Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Finally, I See A GREAT Hockey Game

What is a Thrasher anyway? I assume it's the modernist dino-bird on the roof of the Philips Center that shoots fire from its mouth whenever Atlanta scores. Tonight, my eyebrows were singed once too often as the Thrashers came back from 3-1 down to burn my Lightning 4-3 in OT.

From start to finish, this was just a great hockey game, the best I've seen all month. With Vinny Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa on the ice, the skill level was unbelievable. No trapping, no holding, no dumping, just great passing, solid goaltending and stars doing what they're supposed to do on national TV. We Southeast Division fans get to see this skill regularly, and I hope the Versus audience appreciated what they saw. After a week of grinding, trapping and headhunting in the Western Conference, it was great to see these stars in action!

The stands weren't anything close to full, but the fans were loud and the overall experience was much better than I expected. Atlanta outplayed Tampa in the first period, winning all the battles, but Moose Hedberg gave up a couple of costly rebound goals in the second. I was feeling confident until the Thrash got a 5-on-3, courtesy of ref Dave Jackson, who is by far the worst official in the league (not just because of this call, but hundreds of others over the years). He wears the number 8 on his back, and I think it represents the number of calls he gets right each year! I'll blame the Lightning defense for the last two goals, as the d-men simply let the wingers skate around them twice. Why don't defensemen stand forwards up at the blue line anymore?

They showed some weird videos on the Jumbotron. One was two minutes of a faux Lightning fan and a guy in a suit singing in the penalty box, and the second was just animal bloopers! Ever see a camel bite a guy in the butt? They loved it in Atlanta! I've learned that there is a sub-culture of important men (and women) in charge of "game presentation" or some similar title. They run the scoreboard, select the music, plan the TV timeout and intermission activities, pick the anthem singer, etc., all designed to "engage the fans" (remember that phrase from my Edmonton blog?) and make them feel like part of the excitement.

Recently, I mentioned to one of these guys, that I thought St. Louis had the best overall game presentation, and he said that when John Davidson took over, he hired the game presentation guy from the Capitals. I thought whoever took over in Washington put on a mediocre show, and today the Thrashers told me that their game presentation guy has just been hired by the Caps. Sounds like a game of musical chairs to me, but it makes a big difference to the feel of each venue. So Caps fans, get ready for animal bloopers in the Verizon Center!

They're moping in Toronto, as the Argonauts lost to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and aren't going to the CFL Grey Cup, but I'll be there to cheer them up tomorrow as the attention shifts back to the hapless Leafs.


Anonymous said...

The Thrasher is the state bird of Georgia. It might not be the best name for a hockey team, but it ain't the worst.

I'm jealous of your trip! Keep having fun and I hope you get to see more games as good as the one last night.

-Thrashers fan in Chicago


sturdypeasantstock said...

Hi Steve,

30 games... good for you. I have some friends that did the baseball stadium road trip, but not hockey.

I agree, it was a great game w/Hossa, Lecavalier, etal. Some day I will tell my grandkids that I saw these guys play.

Now we know what a thrasher is. Had a big discussion about while watching the game with my boys last night.

Caught a bit of the tribute to Larry Robinson as well. Ah, the memories... Gotta love Centre Ice.

Enjoy the rest of your trip and we'll look forward to reading about it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

calling the leafs hapless might have been a bit harsh considering they shut out the best team in the league their last game in a game that reminded me of when the leafs would regularly send the sens packing in the playoffs. maybe incredibly inconsistent and frustrating is more accurate. anyways, dont be surprised if the atmosphere at the ACC is weak, cause its all filled with suits, who are their to be seen, and the real leaf fans cant afford to get in most of the time.

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve....I am doing the same stunt as you are. However i think I am being a lot smarter about my trip. I am not spending the money on the air fare, tickets to the game, sucking done expensive beer, buying hot dogs that will send me to the hospital, Staying at cheesy hotels, and criss-crossing across America and Canada a few times. I am seeing the same games you are, in the same order right in the comforts of my Family Room. My beer cost me $1.24 for a 24 ounce glass not $6.50, my hot dogs are Sahlen orginals, not imitation meat stuffed in a casing, and I don't have to worry about someone spilling beer on my seat or rub Katchup on my sleeve and the line to the restroom are non-exsistant. My Center Ice package is accomplishing the same thing. you should have thought this through Steve, would have saved you thousands of dollars!!! Duh!!!

Seriously, Steve, your my idol, my hero, I'm very envious. However, I'm smarter (hint......next time buy the Center Ice Package)

~~~Colorado hockey fan!!!

Anonymous said...

Andrew..your Leafs ARE hapless. Just because the Sens had one bad game people of Toronto get all excited because they think they've seen the light and are on their way to the promise land. Did you watch last nights Leafs/Bruins game? All Leafs fans can do is bring back the time they beat Ottawa in the playoffs. This is really getting old. Leaf fans are pathetic. Go Sens!!!