Tag Archives: hockey

Sabres Bruins

My wife and I spent the weekend upstate in Buffalo, and while we were there, we saw the Sabres play the Boston Bruins. Besides a few Rangers games at Madison Square Garden, I’d never been to any NHL games that weren’t the New York Islanders playing at the Nassau Coliseum. And so it was like being in a parallel universe, watching two teams playing that I’ve never really followed.


Everything about the Sabres is pretty cool. They have cool jerseys, their arena is cool, and it was really cool that they could pack their entire arena on Saturday night. Because the Sabres are a pretty terrible team, and they got crushed by the Bruins. I say that not as knock, because I know what’s it like. I’ve been an Islanders fan my entire life, and, aside from this year’s impressive start, they’ve been pretty terrible for about as long as I can recall.

So it was cool that the fans showed up. But I couldn’t help but notice a lack of energy from the people in attendance. What I mean to say is, based purely on my experience of watching hockey games at the Coliseum, Islander fans have a way of cranking up the energy. The participation, at the beginning of every game anyway, is always nearly universal, people chanting “Let’s go Islanders,” and, “Rangers suck.”

And maybe it’s not fair, because the Sabres wound up losing four to nothing, so maybe they could have gotten excited. But people just kind of sat there. It was like they were expecting to get blown out right from the beginning. When the Bruins drew their first penalty, four ushers started waving these giant white Sabres flags from all corners of the arena in anticipation of the power play. As the stadium speaker system blasted the guitar riff from Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade,” I thought, OK, finally, maybe now we’ll see some excitement. But no, everybody just kept sitting there, not cheering. Maybe every now and then a dozen or so fans would join in the artificial “Lets Go Buffalo” suggested by the Jumbotron over center ice.

And then Boston started scoring goals. I never figured out what kind of a reaction a goal would draw from the home team, but there was actually a pretty decent wave of applause for every Boston goal. Boston is like six hours away. I have no idea how they got so many people to make the trip. The periods dragged on, whatever existed of Buffalo’s energy disappeared, and gradually that power-play-flag-waving Rage Against the Machine ceremony twisted into this sort of mocking joke.

Again, I’m not trying to dump on the Sabres. It’s really hard to get pumped up about a team that doesn’t do anything year after year. But I was expecting some of the obnoxious blind faith that I’ve seen at Islander games even toward the end of last year, when it was clear that there was no shot of them finishing above last place in the division. It was a fun night, and I’m happy I got to experience a game from a different market. But yeah, hopefully the Sabres pick up a little momentum or something. Because I kind of felt bad watching the stadium empty out after they announced the fifty-fifty at the middle of the third period.

Oh yeah, I used to think that the Islanders had a good fifty-fifty. But after participating in the fifty-fifty at Buffalo, I realize that I had no idea what I was talking about. Whereas the jackpot at the Coliseum might be a grand or two, Buffalo was able to collect thirty thousand dollars in fifty-fifty tickets. They had vendors walking around the aisle with little printers that spat out lottery-style tickets. We should do that, because it was awesome. In fact, for a while I was positive that I was going to win. I could just feel it. I didn’t win, but whatever, neither did the Sabres. I bet you a Boston fan won the fifty-fifty.

Drive for five

I’m so pumped. I’m on my way to go see the New York Islanders at their last home opener on Long Island. I have mixed feelings about their move to Brooklyn, but only because I have a nostalgic attachment to the Nassau Coliseum. I’m not even kidding, one of my earliest memories was of my dad taking me to a game, Islanders vs. the St. Louis Blues. I must have been like four years old. I didn’t even have the concept of ice hockey in my head, and yet there I was, my dad explaining to me to root for the guys in the white jerseys.


Overall though, I think the move to Brooklyn is the right one. It’s going to elevate the franchise into such a bigger market. Unlike the Coliseum, the Barclay’s Center is accessible by train, so it won’t be a headache to get to games without a car. And it’s going to attract a lot of attention to the Islanders, much in the same way the Nets’ move from New Jersey seemed to revitalize their team.

This year is going to be a big one. I know that Islanders fans say that every year. It’s definitely become something of a refrain on my end. The Islanders haven’t exactly been a standout team for a while now, and they haven’t won a playoff series since 1993. But this year I’m actually pretty optimistic about their chances. So optimistic, in fact, that I bet my brother-in-law Matt a hundred bucks that the Islanders win the Stanley Cup this year.

The Islanders brought the Cup to Long Island four years in a row, the last being in 1983, the year right before I was born. So It’s like, the Islanders won their last Cup, and then right away I was born. And as soon as I made my appearance on Earth, the Islanders took a huge nosedive, never really recovering. I’ve always felt that, despite my fandom, my very existence has been somewhat of a hex on my hometown heroes.

But this year is the year. It’s totally going to happen. And the Rangers aren’t even going to make the playoffs, because they’re terrible. The Islanders are going to bring the Stanley Cup home to Long Island one last time before bringing it to New York, securing their place as New York City’s hockey team. And the Rangers are going to sink further and further into irrelevance, Henrik Lundqvist is going to let up like fifty goals in the first ten games alone, and so they’re going to have to reshoot that Advil commercial, the one where Henrik is guarding his net from a charging rhino, only instead of turning into a barrage of pucks, the rhino is going to turn into a wave of Flintstone’s gummy vitamins, and then he’s going to retire in disgrace.

Let’s go Islanders.

I wish

I wish I were better at drawing. I always liked to draw, but I never really put in too much practice, the kind of dedicated time and effort needed to take any sort of talent or hobby and turn it into something better. And so every once in a while I’ll find myself in front a pad with a pen or a pencil in my hand, and I don’t really know what to do, it’s just this amorphous energy that doesn’t know how to express itself through my hands, and I always wind up drawing the same picture of Spider-Man that I taught myself how to trace from memory when I was in the fourth grade.


I really wish I were a professional hockey player. I played hockey all through grade school, never really any good. I didn’t make my high school’s team, and so I had to play for the town league. I remember my first shift from that first game back when I was fourteen. I was on the ice maybe twenty seconds when I intercepted the puck, skating by myself toward the opponent’s net, sending a wrist shot sailing past the goalie, I had scored. Everyone thought I showed a lot of potential that day, the coach, my parents. I disappointed all of them, proving over the course of the next three years that my experience that day was pure luck, a freak accident where for a brief moment I tricked everybody, even myself, into thinking that I was good at hockey.

I wish I could lift up really heavy objects with my bare hands. Like a car, or giant boulders, really massive stuff that no other human being has ever been able to lift. And I don’t want to be really big, I’d rather keep my non-muscly frame, that way people would be even more shocked when they’d see me raise an entire pickup truck over my head. I wouldn’t have to worry about money, I could just participate in various weightlifting competitions whenever I needed cash, because nobody would pose any real challenge.

If only I could train that family of raccoons that comes out every night from inside of the tree in front of my house. I’ve already given them names, but all of my attempts to domesticate them have proved fruitless. And besides, each time that I see them, I can’t remember who is who, and so how are they supposed to remember what I’m calling them if I can’t even tell them apart? I’ve had dreams where I’d send them on errands, teach them to use their little paws to sweep up the leaves in front of my house. But it’s not happening. They don’t understand that the food I’m putting out for them is supposed to reinforce positive behavior. And honestly, I get a little creeped out how they hiss at me whenever I get too close.

I wish that a Carl’s Jr. or an In-and-Out would open up on the East Coast. All of the West Coast people would be like, “Oh my God! You guys have no idea what you’re in for! Fast food is so much better in California!” And there’d be a huge line the first day, everybody waiting for their animal-style burgers or whatever you’re supposed to call them. And then after like a week or two the crowds would thin until, finally, at the end of the month, they’d run the numbers and realize that they didn’t make enough money to cover rent, that their numbers are all horribly in the red. And so they’d be forced to close up shop, proving once and for all that West Coast fast-food chains are mostly just a lot of unwarranted hype.

I wish that I had ice powers, like Ice Man from the X-Men. That way I wouldn’t have to waste all of my fridge space holding cans of soda and bottles of water. I could just keep them all at room temperature and then shoot them with an icy blast of cold right before pouring them into a frosted glass. All of my glasses would be chilled, and I’d never need to use an air conditioner either, I could just fill my house with a frigid breeze. If anybody ever told me to chill out, I’d make a little snow cloud appear above their head, and I’d laugh as they tried to brush off the snowflakes slowly accumulating on top. I’d say, “No you chill out!” And I’d laugh and laugh.

NHL Stanley Cup analysis: Why the Rangers can’t win

The problem with the New York Rangers is a fundamental and a simple one: they lack heart. You need heart if you want to win big. Without heart, sure, you might win a few playoff series, you might even get all the way to the finals, but unless you really have what it takes deep down inside, that intangible quality that I’m talking about here, heart, the one that the blueshirts unfortunately seem to be lacking, most seasons, of course, but this season even more than ever, you’re never going to rise to the occasion, you’re never going to win the Stanley Cup.


And I guess I should put it out there, for the sake of objectivity, I’m not a Rangers fan. But I pride myself on being able to keep an open mind. Although I can’t really picture any way the Rangers would be able to win me over, sure, in the infinite possibilities contained in the universe, there has to exist at least one way in which I’d jump on the Rangers bandwagon. But I can’t think of what that situation would look like.

Maybe if they had a little more heart. Well, I probably wouldn’t be a Rangers fan, but maybe I’d start to at least respect them just a little. It’s just that, you can only go so far in pro hockey without heart. I think this year’s playoffs have shown us that you can go pretty far. All the way to the end even. But without heart, it looks like second best is as good as it’s going to get.

Who knows? Maybe something will happen. Maybe the Rangers will find heart sometime between now and game four. I can’t really see it happening, seeing as how they’ve been playing without any heart for years now. It’s just who they are, it’s not their fault necessarily. They get out there on the ice, they think they can skate a good game without even taking a second to consider what role heart plays in the larger NHL equation. And yeah, they’ve done pretty well for themselves.

But just look at where they’re at now. It’s totally deflating. And like I said, I’m not even a Rangers fan. But as a human being fan, I’ve got to say that the Rangers’ performance for the past three games has actually shaken my faith in the very definition of heart. I always thought that, even if you were generally devoid of heart, that there always existed a little bit of heart, even just a sliver, somewhere deep down, that heart had to exist in all of us universally.

But I don’t know, I see these guys getting manhandled and I’m thinking, this is what the void looks like. Here exists proof that life can exist without any heart whatsoever. And it’s just depressing, you know, I don’t want the Rangers to win, but I didn’t want to see them get completely annihilated either. Where’s the fun in that? I would have much rather watched the series go to game seven, maybe a triple or a quadruple overtime, and then maybe Nash or St. Louis or even some fourth liner could have accidentally scored on their own net by mistake. That would have been awesome.

But this. What else can I say? You need heart to win. But I said that already.

At least New York won’t have to endure the total absence of heart for much longer. After this next season, the New York Islanders will be officially moving to Brooklyn, once and for all giving New York City hockey fans a reason to get excited again. Sure, the Islanders came off a disappointing 2013-14, but the future looks bright for the Isles, arguably one of the best teams in professional sports history.

And if the Rangers have any hope at all of actually finding some heart and making a play for game four, they better look to their future cross-river rivals. The Islanders are one of four teams in sports history to have come back from a three to nothing playoff deficit. They did it in 1975 against the Penguins. Unfortunately for the Rangers, one of the other four teams happens to be the 2014 Los Angeles Kings, when they came back from three zip to beat the Sharks.

Oh well, sorry Rangers, sorry Rangers fans, just remember, it’s not about the goal, sometimes it’s more important to focus on the journey. What a ride. You made a pretty good run. But, and I’ll say it one more time here, just to really drive the point home, without heart, you’ll never be able to go all the way. There’s no chance. And this year’s Stanley Cup finals are proof.

Beyond my wildest dreams

I want to paint my house bright green. Neon green. But just talking about it, I’ve already ruined it. This can’t be something planned. I just want to get up out of this chair, go to the Home Depot, have them mix me up a bunch of cans of the most fluorescent green anybody’s ever seen, and then I want to come home and start painting. I don’t want to have to ask my wife’s permission, or look up on the Internet how you’re supposed to go about painting a house, OK, I want this project done by the end of the day. I just want to take a wild impulse and run with it all the way to the end, straight off a neon green cliff.


OK, I want to take out a thousand dollars in cash, buy a bunch of sandwiches, hop on my bike and just start riding west. No, I won’t know where I’m going, OK, and I’m not bringing my cell phone either, so don’t think I’m going to wimp out once it starts getting dark out, looking for directions home, asking somebody to drive out and give me a ride back to town. No, no plans, nothing thought out. That’s what the thousand dollars is going to be for, I’ll have my money do all of the thinking for me. Like, where am I going to sleep? I don’t know, I’ll buy a really small tent, something I can put in my backpack, next to my sandwiches. I’ll camp out wherever. Just straight out west.

I want one of those long jobs at sea on a freighter, all right, and I don’t want to join any union or train for any certain position. No, I want to be right at the docks, I’ll already have the perfect seaman’s beard, I’ll have everything that I need, ready to go, the ship’s going to be ready to drift out of the port, I’m just going to hop on with the rest of the crew, right, I’ll blend right in. I’ll do like they do, swabbing the deck, I’ll jump in the kitchen at dinnertime and start chopping vegetables, making a nice stew for the crew. Maybe they’ll catch on eventually that I’m a stowaway, but by then I’ll have earned my spot. Sure, they’re not paying me anything, but by this point I’ll have a totally self-sufficient life, just sailing, eating, more swabbing the deck, a real marine life for me.

What I really want though is just to play a ton of video games. Like every time I go to a video game web site, all I hear about are all of these amazing games out, stuff I’ve never heard of, with fully immersive single-player stories, all backed up by massive online multiplayer fun. I don’t have enough time for video games. But that’s what I really want, nothing but time for XBOX and PlayStation. You’ll never find me in anything but pajamas. But it won’t be weird. Like when I order delivery from the diner, I won’t have to be ashamed to open the door looking like I haven’t been out of the house in weeks. I’ll just be like, “This is the best man, I am living the dream, all the time in the world to play all of the video games I want.” And the delivery guy is going to be like, “Yeah man, looks like you’ve really got it all.”

But that can’t be all there is to life. No, I’m still young enough to make something of myself physically. Wasn’t there a Disney movie about a guy in his fifties that became a rookie professional baseball player? I don’t know, all of those inspirational based-on-a-true-story movies kind of blend into each other after a while. But that’s what I’d really want to do with my life, if I could drop it all right now, I’d choose professional hockey player. Like, send me to hockey boot camp, get me hands-on training with the best hockey coaches in the world. I’ll give it my all, twenty-four seven, I’ll work like you’ve never seen anybody work before. I’m not looking to be a star, OK, but I’ve got to be of some value somewhere, a minor league franchise even, or somewhere in Russia. And then years from now they’ll make an inspirational Disney movie about me, and then an ice-capades meta-version of that movie.

I’m not asking for much out of life. Just the ability to dream. And then also the ability to wake up and make those dreams a reality. And I want them all, conflicting dreams, impulse dreams, I just want to do it, I just want somebody to give me all of these things. I want to be the first person to eat a thousand hot dogs in one sitting. You’ll see the Nathan’s Hot Dog championship scoreboard, it’ll be like 2012, some guy with 70. 2013, some other guy with 73. 2014, Rob G. with 1,000. 2015, some other guy with 75. And nobody’ll ever come close. I’ve just got to get out there and do it. I’m spending too much time sitting here writing about the life beyond my wildest dreams and not enough time actually making it happen. I’ve got to make it happen. All of it.