It’s very different to attend a game as a fan. The last NHL game I had attended as a fan was game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Pittsburgh last year (May 31st, almost exactly a year ago). Same teams, same venue and also the only games I attended as a fan last season. Though I was kicking myself a little for not trying to get credentials worked out in case I could afford the flight back to Pittsburgh for the finals, a large part of me is glad. There’s something about being able to get your face painted and jump up and down and lose your voice cheering for your team. It’s a lot of fun. I’m not saying I don’t have a blast as a member of the media. I do. I’m very thankful for the access I have and really appreciate all the Kings, Ducks, Eklund, and many others have done for me in that area.
I traveled all day to get to game 3 of the finals in Pittsburgh. (I left my house around 5 my time and had gotten very little sleep last night.) So, I’m not completely coherent, but we had a great time at the game tonight. My sister’s favorite player is Maxime Talbot. She predicted that he’d get a goal early and he scored within a minute or so of that comment. Naturally, she was totally thrilled that he got (and deserved) the number one star of the game. Not only did he get half of the goals the Pens scored tonight (true, one was an empty netter, but what a decisive empty net goal), but Talbot created a lot of other opportunities and hit the post once.
It was nice to see that there were fewer blatant missed calls in tonight’s game. With any luck, that will continue.
Jordan Staal had a very good game in spite of being absent from the score sheet. He did have 3 blocked shots. Evgeni Malkin increased his scoring lead from 2 to 4 points with his three assists (Sidney Crosby only had one tonight). I may not have a voice and my throat is definitely sore, but it was great to scream like crazy. I have a whole day to recover before I really need my voice again.
I really like that they had a special moment to thank Versus for allowing the Penguins to show the game outside on their big screen in front of TONS of fans. NBC is not allowing them to do that (not even for the finals) and I think it’s a very sad statement. Personally, I think Gary Bettman should have tried to iron that one out. I understand that it’s in NBC’s contract, but the NHL keeps talking about trying to expand the game and gain fans. The party atmosphere OUTSIDE the Mellon Arena for the game looks amazing (if the pre-game atmosphere was any indictaion). The fans are great and that’s what it’s all about. The Pens aren’t charging for the service, so I don’t understand NBC’s issue. If I were a Pens fan who wanted to do that, I would make sure everyone I knew did NOT watch at home, so I could lower the ratings as much as possible. I’d tell everyone to go to one location (a bar that would have it on anyway – Pittsburgh doesn’t have an NBA team, the only thing people care about around here is the NHL Finals – talk about a switch from southern California where it’s all about the Lakers) to watch the game and fight the urge to record. I know many people (like me) even record the games they attend, so they can watch certain plays again when they get home.
The Red Wings still lead the series, but the Penguins have definitely shown that they have life and I’m sure most Penguins fans are happy with the way the tide has changed a bit in Pittsburgh. Needless to say, Hossa got booed pretty much every time he touched the puck. I’m sure you could hear it on TV at times. Fans here in Pittsburgh have good reason for booing him and I’m not really against booing when it’s the other team’s player and with a good reason. (As many of you know, I always frown on booing a player on your own team.)
I hope you’re all enjoying the finals as much as I am.