Have you ever gone to your favorite team’s away game against their biggest rival and have them not show up, sans one player, for 99% of the game? Well that’s exactly what happened tonight when I traveled to the World’s Most Famous Arena to see the Devils take on the Rangers. This is the fifth or sixth time I’ve seen the Devils at MSG and it wasn’t even close to the worst loss I’ve ever witnessed. I went to the game on November 14, 2006 where the Devils had a 2-0 lead entering the third period. The Rangers scored three goals in 1:30, one of which went 20 feet into the air and knuckled over Martin Brodeur into the net (at least that’s how I remember it). It was genuinely the worst loss I’ve ever seen at the Garden.
Then, of course, there was the Stadium Series game but no way in hell am I opening up that wound. So let’s just say I’ve had some bad experiences in New York for Rangers/Devils games. Luckily there have been some good times too, when the Devils actually show up and win the game, but unfortunately that was not the case tonight. Aside from Cory Schneider who was a MONSTER making 35 saves, nobody decided to show up until the final two or three minutes of the third period.
Thankfully for me, the one goal the Devils were able to score was put home by my favorite player Travis Zajac and it was shorthanded so that was really cool. I’ve actually been in attendance for both of Travie’ shorties this season – the other being early in the season at home against the Coyotes. Adam Henrique made a sexy pass to Zajac and Travis did not miss beating Henrik Lundqvist high to the glove side. It was also really cool because our seats were right behind the Ranger goal so my favorite player scored right in front of me.
Aside from that goal and Cory’s heroics, the game really was terrible – at least from my perspective. As I said the Devils didn’t show up for the majority of the game and they were thoroughly dominated from the jump. Oddly enough, the vibe in the arena wasn’t very vicious towards the Devils. Perhaps everyone had a Super Bowl hangover and nobody felt like fighting. The only time anyone said anything negative to me was when some dude my age pointed to the “Matteau! Matteau!” goal painting and was like “hey do you remember that?!” As if, it was so long ago.
The Rangers fans around me were actually really respectful and solid hockey fans. It was very surprising and a nice change of pace. There was a point in the third period, when Cory Schneider had 30 saves or so, where I turned to the group of Rangers fans around me and said: “Can you believe there are some Devils fans that don’t like [Cory]??” Their reaction was priceless. The look on their faces were purely ones of shock. They were like “REALLY????” Even they can’t understand why the best player on the team, and only reason the Devils are competitive every night, gets hate.
I’m glad I wore my Schneider jersey because I got nothing but positive feedback for it. One Rangers fan was like: “Hey Schneider, can you not be good tonight? Because you were great the last time we played.” As I said, it was surreal how they reacted all night.
It wasn’t a successful night, but it’s always a memorable experience going to the City for some hockey. I can’t wait until I can do so again.