A Night at the Garden

While it wasn’t an Al Michaels’s ‘miracle on ice’, last night’s New York Rangers shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres at the Garden was a highly entertaining and engrossing contest.

It is true that the game occasionally competed against a sustained eating contest. And yes the odd brawl threatened to break out into a game of ice hockey. Despite this, this clueless ice hockey virgin really enjoyed the game and the cauldron-like atmosphere that it and the Garden generated.

Apologies must be offered to aficionados of ice hockey for the lack of technical expertise and understanding of the game contained in this report. Blame must be apportioned to random Australians who surrounded me rather than informed locals with whom I could have gained much wisdom from. How do you get 15-rows-from-the-front seats? Tickets are sold by fans and verified by Ticketmaster.

As the fans take their comfy Garden seats, the player warm-up is a frenzy of activity. It’s a puck-fest. Pucks are shot at goal at the same frequency that Shane Warne tweets.

I love the sound of puck on stick. Clack. Clack. Clack. It conjures neural images of Batman call outs. The sticks are longer than I thought and the skating is graceful. And you can see the puck.

It’s been a busy day at the Garden. The LeBron James clinic against the game Knicks finished at 4pm. Just three-and-a-bit hours later, fans are being warned to stay alert in the event that the puck flies out of the rink and knocks them rotten. As usual, the singing of Star Spangled Banner threatens to lift the roof. The singer has a bit of the Jade Hurleys about him as he encourages the crowd to roar.

The game begins. And it’s fast. Really fast end-to-end action.

And it’s brutal. Really brutal.

Hard bumps. The occasional broken stick.

Collisions with the perspex (?) barrier.

The Rangers dominate early. However, like Geelong in the 2008 GF, they can’t convert. AFL coaches would love ice hockey’s rotation system. Constant changes are made off the bench, as many as four players at once.

Apparently there are rules. A Sabres player gets two minutes for some form of interference. Hooking perhaps?

Halfway during the first period, the puck leaves the playing arena twice in a minute. Stay relaxed and alert fans. Bloody John Howard!

At the conclusion of the first period, it’s still a nil-nil deadlock with the Rangers having made 7 shots to 4.

It’s great to see a little league game played before the second period commences.

With eight minutes to go in the second period, and against the run of play (how often does this happen?), the Sabres through Stafford draw first blood. Both goalies are having great games. Goalies seem to be popular players in ice hockey. Heaps of Ranger fans wear the number 30 of Lundquist and he has his own chant.

In one passage of play, Lundquist, lays on his side protecting the puck from a pack of players as if he’d just laid it.

The Rangers make two breaks within thirty seconds. On both occasions, it’s a Ranger player versus Sabres goalie and each time, the Ranger player is thwarted. Each goalie makes minimalist movements when saving shots. At the end of the second period, the Sabres are marginally in front on the shot count.

During the next break, the human puck race should be accompanied with Benny Hill music.

Where is the promised brawl?

The third period delivers the yearned-for brawl in spades.

The seismic trigger occurs about three minutes into the third period when a Rangers player (number 18) is flattened. The remaining players throw many a round-arm cut lunch.

How many connect? And why don’t they remove their headgear?

Number 36 for the Sabres is sin-binned for five minutes. The AFL MRP would adjudicate a five month penalty. As the Sabres player leaves the arena, the Garden faithful point in unison and chant ‘asshole, asshole, asshole’.

In the ensuing power play, the Rangers through Stefan (?) and Rick Nash on his left both score to take the lead. What an atmosphere?

Minutes later Buffalo equalise. A Sabres player hoons down the left, fakes, crosses and passes the puck to Gerbe (number 42) who converts.

During a time-out, old Rangers footage is shown. I can’t believe it. No helmets. Is there a CTE issue in retired ice hockey players?

Nash is sent off for 2 minutes for hooking. Again, I’m no expert in hooking.

At the end of period three, it’s 2-2 with the Rangers leading 26-23 in the shot count.

The fourth period, five minutes in duration, begins with Lundquist making save after save. He’s seemingly reliable in the Enright/Scarlett mould. Most of these saves are achieved by closing his legs. Buffalo continues to pepper the goals.

A promising Rangers drive (it could be Nash) ends with the Rangers player leapfrogging the Sabres keeper and the puck ending its journey in the Sabres goalie’s safe-keeping. At the other end, Lundquist continues to make clutch saves.

It’s frenetic end-to-end action. The game is superb although it’s hard to take everything in.

Nash reminds me of Johnno. He seems to be three-parts genius and one-part villain. In defence, he conspires to almost lose the game by tumbling into Lundquist with the puck and nearly scoring an open goal.

It’s a shootout.

The Garden crowd are on their feet. For the Rangers, it’s Nash, Callahan and Miller. For the Sabres, it’s Pominville, Ennis and Gerbe.

Nash scores. Pominville goes too high. Callahan scores. Ennis’s puck is knocked away by Lundquist.

It’s the Rangers.

As I leave the Garden, I’m politely asked if I’d like to see some titties tonight.

Where else but New York can you field such offers after watching a brilliant game of ice hockey and prior to that being amazed by the Gutai movement collection on display at the Guggenheim.

I guess it’s all about embodiment.

I’m in a New York state of mind.


  1. PF – outstanding work. Whilst you were indulging in a puck fest, our Prime Minister was (is) staying at Rooty Hill.

    Did you go the titties or the pizza?

  2. Ben Footner says

    Awesome. Going to a live NHL game is certainly on my bucket list!

  3. Ben – I’m a big Tintin fan

  4. Ben Footner says

    Well I’m a dead ringer for him Dips, hence the avatar. lol

  5. Peter Flynn says

    Thanks Dips and Ben,

    About to listen to the goings-on in Hyderabad on Testmatchsofa (Glenn Mitchell was Skyped last night after stumps were drawn).

    Ben, bucket list it. I was 15 rows from the front for just over a hungee.

    Dips, no Bristols for me old China.


  6. Rick Kane says

    Nice piece Mr Flynn, I felt I was right there in the crowd. And a special commendation for this: The singer has a bit of the Jade Hurleys about him as he encourages the crowd to roar. Cheers

  7. Andrew Else says

    I’ll be there in 3 weeks for Rangers v Caps. Thanks for the peptide Flynny

  8. Nice one, Flynny.

    “Most of these saves are achieved by closing his legs.” I think this was the birth control method recommended by Freddie Truman.

    Not sure why you turned down the Vaticans.

  9. John Sandy says

    Good stuff Sneak!
    I thought after seeing the cats win a trio of flags you wouldn’t need to refer to lost opportunities in the way pies fans do.
    Lucky your not in India, it’s times like this I am glad I don’t have foxtel.

  10. Peter Flynn says

    Thanks Punters.

    I hope Andrew can provide greater clarity about the game of ice hockey than me.

    I seriously had no clue but thoroughly enjoyed it.

    There are some really good bars on W 33rd St across from MSG.

    The Blarney Rock Pub is a ripper Andrew.


  11. Rick Kane says

    Enjoy the Big Apple and bear in mind this humble advice:

    It’s hard to be a saint in the city
    Don’t get caught in a 10th Avenue Freeze-out

    I haven’t been to New Amsterdam myself. I got that advice from Mr Springsteen

  12. Forget sport, PF (hate the Knicks, Rangers, Yankees and Giants) – get to Rice to Riches, 37 Spring St (between Mott St & Mulberry St). Dozens of flavours of rice pudding! I recommend ‘Fluent in French Toast’.

  13. Mick Howard says

    Good stuff PJF, I especially like the novice approach. I still kep an eye on the Maple Leafs, though not with the passion of a decade ago. I saw the Rangers play at Bouffalo with ’99’ still playing. It was better than watching ’23’ play basketball from the nose bleeds in Toronto. The goalies are definately the main men. Buffalo had a goal keeper called Dominic ‘The Dominator’ Hasek. He was bigger in Buffalo than Schmeichel was in Manchester.
    Enjoy the rest of ther trip


  14. Great stuff PJ,

    I’m keeping an eye out for affordable last-minute tickets to the Air Canada Centre in the next few weeks. Leafs-Penguins is looking like a goer. I’ve been once before, and it’s an eye opener. The things that struck me were how much more sense the game makes live, and how much more of a sense of the speed and power of the players you get at the game. The puck really is easier to see than on TV, as is the way plays develop.

    I can only skate a little bit — forwards, gently, without looking too spastic or being in too much danger of falling over, and made it a couple of k’s along the Rideau Canal keeping a pair of kids upright — and I get that this is more second nature to kids who grow up on the neighbourhood pond. But the sheer speed and nimbleness of these guys is astonishing. You can hear how hard their edges are cutting into the ice, and the collisions on the boards really are brutal.

  15. Great report. Thanks.

    Re the old footage and no head gear. In earlier times the goal keepers wore no head gear or face masks. Frightening.

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