Tag:New York Rangers
Posted on: April 14, 2009 11:13 pm
 

NHL Postseason Preview(?)

I bet a few of you are wondering what that question mark is doing in my title. Well, you see, here's the thing. I'm not what you would call a hockey expert. In fact, I've only been to two hockey games in my life, including a trip to MSG for a Rangers game that I blogged about here.

But that doesn't stop me from following the local teams in the area (Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Flyers). As I mentioned in linked blog entry, the Rangers are my favorite team by default, but my heart remains with the Hartford Whalers. Some of you would say the Carolina Hurricanes, and this would warrant a few nasty scowls from the locals in Connecticut. Just tread lightly with hockey in the state. And don't mention Peter Karmanos either while your at it.

Anyway, I was debating with myself whether or not to watch the NHL Playoffs this year. And it's actually somewhat of a major decision. Let's just say if the Braves were still on TBS, this entry wouldn't have even been a tiny thought in my probably equally tiny brain. So after a quick web surfing session, I found a few intriguing facts about the NHL Postseason that might make it worth watching.

Rangers Penalty Kill vs. Capitals Power Play

This is one of my favorite hockey matchups. Stonewall defense vs. High-powered offense. Something has to give. Probably leaning towards the Rangers' D breaking first. Henrik Lundqvist can't stop everything thrown his way, but he's going to try. By the way, the Rangers have the #1 penalty kill against the Capitals #2 power play. IF the Rangers can muster some offense, they can win this series. Capitals took 3 of 4 in the regular season.

Devils Frozen Over?

Usually the Devils are a rock-solid team behind Martin Brodeur. Lately, not so much. The Devils might be the coldest higher seed entering the playoffs. They've been awful, especially in late March. A slight rebound in April might be able to hold off the Hurricanes in Round 1, but probably not enough for a deep run towards the Stanley Cup. Experts are picking the 'Canes in the upset here but I'd love to see them get bounced in the first round for obvious reasons...

San Jose vs. Detroit

If there's one matchup I'd love to see (and Versus for that matter) it's this one. Detroit is Hockeytown USA. They've been here before. But the Sharks have been the best team in the NHL pretty much all season. They started off hot and never looked back. I love to see upsets in March, but if the Western Conference went "chalk," I'd love to see this series go seven.

Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia

Let's face it, these two Pennsylvania teams don't like each other much. This series is of course a rematch from last years Eastern Conf. Finals. I've already seen multiple Facebook statuses about Sidney Crosby's level of toughness and that he is going to be crying to his mother after a four-game sweep. Personally? I want this one to go seven, just to draw out the epic battle between fan bases. And to think the NHL is losing popularity...

Alas, there is just one problem with the NHL (and the NBA) playoffs. They're too long. Four rounds, including the finals, of best of seven series. You play four months of regular season games for a two month postseason (and two months without shaving...) that could end up dragging on for what seems like eternity. Oh, and I forgot to mention the other problem with the NHL Playoffs:

It doesn't include the Hartford Whalers.

And I won't be a true NHL fan until it does. Sadly, I feel like I'm going to be waiting a while.

(Your dead to me, Karmanos. DEAD TO ME!!!)

- Eagle

Posted on: January 8, 2009 4:09 pm
 

A Night at The Garden - Canadian-Rangers from MSG

For those of you who don't know, you would assume that the Rangers are my favorite hockey team by looking at my CBS Profile. And well, your wrong. And it's not your fault. You see, the NHL has been dead to me since the Hartford (CT) Whalers left for Carolina. I haven't been to an NHL game since 1997 when I watch a 3-2 Whalers win over the Canadians at the Hartford Civic Center (now the XL Center, and home of the AHL's Hartford Wolfpack, the Rangers affiliate).

The Rangers claim my favorite team spot by default, although I probably should be a Islanders fan because their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport (CT) Sound Tigers, play 10 minutes from my house. But because the Rangers have Chris Drury, the hometown hero of Trumbull, CT, they claim the top spot. And when my friend called me out of the blue yesterday with an invite to MSG for that night's game, I couldn't say no. So despite the fact that I had no power thanks to the ice storm that hit Connecticut, the plan came together and I traveled to NYC with two buddies for my first hockey game at MSG.

Before I start rambling, let me just start with the fact that I've been to MSG before. I've seen a couple of Knicks games and a few college games as well, including the 2008 Big East championship between Pitt and Georgetown. But the atmosphere for basketball games seems subdued. The NBA seems too corporate, and considering that both Knicks games I watched were in corporate box seats, I don't mean that as a compliment. But, this was several years ago, when the Knicks, well, sucked. Maybe now times have changed and the real fans are back in force. I don't know. The Big East game was a neutral site game, so most of the crowd, including me, probably had tickets before the Big East Tournament even started and therefore probably had no true rooting interest since their team was most likely knocked out.

But hockey is different. It doesn't have that corporate feel to it. The die-hard fans always seem to be out in force and the casual fan like myself can appreciate the little things. In hockey, the crowd feeds off of every little play that could lead to a goal. During the Canadians-Rangers game, Chris Drury, who also would be considered one of "my boys" if I were on PTI, stole a pass and was one-on-one with the goalie. The crowd practically stood up and an excited murmur ran through The Garden like electricity, only to be changed to groans as Drury's shot went wide. I have yet to find that electricity in a NBA game. I've seen it in college basketball and college football and the NFL, but not the NBA. Maybe it's me, but that's one of the reason I liked college basketball more.

But, on to the highlights, and lowlights, of my first hockey game at MSG...

Lowlight: As I walked up to the automated ticket machine at the train station, I realized that I left my debit card at home. Thus, forcing my self to use $20 of the $60 I had in cash in my wallet. Not the end of the world, but certainly not the start to the evening I was looking for.

Highlight: I found an reason to actually defend my purchase of a faded blue/gray Rangers hat, with the number 23 surrounded by the words "Rangers" and "Drury" above and below the 23 respectfully. I actually had bought the hat at MSG during the Big East Championship game while browsing for a UConn hat.

High/Lowlight: Passing our first Starbucks in Grand Central sparked multiple jokes on the over/under for the number of Starbucks we would see on our little walk from the train station to MSG. We also passed a large number of McDonald's as well. More on this later, but as we entered MSG, the "halftime" score was McDonald's 5 - Starbucks 3.

Highlight: Dinner at White Castle. Do I even need to explain this one? I think not. Hmm....sliders...

Highlight: It was CapitalOne 2009 Team Calender Giveaway Night. Which means I have a cool new calender for 2009 that features all of the Rangers games for the rest of the season.

High/Lowlight: Our seats. Honestly, there's nothing wrong with any seat in MSG. It's all just perception. Where I was sitting, it was difficult to judge the depth of the puck going from side-to-side (or "East-West", benches to the penalty boxes). That drove me nuts because I couldn't tell where the shots were going. Plus, we couldn't see behind the Canadians net at all, since the boards cut off the view. Still, great seats though.

Lowlight: The first Montreal goal. Basically handed to them on a silver platter by Lundqvist when he cleared the puck from behind the net right to a Canadians player who centered the loose puck and it was put right past Lundqvist, who was still out of position. Bad times and 1-0 Canadians.

High/Lowlight: The first Rangers goal. Originally credited to Wade Redden, it was changed during the first intermission to a goal by Chris Drury, much to the delight of our group, who all hail from Trumbull. Sadly, I missed the goal because I was buying beverages...

Lowlight: ...and those beverages cost $8. That's almost as bad as Yankee Stadium ($9.50) the last time I was there.

Lowlight and Epic Fail of the Day: The gentleman sitting beside me, I believe he was Canadian, asked me how many quarters or halves there are in a game of hockey. Yes, this did happen, I'm not joking.

Lowlight: The officiating. It was awful. There's no other way to describe it. Every questionable call went against the Rangers and several blatant calls were blown for both sides, including a few open ice trips and one slash that knocked off the glove of a Rangers player. After only one penalty in the first two periods, the refs whistle two on the Rangers early in the 3rd and it leads to a 5-on-3 for Montreal, who then turn it into a 4-2 lead. This also led to me blowing up with five minutes to go and using several choice words to describe the officials, including several jokes about zebras.

High/Lowlight: Robert Lang's 1st/2nd Goal. It was just pretty. Lang split two Rangers and fired a top-shelf shot over Lundqvist. It's a shame it was a goal for Montreal and it happened on the far end of the ice. But it was still pretty.

Lowlight: The Rangers lost 6-3, with the final tally a short-handed empty net goal by Lang, his third in a row and of the day for a natural hat-trick.

Highlight: As I was leaving MSG, a random fan, started an E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES chant in the stairwell. I have no idea why, but after joining in we exchanged high-fives which started the general smack talk for that Sunday's game. Really good times.

High/Lowlight: As we're walking back to Grand Central, we decide to stop at a McDonald's (the 7th one we'd seen so far) for a quick bite to eat before our 11:20 train back to CT. As my friend comes back from the bathroom, he mentions to us that he talked with the guy who got kicked out of the Rangers game for fighting with another fan. We actually saw this happen during the game, but couldn't see exactly what was happening so thought nothing of it at the time. Still, of the McDonald's to run into the guys who were kicked out for fighting...

High/Lowlight: The final score of our great walk turned out to be an upset: McDonald's 8 - Starbucks 7. I was stunned. I didn't think anyone could supplant Starbucks in an area, but McDonald's actually has. I don't know whether to be impressed or just hang my head in shame.'
Honorable Mentions: Duane Reade (3), Dunkin Donuts (3), T.G.I. Friday's (3)
Dishonorable Mentions: Wendy's (1), Burger King (0) and to the Best Buy and Circuit City that were right next to each other.

Highlight: On the train ride back, a lady walked through our car looking for a seat. She couldn't really open the doors between the cars to well, because she was holding a plastic cup filled with something that smelled rather strong. After she entered the next car, myself, my two buddies and several other nearby passengers all exchanged smirks and just shook our heads. Ah, New York City...

And on that note, I think I'll stop rambling. I don't know if this game will change my mind about hockey. There is still a bitter hole in my heart that was caused by this sport, but I think it's healing now. I've been to around 50 minor-league hockey games and still don't mind listening to an occasional game on the TV or radio. But I will never forget my first hockey game at MSG.

WHOOOOOooooOOOOA!!! WHOOOOOooooOOOOA!!! HEY! HEY! HEY HEY HEY!!! HEY! HEY! HEY HEY HEY!!!

- Eagle
Posted on: May 5, 2008 2:00 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2008 10:31 pm
 

Method to my Madness

If you were to take a look at my favorite teams on my CBS profile, you would see teams from Philadelphia, New York and Boston. After realizing that I have violated countless rules of city rivalries and probably thinking that I am a deranged fan or a front-runner, please let me explain with my first blog entry as an introduction/disclaim about me and my favorite teams.

See, I have a problem. I love watching sports. I've worked for sports teams and arenas and love nothing more than putting on CBS, FOX, ESPN, TNT or any other channel that has national or local sports at 7 PM and falling asleep to the 2 AM SportCenter. But up until this season, I've never really been a serious fan of the NBA, NHL or College Football. Mainly because I moved around a lot as a kid and chose teams that I could follow from each move. That's how I am an Eagles fan (lived in PA) and a Braves fan (blame Ted Turner and TBS). I also attend Rider University, hence the Broncs' logo for NCAA basketball. However, since Rider doesn't have a football team, I adopted my home state Connecticut Huskies and watched them grow from a transitioning 1-AA team, to co-Big East Champions this year. Say what you want about the WVU-UConn game or the Backyard Brawl between Pitt and WVU, UConn made it, and I couldn't have been prouder for my family, two generations, including my dad, uncle and cousins, and their team.

Now we get into the strange workings of my head. I was raised on UConn Huskies basketball. My dad is an alumni as I mentioned above, and I never really found a love for the NBA. I missed out on Jordan's first run in the 90s because I was too young, like 6 years old, but did see his second run and the Lakers/Spurs dynasties of the 2000s. I really only followed Ray Allen, the first guy from UConn that I was a household NBA name. I'll admit, I have a Ray Allen Milwaukee Bucks jersey somewhere in my closet and was saddened when I heard that the Seattle SuperSonics were going to move to Oklahoma City. Then, Allen was traded to the Boston Celtics, meaning the first UConn great in the NBA, was a only a few hours away from my hometown. However, my Celtic fan hood will be short-lived after this year. No, I'm not a front runner, but Rider has a F/C that you may have heard about. His name is Jason Thompson, a 6-10 big man who could (and should) and drafted in the first round, becoming the first player from Rider ever drafted. Whatever team he gets drafted to, I'll have a jersey/hat order online about 5 minutes after, it's nothing personal to Ray Allen, UConn or the Celtics, I just have a new priority.
Now on to the debacle that is the NHL. I have attended one NHL game in my life. I was about 9 or so, and I was at the Hartford (CT) Civic Center watching Brendan Shanahan and the Hartford Whalers (yes, the Whalers) play the Montreal Canadians with a friend and his dad, who had season tickets. The Whalers won the game, then later moved to Carolina and I lost interest in the sport. However, I casually followed one Chris Drury, who happens to be from my hometown of Trumbull, CT. He's a local legend of sorts, having won a LLWS title (winning pitcher, 1989 championship game), an Olympic silver medal and a Stanley Cup. Somehow, he landed with the New York Rangers in the off-season, and the only two players I ever cared about, were on the same team.

It's been a fantastic sports year for me personally. I actually care about all four major sports teams (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) and follow NASCAR (Hendrick MS) and MLS (NE Revolution) during the summer along with my Braves. I saw two NCAA basketball conference championships, seeing Rider fall in the MAAC, and Pitt win the Big East at MSG. I also achieved a personal goal, and beat my roommate in the process, by getting a "Superstar" ranking on my CBS profile, allowing me to Blog and post on GameCenter live Glogs as well.

I don't think there will every be a point that I am truly satisfied with all of my teams at once. That's asking for too much. However, if sports bliss or true happiness can be attained, I might be pretty close.

And I'm not going to complain.

- Eagle
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com