Monday, November 26, 2007
Off-ice report to follow but here's what I thought of the game Saturday, my first ever trip to see an Oilers' home game.
Um, where I'm from, that arena is basically downtown already. A quick ride on the LRT away anyhow. You can see how its presence has certainly created a bustling neighbourhood around it though. There was the strip club and um, yeah .... not so much else.
All kidding aside I am not from Alberta so I have little invested in the whole debate. Its a nice rink though. I've been to Wrigley, White Hart Lane and the old Chicago Stadium so trying to sell me on the fact that this place is falling down and has to be replaced makes very little sense to me.
The Oilers put on a good show. Impressive. The lighting, the music, all that stuff. Far better then the Leafs. The whole Tickets for Troops deal was pulled off extremely well. There was the usual background noise stuff, which I don't like much, but it was not as bad as, say, the Leafs again.
The weird beginning where the players are goofing around against a white background - very very strange. Reminded me of 90210? The beginning I mean. Smid does a posedown like Hulk Hogan - if you blink you miss it - and as a result I like him a hundred times more.
They also had a little Q and A during a timeout where they ask guys what they would be if they were not in the NHL. This was a riot. Mathieu Roy grins and says he's be working construction or pumping gas or something. Gagner says he's be in school (no shit-grade 6 by the look of him). Pouliot says "Rock Star!" - he looks like a real fucking weirdo. And then Stortini. Zach, what would you be if you weren't in the NHL?
"Well, I'd really hope I was in the NHL, you know. Because its my dream. So I really would think I'd want to be in the NHL, playing hockey." Ok then.
As for the crowd - not as noisy as I thought it would be although far noiser then the ACC. And during the shootout and at some other points during the game it was great. Also a lot less prompting for crowd noise from the scoreboard - a couple of times but that's all. Good.
So Andy and I had good seats, row 12 in section 108, right behind the Oilers' net for the first and the third. Andy screamed like a little girl a few times when pucks hurtled at us, only to be stopped by the glass. Of course I shat myself so I'm one to talk..
Yeah we're idiots.
Of course as usual its amazing to see how big and fast these guys are live. The new jerseys do have a slimming effect though. Torres especially doesn't really look that big. Staios either.
Chicago is pretty crappy. they really are. So are the Oilers. It was a great game in that the Oilers won (yay) and the game was close (obviously) but there were times it was a bit of a snooze, especially in the first. Of course I was pretty exhausted at this point from trying to fend off Grabia's advances. He sure likes to play grabass. Then again, who doesn't. Anyways while the Oilers didn't play terrific I think even their best game would result in very little against the Detroits of the world. There's not much on this roster. I thought they deserved to win this one though. The Hawks had more shots but the Oilers had more chances.
Observations. Roloson is a whack job, which we all knew. He played well but had few five bell saves. The Hawks had forty shots but the majority were from outside. The Oilers did a good job of keeping them out there and the Hawks really created very little off of the rush. Toews was a complete nonfactor. Kane not much more. Pitkanen was out a lot against Kane and spent a lot of time working him over.
On the D everything was status quo. Tarnstrom was fine until he got whacked which was pretty close to us. He was a bit of a mess. Smid actually played quite well. No glaring errors and he certainly has an edge to him. He likes to mix it up out there. Grebeshkov will not shoot the puck. The play to Hemsky turned out great but it really looked like he had blown it before Khabibulin kind of got turned around. He wasn't terrible but when he has time he gets into trouble. Twice late in the third he had the puck with time as Chicago were on a change or clearing the zone and he fanned on the puck for no apparent reason. He also had a couple of times where he could have chipped it out easily but hesitated and ended up getting the Oilers hemmed in. Staios did the exact same thing on the second goal. Pitkanen got him the puck. He had time and could have just flipped it high and out. Instead he hesitated, ate it and the next time the Oilers got the puck they were fishing it out of the net. This was about five minutes after Andy and I had discussed how Staios had really changed his game - no more gambling, play it safe - and how we felt that while he was less fun, he was certainly a better player for it. He then made about three gaffes in a row. He's pretty damn solid though.
As for Joni Pitkanen, this is a guy you have to see live. He is an unbelievable specimen. Only one game but based on what I saw this guy would be the best player on the Oilers in terms of the tools he possesses. He is huge. He can skate like the wind. He is beautiful to watch. Now of course the idea is that there is a good Joni and a bad Joni but if they can harness good Joni then I would say sign him right now, longterm. Of course, harnessing good Joni has been the problem, now, hasn't it?
Terrific skill though. Of course he also likes to wander, lets say. At one point he was behind the Hawks' net and I thought he was Penner because of his size and because, well, he was behind their net. When he wheeled out to get back there was no doubt who he was though.
As for Gilbert Gilbert, well he is all that he is cracked up to be. Just a hell of a hockey player. Everytime he did something Andy and I would look at each other and smile like a couple of schoolgirls with a crush, which essentially we were. They did a giveaway where a fan had to guess who had the Santa disguise on. Andy and I both fairly shrieked his name. We could not have been any gayer if we were wearing skirts and had our hair in pigtails.
I was hoping to get down there and maybe get a little makeout time with G.G. but it would have ended our budding friendship as Andy was of the same mind I think. So we ignored our loinal urges and did some manly drinking instead.
Next - more impressions.
Posted by Black Dog at 1:52 PM