Friday, October 06, 2006

Welcome to New York, Shanny.

A funny comic and writer pal of mine named Jonathan Corbett used to have a bit about how nobody ever says the words "Welcome to New York" in this city sincerely. The only time you ever hear it is right after something awful, disgusting and embarrassing has just happened. Step off the bus, suitcase in hand and a car drives through a nearby puddle, soaking you with oily, disgusting water?

"Welcome to New York, dickhead!"

Get used to it.

I was lucky enough to score a ticket to the home opener of the New York Rangers last night, and for new blueshirt Brendan Shanahan, the same principle did not apply. The Madison Square Garden faithful greeted him with a huge ovation, and after Jagr showed everyone in the building that he deserved to wear the C, scoring in the first 30 seconds, it seemed like- Shanahan took over, knotching two goals, the 599th and 600th of his career.

Just like that, New York City had a new favorite son.

I can't think of a better start of the season for Ranger fans, who've had a pretty tough decade. In fact, it's been a pretty hard 10 years for pretty much every original 6 team that didn't have, well- Brendan Shanahan. Either way, Madison Square Garden was rocking, the Potvin family was once again put in it's place, and there even was a chant of "We want the cup" towards the end, which I still feel is kind of optimistic considering that the team they defeated was the lowly Washington Capitals, who all seemed to be trying to win the game by themselves. Still, it was fun to see Ovechkin skate, and I'll tell you, it's even more impressive to see this kid live, mainly because (and this is a skill he shares with Crosby) he just never gives up on an offensive bid. When the play is on his off wing, he hovers- waiting for an opportunity, timing his rhythmic loops like Pat LaFontaine used to do, hoping to be in the right place at the right time to grab a loose puck.

But unlike LaFontaine, who mostly did this in the offensive zone, and scored innumerable goals by just hanging around the back door and knocking it in, Ovechkin does it all over the ice. He lays back, doesn't expend energy, then explodes. When he gets the puck the air goes out of the arena, and everybody just watches. He breaks down the ice, and doesn't so much beat guys as just outwork them. If they sweepcheck it from him, he follows the puck and gets there first. If they hit him, he absorbs it, rolls off and stays with it. Then when he is surrounded by players, he time and time again makes something out of nothing. Miraculously, he gets off a shot or a pass where for the average player, there was nothing.

Sadly, for him, he's on a line with two other average players, and they, and him, had nothing last night.

But the Rangers looked good.

I won't say that the Rangers are "back" until you walk around that building and start seeing fans wearing jerseys of players who actually still play there, (It's still a sea of Richter's Messiers, Graves', Leetches and Gretzky's) but I feel that Shanahan's tour de force performance will do quite a lot to change that.

Tonight we see if the Bruins can climb off the mat as well.

Christ, I wish I could watch that game.

F- You RCN Cable.

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