Of Puck & Play

I’ve mentioned before that hockey and video games are my two favorite things in the whole wide world (aside from family, friends and food, of course). So tonight is big for me for two reasons: 1) my team, the savvy New York Rangers, take on the top heavy Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference Semifinals and 2) it’s Friday , the day of the week I can shirk all responsibility and play video games until I pass out.

Dark Souls 2 and playoff hockey it is!

This marriage of puck and play goes way back for me. In the late 90s, early 2000s, I spent just about every night watching our local market NHL teams, the Rangers, Sabres, Islanders and Devils on an old 19” TV while plugging away at EverQuest. Unfortunately, this was also a very painful time to be a New York Rangers fan. The team featured a slew of washed up veterans, who underperformed nightly. I recall thinking three-quarters of the way through every season, “If they can just win every game from now on, we’ll make the playoffs!”

So it was nice to watch the Devils win regularly, even though they should have been my bitter rival. It didn’t matter. Marty Brodeur was a wall. Scotty Stevens reminded the opposition to keep their heads up skating into the zone with a solid shoulder to the chest.  It was hockey and hockey kept me company through the wee hours when only owls, criminals and Barur Holyhands, the Dwarven Paladin, were active.

The year before the ‘04 lockout, the Rangers had a fire sale. Everyone (almost) was shipped out, making way for a fresh group of homegrown talent. I’ll never forget Fedor Tyutin’s big Russian grin after launching a slapper from the point top shelf over the goalie’s shoulder and into the basket. Right where mama hides the cookies. It was the start of an era, an era wherein I could actually be a proud Blueshirts fan.

Fast forward ten years. Plenty has changed. I’ll watch tonight’s game on a tablet instead of a 19” behemoth of a rear projection TV. The names on the backs of the jerseys have changed, too. Video game graphics have also changed, to say the least. But there’s one constant.

Hockey and video games are my two favorite things in the whole wide world.