NYR 2011-12

It Gets Better

It really makes me angry when I hear people compare the New York Rangers 2011-12 team to the Mets of 2006.  Two teams I have a kinship with…two teams that have absolutely nothing to do with one another besides the fact that I root hard for them.

This Ranger team has the makings of a dynasty to come, and each year go far into the playoffs, and perhaps win it all.  This is nothing like 2006, for me, since I (like many other Mets fans) were waiting for the other shoe to drop…turns out, it was Bigfoot’s boot that dropped then.

But seriously — one year wonder versus the making of a strong unit.  Big difference.

But I’m here to say…it gets better, Ranger fans.  We had a lot of fun, and I don’t want to focus on the fact that we’re rooting for a meteor now…I want to focus on what we’re doing to move ahead and what we’re looking forward to, and what our best memories were for 2012.

Yes.  It gets better Ranger fans, and I’ll be talking about it with numerous fans tomorrow night on my dial-in show for Gal For All Seasons.  Be to sure listen or dial-in!

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The Only Constant Is Change

Gabby the Ranger bear held this sign as a I ran the NYC Half in March. They both had a good run, but the sign is now retired!

I lost my job last September. I’ve not had a lot of luck finding a new one.

My lease is up next month. My management company hasn’t been cooperative in negotiating a new one (or rather one that’s not the cost of an elevator doorman building) so I may have to move.

Last weekend, I took a road trip to Toronto where my bus 5:45 am bus didn’t show up, and then to add injury to insult, I literally fell out of the shuttle van when I did return to Buffalo, and sprained my ankle.  Not good when you’re training for the NYC Marathon.  (I’ll be fine soon enough but HEY UNIVERSE LAY OFF THE FUN STUFF FOR A WHILE.)

I came back from the trip to watch the hockey playoffs at a sports bar, where I proceeded to drink so much in violent reaction that I had a violent reaction…right in front of the bar on the sidewalk. (I’m also swearing off drinking too…until the Mets give me good reason to).

My husband then announces he’s passing a kidney stone, but hey, he’s done it before and he’s prepared for the discomfort.

Perhaps it’s fitting that as I sit with an Ace bandage wrapped on my ankle, and my husband literally passes his stone during the Rangers game last night.

This also happened during the same week that my blender sputtered and sparked, shorting out my entire wall, while I made my morning smoothie this week, then my ear buds shorted and only one side works (#FirstWorldProblems).

Perhaps you can tell that it hasn’t exactly been my year (week or month, really, either).

To recap, I’m unemployed, I’m losing my apartment lease, I can’t run when I’m officially training for the NYC Marathon because of a freak accident in a fucked up road trip, and then the Rangers lose a hard fought and gritty playoffs to the Devils.

If there is a hockey god, I hope there’s a punch line to this cruel, cruel joke.

Someone once told me that “the point of sports is to WIN.” That’s not true. It’s to “entertain.”  You can only ROOT for your team to win. And hope they do. Some fans aren’t as lucky. Some are.

And yes, I believe a Yankee fan once told me that thing above.

One of the bright spots or distractions for my shitty ass life this year has been the Rangers. This has been odd for a few reasons. I freely admit that I gave up on hockey a few years ago. Then ironically, the Mets brought me back…in 2007.

The first game I attended was Rangers vs Devils as the Garden in December 2007. If I remember correctly, Brendan Shanahan scored an OT goal for the winner. I’d forgotten how much fun hockey could be.

I was, as they say, “back.”

But it hasn’t been an easy time. While the Rangers have been consistently growing, the Mets continued to insist they could pull my heart out of my ass, the Jets came within one game of the Super Bowl two years in a row only to miss the playoffs entirely last year, and even the Rangers didn’t make the playoffs one year in that span.

They say the only constant in life is change. Well, the only constant in my life is sports heartbreak.

But I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I started Gal For All Seasons this year as a distraction. I wanted to write about more than just baseball and Mets. I figured one of my teams might give me something positive to write about, and boy did it ever. I don’t remember exactly *when* I started to feel like this would be a fun time for the Rangers but I do know that I felt it.

I even said on a podcast that I felt like anything less than an Eastern Conference Final visit would be a failure.

Well, be careful what you wish for.

And there were a few miracles along the way.

When MSG and Time Warner weren’t playing nice, I changed my cable provider. SO I COULD WATCH HOCKEY. Five, six years ago that shit wasn’t happening.  I just dealt with not watching.

I started a podcast based on this blog, but my hockey shows were one of the highest rated on my channel (**shameless plug**). I met a lot of new wonderful people. I started to embrace MSG as my second or third home, depending on what time of the season it was.

I even had a newfound respect for Martin Brodeur, whom I’m relentless in abusing, but in that he gets it, he gets the rivalry. Kind of like Larry Jones, who once thanked New York sports fans for reminding him of his name.

My friend Solly told me he didn’t want me to be sad (funny, how Devils fans were the people talking me down from the ledge). But I’m not. Well, not anymore.

I’m so excited about the years to come.

The only constant in life may be change. But Ranger fans take note: what’s going on here is something to be excited about, to be happy about. A young core to ride for a few years, who are the heart and soul of the team. A tough as nails coach. A legend in the making goalie.

Yes, this team may kill me someday. But I feel like real soon, I may die a happy woman.

Let’s not forget how much fun this ride was this year and let’s move forward to the next chapter!

STICK SALUTE!

I AM A RANGER!!!!

The Five Rangers Of Loss And Grief

Thus, the launch of 50+ retweets and several “favorited” and close to 800 followers now for me.  Thank you to the @thenyrangers twitter feed.

Let me just say, that was a tough tweet to write.  But when I started to see so many people still so upbeat and positive after the roller coaster of a game five…I was inspired.

Mostly, though, it was me.  I hate how people are comparing this to 1994 when this is nothing of the sort.  True, comparisons will happen but that’s just being lazy, in my opinion.  But I came to a few conclusions tonight.

One was that while the Mets torture leads me to post-traumatic Mets disorder, the Rangers are the Five Rangers of Loss and Grief.  Yet in the real scale of the Kubler-Ross schematic, I’m already at acceptance.  I’m at the acceptance level of whatever happens, happens.

If that means the Devils win, so be it.  I don’t have to like it, but I didn’t exactly set my sights that high.  I did say that they needed to make the Eastern Conference Finals, that would be enough.  I didn’t say anything about winning it, and maybe that was my flaw. My expectations might not have been high enough.

But I was inspired by the fans.

I don’t want to bring up 1994, because that was then, and this is now.  But I will say this: during the conference finals and the Cup finals that year, my dad and I picked up a lot of key phrases that we still use to this day.

Not. To. Worry.

No doubts.

JD from Section 518 was right: it’s not over yet.  But you know what?  No matter what the outcome of this series, I’m extremely proud of this team, and I’m excited about the future from this core.

I’m not in denial.  I’m not angry.  I’m not bargaining.  Not depressed.  But I’m at the acceptance level.  And I’m accepting any fate from Friday’s game.

Even to the point that I’m not going to the Mets game on Friday, just so I can watch Game Six.

Cause I’m not missing anything.  Even a loss.

I bleed Ranger blue.

That Was Yesterday

A lot can transpire in 18 years.  A newborn then can now not only possess a license but can vote and is graduating high school.  That same child’s parent may be wondering where the time has gone, as they give their child the keys to the family car or signs the first tuition check.  Someone may be planning their 20 year reunion from high school. A loved one may have passed away, you may be pulling six figures in a job where you were a lowly analyst 18 years ago.  You may be living in a different part of the country.  Or you may have just stayed put from where you grew up, but you don’t recall having a 36-inch waist 18 years ago.

Eighteen years ago, the New York Rangers ended their 54-year Stanley Cup drought by defeating the Vancouver Canucks in a heated seven-game series.  Prior to that, the Rangers defeated the rival New Jersey Devils, also in a heated seven-game series, in the Eastern Conference Finals, where the word “Matteau” is a dirty word to most Devils fans to this day, though they themselves have had success in winning three cups in response while the Rangers have won none.  In that time period, the rivalries shifted from Rangers/Flyers and Rangers/Isles to Rangers/Devils.

Tonight kicks off the Rangers and Devils duking it out in the Eastern Conference Finals again, where winner continues to the Stanley Cup finals, and the other team goes home to shave.

To this Ranger fan, the only thing that remains similar to that series 18 years ago is that Martin Brodeur is still the goalie for the Devils. And even he’s 18 years older.  And that’s about it.  The ownership has changed for the Rangers, the coaches have changed, the team has certainly changed.

Sure, there are similarities.  But it’s NOT the same.

The Devils have won three cups since the last time these two teams faced off in the finals.  The storied guys that helped them on those runs with names like Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko are long since retired.  The last cup was in 2003.  That was 10 years ago.  Eighteen years ago, the Devils were playing in the Swamp.  Now they play in a nice new arena called Prudential Center.

The Rangers have visited the Eastern Conference Finals one other time since then, and it was lackluster.  They’ve since had their storied guys not only retire, but their numbers are now enshrined.  Names like Richter, Messier, Leetch and Graves are now hanging from the rafters at the Garden, where the Rangers have stayed but the refurnishing of it makes it seem like a brand new arena.

The 1994 team was full of mercenaries and then there was Brian Leetch and Mike Richter, who came up with the team.  Neil Smith, then-GM, thought it prudent to trade away the future and try to recapture some of the Edmonton Oilers success.  This ultimately led to changes at the top, such as Glen Sather coming in and trying to do the same recipe.  Until he realized it no longer worked.

Apparently, there is some pact with Sather and James Dolan that we’re not privy to that will only happen if the Rangers make the “big” finals.  Because of that, Sather started to focus less on the free agent mercenaries and allowed the growth movement to start from within.  Guys like Lundqvist, Callahan, Girardi, sprinkled with guys like Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.  It’s no longer Mike Keenan but John Tortorella.  Dave Checketts isn’t pissing off his talent, but it’s now

True, those guys in 1994 were very hard working.  But they were mostly established.  Messier had won several championships.  He was the Captain of all Captains.  Callahan wears his “C” with pride, but he believes in the team work ethic that clearly trickles to the rest of the team.

To think that this is some sort of “revenge” match-up, to think this is something of a “torch passing” of a fat overrated goalie to the future of goaltending, diminishes what this series is all about.  To call this is a revenge series is laughable because, I don’t know call me crazy, isn’t three cups in an eight year span one that says, “Hey, we’re not so bad either guys.”

These are two teams that have worked very hard to get to the finals, and will work harder to get to the next level.

To me, the differences are clear.  Yet most of all, 18 years ago was a long long time ago.  Nine years ago was long long time ago.  Then was then.  This is now.

Upping the Ante

Unwittingly, I made my life just a tad more difficult that it should.

Never mind that my sports teams forever torture me in way or another.  I guess it’s all about character building.  And let’s just say that if character were a quality that paid me a lot of money, I’d be a millionaire several times over.

Yet, I said in one of my videocasts that to me, if the Rangers didn’t make the Eastern Conference Finals, I’d consider the season a failure.

This was in Round One.

It didn’t look like, or at least maybe there was a slightest possibility, that the Devils would not make the finals.  I mean, weren’t the Flyers supposed to be this juggernaut of a team?

Marty must have lost a few pounds I guess.  Or the Flyers forgot he’s easily distracted by a good barbecue.  Or maybe he just didn’t take the cheesesteaks.

Son of beech.  Sheet.

So now?  I’ve upped the ante.  Simply because I don’t want to hear it.

The Rangers ARE the best team in the Eastern Conference.

Yeah, there I said it.

However, it doesn’t matter.  NOW is the time to prove it.  Two series of game sevens isn’t good, but then again, extra added rest usually doesn’t help in setting momentum or keeping it up after a few days off.  Just ask the Detroit Tigers in 2006 or the Los Angeles Kings in a few days.

The next few days are going to be interesting.  And if I was keeping people entertained on Twitter or on YouTube these past few days, just you wait to see how I react to this series.

If I remember my name, I’ll consider it a success.

My friend Rob told me last night that I have balls.  I won’t tell you why, but it’s for good reason.  But let’s just note that I’ve upped the ante.

I’m officially nonplussed about baseball right now.  My dad and I have said for years that baseball season starts when our team is out of the hockey playoffs and that hockey season starts when the baseball team is officially eliminated.  I have a Sunday afternoon game on the TV right now, and I couldn’t care less about it.  Sure, I like that the Mets are winning.

But hockey has upped the ante for me.  Officially, I’m all in.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, @Coopz22.  If nothing else, it will make you laugh.

Crazy 3s

One of the drawbacks of being a hockey and baseball fan is that if one sports is in the playoffs, it impacts the start of the season of the other.

In fact, I gave up following basketball because of the conflict it would provide between hockey playoffs.  See, back in the 1990s, I used to follow the Utah Jazz, mostly for the John Stockton and Karl Malone combo.  Once they retired, I kind of lost interest.  Then again, the strike in hockey kind of threw me off for a while.  Then the Mets collapsing two years in a row brought me back.

Now, it’s special.  I’m married and as irony would have it, he’s a Utah Jazz fan.  He never cared much for hockey till I started making him watch.  So I guess it’s up to me to be the open one, and allow him to watch the basketball games on television.  They are in this market though, so it’s not often.

Till the crazy threes happened recently.  The Rangers are in the playoffs, and making it interesting.  The Mets are also an interesting and fun team to watch, and we’re both big baseball and Mets fans.  And then, there’s Maude, or rather, the Utah Jazz.  See, they were in the playoffs too.  Unfortunately, they were eliminated last night.

But the weekend proved interesting.  Our two year wedding anniversary was on Saturday, coincidentally, it’s also Cinco de Mayo (because we need an excuse to drink margaritas on our anniversary).  This year was also nuts because hubby, being a comic book geek, had Free Comic Book Day, which falls on the first Saturday of May every year.

 

Tom Seaver Bobbleheads being brought into the Jackie Robinson Rotunda prior to the game.

It was also Tom Seaver bobblehead day for the 4 pm start at CitiField, and the Rangers were playing the Capitals at 12:30 pm. Throw in the Utah Jazz later that night, and we had ourselves a party.

To say it was a busy day would be an understatement.

It started with me picking up breakfast from our favorite diner to bring to him as he waited in line at comic book day.  Because the line was very long about 2 hours before the place opened, they started to let people in earlier than the open.  So we were able to bring breakfast to the park and eat like normal people, and not on the sidewalk.

From there, though, we had some time to kill.  It was off to CitiField to hang at McFadden’s to claim our seats for the Ranger game.

 

The first two periods flew by, but I needed to actually go into the stadium twice.

A friend couldn’t make the game, so I needed to pick up a ticket for him that he called in for me, and I went into the stadium, twice.  Even as I found out the Rangers lost.

Son of beech.  Sheet.

From there, we met up with some friends who wanted to buy us celebratory margaritas.  How could we say no?  From there, it was to the Taqueria to get our margs, and from there, to our seats.  Then there’s the game.  Which took FOREVER and a day to finish, but it finished.

But since we were running around since the word “go” in the morning, our Cinco de Mayo/anniversary celebrations were cut short by me after the Mets game.

In fact, I was up in the Caesar’s Club for the last few innings to stay warm and recharge my batteries, both on my phone and for myself.  Plus hubby was able to find a Nieuwenhuis shirt in the bullpen store on the Excelsior level…I just want to point out there were plenty there, but you still can’t find Niese.

 

I was just so friggin tired.  Plus, the Jazz was game was on at night, and he wanted to watch.  Which hubby was more than happy to eat tacos and tortilla chips from the local greasy taco spoon and watch.

So for those of you keeping track at home, Saturday was Rangers – L, Mets – W, Jazz, – L.

Leading to Monday, it was a three-peat of extraordinary measures.  The Mets game was starting at 7, Rangers 7:30, and the Jazz somewhere around there (needless to say, their preference was a little low on the totem pole…sorry honey).

The Mets game looked like it was going to be annoying, a Roy Halladay start, and Jonathon Niese not his normal self at first (but he recovered, thank goodness).  I thought we were lucky to get A hit let alone a run.  I mean, it’s Halladay.

But things got interesting.  When I turned on the Ranger game, the Mets started to come back and they tied the game after being down 2-0.  Meanwhile, the Rangers allowed to be tied at one point, 1-1.

The Jazz were in the background, on the computer, with hubby following the CBS Sports scores.  Since between hockey intermissions, we turned the Mets game back on.

Something funny happened on the way to the Garden though.  Early in the third period, the Capitals went ahead 2-1.  The Rangers meanwhile decided to do their best impression of Ice Capades.  But here’s the kicker though.  For me, though I watched the game, and I wasn’t very happy with how the Rangers were playing, I had an eerie sense of calm over me.  Like, I wasn’t worried.  I figured, even if the Rangers lost, they’d just win the next two games.  THAT’S HOW MUCH I BELIEVE IN THE TEAM.

But then there’s Maude…

A penalty working in the favor of the Rangers?  Just seconds away from regulation being done?  Brad Richards, king of the last minute dramatics, scores the tying goal, and I was never happier to see overtime, ever.

I told my husband to not turn the Mets game on just yet.  I guess I was being paranoid, like, I didn’t want the goal to be waived off because I turned off the game.  Yes, I’m weird.

But then, Twitter blew up in my Mets people.  “JORDANY VALDESPIN!”  “SHADES OF OMIR SANTOS.”  Most Mets fans remember when Omir Santos took Jonathan Papelbon to school in 2009, when he hit a go-ahead home run in the 9th inning, leading to a blown game opportunity for Papelshmir.

I yell, “Ohmygoodness, honey, turnonthemetsturnonthemets TURN ON THE METS!!”

He had no idea.  He was shocked, I was like – whoa.  Imagine how happy he’d be if the Jazz won?

The Jazz, meanwhile, were one game away from elimination from the San Antonio Spurs, who had thus far dominated the series.  Meanwhile, I was just glowing from the Rangers.

I knew, then, that I must have felt some kind of energy.  Like, it would be okay for them no matter what.

Then.  It happened.

Marc Staal scores the game winning goal, overtime is over, and the Rangers are suddenly up three games to two, and it’s like 1986 all over again for me.

I related that last night’s win was like Game Six for the Mets vs Red Sox.  It was to an extent that I had given up hope that the Rangers would win, they would head into DC losing the series, and they would have to lean on the flair for the dramatics.

Not anymore.

The Mets won, the Rangers won…The Jazz, sadly, lost their game and the season last night.  But it’s okay.

I mean, maybe not for hubby.  But at least now, we won’t have to worry about fitting that crazy three into our schedule now.

They say two’s company, but three’s a crowd.  And perhaps in a way it’s like that for spring sports, especially if you have many horses in different races.

We had several ways to get these games, get these scores, but we managed to make it work.  And make it fun too.

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.