Saturday Night’s All Right For Fightin’

There’s an old saying…probably from French Canada or aboots…that goes along the lines of, “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.”

Such is the case for Saturday’s “Original Six” matchup between the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers.  These games are always intense.  I have to say the fans are second to none, really.  Well, most of them anyway (I’ll get to that in a second).  A good Original Six matchup is always appreciated by both fan bases (I’m hoping to get to Boston this year for a Bruins/Rangers game at the I’m-Calling-It-Boston Garden), and it’s evident by the amount of French-speaking folk in attendance that they are just as passionate about their team as we are here in this region.  The probably 2% of the fans who showed up from Quebec who weren’t cool didn’t “get” that they needed to take their caps off during OUR National Anthem too (and one of the few times I get to hear “O Canada” at a sporting event) were part of the not-second-to-none part of their fanbase.

I hadn’t been to a Saturday night hockey game in a long time…or a hockey game at all, period, since the playoffs in the first round last year.  And even so, I did attend the last regular season Saturday afternoon game with my friend @sfmerkakis.  By the way, he won’t know what you’re talking about if you ask him if he’s @NotGlenSather.  Moving right along, Saturday night games are interesting. You don’t have to worry about going to work the next day (or in my case, at all), and the night is still pretty early once the game is done.

Two of my world’s collided this night.  As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I attended the game with @Stefmara, and I love attending hockey games with people who are just as passionate about the team as I am.  When I go to games with my husband, as an example, he’s not as into hockey as I am, and I usually have to bribe him in order to attend.  No bribes in this case, just beer for us chicks.

When I last left the Garden earlier this year, there was construction going on.  I was annoyed because there was little ventilation in the concourses, making for a very hot arena and uncomfortable situation.  I didn’t know how they were planning to do the renovations, and they are still taking place.  But I can tell you this: the Garden will be AMAZING once it’s completed.

The concourses, though many of the stands were not operational yet, are less restrictive as they’ve seemed in the past.  The choices seem phenomenal: sushi, pizza, of course the standard chicken fingers and hot dogs.  They have a 16 Handles stand (if you do not know what that is, it’s a frozen yogurt place that is the shizzle…).  In the 400s, they’ve made these seats less working-class and gave us bars with a great view of the entire arena (even the ceiling).

The fact that most of the stands were not operational, though, left us with a not-so-pleasant experience of the evening.  There was not a lot of information telling us what was available and where to go.  I understand that this is still a work-in-progress, but this is a Saturday night, in New York City, with many visitors in from out of town.  More information is better, please.  (We couldn’t even really get beer, that’s how bad it was).

Back to the game.  I was talking about the naming of Ryan Callahan as captain of the team early in the evening.

Stef and I were both in agreement that it was a tenure thing, not that it wasn’t well-deserved however.  Also, that Chris Drury was not going to be on the team anymore, it just had to be Cally.  I wondered, to myself though, if he would be just a Brian Leetch-type: the guy who was a lead-by-example kind of guy, but not a vocal or take-charge kind of leader on the ice…something the team desperately needed.  (Don’t get me wrong: I love Brian Leetch…just always questioned his leadership abilities).

Any questions I had about Callahan were solved less than 10 minutes into the game by standing up for his teammate and having the first brawl of the season.  YEE HA!  That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.  It’s bad enough that Henrik Lundqvist is the guy who has to save this team’s collective ass most nights.  Now Cally is showing once again what’s he made of, and that no one on his team won’t have someone going to bat for him.  Exactly what we need in a captain.

It was also the much-heralded return of one Sean Avery.  I make no bones about it: I like Avery.  Do I think he’s the team’s solution to all their issues? Noooooo.  But I always like him on our side.  I really would like to see Marc Staal return, but I know from my experience with head injuries on my baseball team that I’d rather he take his time getting well…but I still miss him.

I get a little concerned these days, about the team. Seems like no matter who they get (like Brad Richards, who scored a goal when we were there), there is always some kind of hole to fill.  You all know how much I love Henrik Lundqvist, yet he can’t do it all on his own (and of course, there’s the whole complacency thing I see when the team scores a lot of goals to back him up).  This game had it all and makes me truly believe they are the real-deal-holy-feel this year.  There was a fight, a lot of them actually, great goals scored by guys you expect, and even an empty-netter at the end.

I love Saturday night games, and this one tied many things in my life together being a sports nut.  Good friends, good conversation, good heckling of the other team’s fans, and a Rangers win.  What more could I ask for?

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