It was the middle of a Monday back at work when I got the invite to my first Rangers game of the year. As someone who tries to make it to Madison Square Garden several times a year this was exciting and box seats made it even more so.
Due to the timing of this posting, it is fairly obvious that while I was going to take a free ticket, this particular computer printed page granted entry to the preseason product. While tempering my excitement, like many hockey fans I wasn’t going to turn down a chance to see a game. With the Flyers in town and almost every potential starter dressed, I figured it had potential.
After 2 hours of hockey, 3 beers and 4 hot dogs the third period started with Philadelphia up 2-0 despite being greatly out shot and outplayed. For the moments entering the third period I had to remind myself that this game was worth 0 points in the standings in order to not exude too much unnecessary frustration on watching the Rangers unable to capitalize on the majority of the games scoring chances.
The intensity of this meaningless game only increased when the game got aggressive and physical in the third period leading to some pushing and shoving that only the Flyers and Rangers could pull off in a meaningless game.
Eventually the Rangers were able to breakthrough with a Dan Girardi shot in the first five minutes of the final period and entering the last two minutes the Rangers sat with one less goal despite nearly a dozen more shots. That is when Chris Krieder was Johnny on the spot and buried a rebound for a tie hockey game. It was amazing to be back in an electric Madison Square Garden for a season that has a realistic chance at being that special one that brings a fifth banner in the rafters.
Overtime came next and in theatrical fashion and an advertisement for the all new 3-on-3 format Keith Yandle picked a defenseman’s pocket on the blue line and turned it into a breakaway where he drew a penalty shot. With the penalty shot he sent the Flyers home with about as disappointing a loss as is possible in the preseason, 3-2 Rangers.
When I finally came down off the high from the goal song I turned to the friend who had invited me and exclaimed “What a game!.”
“Too bad it was preseason,” he replied.
The game was exciting, the Garden was loud, the beer was cold and the hot dogs were hot but at the end of the night both teams had 0 points and were no closer to the ultimate goal, the Stanley Cup. Let’s all be thankful that tomorrow night the tease of the preseason is giving way to the spectacle of the real ones.