Madison Square Garden is billed as the world’s most famous arena and it is home to the New York Rangers. In this year’s post season, home ice has been the key for the Blueshirts who are undefeated thus far. They came back to the Big Apple two games down to the Washington Capitals and won all three in MSG to force a game seven down south.
After dominating against Alex Ovechkin and company, they find themselves in a similar situation against the Boston Bruins who were still riding the high from their game seven come back which sent a shocked Toronto Maple Leafs squad back across the border.
Ranger fans are a rare breed and embody everything that is truly unique about New York City. They pack the rafters of MSG game after game regardless of the team’s standings. Fans have endured long droughts between Stanley Cups. The ‘1940’s’ chant was finally silenced in 1994, but they have seen lean years since. Last year’s Eastern Conference Finals overtime loss to the dreaded New Jersey Devils whetted the appetite for another parade through the streets of Manhattan.
This was supposed to be their year, but it has been anything but. Yet, the fans hang in there as they have through the carousel of coaches over the years. They have seen Mark Messier promise a cup win and than sob his way through his retirement speech a few seasons later. Ranger players have sashayed their way through jean commercials and gossip columns. Even the Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky, spent some time on Broadway. He was even in the house this evening, making the comment that every player should get the opportunity to play in front of these fans and the atmosphere which is as brash as it is loud.
Perhaps that is why some players implode when they pull on a Ranger uniform. Not everyone is cut out for NYC and it can mean the end for some careers.
However, the question on everyone’s mind tonight was whether or not the Garden faithful could help the Rangers avoid a three-game grave? The game started out promising enough with a scoreless first though the Blushirts looked less than spectacular especially on the powerplay which at times looked like a youth hockey team having a bad outing.
Even with that, Taylor Pyatt somehow managed to deflect a Ryan McDonagh shot past Tuukka Rask. It was the only one to go in for either side, setting up a nail biter in the third. The Bruins would tie it up early on a goal by Johnny Boychuk.
Sloppy play wouldn’t give fans much to cheer about and would only add fuel to the fire John Tortorella headlines. In the end, it would be the Bruins’ fourth line that would put in the game winner on a weird play with less than four minutes left in regulation.
For the Rangers, the three-game mountain seems way too difficult to climb, but stranger acts have been performed on Broadway.