Madison Square Garden

HNIC: Hockey (Date) Night In (New York) City

What a difference a week and change makes.

A little over a week ago, I remember people were calling for Glen Sather’s head, to void the “big trade” with Columbus Blue Jackets.  That Torts has lost control over the team.  That Henrik has lost an edge.  I had fans from other teams trolling me (and other Ranger fans).  And even tried to discount the win against the Leafs last week.  Which, I mean, a win is a win is a win, right?

Then there was the game against the Flyers in Philadelphia last week, which was a close, hard-fought and super-intense game in the last two minutes especially.  Like many teams down in the count in a very close game, the Rangers had an empty net to get an extra man on the ice.  The intensity was in ten cities, but they fell short of tying the game.

Not to worry, they made up for that last night in the Garden, winning 2-1 against Philly with another super-intense ending with crowding this time at the Rangers’ net and suspense to the last second.

And boy, was it fun.

About a year ago, I became twitter buddies with Miss J To The K.  She was a Jets and Rangers fans like me, but we differ on baseball teams.  That’s cool.  We got involved, inadvertently, in an Islanders argument, about the origins of “Potvin sucks.”  Then we realized we were on the same team.  It was all good.

Not Glen Sather sold me three tickets during this shortened season.  I asked J to come with.  She accepted.

So it was Date Night in the City.  A Hockey Date Night.  I was psyched.

It’s different going to an event like this with my husband.  He’s not as into hockey as I am (though he did admit to not being able to pay attention to much else while the game was transpiring).

It was my first game of the 2013 shortened season, also my first time at the Garden since the playoffs.  When I attended the playoffs in 2011, construction started, and it was unbearable walking around.  Like death heat due to the construction.  Then in 2012, I sat in the 400s and loved the Skybar.  I knew more renovations were upcoming.   Now the 200 level stretches up to basically where the 400s used to be.  The old “Blue Seats” are no more.  Though they haven’t been the “Blue Seats” truly in some time.  The Dancin’ Larry does his dances now in the aisle at Section 224ish, right by where Not Glen’s seats are.

The sections are steeper.  But I had a great experience with the seats.  Center ice, great view.  No complaints from this hockey chick.


The food at MSG has changed, too, and not for the better I’m afraid.  Everything is now overpriced shee-shee food, and how can a Carnegie Deli stand NOT have their blintzes? (Maybe not the hockey friendliest food…but still…make Coopie happy).  And how do you upgrade food and not bring back easily the best thing sold at MSG…the delicious waffle fries???? Dang.  They were really really good.

I will miss them.  But I do love the new set up.

We sat in the middle of the 20th row.  J struck up a conversation with the women next to us…actually, a mother and daughter team.  Turns out, they knew their shit about hockey, the teenager even had a fantasy hockey team.  I’ve done fantasy baseball before, but I generally lose interest by the end of the season.  Fantasy hockey, though, is a whole ‘nother level.

Not much to tell.  We were still waiting to get to our seats when the first goal was scored by Michael Del Zotto.  We were in our seats for the second goal, and it was fabulous.  The Garden still can rock.

I also saw that the team seemed to play more together, if that makes sense.  Any rust they may have had prior to Tuesday’s game seems to be all but gone.  Henrik was back to being Henrik, but Ryan Callahan looks to be out 10-14 days due to a stupid and unfortunate shoulder injury.

What was fun though, was the bonding.  I have many friends who happen to be guys, and I can go to a game with them.  But I dunno, I think girls have more fun, and the fun is brought to an entirely new level when we go to games together, like when I go with KB or any of the others I have met via Facebook.

“I’m glad we did this,” said J.  “I know we’ve been buddies for awhile, but I really feel like we’re friends now.”

I often say that I hold my “real and in person” friends behavior to a higher standard on social media.  What I mean by that is I expect more from the people I had established relationships with prior to the whole social networking component.

Yet when J said she felt like we were “really” friends after we parted at the trains, I felt truly fortunate to have my life enriched by so many people via social networks.  I hold them in a different standard, perhaps for better or worse, but those who I have had the opportunity to meet in person I connect with on a different level.   And I understood what she meant.

It’s tough enough to be a hockey fan in this town, let alone a female hockey fan.  To find a kinship with not just one, but many is a real gift.  One that you cannot quantify.

It’s easy to get carried away with a win this early in the season, but the game had a playoff vibe to it for sure.  It’s easy to get verklempt too when you make a friend for life.

How great sports can be!

Points and Shoots

I went to a fight, and a hockey game broke out.

I HATE motherfucking shootouts.  Especially in games where your team HAD the goddamn lead late in the 3rd, and still managed to lose in a shootout.  Losing in a shootout is one thing; losing in a shootout where a) you had the lead going late in the 3rd AND b) not even getting a goddamn shot in the net in the shootout is annoying.

I digress.  I went to the game on Thursday night.  I’m sure you’ve heard about the “Shot Heard ‘Round The World.”  No, I’m not talking about Bobby Thomson, I’m talking about Artem Anisimov reacting after scoring a shorthanded goal.  I love shorthanded goals: I was spoiled as a young child when the very first game I ever went to, Brian Leetch scored one.  My dad had to give me a crash course on what exactly happened.

But I wasn’t prepared for World War 3 to break out afterwards.  Granted, I was too busy standing up to celebrate to notice Anisimov’s Anisimoving.  I was confused and had to retreat to my Twitter feed to see what set this thing off.  Several misconducts, minors and penalties later (oh, my!), it looked as though this was almost too easy.

But let me ask you Rangers fans something.  Doesn’t it seem like Henrik gets a little complacent late in games, like he gets a little too comfortable with leads…even if he shouldn’t be?  Not to mention, I’ve always equated Lundqvist to be kind of a “closer in a non-save situation” in some games.  It’s almost like big leads don’t challenge him.  Either way, Henrik gets a little complacent for my liking, no matter how good he is.

So this game could theoretically be one that got away.  I could say that about a lot, but what a killjoy, especially when there were fights breaking out EVERYWHERE.

Few other thoughts:

~ The Garden is coming along nicely with its construction.  I can see their inefficiencies from the old set up are still there from the old design.  Hence, longer lines but better food you are willing to wait for. I could do without having just ONE ladies room on the 400 level, along with the two whopping mens rooms. Seriously?

~ The sky bar is the exception to the rule. I had the NICEST and efficient people helping me up there with my beer and hot dog. Not that it takes a rocket scientist, but still. When I saw the lines on the 100 level, I was pleasantly surprised. And I still love the frickin view from there.

  ~ I got to chill with my girl, KB.  While I’d always like a Rangers win, it’s fun to watch a loss with someone who loves the team as much as you do.

~Bonus: It was Jackie’s birthday!  Con: the Rangers STILL lost.  Didn’t they get the memo?

~The bear in the pic is Gabby, the newest addition to our bear family.  She is the first non-Mets jersey and New York Ranger fan bear.

I’m still a hockey purist.  I guess I have to learn to roll with the punches and changes and all.  But I still hate shootouts.  I hate this particular game that the Rangers had in the bag and lost a point in the standings.  Sigh.

Unlike Artem Anisimov, the Rangers couldn’t finish the job and gain points and shoot in the shootout.  What else can you do but dust yourself off and move on to the next game.

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?