What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog, live here from Alberta, Canada. This time I write this blog to you from a hotel business center in Calgary, after last night’s brutal 5-4 OT loss to the Calgary Flames.
The quick positive: my trip to Alberta, Canada has been fun. The quick negative, the Rangers went 0-1-1 against two of the lesser teams in the National Hockey League.
I’ll save you the normal intro since I’m pressed for time here, so let’s get right into it.
After watching the Rangers lose in the final minute against the lowly Oilers on Friday night, our four man crew from NY took the 2 1/2 hour drive down to Calgary.
If you haven’t seen it already, you can read my Rangers vs Oilers blog here: http://doinow.com/nyroilers-review-from-edmonton-making-the-trip-to-alberta-rangers-look-sadder-than-an-adele-song-glen-sather-night-goaltending-showdown-a-letdown-tons-of-pictures-live-from-edmonton-fatman-the/
If you’ve never been, I found Edmonton to be more livelier. Maybe because it was a work day when we were in Edmonton, but there were more bars and all of them were packed. We also found the people to be really into the Oilers and loved to talk hockey.
Where we found Edmonton to be a blue collar town, we found Calgary to be a white collar town. There weren’t many bars. Our hotel is in downtown Calgary and on a Saturday afternoon, the town was dead. Most of the bars didn’t even open up until 5PM. We were later told by natives that Calgary is trying build itself up and try to catch up to the more modern US cities. While saying Calgary is NYC’s financial district as opposed to Edmonton being NY’s Hells Kitchen would be quite the stretch, perhaps that reference will give you some frame of mind on the two cities.
Even the games themselves, the Oiler fans were loud and everyone in the town was wearing Oiler gear all day. In Calgary, we didn’t find much of that. We had great seats to both games. We sat in the 10th row in Edmonton and all the fans were in jerseys and passionate. In Calgary, we were in the fourth row and it felt like MSG. You had people hanging out in the club, people walking down the aisle during play, people wearing suits and the game seemed to be an afterthought. I saw more umbrella drinks in the stands of Calgary than any other NHL arena I’ve ever been to.
As far as Rexall vs the Saddledome, the Saddledome is a much better venue for hockey. Hands down. It’s more modern, but could use a makeover too. Obviously, the Rexall goes the way of the dodo next season, as Edmonton ushers in their new beautiful Rogers arena. Those fans deserve it. Nothing against Calgary fans, but it was just a quiet atmosphere, and if I enjoyed doing the “POTVIN SUCKS” whistle, you could’ve heard me on TV crystal clear all game.
What has remained the same throughout our stay in Canada is the hospitality of Canadians. Before our trip, I tweeted out that we were heading out to Alberta. It seems most Canadian hockey fans that we’ve encountered are impressed that we would come to this province to watch our Rangers. Some Canadians are knowledgable about hockey in NY, some aren’t. Most are shocked to find out that hockey is the fourth major sport and gets little-to-no-play in the sports media. I mean, Mike Francesa, the biggest sport talk show host in the country, will hang up on you if you call about the Rangers. Sure, he will talk about it in the playoffs, but aside from Boomer Esiason, hockey is on radio silence.
I love visiting Canada. Every bar you go into, hockey is on all the time. Whether it’s TSN, their ESPN sports center or whatever, there’s always something hockey going on. In the States, we are lucky to have 90 seconds of coverage on ESPN. If you ever can do it, and you’re a big fan of hockey, which you probably are if you’re reading this, you owe it to yourself to come a game in Canada.
Anyway, I got a lot of responses when I put it out there that we were visiting Edmonton and Calgary. One bar that got good reviews after tweeting back to me was Hudsons Canada Pub. We said we would go there, and the guys gave us a $50 coupon. We surely drank way more than that, but the gesture was appreciated and it was nice to feel welcome on a different soil. I hope some NYC bars would do the same for Canadian hockey fans. We wound up spending and tipping more than that, so it was a win-win. The bar was also extremely clean, friendly and that beer was ice cold, so we really felt like we
hit a home run, sorry, we’re in Canada; SCORED A HAT TRICK, by being there.
After having a drink or ten, we took the 5 minute cab ride down to the Saddledome. The venue was bigger than I thought it would be. As stated, I felt the vibe and energy was better in Edmonton. The impression I got from the fans walking into the arena was that the Flames game just felt like something to do.
What really shocked me in the Saddledome the most – NO MOLSON beer! I couldn’t believe it. The bartenders at Hudson told us that, but I thought they were fucking with us. Budweiser is the top beer in the Saddledome. 90% of all beer at the Saddledome is Bud! I was floored! The Canadians call it “heroin beer”. They say they get more rocked on that than the normal Canadian beer. Cue another Canadian, Alanis Morrisette – “isn’t it ironic?”
You know on this blog it’s never solely about the x’s and o’s, but everything else, but man, I was disappointed because I hate Budwesier. At home, I drink Miller Lite, Labatt Blue Light or Molson. Luckily, I found a Stella tap and settled for that. I’m sure this paragraph made a difference in your life!
Cool story before the game. As all the players were doing their drills and were focused on what was going on, Mats Zuccarello took time out, called for a young kid in a Flames jersey and tossed him a puck. Little things like that are great for the sport and to help younger kids really get into becoming a fan. It’s funny when you see these adults, like the idiot in Pittsburgh, who steal the puck from the kid. If you need a puck that bad, go buy one in the team store. It’s just like the unwashed masses who fight over free t-shirts that most likely won’t fit them anyway. All that shit is for the kids, ya dopes!
The Rangers have created a disturbing trend as of late. They start really strong, but can’t bury the puck. They will overpass, try to be pretty, wait for the perfect shot or whatever, but the result is usually the same – they refuse to shoot the puck. It’s been the story of this team for some time.
Since I’m pressed for time, let me give you the official scoring summary from NHL.com:
What drives me so fucking nuts and gets me so angry about this team is that we know the Rangers are better than what they’ve been showing in this slump. Yes they are missing Klein & Stepan. Klein did give you some scoring, but “The Undertaker” Dylan McIlrath has been solid. If anything, Dan Boyle should be your seventh defenseman. Losing Stepan sucks, no question, but the Rangers should still be able to handle the Oilers and Flames of the world.
In a scenario we’ve seen way too many times, the Rangers started out strong. Eventually, JT Miller beat Jonas Hiller for the first goal of the game, halfway through the first period. 1-0 Rangers.
For nearly forty minutes, the Rangers played solid hockey. They moved the puck. While the shots were low, like usual, the Rangers did a good job possessing the puck and Raanta, who beat the Flames in MSG & getting the start on the second game of a back-to-back, was solid. The Rangers PK was solid. Their PP was not, and Zucc’s game-tying goal was because of a 6 vs 4 situation.
With two minutes left in the second period, the Rangers just collapsed. Keith Yandle should’ve been given an assist for turning the puck over to Johnny Hockey, who quickly broke away. Raanta had no chance, the poor bastard.
Then, 17 seconds later, the Flames score again, this time off a Girardi turnover, that lead to a 2 vs 1 situation, with Mason Raymond beating Raanta. The Rangers must lead the league in giving up goals within a minute, after a goal has already been scored. Hands down, I would put my money on it. So after playing strong, winning and conservative hockey for nearly 40 minutes, a 1-0 lead was pissed away faster than you could drink one of these Budweiser heroin beers. 2-1 heading into the third.
Down 2-1, the Rangers made the hole deeper, when Johnny Hockey once again scored, as he caught Girardi flat-footed. When you give up 5 goals, as the Rangers did tonight, some of the heat has to go to the goaltender. However, the Rangers did Raanta no favors at all. He was a deer in the headlights with this defense. Two minutes later, Joe Colborne joined the party, moving away from Kevin Hayes and beating Raanta. 4-1, with 16 minutes to go just like that.
I’ll be honest, my friends wanted to go at this point. Since I’ll never be back here, at least not anytime soon, I wanted to stay. However, Weidman/Rockhold and McGregor/Aldo sounded like the better option at the time. I’m glad I held my ground and stayed.
Leave it to my man, Tanner MOTHERFUCKING Glass, to cut the deficit in half. I had a bad view of this goal from my seat on the opposite end. It felt like watching a video game goal, when you play against the computer, and the computer goes into FUCK YOU MODE and makes the score close.
Down 4-2, the clock fastly went past the 10 minute mark. It wasn’t looking good. Another person who has killed the Rangers all season, Dan Boyle, a once great player who is making Marty St. Louis’s 2015 playoff run look like the stuff of legends, made the game a one goal game. Boyle wound up the third star of the game. I don’t know how, but he did. His backhand goal gave us some life.
With the clock approaching triple zeroes, the Rangers pulled Raanta and got a questionable powerplay. Up 6 vs 4, the Rangers MVP of the season, Mats Zuccarello, came through, beating Hiller over the shoulder! 4-4 with 90 seconds left of game time.
I can’t lie, I’ve seen this play out one too many times. I really thought the Rangers were going to lose in regulation. It’s just what they do. I was ecstatic getting out of the game with the point, especially with how bad defensively the team has been playing.
In the extra period, the Rangers gave up the game winning goal to to TJ Brodie. 5-4. Rangers were lucky to get the point.
As a gambler, I hate the 3 vs 3 OT. It takes away the advantage for the better team. We know the deal, a wild shot, an errant pass, anything and boom, it’s a 2 vs 1 breakaway the other way.
As a fan, I love it, as long as my team isn’t in it. The Rangers haven’t fared too well in these 3 vs 3 showings. They do have speed on the team, but really, this is another scenario where the Rangers could really use Carl Hagelin. I’ve said it a million times on this blog, Emerson Etem is a questionable, at best, as an NHL player. He doesn’t fit on this team. He is not good enough to be on this team. He is wasting a roster spot. He may be better somewhere else, but at this point in time, Etem is dead weight. Everytime I see him on the ice, I get enraged and long for the days of 62 striding 200 feet in 2 seconds.
Another point about the three on three’s is that the Rangers best player is their goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist. You lose his skill advantage in these things too. I guess it’s better than a shootout. Let’s face it, if the Rangers win this, we are all rah-rahing the three on three. When they don’t, we’re pissed. It’s all part of being a fan.
With one more day left in Alberta to explore the town, I overall enjoyed my Canadian experience. We are already thinking about doing the Leafs in February. The Rangers didn’t play well, and man, it really sucked seeing them lose two games to two teams they should’ve beat, but I gotta use my own mantra – “PLAYOFFS, PLAYOFFS, PLAYOFFS.” When the Rangers have these crappy games, just remind yourself that all you have to do is make the playoffs. When the Rangers start losing playoff games, then you can go nuts.
Quick look at the standings:
Washington has 42 points in 28 games.
Rangers have 40 points in 31 games.
Islanders have 39 points in 30 games.
The Devils have 34 points in 29 games.
We got a flight back Monday morning, and since I’m on vacation, I shall be at MSG on Tuesday night to see the Rangers get revenge on the Oilers. Cross your fingers for Hank vs Talbot!
Thanks for reading and thanks to everyone in Canada who has made our trip enjoyable. Wish the Rangers did the same for us!
See you at the Garden on Tuesday!
LETS GO RANGERS!
@nycthemic on Twitter