New York Rangers

A Red Letter Day

All I want is what you want
I’m always waiting for a red letter day
Like Christmas morning when you’re a kid
Admit you love me and you always did
Baby, I’m hoping for that red letter day today

A red letter day is any day of special significance.  Of course, I was alerted to its meaning by a Pet Shop Boys song.  I can’t ever really say I used the term just for shits and giggles before now, however.

For the Rangers and specifically Henrik Lundqvist, May 13th has held special significance in their history.  According to some folks on Twitter and the Rangers forums I follow (I’d like to attribute this stat to someone, so if you can get me a link, it would be greatly appreciated), this is something interesting:

5/13/13: Henrik 35 saves, Rangers win Game 7
5/13/14: Henrik 35 saves, Rangers win Game 7
5/13/15: Henrik 35 saves, Rangers win Game 7

Two things stand out: 35 saves.  Game 7s.

If I had known that this was a series that Rangers like to extend to Game 7 if only to give us all agita, maybe I could’ve  handled a 3-1 deficit a little bit better.  But it seems like when a few of us were about to give up (namely, myself and Ranger buddy KB – we were just disgusted, and she was about to start hanging up her Ranger skates and follow the Lightning more closely, I was just pissed off they didn’t LOSE), the Rangers score.  And they score again.  And they win.  They win again.

They win again.

And the number 35 is significant or a “red letter” number if you will for the Rangers: our last Stanley Cup winning goalie WORE the number 35.

11231096_10206842438684770_2496654098570330887_n  Other red letter days in Rangers history took place that Stanley Cup winning year as well.  A team they owned in the regular season fought back, and clawed their way to a seven game series.  Only to have the Rangers win in OT in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Kind of funny how that works.  See, in that round, a player by the name of Stephane Matteau scored that game winner in a very stressful series.

In this series, a player by the name of Derek Stepan scored the game winner.

Stephane? Stepan? Stepan! Matteau!

Backs against the wall, Captain Mark Messier makes a declaration, and backs it up with a champion’s performance.

Backs against the wall, Captain Ryan McDonagh scores a definitive goal to keep his Rangers team alive.

Back in 1994, when the Rangers were down 2-0 in what could have potentially been an elimination game against the Devils, I guess I was naive enough to think that somehow the Rangers would pull it off.  My dad on the other hand gave me the “talk” about what it’s like to be a Rangers fan.  Then they win, and I’ll never forget the Dad-man singing, “Happy days are here again.”

This year, I’m on Twitter just SKEWERING the team for not showing up in the playoffs.  I told someone in a forum that I guess he hasn’t been watching the series because this team hasn’t been demonstrative at all.  Then they score a tying goal.  Then a winning goal in OT.  And then they shut me up by winning the goddamn thing.

So I guess my point is, we have days of special significance in our lives, they stand for something important and meaningful.  For me, that day proved that I can’t ever doubt this team, ever.  Someone is going to come through, someone is going to carry the team on their back, someone is going to stand up and say, “We’re not going to take this.”

Oh, and remember that whole thing about a team owning another in the 1994 Eastern Conference playoffs?  The Rangers had a phenomenal record against New Jersey that year, yet a Game 7 was forced.

This year, Tampa Bay basically annihilated the Rangers in the regular season.  By the way, the Rangers also were Regular Season “Champs.”

What does that say?

This series is about to get really interesting.

What, you thought it ended last series??? You thought this would be easy?

MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

What Have I Done To Deserve This?

Coop is officially too old for this shit.

Coop is officially too old for this shit.

My life is an open book.  My sports fandom, especially if you follow me on Twitter, is worn on my sleeve.  I live and breathe (and sometimes, have a mild heart attack) with every win or loss.

Over the years, baseball has gotten easier for me to handle, mostly because I’m not expecting much from the Mets.  My reactions good or bad is usually of the, “My, what a lovely surprise” variety.

I never gave a crap about football until recently.  Even so, the stakes are a little bit higher because there are fewer games.  Even the playoffs are a one-and-done type of deal.  Don’t let the door hit ya on your way out either.

Hockey has always been a different animal for me.  The game is so fast paced, and because of that, I can be very reactionary.  My reactions are incredibly visceral.  You go crazy and cheer a goal.  You goad two goons fighting.  You boo the opposing team’s star center.

Every so often (okay, more like, every day of my life being a sports fan), I want to give it all up.  You know what? Just FUCK IT ALL, and I’ll take up a hobby that’s boring and doesn’t leave me feeling all empty inside.  Like knitting.

Last night’s shit sandwich of a game against the Washington Capitals was one of those nights that knitting really seems like a good hobby for me to take up now.  I am getting way too old for this shit.

*************************************

It’s that time of the year, folks.  It’s the time of the year where two of my favorite sports collide and overlap.  Prioritizing hockey games over baseball games now, because it’s the Cup.  Rather, because…playoffs.  These games are clearly not of the One-and-Done variety like football, but the high stakes of elimination are evident in every game.  Lose one game, I am a big sour puss.  If the Rangers can firm up a victorious round before the seven games…AWESOME!  Go to seven, I will hate everything and everybody.  No offense.  I just take this time of the year very seriously.

Don't Keep Calm

This is usually every other word that comes out of my word. Actually, just “fuck.”

I’ve mentioned previously that in the playoffs, not only have the Rangers faced the Washington Capitals an extraordinary amount in the playoffs, I’ve seen them play the Caps an extraordinary amount.  I saw a game in 2011 that the Rangers lost in OT.  A game, I will point out, they should have won in regulation.

I saw another game in 2012.  A year, by the way, the Rangers made it all the way to the Eastern Conference series.  They lost THAT game.

When NotGlen Sather invited me to the 2013 playoffs, I initially told him no.  Not that I could not or did not want to go.  I absolutely won’t turn down a ticket that he graciously paid for (but had a cancellation, I believe).  I told him, I couldn’t bear the burden of a loss.  The Rangers were down 2-0 in the series.  That game was a “must win.”  He said, he’d take his chances with me.  And they won.  They ended up taking the series too.

So I thought, maybe that dragon was slayed.  I dislike the Capitals a lot because of this playoff history.  But as I said last night in a tweet, I’d have straight up died before Game Two had this series been against the Islanders.  Don’t get me wrong: I’d have enjoyed it.  I preferred it, actually.  But I don’t think I would last long.

Anyway, I was telling my dad how positive I felt going into this series.  If you know me and follow me, you know that is the LAST thing I think about with this team.  Even though they won the President’s Trophy, it is simply not enough.  It’s #CupOrBust for me in 2015.  Otherwise, this year will be an ultimate disappointment.  There, I said it.

But I told my dad, I felt as though the playoffs were just a formality.  (I also said that about the Seahawks this year.  They did make it to the Super Bowl.  The ending wasn’t what I wanted…but I digress.)

Then I made the cardinal mistake of mentioning that I felt like the Rangers would be a little “rusty” having had no hockey for almost an entire week.

The game was interesting from the get-go.  The Rangers certainly had their opportunities early on in the game.  When Ovechkin gets a “surprise” goal (meaning: no one really believed it went in), I found it hard to believe that would be the only goal scored until late third period.

What’s more: the Rangers did not bring their A-game.  AT ALL.  Missed set ups and passes, futile breakaways.  Of course, there’s the inevitable save here and there by Braden Holtby.  But still, there were plenty opportunities, hardly any were fruitful.

The crowd was in rare form.  For all the renovations have done regarding the fan experience, some people have complained that the fans don’t do *enough*, they are too quiet, etc.  I beg to differ.  Before opening face off, the crowd was raucous and fun.  It reminded me of the old days.

The guys sitting behind me, though, they had a difference of opinion. An alcohol-induced opinion, for sure, but opinions nonetheless about how bad the fans were. In fact, one of them generated a laugh from me when he said in so many words that all the fans were doing amounted to “playing with their dicks.” If you follow me on Twitter, you know those words have come out of my own mouth from time to time. When they started picking fights with other Rangers fans (Seriously…YOUSE ARE ROOTING FOR THE SAME TEAM), it was time for the bros to go.

Right after they were tossed from the game though, a miracle happened…The Rangers finally scored! Who cares they tied up the game late in regulation…they scored!

But looking back at the entire evening, the fact that the Capitals scored the go ahead goal with less than 2 seconds left in the game, it was pure poetry.

Whether it’s the week off, missing Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis taking a dump, I’m not sure.  Something was certainly off this entire game.

Anyone who says the Rangers should have won that game clearly knows nothing about hockey nor watched the game.  They had no business winning that game.  Even if they did, sure I’d be in a better mood than I have been all day, it certainly would have been in spite of their previous play.

Seriously, they lost significant leads in the Stanley Cup fucking Final last year, and this year, they let their guard down in Round Two.  I may have felt at the beginning of the game that it was merely a formality to play these games.  I mean, that’s how confident I felt as a fan in this series.  Now, not so much.  I hope Alain Vigneault threw the book at these assholes.

*************************************

I bought you drinks, I brought you flowers
I read your books and talked for hours
Every day so many drinks
such pretty flowers, so tell me
What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?
What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?

Every year around this time, I get a little nostalgic.  The summer of my 18th year, I discovered the Pet Shop Boys, and one my “desert island albums” is an album that come out the year before, Very.  I wrote about this at length last year during their run to the Stanley Cup Final.

When I was in California a few weeks ago, I was on a train from Sacramento to Oakland while the Rangers played in game two against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  It was the only game the Rangers lost in the first round.  I was joking around that on my playlist, a song from Very came on shuffle.  We had this one.

For some reason, I have not felt like listening to the album this time around.  Which surprises me because as sure as death and taxes and the Rangers being in the playoffs on the road to the Stanley Cup, I listen to Pet Shop Boys Very.

Last night, though, after walking a zombie march essentially from the Garden to the Port Authority Bus Station (where my dad had taken the bus from New Jersey several hours before), I felt like listening to some music on the train ride home.

A Pet Shop Boys oldie came on.

“What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?,” the familiar refrain repeated.

Yeah, I thought, what the fuck exactly have I done to deserve being in sports futility????

Seriously, I had great luck, rooting for teams that hadn’t won championships in a long time, and being a fan for like five minutes in the grand scheme of things, they win championships.  The Mets and Rangers won in short periods of time in relation to my becoming a fan.

And yet, each year, something happens that raises my disappointment to an art form.

While I don’t believe the point of sports is to win but rather to entertain (and Flying Spaghetti Monster knows, I’ve been entertained more often than not with these bar raising disappointments), I’d still like a bone thrown my way.

And I can only surmise that after last night’s shit show, things can only go UP from here.

So please, get out of the bathroom, stop taking a shit, and just fucking PLAY BETTER.

You assholes.

It’s Weird

Now I sit with different faces/In rented rooms and foreign places/All the people I was kissing/Some are here and some are missing/In the nineteen-nineties
I never dreamt that I would get to be/The creature that I always meant to be/But I thought in spite of dreams/You’d be sitting somewhere here with me

‘Cause we were never being boring/We had too much time to find for ourselves/And we were never being boring/We dressed up and fought, then thought: “Make amends”
And we were never holding back or worried that/Time would come to an end/We were always hoping that, looking back/You could always rely on a friend

No one can accuse my husband and me of being boring.  And even what others might not find interesting, we keep ourselves entertained with some pretty stupid shit.

Take for instance, our pop culture games.  There’s a diner in Manhattan called Big Daddy’s, that is basically an homage to popular culture of the ’60s/’70s/’80s/’90s.  There’s never a dull moment.  Usually a song or a picture in there sets us off on some of our trivia contests, like “Name as many ’80s songs that serve as euphemisms for masturbation” or the backing performers or a band known mostly for its lead singer, like Bruce Hornsby.  “Whatever happened to ‘The Range’ anyway?”

Like I said, some really stupid shit.

So why did it not surprise me when he told me I was banished from my own apartment during the Stanley Cup Final?

In case you missed it, we live, breathe and eat the philosophy of “It’s Only Weird If It Doesn’t Work.” It worked during the Seahawks and their amazing run to the Super Bowl championship.

I came up with a weird rule during the hockey playoffs this year.  It was totally by accident.  I missed the deciding game of the Rangers/Flyers first round series because I had fallen asleep, and forgot to set my alarm for the game.  By the time I had gotten up, the Rangers were winning.  I didn’t want to mess with the juju.  They advanced.

During the semifinals against the Penguins, I was so drained.  I missed a game because I was at a networking event.  They won.  So guess what? I thought, it was me, and I need to not watch a potential elimination game.  So…

I missed the last three games of the series against the Penguins.  They won.

So the superstition reset itself each series.  And now, I was able to see the entire Eastern Conference Final games.  And I felt like the jinx had worked.  I was holding up my end of the bargain, as was @NotGlenSather and @Metstradamus. NotGlen had his McDonagh jersey on his couch; Metstradamus had to take the bus.

This changed though. Metstradamus was in international waters, negating all principles of the superstition. NotGlen decided to watch an away game at a place other than his house.

“It’s Only Weird If It Doesn’t Work” got us all the way to Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final this year. Sadly, it didn’t go further.

Home is a boot camp/you gotta escape/Wanna go and wander/in the ticker-tape /
You feel the deal is real/You’re a New York City boy/So young, so run/into New York City/
New York City boy/you’ll never have a bored day/
’cause you’re a New York City boy/where Seventh Avenue meets Broadway”

I love New York City.  It’s the city of my dreams.  As hokey as that sounds, I was 10 years old when I first visited Manhattan (though I had been to the surrounding areas numerous times, going to Mets games most Sundays as a child, I’d at least see it).  The New York City I fell in love with was not a Disneyified version you see of Times Square today.  No, it was drug dealers on one corner, prostitutes on the next, fake IDs and homeless people…I knew I needed to be there. I’d go into the city when friends or family from out of town came to visit.  I’d walk everyone around, carefully mapping out what and where we needed to go.  I’d always try to take a walking route through Times Square, no matter where we were going.

I didn’t go to my first Rangers game till 1989.  It was a January game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  These were the young days of Mario Lemieux.  I had been what I considered a sports fan, but I could never get with hockey on television.  It was only when I went to my first game at the Garden that I was hooked.

The term “1940” meant absolutely nothing to me.  I was young and unaware, unfettered by the whole idea of no championships.  Two years later, Mark Messier came to the team.

Now, I knew who HE was.  I had carefully followed other teams in the Hockey Digest I now purchased as a teenager.   He played for the Edmonton Oilers, Wayne Gretzky’s old team.  Gretzky was then a Los Angeles King.  Messier had something else to prove, though his team had won a championship without Gretzky (and surprisingly, Gretzky never won a championship without Messier on his team).

I had an aversion to the Kings even back then, actually.  See, my first ever favorite player on the Rangers was Tony Granato, who was one of the young rookie upstarts along with some dude named Brian Leetch (ever heard of him???).  Granato was later traded to LA for Bernie Nicholls.  Nicholls, was in turn, sent to Edmonton for one Mark Messier. Yes, that trade chain ultimately brought the team a championship, the first one in 54 years.  My first ever Stanley Cup experience as a fan.  The only one I had so far, and the only Final appearance I’d seen in my 25 years of being a Rangers fan.

When I became a Mets fan at age seven, I only had to wait a little over three years before I saw a return on my investment.  The Rangers had won a championship with Messier leading the charge five years after I had become a fan.  Detect a theme here? One thing I hadn’t yet seen as a fan of those teams: a ticker tape parade.  Hell, I was AT game seven in 1986, and my dad wanted to stay for the parade the next day.  However, my mom’s car got broken into and the windshield was smashed, presumably from a celebrating fan.  We just went home.  Being 10 years old, I wasn’t all that disappointed. Besides…back then…WHO KNEW THAT THE METS DYNASTY WOULD BE QUASHED BY 1990????

When the Rangers last won the Cup, I was a senior in high school.  The parade coincided with finals.  I found out some other diehards skipped out and went to the parade.  I didn’t though, mostly because I was a goody two shoes.  Plus, I didn’t have any friends.  At least, the few I did have didn’t really give a crap about hockey.  That spring and subsequent summer solidified my determination to getting to the city, eventually.  The Rangers played a big part in that, especially when I saw Madison Square Garden.  It was now the home of legends.  But I had not yet been to a ticker tape parade.  There have been a few here on the Canyon of Heroes.  But none for my teams.

You’ve got a clever way of haunting me/I’m never scared, but you’re still daunting me ’cause I know what you’re likely to say/and I know that you’ll get your own way And all I wanted to say was that I love you/but you’re telling me now you don’t believe it’s true You got a different, a different/a different point of view/You got a different point of view

Someone asked me how I felt going into game one.  I said, “If they lose, it’s not the end of the world.”  And I still talked many Rangers fans off the ledge after the game one loss.  I understood the distress of giving up a two goal lead, then losing in overtime.  That was a huge momentum shift.  But it was GAME ONE.  It didn’t have to dictate the entire run of the series. Till it did.

I was adamant that the Rangers had a fighting chance against the Kings, that while the Kings won just two years ago, things had changed.  The Rangers had their snipers Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis, two players whom already won championships.  The Kings for the most part were also two years older.  They hadn’t faced any true “tough” competition, like Henrik Lundqvist.  Hell, I even refused to pick a rooting interest in the Western Conference because I knew whomever I did pick would have a chance to beat my team.  Careful what I wish for, is what I thought.

I work for myself, and there is a saying in my business that you can use a setback as motivation or an excuse.  I’ve really been living that because you don’t want to lose out on opportunity because you feel bad for yourself.  You don’t want to wonder “What If?”

I was surprised more fans didn’t feel the way I did.  Yes, I know a few bad calls were made at the Rangers’ expense.  Fact was, in that non-call for goalie interference in game two, the Rangers STILL had the lead. You shake that shit off.  Put your big boy pants on and deal with it.  Instead, they give up the lead, go to OT and… That was the series right there.  They were in the Stanley Cup fuckin Final, and they’re being little bitches.  That game infuriated me and kept me up at night more so than other loss in the series.  They win that game, they’re still playing today.  Game one didn’t change the dynamic of the series.  Game two definitely did.

We’ll stand around forever/regardless of time or weather/ordering drinks at the bar Looking for love and getting/nothing that’s worth regretting/but wondering why we travelled so far To speak is a sin/You look first, then stare/and once in a while/a smile, if you dare To speak is a sin/You’d better beware/but once in a while/a smile, if you dare

In 1995, I bummed a cigarette off a young gentleman at the Rutgers University infamous grease trucks.  He and his friend invited my friend and myself to a party.  I found out this young man was a Rangers fan.  That sealed it, and launched a friendship lasting nearly two decades. This gentleman is @NotGlenSather.  He’s someone who I value not only as a person, but someone whose humor I get when I need it, and whose humor I will never turn down to get me through some rough spots.  Especially when dealing with the Rangers and playoffs.  He brought me to a Rangers playoff game last year where I held my breath and hid behind him for the last full minute of play of the game.  He also helped me when I realized I was hyperventilating.

The night we met, I remember him telling me stupid rules, like “no laughing in the house,” or “no talking in the car” as went to the diner.  Of course saying stuff like that made me want to laugh or to talk.

Of course, we both broke rules for the Stanley Cup Final.  He didn’t park his McDonagh jersey on the couch.  I knew that in the event of an elimination game, I wouldn’t NOT watch.  So swoops in my husband to tell me that he couldn’t watch the game.  This was something he discovered.  The link was that he couldn’t watch.  I had demonstrated that I could be at a game, watching elsewhere.  Just not at home.

You can’t defy the nonsensical reasons.  Because it’s sometimes all you have.

go_time  big_three

Two decades have gone by quickly.  I sometimes can’t believe that in a few short years, I’ll be 40.  Before I know it, another 20 years will have passed.

I went to that game on Wednesday so that it wouldn’t be when I was 60 the next time they made it.  I’d at least have the experience now.  The best case was that the Rangers would win and force a game five (they did).  The worst case was that I’d see another team celebrating their championship on my home ice.  I guess it was a win-win, that outcome.

I woke up in a sweat/desolate/For there were no more lovers left alive/No one had survived
so there were no more lovers left alive/and that’s why love had died/Yes, it’s true/Look, it’s happened to me and you
Twenty years has changed me from a fun loving night owl who was up for anything unpredictable into a cranky old fart who prefers staying at home and drinking in my sweats and fuzzy bunny slippers.  I live in New York City.  The daytime has taken its toll on me in the city never sleeps.  Yes, a city that doesn’t sleep, and I manage to find eight hours a night.  Not having children can give me that luxury.

Since I had to find someplace else in public to watch the game, I knew I had to pick the right place.  Only problem was my choices.  I had Blondie’s, a famous sports bar, but I knew that I would be competing with bros and World Cup elitists.  Couldn’t deal.

There were a couple other bars that have a reputation of filling up, one of which I ended up choosing.  Not before making a quick pit stop to Uno on 81st and Columbus, where the creepy bartender guy who looked a serial killing rapist on Law & Order SVU, ignored me until other men came into the bar.  When I brought to his attention that I had been sitting at a mostly empty bar for nearly 30 minutes and he hadn’t once asked me what I’d be having, he turned it on ME, the customer, for not bringing it to his attention.  Yes, stopping him from his CLEARLY busy activity of chopping lemons, refilling the maraschino cherries bin and making like he was SO busy so he wouldn’t have to serve me.

I ended up choosing St. Games Gate, on 81st and Amsterdam.  But not before telling both the host AND the manager at Uno that “I had planned on spending a lot of money in here to watch the game, and your douchebag of a bartender ignored me for thirty minutes when NO ONE else was there.  Oh and he blamed it on me.”  The host said, “Who?” I point to the bartender and said, “I won’t set foot in this joint that I typically frequent if this DICKHEAD is behind the bar again!”  (I like their chicken spinoccoli.  Sue me).

Within 15 minutes, a bartender tried to locate me a summer shandy that they didn’t even HAVE as an option, but set me with a dark and stormy instead.  By this time, the Rangers had fallen 1-0 in the game.  In due time, it was 2-1 Rangers. I thought, wow, this is working.  So it’s totally NOT weird that my husband kicked me out and I had to bring my Rangers bear out with me to watch the game.

game_four  gabby_game_five

Till of course another questionable call happens.  And I just knew, then, it wasn’t the Rangers year.  Sure, it took almost two full overtimes to determine that.  Despite all best efforts of the superstitious ones, despite the rally towels and the playoff beards and everything else, 2014 would just be oh-so-close.  But just another year where the Rangers fell just short of a glory they had deservedly earned.

Cross a windy bridge/one winter night/Past Embankment Gardens/enter warmth and light
Face the music (it’s never easy)/Forget the chill
Face the future (it’s never easy) /Find the will

If life is worth living/it’s got to be done
One might be forgiven/for thinking/it’s a life on the run
Many roads will cross through many lives/but somehow you survive

You know what, Rangers fans.  We’ve been through a lot together.  Whether it was years of futility in the early aughts, whether it was the “real” Glen Sather making questionable moves like trading Brian Leetch, that rocked us to the core of our being.  Whether it was getting beat by the Devils in a sudden death overtime in 2012.  The truth is, I know most of us wouldn’t trade being a Rangers fan for anything in the world.

I sometimes curse my pop for getting me into the teams that have done nothing else but break my heart.  I defied him by being adopted by the 12th Man in Seattle.  But I’ll never stop being a Rangers fan.  I was a fan of destiny.

I can go on and say that it was an amazing ride, and it was just simply an honor to be at the big show.  But as RuPaul says, whoever says “it’s an honor just to be there,” is a lying BITCH.

I went to bed sad, woke up sad, had a few tears even.

The Pet Shop Boys are mostly known as a “one hit wonder” here in the United States, due to their big top 40 hit, West End Girls.  That song is almost 30 years old.  Yet, I know them as a band that has quite literally changed my life, and alternatively saved it.  As an angsty teenager, I had listened to their Discography and Very, and they empowered me.  I realized West End Girls SUCKED compared to what they could really do.

I could look at the bright side of things.  Henrik Lundqvist still has a lot of good years left in him.  They’re being led by another young upstart defenseman named Ryan McDonagh.  Like it or not, Rick Nash is on the team for awhile.  We wanted him, we got him.  Now we have to deal with him.  At the beginning of this season, we didn’t think they’d go anywhere, much less the Stanley Cup Final.  This was a special team that banded together during the worst that could happen when a teammate lost his parent and STILL played his heart out.  They seemed to adjust well (albeit on the slower side) to a new head coach, who seemed to get the most out of his players despite his quiet and subdued demeanor.

And hey, the Rangers losing wasn’t so bad.  I did say that I would eat my own socks if they won a Cup in the first year under Alain Vigneault.  It wouldn’t be SO terrible if they won in 2014-15.  My socks and my digestive system would get a reprieve at least.

Yes, I woke up sad, but like that saying that you can be happy that it happened, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else.  The city became electric, like nothing I had seen before.  All for a sport that most would think was a second or third choice behind baseball and football.  Some teams just endear themselves to your hearts.

This was one of them.

We can take the spring of 2014 and put it in our back pocket.  Cherish the memory, but know that something great is literally right around the corner.  I felt it this year.  It will be back before we know it.  Whether it’s in 12 months or two decades.

Let’s hope it’s the latter.  But in the meantime, I am going to hold onto my ticket stub from game five of the Stanley Cup Final, and hope that all the superstitions in the world bring it back here sooner rather than later.

Come outside and see/a brand new day
The troubles in your mind/will blow away
It’s easy to believe/they’re here to stay
but you won’t find them/standing in your way

Se a vida é I love you/Come outside and feel the morning sun
Se a vida é I love you/Life is much more simple when you’re young
Come on, essa vida é/That’s the way life is
That’s the way life is

***Many, many thanks to the New York Rangers for giving me something to complain about or be hopeful about, all at the same time, and the Pet Shop Boys for providing the soundtrack of my life (though I doubt when they wrote and composed their music, they had National Hockey League playoff games in mind).***

One and One Make Five

So, tell me that you love me
Sort out this confusion
Say our love is still alive
For people must be jumping
to the wrong conclusion
that one and one make five

A few years ago, the Rangers played the Flyers in the Winter Classic.  While I thought it would be entertaining to go, while I thought it would be fun, I decided against going.  People argued and said, “It’s a ONCE IN A LIFETIME type of game! You HAVE to go!!”  I disagreed.  I figured, it would come around again in due time.  Now with the Stadium Series happening, I am glad that I didn’t go.  I never had any regrets.  And as big of a baseball fan I am, I never once thought I should’ve gone to the All-Star Game when it was at my home stadium in 2013.  I’ve just never been an “exhibition game” type of gal.  Or novelty.  Whatever you want to call it.

I decided that I would have an element of regret if I didn’t at least try to get to the Stanley Cup Final game.  Winter Classics, Stadium Series…I figured it would be a given if a cold-weather team played in it at some point.

I was 18 years old the last time the Rangers found themselves in a Stanley Cup Final.  I am now 38.  I am two years away from 40.  I did NOT want to be in a position where I was pushing SIXTY the next time the Rangers were in it.

I monitored the pricing on StubHub.  Based on what Game 3 tickets were going for, and they were down 2-0 in the series, I thought it would be a virtual impossibility for to me attend unless I won tickets.  Then all of a sudden, the series was 3-0…and Game 4 became a potential elimination game for the Rangers.

I remember thinking vividly, I needed to go to this game, at some point on Tuesday afternoon (the day prior to the game).  And when I saw prices had fallen from upwards of $1,300 to now $400 for 400 level seats…I thought it was time to take the plunge.

Until I had a tough time finding a single seat.  I sent a text to my dad early in the day.  If I thought I had it bad, he saw a championship for his team 24 years after becoming a fan.  Then he had to wait another 20 to see them in the final again.  I would say, $400 was a fair price to pay for that luxury.  But he told me he wouldn’t be able to make it.

Ed told me that he could justify my going, so I could jump at the tickets.  But the ever elusive single ticket, it was dodging me.  But I decided I needed to go.  I needed to make that shit happen.

Worst case scenario…my team loses and I see another team celebrating a championship on my ice.  While I wasn’t at the 2000 World Series, the concept wasn’t exactly foreign to me.  I decided, I could handle it.

The other scenario is that the Rangers win, stretch it to five games (and I had some friends going to LA no matter for a conditional game to follow the Rangers…die hards, if you ask me), and I’d have seen my team win a game on home ice in the Stanley Cup Final.

Those odds were okay with me.

Till I realized, I had a kindred spirit who also wanted to go to the game.  Someone I had not seen since Hockey Date Night in early 2013.  Someone who agreed with me that we totally sucked for not getting to a game in 2013-14 season.

Before I knew it, we were texting, and then I was signing into StubHub to take the plunge to go to Stanley Cup Final.

It just made absolute sense that I needed to be there, no matter what.

This was an odd year for me.  I didn’t get to as many Rangers games as I wanted to.  I opted out of my package that I usually bought, which led me at least some playoff option.  I knew ultimately I’d regret it, that somehow the Rangers would be guaranteed to make the final this year.  Of course they did.  (After all, this team does like to torture me).

I did, however, get to watch most of their games on television…something, by the way, I’m not very fond of doing.  (Just not a big fan of watching hockey on TV).  I followed this team so closely, and especially during the playoffs, I fell in love with them even more.  The Rangers have always had a reputation of being a blue collar and hard working team, and their fans are just the same.  This year, it was different, and especially after the series against the Penguins, I got to see first hand just what it meant that “The playoffs are about whoever gets the hottest.”  It’s never about “who is the better team on paper.” It’s not even about “Who wants it more?” (You mean to tell me that Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t want it “more”?? Dafuq outta here with that).  And the playoffs were fun for me.

I felt 18 again.

The Big Three NYR  Gabby_Cup

And as @MissJToTheK and I said, YOLO…you only live once.  And anything can happen…just ask Ceil Saidel.

I’ve said before that no matter the sporting event, if there is a championship game here in New York City, you’d almost never think of it unless you followed that sport and/or team closely.  You can’t help but get caught up in the hype of this team.  You go anywhere near or around Madison Square Garden, you feel the energy.  You walk down the street, you can’t swing a dick without seeing someone in a Rangers jersey.  I remember partying on the street when the Rangers last won the Cup in 1994.  I definitely remember it being more of a Knicks town, who were going on an amazing run themselves.

This year was special.

And though I tried to fool myself by thinking I had made peace with any outcome (and I had felt that way during the first two periods), I really wanted them to win to force game five.  It was a bit chilly in the Garden.

It seemed like the team was playing defense the last 20 minutes. I wasn’t the only person who noticed that they weren’t going in for the kill.

I felt though as the time ran down, that a win was imminent. But of course the hockey gods had to fuck with us a little, towards the end. Because of course they did.

Photo Credit Daily Mail

Photo Credit Daily Mail

It wouldn’t be a Rangers playoff game if they didn’t mess with me towards the end.  Like the time I hid behind NotGlen Sather during a Rangers / Capitals playoff game and I was also holding my breath and nearly hyperventilated as we left.

It also wouldn’t be a complete game if a fight didn’t break out in the stairwell (ON THE STAIRS…bunch of fucking morons).  I got half a beer cup that drenched my back in the aftermath…and a Rangers fan…and RANGERS FAN told me to “Shut my c**t mouth” (I don’t say the “C” word…one of the few words I don’t say) because I told him to lay off the Kings fan who was minding his own business, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I also saw a fight break out in 2011, between two grown ass men, who were both rooting for the same team.

No wonder they cut off alcohol sales after the second intermission.

I think Joanne and I barely said a word to each during the game.  But sometimes, you don’t have to speak.  There were no words.  We felt what the other was feeling.  I even told her I had a feeling I’d be crying, no matter the outcome.  I didn’t cry.  But I did feel very sad to see it end.  Happy that it happened though.

The Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers do have a history, though.  This isn’t the first time that the Kings have been responsible for making me a sad Ranger fan.  Back in the 1989-90 season, the Rangers traded Tony Granato for Bernie Nicholls…I loved Tony, never liked Nicholls.

But if you look at the bright side, like I managed to do for game four, Nicholls was turned around to get Mark Messier.

And we ALL know what happened when he came.

We'll Win Tonight  large_mess_cup

I got watch a pretty amazing season, front to back, top down of the Seattle Seahawks and they went on to win the goddamn Super Bowl.  They looked at it as one game at a time.  Not a “we need to win X amount of games to win the whole damn thing.”

They looked at it as, if we win this game, we play the next.  And each game was a one game decision.

Russell Wilson also asked of his teammates, “Why not us?”

Champions do that.  Why not you, Rangers?  Why not win game five, and move to game six?  WHY NOT?

Nothing is impossible.  I’m still at peace with whatever the outcome tonight.  It was a lot of fun getting here.  The 2013-14 Rangers are a team that have endeared themselves to my heart.

I’ll enjoy whatever they give me, but why not you?  Why not you??

The Theatre

It’s another world here
The streets are gleaming
I was even dreaming
that they’re paved with gold
Seventeen at half past ten
All the crowds are surging past
An electric display

I worked in the New York City Financial District (right by the Canyon of Heroes) in 2000.  I was waiting for some electricity to spark, so to speak, but I never felt it.  It could have also been that at that point in my life, I had been going through some transition, and I wasn’t fully available to take it in anyway.

A few months ago, the Super Bowl was set on the main stage of the New York City metropolis (Okay, fine, it was in New Jersey).  Walking down Super Bowl Boulevard was fun.  But it certainly wasn’t hair raising.

It was different this time.  Just a few days ago, the Rangers opened the Stanley Cup Final in Los Angeles.  You’d never know it though, with all the blueshirts on Broadway, the Rangerstown logos and basically the taking over of Bryant Park by Rangers fans, young and old, and Rangers alumni, some older, some more recent.

If I wanted fireworks.  Well, this was it.

I was in high school, just weeks away from graduating when the Rangers last visited the SCF.  We all know how that ended.

It’s hard to believe it was 20 years ago that I graduated from high school.  That September, I entered college.  But I was still riding high from that Stanley Cup win.  I had visited the city a lot, which was still somewhat pre-Disneyified, with piss on the corner, coupled with drug dealers and summer heat.  And every time I visited, I made sure to swing by Madison Square Garden.  I didn’t get to go to a live game in that series.  But my dad and I made sure we watched every single game.  The Garden had opened up during the road games to watch the games from Vancouver.  I got to see the Pavel Bure penalty shot from the Garden, though it occurred in Vancouver.  The feed apparently showed the reaction of the fans in the Garden.  My friends told me that they saw me celebrating on TV.

It was some of the most cherished memories of my life.  And this is coming from someone who was at the last World Series championship winning game of her baseball team.

Yet, the last time the Mets were in the playoffs in 2006, it was the 20th anniversary of their last championship.  When Carlos Beltran looked at strike three, thus began the next eight years (and counting) of futility.  But the 2006 team was special.  It was fun going to games, even when the likes of Jose Lima pitched.

This season was strange, as a Ranger fan.  I didn’t opt for my mini plan that I usually purchase from my friend.  I mused that because of this, losing my playoff option, they were SURE to get to the Stanley Cup Final.  Of course they did.

But after game two, I saw something on the main stage.  I didn’t like it.  I saw that the team had given up.  They were making excuses. This saddened me, because shit happens in the span of a best-of-seven series.  And if I know this team, they have fight and spark and have surprised us every step of the way.  But it looks like they might have ridden this moxie as far as they could take it.

Whether they get swept or lose in five, or somehow manage to bring the series to seven games…I have a feeling about this team like I did in Game two in the 2006 NLCS.

I just don’t think it’s their year.

This saddens me, as a fan.  Obviously, I have a rooting interest here, and I want them to win.  I want that parade.  I’ve tentatively cleared my calendar for the days it could potentially be.   But it’s okay for me to say this, because I’ve made peace with the scenario.  I’d hate for the Kings to hoist the Lord Stanley at the Garden.  When I know in my heart of hearts that a few timely bounces here and there, this would have been the Rangers.

Even so, while we were watching the game on Saturday, I was saying that I felt like Jake Blues, when he was leaving Bob’s Country Bunker. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

Or better yet, the Rangers probably wished they were leaving the town Jake and Elwood were headed towards.

In the meantime, that whole thing about me not going to the Stanley Cup Final…I’ve been monitoring the ticket prices for Game Four.  They are no longer astronomical, and have what I feel to be a reasonable mark up.  So…win or lose, do or die.  I might be there for what could potentially be not only the last Ranger game of the year…but the last hockey game, period, of the year.

I’ve made peace with the outcome, but it still makes me very sad.

Things don’t have to end badly.  You can be sad that it ended, but you can thankful that it happened.

And if the Rangers lose on Wednesday, I’ll be proud of how far they come.

If they win, well, when there’s light, there’s hope I suppose.  I am not banking on it though.  It is a nice thought, however.

I’ll just know that as a resident of New York City, I’ll always carry fond thoughts of this year’s Ranger team, as they took over the lights on Broadway for a brief time.

I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing

Senior Pics 

Ask me why, I’ll say it’s most unusual
How can I even try to explain…
why today I feel like dancing
singing like lovers sing
when I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing?
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing

To say the spring of 1994 was chaotic for me would be an understatement.

I was weeks away from graduating from high school, but I hadn’t yet decided on a college. (That came in the first week of June)

I was having a public humiliating breakdown with the guy who was my high school sweetheart, but that was neither here nor there.

My mother and I weren’t getting along, and to add on top of all that, I didn’t feel like I had anyone else in my corner but my dad and my cat.  Maybe a handful of friends.

At age 18, this was as close to the end of the world as possible.

But the Rangers for the first time in my tenure as a fan were in the Eastern Conference Final.  Their opponent was the hated Devils.  But it was the first time I ever felt the word loathe for any other team.

The Mets had won the World Series just eight years prior.  But I was 10 years old.  What did I know about “rivalry” or “hatred?”  I had no idea of a Boston/New York rivalry at that age, let alone had any real deep-seated geographical rival except for the fact that as a National League fan, I had to hate the Yankees.  It was in my blood.

So each game of that series, I’d meet my dad in Neptune (where he was living at the time), we’d take a ride over to Kelly’s Tavern (ye of the infamous reuben) and watch playoff hockey.
Ask me when
I’ll say it started when I met you
and ever since then I knew that the past couldn’t last
For right now I think I’m running
a race I know I’m gonna win
and I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing

Dad and I had a pretty decent run at Kelly’s.  We had caught a few games in the first two series, from what I can remember.  I mean, this is 20 years of faded memories, and my age is catching up to me in some respects.

But I do remember drowning myself in music, in my drive to Neptune each of those games.  On the way there, I listened to my newest find, Very, by the Pet Shop Boys.  They were simply not a one hit wonder for me.  One of the most underrated bands of its generation, in my opinion.  On the way home, win or lose, I’d listen to Erasure’s Greatest Hits (I believe the album was titled “Pop!”).

As I contemplated my next chapter in life, I really took in the music.  Very was lyrically intelligent and really hit close to home with so much of the messages of the song.  It started off with “Can You Forgive Her?” and ended with “Go West,” the cover of the Village People song.  Though the ride to Neptune usually brought me to either “Dreaming of the Queen” or  “Yesterday When I Was Mad,” the fifth or sixth song on the album.

If I wasn’t arguing or butting heads with my mother, my high school boyfriend and I were falling apart.  Music had always been an outlet.

And as I’ve said before, along with music, came sports.  But this was the first time I had a horse in the race, a first time in a long time.   From the dramatic entrance of song number one, to the moodiness of every other song to the anger and empowerment, it succinctly said EVERYTHING that I had been thinking, feeling or wanting to say myself.  About breaking free from the norm, and following my heart.  Something, by the way, that I am doing right now, and trying to come to grips with.  Adulthood may be overrated sometimes, but following your passion is always something that needs to be done.

If people say I’m crazy
I tell them that it’s true
Let them watch with amazement
say it won’t last beyond breakfast
it’s a phase he’s going through
denigrate or speculate
on what I’m going through
because it isn’t the sort of thing I’d normally do

To this day, I listen to Very, and it still gets me everytime.  It’s what I deem one of my “desert island albums.”  When my car was stolen in 2000, this was one of the CDs that was in there.  They could take the car; Very needed to be replaced.

It not only gets me…I get IT.  And when I listen to it, it brings me back to one of the most treasured times in my sports-loving life, and that’s when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994.  The album empowered me to drive up to a school and make a decision on the spot.  It made me make amends with my mother.  It made me move on from my high school boyfriend.  And it made me a hockey fan.  I have given up on the sport in the past.  But I’ve been back long enough to say this is special, and as a fan, I’ve earned that shit.

Ask me what
I’ll say I think it’s good for you
Believe it or not I know where it’s all leading to
I feel like taking all my clothes off
dancing to The Rite of Spring
and I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of
this kind of thing

In recent years, before each game when the Rangers are in the postseason, I try to get in at least one song from this album.  It’s just one of those things I never get sick of hearing.  If I’m lucky, I will try to listen to the first five or six songs, like I used to when I’d go watch the games with Dad.

The 1993-94 Rangers are not just special in my heart because they won a championship.  It was because, as corny as it sounds, it gave me strength to move forward with my life.  That my world wasn’t crashing down around me…that things could and would be all right.  That like a caterpillar, I’d be a butterfly, floating off to my next chapter.

The spring of 1994 launched into what became the summer of my life.  The New York Rangers were a big part of that.  I did things that I normally wouldn’t do.  Like travel into the city with my friends to go dancing.  Like travel into the city to watch the Rangers on television close to the Garden, so we could be there for the celebration.

It’s very rare that I talk about alternatively being grateful or being pissed off at being a sports fan.  But last night’s win and subsequent playoff series victory made me so grateful for the Rangers. For my dad.  And for that spring of ’94.

This one is for Henrik and for McD.  For DStep and for Staal.  For Martin St. Louis.  For Grumpy Damus. For Chuck.  For NotGlen.  For Aimee.  For Katie.  For Anne Marie.  For Alvin and Kelly.  For Justine.  For DMan.  For Ciel Seidel.  And for everyone else in between (including my cousin, who came in later in life to love the Rangers).

And for especially the Pet Shop Boys, though I’m sure a British electronica band really would never see why they’d be forever linked with a U.S. hockey team.  They helped me get through a rough patch in my life, and so did the Rangers.  And they still do to this day.

Sam Rosen said in 1994, this one will last a lifetime.  I hope that he is wrong, that 1994 was it.  Thank goodness that I am getting to see another “very” amazing postseason run.

This is something we normally wouldn’t see.

Not To Worry

I say, I got nothing to worry about…

Because the Rangers play Thursday.  And they will win on Thursday.

They will win because I’ve felt in my bones all along this would go to six games.

I’ve felt all along that they will win.

It’s game like last night they need to have that proverbial glitch in the matrix.  It’s something that’s off but it will rectify itself.

In 1994, I had one guy telling me, “No doubts, no doubts” in game 5 1994 Stanley Cup Finals.

In 1994, I had a guy telling me during Game 6 of 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, “Not.  To. WORRY!”

The Rangers lost both those games.  But they won the games that mattered, of course, and went on to win the Cup.

But just because there was a fucked up game in Montreal last night doesn’t mean that there is a momentum “shift” or any of that crap.

Let’s talk about Momentum Shifts with this video.

Yes, I know I’m looking at shit that happened 20 years ago. But like that year, we cannot deny that this is a special time to be a Ranger fan. It’s a special time for the Rangers. This is a special team.

They’ll have motivation in the form of Henrik Lundqvist, who was pulled just before a game-tying rally, only to have his replacement give up three more goals in a blow out.  But when Rene Bourque says that Lundqvist hasn’t been “much better” than Dustin Tokarski…well, to say that shots have been fired would be an understatement.  This has been a dirty series, a hard fought series.

I just can’t help but think…

The Rangers play Thursday.

They’ll win Thursday.

Finish the damn thing.

Go Rainjuzz.

 

Can You Forgive Her?

I can’t say I’m a superstitious one.  I did adopt some superstitions, which in reality probably had less than zero impact on the outcome of this year’s Super Bowl, but that was because I could look forward to eating my cheesy bread each week during the football playoffs.

This year was kind of an accidental superstition in hockey.  I adopted the #ItsOnlyWeirdIfItDoesntWork philosophy because I had a migraine during Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals.  If you remember, the night of Game 7 against the Flyers, it rained like a mofo all day.  Cats, dogs, horses, cows, every type of farm animal.  I had a bad migraine.  I even cancelled my podcast at the last moment, though I had stuff I wanted to talk about.  Originally, I thought I’d be watching the playoffs, and be either really happy during the show, or really pissed off.  Either way, I didn’t know.  Because I ended up not watching.

I had laid down a bit, since I cancelled the show, and waited for my husband to return home.  Only problem?  He didn’t get home till after the puck dropped.  So I didn’t even have the television on.  And he was following the game on his radio.

Before I knew it, it was the second period.  I was going to turn the game on, but much like Keith Hernandez did in Game 6, he stayed in his chair because, “There were hits in that seat,” as he cracked open a Bud with coach Darrell Johnson in Davey Johnson’s office.

onlyweirdSo in the history of Keith Hernandez before me, I know I was not the only superstitious one during the hockey playoffs.  If you follow hockey, you know the tradition of hockey beards.  There are some weird fuckin rituals in hockey.  But cool rituals too, like the handshake line, handing the Cup to the captain.
The second round, I got desperate.  I was convinced that outside of the Pittsburgh metro area (and the five Devils fans), mostly everyone in America was rooting for the Rangers.  I know, it’s an oddity, because there is a New York superiority complex that other cities try to knock down.  But I’m pretty sure that if you are a) not a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, 2) not from Pittsburgh or D) just a fan of hockey not falling under A) or 2), chances are, you hate Sidney Crosby and it’s your civic duty to not want that team to win.
So there’s that.  I had to go for some gusto.  After Game 4, I became desperate.  One game from elimination, plus with the Rangers’ habit of winning one, losing one…this shit wasn’t going to fly.  Even if they did win Game 5…EVEN if they managed to pull to a Game 7…how would they win?
And yet they did.
And somehow, we were all part of it, by participating in our stupid game rituals that we are convinced helped them win.
For @NotGlenSather, he kept his McDonagh jersey on his couch (only during road games though…it wouldn’t work at home for obvious reasons…reasons, none of us know, of course).

For Metstradamus, he had to take the bus for at LEAST one period (he was lucky that was it…the first time, he was going to pick up an air conditioner).

So my superstitions became the stuff of legend.  When I opted out of Game 5, I figured the worst that could happen was that the Rangers lose.  If they won, I’d play by ear to watch Game 6.  Then they won Game 6.

The irony is, Game 7 wasn’t tough for me not to watch…because I wasn’t home at the beginning.  I had a weekly networking meeting, and I knew I wouldn’t be home till the second period, at the very earliest.

Even so, my husband forbade me from watching the game at all.  I was DYING.  It was absolute torture.  But Twitter did a good job of keeping me updated.  So I got the feel of watching the game.  Then…the unthinkable happened.  They WON. Holy shit, did it WORK???

Truth is, this little superstition I worked up…was only for elimination games.  So I’ll be back for the Eastern Conference Finals.  It feels different this time.  I stress out each series, until this moment.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say…I can pretty much guarantee a Stanley Cup appearance or win, at the very most.  Why is that?

I didn’t get my Rangers seat option this year.  I backed out of it.  It didn’t feel right this year.  I knew I should have held onto it.  But whatever.  I felt like, what were the chances they’d get to the ECF AGAIN?

Yup.

So now there’s a chance they’ll win the Cup.  And I won’t be able to go to any of the stupid games.  I guess somehow I deserve NOT watching the games nor going to them at all.

Bad, bad fan.

So I’ll test the waters by watching the first few games…but of course, I’m traveling during the first game.  So that means I won’t be able to watch the whole thing anyway.

If they win, is it proof that my silly ritual worked?  Or merely coincidence?

Thank goodness for game ones…and game sevens.