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You can have a ton of fun watching hockey at home

Hockey is back, and there are great ways to celebrate at home.

New York Rangers Vs Tampa Bay Lightning Playoff Game 4 Viewing Party Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

Tonight the New York Rangers open up where they left off the 2021-22 season with a matchup vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Madison Square Garden should be at or near full capacity. Those individuals working their way through the doors have bought tickets, and if you haven’t already done so there’s still time to pay triple digits for the privilege of saying you were there for opening night. Or... you can stay home and enjoy the game a different way.

I’ve attended a few opening night games, and while it can be a great experience, I also really enjoy watching games at home. As someone who lives a considerable ways from MSG, when you factor in transportation or parking fees, food, and the time investment... sometimes the best way to enjoy a game is from the confines of your own home. At Blueshirt Banter we know that there are Ranger fans around the globe, and coming to New York may not be as easy as said and done.

And even for those in the surrounding areas, hockey is a really expensive sport, and for some there are more affordable parts of the schedule to get to a game. With that in mind I thought I would share my “homegating” experience for Rangers hockey.


Snacks

Anyone who has met me will never confuse me with Tom Hardy, and with that said I’d like to think I am a decent authority on snacks. The amount of snacks you have can depend on how many people you watch the game with, but my motto is that it is better to have something and not need it, rather than not have something and need it. Does that sometimes mean eating more snacks than I should? Yes... but life is short enough as it is to not have a good time enjoying the things you want to enjoy. With that out of the way, what types of snacks do I have on hand?

I like to have a good balance of chips, I am particular to tortilla chips from the store that can be used with salsa or cheese, but sometimes I will indulge and get some chips from Chili’s that I will warm up. I usually do this for the playoffs when I am buying other things for people to snack on, but sometimes I will make a stop just for the chips. I am also a fan of mesquite BBQ kettle chips, and garlic parmesan pita chips that are sold at Aldi’s.

I also like having some things that you can heat up, and I am a sucker for soft pretzels and pretzel bites. Nathan’s French fries always hit the spot, and sometimes mozzarella sticks. Frozen pizza and pizza bites have their place, but if I really want pizza I am getting something local. Might as well go the extra mile and do things right.

I also like having candy on hand like gummy bears, Starbursts, and either M&M’s or Cookie Dough Bites. I usually bring stuff like this to the movie theatre, and you can grab a good amount at the dollar store to stock up while not breaking the bank.

For dessert I am a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies, and will usually have some form of ice cream around. If I have time I will bake some myself, I like this recipe from Binging with Babish, but any kind will do.

Cookies by Tom Urtz Jr.

The two pair great for homemade ice cream sandwiches, and it really is just an all-around great dessert.

Beverages

At all times I have a secondary fridge filled with a combination of soda, water, beer, and hard seltzers. Right now I am rather fond of Bud Light’s Hard Soda seltzers, particularly the cherry cola variant. If I want that flavor with no booze, my drink of choice is Coca-Cola Cherry Zero, a beverage that has been a staple for me for longer than I’d care to remember. I am also a freak with a ton of different refillable water bottles that I am constantly mixing with flavor packets or water enhancers. Because ya know... balance and moderation are encouraged...

The Setup

I have a moderately comfy couch that can accommodate a good amount of people and a very nice 55-inch television which is great for watching sports. I most recently watched the New York Mets... Regardless of the outcome, I enjoy having my own space, my own routine, and spot to process the events that transpire. I can wear whatever I want, for me that’s usually comfy sweats and a hoodie, and my Oreo slippers.

They are warm, functional, and great for watching hockey.

Your setup may vary, but all you really need is a nice place to sit and a screen. Whether it is a phone, tablet, television, computer, etc... the most basic part of homegating is something for watching the game. Tonight’s game is a national game on ESPN, and I know there are fans who can’t stand national broadcasts. To that I say having a radio or device to pull up an audio stream can be great for you. It may take some time, but it is possible to sync what is on screen with Kenny Albert, Don La Greca, and Dave Maloney so that you have a broadcast that is focused on what’s of most importance to you.

I will be happy for the first game on MSG with Sam and Joe, because they are a pairing that has been familiar to me for a large part of my life, and there’s something about them that just feels good. There’s also the comfort in having the pregame and intermission panel with John Giannone, Steve Valiquette, and Henrik Lundqvist... and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Bill Pidto and his MSG 150... “the fastest 150 seconds in the National Hockey League”.

The People

Part of the fun of going to a game is enjoying something collectively, and you can recreate that feeling at home. I am usually watching games with my brother and nephew, and there are times where I’ll have friends come over when the game has some additional stakes or intrigue.

There often will be a game of mini-sticks going on when there isn’t game action taking place, and things can get rowdy depending on how the game is going. Physical activity can be a hell of a stress reliever, and nothing helps get over a bad call quite like hitting the piss out of a foam hockey ball from point blank range.

This game is a Tuesday in the middle of a work week, so enjoy it with whoever you can. If you are watching the game alone, that’s fine too. That means more snacks for you!


In any case, this is just how I do things. The viewing experience changes depending on when the game is, and I don’t always follow this template for the late games out west when I know I need to get to sleep shortly after competition because I am getting up for work in the morning. However you decide to watch the Rangers this season, whether it be in person or at home like I will for most of this season, have fun. Enjoy tonight’s game, and Let’s go Rangers!