Live Hockey

So, I saw the game in Nashville this past Saturday. Wait, that’s too subdued.

SO! I SAW the GAME in NASHVILLE last week and it WAS AWESOME!

Yeah, that’s better.

Well, Flyers lost and that sucked royally and even sadder was the consensus of the Flyers fans around me when we found out that Bryzgalov would be in goal. “Yeah, we’re gonna lose.” But that’s an entirely different discussion.

I haven’t been to a live NHL game since March of last year, and any live hockey game since May of last year. The Bridgestone Arena in Nashville is really nice. I’ve only have the Atlanta one (RIP Thrashers) and Wells Fargo to compare it to and while Wells Fargo is awesome because it’s Flyers home territory, Bridgestone Arena is very clean and the workers are really polite. Might be the Southern thing, or they were just really well-trained. The cotton candy is excellent and the rest of the food is pretty good, if overpriced.

It’s also really cold. I know, it’s an ice rink, but Bridgestone is particularly cold. This time I prepared and wore long underwear with my Giroux sweater. With all the yelling and jumping up that I do, I was plenty warm.

We had some of the best seats I’ve ever had, about eight rows behind the Flyers bench. I could have had a running start and probably jumped and landed on a hockey player. I didn’t, but I did consider it. Steve Coates was in the bench area before the game and he was looking back at the fans and I waved excitedly at him. He waved back tentatively. I mean, come on, I was excited to see someone I recognized!

The attendance of Flyers fans was impressive, I could see a lot of orange in the stands, mostly in the area around me. There was a guy behind me in Preds gear who really liked the word “sucks.” He was in his twenties and his friend who was not in any gear (but a Flyers fan) were probably the people (other than my family) that I interacted with the most that night. He was sober when the game began, but as it progressed, well, the beers made him more and more verbal and consistent with that specific favorite word.

I found out that he’s originally from Buffalo, so he was in general annoyed with Danny Briere (that Danny isn’t any good since he left the Sabres), but I guess has lived in Nashville awhile and is also a Preds fan. In the beginning, he started out with saying ‘Giroux sucks’ and I turned and said, “Really?” He looked sheepish and admitted that he liked Giroux. He even quoted him from the Winter Classic (when Giroux asks Henrik Lundquist for a goal). Not just Rangers and Flyers fans watching HBO apparently. But as the game continued, and he had more beers, the more everyone (Flyers) sucked. I even asked if he could use a synonym. He gave me a weird look and I said I was an English teacher. Big smile, “I talk real good.”

He was funny, but I did want to slap him the longer it went on. Honestly, how many times can you say “sucks?” Why don’t you encourage your own team instead?

There is nothing like hearing the puck hit a hockey stick. I tried to explain this to someone recently. I never hear it when I watch games on television or on my computer. It’s a strong, violent thud. I hear some of the skates cutting along the ice, but not like when I’m there. It’s a crisp slicing sound and the players move so fast, I’m surprised it doesn’t strain my neck trying to follow the puck. The cold, the sounds, the smells…it’s incredible. It really didn’t matter that the Flyers lost. Pekka Rinne won that game for the Preds, anyway. Two days after my birthday, I was in a hockey arena, watching the Orange and Black play and it was thrilling.

Why can’t this happen a bit more often in my life?