31 January 2007

Redemption and New Belgium

The Game: Avs vs. Predators

Last night, my other half and I went to Old Chicago to watch the game. At 6:05, I realized that it was on me to alert the waitstaff that the game (earlier than usual, granted) had started, and that it was on Versus, not the Altitude Network. When they changed the channel, they couldn't figure out how to get their HD out of "Zoom" mode, so we couldn't see the timeclock or the scores. Happily, though, it was "Fat Tire Tuesday." $2.50 pints of any New Belgium brew. More on that later. And, since I was wearing my trusty jersey, other customers came to me for the invisible score. I felt important.

The odds were stacked against the Avs.

Nashville is ranked #1 in the Western Conference, and came to Colorado having won 10 of their previous 11 games, whereas the Avs are hoping just to get into the playoffs, and were still smarting from the ridiculous Wings matchup last Sunday.

Plus, the game, broadcast on Versus as aforementioned, was the Predators' first and ONLY national television appearance of the season.

But the Avs pulled it out.

Budaj started (cue the Seraphim), and proved that he has all the confidence of, nearly the ability of, and more consistency than Theodore, at a fraction of the price. After Theodore endured his first camera close-up on the bench, he put on a hat.

Tyler Arnason got his 12th goal of the season. Not the most impressive player on the team, but he tries, and he's always going to be close to my heart because he was born in Oklahoma City, OK. His family almost immediately moved to Canada, but I don't care. Oklahoma is permanent.


Predators 3
Avs 4

Oh, yeah. The beer. Well, Fat Tire isn't the most interesting Colorado beer to begin with, since it's pretty readily available. But it was cheap, and you can't argue with that. At least I didn't go for a Coors, right? Coors Brewery, by the way, is located about 10 minutes from my place, in Golden, CO. The infamous Pete Coors ran for Senate in 2004. Since he didn't win, he spends his time driving while intoxicated.

New Belgium Brewing Company is based in Fort Collins, CO, and was started by a guy to biked across Europe and was impressed by Belgian brewing practices. He named his first basement brew in honor of the trek - Fat Tire Amber Ale. They describe it as "toasty...(sorta like biscuits just pulled from the oven)," and go on to say "Fat Tire’s depth of flavor...tandems well with a full spectrum of today’s engaging cuisines. Salmon, dry-aged cheeses, roasted chilies, omelets at midnight, sweet potato French fries and just about anything with grill marks or garlic are just a few of the edibles we like to partner up with our Amber Ale." My assessment? Like most Americans, I like my beer COLD, which generally precludes the detection of a brew's "biscuitiness." That said, Fat Tire is good. Have some, and think of me. Best Friends Forever!


29 January 2007

Embarrassment in HockeyTown

The Game: Avs at Red Wings

Although I cringed to see Theodore start this game, he played like an award-winner, and saved the Avs from utter annihilation. Despite his stellar performance, though, I secretly hope Quenneville is only exhibiting him in the hopes that another desperate team will be foolish enough to take him off our hands.

[Aside] When the Wings last came to Denver (Jan. 20) there was a pre-game celebration of all the charitable donations the Avalanche franchise has given to local non-profits. The $6M Theodore is due to earn next season is roughly my non-profit's Yearly Operating Budget...Hmmm...

The Avs were shamefully outshot by the Wings, giving up the puck at every opportunity, apparently as gifts for Chelios' and Hasek's 45th and 42nd birthdays, respectively.

Until the 3rd period, the only goal scored was by Datsyuk, although he had a more impressive assist in the 1st when he deflected a shot from Brunette into Lidstrom's face. You'd think, with teammate Kronwall sporting the cage to protect the stitches required from a skate to the nose at the last Avs/Wings game, more Wings (and players in general) would consider the visor. "Super Joe" wears it well, if I may say so myself, and if I'm even HALF as pretty at 37 as Sakic is, I can die a happy puck bunny. Heck, Ovechkin is making the thing into a fashion accessory.

In the 3rd, a controversial reviewed goal is awarded to Holmstrom. He is almost immediately penalized for high sticking, and the resulting Av Power Play makes for their first and only goal. A last-minute (1:06) goal by Maltby seals the deal.


Avs 1
Red Wings 3

[Petulantly] Red Wings still suck. Best Friends Forever!


Inside the Box

The Game: Avs v Coyotes

Friday night, I came home from work, changed into my jersey and pajama bottoms, and settled in on the couch for a night of watching hockey and nursing my cold. About an hour before faceoff, I got an unexpected call from a friend who works at the Pepsi Center. Owner's Box. Center Ice. Suddenly I wasn't feeling so bad.

There are pros and cons to watching the game from the Owner's Box. PRO: The vantage point is amazing, and every sound from the ice and the crowd are amplified. CON: Most of the people who are regularly able sit in the Owner's Box aren't overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the game.

While the Avs took the lead in the 1st, a tipsy young woman made use of the computer at the bar to surf the Internet for wedding dresses.

When it was 4-2 in the 2nd, a drunk, middle-aged realtor started hitting on my friend, saying in so many words that he was lonely, and that although he had a 16-year-old daughter, she wouldn't be a problem for any new love interest of his.

By the time the Coyotes tied it up in the 3rd period, my friend couldn't take Mr. Realtor's advances any longer, and invited me upstairs to see the Pepsi Center's Administrative Offices.

When the Avs lost in the shootout, having lead the entire game, I was looking through the glass walls of Pepsi Center owner Stan Kroenke's office at a stuffed pheasant. Apparently Stan is quite the hunter. Ugh. And his wife is affiliated with Wal-Mart.


Coyotes 5
Avs 4

Happy 46th Birthday, Coach Gretzky.

NOTE: It is rumoured that Kroenke is hoping to buy both Brooklyn's and Braun's. We might be looking for another place to drink pre- and post-game pretty soon.

Best Friends Forever!


25 January 2007

The NHL All-Star Game: Hockey for Dummies

Whatever its implications or lack thereof, I confess I enjoyed watching the All-Star Game last night. No thanks to Versus, Chuck Norris, or "natural male enhancement" commercials. Santa's giant "sack of pride?" Come on! SPECIAL thanks to Marty Turco, however, who made the game by not only minding the net, but carrying on a glib chat at the same time.

Although I've apprehended that most avid fans are pretty indifferent to the All-Star Game, or view it simply as an unwelcome interruption to "real" hockey, I think it's important that we look at it in the context of the ongoing "butts-in-seats, wider audiences" argument. It is what it is. It's Hockey for Dummies. And like it or not, there's a place for that.

I understand the myriad reasons a veteran fan, or maybe even a veteran player, might call the All-Star Game meaningless, or even insulting. The Diet Coke of hockey, if you will. But for the hockey ignorant, this is entry-level. We'll show you the ugly, offensive stuff later. For now, here are some handsome men with accents get along famously.

If you're piqued by a mild curiosty for the work of a renowned poet, or have a vague interest in a certain musician, it makes sense for you to read that poet's selected works, rather than investing in every volume he or she has penned, or to buy the musician's "Best Of" compilation CD. Similarly, the All-Star celebration offers an introductory overview of "Who's Who" in the game of hockey.

In the otherwise intricate, historied game of hockey.

In the intimidatingly glorious game of hockey.

It is unfair to expect new and prospective fans to immediately be able to comprehend and appreciate it's vastness, especially as there are a number of fans out there who don't even have a team to attach themselves to.

Perhaps this is a "dumbing-down" of the game, or at least a misrepresentation of it. However, I repectfully submit that...people are dumb. And proud of it. According to publishers Wiley and Sons, the For Dummies series has over 125 million books in print, translated into 39 languages and distributed in 40 countries. Needless to say, there is DEMAND for DUMB. See any Dummies title for reviews from customers joyfully proclaiming that they are "no longer a dummy!" My God, my God.

FYI, there is a "Hockey for Dummies" from 2001 (anyone want to tackle those revisions?), and a "Coaching Hockey for Dummies" circa last September.

This is fun. Best Friends Forever!