Tuesday, April 23, 2013

2013 Hockey Road Trip

Thanks to the NHL lockout and some personal events the past few months, the 2013 Hockey Road Trip didn’t occur until this past weekend and consisted of only one game this year: the New Jersey Devils vs. the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Although the hockey road trip of previous years took us to Long Island and New Jersey, I had never attended a game at MSG. I was obviously very excited about this trip to "The World’s Most Famous Arena" due to all of the events that occurred at the historic building. What I didn’t realize is that this is the fourth version of MSG, opened in 1968 and was recently renovated. Yes, it’s the oldest building in the NHL, but it’s not as old as I thought it was. Anyway, unlike most other arena I’ve attended, there’s not really a main area. There are multiple entrances and then you have to walk up stairs to get to each concourse. The concourses aren’t very wide (see old arena) and consists of simply your garden variety food, drink and merchandise stands. Of course, one of the stands had corned beef sandwiches. I didn’t have one, but they had CORNED BEEF SANDWICHES! You just don’t get that in Ottawa!

We’re turning this into a notes column.

- John Amirante, he of the luscious hair and voice, gave a rousing rendition of the National Anthem.

- I bought a Yuengling for $10.25. I other news, I recently bought a 12-pack of Yuengling at the grocery store for less than $10.

- In other beer news, there were no beer men at MSG. That’s a travesty!

- There was a taped piece during a break where three fans were asked to identify the most underrated Rangers players in team history. One guy answered goalie Mike Richter. Richter was the starting goalie on a Stanley Cup winning team, a 3-time All-Star and has his number retired by the team. To paraphrase The Princess Bride, I do not think underrated means what he thinks it means.

- Let’s play Jeopardy. The category: Stars of NBC shows that are about to get cancelled who attended the Rangers-Devils game.
For $200, this Smash actress previously appeared on Will & Grace.

For $400, this former Arrested Development and Up All Night actor got a nice cheer but he’s really a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. (When he attends a Rangers-Leafs game, does he wear a Leafs jersey and get booed?)

There’s a guy named Dancing Larry (or as the guy behind me called him, Homo Larry) that apparently dances to Black Box’s Strike It Up at every home game. My favorite part of his routine was completely unplanned. A guy wanted to get on the scoreboard, so he stepped between the camera and in front of Larry to wave hello. Dancing Larry was pissed. This is his 45 seconds, pal. Anyway, here’s a video of Dancing Larry from a few years ago.

Denis Potvin is a member of the NHL Hall of Fame thanks to his long career as a defenseman with the New York Islanders which included 4 Stanley Cups. Potvin retired in 1988 or 25 years ago. The Rangers still hate him, and share this whistle/chant multiple times per game.

I have mixed feelings about this. First, I appreciate the history in that fans have now shared the Potvin Sucks chant for multiple generations. Conversely, the guy retired 25 years ago. Let it go particularly if you’re playing a team that’s not the Islanders.

Some notes about the game. The Devils were playing for their playoff lives and came out flat. Ryan Callahan, who had a monster game with two goals, scored his first goal for the Rangers within the first minute.

- Of the 18 games, we’ve seen on the hockey road trip, this is the first where the bench received an unsportsmanlike conduct and the coach got ejected.

- The game was televised on NBC, so Pierre McGuire was located “Inside The Glass.” For something different, I would have loved to have heard what he said based on what the benches yelled to the referee.

- During a commercial break, MSG played Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline and showed a woman wearing a Boston Bruins jersey while waving an American flag. The place went crazy.

Actually, these stories can tell you all about the game in which the Rangers defeated the Devils 4-1.

- Rangers Report Blog (this recap is really good)
- In Lou We Trust
- SNY Devils
- New York Daily News
- ESPN’s game recap.
- ESPN's excellent Katie Strang (Rapid Reaction, Rangers Exact Revenge & Devils coach Pete DeBoer's ejection)

Overall, I’m not sure what to make of Rangers fans. There were a ton of Rangers jerseys which is always a plus. In addition, the goal cheer is pretty cool.

However, the loudest cheers/chants were against New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur (“Mar-ty, Mar-ty) and the Devils themselves (“Season’s Over”). Again, I’m okay with both of these, but there didn’t seem to be many positive cheers (only occasional “Let’s Go Rangers” chants). There’s some arrogance among Rangers fans, but since the team was in 8th place prior to this game and hasn’t done much in the playoffs since the 1994 Stanley Cup win, I’m not sure why. There was some talk from the guys behind me about the Rangers season and how hopeful they were that the team was finally getting it together.

Basically, I’ve decided that it would be fun to see the Penguins defeat the Rangers 4-0 or 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs.

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