It's a joyous day here at Stately B. Manor because we received our mini-pack order form in the mail today! Yay! It's official - hockey season is slowly but surely getting closer! The January 1 game, the rumored Ice Bowl, isn't on the form which is good news and bad news. Bad because, c'mon Sabres you can't let mini-pack holders order tickets to that game? The Ralph holds 80 bajillion people, it's not like we're going to buy the place out. But it's good because that seems like pretty good confirmation that there is something special going on with that game. It would be nice to have first dibs on reserved seats, but I don't really expect availability to be a HUGE issue considering the seating capacity of the stadium. I do know this - I will be there. If I have to mug small children and steal their tickets, I will be there.
Most of our other games will probably be value games since we're living on the cheap right now which means unexciting opponents like the Blue Jackets, the Islanders, and the Blues (okay, I did request the Blues game in hopes that Jay McKee will be healthy and playing). But we're planning on throwing in an Ottawa game, and Penguins game, and maybe the Flyers depending on what I decide about seeing Danny Briere back in town. Right now I can't decide if I want to be there or not just because I'm not entirely sure what kind of reaction he's going to get from the crowd. I have no desire to hear Danny get booed. I'm a little sad that he ended up in Philly because I was really looking forward to seeing Marty Biron's triumphant return to Buffalo and now I think the crowd is going to be a little more mixed. Although it's possible Danny will get cheered like a returning hero and Darcy Regier will get booed all season. Who knows? Buffalo, you're so hard to predict!
Why I Love Hockey #19 - Skating
I cannot ice skate. Not at all. Granted I grew up in an area of the country where ice skating is not exactly the happening thing to do since the only place to find ice was in the one rink in a 300 mile radius. I only attempted skating once in my life and it didn't go well. I've said many times since moving to Buffalo that I was going to take another stab at it, but I know in my heart, it is one athletic skill I'm just not destined to be very good at. This is part of the reason hockey blows me away. Hockey players shoot, pass, juke, jive, spin, fake and fly... and they do it all on ice skates! It's such an integral part of hockey that it's easy to take it for granted. But everyone once in a while I see an amazingly awesome move and I realize, "Holy crap! He just did that on ice skates!" I couldn't pull off some of these movies in plain ol' sneakers.
I love that some guys are purely functional skaters. They look terrible and clunky but they get the job done. Andrew Peters is not a great skater by NHL standards but he could skate circles around you and all your friends whether you want to admit it or not. I love that some guys are just amazing skaters, poetry in motion. I love how even great skaters can have completely different styles. I love watching Henrik Tallinder take those long, smooth strides, so graceful that it sometimes looks like he isn't even working that hard. But I also love watching Brian Campbell duck his head and take off down the ice in short, choppy strides, his little legs pumping just as fast as they can. I love watching Maxim Afinogenov hit full speed within a couple of steps, come to a complete and total stop just like that, turn, and then blast off in another direction. I love watching Scott Niedermayer effortlessly skate around oncoming hits, as nimble as a dancer. I love watching Jaromir Jagr just power his way through opponents with those big, powerful legs. I love watching Sidney Crosby take a pass and then kneel down, while still moving forward, to place the shot exactly where he wants it. I love guys going into a full body slide to block a shot and then popping right back up on their skates. One of the things I hate about the new streamlined jerseys is that it means no more jerseys flapping behind players as they fly down the ice. That just ain't right.