Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Tennessee Yankee in Patrick Ewing's Court

The Nashville Predators and the New York Rangers don't play often, once a year if that, and I took the opportunity to watch this matchup at Madison Square Garden tonight, a Nashville fan in hostile territory, and boy did the team ever give me ample opportunity to be one of the only happy people in the building.

There were Preds fans there, I wouldn't say, "in force," but they were there. A Cliff Ronning jersey stood out. There were a couple of kids with Preds jerseys. A row ahead of me had two, at the very least, anti-Rangers fans but I think they might have been Preds fans.

First period, goal by Jason Arnott. I stood clapping. The cat is out of the bag. An enemy among them.

Between periods, two Rangers fans next to me ask me where I'm from. I answer. He said, "I was thinking, how in the world has this guy lived here all his life and be a Predators fan?" I said, "Yeah, that'd be pretty much impossible." (Note here, I think it would be almost impossible to be a Preds fan if I were originally from New York and lived here all my life, with three possible hockey teams to choose from, not to mention the absolute disrespect Nashville gets with media coverage--ESPN radio hardly ever announces a score from a Preds game night after night) The questions come about the team. How long have they been in the league? Surprised to find out since '98. Do people there follow them? This is a tough question. Yes, they do, but again, not "in force." I say, "They're lucky to draw 11-12000 fans a game. Depends on who they play--Red Wings always sell out, but if it's like the Buffalo"

Second period, goal by Scott Nichol. I stood clapping. The cat, long out of the bag, I hear, "Sit down asshole!" from high above. Somewhere across the arena some sort of security concern happens. Maybe some bad blood between rival fans? I never saw what it was, but oh well.

Second period, goal by Jerred Smithson. I stood clapping. The cat has been wandering on the ice and playing with a ball of string, bag long forgotten. Finding the two cheering fans down the row in front of me, I give high fives. "Sit down, asshole!" "You fucking pussy!" Some of it directed towards me, some directed towards the couple. Whatever. 3-0, assholes. And Jaromir Jagr has been spending a good amount of time sprawled on the ice. He was absolutely abused.

The whole game, especially the third period, Tomas Vokoun may have played the best I have ever seen him. This is definitely saying something. He was a freaking buzzsaw. His play probably still didn't make him a household name for Rangers fans, one I distinctly heard yelling, "This guy isn't even that good!" at one point during the Ranger frustration. They even have Brendan Shanahan, a longtime Preds killer. This guy was held in check, and he's not exactly washed up either, being one of the top point scorers in the league early in the year. The Preds killed three 5-on-3 power plays (they always occurred with at least one minute left on the original power play, so they had to kill these for a long time, too). It was amazing.

It's also amazing how much Rangers fans sounded like Preds fans from my trips to the GEC. "Shoot the puck!!" was yelled many times. All the calls that went against the Rangers were "bullshit." I would like to illustrate here that the refs are still pretty inconsistent, and just when you think you've figured them out for a game, they go against those expectations. Lots of penalties are called on reaction, some glaringly obvious penalties aren't called, and so forth. But Rangers fans really have nothing to bitch about with three 5-on-3 situations and they couldn't get one goal out of it.

Anyway, fun all around. I was despised for awhile. And I saw one of the most complete Preds games in the process.


At 10/19/2006 09:18:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

That game was awesome. I wish I could have been there with you. Penalty Kill kicked butt...even against three 5-on-3's. Team played solid D. Vokoun was....well, Vokoun. He was awesome...beyond awesome.

Hear me now. If Vokoun plays like that...and the team can play good team defense...and we avoid major injuries...this team is one of the top challengers in the playoffs.

Oh, and my heard-so-often-it's-a-broken-record refrain: Legwand was fantastic. Fans need to let go of the idea that he is supposed to score every game and pay some freaking attention. David is of the team's best skaters...creates offense, and has great puck-handling. He makes the team significantly better. Try this: watch a game where whenever Legwand is on the watch only him. Forget the puck...just follow Leggy. You'll see the puck a lot anyway since he's always around it...but you'll also see all the little things he does that help the team.

Hope you had fun, man. And the movie review site looks great.

Oh yeah...and I'm back.

At 10/19/2006 11:31:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

That was great stuff, and we took another one tonight, although they allowed way too many shots, as usual. And Mason looked like one of the best backups in the league. Swept through New York like it was nothin'!


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