Saturday, October 10, 2009

Five Hundred...

I took advantage of the student rush ticket deals today and headed down to the Joe to see the Wings take on Alexander Ovechkin and the Caps. It was well worth it. For those who are curious, the lower bowl tickets are $45 each, and are for single seats scattered all over. I ended up in row 9 right behind the Wings’ net. It’s a great deal if you don’t mind being surrounded by strangers. It’s great for me because I have very little interesting chatting during the game anyway. I’m more than happy to just hang out in the concourse during intermission.

I somehow ended up completely surrounded by Caps fans and a variety of people who did not deserve to have seats that good at a Wings game. I still have no idea who the five people in front of me were rooting for. They were dressed all in black or brown and didn’t clap for a single goal, penalty, shot, play, faceoff…anything. I think they may have just been there to eat B-Dubs because that’s all they really did. I don’t understand that. Even when I watch games in which I have no vested interest, I at least display some sort of emotion. What’s the point of even coming? Seriously.

On the other end of the spectrum was the guy sitting behind me. He spent a large portion of the game complaining about the fact that nobody there was verbally abusing or throwing things at him. Apparently, I’m a lousy fan because I don’t feel the need to act like an idiot in public. Sorry for being classy, sunshine.

I also sat next to one of the coolest kids ever. He was a Caps fan, but that’s forgivable because he appeared to have every single one of their stats from last season memorized (or at least he appeared to. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt because for all I know he could’ve been making all of them up).

One of my favorite moments came when one of the Caps fans sitting by me realized that Mike Green was, in fact, a defenseman. I’m pretty sure everyone was just as shocked as he was the first time they figured that out. I informed him that Green had been nominated for the Norris last season. He didn’t know what that was. Probably because Nick Lidstrom has been hogging it for all of these years.

Anyway, this was by far the best game the Wings have played so far. They controlled the play and actually looked like they intended to play defense. At one point, their penalty killing unit set up a cycle in the offensive zone and looked like they were the ones on the powerplay. That was probably my favorite part of the game (other than when they scored, obviously). In that moment, they looked like the Wings I know and love. Not the ones that had me spouting ulcers yesterday night.

Brian Rafalski in particular had a great game even though he wasn’t recognized with one of the offical stars. He broke up several good scoring opportunities in the third period alone, and he really stood out to me. I was glad to see Datsyuk have a good game as well. I was semi-expecting him to score tonight because it seemed like everywhere I went earlier in the day, I was surrounded by the number 13. He only ended up with an assist, but trying to defend him has to give opposing D-men nightmares.

I was also pretty excited to see the reunion of the Flying Circus line. It’d been a while since I got to see them in action in person. Obviously Zetterberg and Datsyuk both great players individually, but when they’re on the ice together, it just seems like they make each other ten times better. That kind of chemistry is hard to come by, and I’ve always had mixed feelings about Uncle Mike’s decision to split them up last season. Babcock was shuffling wingers on the top line all night long, and I got the feeling he was experimenting to see how things fit together with Franzen out of the lineup. I’ll be interested to see how the lines shake out on Tuesday, especially with Darren Helm expected to return.

Other random notes:
  • The crowd was pathetic tonight. I don’t know if it was because I had an unusually good seat (I’m usually stuck up in the rafters) down with all the high-rollers (ie. the people sitting in front of me who could not have cared less about the game) or if it was that lame all over. Seriously. Show some spirit when you’re at the Joe.
  • You know who else made some solid defensive plays? Todd Bertuzzi. I know. Believe me, I don’t know what to make of it either. Unfortunately, he continues to be useless offensively.
  • It was a little strange to see Brad May skate out wearing #24 in the warm-ups.
  • Ovechkin had a quiet night by his standards. Even still, he seemed like a scoring threat every second he was on the ice. That’s pure star quality. Crazy antics and all, I would have to say he’s my favorite non-Wing in the NHL.
  • Until today, I had never been incredibly bothered by the nets over the glass on the ends of the rinks. From my usual nose bleed seats, they’re a little annoying, but not a huge deal. In row nine, however, the bottom part of the net is directly in your line of sight for most of the ice. It drove me crazy all night.
  • I was a little surprised to see a larger gathering around the Capitals’ bench as people were waiting for the warm-ups to start. Was it the mystique of Alex Ovechkin, or were people just confused?
I took some short videos from behind the net during warm-ups (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). They’re not great, and my camera doesn’t record sound, but watching from that vantage point exponentially increased my appreciation for what goalies do on a nightly basis.

I also put up a whole album of pictures from the warm-ups and during the game. Some of my favorites:
  • I really like this picture despite the fact that the flash did all kinds of weird things with the glass.
  • I almost ran into Larry Murphy on the concourse during the second intermission. Literally.
  • This guy was at least 6'7" and 300 lbs. The women on the far left of the picture were probably in the 5’4”-5’5” range for some perspective. I hope I'm not the only one who sees the irony in his choice of jersey. I just followed along behind him and it was like the crowd was parting in front of me.

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