Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Game 50: Montréal 1, Buffalo 3

I haven't seen the Sabres-Canadiens game, just the final score on the giant screen at the Canucks rink. I was there to catch the Canucks against the Blackhawks, ready for another battle in the dirty little war these two teams have waged against each other for a couple seasons now. I was ready for an intense, emotional game, lots of hitting, a couple of fights, lots of bad blood, and endless skating, up and down the ice. We got none of that.

It seems like both teams were still on their All-Star break. The majority were still thinking of the beach they had just left, and those who were in Ottawa for the All-Star game continued in the the same vein, with no hitting or real effort. Both teams kept trying long stretch passes for breakaways or odd-man rush, and they missed with such regularity that the audience started to groan near the end when a forward would bobble another pass, or miss entirely and an icing infraction would result. Aside from the lack of flow, there was no emotion. Two minor penalties were called for the entire game, instead of the fight-filled grudge match the crowd was slavering for.

The overtime goal by Daniel Sedin, from a magic assist by Henrik, allowed us to go home somewhat happy, but there were precious few highlights. A breakaway goal by Cody Hodgson. A nice passing play in the first that ended up on Ryan Kesler's stick and which he buried, which at the time augured well for the home team. A flub of the puck behind the net by Cory Schneider, which forced him to dive back in front of the net and make a desperation save. The crowd was correspondingly quiet, we could hear the guys talking on the ice. A girl from Holland was with us to take in her first ever hockey game, and she remarked how silent it was in the arena, and she compared it to some soccer games she has attended, telling us it was night and day.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were dangerous and creative with the puck, manufacturing goals and chances when none should have existed, although they too seemed to be skating at half-speed for most of the game.

Overall, a boring game which made me seriously question the reasonableness of shelling out $125.00 for a 'premium' game. I understand pro sports team owners who fear that one's man cave with giant HD screen is more attractive than bothering to go to the game, once you factor in traffic, parking, loud drunk patrons, etc.

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