In an effort to lighten the mood during the lockout, The New York Rangers Blog will be writing faux recaps for every Rangers game missed due to the work stoppage. Enjoy.
Los Angeles, CA – Tonight was supposed to be a celebration of the NHL's Stanley Cup Champion, instead it was a reminder of how obsolete the NHL has become during the New York Rangers 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, which was played in an auxiliary parking lot next to the Staples Center.
For months the Kings prepared for the night they could celebrate the success of last spring by raising a Stanley Cup banner to the rafters at the Staples Center. What they forgot to check was the Los Angeles Lakers preseason schedule. In a scheduling snafu, the Kings home opener was scheduled on the same night the Lakers were to face the Portland Trailblazers.
Since the Lakers run the city of Los Angeles, the decision was made 20 minutes before the game to move the venue of the Kings/Rangers contest to a parking lot adjacent to the Staples Center. And because the parking lot is blacktop and not ice, the players had to wear roller blades and use a warm weather pink hockey ball.
Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant said this about the situation:
"The NHL had their opportunity to overtake the NBA back in 1994 and they blew it with a lockout. Now they think because the league has increased revenues from $2.1 billion to $3.3 billion since 2005 they can push us around? We're the Lakers. Hell, I bet they'd still be playing in that parking lot if the Clippers had a game tonight."
Despite the embarrassment, the Kings felt they owed it to there fans to raise a Stanley Cup banner, so instead of raising it to the rafters of the Staples Center they affixed it to a McDonalds sign that overlooked the parking lot.
"This is a joke right?" Rangers head coach John Tortorella exclaimed before the game. "Where's Ashton Kutcher? I've got to be on Punk'd."
Despite the bizarre circumstances, the Rangers seemed quite comfortable playing in these conditions as newcomer Rick Nash took a nifty pass from Michael Del Zotto off a parking cone to score the first goal of the game before the confused crowd got settled into the lawn chairs that surrounded the makeshift playing surface that Kings management made available for those who stayed.
Brad Richards made it 2-0 before the end of the first on a controversial goal. Because they used shopping carts laid on there side as goals, it was initially thought that the puck bounced off the one of the wheels, but video replay confirmed that the ball did in fact enter the goal.
"I've got to be honest, I loved it," said Derek Stepan. "Most guys said after the Winter Classic last year that it reminded them of when they were kids playing outside on the pond. But for those of us who grew up playing hockey in the United States, the parking lots were where it was at."
The Kings were able to tie the game on second period goals by captain Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty.
"This is the most embarrassed I've ever been playing hockey. And I was a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, so that's saying a lot," noted Jeff Carter.
With the score knotted at two late in the third, Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi turned the puck over in the defensive zone after wiping out on an oil slick and Rangers rookie JT Miller, playing in his first NHL game, was there to pounce as he picked up the loose puck and fired it past a bewildered Jonathan Quick for his first NHL goal.
Chris Kreider sealed the victory with an empty netter.
"It's amazing that the NHL is still feeling the negative effects of the 1994-95 and 2004-05 lockouts. Could you imagine if a new CBA agreement wasn't reached this offseason and there was another work stoppage? The NHL would be finished," said Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers are off till Monday when they head to San Jose to take on the Sharks.
To read previous faux recaps, click here.