It's not the heat, it's the humidity. It's not the lack of points, it's the lack of heart.
Anyway, I date me-self w/ that old ditty "I went to the fights and hockey game broke out." That was a big joke in the 70's heyday of iron league hockey. When the Broad Street Bullies of Philly pounded their way to two cups and heaped one of the biggest military defeats on the Soviets in history. Not just the scoreboard win of those valiant kids in Lake Placid in 1980. No, I mean the Flyers beat the living shit out of them, made them quit once, then return, beat their asses some more and sent them limping back to the Kremlin in disgrace. That was the brutal truth of 'Eddie Shore, putting on the foil, old time hockey.' The fans loved it, the league hated it.
Flash forward to 2016. The league continues to take fighting out of the game and replace it with euro-styled double latte with skim milk hockey. Sure, I love and revere the game, the speed, the beautiful puck movement, the mesmerizing goalkeeping. All great. When you can hang. When your team can't, then what? Roll over? Die? Pack up and fly back to a life in Siberian exile?
The Rangers played one of the most heartless games I've seen in years last night. I understand when it's just not going well. Keanu's "quicksand" speech from The Replacements comes to mind. One thing going wrong after another until you're stuck, sinking, like quicksand. The Rangers were balls deep in it. Mired to the nutsack. Skating uphill in molasses in the winter. They have been on the implosion path for a while with glimmers of potential. When Hank isn't invincible the D is rapidly exposed for weakness. The team is vastly overrated. Individual stats are weak and team stats barely playoff worthy. Haters aside, the Blueshirts sink or swim with Hank stopping 45 shots per game. When he doesn't they aren't very good. From the GM down, just not that great but overrated and under tremendous pressure as one of the most prominent but least respected franchise properties of the NHL.
Is fighting a part of the game? Well when you're getting sticks in the face without penalty, getting out-shot, out-hit, out-drawn, out-played and embarrassed, there is an old school maneuver begging to be undertaken. FIGHT! Clear the fucking bench. Brawl. Fighting has always been a strategic part of the game. To shift the momentum, to bait specific players into losing their shit and taking bad penalties, to getting the fans involved, to just shaking things up when necessary. What lay people don't get is 1. the Fighting is mostly symbolic. Fighting on skates takes tons of balance that takes most of the sting off punches. Basketball players hit each other flatfooted. Thus always a one punch knockout. Hockey is more like two rams slamming it out. They go 'til they're wiped out, then shrug off, leaving it for the herd to decide. 2. Cheap shots lead to retaliation which leads to fights. No other sport allows full force contact in an enclosed space with sticks. If they did, there would be fighting. 3. The refs notoriously suck and miss dirty plays so players take responsibility of policing themselves, but they aren't very responsible about it. Each tries to get away with as much as possible and the game gets out of control. When it does, it's wonderful!
I could never imagine a team in the 70's (or 80's-90's for that matter) who would play like the Rangers did, take the kind of cheap shit shots they took, go down 3-0, then 4-0 and do NOTHING.
It is a pure embarrassment.
So it seems unsportsmanlike to preach fighting I suppose. IF you don't have 45 years of hockey lust. It's a different animal. The Rangers OWED it to the fans to put on a show last night. At some point, giving it your all must include exhibiting some true passion and heart. Down 4-0, a nifty fleeting pass play doesn't cut it.
"let 'em know you're there. put a stick in his ribs and let 'em know you're there, bleed all over 'em and let 'em know you're there."
Fans paid upwards of five bills for a ticket and walked out early. If the Rangers dropped the heartless euro pansy shtick and went to war with those high sticking douchebags and taken matters into their own hands, they might have lost six nothing or more and some would have taken early showers for game misconducts. But NO ONE would have left and the talk would be much different today. The Garden would have rocked. The feeling would be different today.
Losing in 5 isn't the worst thing. Being branded "heartless" is. No white board needed. Here is the game plan:
I suggest the Rangers put on the foil on Saturday, go in there and win or lose, leave an indelible mark on Pittsburgh's face. Forget the comeback miracle. Go win your manhood back and make us proud.