- One of my lifelong dreams has been to attend a Wings road game. I went to see them play Tampa last night, but I'm not sure that counts. Walking up to the arena, Wings jerseys outnumbered Lightning ones 4 to 1. I didn't see my first Bolts gear until I actually made it to area right outside of the rink. I expected there to be a significant percentage of Wings fans in attendance, but it was still exciting to see the army of red and white sweaters heading into the building. That has to be demoralizing for the home team/crowd.
- They were giving away noisemakers last night, but I was denied one because I was a Wings fan. I was okay with it though, because I don't have any desire to own anything that features the logo of another NHL team, even if the Bolts are my Eastern Conference secondary team. Once the game got underway, I figured out why they chose last night to do that giveaway: without the noisemakers, the home crowd didn't stand a chance of being heard over the thunderous LGRW chants the Wings fans started. The Bolts fans played the living daylights out of those noisemakers all game long. I found it obnoxious until I grabbed one on the way out. It was only then that I realized why they had been playing with them non-stop: they're incredibly fun and addictive. I used mine to play music to accompany my CD player for most of the trip home.
- I got to the rink excessively early because I wanted to make sure I had time to take a lap around the concourse and explore the only non-JLA NHL arena I'd ever been in. The place was nice enough, but I still missed the campiness of the Joe. The walls of the concourse were covered with giant replicas of front pages of the St. Pete Times from the past. It was more of a shrine to the newspaper than to hockey, which is also my number one reason for wishing against all odds that the Wings will never have to share a building with the Pistons.
- More I-miss-the-Joe notes: they only sell bottled pop there; I keep saying this wasteland is uncivilized and nobody believes me. This should prove it. Food and drink prices were way more expensive than I was used to at the Joe. I guess we really are spoiled back home.
- Call me a sap, but I also missed the old scoreboard at the Joe. The one in Tampa is slick for sure, but I found it hard to read, especially when I was trying to see how much time was left on powerplays. (Old people live in Florida. They should use larger-sized numbers so they can have a chance at seeing vital info like that. I could barely make it out and I'm young and spry.) [The entire purpose of the rant in parentheses was so that I could use the word “spry.”]
- The loudest cheer of the night came (predictably) when they showed Steve Yzerman on the scoreboard before the game started.
- By the time the Wings got the scoring underway, the ratio of red to blue in the stands had evened out for the most part. When they netted their first goal, half of the arena stood up and cheered. There was an entire section in the lower bowl that was almost full of Wings faithful.
- A fun game might be to play Where's
Waldo?The Lightning Fan? with this picture:
- The Wings brought their A-game in the first period; perhaps they were eager to show Stevie that he should've stayed in Detroit.
- During the first intermission (and maybe the second—I left my seat during that one), there was what boils down to a zamboni party bus. It was towing the Bolts' mascot behind it on a wake-board. It was...interesting.
- Things went decidedly downhill during the second period as the Wings allowed the Bolts to erase their lead and tie the game up. Somehow they managed to wake up again and take back control of the game.
- I managed to get a shot of Abby's goal as the puck hit the twine. It was a really exciting moment for me.
- Here's a SSDD exclusive look inside my thought process during Darren Helm's breakaway goal: “Ooooh loose puck! What a chance to-oh, wait, it's Helm. Crap. Oh my god he scored!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Don't get me wrong—I love Helm as much as anyone, but I'm so used to seeing him go the donut goalie route on chances like that that I pretty much expect it now.
- I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Pavel Datsyuk is a ridiculous human being. There's really nothing more to add about him.
- The box score says the Lightning had twenty shots in the third, but it didn't seem like it at all.
- The final octopi tally for the night was three. One of the arena workers even twirled one. This made me deliriously happy, albeit a tad confused.
- I had a total emo moment during the third period when I started to wonder if it would be the last time I ever got to see Lidstrom play live. Last time I did an internship here, I missed Yzerman's last season. Things like this give me anxiety.
Hero: Pavel Datsyuk
His two goals made my night.
Villain: I'm not making anyone a villain for this game. I'm still in too good of a mood.
I felt more at home at the game than I have at any point since I've been in Florida. I love hockey.