Friday, October 16, 2009

Rookie's take on last night's home opener

I guess this wasn't the most epic home opener of all time. Which sucks for me, since it was my first real "home opener" experience. Okay, fine, I wasn't AT the game, but a home opener is a once-a-season event that needs to be watched from start to finish. 

Two seasons ago, I maybe half-watched it - to be honest, I don't really remember because that was back when hockey was just something that was on. (In hindsight, I should totally have watched it and paid attention considering how that season unfolded.) Then last year, I missed it for academic reasons. In the spring, my reasoning for a Wednesday evening class made perfect sense - the class sounded interesting, Lost wasn't on until midseason and hockey games on Wednesdays were relatively rare. I made a bad call on that one. The class was useless and dull (and yes, everyone's friend Czechtacular had warned me about the awful professor, but for some reason I didn't listen). I had tickets to a preseason game on a Wednesday - stupid, I know - so I had already missed one class for hockey (kids, do as I say, not as I did) and couldn't fall behind just to watch a game on TV. Obviously, I had and Mike Boone's live blog open in separate windows as I took notes, and compulsively hit refresh about every three seconds, but neither source would make any mention of the pre-game ceremony and all the legends in attendance, so a good while after the game was set to start all I knew was that the puck had dropped. So this was the first real home opening game I got to see.

I was very excited for this home opener... so excited that I delayed my viewing of the 30 Rock season premiere, which was a pretty tough call to make. (To put things into perspective, the 30 Rock premiere is like the TV equivalent of the home opener when your team is coming off a wicked last season and a Stanley Cup win, but not in a bucktoothed Sidney Crosby kind of way. I love Tina Fey more than Carey Price loves Garth Brooks. I speak more highly of Tina Fey than Jacques Demers does of Guillaume Latendresse. I've been quoting old episodes nonstop in anticipation.)

I had had the chance to see Calgary's home opener last season, with every player called to the ice like a hero. (I unfortunately was called away for the five seconds that Jarome Iginla was called up but turned back to the TV just in time to see the guy after him, a certain Michael Cammalleri). I figured I knew what I'd be in for and I was hoping for some big to-do since we're almost at the tail end of these centennial festivities. 

And what did we get at the beginning of this game? The same video we'll be seeing for the rest of the season, and a lineup of "Je suis" introductions. Hardly the pomp and circumstance of last year's opener, although I guess it's useful if you're still confused by the dozens of new guys who materialized over the summer.

Props to Andrei Kostitsyn for being a rebel and skipping the "Je suis." Everyone knows that that's who he is, anyway. And I don't care if he follows the script or not, because he gets paid to play. I'm a little disappointed, though, that his was the only deviation from what the players were probably told to say. No one decided to maybe stick a middle name in there, or a "Hi Mom," or maybe pull a switcheroo and say some other guy's name, or introduce himself as James Bond or something. Les boys were all business.

Also, I was under the impression that our city had the most legendary hockey team in the NHL, or something. Is it just me or was standing around passing a mic just a little bit low-fi? I may watch hockey to see the games, but the guys barely even had time for a wave or a nod of the head. Couldn't there have been more lights, or a sparkler or two, maybe more little kids?

Is it because they thought tripping was contagious? Because that little goalie kid did a heck of a job, even wearing all his padding, only tripping once. Scott Gomez fell like a dozen times during the game, and he's a full-grown man. A short man, perhaps, but still an adult-sized one who skates for a living, so I'm giving a huge 

thumbs up to the little goalie kid for picking himself up and keeping on. (Or herself? Was it a little Kim St-Pierre in training?)

The players didn't even skate around that much when they came out, but I guess that that made for an even playing field with the injured players. Obvious statement of the year:

 I miss my Andrei Markov.

Did I miss something? Was all of the awesomeness offscreen?

On to the game:

So the first period went off pretty well. We scored the first goal, because Roman Hamrlik was totally on fire and deserves credit for seeing a really good opportunity and taking the shot.

The first period also called a penalty for something that isn't an officia

l crime of hockey but should be: Checking A Guy After You Knocked His Helmet Off. Thanks, Colorado, for trying to fell another one of our players. We're already down by three at our home opener and I'm pretty sure that Max Pacioretty hasn't done anything to deserve attempted brain damage.

In the second period, Colorado apparently tied the game 1-1 but come on. Who are we kidding. That was a goal of complete fluke and stupidity. It wasn't actually scored by anyone.

Colorado scored a second goal during a moment of Carey Price weakness (opinions may vary on his play last night, and I'm more or less in the middle. We've seen him play better, we've seen him have worse games, but there were some brilliant saves and don't you deny it.)

There were some decent shots on goal but unfortunately we didn't score a second until Tomas Plekanec rocked it out in the 3rd period. Czechtacular will have more on this for you, since both goals were scored by her guys.

Overall, I think this game, if anything, proved that fans (you know which ones I'm talking about) can't just rely on the new players we were so jazzed about this summer. I didn't lose faith in our returning players and I'm feeling pretty good about that right now. I'd probably feel even better if I didn't need to make this argument and everyone played this well all the time and no one had to be an apologist for their favourite player, but Mick Jagger told me that I can't always get what I want.

The game ended 3-2 but there was a strong effort at the end of the game to score a third goal, and that first Colorado goal barely even counts, so I'll be in denial and say it was a tie game. Last night's game was a reminder that NHL hockey isn't easy, and there's work to do this season. I'm up for it, and it appears that the team is up for it, and hopefully for the long run.

And in case you're wondering, yes, 30 Rock was great.

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