This blog was cross-posted to my own blog (co-run with a friend) at http://www.nyhockeyrivalry.blogspot.com
After I saw Borat and Superbad, I got depressed. Not because I hated both movies, but because I believe I will never see a comedy as funny as either of those two movies were. In all of my cinema-adventuring years, I have never seen another movie I thought were comedic gold quite like these two.
I had the same feeling last March, after a home-and-home series with the Islanders and Rangers. The games in question were the March 5th game at the Garden and the March 8th game at the Coliseum, both won 2-1 by the Rangers. (For NHL.com recaps, click the links.)
March 5 - Rick DiPietro makes 56 saves, an Islander-record. Admittedly, many of those saves were bad-angle shots or shots that Marty Straka shot right at the logo on his jersey. However, some were incredible stops, including one he made with his head that no goalie short of Jesus Christ himself should have stopped. The lone regulation goal was a rebound by Petr Prucha on a Jed Ortmeyer shot from the hash marks. Carolina's-own Matt Cullen scored five-hole in the shootout, and then Henrik Lundqvist stopped Randy "Not Luc" Robitaille for the win.
As a strong opponent of DiPietro, saying that this was all his game kills a little piece of me inside. But, as a smart hockey fan (after all, I am a Rangers fan), I have to admit that he played spectacularly. Yes, like I said before, some of those saves were ones my Shooter-Tutor could have made. However, DiPietro stood on his head, figuratively, and in some instances, literally. The shootout was a perfect end to one of the most exciting regular-season games I could remember.
March 8 - Forever tainted as the "Chris Simon Game," where he Paul Bunyon-ed Ryan Hollweg, this game stood on its own as a fantastic match. Simon happened to score the lone Isles goal that game, and eight minutes later, newly-acquired Paul Mara's howitzer from the point tied it up.
With the score tied 1-1 in the third, Hollweg hit Simon into the boards, Simon swung his stick at Hollweg's face, and Petr Prucha scored on the five-minute power play to give the Rangers the lead. With 20 seconds left, Trent Hunter thought he scored the tying goal. One of the longest video reviews I can remember followed. There were 16,234 people in the Nassau Coliseum that night, and 8,117 were chanting "GOAL!" with 8,117 throwing in a "NO!" before it. The ruling: Inconclusive Evidence. The puck might have crossed the line, but the War Room in Toronto had no evidence and had to stand with the referee's initial decision. If the ref had initially ruled a goal, that decision would have stood also.
The parking lot was ripe that night. Ranger fans chanted "Inconclusive Evidence," "Eighth Place," and "No Goal!" Islander fans griped - rightfully so - about the now-infamous No Goal call.
And I questioned whether or not we will ever see such passionate, intense, well-played hockey again.
Of course, we would, and we wouldn't have to wait long. From a Rangers standpoint, every game in the sweep of Atlanta was great. The 7-0 game stands out, but it was a far cry from the home-and-home. I would put Games 3 and 4 of the series against Buffalo up there, where Michal Rozsival slapped home a double OT winner in Game 3 and another no-goal call went the Rangers way with 17 seconds left in Game 4. However, that was the playoffs. Playoff hockey is a whole different beast.
The current home-and-home just finished were good games, with the Rangers getting three out of four points and moving into sixth place in the East. This March's series did lack the excitement of last March's games, though. I guess we will have to wait to this year's playoffs to see if we can find some more games as exciting. Hopefully for New York, both teams will be in there.
Maybe comedy movies like Borat and Superbad are the regular season of movies. Great, great movies like those two games last season. I might never see a funnier movie than those two like I might never see better regular season hockey games than I did in March of 2007. However, there are better movies that have been made, just not better comedies, movies like Braveheart and American Beauty. Those are the playoffs of movies. A different standard, a different level.
Playoff hockey. I can't wait.