What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. It’s been a while since my last blog here, where I recapped the Florida Panthers game. I didn’t get a chance to recap the Boston game, due to having work early the next day. I hate these late starting NBC games!
After the Boston win, myself and my fellow “Canadian Wrecking Crew” partner, Borgata Ray, visited Montreal for three days. I really enjoyed my time in Toronto, Edmonton & Calgary this season, but having been to Montreal before, this was my favorite trip to date, as I wasn’t rushed to do everything in a short amount of time. Plus, the Rangers kicking ass 5-2 also helped!
Where Edmonton was a great blue-collar town, full of great people, the venue in Edmonton is outdated. I’ll eventually return there one day, as I want to see the new arena, which debuts next season. Calgary, I feel like I could take or leave, if I never get there again. The city just felt like another high priced Manhattan, without the same night life.
Toronto I loved, because you had the hockey hall of fame right there. However, being there already this season, I can’t see going there again, until some time passes, as I feel it would be just seeing the same exhibits I just saw. I was debating about going to the World Cup in September. However, I’m sure the World Cup games will be very expensive and I’m sure hotels around the arena will be expensive too. I would rather use the money to see somewhere else different, like maybe a Winnipeg or Ottawa.
This was our second visit to Montreal. What makes Montreal great, for a New Yorker, is that the flight is only 45 minutes long. It takes longer to get through customs (especially in the wake of recent terror attacks) than the actual flight. Montreal has a great night life, from hockey bars, to Irish bars, to dive bars, to strip club bars, to casino bars; so there’s plenty of things to do when the game isn’t taking place. I’ve heard stories from some Ranger fans that go to Montreal that feel like they got the cold shoulder from the French speaking Quebeckers. However, in my experiences, I’ve always enjoyed myself and had a fun time drinking & hanging out with Canadians, no matter what province they are from.
Chances are – if you are an American that can hold their beer & enjoys hockey, you will fit right in, no matter where you are in Canada.
When you talk about the greatest franchises in sports history, the New York Yankees are the cream of the crop, with 27 World Series wins. The Canadiens are right there themselves, with 24 Stanley Cups/Championships. By far, the Yankee & Canadien franchises are the most elite and historic in all of sports.
Haters, or to lessen the blow, anti Yankee/Canadien debaters, can bring up reasons to argue the success of both teams. They’ve been around the longest. They had rights to guys before other teams. They weren’t crippled in times of War like other teams. I get all that, but bottom line, no other franchise has won, has more Hall of Famers in their respective sport and has as much history as the Yankees & Canadiens.
The Yankees are the standard bearer & most known team in the United States. The Canadiens are the standard bearer & most known team in Canada. While both franchises have opened up new buildings in the last 20 years (The Forum was replaced by the Bell Center in 1996, the new Yankee Stadium opened doors in 2009), the history hasn’t been lost in the new buildings.
That said, as a Yankee fan, I don’t like the new Stadium. It just feels like a tourist trap/museum. A lot of the lure and character didn’t come over from the old building. That’s just my opinion. I feel it’s just a place to sap your money, with the games themselves being secondary. I say what as New Yorker who has been to both stadiums plenty of times in my life.
Maybe die-hard Canadien fans feel the same way about the Bell Center. As a tourist in the Bell Center, I didn’t feel like everything was a cash grab and I felt the Canadiens treated the game as the number 1 priority, and not into your wallet as much as the new Yankee Stadium or even MSG is.
While I did see suits in Toronto (A Thursday night game, to be fair), I haven’t seen any suits in Montreal (Both games I’ve attended in Montreal were on Saturdays though.) In MSG, it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, I always see suits there. If you get the opportunity, it is worth taking in a game at the Bell.
After finishing up in Montreal, I returned to NY Sunday afternoon. After dropping my bags off at home, it was back on the train to MSG to see the Rangers take on the Penguins. Due to all my traveling and lack of time, I’m not going to bore you recapping games you’ve already seen/read about. For this blog, I’ll just be talking about things I noticed in both games and some thoughts moving on. However, most importantly I believe in good karma. Let me “pay it forward” and teach you another Stubhub trick. If you don’t know my first Stubhub trick, check out the archives on the right hand of the site!
Living in NY and being a Rangers fan is expensive. It’s a shame I’m not an Islander or Devil fan – I would have a lot more money in my pocket. Ranger games at MSG lead the league in ticket prices. The Rangers have a huge fan base league wide, so even road games are expensive. For example, on Wednesday night, the Islanders, with a playoff spot, had tickets going for $6! I’m not bullshitting you, check this out:
Everyone knows, no matter what fan you are, that the move to the Barclay’s has been a fucking disaster. In fact, just because I hate the Islanders (F.T.I) so much, let me revisit my Top 10 List on why Barclay Sucks!
TOP 10 REASONS WHY THE BARCLAY CENTER IS THE WORST ARENA IN THE NHL
- The sight lines. Anyone who has been here will tell you that this is the worst arena to watch hockey in. Some seats are facing one way, while your head is facing another. Half the building offers “obstructed view” seats. For the money you will pay, why not just watch it at home, where the only obstruction is the beer can in your face? Who wants to watch a game where you have to jump up and down, squirm and wrench your neck to see anything? Plus, while you’re doing that, the person in front of you is doing the same thing, so then you have to adjust to what he/she is doing too. In 2016, with all this technology we have, whoever designed this layout for the Islanders should be arrested for robbery and fraud.
- The scoreboard is offside. Maybe Islander fans will say, “yea, but does that really matter?” Yes it does. At a game, when the scoreboard is offside it sometimes screws with your peripheral vision a bit. If you have OCD, this will drive you wild, because you can never be centered. It looks bush league and is completely amateur.
- The dead space. The building has no clue what it’s trying to go for. You have a section that looks like it came out of the “Midieval Castle” in Lyndhurst, NJ. We watching hockey or are we jousting? You got another section with just black and gray walls. Why? It looks like a fucking auto garage
- The SUV in the front row. I don’t even know what automaker is sponsoring that truck in the front row, nor do I care enough to google it to find out, but whatever the Islanders are being paid to have that thing there, it is not enough. The vehicle looks like it came off a used car lot to begin with. Is it worth losing out on ticket sales and creating potential new fans who could’ve sat in those seats? The car being there really looks like a minor league promotion, not a NATIONAL Hockey League event. I would rather see a statue of John Spano there than this.
- The rap music. Enough already. I get it, you play in Brooklyn now. Not everything in Brooklyn is rap music. People appreciate other things. Listen, I like to see girls with fat asses too and wouldn’t mind doing that “Big Pimping” and spending G’s thing, but it doesn’t fit with the family friendly Islander brand.
- The Nets integration. I guess the rap music is part of that too, but from changing the color of the jerseys, all the Nets plugs, the venue making the Islanders looking a guest crashing on the couch, etc; the Barclay’s is telling you that the Islanders are the red-headed step-child of the building. I’ve been to more Ranger games than I can remember, and a handful of Knick games, but at both events, I knew the Knicks and the Rangers owned this house. The Islanders are living in their mothers basement at the Barclay.
- No more Icelander girls! I mean really? It was nice seeing the girls skate in between play and then ordering your meal from them at Hooters after the game. True story, a girl I knew in college, you know, the University of Nassau Community, was an Icelander girl/Hooter server/student. Don’t know what she’s doing today, since that was 15 years ago. If you’re reading Christine, thank you for filling out my bowling score sheet. Which brings me to another true story. To get my degree from the highly esteemed University of Nassau Community, I had to go to summer school and get 6 physical education credits. My classes were karate, bowling 1 and bowling 2. My final exam for bowling 1, I just can’t remember. Maybe it was returning your shoes to the clerk. Bowling 2 I remember. We had to fill out our own bowling score sheet without the use of the computer. For whatever reason, I kept fucking it up, so this Icelander/Hooter Girl/fellow alumni of mine, filled mine out for me. The things that you remember.
- The whole e-ticketing system. I know this is league-wide, that you can’t scan your Stubhub or SeatGeek tickets at the door. Maybe because I know I can go to the Hotel Pennsylvania across MSG or even Staples down the block to print tickets, but the Barclays fouled this all up. First off, the Office Max across the street won’t let you print tickets. Why they refuse that money, I do not know. So what you have to do is go to a random black guy on the corner with a printer hooked up to a blue tooth, and pay him $5 a printout, versus the 30 cents charged everywhere else. I give the guy credit, it’s a good idea to make money. He had a line longer than a Sonic restaurant opening. At the same time, the guy was giving people the wrong printouts too. The Barclays has a place where you can print Ticketmaster tickets inside. Why not include a Stubhub center too? It’s easy money.
- Concession stand prices. I know we are in NY and all, but the prices in Barclays were worse than MSG. The Barclays should not be the highest place in the league to get a hot dog and a beer. They are trying to draw people from the area to go to games. They want the Long Island fans to take the LIRR to the games. I’m fortunate where I have a decent income, where I can afford to spend a bit, but for a family, the Islanders have turned their back to you.
- The atmosphere of the building. It just doesn’t feel like you’re at a hockey game. Even the truest pure blood Canadian would wonder if he was really watching a professional hockey game here. You’re just distracted. The whole place looks minor league. It might even be less than minor league. I mean, they don’t even give out the free t-shirts to the kids or anything. The Islanders even have a whole wall dedicated to something called DraftOps. I don’t know what the fuck DraftOps is, I’m assuming it’s like FanDuel or Draft Kings. While Draft Kings and FanDuel ads are annoying, at least I know what it is and know they are successful. DraftOps seems like the bootleg version, which I guess, really sums up the whole Barclay hockey experience.
Anyways, as usual, I digress and go off on another tangent.
Back to the Stubhub Trick Part 2. If you don’t have good seats already, this trick is something you should use. Once you’re in the building, go on the Stubhub app. See what tickets haven’t been sold yet. Take a look at the seats in the building, if you can, from where you’re sitting. If they are empty, you got a shot.
Now when you’re doing this, monitor the tickets like a hawk. If the game is at 7, and you’re in the building at 6:30, you need to keep refreshing the app. If you see, for example, tickets going for $200, steadily decreasing in price every 5 minutes, that means the seller is just trying to dump them and not going to the game. If you see the same tickets, at $200, not moving in price at all, while it doesn’t necessarily mean someone is going to fill those seats, it just lessens your odds. I’m a gambler, so I want the best odds possible. That’s why I go for the tickets that keep dropping in price.
Whatever time the game starts, that is when Stubhub goes off-line. I know there are other third party ticket scalpers out there, but Stubhub is the best and most well known. Most people who list on other scalping sites, like FX, SeatGeek, TiqIQ or elsewhere, also list on Stubhub too.
If those tickets aren’t sold by game time, that person just ate those tickets, unless he’s outside the building waiting til the last minute. In my experiences, I haven’t found that to be the case. If someone is dropping prices like a mad-man, that means they couldn’t make it.
Granted, we are at the end of the season, so this trick might be tough moving forward, but it’s something you can do at baseball games, football games, or whatever. I’m surprised this worked in Montreal, but we had a perfect storm – the Canadiens suck this year (Because of injuries), it was the night before Easter, which meant either people were traveling to their destination or weren’t going out on the town and the market for tickets was already low.
As far as the game itself – what can I say? It was one of the best games the Rangers played this season. Just keep in mind who they beat – a Carey Price & PK Subban less Montreal Canadiens. However, the games are won on the ice, not on paper. The Rangers did their job and the powerplay kicked ass. When was the last time anyone was ranting and raving about the Rangers powerplay? Losing this game would’ve been a huge blow and would’ve led to “the sky is falling” talk. Instead, the Rangers got a long awaited win, and stomped all over Montreal in the process, in the home of the Habs. Funny how Lundqvist struggles in Montreal, but Raanta picked up another road win.
I feel that’s the book on Lundqvist in general though. Lundqvist always loses in Montreal. The Lightning have owned him in recent years, and at one point, Hank had a GAA above 5.00. Until 2014, the Bruins had his number. The Islanders have had his number the last two seasons. The Penguins have owned him all year. The Kings make Lundqvist their property, especially when Lundqvist has a 2 goal lead in the third period. Even Lee fucking Stempniak is giving Lundqvist fits. Again, that’s why you don’t pay an aging Cupless goalie 13% of your salary cap, in a team game, but I’m sure you’ve heard that argument once or a million times here.
Just a few comments on Montreal, for anyone thinking about going:
- Some of the best Irish bars are right near the Bell Center. Hurley’s and Irish Embassy are the best. You can meet ex-players and the TSN radio crew in those bars too.
- If strip clubs are your thing, I need say no more. Montreal is the strip club capital of the world.
- Montreal’s Chinatown is comparable to NYC’s, food-wise, not population wise. I still found the “Wohop of Motnreal” down a secluded block.
- If you’re into religion and churches, Old Montreal is must-see. It’s only 5 minutes away from the Bell too.
- You will never be bored walking down St. Catherine’s street, the heart of the drinking district!
- If you’re 18 years old or over but not 21 yet, don’t fret! The drinking age is 18. If you are the sugar daddy type, yes, there are a lot of 18 year old drunk girls. However, most of them are puking.
- The Montreal market is worth checking out, with all fresh food, maple syrup, meats, ice wine, vegetables, etc, being offered from different vendors. If you’re driving, you’re allowed to bring this across the border. Even flying, I was able to bring back some whiskey, wine and a 10.1% Labatt Bleue!
For me, my new bar of choice is Charlie’s. It’s an American dive bar type, but clean! They also have slot machines. In fact, I wound up hitting for $700 overall, which is like $19 American, but still, it paid for my trip! Charlie’s is right next to the Irish Embassy. If you’re looking for down-to-earth people, cold beer and banter, you gotta check it out. It’s more “real” than the touristy bars.
It’s all about personal preference. I’m not into strip clubs (Why pay for a hard-on you can’t use?), but I know many people love that shit. There is just something for everyone. For me, a dive bar with gambling, where you can sit down with people and shoot the breeze, like Charlie’s was right in my wheel-house! For other’s, they will like the more main stream/touristy bars, and while you gotta bucket list those bars, you don’t have to stay too long.
Oh, and I’m sure for the non-drinkers, there is something for them too, I just wouldn’t know about it!
Before getting into the Rangers/Pens a bit, and everything else, here are a few pics I took. You can view the whole gallery at the BlueCollarBlueShirt.com Facebook page at: BlueCollarBlueShirts.com Facebook Group
Since this blog is later and longer than usual, no need for the in-depth recap. Just a few thoughts on the 3-2 OT loss:
- I thought the Rangers played well against the Penguins, a team that they have a high probability of seeing in the first round.
- I was shocked to see Rangers twitter actually hold Lundqvist accountable for once. No shock that Hank wasn’t accountable in his post-game interview.
- Hank has to stay in the cage bottom line. His biggest weakness on-ice is puck handling. I know the Rangers defense have been atrocious at times, as recent as last week with the Sharks, but the defense has been better these last few games.
- On that Hank fart play, it was only fitting that Carl Hagelin made that play to lead to the Kessel goal. His speed and perhaps knowing Hank’s tendencies paid off. I’ll never live down the Rangers trading Hagelin for fucking Emerson Etem. What will Ranger fans & Senile Sather say if the Hagelin scores the series ending goal for the Penguins in the first round?
- How about that blocked shot by Girardi late in the game? I see a lot of Ranger fans talking smack about his contract, like the way I do with Lundqvist, but I see many people scream that he sucks. Plays like that is why Girardi is like the Paul O’Neill of the Rangers – a true veteran and a warrior.
- For the fourth straight game, the fourth line dominated.
- With the fourth line playing their best hockey of the season, I don’t think you’ll see Lindberg in the playoffs, unless something drastic happens. AV always goes with his vets. Plus, this is a win-now team, so unless you’re gonna swap out Hayes for Lindberg, I just don’t see how Oscar breaks into this line-up.
- Ditto on Ranger’s 7th defenseman Dylan McIlrath, who is now medically cleared to play. Grandpa Boyle is playing better and do you really think the Rangers would bench Marc Staal for the Undertaker? You need McIlrath in there for his toughness, but Tanner Glass has been a rock for the Rangers since his recall. Barring any future injury, McIlrath’s day in the sun will be next season, not in these upcoming playoffs.
- How about Eric Staal? Came so close to a hat trick. You can see he wants it too. His celebrations are already epic. Hope to see a few more of those in the playoffs.
- Rick Nash continues to play well, but struggles to bury the puck.
- Rangers had multiple chances to extend their 2-1 lead and take a 3-2 lead in the third period. They got too cute and overpassed.
- Give the Rangers PK some credit. That PK to start OT was nuts.
- Crosby getting the deflection goal stings with 29 seconds left. I don’t know who wins the shootout, but losing like that just sucks.
- Can’t go nuts about a loss like this because the Rangers played the night before and traveled. The Penguins only gained a point, rather than two, which is huge at this stature of the season.
- Nice running into Dancin’ Larry. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, anyone who hates on him is just jealous. He’s a diehard fan and pays his money & invests his time like anyone else.
- Brassard has been a beast recently. He’s another player the Rangers need hot in the playoffs.
- Back to that Lundqvist crap play. It’s better he’s reminded now, late in the season, that he can’t stick handle as well as the goalie on the Little Rangers. Let him make this terrible mistake now than in the playoffs. I don’t think you’ll see Lundqvist make a play like that for the rest of the season.
- What is scary about the Penguins is Crosby has been hot as fire lately. The Rangers usually do a good job shutting him down in the playoffs. They will need to do that again.
- Jeff Beukeboom was in the house. He’s one of my favorite players of all time.
For the Rangers, they took 3 out of 4 points this weekend. They are playing some great hockey right now. I won’t say it’s their best hockey of the season, as they opened the season up like gangbusters. However, they are playing well and they are showing they can beat anyone. They just need to show up every game and can’t have games where they simply don’t show up like the Sharks game.
The Rangers are a playoff team and have been one of the most successful franchises, albeit without a cup, in the last four seasons. I expect a ton of tight wire games in the playoffs for this team. You gotta hope that Lundqvist plays like he knows this could be his last chance at a Cup.
While the playoffs are rapidly approaching, a few things of note took place today:
- The Rangers signed Boo Nieves to two year entry level contract. He’ll be with Hartford. You can get the full story at http://www.blueshirtsunited.com/article/i-feel-im-ready-boo-nieves-signs-rangers
- Highly touted Rangers prospect, Pavel Buchnevich saw his KHL team eliminated from the playoffs today. He won’t join this current team, but who knows what happens next season. We’ve seen guys with big hype bust before, but if Buchnevich works out & with the Rangers having a great roster in Hartford, the rebuilding the Rangers may have to do, if they don’t win the Cup this season, shouldn’t take so long.
It was nice to receive my Cam Talbot Edmonton Oilers team signed stick the other day in the mail. For a tax writeoff/charitable donation, this is the latest piece in my never-ending sports collection. The money goes to sick kids, so it’s a win-win!
The Rangers now have three days off. They will visit Carolina on Thursday night to close out the month of March. If Eric Staal is scoring two goals last night, I can only hope for a big game for him on Thursday. At the very least, it will be emotional.
The Rangers then have 5 games in April to close the season. NYR hosts Buffalo Saturday night, heads to Columbus Monday night, hosts Tampa Tuesday night, hosts the Islanders Thursday night, then closes the season by hosting Detroit on April 9.
The next three games should be cupcakes for a dominant playoff team, like the Rangers hope to be. Tampa and the Islanders have given Lundqvist fits the last two years. It will be a test for Hank. With Lightning, Islanders and the Wings all playing for playoff seeding, and in the case for the Islanders & Detroit, playing for a playoff berth, these will have a playoff atmosphere for those two teams. The Rangers need to show up. After all – how nice would it before the Rangers to eliminate the Islanders from the playoff tournament?
I should be back Thursday night, with a Carolina/Rangers recap. The Rangers have a 99.9% chance of making the playoffs. If you look in the archives of this blog or use the search button, I’ve been saying this team is only about the playoffs, playoffs, playoffs all season long. The Game 5 loss to LA still stings. The TB Game 7 loss hurts. Will the Rangers get over the hurdle? Or will they continue to regress in the playoffs? Time will tell.
Until next time,
LET’S GO RANGERS
@NYCTHEMIC on the tweet tweet