Game 1: A View From Above

This is the first post of potentially 4 depicting what I had seen and heard from my seats at the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. Hope you all enjoy it.

I’m lucky enough where this is my 2nd Stanley Cup Final I’m able to be a part of as a season ticket holder. Talking it over with my friend Steve, we both said how this time around we are able to enjoy and appreciate it a lot more. We were STH rookies in 2003 so we just enjoyed the ride. Also being a part of the 3 finals in 4 years teams, it was almost expected. We knew nothing different. We were also 20 at the time. Now 9 years later and 9 years of heartache in April, we were able to soak it all in Wednesday night.

Arriving at The Rock was as normal as usual, until I walked up to the doors. You can just feel the excitement and pride that Devils fans were feeling. As Lou said the other day, “We feel like we’re back where we belong.” And it was true. I joked with my friends at how the NHL Network set was there and how it’s awesome and makes us feel important. It’s silly, sure, but it really had that feeling of “yeah this is big.”

When I walked up to my seats I was greeted by noticing that all of 226 and half of 225 (my section) was reserved for media. That left our loud section in it’s own little island. The cool thing was seeing such great hockey guys such as Don LaGreca from ESPN Radio, and Bob McKenzie and James Duthie from TSN. I tweeted Bob and James to say hi and Duthie asked me for a beer. I obliged, but apparently he “can’t drink on the job”. Last I remember it’s the Cup Final and CBC has the coverage. Kick back Duther, you’ve earned it! Still pretty cool to be able to interact with those guys. Some of the people in my section also got to take a picture with Bob McKenzie. You’ve gotta love the hockey world.

Now onto the game. To say the building was buzzing is like saying the Titanic hitting an iceberg was a minor inconvenience. I, for one, have never seen the crowd for warm-ups so full. It looked like one of those early games in late October.

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Then the amazing opening video that the Devils Game Day Operations crew put together came on and the crowd erupted. We all were just waiting for the add-on for the Henrique OT goal and the place exploded when it came on. Then the teams came out and Arlette sang her anthem beautifully again. Another thing I noticed from where I sit is that the people who have Club Seats usually don’t settle into their seat until a few minutes after puck drop. Not this time. Every single seat was full by the time the team came out. Devils fans know when to bring it and know when they’re needed. To show this kind of commitment was excellent.

Now the game…the fans were waiting to cheer since the game started but the Devils just couldn’t establish anything. When the first TV timeout came along, everyone in my row was saying “Whoa, these guys are for REAL”. I’ve watched the playoffs since the beginning, but until you see the Kings live, you have no idea how good they really are. Their breakouts were flawless and they picked apart the Devils forecheck for the first half of the game. Their forecheck was relentless as well. I said to my friend Kevin jokingly, “Oh, so this is what out opponents’ fans felt like when we played them.” It was that good. It wasn’t until about 7 minutes left in the 2nd period that we felt the Devils started playing better and they were rewarded with a lucky bounce on the goal by Volchenkov. That woke up the crowd finally. In the 3rd the Devils really controlled the play and when they needed him, Marty came up strong. I still wish Mark Fayne was able to convert that chance all alone in front but thems the breaks of a hockey game. The advantage of my seats is that I’m able to to see plays develop and see guys open before most others. I saw Kopitar come through the middle all along and hoped that he wouldn’t get the puck but once he did I knew the Devils were in deep. Anze Kopitar is a superstar in this league with filthy hands. If he had just straight shot on Marty I would have been much more confident. Once he made that move I knew it was over before the puck even entered the net. The stunned silence at The Rock was deafening. We were beaten by the team that has been running roughshod through the NHL the past 2 months. 9-0 on the road. The Devils could also feel a little hangover from the high of beating the Rangers the way they did. You could easily walk away feeling that this series could be over. That we may just be another speed bump on this run the Kings are on. But the general feeling in my section, even before OT, was that this was only Game 1 and they needed OT to beat us. As bad as the Devils played offensively for half of the game, they still only held the Kings to 26 shots and 2 goals, one being the OT winner. Yes it wasn’t one of their best games, but they almost stole one. Look, someone has to win the first game. It just wasn’t the Devils. Also, I take a lot of solace in the fact that Peter DeBoer is great at making adjustments. I fully expect a better effort on Saturday night. The Rock is ready to explode and I think it’s going to happen.

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Posted on June 1, 2012, in Devils Army, New Jersey Devils, New Jersey Devils Fans, NHL and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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