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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.


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