Oh a good old Hockey Game is the best game you can name, and the best game you can name is a good old Hockey Game!
Welcome to my Hockey Month.
While I never played the game, never really donned ice skates, I am a sucker for a good old hockey game … and as it turns out, I am in the midst of a heck of a hockey month for me.
It started last weekend getting live scoring from the Wisconsin State Championships for my Nephew AJ. Their team went into Sheboygan as defending state champs, and were there to defend cup. While they fell short in the defense, the updates were coming in all hours of the night (California time), and had me hanging on results on a plane. It continued as word was coming back that my alma mater, Michigan Tech, reached a game 3 of a 3 game serious against a heated rival in Minnesota State. That final game I got to live stream with my cousins (see the post: Out for Bread). That party continues as Tech plays our greatest of great rivals Northern Michigan (aka NMU aka eNaMaU aka ‘That’s Alright, That’s Okay, You’ll Be Working For Us Someday’). The winner of that one game tonight will win the WCHA and get an automatic bid to the NCAA Div I Playoffs & the road to the Frozen Four. While I can’t physically get to any of those games … there is a few games I can.
One neat thing the NHL does to reduce the impact on players and fans is that east coast teams only have to play west coast teams once a year, and when they do they get it all done at once. While they sometimes break it up, catching a ‘Grand Tour’ is great chance to follow a team that you only see once a year.
Way back in 1985, I was starting to get a itch for hockey. Back then, the most we would get to see is tape delays of *blech* University of Wisconsin home games late at night, something that a teenager could pop on when he got home after doing whatever. Being from Wisconsin, I didn’t really have an NHL team to follow. I mean, I could follow the North Stars in Minneapolis or the Blackhawks in Chicago; but being a Green Bay Packer fan first and foremost, following a team from Minnesota or Illinois was a little bit contradictory. So … I picked the team with the coolest logo. No literally … I liked someone with cool uniforms, and … that was it. Thirty years later, I am still a New Jersey Devils fan … and by fan, I am a reverse band wagon fan. I tend to only follow them when they stink, when they are good I don’t even notice; I mean, I completely missed two of their three Stanley Cups. Surprisingly, the Devils are decent this year, and I still haven’t turned my back on them. Currently in the playoffs, but right on the edge, they started their Grand Tour earlier this week … and I am here to follow.
Wednesday, when I stuck in Florida meeting astronauts, the Devils were in Las Vegas. If you haven’t been following the NHL this year, the Las Vegas Golden Knights are the story of the year. They are an expansion team, in their first year in existence, a place which usually makes a team a joke at best. Vegas is not only NOT a joke, they are not only in the playoff hunt, they are in the hunt for the best record in all of Hockey. They are eating teams up by being nothing more than a really good team. Devils started their Grand Tour by going into this foramble team’s home ice … and won. Not just won, put on 8 goals in the biggest scoring fest in Las Vegas history.
Today, I join the Grand Tour wagon. In a couple of hours, the Devils face the LA Kings at the Staples Center. I’ll be there in my NJ Devils Green for St Pats day.
Tomorrow, I am in Anaheim to watch them play the Ducks at the Honda Center / Duck Pond.
Then Tuesday, I fly to the bay area and catch them against the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center.
All four teams on this grand tour are in the playoffs currently, so no game is going to be easy for the beloved Devils. Not only that, before they head home they have one last game at the defending cup holders, Pittsburgh. With just a couple of weeks to go in the season, these should be huge games and huge events.
Come April, of course, starts the playoffs … which means my nights are basically all taken up by watching game after game after game. But that is what makes the game so much fun. It is non-stop intensity for long periods of time.
So forgive me if I get a little bit wrapped up in hockey this month. But as the Canadian country singer Stompin Tom Corners once coined … “the best game you can name is a good old hockey game.”