8:58 pm, September 30th, 2008
Wow, where to begin?? Let's get the usual out of the way first. The Rangers sucked. They were terrible; they fumbled the puck, they blew scoring opportunities, they had bad defensive lapses and if they played an NHL team, they would have lost badly. Now the good thing: they didn't play a NHL team, they played SC Bern and won 8-1.
As the cute German girl who works for Ovation Sports said to me, 'its like a different level, with everything.' To find an equal for SC Bern, you probably have to go down to the ECHL. They were soft, they had trouble passing, their shot selection poor, their shot power poor, their positioning poor and their conditioning was terrible.
And the worse part for them? Don "Have another donut you fat pig" Koharski didn't do Bern any favours by calling a tight NHL game. He gave the Rangers two 5-on-3 power plays, he cut what little momentum they were able to build with dubious calls and his fat ass was in the way more than once.
Now for the good stuff. The fans were incredible. Once you got past the fact that they are snotty Europeans who smoke like chimneys (smoking was allowed in the arena and I nearly choked), they are as passionate and involved as any I have ever seen. Their team lost by seven goals and no one, NO ONE left. They sang, they banged drums and they waved flags. It was awesome and I can't even imagine a Garden like that at all. How sad, because Ranger fans are some of the most passionate in all of sport and if they channelled it properly, they would be the best fans in all of sport. Why hasn't the Garden bought the Misfits "I want to be a New York Ranger" song yet? It is perfect to sing along to and a fun song, look it up.
They played the Ranger goal song after every goal, but I didn't even cheer for the Blueshirts' second and third goals as Koharski basically handed them over. They resulted in a weird feeling for me that I have never had before - I felt bad rooting for the Rangers ... To properly capture the atmosphere, I would have to say that it was like someone told the SC Bern fans that Santa Claus didn't exist. But, like any kid, they bounced back and were happy to get presents anyway - singing all the way to the end.
And it hasn't ended yet - the arena folks don't throw people out when it is over. They are still serving beer and selling souvenirs as I type this - an hour or so after the game ended - and there are still people hanging out drinking, smoking and having a good time.
Tomorrow should be a better game but I am sure the fans won't be as into it. And who knows how many there will be? There were at least two sections of seating today that were empty (the standing room was utterly packed though) and they kept advertising the game against Metallurg on the big board.
Before I bounce, and if you are still reading this, some more quick things: the building booed when there were television timeouts, apparently they don't have them normally and they felt they ruin play (and they were right). There were more Ranger jerseys than I expected and believe it or not, I saw a 88 Lindros and a 20 Robitaille among them; weird. I mentioned drumming before, they have a permanent drum section in the standing room area with some tough-looking guys and girls going at it all game - so cool.
And, one last thing (for now): many of the standing room fans claim their spots by the iron posts with stickers and ribbons and take their time showing up. Some girl actually expected me to move because her sticker was there. Ha! Doesn't she know I'm from New York? Doesn't she know I'm Scotty Hockey? I would have felt bad but her boyfriend was right next to me and he didn't offer to move to give her the spot by the rail so I don't feel bad, she deserves it by being with a loser.
I'm sure that more will pop into my head later or tomorrow, so until then Es-C-S.C.B, Es-C-S.C.B!