Wednesday night saw the return of New York Rangers hockey as they took on their rivals, the New York Islanders.
And just like that…New York Rangers hockey is back.
Never mind that it’s the middle of…you know…summer, last night the New York Rangers took on the Islanders in their only exhibition game before what promises to be a unique post-season.
It’s the NHL Playoffs! Sponsored by the fine folks at Covid.
I’m not going to go in depth on the game itself, which the Isles won 2-1. That’s well-covered by Steve Paulus here: Time to get serious after 2-1 loss
There wasn’t much visible rust. Igor Shesterkin and Henrik Lundqvist were both good, just giving up a goal each. The offense could only put the puck into the net once, stymied by a very sharp Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss. Filip Chytil scored the lone goal and Kaapo Kakko looked like a much-improved version of the rookie we saw this season. And the defense was uncharacteristically sharp with only a few lapses.
I haven’t written much lately. I haven’t felt like it. Crafting articles about past squads and seasons gets old after a while. As does reading about them, I’m sure.
But even though I have missed hockey, and missed my Rangers, I was surprised how much I enjoyed watching the game. I’ve long thought, and still think, sports leagues (and networks) were delusional, refusing to give in to the inevitable of no playoffs. Or in the case of baseball and football, entire seasons lost.
I refused to get excited about hockey, sure that resuming play was a house of cards that could only fall at the touch of the slightest breeze. See: the Florida Marlins. I refused to get invested in resuming the season, slapping together some form of playoffs, and a Stanley Cup that’s already destined to have an asterisk welded to it.
But I watched the game.
The telecast didn’t feel exceedingly strange, even with stands empty of fans, the seats covered by tarps. Whatever pre-recorded ambient noise was used, it wasn’t obnoxious and didn’t take attention away from the action. It wasn’t that much different than a Rangers road game, one where the home crowd didn’t have much to cheer about.
I watched the game. And I enjoyed myself.
So, like Charlie Brown yet again giving in and trusting Lucy to hold the football in place, I feel myself giving in, returning to sports to comfort me in strange times.
Let’s go Rangers!