This immediately spun the wheels of 'How does this play out?' in my head. I figured the worse that could happen would be that I would arrive in NYC late and get down to MSG later than the puck drops, but I would link up with my brother, nephew and co-Managing Director of OGA. So the lesson learned when you purchase your tickets through Ticketmaster over the Internet and you are traveling in two groups, do like we did and print a complete copy of the tickets for each group. That is fine with any venue as long as you do not try to scan more than one of the same seat, so you just ensure you are ready to connect via text message or cell phone to find out which ones your partners have used, hope they haven't sold yours, and enter with it.
In any case, we were told in 15 minutes versus an actual hour that the plane was ready to fly, so a re-do of the boarding procedure began with me because I was originally the first one on and they were confirming by calling out your name to re-board. All in all though, we lost about 45 minutes, so it would be a very close thing to make my original connection.
I actually did after landing, running and riding the Skylink at DFW from the C to A to B terminal. With three minutes to spare. As I came around the corner with my ticket waving over my head, they asked if I was indeed me and scanned me on through. I even landed at LaGuardia Airport in NYC WITH MY CHECKED BAG on the aircraft. I am, needless to say, a big fan of American Airlines today.
I caught the shuttle to the hotel who came and got me when I called, and linked up with my group as they were returning from the NHL Store (see the Frozen Pill blogs done via cell phone already on The OGA Blogs). Having had toast at 4:30am and it was now 3pm in NYC, we were all hungry so went into Francesco & Giovanni's Pine of Queens restaurant here at the Holiday Inn LaGuardia. We were thinking hors d'vours and would order 'just a little something' from the menu. Chuck Rose from the Pine of Queens craftily distracted us with some great conversation about sports in general and the NY Rangers in particular as we ordered what turned out to be a HUGE amount of great food. We finished the meal, waddling out, the very picture of the Christmas Goose.
A few minutes to change into game jerseys and we were off to the subway for the ride to Pennsylvania Station and MSG. On the subway, we ran into Vito and Savy, also going to the game. If you are from the south, you come to New York hearing the hipe about New Yorkers being too busy to give you the time of day. We learned form Chuck Rose, Vito and Savy that such beliefs couldn't be farther form the truth. In Vito and Savy's case, they stuck with us on the train, got us right into MSG, and took us to our sections before the game because we were only spread apart by three of them. After the first period, we met Savy again who took us to the best of the two Rangers' merchandise stores (at Gate 75). We could not have been more appreciative of those guys who proved New Yorkers can be just as hospitable as southerners are and/or claim to be.
Attendance at this game for my brother and I was first spoken of in 1980, staring at MSG TV and the Rangers (Fotiu, Beck, Duguay and the like) after we discover Hockey during The Miracle. As we found out, better late than never is an appropriate term. At the risk of repeating some of what Frozen Pill may have already blogged, here are some of my first impressions:
- The fans are RANGERS fans - LOUD and passionate. Heck, when the team wasn't on the ice yet, we entered the arena with them cheering for their section of the stadium.
- We got there just in time for the coaching staff and players to be introduced, this being the home opener. There were loud cheers for several players, Coach Renny, and the loudest for Henrick Lundqvist.
- The ceremonial first puck was dropped by Bathgate, Hall and Graves whose jerseys will be raised to the rafters this season. Drury and Toews took the draw, and in a case of foreshadowing, Drury won.
- And there were several firsts in MSG:
At the :35 second mark, the first 'POTVIN SUCKS' cheer went up.
There was a flurry at the Rangers' net and Lundqvist made the first save at 1:51 of the 1st period. Korpokowski drew the first penalty of the season at the same time for Hooking.
The first fight of the season was at 4:01 of the 1st with Callahan fighting the 'Hawks Fraser - Callahan won.
The first goal witnessed by my brother and I in MSG (and for the season) came at 6:47 of the 1st by Redden from Drury and Naslund.
The first Chicago goal was by Kane on a spirited and speedy rush by Campbell.
The Rangers also won the second fight of the night and the game with great, overall defense, superior goaltending, and four, well-placed shots. Chicago was the speedier of the two teams, but the Rangers had enough defense when it counted.
Tomorrow is wake up and head out to Washington D.C. for the 'Hawks at the Caps in the Verizon Center. Until then, more to follow...