Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Falconer at Pittsburgh

We arrived in Pittsburgh about two hours before game time. The game was a sell out, even the standing room tickets sold out. People who buy standing room tickets have to stand behind a 5 foot high wall to watch the game--which means that socket puppet sized bloggers wouldn't be able to see the game. I went inside as soon as the doors opened and observed warm-ups down by the glass. I saw one other Atlanta fan there in a blue Hossa 18 jersey. Over the course of the evening I spotted about 5 Thrashers jerseys in the arena.

After warm-ups I strolled over to the Penguins All-Star Game Voting Area and voted for all Thrashers just for the heck of it. The computer voting at the Igloo was not fixed as I was able to register my five votes for the True Blue. For the most part Penguins fans gave me very little grief about wearing the opposition colors--to my surprise. This is perhaps one of America's greatest sports towns where and I figured I'd hear more things said. The two guys next to me gave me some good natured ribbing which grew less and less as the game wore on.

The Pittsburgh game production is a shadow of the over-hyped overly-loud version we get in Atlanta. They didn't give us commercials disguised as games every television time out for which I was thankful. They did have some on screen advertising. They didn't have corporate sponsors for everything like Atlanta does..."This toilet flush brought to you by Peerless Faucets". On the downside they lacked an organ player and their video boards really lacked imagination. Also their video replays were rather limited. There were very few replays of great saves or scoring chances.

I'm one of the few people who really likes watching hockey games at the Igloo. Even way up in the upper deck you are much closer to the ice than you would be in the new arenas in Chicago or Denver where you feel like you're a mile away from the action. Yes, the Igloo is cramped and the concourses are narrow and the food is very 1980s-ish but YOU CAN SEE THE HOCKEY GAME which is the reason I go to NHL games, something the new areas seem to forget.

This was my six or seventh game at the Igloo and I have to say that Penguins fans know more about hockey and their hockey team than the average person at the stands at Philips. I over heard an intelligent breakdown of the Penguins special teams and a list of why Robert Scuderi sucks so bad in the seats around me. On the other hand, I was really shocked at how quiet the building was last night. The sold out crowd made surprisingly little noise even when they had a 1-0 lead in the game. Perhaps, this is why Atlanta fans are constantly exhorted to "MAKE NOISE" to avoid the silence.

The game itself was fairly frustrating to watch. The Thrashers were given several power plays in the 1st and looked like they had never practiced playing with the man advantage. Then in the second the Thrashers were able to put together some good scoring chances. Fleury made a terrific save to deny Atlanta a goal but Lehtonen was equal at the other end. Both teams missed an open net scoring chance (how did Malkin miss that one?). Gonchar got burned for two breakaway chances but he came back to make a fantastic move on Kovalchuk, while Kozlov seemed to just run out of real estate. The Kozlov goal from the side was scored from such an extreme angle that I thought Fleury had allowed a soft goal but after watching the replay I think the credit should go to Atlanta for some great side-to-side passing which put the Penguin's goaltender in a very vulnerable position.

One of the things that I found most interesting is how much fear the Penguins fans had of Kovalchuk. Even when he came in and had the puck on his backhand and was forced off to the side you could hear Pens fans saying "Don't let him shoot" or the classic "oh shit!" I'm sitting there thinking that Kovalchuk isn't even a position to score and they're all freaked out.

After the game we drove the final two hours to the relations place and Adventure Cat was very glad to get out of the car.

The Buffalo game isn't until Saturday. I'm pulling for Carolina to beat them tonight in regulation which would give the Thrashers a chance to pull within spitting distance of 1st in the East if they beat the Sabres.

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