Saturday's game was the first of three games for which I managed to scrounge up tickets. As luck would have it (I had no idea when ordering the tickets) Saturday was also the Hall of Fame game in addition to being on Remembrance Day. When I realized that the Leafs would be having a pre-game ceremony I panicked because the Leafs tend to play terribly in these types of games.
The festivities featured veterans from WWII and Afghanistan and the brave soldiers earned themselves the loudest cheer of the night. Patrick Roy's induction to the Hall of Fame on Monday night led to a higher than usual preponderance of Canadiens fans but both sides united in ensuring that those that truly deserved to be cheered felt their countrymen's appreciation for their sacrifice.
For a recap of the game check out Ninja over at Raking Leafs.
You get a vastly different experience when you are at the game live rather than watching it on TV. A lot of that has to do with being a bit out of the loop compared to when you have Pierre McGuire talking 100 words a minute. For example, when Peca caught a puck in the mouth I had no clue the extent of the damage. When he did not return I was panicked. Thankfully, it was just a bit of dental work (read: A LOT). Some of it has to do with the purity of the experience. It is not like a basketball game where piped-in music blares throughout the play. The only sounds are the game and the fans. It's nice.
The other aspect concerns those fans. At the ACC there is a clear dividing line between the upper bowl and the lower bowl. The upper bowl started 'Goodbye' and 'Go Leafs Go' many times only for it to die out as the lower bowl turned their nose up at something so base as chanting. I was lucky enough to be able to sneak into gold seats beside two friends where we encountered a young girl that counted down each period's last minute (that's right, 60, 59, 58) and yelled 'PSYCH!' each time a Hab took a shot. The saddest thing was that we tried to get a 'Go Leafs Go' chant going but were met with silence twice. Even after we accused the entire section of being terrible fans and not deserving to be at the game they still did not speak up. I understand why they were not impressed with yells of 'SLASH HIM!' or 'MOVE YOUR ASS ANTRO!' but cheers? and clean ones? sad.
Later we found that it is quite common for season ticket holders to sell their playoff tickets to pay for the entire regular season hence the increase in 'real' fans. I wish they would sell regular season games too because it makes for a terrible atmosphere.
Aside from the goals, a great play was when Antropov nailed Komisarek right into the Leafs bench. Komisarek is a big boy but Antro just launched him into the bench. Unsurprisingly, considering out section, we were the only ones roaring with laughter.
All in all, the game was great, the Leafs really took it to the Habs and made them pay for their lack of discipline and aim (two delay of game penalties? welcome to the league). Aubin was solid and there were only two defensive breakdowns where the players were running around the zone. The golds get delivery service so we never even had to deal with the long lineups. And, to be fair, while the atmosphere is crap during the play when the Leafs score everyone goes nuts (except the guy that got a litte bit of beer spilled on his seat. He was shooting us daggers instead. Thank God my mom insists on putting kleenex in my jacket or he might have fought us.) I guess the rest of the time the lower bowl just wants some peace and quiet to get their hearing back.
A simple installment of...
The Final Word
These are the bravest guys in the world.
Don Cherry, HNIC, during a Coaches Corner tribute to the Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.