The Rangers Game Log

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Vacation Tinged With Blue

- Spent the last week in Antigua, and what a wonderful week it was. It’s a gorgeous island, the weather was spectacular, and I was able to totally relax. Well, mostly almost nearly. Blue was the color of the sky, the water, the drink of the day on Tuesday, and my only thoughts of home. Because while I was able to forget about work, kids, and the everyday tribulations of life, didn’t think about port deals or nuclear proliferation, nor much care about the Oscars, the Sopranos, or even the Kentucky Derby preps, there was one thing constantly weighing on my mind and they were wearing Blue. You’d think that I could miss three lousy games at a time when the team was riding high in first place in the division, 21 games over .500, and with seemingly no real worries especially after the 6-1 win over the Flyers to resume the season, right? Just forget about it, I thought. What's the worst that could happen? (Besides devastating injuries) I’ll just check the scores when I get home.

Right. I held out all the way until Monday morning. There was one lonely little internet terminal than nobody was going within 50 feet of, but the temptation was too great. Under the pretense of having to send a couple of emails that absolutely could have waited, I slinked over to the terminal early in the morning hoping no one would see me. Three bucks for fifteen minutes, I slid in the bills one two three. The connection was slower than Dale Rolfe, and by the time I composed and sent the two lousy emails, I was scrambling for the score of Saturday night’s game. Devils 2, Rangers 1. Tried to access a boxscore or recap but ran out of time and was spared the details of injury and crossbars. I felt they would lose this game, but the news still hit hard, despite it being the first regulation loss in six weeks! Get a grip, what is wrong with me!?

No more internet, I resolved, and besides, I just KNEW they would win against Carolina. I also knew that since the game was between two of the top teams in the league, there was a chance I could see a headline about it in the cursory news and sports summary that was printed out from Yahoo for the guests each morning. So I casually strolled over to the binder that contained the printouts on Tuesday morning, and saw: “Gerber spoils Rangers’ Lundqvist return.” I held out hope until just a few hours ago that perhaps the game had gone overtime. So there I was, lying on a beach in a total paradise, being waited on hand and foot, eggs and bacon every morning, 11 A.M. cocktails, all you can eat, skinny-dipping in the Atlantic Ocean, and I had a knot in my stomach the size of Gilles Marotte over a second straight loss, not even knowing the score nor circumstance, and who knows what I would have done if I’d known about the 17-0 shot advantage in the third.

I refused to go online, but considered calling my friend Ira for some reassurance that everything was OK. Ira once told me that he had considered getting hypnotized into not caring about the Rangers anymore, and suddenly the idea didn’t seem so comical. If I can’t forget about them in this setting, then perhaps a Vulcan mind-meld is called for. “Forget.”

On to another resort, this one with TV’s in the room, so it was straight to the ESPN score crawl on Wednesday night. ....Rangers 2 Atlanta 3 SO....Jagr PP Goal....... I felt the walls of the room closing in on me. The point earned was little satisfaction, but it was a little satisfaction. On Thursday, a morning rain delay in beach activity, so I turned on ESPN Sports Center anticipating some highlights. I don’t watch much Sports Center these days, but I shouldn’t have been surprised at how little they care about hockey considering how little they cared about it when they cared about it. I could have gotten more information about the Maccabiah games on Iranian state TV. Don’t blink, you might miss some hockey; the “highlights” consist of two plays and a cloud of smoke. Maybe I turned away to check my sunburn for a second, but it seemed to me that there were no Rangers highlights except for a Lundqvist save on the Top Ten, and a remark by Steve Levy about the Rangers “losing Jagr in the overtime” that stopped my heart cold before he continued “...with an illegal stick,” WHY WOULD HE DO THAT TO ME? I also caught on the crawl .......for Rangers RW Ville Niemenen..... and was never able to get the details on that or Sanders Ozolinsh.

I actually broke down that night and headed for the internet room. But it was too late, just as well. Didn’t need to learn that they lost Jagr for the shootout as well.

So when I got home Saturday night, the first thing I did was to make sure that the DVR had recorded the game in Montreal, and the next thing I did was check in with Blueshirt Bulletin to bring me up to speed. It pretty much confirmed my impression that the team had lost some tough games, and that there didn’t seem to be anything to really panic about.

Then I watched the game. What a nice gesture by the Blueshirts, really, to bring me right up to speed on what I’d missed. In about an hour and a half of accelerated viewing while skipping through commercials and intermissions, I got a complete primer on the week that was. A slow start, some solid goaltending to keep them in, a sputtering power play, the big line shooting blanks, a frantic third period with a big shot advantage (an absurd combined 55-17 for the last four games), a crossbar, and a whole lot of frustration. It’s tough enough playing in Montreal on a Saturday night; they had to run into a Canadiens team and crowd juiced up by the emotional ceremonies for Bernie Geoffrion and a hot goalie getting his second shutout in a row. You just got the feeling after not too long that they would not score a goal on this night. The crucial five-on-three power play seemed too predictable, and Nylander’s crossbar nearly made my week of (almost) blissful relaxation go completely down the drain. Attending today’s tilt with the Thrashers could very well complete that process. I could be completely pale by 8 PM.

Anyone know a good hypnotist?


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