Brad Richards

The FUN In DysFUNctional

There’s this great saying, that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

There’s also another great saying.  That the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.

And there you can interchange “Glen Sather” with “insanity.”

Yes, this is in response to the firing of John Tortorella as head coach of the New York Rangers.  I guess like many, it came as a surprise but it was not exactly shocking.  One cannot fire a whole team, so you fire the coaches.  And unfortunately, with Torts, the buck stopped with him many time.

Most notably, now, with the recent ousting of the Rangers in the Eastern semis to the Boston Bruins.

Well here is a novel thought, Slats…GET BETTER PLAYERS YOU FUCKING MORON!

I haven’t yet finished my Rangers season wrap-up (and it’s coming, don’t you worry), yet, I’m already getting agita from this bullshit going on into 2013-14.

Yes, this was a shortened season.  Yes, I wasn’t crazy about the prospect of the whole “half a cup” thing. But goddammit, if I didn’t get excited about the playoffs this year.

Yet, I don’t think it’s Torts who failed his team.  Rather, the team failed Torts.

Give the guy some credit.  In a big media market, Torts took the pressure off his team and put it on himself.  Never a media darling, the fans loved him because he could separate the emotional from the professional.  Or at least the fans who liked him.

The fact is, whatever gave him his relationship with the players was his folly this year.

Dan Rosen of NHL.com wrote about the Seven Reasons Why the Rangers Fired Tortorella, and one of the reasons was that his top guys underperformed in the playoffs.

Yeah, no SHIT.  But here’s a swell idea: How about we actually BLAME the players?

What a novel fucking idea.  Instead of playing to win, they figure skated their way through round one, only to realize they can’t do that when the stakes are higher.  Right?

What’s more, is Torts had every right to scratch Brad Richards during the playoffs.  This is the same guy who underperformed ALL season…and he actually has a GOOD relationship with Tortorella! This is also the same guy who dormant during the lockout.

Sure, he may have kept in shape elsewhere.  But the reality is, he underperformed the entire season.

Not to fucking mention, there was a BIG spot missed without Marc Staal healthy.  Add that to the rising shit, and the Rangers were fucking lucky they made it TO the playoffs, let alone make it out of the first fucking round.

Yet, I have to ask, besides Sather basically solidifying future Stanley Cup runs in Columbus, what has he done that has made him so untouchable?  James Dolan has been in rehab: clearly, there must be some kind of damning evidence that Sather has on him that warrants him to be the GM forever and ever.

Could it have been a fluke that the guys he got in the Marian Gaborik trade were hurt? And where the hell was Rick Nash?  Did he NOT realize that yes, your goals count just as much in the playoffs as they do in regular season?

At the end of the day, Torts wasn’t out there NOT scoring on the power play.  Torts didn’t tell Brad Richards – hey, put your job AND mine in jeopardy by forgetting how to play.

To get canned after a half season when it seemed like the team ran on its moxie and mojo from the year prior is an insult.

 

I’ve only been a Ranger fan since 1989. I’m one of the lucky ones, that I only had to wait five years to see my team win a championship.  Like my dad and Kranepool Society, many other fans have been through some dysfunctional times.  To see the team get so far and to fall short.

I’m not sure if Sather, like many people, expected John Tortorella to turn water into wine, or turn the shit that Sather throws to the wall and see if it sticks.

I can only hope that next season the Rangers make it TO the playoffs.  Because Tortorella’s tenure brought back a legitimacy that hasn’t been seen since 1993-94 season.  And remember how Mike Keenan left, and subsequently, cursed the team.

As long as Glen Sather is in charge, we’ll have fun watching these teams, but we’ll be watching a shitload of dysfunction too.

The Lido Shuffle

“He said one more job ought to get it/One last shot ‘fore we quit it/One more for the road”
– Boz Scaggs

Chris Kreider As usual, I found myself ready to hang up my skates, hang up my Ranger jersey until the start of the 2013-14 season. I found it difficult to believe that a team that has seriously looked overmatched and borderline unprofessional would ever come back to tie a 3-game deficit, let alone come back at all.

I only had one wish: that the Garden Faithful would give the boys in blue a send off in a loss.

I had a discussion with a friend about it.  He had mixed feelings about the idea (and he’s not a Ranger fan at all).  He wasn’t sure if he could take another team celebrating on his team’s home ice. I guess I could understand that one.  But it’s not a Cup game.  It’s not like the Bruins would have paraded the cup up and down the ice.

I felt cheated last year because we couldn’t give the Rangers a send off in their season last year.

So last night, I had a few posts in my head, mostly about what went wrong, about Brad Richards’ healthy scratch, about how Rick Nash was “supposed” to be the difference maker (clearly there is an operative term in there), etc etc.  But I also wanted to talk about how the shortened season was doomed from the get go.  Nobody on the team seemed to get in a groove.  And how Henrik Lundqvist managed to nab a Vezina nomination, because I didn’t think he had as close to a dominating season as usual.

Just found themselves behind the 8-ball quite a bit.

I’ve been saying all along that I was comfortable with how this series ended. Win or lose, I had an eerie calm that the chips may fall where they will, and I’d be okay with it.  I don’t have an emotional dislike of Boston, after what they’ve been through this year as a city, it might be nice to see the Bruins give them a feel-good story.  But as far as a rivalry, Original Six or no, I continue to be fine with however the series goes.

Yet, like another Boston/New York series, oh about nine years ago in the fall, when a certain team came from three games down, and managed to win a game in extra innings when the odds were against them.  Then went on a roll to win the ultimate championship.

Of course that was baseball, and Boston Red Sox coming from behind, but it was against the Yankees, so it was all good in my book (apologies to any Yankee fans reading this right now).

The Rangers could very well be ousted in the next game.  Yet, the fact they went out with a fight, and not a whimper, is what the fans needed.  Not some kind of moral victory, that “Well, they made it this far with a shitty ass power play, and with Brad Richards sucking and Rick Nash underperforming and Henrik not having some of his best moments, let’s cheer! YAY!”

No.  I was sorely mistaken.  That crowd needed a home game win.  Something to give them hope that this team was everything they thought last year, and more.

I’ll say that an overtime win was something that I needed to see.  For once, I got to see an overtime work in MY team’s favor.

The New York Rangers gave us something last night, they gave us one more for the road.

 

Down Cycle

One of my favorite movies is She’s the One, starring Edward Burns and a cast of stars like Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Aniston.  A line that keeps repeating is the idea of a “down cycle,” during a relationship, where one doesn’t have “relations” for a block of time.  The idea is that we all have them, we can’t perform at a totally up-up-up level 100% of the time.

I guess we can say that Brad Richards is in what we call a “down cycle” in his playing.

Well, technically, it’s a Ranger problem, but it’s basically an epidemic that’s stemmed out from Bradley.

“I’ve never been through anything like this in my career,” the 12-year-veteran said. “I’m trying to cope with it, I’m trying to learn from it but I’ve never experienced anything like this.  When you’re an offensive guy, you have to produce.” (From today’s NY Post article by Larry Brooks).

Some athletes go through a down cycle.  Remember when, as an example, Jason Bay hit one for like THREE SEASONS?  Sorry for the exclamation, but I mean, I’m a Mets fan, so I’m used to hoping for best, but expecting worst.

My Rangers and friend-in-real-life @NotGlenSather warned us last year that Richards, the big free agent signing, could be a blessing or a bust.  Considering Ranger history, and length of the contract, we kind of figured he could go either way, but mostly hoped for the best case scenario: that he’d give us a few good years, then fizzle out on the back end.

Fizzle isn’t even the word to describe him now.  Ranger Nation had a fair assessment of Richards today, mostly a glass half-full post:

I guess I should address the elephant in the room: the comparisons of Brad Richards to Chris Drury. It’s amazing what a difference a year makes. One year ago Brad Richards was one of the best free agent signings in franchise history, yet today Rangers fans think of Richards as being just as big of a bust as Chris Drury. (Adam Garabedian, Brad Richards Struggles Doesn’t Mean He’s In Decline)

Valid point.  I mean, with the passion surrounding the fan base, and the crazy reactionaries there are in ALL teams, it’s easy to think of Richards as a drain on the team.  Heck, Richards is even cognizant and acknowledged it in the Larry Brooks piece. Yet, something else that the Ranger Nation piece actually acknowledged is that Richards did not keep current during the lockout, didn’t actively play.  That’s a big red flag, to me, that one of the best offensive guys wasn’t working on that very aspect.

You’d think one of two things would happen during a long layoff: that he works out and crafts his game and gets better; or sits and gets stagnant.  Guess which happened to Richards?

The worst case scenario is that he gets in his own head.  Athletes are famous for doing that.  The weight of the world is on their shoulders, and by pressuring themselves when they can’t perform, leads them to more underperforming.  Then it can go one or two ways from there.  It either gets into their head for season after, or they make themselves better.

On the Mets, David Wright was having trouble “performing,” and led to a down cycle for a few years where he struck out routinely with men on base. Yet, when he got out of his own head, and started to concentrate on hitting, period, again rather than hitting home runs, he had a resurgence.

Yet we’ve seen this story before with the Rangers.  Perhaps the Ranger Nation post made a decent comparison with Drury, but I have another one that hits closer to home: Marian Gaborik.  In 2010-11, Gaborik had a noticeable decline, though he missed several games, yet that didn’t quite account for his fall off the cliff.  Certainly didn’t show up during the postseason either, when the Rangers got eliminated all too quickly that year.

Gaborik had a bounce back year in 2011-12, but is having a similar decline to Richards this year.  Which kind of sucks because one of them on a down cycle is bad enough. Yet you’d have someone else to pick up the slack.  At least Gaborik had a somewhat valid excuse for his slow play: he was hurt and wasn’t projected to come back midseason anyway in a regular scheduled year.  So Gabby couldn’t play if he wanted to.

Richards is a curious case. He seems to have enough of a cerebral type of play that he can bounceback.  He’s aware of his down cycle, and wants it to change.  Yet the time to change already took place: during the lockout.  Now we’re into the season, and it’s not getting any better.

Mostly, I’ve been nonplussed about the Rangers play this season.  A couple of wins that are close, with a smattering of close losses or playing a game of catch-up, like they did over the weekend.

Without a full effort from the two top offensive guys, it won’t matter that Rick Nash is owning the city.  They won’t make the playoffs after a season that they should have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, and it won’t even matter about who gets hot at the right time. Without the help of Brad Richards, this team will have far worse problems than worrying about playoffs: it will be for him to get out of his down cycle.

Parallels

I hate when I do this.  I start to compare my sports teams.  I start to compare seasons, that shouldn’t really have anything to do with one another.

Besides being a team sport, what exactly does hockey have to do with baseball?

They wear uniforms, they wear jerseys with names and numbers on the back, they have a common goal (to win) as a team.  Each have a rabid fan base (unless you are in Miami).

When I start to find eerie similarities with a team not only across sports, but historically too, I get a little scared.

What’s more though?  You know, than just comparing one shitty ass season (one, by the way, the Mets STILL have not recovered from quite yet) to another in a totally different sport?  It’s the expectation level associated with it.

NotGlen thinks that last year was the fluke.  I disagree.  They were built for the future, but when you have to part with guys like Dubi and Prust, the chemistry might be a little off.  The scoring was supposed to be strengthened with the addition of Rick Nash (you know, the very thing that killed them in the playoffs last year).  Oh but Nash is hurt…an undisclosed injury.  Sounds like 2009 for the Mets, right, when Jose Reyes got hurt and was out 15 days to the rest of the season.  And don’t get me started on Carlos Beltran that season.

Here’s the other thing that bothers me about this team.  Hockey guys are preternaturally tough.  Yeah, yeah, haha, they ice skate, how tough can they be?  I call them Smurfs on Ice sometimes.  But then I have to question their toughness…it wasn’t just me.

Marty Biron, a backup flippin goalie, questioned the team’s toughness when they didn’t avenge what seemed to be a dirty hit by Max Pacioretty on Ryan McDonagh in Saturday night’s game.

Funny.  Reminds me of when former Met Alex Cora called out his team in 2009 and 2010…a backup flipping shortstop.

Toughness. Seems like John Tortorella has a problem with it too.  He pulled the plug on their practice the other day, but it could go one of two ways.  One is he made them do push ups till their arms fell off.  Two is that he might have seen a malaise and pulled a Davey Johnson right before Game Three of the 1986 World Series…saw his guys were fatigued, and gave them the confidence to rest.

Either way, there are several red flags for this team.  One is their inability to score on a power play.  Even with a ramped up offense, they still can’t friggin score.  It’s sick.  They should just waive it off.  It’s more of an advantage for the other team, clearly.

But there’s also the underlying element of toughness.  They have skaters standing around holding their dicks while their own go down.  (Where’s Doug Glatt when you need him?)  They show no aggressiveness during a Power Play, and make it too fuckin pretty.  They almost seem afraid to score.

Oh yeah and the whole idea of them clicking on all cylinders, or rather, lack thereof.

So Torts tells us it’s not time to panic. In a shortened season, when every win or every loss is amplified. When losing a three goal lead in the fucking third period along with a shootout win is considered a moral victory, they may need to reevaluate where they stand as a team.

There are no moral victories in a season like this.

So Torts, I won’t panic just yet.  But it does give me pause about what, exactly, you are training these guys to think and do.

So Glatt (remember: it’s Hebrew for “Fuck You” according to Goon) to the 2013 Rangers, and the 2009 Mets.  I’d like to not watch a game with dread sometime this season, ok?  Thanks, bye.

Death, Taxes, Rangers Power Play Sucks

Why is it that the Rangers just can’t click on all cylinders?

Like last season, Marian Gaborik couldn’t really play his way out of a paper bag.  Yet Brad Richards’ first season was decidedly a good one.

It was critical during the playoffs last year, as we saw other teams’ forwards come through, and the Rangers did not.

So now that the “missing piece” in the name of Rick Nash is around, guess what?  Brad Richards is sucking wind.

But hey, Gaborik is doing well, right?

Then there’s the Power Play.  Or as my husband likes to call it, the Power-LESS Play.  I disagree.  The suckage continues.

You would think with the strong forwards the Rangers are sporting that the PP would at least be a tad better.  Feh.  It still sucks, and even in Tuesday night’s game, when John Tortorella decided to make it interesting and make a routine 5-on-4 power play a SIX-on-4, with an empty net.  This is what I said.

And guess what???

We can wax intellectual about the last streak, and even the strong games against the Lightning and Islanders (of course, their win, and not the shootout ugly loss), but the reality is they blew two critical leads, especially a three goal lead against the Bruins a few weeks back.

I’m sorry, but I’m not buying this shit show.

And then the cherry on top?  They can’t score on a fucking power play.  When you can’t score, you can’t score.

Hmmm.  Sounds like the coach in American Pie.

As with everything Rangers, if they can’t score on the power play, they can’t expect to win.  That’s what doomed them last year, and that’s what’s dooming them this year.  They better fucking figure it out before it’s too late.

P.S. Rick Nash sat Tuesday night with an undisclosed injury.  Of course he did.

Whoopfuckneeee

Last week, after the triple overtime Iliad-like quality to the Rangers-Capitals game, someone on Twitter said (before the winning goal was scored), this was the type of game that whoever wins has the most momentum and takes the series.

I believe it was a Caps fans.  I disagreed with it then, and I was mostly shown right when the Caps really didn’t care and won game four, forcing this to at the very least a six game series.

Last night, that game…

Was a changer.

I’m a Mets fan.  And baseball and hockey are different in so many ways, but there’s one thing in sports that’s a constant is momentum.  When the Mets looked like they were about to lose game six in 1986 World Series against the Red Sox, and subsequently the series, they mounted an amazing comeback that is still considered one of the greatest in sports history, let alone baseball.

Leading me to last night’s victory.  Leave it to Brad Richards for his last seconds goal scoring dramatics.  For those who discount the goals because the Capitals took a “stupid penalty,” you must not have watched how atrocious the Rangers’ power play has been all season.  For them to score not one but TWO power play goals in a succession of seconds, is nothing short of miraculous, in my opinion.

Leave it to Marc Staal to put any reservations we had about his post-concussion syndrome to rest by scoring the winning goal, which was a beauty.

Game Six of 1986, the Red Sox walked onto the field in the 10th inning as confident as roosters roaming the range.  They walked off, heads low and looking like they wanted to crawl into bed.  Forget they had a three run lead in game seven.  As one fan said in the documentary Simply Amazin‘, “I don’t care who you are, the ’27 Yankees aren’t coming back from that one!”

Is it bold for me to say that?  Yes, but I truly believe in this team.  They’re not blinders; it’s honesty and realness.  Last night, the Caps were overly confident, and they may have taken a stupid penalty that doomed them but know what?  Lots of stupid penalties worked AGAINST the Rangers too, and does that discount this?

Hell to the no.

Sometimes, it takes a momentum shift to change the dynamic of a series.  The 3OT thriller?  Not a devastating loss for the Caps.  Last night?  A devastating mind-blowing win, that as people were reporting led to some dancing in the street by the Garden.

I’m still in shock from what I watched last night and let me tell you…I’ve been watching this for a long time.

It was epic.

Holtby Sheepshit and Balls

Because the Caps lost in triple overtime, does that mean they suck?  Does it mean Braden Holtby sucks?  Does it mean Henrik’s better?  If the Rangers lost, would they have sucked and Caps would have been world beaters?

It’s one of those existential thoughts, I think, akin to that tree falling in the forest and whether it makes a noise or not.  Although, I do have a few regular readers of this site who would agree with the last question, after all they’re nothing but no-good stinkin Devils fans who take glee in rooting against the Rangers. (Meanwhile, I’m rooting for a meteor).

But I digress.

Last night was one for the ages.  It was really a play of mettle and fortitude, mostly from the goaltending aspect.  Which I guess in baseball, there’s the pitcher’s duel.  What is a tight game that goes into multiple playoff OTs called?  A goaltender spat?  I mean, after two overtimes, I was seeing double and I wasn’t even playing, yet someone like Ryan McDonagh played almost a full hour in nearly 120 minutes of playing time.  Then there’s Stu Bickel, who watched about 114 minutes from the end of the bench.

But this was one not of outlast versus outplayed.  Neither team particularly outplayed one another.  In fact, it was a lot of hitting posts, crossbeams, deflections, but the biggest show of them all was from the goal posts themselves, and who was manning them.

King Henrik was making me shout “Oh My Henrik!” and Holtby made me utter a “HOLTBY sheepshit and balls” during the game.  In fact, one of the sweetest things during the broadcast was seeing Holtby’s parents in the stands, with his mom covering her face and looking through her hands, like I would while I’m watching Dexter or a Mets game.

But my question is simple.  If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound?  And if the Rangers lost a game in triple overtime does that mean they suck?

And the answer is, no.  In fact, I think for Saturday’s game, they really will need to up the ante.  Because this Holtby kid is special.  He’s got something good going for him, least of it being having two of the coolest parents on planet earth.  If anyone knows them and if they’ll be in New York for Game five, tell them I’d like to buy them a drink! They were class acts all the way, and even as Marian Gaborik decided to grace us with his presence with the game winner, Holtby’s mom cheered the effort.

SHE CHEERED THE EFFORT.

How cool is that?

In a night of bizarro sports, where Jered Weaver held the Minnesota Twins to as many hits as Albert Pujols has home runs, and where I saw every hockey fanatic on Twitter talking about the triple overtime game — the first of its kind this year — with gusto…no matter who their team affiliation is…I just have to say…

Holy sheepshit and balls.

Only the Names Have Changed

Back then, the names on the jerseys were Messier, Leetch, Graves, Richter.  There might have been a Gilbert or Ratelle jersey in the mix.  I might have even seen a Gartner jersey.

Now, the jerseys say Gaborik, Callahan, Richards, Lundqvist.

This, of course, is my trip to TGI Friday’s on 34th St and 8th Avenue, a few blocks north of the Garden.

Gabby the Ranger bear anxiously awaits the opening faceoff while dining at Friday's.

It’s sacrilegious you know, since I do live in New York City, to go to of all places a chain restaurant that merely serves to set itself up as a tourist trap.  Well, bear in mind that once upon a time I actually was one of those…yes, I was a tourist.  I was also 18 years old, not of legal drinking age, and when the Rangers won the Cup in 1994, my dad and I wanted to be near the celebrations.  I could only imagine what places like Mustang Harry’s or Blarney Rock were like in 1994.  All I know is, when I walk past this Friday’s, I get the warm fuzzies, knowing my dad and I were there for the final three games of the series against Vancouver which led to the moment that would last a lifetime, as Sam Rosen called it.  (And by the way, I will miss him for the rest of the playoffs, which are of course to be determined to go as long as they do with how the Rangers perform.)

So Dad and I got a chance to go to the playoffs.  We went last year, to a crushing loss in overtime to the Capitals, and I was thinking this may deja vu all over again.  See, we went to home game two (which is what these are labeled as on the ticket), and I was also coming down with a cold in 2011.  This year, I had a full blown cold, but I’m feeling better now, thank you very much.  The Rangers lost that game in overtime, when Henrik Lundqvist did his best impression of a closer in a non-save situation, as he was fronted a three goal lead, and still managed to give up four unanswered.

I hemmed and hawed.  I wanted to go to a game, but for all I know, it could have been a sweep (it won’t be) and tickets to game five would be moot.  So I threw caution to the wind, and invited Dad and we went.

Dad and I were joking around during game seven in the last series, when I said I should go back to Friday’s for old time’s sake.  Try to get some good energy.  When I told him we were going to game two, I said we should go there for a pregame.

My dad hasn’t touched alcohol in years, but he feels at home at a bar.  It’s odd because he just gravitates towards people, and well, where do people congregate?  A bar!  I drink, as you all know, but since I was under the weather, I wasn’t feeling it.  So we split an appetizer and two soft drinks.  It didn’t break the bank, but we got a kick out of the $19 cheeseburger.

Shit.  Don’t people know you can walk like eight blocks up to Shake Shack for a fraction of cost?  And it’s a far superior burger?

Dad was pretty anxious to get in, about an hour before.  He needed to get his game face on, and so did I.  I also introduced Marian Gaborik, aka Gabby Bear, to playoff hockey.  She was born in December during a game in the Team Store, so this is her first experience.  As we walked into the security bag check, the usher said, “Oh I see we’ve got our mascot here.”  He lifted her out of the bag, and she yelled, “YAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” as she’s wont to do during a game, especially after a goal.  She’s a wild one, all right, like her mom.  She loves junk food, especially french fries and chips (of any kind), is a brawler unlike her namesake.

 

The 50 or so minutes we had to kill before the game went quickly, as before I knew it, John Amirante was out psyching up the crowd during his rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

   

But I guess the rally towels they handed out as we walked into the arena were only good for show, as the Rangers quickly found themselves in a 2-0 hole.  That literally should have been a 1-0 at best deficit, but Henrik decided to get fancy at one point.  Do what you do best, Henke: guard the fucking net.

But they managed to tie it up by coming from behind, only to lose on a bullshit call with a bullshit penalty.  It was like the refs wanted to keep the Capitals in the game.  Although they were in it.

I didn’t think of this as a wrenching or crushing loss.  It was just a loss.  Not like last year as I sat there, with a bad chest cold coming on, wanting to die as they went into OT, where they shouldn’t have been anyway.  I knew the series was over, although technically, it took the Caps a game to finish that deed off.

Tonight was different.  I guess after such a stressful first round, you don’t sweat the small stuff.  You’re going to win some games, you’re going to lose some games.  Shit happens.  Both teams played equally well.  The Caps may scare me, but I think the Rangers can take ‘em, and let last season seem like a fluke.  In fact, it only shows this won’t be nearly as easy as we thought.  It will be interesting.  It will be a challenge.

It will be what hockey playoffs are supposed to be.

Yet, I’ve come a long way, because I didn’t have to stay at Friday’s to watch the game, I was able to actually go to the game.

Fridays might not have changed all that much, though.  In fact, my dad pointed out the brass rail that some crazy homeless dude who got into the bar almost tore off the wall during the Rangers wins.  “He Shoots! He SCORES!” the guy kept yelling, as he was falling all over the place.

But instead of “TGI Fridays” it’s branded as “Fridays.”  The names on the jerseys may show Messier, Leetch or Richter, but there are Callahan, Gaborik and Lundqvist.

A new generation, but same old Rangers fans.  And only the names have changed on the back of the jerseys.  The excitement and the heart of playoff hockey still rings true 18 years later.

Running on Rangers

We’re hitting the home stretch of regular season hockey games, especially for the Rangers as it seems they are playing a game every other day.  Originally, I had two games to go to: Sunday, March 11, and Friday, March 23.  Also odd because I rarely do two games in a month, much less miss a month of live games.  That’s what happened this year.  I had tickets to the Rangers/Devils game in February at home, but I sold my tickets for a hefty ransom.  Hey, if I can make some money off the supply/demand issue at those games, I’ll take advantage of it.

But then I had a friend who came into town this weekend.  Our story is kind of funny, like many in this world.  We went to school together.  We had a lot of the same friends, but I don’t remember hanging out with her solely.  (If I did, I apologize, ha ha).  I didn’t know she was a Rangers fan till a few years ago, when we reconnected on Facebook, as many are wont to do, especially due to our mutual friends.  Another layer that added to our friendship was that we were long distance runners; I’m still a novice, she’s definitely more experienced (not to mention, faster!) than I am.  She gets the intensity that goes into both the fan perspective and being an accidental athlete.

This is my friend Aimee. When she found out she was chosen in the NYC Half lottery, like I was, she needed a place to stay.  ***HI!!!***  But it’s all good.  I love having guests and if I can help them save some money and stay in a cool neighborhood, that works for me (they also need to like cats though but that’s no problem for Aimee – she has three).

Anyway, a few weeks before the half, Aimee realized that the Rangers were playing a home game the night before the race.  She decided that though we like to keep things low key the night before a race, she rarely makes visits to the city anymore for games, and she couldn’t give up an opportunity to go to a game when she happened to be in town.

So then, there were three.  Three games, for me, in the month of March now.

Originally I had planned on writing about this recap after the game on he 23rd.  Yet, the two games had such differentials that I felt the need to go over it now.  The first game was a dramatic overtime win with the help of the RUN-BMC line (Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Carl Hagelin) and most specifically an almost literal last second goal in sudden death by Gaborik.

 

The game on Saturday was almost a killjoy.  Former Washington Capital goalie now on the Colorado Avalanche, Semyon Varlamov, absolutely stupified Rangers goal scorers.  I forget the exact amount, but it was like 41 shots-on-goal to the Avalanche’s like 20.  I am not joking.  Henrik Lundqvist had a bad game, by giving up two goals.  The Rangers offensive unit was worse and couldn’t help their goalie.  Turns out this wasn’t the first time Varlamov has done this to the Blueshirts.  During the game Aimee had asked that question, whether he had given us trouble in the past.  Well, the answer was yes.  And the worst part was that Mats Zuccarello’s first goal was almost forgotten because of the unprecedented performance.

We didn’t let that bad news get us down for our race Sunday morning.  We had to be at Central Park before 7 am, so for runners with rituals, we need to be up earlier than THAT.  By 5 am, we were up and at ‘em, George McFaddam.  And you know, the Rangers loss didn’t translate into a grumpy run for me.  My friend Chuck always says that he likes when I run angry.  I don’t know if I’m necessarily an “angry” runner.  I know when people piss me off on the course, I get that way.

The corral took over 40 minutes to even get to the starting line.  By 8:15 I was heading to the first mile.

Roughly, the first half of the course takes place in Central Park, killer hills and all.  I train there, though, so I feel like I have an advantage to some who don’t train there.  Of course, if you’re a good runner and fast, then you have all the advantage in the world!

The course brings you through the heart of Manhattan – Times Square, then runs downtown to South Street Seaport.  I admit to dragging but I knew my husband would be meeting me at designated places on the course, with some words of encouragement and photos.  Mostly, with bears.

If you don’t follow my husband on Twitter, or on his blog, you should be.  He’s one of the most generous and creative people I’ve ever known.  I often say that he serves as my personal assistant, water boy and photographer for my races.  If the shoe was on the other foot, I’m not sure I’d do the same thing.  But he brought along three bears to cheer me on — Angel, a Mets bear; Nicky, the running bear; and Gabby, the Ranger bear.

Gabby greeted me at Mile 12 with this sign.

 

I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw it (hence the picture next to it).  Needless to say I had a big smile on my face, and I knew even though I was dragging, getting to Mile 13 would be a piece of cake because I had the back wind and momentum to power me forward.

I run to a music mix of Paul McCartney’s greatest hits, Abbey Road, Sgt. Peppers, and usually it brings me to Paul McCartney and the Wings’ Band on the Run.  The second song of my music mix is Jet, and the second song on the Band on the Run album is the same.  So I hear some of the same songs twice.  Not to worry though, as these songs are welcome and I don’t get sick of them.  But I was being guided into the finish line by Jet once again.

When I saw my husband and my friend snapping my pics at the end, I was inspired.  I was inspired by the song, by the runners, by my sports affiliations.  Before each Jets game, some of the players go out, looking like planes and zooming onto the field.  So I do that.

Sometimes my teams disappoint me.  Yet I believe in momentum and that power that carries you forward into the finish line for every season, every day, in every part of our lives.  The Jets gave me a bit of inspiration, the Mets have shaped my life, and the Rangers have made it possible for me to be thankful that I am a sports fan at this point in my life.

There are things in life that give you momentum.  For me, the running has given me a distraction from the daily stuff in life that could keep me down, like rejection.  Other times, sports have given me the opportunity to connect with people I never would have, or reconnect with people I’ve known for a long time but on a different level.

 

These pictures represent the fact that sports has brought to me some of the most special people I’ve ever met, or brought me to another level with others.  Both of the women in the pics with me were brought together, on some level, from sports.  Sharon for baseball, Aimee for hockey.  Then all three of us are runners, and we are each others own support network!

Thank you New York, and thank you sports!