Opening night. OH BABY! What a game. Beyond just the scoring, there were idiotic fans, a swearing Pawlenty (more on that later) and more.
As a season ticket holder, I plan to hit all 41 games on home ice to talk about the game as well as some interesting tidbits. First, I'll recap some of the game's best moments, then the quirky moments that happened (be it from the crowd or guest celebrities).
Tonight saw the Wild taking on new rival Calgary in the first of many games (due to the new schedule, teams will play other teams in their division more than any of the others). Calgary has been chosen by many different publications to win it all. That's right, for the first time since 1989, Calgary has been chosen to win Lord Stanley's Cup. The Wild, however, have been destined for...well...the future. Many believe that the Wild should have done more with free agency.
Tonight, the experts...were wrong.
The Wild came out strong. VERY STRONG. At the end of the first period, the Wild had outshot Calgary 16 to 3. That's unheard of for this team. Minnesota is supposed to be a defensive team, yet here they were outplaying the annointed "Best Team in the League." (Thanks Sports Illustrated!)
During the first period, Marc Chouinard got the scoring started less than two minutes after the first puck was dropped. It was a beautiful goal. Chouinard nailed a Daigle pass past Kiprusoff (who looked very human tonight after ruling the roost during the last playoffs). Brent Burns got the second goal with 1.5 seconds left in the first (Pierre-Marc Bouchard would get the first of his three assists here).
Everyone felt very confident as the second period started. Roughly 6 and a half minutes in, the Wild went up 3-0. Immediately, the fans were roaring (as they had been all night), but many now thought this would be a shut out. Well, Daymond Langkow ended that dream by scoring at the end of the period. Fans were now a little nervous during the break. What if the sleeping giant was finally awake? What if Calgary now came out and steam-rolled the Wild?
With the third period under way, the crowd was unusually quiet. Even when the announced number was 19,398 fans, the crowd was happy, but still in the zone of the game. At the 6 and a half minute mark (again), the Wild came through on Chouinard's second goal. This goal also saw newcomer Matt Foy (more on him later) gain his first point of his career. Congratulations Matt!
Still, the fans (some of whom were shouting, "sieve!") would soon be holding their collective breath. The Flames charged back with two quick goals to make the score 4-3 Wild. During both goals, the Wild defense disappeared. The hard-nosed play of the previous two periods evaporated. Roloson even let in one of the softest goals by Iginla. He just didn't move.
Thankfully, Todd White, one of the players acquired during the offseason, put the game away with a late goal. That sent a lot of fans to the doors. Chouinard added one more empty net goal to complete the hat trick (Yes, hats were thrown).
All in all, it was an awesome opening game. The new rules were easy to follow, but there were some very questionable calls (for both sides, but more for the Flames). Still, as great as the game was, there were some interesting off-ice activities as well.
"Like what?" you ask. Let's take a look:
1. The best moment of the night came when Governor Tim Pawlenty and his wife stepped up to the mic for the "Let's Play Hockey!" moment. After showing the crowd a bunch of kids that had joined us via sattelite, as well as the Bud Light party outside (which was ok, kinda crowded), the Governor was supposed to say, "So let's drop the puck and...Let's Play Hockey!" Instead, our governor fumbled. He dropped the f-bomb. Sure he corrected himself, but both his wife and he knew he made a mistake. It wasn't bad. Really innocent, honestly. Still he said, "So let's drop the fuck...PUCK (and this moment his eyes get really wide and his wife's mouth makes that 'O' people make when a mistake has been made), and LET'S PLAY HOCKEY!" Then, bright red, he hugged his wife and hid his face. It was hysterical. Obviously, the man is horny.
2. Some fans need to learn proper hockey etiquette and rules. For example, you do not start yelling "sieve," if you only have a three goal lead in the second period. First of all, that's bad form. Secondly, it's also a jinx. Seriously. It was after that the Flames came back. You have to score four unanswered goals. Then you can say it. Either that, or he has to give up five goals and you have to have a four goal lead (or three in the third) to be allowed to yell, "sieve." Seriously. I went to a Ranger game as a kid. They had a two goal (2-0) lead in the second period. The crowd started yelling, "seive" over and over again. Guess what happened? Game ended in a tie. That's why you don't yell it. It's a curse if it's at the wrong time.
3. Unpleasant fans aplenty. The people who sat next me refused to talk to me. I know they're season ticket holders, because they were there during preseason. They will not look at my wife and I nor will they even talk to us. No idea why. The people behind us, we talked about their 7 month old, the game, teaching, and more. The people on the other side talked to us about the 2003 playoffs. Even the annoying guys in front of us who showed up at the beginning of the 2nd period and left in the mid-third talked to us about the arena. But the gal and guy next to me were trying to give me Cancer with their minds. At one point I was drinking water, and the woman told me I was being too loud. Huh? I wasn't slurping, just sipping. There was NO NOISE. They left early as well.
Three rows back from me, a girl who was angry with a Flames fan near me, kept throwing peanuts. She hit everything but the fan. Bad form. The best, however, was the guy who couldn't wait for a urinal, so he peed in the sink in front of everyone. Huzzah.
Oh, and people, let me just say one thing: It's great that the team won. We're all happy, but stop with the horn-blowing. Seriously. When you're behind me honking for ten minutes then cursing at me because I won't do it too, honking more won't make me do it. Neither will shouting, "Hey fucker, can't you hear me. Honk, bitch!" Yeah, no. It's rude. Seriously. Rude.
4. Matt Foy. I have been cheering this kid since he was drafted. He's played in Houston for awhile, but during the 2003-04 preseason, he was phenomenal. Tonight, he scored his first point (an assist) and was a generally big body out on the ice (which the wild need now that Matt Johnson is gone). I really hope this kid stays up in the bigs. He moves very well and made only one or two rookie mistakes (gave the puck away once, should have had a goal, but didn't deke well). Seriously, watch this kid. Cheer for #83. He's great. He will be a force to be reckoned with in the next few years. Hopefully the Wild see his potential and use him correctly. Keep it up big boy!
5. The perks. The Wild love their fans, and they showed it tonight. Sure, they didn't really lower prices for tickets, but we got the following:
A mini Stanley-Cup
Free scratchers (most gave Hockey Lodge discounts, but one gave a free trip).
Free ticket for the night if you are a season ticket holder
A free fireworks show on the river after the game
And one hell of a greatly played game.
Still, I think my favorite part was Pawlenty swearing. He just looked like a kid who was in serious trouble.
Then again what do I know? I was the guy teaching a 7 month old kid how to scream "Screw you, ref!" I could be wrong.
One down, 40 more home games to go.