Young winger James Neal (18) has kept the Crosby-less, Malkin-less Penguins afloat with his six goals.(Dean Beattie/ZUMAPRESS..com)
By Stu Hackel
My Tuesday nights don’t vary much. Our group assembles at an old prep school barn of a rink and airs it out as best we can. We’ve got an exceptional early evening time slot, which most recreational skaters know is a real luxury. So for one night, watching NHL action gets relegated to Priority Two. Not that we don’t talk about the NHL while we’re dressing for the skate.
Detroit Gary and Jay converse reverently about the Red Wings. The Rangers fans, like Crack, Lacey, Dr. Dave, Cohen, Toddzilla, Eric and Matty long ago stopped trying to convince everyone — and each other — that their team could be real a Stanley Cup contender. Berube gets ragged on because every time he buys a Flyers jersey, the player whose name is on the back gets traded (Eric jokingly brought in an old Jaromir Jagr Rangers jersey for Berube to wear this week, knowing full well that Berube would never put on a Rangers sweater). And the Bruins fans like Frankie, McFall, Lee, Brian and James (not to mention Phil, whenever he’s back from Abu Dhabi) still can’t quite believe that their team actually won the Stanley Cup last season.
After the skate comes the inevitable question. “You goin’ down?” by which the guy who is asking wants to know from the guy being asked if he’s driving to the local grille for a late dinner and to watch what he can of the NHL – often the third period of an Eastern time zone game featuring one of the New York teams, or whatever game Versus is showing. It’s either that or beer in the parking lot.
I always end up at the Grille and I’m always the last guy there, so the later the TV game starts, the more I can catch. Some nights, I have to be content with only seeing highlights before heading home and watching a game I’ve recorded or something on Game Center Live. But last night, with an early Versus game and a Rangers game in Vancouver, in addition to lots of highlights, there was plenty to chew over with my turkey sandwich, sweet potato fries and club soda.