Yes We Do Hockey Here, Too

Okay, so no, we really don't usually write about hockey. But that's only because I'm the only one in the Boiled Sports house (note: we don't really all live in a house together) who loves hockey. Tim and Boilerdowd love it slightly less than me, which is to say that they don't love it at all. Or even like it.

But that doesn't matter. I have a been a New York Rangers ticketholder for most of my life, going back to the early '80s when my dad would take me to games and have to cover my eyes as we walked Eighth Avenue lest I see a hooker flash her goods (yes, the pre-Giuliani days were ugly). Madison Square Garden was no picnic, either, with the clear smell of weed throughout and with the "blue seats" as they were known up in the upper level well-storied in fan-fights that notoriously wound up with someone being pissed on (yes, it was an awful place). But I got to see the Rangers win the Stanley Cup in 1994 and then I went to college and the Rangers went into a downward spiral. They went to the Conference Finals in 1997 but then didn't make it to the playoffs again until last season. At which point they were obliterated in a 4-game sweep at the hands of the hated NJ Devils.

So last night, when the Rangers completed a first-round sweep of the Atlanta Thrashers, it was a hell of a lot of fun for me. I went to Games 3 and 4 the last two nights and took some videos along the way. You may or may not like them, but I'm putting them up here for your entertainment. As anyone who's ever been a crazed sporting event knows, it's hard to describe the loudness to someone and I've learned from taking video clips at Purdue games and other events that the true atmosphere doesn't really come through but it's fun to share nonetheless. So here we go.

This first video is from Tuesday night. The Rangers were up 2-0 in the series, having won twice in Atlanta, and the game had just started. The crowd was pumped and then just 32 seconds into the game, the Rangers got on the board. This was the crowd reaction after the goal, which, naturally, I don't have on tape.

The Rangers went on to win 7-0, an incredible blowout, especially for the playoffs.

Then on Wednesday night, we were there for the party-atmosphere that the Garden was. As nervous as I am for Rangers playoff games, I was enjoying this since they so clearly had things in hand. There is a guy who sings the anthem at most Rangers games who is SO beloved and the place went nuts when he was introduced. This is the last few lines of the anthem to give you an idea of the crowd and how it was to be there.

Game 4 was a better game, with Atlanta taking the lead twice and the Rangers tying it twice. Then, a couple of minutes into the third period, the Rangers thought they had scored but there was no goal signaled. At the next stoppage, the play was reviewed for a long time. During that time, Jaromir Jagr, the Rangers captain, slowly skated over to where the puck was lying on the ice and guided it to center ice, where he left it on the center face-off dot. The implication of this was that he felt it was going to be ruled a goal -- when a goal is scored, the ensuing face-off is at center ice. Within seconds, a Thrashers player skated over and roughly slapped the puck away and down the ice. It was funny stuff. And then the announcement was made that it was indeed a goal, the goal that would ultimately decide the series.

Late in the third period, the Thrashers pulled their goalie out in order to have the extra attacker on the ice and almost immediately, the Rangers got control of the puck and sent in an easy goal into the empty net to seal the victory.... and we got to cheer and chant again:

This next one is the last 30 seconds of the game. You can hear the "goodbye" chant as well as people beginning the "We want the Cup!" chant, which is kind of stupid in the first round no matter how well the team has played.

Last season, when the Rangers started to actually be a good team again, a tradition was born where the players would all gather at center ice after a victory and salute the fans. This is somewhat more common in Europe but very rarely seen in North America. The fans absolutely love the acknowledgement (as any fan of any sport could understand) and wait for the salute after all home victories now. One of the bittersweet moments of last year's playoffs was that after the Rangers were swept, they still waited on the ice and saluted the fans one more time and the roar was deafening. This year, we've already gotten to see a couple of victory salutes on home ice and now we move on to the next round. Anyway, here's the last clip, of the Rangers cheering their fans:

That's all for today's video essay on the New York Rangers.

How's the offensive line?

One hit? That's all we got? One damn hit?!?