The Rangers just lost, and momentum seemingly has shifted back to the Montreal side. I’ve seen a seismic energy shift in an NHL Playoff series before (twice, to be exact, in both the Rangers’ previous 2014 NHL Playoff series). I’m nervous. No, not just nervous. Jangled. In the way Hunter S. Thompson used to use the word to describe his reaction to an up close look at the Nixon apparatus.
BUT I HAVE FAITH. LOTS AND LOTS OF FUCKING FAITH. THE RANGERS WILL WIN GAME SIX AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN AND NEVER AGAIN HAVE TO RETURN TO THIS QUEBECOIS HELLHOLE OR FACE THIS MONSTROUS P.K. SUBBAN CHARACTER EVER AGAIN. HOW DID A BLACK MAN GET SO GOOD AT HOCKEY? HOW IS THIS POSSIBLY POSSIBLE? (His dad taught him, cool story). WE WILL END THIS INTERNATIONAL CONFLICT ONCE AND FOR ALL AND PLANT AN AMERICAN FLAG ON TOP OF THE OLD PARLIAMENT BUILDING (the capital building of Quebec, in Quebec City).
How do I know where/what the capital building of Quebec is? How do I know that P.K. Subban’s dad is a Jamaican immigrant and a take-no-shit inner city principal who built a backyard ice rink for his kids? Because I’ve absorbed all of this knowledge with the same zeal that I’ve absorbed this new thing I’ve discovered called playoff hockey.
I am a lifetime NFL and NBA guy who has always looked at this wacky, chilly, and utterly Caucasian sport the same way I’ve looked at the skates it’s played on: not for me. But something happened. Something significant. The Knicks turned to shit. And I need sports. New York Sports. There is a springtime hole in my heart that is only filled by New York Playoff Sports. So I started watching the Rangers.
And shit – I love this team, and I love this sport. Here’s why:
It takes a few hours of intent, focused hockey-watching before you really start to understand what’s going on. Unlike soccer, the other sport of massive individual goal importance, you almost never see a scoring play develop for more than a split second or two before the score is scored. But what any layman can immediately see is that these guys are literally knocking the shit out of each other. And not in a semi-controlled and predictable NFL kind of way, but in a nihilistic and ridiculous civil unrest kind of way. They even pause the game to let guys fistfight during the regular season — which I believe is the singular situation in which it is legal to bareknuckle punch someone in the face.
This weird, lurid dynamic, combined with the aforementioned unpredictability-tinged, massive individual goal importance, leads to a wire-to-wire intensity that other sports simply don’t have. You cannot turn away from a hockey game. You will miss something, and you might miss something that turns out to be everything. And in watching the Rangers, I have discovered that the one thing you will not miss at all, if just temporarily, is the New York Knicks.
SO PLEASE REWARD MY FUCKING FAITH.