Ben and I just got back from the Rock, after seeing Martin Brodeur become the winningest goaltender of all time, and as a nice bonus, we also saw Patrik Elias become the leading all time scorer of the New Jersey Devils.
You need anything else to go well?
I still got my free beer.
Take that, Deb Kaufman.
I have been to a lot of hockey games, but this was the first time I really felt I witnessed something historic, and just about everything about the game was something special. Here are some initial thoughts:
-The Devils were relentless in the opening minutes, blazing out to a 2-0 lead. I was sitting with Ben and I asked him, "what do you think was said in the locker room before this game- anything?" He replied,"if it takes a speech to get you motivated for this, I don't know what I can do for you." Just imagining the intense silence before the game in the locker room was pretty cool.
-The Hawks were blown off the rink for the first 10 minutes, yet according to recorded shots, remained competitive. I'd be interested to see how many of those first period shots were from way outside, and how many of those shots the TV broadcast judged as quality chances. I can't imagine there were many.
-As shellshocked as the Hawks looked early, Duncan Keith looked great. In the largely ineffective Chicago powerplay in the second half of the first period Keith almost singlehandedly kept the play alive and the puck in the zone. That dude is a good hockey player who played with a cool head when almost everyone else on that young blackhawk team was gripping their sticks so tight they almost snapped in their hands. Both Kane and Toews in seperate instances seemed insistent on beating everybody on the Devils instead of getting a safe, smart shot off, only to be broken up by the aggressively collapsing Devils.
-Elias became the leading scorer for the Devils with an assist on a shorthanded goal by Brian Gionta in the later part of the second period. Despite the fact that the Blackhawks answered right back, the fact that Marty had been scored upon did not phase the crowd or the energy one bit, as we were still all on our feet cheering Elias. Truly, Elias took the heat off of Marty, and denied the Hawks any ability to take the crowd out of the game. Ben and I wondered how many times each one of those men have done that for each other over the course of their long Devils careers.
-I saw a woman wearing a Patrick Roy Avalanche Jersey. This struck me as poor form, seeing as Roy, in that sweater, had defeated the Devils and Brodeur in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals. While I hate Patrick Roy completely, I understand honoring him on this night. But at least wear a Canadiens jersey, lady. I mean- for Christ's sake. You're in the Devils house, and it's Marty's night. No need to bring up that game.
-The New Jersey Devils Fan "Rangers Suck" chant needs to stop. You wanna know why? Cause it's true. You have the winningest goalie in NHL history and have mopped the floor with the Rangers since the mid 1990's. Enough with the goddamn inferiority complex. It's time for a grown-up rivalry. I enjoyed hearing the "Marty's Better" chant. It was born out of a legitimate gripe when Jean Sebastian Giguere won the Conn Smythe trophy for the Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup finals, despite losing to Brodeur's Devils. And now, he is better. Than everybody. This chant, and greeting Gretzky's Coyotes with the "Mickey Mouse Club" theme song, are the chants I'd like to see grow and flourish. Hey Devils fans- you're winners. Act like it.
-Chicago, to their credit, made Marty work for it. Great finish to a great game.
-It'll be real interesting to see how this Devils team reacts to this down the stretch, and into the playoffs. Was this their Stanley Cup, or the event that forges them into a playoff beast? Only time will tell, but as a Bruins fan, I'd rather not speculate- I'd rather just enjoy this night, enjoy this moment and celebrate being a hockey fan who got to see something special tonight.
Five Hundred and Twenty Two.
Congratulations to Martin Brodeur on being the best.
(UPDATE: I know, I know. I fucked up. Thanks commenters!)