Friday, May 2, 2008

Lets Go Rangers a.k.a. Crosby Sucks

Post #56 Topic: 1 down 3 to go

Twice in the storied history of the NHL has there been a case where a team down 3-0 in a best of 7 series has been able to sport a comeback, and take said series. This statistic suggests that what the Rangers are attempting to do is not actually impossible… just incredibly difficult. Unfortunately, what that statistic fails to consider is that those other miraculous comebacks did not take place against a team boasting 2 of the league’s 3 most dominant players. Yes, the Penguins have 2 of the NHL’s 3 most prized competitors – Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – both of whom are firing on what somehow earned the distinction of being “all cylinders”. By no means are the Rangers a lackluster team; we could never accurately claim that the Blueshirts don’t have their own arsenal of explosive firepower; and in the experience department the Rangers’ skaters certainly take the proverbial cake. But as delicious as cake may be, it doesn’t help come back from a 3-0 deficit, especially not when the trailing team is, as we speak, leaving on a Jet plane with the fear that they might be back, playing golf, all too soon (Rest in Peace John Denver, who was never ever full of shit).

So the odds are stacked… so what? Who cares? Big deal!!!! Crazier things have happened, especially in the wide world of sports. Mahmoud Abdul Rauf got a technical foul for an uncontrollable tourrette’s syndrome outbreak during an otherwise normal rendition of the national anthem. Well that’s about all I can think about but still it brings validity to the whole crazier things have happened concept.

After game 3, in which the Rangers clawed back from a 2 goal deficit only to draw a stupid penalty and allow the insatiable Pen’s power play unit to crack the game wide open again, the mood surrounding the team was somber at best.

Would game 4 be Brendan Shanahan’s last in an NHL jersey? Did the Rangers defense need a complete overhaul (different topic for a different day)? Would Jaromir Jagr be playing his last game in the garden, for the team that he helped revitalize after a decade of underachieving and overpaying? Would Tom Renney be blamed for falling short again and find the axe, leaving the best job in the NHL vacant? Would the signings of Chris Drury and Scott Gomez result in a regression rather than the expected progression, leading fans to question the worth of the enormous investment? The mood surrounding the team, in the press, on tv, and in the minds of fans reflected that after just 60 more minutes of hockey, a year that will hopefully for a long time be remembered as the year the Rangers finally cashed in on their poised drafting and young talent development, could like a match in the wind be effortlessly extinguished.

The sentiment was infectious, almost impossible to ignore. Magically, there were several Rangers who seemed un-phased by the state of things, and provided a hint that this team may, just may not have been entirely finished.

The Captain, who as DCMSG forecasted after mid-season saved himself for the playoffs acknowledged that his next game could be his last, but swore that his team remained full of fight. Young center, Brandon Dubinsky, who almost overnight has turned into one of the leaders of this mostly young ranger team mentioned that “these were the types of situations were good hockey players were supposed to step up”, as passed along to him earlier in the year by the man they call “Shanny”. And then there was Henrik, the King, who left us with: “Every year it doesn’t happen, it gets closer to the day that it’s going to happen again”. Lundqvist was referring to the inevitability that one day, a team would again return from a 3 game deficit to advance to the next round. Although it’s too early to make any promises, too foolish to provide opponents with any extra motivation – Henrik may have been onto something.

Courtesy of some “higher powers” (the Russian Mafia), I was fortunate enough to attend game 4. Seeing as anyone reading this has most likely already read the papers, I’ll leave my summary short and sweet. The garden was rocking – louder than it’s ever been (not an exaggeration, the papers seemed to agree). At no point did the game go more than 2 minutes without a raucous chant from the crowd – from the basic Jagr chant, to the traditional Hen-Rik, to the “Crosby Sucks”, voices were lost in unison. Hen-rik stood on his head. Marc Staal’s ability seemed to progress another year’s worth, placing his talent-age at nearly 50. Petr Prucha showed flashes of the 30 goal scorer that he was not too long ago. Brenadn Shanahan showed up to play for the first time in a few games. Oh, and then there was Jaromir, feeding off that energy he stored up during the regular season, getting involved on all 3 ranger goals (scoring 2), placing him alone at the top of the pack of playoff scorers. Man was Jagr good, double shifting nearly the entire game, taking the heat off of Scotty Gomez for having one of his more “invisible” games as a ranger. And now we go back to Pittsburgh for game 5, hoping to, as Jagr said, “let ourselves play one more game”. And as demonstrated by their embarrassing conduct at the end of the 3rd, the Pens are clearly nervous, and certainly on their heels. The time to strike is now – the iron is hot and the Rangers have learned to exploit the Penguins’ biggest weakness – even strength. The time to climb back in for real is Sunday at 2 P.M.

I have to comment again on the crowd. In one of my 1st posts I mentioned that I still get chills every time I walk into the garden. When the team you’re supporting is playing well, there is no place to be like the garden – it smells like sports. Game 4 was one of those rare moments in time when that initial chill lasts for the entire game. For the first time in years and years, it truly seemed that every person in attendance was a fan, and as mentioned above – the place was rocking. Corny as it may sound, events like this, when the excitement reigns so thick it can be bottled, makes a fan proud to live in New York and to be part of one of the greatest traditions in professional sports – being a stupid, obnoxious New Yorker. Hopefully the players captured some of that excitement and can use it in game 5 to open up an opportunity to play just one (but hopefully two) more games.

Other Notes

Chang! You’re not Chinese? This changes everything…

Who is Johan Franzen?

I have like ten packs of index cards in my desk drawer. Occasionally, when I’m feeling very motivated to study, I take them out and make note cards. Then they sit on my desk for two days. Then I start using them to hold chewed gum when I’m not near a garbage can. Then I throw them away. Then I realize I’m out of note cards and go buy more – evil empire shit.

The guy at Petco, who is semi-retarded, knows an unbelievably ridiculous amount about algae. I’ve had a fish tank for 15 years and have this algae growing that I’ve never seen before. After a game of 20 questions, where I was asked whether the algae was more filamentous or coarse, forest or dark green, and rapidly spreading or just “normally” so, he identified my algae as a rare strain known as “black beard algae” – fucking pirates are taking over the world, one fishtank at a time.

Concussions are the new hangovers – if you didn’t get one you just weren’t partying hard enough.

Street benches are the new Apple stores.

Bud light tastes different every time you drink it. Tonight it was good.

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