About a year ago, I went to see the Rangers play the Flyers, and the Rangers won. The Rangers went on to make it into the second round of the playoffs while the Flyers lost like 60 games or something ridiculous. Well, to commemorate that experience, I went again this year (editor's note: I went to the Maple Leafs/Flyers game on March 12th, but it was decidedly less-Rangers than the Rangers game was).
This go around, there appeared to be less Rangers jerseys and gear than last time I was in the Wachovia Center when New York was in town, although maybe it's because Philadelphia is fighting for a playoff spot and so their fair-weather fans are joining the hardcore fans to fill up seats. I had on a Giants jacket and I wasn't the only one sporting such attire. It's a little brazen wearing that kind of stuff in this city, as Philadelphia is a football town that's never see a Super Bowl victory and hates New York. I took or covered up anything on my car that may identify me as a fan so as to avoid getting my tires slashed or windows broken.
Despite the alcohol and general stupidity, the worst thing that happened to me was being called a faggot repeatedly by some frat boy (see New York Times, heterosexism is not a New York thing). I wasn't really paying attention until I had already turned the corner, and at that point I wasn't going to acknowledge him. He was probably disappointed that his sterling wit wasn't properly recognized.
Once again, I sat in the very last row, up by the ceiling. Fifty bucks doesn't exactly buy what it used to. Anyway, I could have showed up two hours late and not missed a thing, as the score was 1-0 Flyers after two periods, with the Rangers only taking 14 shots on goal.
The third period was thrilling, however. After the Flyers scored a second goal, the chants of "Rangers suck" began, rising into a crescendo until Marek Malik scored a 40 foot goal (observe it below beginning at the 1:20 mark). The Rangers quickly tied it a few minutes later with a goal by Nigel Dawes (say the name in a Robin Leach voice). The Flyers put the press on and earned a third goal, looking like they locked up the game. However, the Rangers put on a full assault and Jagr slipped in a goal with less than two minutes left in the game.
The Rangers went into overtime having earned a point, but when the shootout came, they couldn't finish. Brendan Shanahan and Dawes were both denied by Biron, while back-up goalie Stephen Valiquette let past two shots. Valiquette is a decent back-up by any measure, but he could not handle the one-on-one in this game. Mike Richards scored Philadelphia's first goal on the breakaway, and of course the two goals in the shootout were the equivalent of "breakaways."
On the trip down the stairs to leave, I shook a 7 year old's hand. He was there with what appeared to be his mom and aunt or something, and I wanted him to see that you could be a grown man attending a sporting event and not be a total asshole. I don't know if he'll remember, but people remember random things as they grow older. Maybe this will have some positive impact on him. Please, people, don't call me a hero. A great man, sure. But a hero? Not quite.