Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Opening Night: Surrealism at the 'X'

One could imagine the scene Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center, as the Minnesota Wild played the Anaheim Ducks in as ho-hum an opening night as you could possibly imagine. Then, from the outer concourses, a lot of shouting and cheering.

It certainly wasn't from the play on the ice. The Wild were stinking up the joint, big time, as the Ducks out-played the Wild (although the scoring would start in the second period. This was the first period, remember.)

No, it was from what was on the TV sets located throughout those same concourses, as the Minnesota Twins pulled off the improbable upset of the Detroit Tigers, 11 miles away from the 'X' at the Metrodome, as the Twins won, 6-5 in 12 innings of some of the best baseball one will ever see. Not the most technically brilliant baseball, but two teams equally matched makes for good ball, anytime.

The teams were looking at each other on the benches. No one had scored; so, WTF was going on? At the next stoppage, the final score was announced, and the Twins' 50-year-old team song, 'We're Gonna Win, Twins', was played much to the delight of the 18,258 in attendance (Yes, it's another Xcel sell-out).

The real fireworks began with the John Scott-George Parros fight early in the third period, as the 'Stache was knocked down by a left-right combo from BJS, the 6'8", 258-lb defenseman-turning-forward.

And then, as if a torch was lit under them, the Wild came back. Not like in the Lemaire years. This time, they came all the way back, against an Anaheim team that for 40 minutes, looked like they could do no wrong. And then, there was the Wild, the team that literally couldn't shoot straight (Mikko Koivu missed from point-blank range -- twice) suddenly scoring goals, making plays, and loving the new life that had been breathed into them. The crowd went nuts after Kyle Brodziak drew an Anaheim penalty after he trash-talked James Wisnewski into sucker-punching him. Brodziak skated away as Wisnewski unsuccessfully pleaded his case, to no avail.

And then, it was Andrew Brunette's turn to re-play his now-infamous work-and-stuff play, for his first career regular season OT goal. (Yes, we know he had another one, but that was in the playoffs. That goaltender -- Patrick Roy -- never returned to the nets.)

Then the five-day, four-team, eight-event, live sports orgy in Minnesota was finally over. The home teams' record? 7-1 (Only Tim Brewster's Gopher Football team, facing Wisconsin, lost) and nearly 300,000 saw at least one of the eight events.

I'm happy to say that I was one of 'em.

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