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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last Night Lookback: NYR (4) vs PIT (3) + Bobby Ryan Trade Rumors

For those Ranger fans who felt slighted by the media, wondering what our team need to do to be considered an elite contender, you now have an answer. Beat the Crosby-led Penguins. Immediately after registering last night’s 4-3 win, the New York Rangers were officially nominated for elite team status. Usually these sorts of suggestions spend anywhere from a week to a month kicked around as rhetorical questions by the hockey media before being confirmed or denied by the team’s on-ice performance. After the Rangers’ next five games, we’ll know the consensus – two games on the road against Carolina (should win) and Tampa Bay (could win), two more back at home where they’ve been fire on ice (avenging the home opener against Toronto and then another look at the Lightning), finished up by a trip to Buffalo. If they win all five games, expect to read a lot about the Rangers going into the New Year. Drop more than two of those games and we’ll all be back in schitzo-mode before you can say “Bobby Ryan Trade Rumors”. Speaking of which, we’ll get to those later…

Last night’s battle was an intense one. It was the first meeting between the two teams since Matt Cooke went elbow first at Ryan McDonagh’s head, and the obvious tension was on display with two early fights between Avery and Kennedy. The game had a very physical feel to it, almost chippy, but the pace was fast enough that the refs let them play on, at least for the first 8 minutes and 40 seconds. Three straight Pittsburgh power plays, and the obvious league-wide pro-Crosby conspiracy, helped the Penguins gain momentum and finally put one in. Down by a goal going into the second, but as I said in my last post, anything is possible for this team in a close game.

The tying goal, scored just over eight minutes into the second by Ryan Callahan, was pure sex on ice. With the power play winding down, Gaborik sparked a final chance by dancing around one defender, juking past another and sliding Callahan a brilliant pass between the legs of a third helpless penalty killer. After such a nasty goal, you could hear the Garden faithful injecting life into their team, and the Rangers responded appropriately. Six minutes later, Carl Hagelin’s fast-as-fuck-flow was back it again, this time assisting on John Mitchell’s first goal as a blueshirt with a beautiful back pass. Mitchell’s tally, a gorgeous wrister that made Mark Andre-Fleury look like moldy Swiss cheese, earned him the Broadway hat when all was said and done. Two more tallys, one from Richards and another power play tally from Gaborik, brough the score to 4-1 heading into the second intermission… or not! Malkin’s goal, off a rebound with 6 seconds to go, really changed the nature of this game and let the Penguins roll into the third with momentum they shouldn’t have been allowed to have. Then again, I thought we really dodged a bullet with that called-off Sauer own-goal. Oh well, I thought, still a two goal cushion…

Make that a one goal lead. Pascal Dupuis’ goal less than four minutes into the third brought the shock back into blueshirt fans. Everyone knows we have a propensity to give up our three goal leads, and against a quality team like the Penguins, letting them crawl back into a game like that is very dangerous. Thankfully, the Pens decided to shoot themselves in the foot by taking 4 penalties over the last 10 minutes, allowing us play the Foxwood’s Final Five and beyond with at least a one man advantage. Our five-on-three looks toothless, and in my opinion it’s a microcosm of this team’s true problem. We should be burying those opportunities, making things easier on ourselves. Instead, we let teams chip away at our lead and make it a game again. We missed about two or three quality odd-man-rush chances yesterday, usually without even registering a shot. If we play that Penguins game the right way, capitalize on one five-on-three chance and one odd-man-rush while eliminating the penalties, we probably win that game 6-2, fully embarrassing Crosby in the process. Instead, second chances for visiting teams and heart attacks for Ranger fans. Jeez boys, let’s make it easy for ourselves every once and a while. At least everyone showed up – Gabby, Richards, and Cally led the way while Girardi and McD shut down Sid and Co. Lundy once again was a huge part of the win, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Biron in net on Thursday considering the opposition and the team’s upcoming schedule. All in all, a good team performance to extend the new winning streak to three.

So you’d think the Rangers are satisfied with how things are going, yes? You’d think they’d be content with their core, ready to rise up the rankings one game at a time, but you’d be wrong. According to rumors, Glen Sather is very interested in acquiring the Ducks’ Bobby Ryan. The Ducks have been struggling all season and are supposedly looking to add offensive depth and a top-4 defenseman, as well as a pick or prospect in exchange for the young star. Ryan is a bonafide NHL star with an extremely bright future. The New Jersey native was drafted one place behind Sidney Crosbitch for crying out loud! When this kid of star comes to the trading block, you at least need to kick the tires and see what it’ll take to get him.

For the Rangers, it sounds like Dubinsky is the main attraction of a trade package that could include additional pieces. This is nothing new for Dubinsky, who is always part of any rumored deal involving New York. He and Cally used to be the foils – if you wanted a young star, you were asking for one or the other. Now, there’s no chance Cally ever gets moved, so it’s Dubinsky by default. I know this is a sensitive subject for Ranger fans as Brandon has proven himself to be a fan favorite for all the right reasons. I had to talk my fiancĂ© off a ledge after telling her about the rumor. The fact that she just bought a Dubinsky heritage jersey may have influenced her fury, but I could tell that she wouldn’t be the only angry party if this Bobby Ryan trigger is pulled.

Can they avoid dishing Dubi? Probably not. Anisimov is the likely substitution, but he doesn’t have as much of an offensive upside and you’ll likely need to add in another established forward to sweeten the pot. Wojtek Wolski fits the bill, as do Christensen and Zuccarello, but I don’t see any of those options intriguing Anaheim. Wolski’s trade history shows he probably won’t pan out, Christensen was already waived by the Ducks back in ’09, and there are too many TBD factors about Zuccy’s strength and ability to thrive in this league. So along with Dubi, we’d most likely be losing a defenseman, prospect or top-4 (Staal, Girardi and McD are reportedly off-limits). I can see Sauer or MDZ as part of the deal, but if we somehow avoid giving up a starting player than we’ll be on the hook to lose either McIlrath or Erixon. Factor in the chance of losing kids like Krieder or Bourque and you have a lot of Ranger fans questioning why we’d break up the chemistry of a winning team and ship out some of our future for one underperforming Duck. It’s a fair question, too, but I think it has an obvious answer. Bobby Ryan makes our team more talented. We’ll lose a little depth for a strong superstar upside. Look at what two threatening lines has done for us this season with just the Richards addition. Throw Ryan on any line and all of the sudden it becomes a lot harder to strategize defending the Rangers.

The more interesting question to me is why the Ducks want to trade Ryan at all. He IS the future of that team, one of only two players on their roster locked up under contract until 2015, and he just signed an extension. I’ve heard rumors that the Ducks have internal payroll problems and it’s one of the reason they simply haven’t just fired Randy Carlisle, who himself recently signed an extension. Think about it. Your team is struggling and they need a kick in the dick to get going. Do you fire the coach and bring in a new voice, a proven tactic that often works wonders (see: last year’s New Jersey Devils) or do you trade the youngest of your super-star goal-scorers. I go with the former 99 times out of 100. Only time I vote to trade Ryan is if payroll calls me up and says, “Hey, can we think twice about firing the coach we just agreed to pay millions of dollars regardless of whether he’s actually coaching here?” At that point, with saving cash as my main motivation, then I start taking calls to see what I can get in return. It’s an interesting situation with almost every team in on the young forward. Sather’s offer is going to go up against good ones from Nashville, Detroit, Buffalo, New Jersey and Boston. Let’s reserve the intense panic for AFTER something actually happens. Until then, plenty of space on the ’94 Parade facebook page to bitch about how awful this would be.

Well that was fun! Until next time, here’s another Ranger Haiku courtesy of yours truly. I call this one “Local Blackouts Kind Of Rule”.

Thank you, MSG
For not subjecting me to

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Snap Shot: Making Up For Lost Time

Excuses are for the weak – I’ve just been slacking off. Half of me would love to sit back and rationalize the laziness. After all, isn’t my I-don’t-just-break-rules-I-make-them writing style and go-fuck-yourself approach to blogging what you love about ’94 Parade in the first place? Unfortunately, the other half of me spends his day reading hockey-related articles written by paid professionals who actually make their living in the sport we all love. It takes a real secure person to admit that they are driven by a sick mixture of topical passion, professional ambition and ever-evolving jealousy…

A lot has gone down since the last time I checked in here. The Rangers took their winning streak from four games to seven before squeezing out a stinker in Montoiletreal. Their minislide continued four days later in a typical South Florida snoozer, but things turned around on the flip side of Thanksgiving with two straight wins over Washington and Philly. 24/7 got started with a 12-minute preview, the Blueshirts also unveiled their cream-colored Winter Classic jerseys… and… what else… oh yeah, I got my shit ripped open all over the internet. You need thick skin to put yourself out there on the world wide web. I should have thought about that before hand…

Oh well. There are tons of more pertinent topics at hand besides my barbaric, frat hazing-like welcome into the tenured pantheon of established Stool writers. I will tackle them all in the following order: the miniskid and the flaws it exposed, the rebound ministreak and the strengths displayed, the crazy Winter Classic circus and its recent developments, and finally Carl Hagelin’s sexy-ass flow. Grab a hold of your seats, hockey fans, because here we go!

From Kings to Pwns: Exposed Flaws from the Rangers’ Miniskid
After winning seven straight, the Rangers snapped their own streak two Saturday night’s ago with an ugly loss to le Caladiens. After a second straight defeat, this time to the once-toothless Panthers, critics started circling ready to chew at the first sniff of blood. The obvious pouncing point was the blueshirts’ lack of physical play, especially early on. Unless the Rangers step up and intimidate their opponent in the first minutes of the game with a serious forecheck, they’re stuck in neutral, skating on their heels waiting for a tie-breaking goal to be scored. That first goal of the game also seems to be an important turning point for this team. If they get it, we’re good. If they don’t, we’ve got a 50/50 shot on coming back. Down by two, consider us done for (read: Florida game). Take that Montreal game for example; it was completely up for grabs until Biron gives up that blunder (starting said back up was another criticized coaching decision). Say the Rangers tie that game up at one off some odd deflection, despite how terrible they were playing. That whole game, history itself even, changes at that moment. They’re built to sustain tie games and jump on that one chance to take the lead while Henrik saves their ass every fifteen seconds. Instead, they give up a second and, having shown absolutely no offensive bite at all, gave up entirely, same as the Florida game. The Rangers are fueled by offensive confidence and it doesn’t take more than a favorable bounce to refuel their tank. The key, of course, is getting that first goal. Then we’re golden.

Winning Ways: One Team’s Journey from Turkeys to Carvers
Fortunately for us fans, the Rangers were back in the win column as soon as Thanksgiving was over. Friday’s coach-killing massacre of the Capitals was thoroughly enjoyable viewing material after a coma-inducing holiday feast. A scoreless first period gave way to a second frame outburst by the blueshirts. Four goals – one from Gabby, Anisimov, Fedotenko and Boyle – shot some confidence back into our secondary scoring unit. Those are key guys you’d like to see on the stats sheet more often, especially Boyle and Anisimov. After breakout seasons last year, both young guns are shouldering bigger expectations and haven’t lived up to the promise just yet. The Capitals win was another total team effort, starting in the defensive zone. Lots of blocked shots and great goaltending made the difference in the end. After dropping a game to Florida that we know they should have won, it was good to see the entire bench chip in to beat a struggling, yet undeniably explosive, Washington team. Saturday was more of the same as our Rangers came back home to battle the Classic-bound Flyers. Great goaltending (imagine if Hartnell’s first period breakaway goes in, for example), solid defensive zone coverage, and a physical forecheck all helped send a clear message to Philadelphia – you’ll need to beat us, because we’re not going to beat ourselves. Let’s hope the boys bring that same hustle and grit to the Garden tonight. We got Crosby coming to town…

Winter Classic Wonderland: Updates from the Best Circus on Ice
Due to our devout dedication and unrelenting reverence, we continue to receive post-Thanksgiving gifts from those generous hockey gods above. Black Friday brought us HBO’s 12-minute preview of “24/7: Road to the Winter Classic”. The appetizer glimpse was a little too general to orgasm over, lots of regurgitated sentiments and clips from last year’s show, but the preview did its job in full as a fluffer for the real thing. I’m hard as a rock and can’t wait for the 14th of December to roll around. Tons of trash talking already on display too – former blueshirt Jody Shelley’s likened Brandon Dubinsky to a weasel, which prompted a response by the Ranger forward on Monday afternoon. “First of all, if I was him, I’d keep my mouth shut, especially since I never see him on the ice. Jody Shelley – he’s a terrible hockey player.” Juicy stuff indeed, and that’s even before Sean Avery chimes in with sloppy seconds comments about Jeff Carter banging Scott Hartnell’s wife. But that wasn’t all we Ranger fans were treated to in the days following Thanksgiving! We also got a first look at the new Winter Classic jerseys. Opinions seem to be split on the new sweaters. On the one hand, they’re better than the crowded, unimaginative, cheap Chinese knock-offs I’ve seen around the Garden this season. The retro 1926-era logo shield looks a little weak to my modern eyes (I wish they had chosen a rainbow-shaped Rangers wordmark with numbers underneath) but it’s a respectable addition to our on-ice wardrobe. I’m also not a fan of that bottom red piping line on the shoulders, feels a bit crowded once you see the nameplates. Other than those initial observations, I’ll reserve judgment until I see them in person. Package it all together with a sexy sock and pant combo and we’ll all be drooling come New Years. Plus we’re still waiting to see Henrik’s one-game-only Classic mask, which he said will “look like it’s been in the closest for the past forty years”. Well whip out the sharpies and color me pumped!

Well that does it for this edition of ’94 Parade. Can’t wait for tonight’s test against the Penguins! LET’S GO RANGERS! And on that note, I’d like to close this post with yet another edition of Ranger Haikus. This one is titled, “Carl Hagelin Has One Sexy-Ass Flow”.

Goal, assist, and hat
Skating with hair in the wind
Ron Duguay 2K

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Snap Shot: Whirlwind Weekend Wrap-Up

What a weekend! Are we all feeling better? Are we a tad more relaxed now that the Rangers are showing consistent grit in full sixty minute efforts? I’m almost happy we’re not blowing teams out. I’d rather be forced to pick up character wins like the one against the Ducks than inflate a team ego by beating up on teams in November. From the Shark win on down to Jets victory, the Rangers have played these past four games with the understanding that those two points are necessities. And I fucking LOVE it! Let’s look back at the blueshirts’ weekend wins…

Saturday was yet another gorgeous fall day in the tri-state area, a perfect setting for a drive into the city. The future Mrs. and I were once again in possession of tickets thanks to the single most awesome season subscriber out there. Section 118, here we come! I had a good feeling about the game; the Habs were on such a hot road streak you just felt they were due for a cooling off. I knew there would be a strong Canadien contingent in attendance, but I was not prepared for the throngs of Francophiles I immediately encountered upon entering the city limits. Even before I parked the car, I saw groups of Habitant supporters huddled in corner bars throughout the east side. Whatever, our Rangers would shut ‘em up on the ice.

And shut ‘em up they did. The three-goal first period was an awesome experience and allowed the Ranger faithful to settle into their seats with smiles, but I’d be a fool not to fear that seemingly safe margin. The Rangers are the kind of team that can blow any lead, so knowledgeable fans shouldn’t have been surprised to see the Canadiens climb back into it. Richards’ wrister late in the second period truly made the difference in the end for New York. It restored their two goal lead and quieted the resurgently annoying Habs fans. Of course our Rangers had to make it exciting at the end. They must have wanted to give every fan one more goal celebration. After Gionta’s slapper was wiped out by Cally’s empty netter, our Rangers were officially on a winning streak.

After Saturday, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s literally no logic to French Canadian fashion or humor. Some dude sitting behind me had a massive cardboard robot head on and blew on a duck hunting whistle from inside of it. Other dudes were wearing bright orange hunting hats and chanting soccer hymns. They are just a confusing group of people and that’s all I have to say about that. Looking back afterwards, I truly don’t know how I would have survived the French if we had lost the game. I guess it just goes to show that in sports, war, and Charlie Sheen catch phrases, winning makes all the difference.

Somewhere in between Saturday and Sunday, the world’s farmers decided they just needed to turn the clocks back and fuck my whole internal sleeping system up. Usually people dig this extra hour of shut-eye, but I don’t roll like that. I’m up every day at 8am whether I like it or not. So when I could no longer access REM and the clock only said 7 o’clock, I was pissed. The extra hour is sleep for most, but added on waiting time until the next Rangers game for me.

I went to Sunday’s game with my good friend George. George is from Georgia (not kidding) and has never been into hockey. I’ve been indoctrinating him since his arrival in the north, but hadn’t gotten the opportunity to take him to the Garden until that day. He went to a Thrashers-Bruins game back in the day, so Sunday was going to be his first real pro hockey game. Ironically enough, the blueshirts were up against the formerly known as Atlanta franchise, so we had some semblance of a logical story line there. Luckily for George, he was in attendance with THE Phil Osgood, barstool writer and creator of Puck My Life: The Hockey Show for General Sports fans (watch my video, ya jerks). Before we even reached the rink, he was fully caught up on the entire Rangers season as well as all pertinent facts coming into Sunday’s test. The Rangers are on a hot streak and rolling at home; the Jets are a mediocre team in the middle of a road trip who we’ve already beaten in less favorable circumstances. No need to buy a program, big guy, you got me to help inform you. We drank a lot, socialized with the section’s citizens and enjoyed ourselves throughout the tight contest.

Anisimov’s crease save in that first period pile-up was a game changer, and it certainly felt like we dodged a bullet on that very late whistle. Chances were few and far between, but it did feel like a fragile score line that the Rangers could easily be down in. By the time the second period rolled around, I was aching for a Rangers red-lighter. As I munched my way through a box of chicken fingers and fries, I felt it coming. The Rangers were on the power-play and I knew we’d be scoring in a matter of seconds, so I put down my chicken fingers and my beer and settled myself for the goal. No less than 25 seconds later, Derek Stepan roofed a wrister and we were celebrating a 1-0 lead. I have a sixth sense... I see Ranger goals...

Gaborik’s pair of third period tallies took the contest from tight to two points. The Rangers’ winning streak was officially up to four (something that took them forever to accomplish last year), and as I’ve said all along, those streaks are the key to conference standings success. Biron played extremely well and deserved the shutout. Stepan scored the Broadway Hat. George and I drove home happy.

And now we find out how this team will mature. Done with the crazy road trips, done with the first long home stand, now we see how strong these blueshirts really are. First up, Ottawa. The Rangers head up to Canada’s capital and will try to repay the Senators for that bullshit three goal third period comeback. Puck drops at 7:30 tomorrow night… I can hardly stand the wait. LET’S GO RANGERS!

Seven, three and three.
With every win we’re looking
More and more like champs.

Post Script Notes:
-The Rangers signed Swedish defenseman Anton Stralman, who tried out with the Devils during the preseason, to bolster their back line. This is not good news on the Marc Staal front, nor is it good news for Jeff Woywitka.

-Wolski’s retweaked groin was cause for celebration amongst Avery fans, but the Polish winger is now due to have sports hernia surgery and will be out for at least four week.

-Big guy Mike Rupp will also be undergoing surgery on his problematic knee and will likely be out for a while as well. Prusty’s back to being our best fighter, which is not a good thing.


-That is all.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Worked Really Hard On This Shit, OK?

Just a quick question for you all, my supposed Ranger FriANds (Get it? Fan Friends, FriANds?). Have any of you a-holes even watched the pilot episode of my new YouTube video series "Puck My Life: The Hockey Show for General Sports Fans"? *Crickets*

Please consider that half rhetorical question and half call to action. '94 Parade has over 1,800 fans on facebook. The video has less than 1,000 views, and most of those are from a barstool article link. You can tell by the comments. Samples: Osgood, I will rape you. & Osgood, are you the fat one or are you the fat one? Can a brother get some love from the fellow blueshirt faithful, for crying out loud!? Hook me the fuck up with some views for Gab's sake!

Do me, nay, yourself a freaking favor and just watch the god damn video one time. Share it with a friend on facebook, watch it twice, I don't care how extra effort you go with the request, I only ask for the bare minimum of support. I worked really hard on this shit, OK?

Watch the video.
I do not ask much of you...
...yet provide so much.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Snap Shot: The Homestand So Far

Jeesh, it feels like I’ve been out of commission for a while. I guess that’ll happen when you spend every night for a week straight splitting your time between editing YouTube videos and hand-addressing save the dates. A shit ton has happened since I last weighed in on the Parade page, and my Barstool posts simply don’t satisfy my urge to rant. In the interest of providing you with the internet’s least appropriate Ranger recaps – let’s get it going!

Let’s start things off with the home opener. Coming off a lucky win in Winnipeg, the Rangers were looking to bring back the normalcy as they started a six game homestand with a game against the Maple Leafs. As some of you stoolies may know, I was working from my company’s NYC office (which is a rarity for me) and the day before had been payday. Fate was calling my name to MSG. “Come scalp tickets, Phil. Spend that hard-earned money on the blueshirts,” it said. Initially, I planned to book it back to CT after work and watch the game from the comfort of a couch because I seriously don’t trust scalpers, but a well placed plea in my barstool article helped secure a safe seat and I was on my way to the rink. The pregame festivities were worth bearing the weather for. Ice sculptures, a hipster band, blue carpet activities with tons of former Rangers and quote unquote celebrities. It was a great get-it-going atmosphere. If only the boys in blue could pull through.

The game itself was a letdown. The Rangers opened up well and played a great first period, but the tides were turning by the beginning of the third. Blame the refs all you want for disallowed goals, but we stopped dominating and started playing reserved, on-our-heels hockey. 4-2 was the final, though MDZ’s late goal made the score line seem closer than it was. Besides the actual result, I really had a great time. It must have been International Night in Section 329. We had two dudes from Sweden sitting next to us. They were from Erixon’s hometown and on a hockey tour of North America, taking in games wherever they could. They appreciated our intense love of Lundqvist, but were quick to point out that both the game’s goalies were of Swedish decent. “Monster,” said the one sitting directly next to me, “He’s called monster. So big.” There’s something genuinely fun about talking to people who barely speak English. When your conversation partner can’t be counted on to use verbs in every sentence, you feel like a genius comparatively. The Australian kids sitting behind me were also a treat to chat with. They were genuinely interested and yet completely oblivious to the specifics of the game. Cross-cultural sports chats are the best, though. I love how foreigners just can’t wait to rip on baseball. Warms my heart. So MDZ scores his consolation goal and I take that as a cue to bounce for the train. Said goodbye to my ticket supplier, the Swedish dudes and the Aussie gang and peaced for the exit. Fate then rewarded me for following its earlier advice.

On the train, I found myself sitting with an old friend, a girl who managed my high school hockey team, chatting away about the game to waste the hour’s time. She’s a season ticket subscriber, section 118, and mentions that she’s having trouble selling her tickets for games she can’t go to. Being the humanitarian that I am, I offered to purchase whatever tickets she could not sell but didn’t have much money to spend. What a coincidence! If the tickets weren’t going to sell, she’d rather recoup a fraction of the cost and not have her seats go to waste. The universe was working magic on that MTA express train, I tell you. The deal I’m getting is absolutely unheard of. It’s too sexy to type out. Of course, I’m only paying that little because my upcoming nuptials and the financial stresses of adulthood are driving me towards bankruptcy. Silver linings, I guess. At least I’m going to Rangers games – Saturday against the Senators and Monday against the Sharks were both mine if I wanted.

Saturday was a definite. I had a Halloween party in the city to go to and the afternoon start time made me once again trust that the universe was on my side. When I woke up that Saturday morning, I should have known that the universe had taken a turn for the worse. Snow in fucking October. Unreal. It stuck too. Packed up and made shit really ugly outside, but not as ugly as the last ten minutes of that Senators game. I mean, come on. The blueshirts gave us 50 minutes of awesome, three goal lead hockey that was just plain fun to watch. Great goals, the stars were scoring, and the win felt all but formalized. Then we went and shit the bed. An awful penalty from Wolski sparked a three goal Senator comeback and the game was lost in a shootout. In one of the more poignant moments of the game, the MSG crowd chanted “We Want Avery” after Christensucks missed his supposedly sure thing shootout shot. Ironically enough, Sean Avery would win his Hartford team’s game with a successful attempt later that night. Monday at noon, he would be officially recalled by the New York Rangers.

The two sad home ice performances left Ranger fans reeling for change and the front office desperate to plug the leaks. Deveaux and Avery made their way through re-entry waivers as Rupp’s knee issues began to worsen. Entering Monday night’s contest against the red-hot San Jose Sharks, it seemed like the team needed to make a statement, not just to themselves, but to the entire NHL. I decided to go for two reasons. Firstly, the ridiculously righteous deal was still on the table and you just don’t pass up hockey tickets. Plus I seem to always pick games based on the weakness of the opposing team, yet we always end up losing. Maybe if I go to a game that I’m scared they won’t win, it’ll be an all-together better experience. Bingo! The Rangers won the game 5-2 in what many called their most complete game of the season. After going up two, the Sharks tied the game but were outscored 3-0 in the third period. They lost their first game after five straight road wins and the frustration showed. Joe Thornton’s now infamous “soft” comments reeked of “you can’t beat me because I quit” immaturity. Oh well, it supplied us with some fun non-news for a couple of days, two points were in the bag and it was on to the Anaheim game!

Thursday’s game against the Ducks was a mirror image of the season’s second game in Stockholm, in that they were exactly the same yet opposite of each other. Instead of playing from behind, we scored the first goal. Woywitka blasted home his first as a Ranger and took home the Broadway Hat as a result. The guy’s starting to grow on me. He’s definitely our worst defenseman and I think that #6 might be Redden-cursed, but he’s getting better every game and shouldn’t be too heavily relied on to begin with. Plus when I hear that name, I like to imagine that he’s one of the Inuit twin brothers from Mystery, Alaska, remember them? I know their names were Winetka, but the association makes him a lot more likeable in my opinion. Anyways, both games ended 1-1, had raucous overtime periods and ended in shootouts. Only this time, the Rangers won. Christensen proved himself worthy of proper nameage for at least one night with that nasty one-handed put-away, but Gaborik stole the show with his shake and bake super fakes. He may have an awful lifetime shootout record, but Gabby was buzzing all game and finished when it mattered like the pro we know he is.

When Hank stopped Bobby Ryan and the second point was secured (again, mirror opposite of what happened in Stockholm), I was all smiles. That Duck team is damn good and taking 3 out of 4 points from them this season ain’t a bad overall result. Our blueshirts now march into tonight’s game against the Canadiens looking to put together their first three game winning streak of the season, but their opponents are on a roll as well. Let’s hope Lundy and the gang are ready for Price and Co. because we need to build some momentum and rack up the points here. Plus I’m going to the game again and I want to see my money’s worth in effort. No wait, that’s not much effort. I want to see face value money’s worth, yeah that's right. Avery is officially back in the lineup after Wolski tweaked his groin again so the Garden will certainly be jumping. In honor of the Vogue Rogue’s return, allow me to end this post with a Ranger haiku entitled “Shoes < Suits < Blueshirts”.

When #16
Skates onto the Garden ice
The whole Square will roar.