Merry Christmas Eve!
The lead to my story in The Journal News and LoHud.com today was this:
“Laughing all the way.”
Because the Rangers go into the holiday break dancing, off four straight wins, three fairly decisive divisional victories in four nights, and in first place in the Patrick Division.
1) Anton Stralman. That was a Gilles Marotte hip check right out of the 1970s. Then a TD pass to Marian Gaborik (for his NHL-leading 21st goal). Liked the way John Tortorella said that when Stralman got here, he didn’t know him, and that when he first saw him, he didn’t like him. Kid’s been good. Like all the defensemen who’ve subbed in here, including Steve Eminger and Jeff Woywitka, and down through Stu Bickel and Tim Erixon, and am I forgetting anybody?
2) What’s a Rangers-Flyers game without some hate? Although, I must admit, I think this whole Winter Classic/HBO thing is creating a bit of a kinship between the teams. Not that the bad blood is turning good, and that was pretty evident with Scott Hartnell taking whacks at everybody going off the ice, and Jody Shelley trying to get at John Mitchell, who had squashed him, and Brandon Prust buckling that big Bourdon fella, and even Brian Boyle grappling with Sestito.
3) I was kidding during the game that Sestito told Boyle that it was Festivus and time for the feats of strength, and that Festivus “is not over until you pin me.” So Boyle went for the takedown.
4) Speaking of Boyle and Prust, I got a clarification about “24/7.” I had questioned whether they were actually sleeping with the cameras and cameramen in their hotel room. Well, it turns out, HBO cleared everything with them and the Rangers, asked them what time they want to be awakened, had a key to the room, and literally went in and woke them up with the cameras. Wow. That is reality TV.
5) But I do think it’s a bit too much of a sell when the players come out to start the game in wool Winter Classic hats. Are you kidding me?
6) Stu Bickel, now 48 games away from Wayne Gretzky’s record point streak. Met the kid last night. Man, is he big. Seemed a little overwhelmed by the attention. But he sure isn’t overwhelmed on the ice.
7) Brandon Dubinsky’s getting there. He really is. Boyle too.
8) I wasn’t sure how Jaromir Jagr would be treated. Well, he was booed. I respect that.
9) I thought this was a really good bounce-back game out of Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin, and to a lesser degree Brad Richards.
10) In the third period, the whole place was chanting “Flyers suck!” It reminded me of my late great aunt Clare, who was a high school English teacher, an absolute die-hard Yankees/Rangers fan who took me to many, many games as a kid. I got her tickets to a game against the Flyers back in the 1980s, and she’d had a couple of pops during the game, and she was probably in her 60s back then, maybe 5-foot-1. And I was told that she got all caught up in the game and ended up standing on her chair screaming “Flyers suck!” So, when the chant went up last night, I thought of her and had a good laugh. Which was really nice at Christmas time.
11) Thank you to all of you Boneheads — the loud and loyal, the silent, and even the trolls. Last night we hit 10 million views. Not sure over what period of time, but since we started counting, I guess. Whatever that means, I won’t see a dime. But I appreciate it, and Sam Weinman I’m sure appreciates it, and your numbers ensure that I’ll be able to continue to do this (along with my other job). You guys rule!
12) I also heard, again, that at the college level, Chris Kreider continues to be a man against boys, and that his game and his skating are going to translate better in the NHL than in college. And I wonder if he will be coming and adding to this young team soon.
13) I always want to say something new or clever about Henrik Lundqvist (or Martin Biron). But it’s the same story every night. Excellence. You guy must be getting spoiled. Ditto for Block Ness Monster Girardi. Did Claude Giroux do anything against him and Ryan McMonster in this game?
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Henrik Lundqvist.
2) Stu Bickel.
3) Dan Girardi.
AP photos, above.