New York -- The elephants came across the Hudson yesterday morning. Unfortunately, 'Dumbo' and his buddy already were in town, late Monday night.
'Dumbo' Marek Zidlicky (I know, it's a bit harsh; but you didn't take the abuse from Rags' fans) and 'Queen" MAB along with the lack of Captain Mikko Koivu helped the New York Rangers get by the Minnesota Wild 2-1 Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, as the Wild lost their second game in the Tri-State in five days.
The normal (!?!) Rangers' crowd of 18,200 was permeated by more than 100 Wild fans who were mostly concentrated in the North end of the arena (where King Henrik -- Lundquist, that is) held the Wild to 15 saves as he won his 34th game of the campaign.
The vaunted Rags' fans were in full throat, and saved some of their best salvoes for after Marian Gaborik scored the Wild's lone tally early in the second period, as they in unison shouted 'You Suck!' the first time Gaby touched the puck after his next shift started.
It indeed, was one of those nights, folks.
Update from Long Island …4:00 PM EDT Wednesday
OK, so we finally get out here to Uniondale, just the other side of Hofstra University (which must make for real fun traffic when both Hofstra and the Isles are playing at the same time). The Long Island Rail Road handled us very well; on time all the way out to Hempstead (granted, we rode mid-day, off-peak trains. But, I digress; after all, this is a hockey blog, not a railfan-zine.)
Anyhow, about last night at MSG: they are really ready to wind the season down (Rangers are 39-27-8, 7th place in the East, which means that if the season ended today, they would face New Jersey in the opening round.) The souvenir stands are trying to get the parents to trade in their kids’ old Rags’ jerseys for new ones (I suppose if your jersey hasn’t changed in 54 years or so, that’s about the only way left to keep ‘em coming back for more.)
I buy an MSG t-shirt, as I am more interested in Madison Square Garden than the Rangers; a pin (for the road cap) and off we go. The national anthem is sung by a very attractive blonde woman, for whom, the Rangers’ fans give next to no respect (they’re too busy screaming ‘You suck!’ to everyone else) as she ends it in about 1:28, barely tolerable by the ‘Reusse standard’ of 1:30 for the anthem.
Time goes by in the first period, after a long, long time of uninterrupted play, there is a puck hit with a high-stick call, play stops, and then, I hear from down the aisle, a tiny ‘excuse me’.
It was the young anthem singer, Paget Knebel, a 22-year old from Seattle who is attending Long Island University, hoping to sing professionally (rock and roll). She said she doesn’t understand hockey, except for the fights; those she understands. I told her she got her money’s worth in the first period, and she smiled. She has sung the anthem at MSG about six times (Rangers, Knicks and WNBA Liberty); she doesn’t get paid to sing (but she does get the exposure which, in hard-to-stand-out New York, might be even more valuable long-term,) but the Rangers do feed her prior to the game.
She sat next to me (and my wife) for the first two periods; then she had to leave, but not before about 5-6 of us had bestowed copious amounts of hockey knowledge upon the poor dear girl.
Needless to say, HTP wishes Paget well in her future endeavors. As for the rest of the Rangers fans, well, …
We found the assembled multitude outside at Lindy’s munching on $8/slice cheesecake:
Chicken Little: No Burns, no Boogaard, no Koivu, no John Scott, they might as well have brought the Wild onto the ice tonight with the song they bring Vince McMahon (WWE owner) out with: ‘No Chance in Hell’.
Pollyanna: Yeah, right. They almost beat the Rags, at MSG, with that line-up. Banged-up as the Wild are, they still went into the ‘World’s most Famous Arena’ and nearly pulled it off…
Bottom Line: Dumbest move of the night was prior to the game, benching John Scott in favor of Marek Zidlicky. You take all your size out of the lineup, and then you try to play a speed game vs. probably the NHL’s ‘grittiest’ team. They turn around and try to beat you to a collective pulp. This game was horribly mismanaged. Coaching staff should have done a better job, but so should Zidlicky and MAB, who in no way escapes this one. If we’re throwing people under the bus, save a little for Antti Miettinen, also. He blew two chances to score (one in the second period, and a partial break later on in the opening minutes of the third) and didn’t help his cause much.
Stud: When in doubt, go to your goalie. Backstrom again.
Dud: Let me see…Hmmm…starts with a ‘Z’…ends with a ‘Y’…wears an odd number…
Next: vs. NY Islanders, Wednesday (tonight), 6:00 PM Central (7 PM Eastern) Time, Nassau Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum. (TV: FSNorth (includes FSWisconsin) in HD, MSG Plus)
Personal Note: The wife and I will be on your TV screens tonight. Look to the left of the Islanders’ goal. We are four rows up from the ice. How do we look?
WRT (getting a seafood hankerin’…)