Last night I was at the Senators versus Flightless Birds game and it represented the first opportunity I've had in awhile to watch an NHL game from the 100 level. Amazingly, the seats I had added a bit of nostalgia since they were right behind where my late father had his first pair of season's tickets at the Palladium/Corel Center. I used to love the seats in section 109 when I was younger, being situated in the corner of the visitor's end, it was the location where Alexei Yashin used to set up on the powerplay. Even at a young age, I used to love and appreciate watching the subtleties of Yashin's work with the puck along the boards. It was like watching a basketball player work the low post. By putting his back to his defender, Yashin effectively used his size to shield the puck before using a pivot to sidestep the defender, come out from the corner and roof the puck short side over the goalie's shoulder. It was moments like these that allowed me to overlook the fact that Yashin was always susceptible to some bad representation from agent Mark Gandler. (Ed. note: Or is it bad representation when an agent can elicit a $90M offer from Mike Milbury and the Isles? Or is this just another nail in the coffin for Milbury's Islander legacy?)
Anyways, I digress. It was nice to be back and sitting in a familiar location so here's an account of my in-game experience last night.
- The assembly that gathered around the Penguins' bench during pre-game warmups was massive. Ironically, none of the Pittsburgh fans that I saw were under the age of 35. Now, if you're under the age of 35 and root for Pittsburgh, odds are you cheer for the team because of two reasons: one, the Lemieux/Jagr era was riddled with success when you were younger or you're a Crosby/Malkin fan. Translation? You're a front-running son of a bitch.
- On the opening shift Ottawa dumped the puck into the Pittsburgh zone where it was retrieved by a Pens defenceman. The gentleman in front of me, who resembled Murray from Flight of the Conchords, used the opportunity to yell, "Come on Spezza, hit somebody!" and flash a Bob Saget-like grin to his friend to let him know that he had cracked a joke. I was going to politely informed the guy that it was an outdated fad to hate on Spezza, but stopped short when I noticed that he was single handedly trying to keep the jean jacket trend alive.
- Pittsburgh scored on their first shot on net. Without missing a beat, my girlfriend turned to me and asked, "What did you predict for the panel?" When I replied with "5-1" she made a face that Crosby would make if he found something other than the Stanley Cup lying in his bed.
- Matt Carkner's goal to tie the game at one was the culmination of an insanely dominant shift wherein Ottawa's second line of Foligno, Fisher and Kovalev had possession of the puck in the Pittsburgh zone for more than ninety seconds. Even though Kovalev didn't register a point on the evening, I thought he was arguably the best player on the ice for Ottawa. He's still not shooting the puck as often as I'd like to see, but his passing and puck control was phenomenal last night.
- At the first intermission, my girlfriend and I went up to the concourse to fetch more beer. To our amazement, the guy standing in front of us at the concession line had a perm.
- If I were to tell you that Ottawa would get consecutive goals from Chris Kelly, Chris Phillips (x2) and Jonathan Cheechoo, raise your hand if you would respond with a comment telling me that I'm crazy?
- Immediately after the fifth Ottawa goal, a small Pizza chant had started. Oddly enough, it wasn't coming from either of the Sens fans or the pressbox, it was emanating from those fucking front-running Penguins fans. I shit you not.
- So let me get this straight, Matt Cooke blatantly knees Shean Donovan and potentially ends his season, but Alexandre Picard receives the only penalty on the play for slashing? And then Matt Cooke assists on Pittsburgh's subsequent powerplay goal? Beyond ridiculous.
- Chris Neil took issue with the Cooke knee and fought Eric Godard because Matt Cooke would never back up his own actions. After a rather even tilt from my vantage point, Neil showboated with the patented raising the roof celebration. My. Night. Was. Complete.
- After the game, I left SBP's main gate to find that it was raining outside. My heart went out to that man with the perm.