Listen, I'll be honest. I'm in a bear of a mood today. I've tried to be good-naturedly whiny about missing the Ice Bowl and I thought I was okay with it, but when I woke up this morning and saw the softly fluttering snow... Well, the language, it was not pretty. On top of that, the pounding headache I went to bed with manifested itself today as an earache that has one side of my head completely clogged up so I can barely hear the TV. God hates me.
But I did get this really nice picture of Hank out of the deal.
Thoughts throughout the Ice Bowl:
The CBC pregame show was excellent (i.e. very Buffalo-centric). The best part was probably the piece on the old Aud. The Aud was before my time in Buffalo but it was pretty cool to get a good look at the place both then and now. The piece featured some great game footage, a look at Lindy Ruff's best game as a Sabre player, and a tour of the dressing room with Rene Robert. My favorite part was learning that Rob Ray has the door to the Aud's penalty box in his office. A group gave it to him, figuring he'd spent so much time going through it that he might have developed an emotional attachment.
I really wanted to watch the NBC broadcast - I hate pretty much everyone involved with their show but I was curious to see how the game was presented to the U.S. audience - but Mark overruled me. So CBC it is!
The first period was, quite frankly, brutal atleast on TV. The players clearly weren't sure what to make of things, the puck was either bouncing or coming to a dead stop, and the repeated delays really killed any momentum. Sidney Crosby showed he really is the best player on the ice when he decided the only way to deal with the bad ice is to flip the puck up in the air and attempt to dribble it around the defense with his stick. And he came pretty close to pulling it off. A-mazing. I'm probably glad we're watching CBC at this moment. I'm sure NBC is on full-force Sidney Crosby overload and I wouldn't want anything to kill my admiration for him right now.
I kind of hate that the league used the Reebok Edge template with the rounded tails - it makes the bottom stripes look weird - but those jerseys are gorgeous. The sharp white, the beautiful logo, the bright blue pants that pop against the white of the ice and snow... It all adds up to perfection. Are we sure we can't wear these all the time? Lindy also looks great in his old school varsity jacket.
I'm back and forth on the Penguins jerseys. I do like the baby blue but I didn't know the Penguins ever wore blue so it makes me feel like I'm watching a different team. Fun fact: Pittsburgh is the only city where all the pro sports teams wear the same color scheme.
CBC's first intermission basically consists of every Buffalo fan's nightmare moments - Brett Hull's skate in the crease, Brian Campbell clearing the puck over the glass which led to Carolina's series-winning powerplay etc. Thanks, CBC! The point of the montage is funny though as it cuts from Don Cherry complaining about a rule earlier in the season to the Sabres getting screwed by that rule in the postseason. The crease complaint is particularly funny since Cherry mentions that he hopes it doesn't come into play during the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals. It was game six but it was the series winner so I think that counts.
Thankfully, the second period has a much better pace. The players look more confident and the ice doesn't seem to be causing as many problems atleast not for the Sabres. The game plan seems to be getting the puck deep in Pittsburgh's zone since it's tough to clear it out with the snow build-up on the ice. Works for me and it mostly works for the Sabres since the Pens didn't get a single shot on goal in the second. Too bad the Sabres only get one goal, Brian Campbell off a beautiful pass from Tim Connolly. ($1,000 to Soupy for the goal, -$2,000 for getting totally turned around by Crosby on the Pens goal. Sorry, Soup, but you are a defenseman.)
The girls over at Interchangeable Parts are giving the Sabres a hard time about wearing eyeblack, but I have to admit, I think it's pretty adorable, especially on Derek Roy. This is probably a throwback to my baseball days. When I was a kid I thought baseball players in eyeblack looked sooooo cool. Seeing the players' faces is definitely one advantage of watching on TV. There was a great shot of Maxim Afinogenov completely cracking up on the bench during the pregame. He could not stop grinning which was awfully cute since he's usually not like that as far as we see.
I'm not down with this whole "let's switch ends halfway during the third period" thing. It's brought what was finally a pretty good moving game to a totally unnecessary stop. Shots of the crowd singing Livin' on a Prayer? Really not that interesting. What better way to sell the game of hockey than to bring a tied game to a dead stop halfway through the final period? So what if the Penguins end up skating into the wind/snow more than the Sabres? It's a Buffalo home game! The league should have let the Sabres choose what end they wanted to end up defending, given them that end for the 1st and 3rd, and left it at that. Dealing with the weather is part of this particular game.
During the third period we finally get a shot of a bunch of crazy shirtless guys. It's now officially a winter sporting event in Buffalo!
CBC makes its first misstep between the third and OT when the announcers talk about Buffalo's "automatic" powerplay with Chris Drury and Daniel Briere last season. Bzzzzzt! Sorry, CBC, but our powerplay sucked last season. I wonder how much NBC is talking about Chris Drury, the All-American hero? Hopefully not too much. I hadn't even thought about that.
I'm puzzled as to why we're not Zamboni-ing the ice before the shootout like we would for every other game. After eleventy billion stoppages in play we're not going to have one in the one situation where it actually makes sense to do so? Okay, NHL.
73,000 people cheering Ales Kotalik's goal sounds pretty impressive. The crowd has been great all day, really coming through on the TV broadcast. Kudos to you guys out there braving the elements!
Sidney Crosby wins it in a shootout? Seriously? I smell a fix! That shot was so bad that if I didn't know Ryan Miller detests losing, I'd suspect that Gary Bettman promised a hefty donation to the Steadfast Foundation if Ryan would just let the Kid be the hero. Blah, what a crappy ending.