Friday, April 13, 2012

Stanley Cup Journal: New York vs. Ottawa

New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators
Game one
April 12, 2012
Game time 7:00pm

7:00pm - Dusted-off the final portion of my chicken and stuffing sandwich. It was so delicious. I have room left in my belly for another, but there is no time to spare.

7:07pm - The Canadian and American National Anthem is being belted out by John Amirante. Fans, waving white towels, are pumped and ready to cheer the home team to victory.

7:11pm - The game is underway. Madison Square Garden has never looked better. Renovations have given it a new sparkle.

7:15pm - Typical start to a first round playoff series. Both clubs are not taking any risks. It is a feeling-out process.

7:20pm - Ottawa survives a Rangers power play opportunity. Going into the first TV time-out, neither team has hit the twine.

7:22pm - The sun is still out. A sure sign the playoffs have truly arrived.

7:23pm - Ottawa applies pressure following the penalty kill. Both goalies - Craig Anderson and Henrik Lundqvist - look sharp.

7:26pm - Brandon Prust is called for a misdemeanor in the offensive zone. It is Ottawa's turn to go on the power play.

7:29pm - The Senators fail to capitalize with the advantage.

7:33pm - The all important first-goal is scored by number 24 of New York, Ryan Callahan. He gained control of a rebound and sent the puck past Anderson.The tally is scored at 12:01, with assists going to Anton Stralman and Artem Anisimov.

7:41pm - Stu Bickel goes off for cross-checking Milan Michalek. Shortly after, Brian Boyle and Erik Karlsson are called for roughing.

7:45pm - Ottawa is unable to muster up any offence with Bickel in the box.

7:47pm - A montage of hits by Ryan Callahan displays why he is wearing the "C" on his jersey. He doesn't hesitate to stick his nose into the thick of things.

7:49pm - End of twenty-minutes. The Rangers lead by 1 to 0.

7:52pm - An ad for the new Hockey Hall of Fame campaign ("Most Hockey Dreams Die") comes on the screen. One frame shows a great shot of the Maple Leaf Gardens marquee.

7:54pm - Don Cherry's blue and white checkered jacket looks like it came straight-off the table of Italian restaurant. I wonder if there is any leftover pasta in the fridge? Any thought of Italian food and New York City, reminds me of the mouth-watering dishes at Mamma Leone's.

8:00pm - A past playoff series comes to mind -1964. It is one of my early memories of viewing playoff hockey. First, the Maple Leafs took on Montreal, then defeated Detroit to capture the Stanley Cup. Of particular interest, was watching the games when Toronto went on the road. It seemed strange seeing them skating around in their white uniforms. The broadcasts from Montreal and Detroit seemed so foreign. It didn't take long for me to discover the Forum and Olympia were special venues.

8:07pm - Drop of the puck to start period two.

8:10pm - A fresh playing surface reveals the logo at centre ice. The Rangers crest is framed with "1926", their first year in the National Hockey League.

8:14pm - Second verse, same as the first. After five-minutes, the second period, to this point, is very similar to the first. Lundqvist is stopping everything Ottawa is firing at him.

8:19pm - A shot from the goal-cam shows the distinctive ceiling of the Garden. They no longer play NHL hockey in the Montreal Forum, Detroit Olympia, Chicago Stadium, Boston Garden or Maple Leaf Gardens. The game does, however, continue to live in Madison Square Garden.

8:24pm - John Tortorella takes a time-out. Momentum is turning to Ottawa, but as Bob Cole put it, "they can't buy a goal."

8:32pm - Ryan McDonagh is assessed a two-minute penalty for tripping.

8:35pm - The Rangers dodge a bullet. Ottawa doesn't get a shot on goal during their power play.

8:37pm - The goal lamp behind Craig Anderson is flashing. Marian Gaborik blocks a clearing attempt and carries the puck towards the net from the right wall. His shot goes in and New York extends their lead by two goals. Time of the goal 16:24.

8:42pm - Brian Boyle scoops-up the puck in the slot and beats Anderson high to put New York up by three. Time of the goal 19:06.

8:45pm - Forty-minutes of play is in the books. The time-out by Tortorella looks like a very wise decision. It seemed to wake-up his squad, who were clinging to a one goal margin with Ottawa attacking.

9:03pm - New York and Ottawa line-up at centre ice for the face-off to begin the final period.

9:07pm - Not a good start for the visitors. Nick Foligno is stripped of the puck by Carl Hagelin, who sends it to Brad Richards. He finds the back of the net at 2:15.

9:13pm - I kill the sound on the tube and tune in the MSG Radio Network on XM. Kenny Albert (play-by-play) and Dave Maloney are working the game.

9:23pm - Daniel Alfredsson cuts in front of the Ranger goal and deflects a shot from the point past Lundqvist. Time of the goal 10:05.

9:32pm - The clocks ticks down and there is five-minutes remaining.

9:37pm - Ottawa strikes again with a late goal. On a two-on-one, Nick Foligno passes the rubber to Erik Condra who fires it home. Time of the goal 17:41.

9:44pm - Game over. The Rangers mob King Henrik as they head to the dressing room. Game one goes to New York as a result of their 4 to 2 win.

9:45pm - I drop to one knee. Time for a post-game prayer. "Dear Lord, I know you are busy, but if at all possible, could you send a Guardian Angel down to look over the Toronto Maple Leafs? They require Divine intervention to steer them in the right direction. All they really want is to make the playoffs. Also, could you do something about the high ticket prices at the Air Canada Centre? Okay, that could even be a difficult task for you to handle. Amen."

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