11 October 2010

NHL Premiere 2010 in Prague

An incoherent bullet-point list of observations complemented by a handful of scratchy photos of non-action? Two teams I have no interest in playing in a strange, foreign land? Why, yes...

Phoenix Coyotes 5-2 Boston Bruins, 9 October 2010
  • Not sure why the people selling souvenir scarves outside the metro station were all stereotypical cockney wideboys, but not that surprising all the same.
  • The arena staff stationed at every entrance to the lower deck seating area really don't like hearing reasons for somebody with an upper deck ticket needing to get to the lower deck seating area an hour and a half before the game starts.
  • Too many Flyers fans in attendance.
  • The sound system from the upper deck is louder than the suit Don Cherry wore to Doug Gilmour's 40th birthday party (theme: loud suits).
  • Throughout the evening, we hear from ("hear" only for me, since it was all conducted in Czech for some reason) several "Czech Legends" in attendance: Petr Nedvěd, Martin Straka, Jiří Hrdina, Robert Reichel and Jiří Šlégr. Hrdina didn't seem outwardly upset about the big screen video showing a clip of the entirely different and much younger Jan Hrdina.
  • My initial thought of "that little kid is way too short" for the intermission "Circle to Circle" puck shoot contest proves slightly off, as he puts all three efforts within eight feet of the diagonally-opposite face-off dot, destroying his much taller and older opponent.
  • A woman sat within my earshot wearing a Flyers jersey - against type - appeared to be cheering for the Bruins and - entirely not against type - shouted "Let's see a fight!" as the puck was dumped out the zone during one penalty kill.
  • Nice handsy (if it's not a hockey analyst term yet, it should be) goals by Radim Vrbata and Taylor Pyatt.
  • Having seen rookie pro Mark Recchi get away with a horrible blind backhand pass across the blueline leading to a short-handed breakaway earlier in the game, Daniel Paille repeats the dose later, allowing Scottie Upshall to score.
  • Not wishing to miss out, the newly-minted Zdeno Chára also sees his pocket picked on the point during a powerplay to a pressuring Petr Průcha. Sadly, the true Czech legend is stopped by Tuukka Rask on the breakaway.
  • The third period sees the long awaited, much-hyped Vernon Fiddler-Gregory Campbell fight. Plenty of flailing, not much landing.
  • Decent game all-round. Bruins need to improve a lot defensively. Ilya Bryzgalov looks particularly sharp.
Boston Bruins 3-0 Phoenix Coyotes - 10 October 2010
  • The escalators at Českomoravská metro station outside the arena must be among the top five fastest in Europe. Surprised not to see a pile of old people on the floor at the end of them.
  • The programme for the games is considerably cheaper at 50 Kč than that for the 2009 games in Stockholm. I can understand considerably less of it though.
  • Smaller crowd at the second game (around 12,000 compared to 15,000). Noticeably fewer Flyers fans.
  • We ae treated to the same Jiří Šlégr interview. Either it was the same or he needs to change the outfit from time to time.
  • They were giving away Panini NHL sticker albums at the gate after the games. Must...resist...buying...stickers.
  • Daniel Paille is rewarded for his Game One gaffe with a seat in the press box, his place in the line-up being taken by Jordan Caron. Tim Thomas starts in place of Tuukka Rask. No changes for the Coyotes.
  • The opening goal by Milan Lucic sees one fan wearing his jersey in my section get slightly excited, rushing to the bottom of the steps and almost bouncing over the safety barrier.
  • Tyler Seguin nets what Brian Burke genuinely hopes is the first of several hundred NHL goals with a nice breakaway move.
  • A fairly uneventful game in comparison to the previous night - more like what I was expecting from these teams. Thomas isn't heavily tested during the shutout by the flat Coyotes.