Sunday, January 18, 2009

WRT's 'Hockey Day Minnesota'

WRT's Sunday Blog of 'Stuff'

Hey, at least I had fun!

Due to the late start (8 PM Central) of Saturday night's game as part of 'Hockey Day Minnesota', we had dinner with friends near the 'X' then went inside to collect our coffee tumblers (as mentioned in the game blog entry) and then took our seats while waiting for warm-ups. An usher supervisor we know fairly well came up to us and said they had two seats on the new 'Target Hot Seats' rebuilt Zamboni for a ride around the rink at the first intermission. Of course, I couldn't resist that offer!

So, down to the machine we went, with a few stops along the way (to sign legal stuff; y'know, they aren't going to let you do anything if they are liable for it) and then, behind the goal judge at the east end of the arena (behind Niklas Backstrom) for a few minutes 'up close' watching the game. It's a whole 'nother perspective from down there, than it is at the top level where we usually sit. Then, time to get on the Zamboni for our trip around the rink.

The Zamboni has seat belts (you're expected to wear them) and otherwise, it was a very comfortable ride in this 1980's-model hollowed-out contraption, which was rebuilt by a Minneapolis auto custom shop. They left the base of the ice scraping auger in place and put steps (with hockey sticks as handrails!) for access to the seating area. It is supposed to seat 10, we had 8 on board, but they should really say 6 adults, and 2 under age 12.

We went thru the tunnel (Low Bridge! Ev'rybody Down!) then onto the ice we went, taking two complete laps around the center of the rink. One of our fellow passengers noticed how big the building seems from ice level. You can see how, for example, high school kids would be intimidated at the State HS Tournament, played here in early March, when the place is 2/3rds full (for the big schools tournament). Or how intimidating a place this could be for NHL opponents, if the Wild would get a dominating style team together. Just as one of our friends (from earlier) was going to take our picture, they turned the house lights down (to help freeze the ice), as our ride was over.

The ride was all too short, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you to all who helped me get a different perspective on the game that I love.

Was it the weather outside, ref?

Marc Joanette, who disallowed what would have been the tying (at that time) goal in the second period Saturday night, might have been getting a little homesick. He also worked the Oilers-Wild game Thursday night, where the Wild lubed the Oil 5-1. Mind you, the State of Minnesota just saw the coldest temperatures in over 4 years during Joanette's stay in St. Paul.

Maybe we should just start over, or ?

The Wild are 1-1-1 in the 3 years of 'Hockey Day Minnesota' games, scoring 6 goals total in the three games, while giving up 8. (2007: Dallas 2, Wild 1 (SO); 2008: Wild 4, Islanders 3 (OT); 2009: Ducks 3, Wild 0).

'Premium' dysfunction

Saturday night was not a good night for the Minnesota Wild. Their 'Hockey Day Minnesota' 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks now drops them to 3-6 vs. the Pacific Division in 2008-09, 2-1 at home. The Wild are also 3-3-1 in 'Premium' home games (with raised ticket prices) this season, with five premium home games remaining.

'I like it, I love it, I want some more of it'

Atlanta trounced Nashville Saturday night at Sommet Center in Nashville, 7-2. It was 5-0 Thrashers before the Preds scored their first goal, and for once no one was heard singing the Preds' country-themed goal song. Add the 1 win, 3 loss week for the Preds to the general gloom of Nashville in the winter, and the choke job at home by the NFL's Tennessee Titans against the Baltimore Ravens last Saturday, and it's not been a good week in Music City. Preds play Monday night at home vs. New Jersey before going on a 3-game Western Canadian road swing.

Personal Note: My road record this year is an abysmal 0-2, and I put that on the line Monday in Chicago, as we travel to United Center for the seventh Wild-Hawks game in Chicago since the 2004-05 labor dispute. Record: 4-2 all time at the UC. See you there!

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