald in the main event slot on April 29th.

Breaking down ONE on TNT 1

Last night, ONE Championship made their US primetime debut on TNT. There was a ton of hype behind this event and because of it, the Singapore-based promotion put their two biggest American stars on the card.

The two-fight card kicked off at 10 PM ET in the US and it started out with the former UFC lightweight champion, Eddie Alvarez (30-8, 1 NC). Alvarez was set to take on the rising contender, Iuri Lapicus (14-1).

Early in the first round, the former UFC champion was able to get the fight to the ground. The two men were along the fence and Alvarez started doing damage. The referee warned Alvarez about using shots to the back of the head.

Alvarez fired with several shots that he believed to be on the ear, but the referee stopped the action. The referee deemed the shots to be to the back of the head and Iuri Lapicus was rewarded the DQ win at ONE on TNT 1.

ONE Championship’s Tough Night

Definitely not the start that ONE Championship was looking for in their first US primetime fight. Alvarez was beside himself and extremely emotional after the fight was ruled a disqualification.

After that fight was over, the attention shifted to Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (30-4-1). Johnson was looking to become the ONE flyweight champion by taking out the current champion, Adriano Moraes (18-3).

Mighty Mouse is considered by many to be one of the greatest to ever do it. He reigned of the UFC’s flyweight division for years before being dethroned by Henry Cejudo. After that fight, Johnson was traded in a historic transaction to ONE Championship.

Mighty Mouse had gone 3-0 to start his career in ONE Championship which earned him the title shot. However, Moraes was going to be a tough opponent. In the first round, Moraes was able to get top position on the ground and really did a good job of controlling the former UFC champion.

In the second round, Moraes was able to catch Johnson coming in with a beautiful uppercut that hurt Mighty Mouse. A flush knee followed and Moraes got the TKO victory to retain his flyweight championship.

With these two results, it was not the night that ONE Championship was looking for. On one hand, it does give a lot of visibility to Adriano Moraes, but the promotion had to be hoping for a big night from their American stars and they got everything but.

NASCAR: Three drivers to watch in Saturday’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500

Denny Hemlin

After an off week, the NASCAR Cup Series returns to action on Saturday for the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Beginning at 7:30 pm, it’ll be the first night race of the season and just the second in the track’s history. The event is 500 laps and 263 miles long with Joey Logano leading the field to green. Here are three drivers to watch in Saturday’s race.

Denny Hamlin

Over his career, Denny Hamlin has always performed well at Martinsville. He’s won there five times in the Cup Series and won three straight races there from 2009-2010. Hamlin’s average finish at Martinsville is an impressive 9.9 with 70% of his starts at the track resulting in a top-10.

Through seven races this season, Hamlin leads the points standings despite not yet winning a race. He already has six top-10s and his worst finish of the season is just 11th. Expect Hamlin to contend for the victory on Saturday.

Martin Truex Jr.

At one point, short track racing was an Achilles heel for Martin Truex Jr. But now, after winning two of the last three races at Martinsville, Truex Jr. has asserted himself as one of the best short track racers in the sport. He has 7 top-5s at the track and 13 top-10s for an average finish of 17th.

Truex Jr. secured his first win of the 2021 season a few weeks ago at Phoenix, and he’s looking for more. After winning just one race in 2020, the 40-year-old wants to bounce back in 2021 and become the first driver with multiple victories this season. Truex Jr. should most certainly run up front on Saturday.

Aric Almirola

2021 has been a season to forget thus far for Aric Almirola. Currently 28th in points, the 37-year-old has failed to place in the top-10 in this year with his best finish being 11th at Phoenix.

Historically at Martinsville, Almirola has been up and down. He has four top-5 finishes in his career, however, his average finish is 22nd thanks in part to several accidents and car failures throughout the years. To turn his season around, Almirola needs a strong run on Saturday, and he has the potential to do so.

Mets lose Dellin Betances to a shoulder injury

After losing JD Davis earlier in the week with a left hand contusion after a hit by pitch, the New York Mets received more bad news on the injury front. A bullpen that is already without Seth Lugo, its most important contributor in the last few years, suffered yet another injury blow after it was revealed that Dellin Betances has been placed on the 10-day injury list, according to the Mets’ official site.

The right-hander will be on the shelf for the foreseeable future with a right shoulder impingement. The Mets’ reliever conceded a run on a hit, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch in his season debut on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Phillies.

From 2014 to 2018, before signing with the Mets, Betances was perhaps the American League most consistently dominant relievers. He did that with the Yankees, but several injury issues derailed his 2019 season, and an Achilles tear affected his preparation during the offseason and the 2020 campaign.

The Mets called up Trevor Hildenberger

Overall, in the last two years, he suffered from shoulder, lat and Achilles issues. The Mets called up Trevor Hildenberger in a corresponding move before Thursday’s home opener.

Hildenberger impressed the Mets early in camp but due to the team depth, he couldn’t make the opening day roster. He struck out a whopping nine hitters in just 3 1/3 innings.

Betances struggled with velocity in his season debut, maxing out at 93 mph, several ticks down of his top register of 2020, 97.

“Obviously, in the past, I’d rely on the stuff I had,” Betances said last month. “I’m not there right now.”

The Mets’ pitcher worked out at a biomechanics facility in New Jersey, as he wanted to produce more “rise” effect on his fastball. Obviously, the early results weren’t there, as his four-seamer velocity hasn’t bounced back to the levels it had during his days with the New York Yankees.

Yankees’ Jameson Taillon made his long-anticipated return: ‘I’ll never take a day in a big-league uniform for granted’

New York Yankees, Jameson Taillon

The New York Yankees knew they were making a somewhat risky move when they flipped a few prospects, including Miguel Yajure, to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange of Jameson Taillon. After all, he has undergone three elbow surgeries and also worked his way back from a testicular cancer diagnosis back in 2017.

But the Yankees also knew they were getting not only a survivor, but a warrior. A man that has learned perseverance and resilience, and knows how to deal with adversity. Those character traits matter in Major League Baseball.

Last night, Taillon pitched his first game since May 2019, when he underwent his third elbow procedure, and second Tommy John reconstructive surgery. The Yankees were bringing him back along slowly, but he showed in spring training he is ready for prime time.

On Wednesday, Taillon was in the mound for 4 2/3 innings, in which he allowed two solo home runs and struck out seven Baltimore Orioles hitters.

The Yankees’ starter is ‘grateful’

“I’m extremely grateful,” Taillon said after the game, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. “That game ran a little long, and I had plenty of time to get my thoughts. It’s going to sound cheesy, but I’ll never take a day in a big-league uniform for granted, that’s for sure. I was super happy to be out there; it felt really good to compete.”

Taillon, who is currently 29 years old, has the potential to be an asset for the Yankees from the mound, even if he is not expected to cover seven or eight innings at a time.

Despite the three elbow surgeries and the cancer diagnosis, Taillon actually has great career numbers, as he has a career 3.67 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 83 starts, most of them with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Yankees fans, and baseball people in general, are all rooting for Taillon and hoping his 2021 season goes smoothly.