Last night I went and saw the Thrashers host the Ducks here in Atlanta's Phillips Arena as I am here on business. I went to the game with two colleagues from work, one a French Canadian from Montreal who grew up playing hockey and following "Le Habs", the other a gentleman from Baltimore who was attending his first hockey game.
It was interesting as Pierre and I would point out to each other the former Canadiens and former Capitals on the Ducks and Thrashers and Sam would comment on the game and ask about the rules, penalties, etc. It was also interesting to attend a hockey game that wasn't a sellout and see how the Tharashers Organization is working to sell their product and increase the fan base here in "Blueland." I saw a lot of things I hadn't seen in a while at Verizon Center and can say two things - the Thrashers are working hard at it; and based on what I saw work with the Caps at Verizon Center during "the rebuild" they are doing a lot of smart things.
Both the Thrashers and the Ducks consider themselves teams fighting for a playoff spot in their respective conferences. Both teams have a solid and, I feel, up and coming teams. The Thrashers have a fair talent base and watching them play, especially their PK and PP units, it's easy to understand how they started the season well. Zach Bogosian and Evander Kane both play beyond their young years. The Atlanta Russians/Europeans: Kovy, Afinaganov, Kubina, Antropov, Enstrom, Valabik, Salmela and Hedberg all are at worst solid hockey players and in the case of some, like Kovalchuk, possessors of superstar talent.
I got to see former Capital Steve Emminger take his 17th shot and score his 2nd goal of the season. I saw Colby Armstrong put one in from the paint while getting a gritty game, and I watched Maxim Afiniganov finish off a powerplay goal that culminated a power play unit's shift that was scary good on puck movement.
I also at a not so god for me but wonderfully tasty bar-b-cue beef brisket sandwich for dinner and had a much more enjoyable evening than I would have otherwise had working in my hotel room.
Tonight most of the folks who read this blog will be watching those same Anaheim Ducks play our favorite hockey team, the Washington Capitals in DC at Verizon Center. The Caps should win, last night here in Atlanta Jonas Hiller was in the net for the Ducks and he played well. Atlanta had a lot me shots and scoring chances than Anaheim during the first period and a half of the game, Hiller is how they stayed in the game. Conventional thinking says that means JS Giguire will be in the net tonight for the Ducks but really it won't matter either way. The Ducks should still fall to our beloved Caps.
Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to see the game tonight, probably online on GameCenter Live but maybe not...
LETS GO CAPS!!!