The Party: Like last year, the party was a blast. We got around a bit more this time and saw more people. I met Andy, JJ, Graham, Brad, Sara, Natalie and Brian for the first time and got to talk to Petrella, Baroque, Ellen, Jen and George at differing lengths. There were a ton of people there and we missed a lot of people, but it was just great to be there.
The door prize announcements were a blast, though we didn’t win the Osgood-signed Sports Illustrated Megan had her eye on. But the best part came before that with the finally fundraising tally: $14,272. As someone wrote on the check: awesomesauce. That’s an incredible number.
The Game: We ended up seated next to George and behind the Triple Deke crew, so that was great. Tyler and Brent got “Lets Go Red Wings!” cheers going periodically, as did another group at the other end of the H2H2 seating area, so we did our part in keeping the atmosphere in the Joe elevated.
The crowd in general was a good one. It was an announced sellout and I can confirm that it was mostly filled the whole game, with seats presumably empty due to occupants being stuck in lines at the bathroom or concessions. Or just not there. Whatever.
As for the game itself, at times it was incredibly frustrating. I was pretty annoyed for a lot of it, but as it progressed, I started to realize that the Wings mostly owned it from the last third of the first on and that they just weren’t getting any bounces. They had an Oilers team that got its lead and then clamped down remarkably wellâ€”if you watched it, you know how it seemed like 2 out of every 3 passes hit an Oilers stick, for example. Some of that was the Wings, but a lot of it was the Oilers’ hustle. Those kids played the Wings very close.
It wasn’t until a penalty kill late in the game, when a puck went over an Edmonton player’s stick at the blue line that I finally felt the Wings got a break. That was the kind of game they had.
The waived off goal was tragic, because the arena had exploded only to be punched in the gut. After seeing the replay in HD last night during the Blues game, I’m not convinced it was the right call, but it worked out in the end.
I was very impressed with a few players: Bertuzzi, Stuart and Modano.
In the arena, you could see Bertuzzi working very hard on every shift and you also got a sense of his strength when he shrugged guys off.
Stuart also worked very hard and made some great defensive plays. I think I know why George is so high on him: you see more of what he does when you’re at the rink that you typically do watching him on TV.
And the same goes for Modano. I noticed him a lot more when I could see the whole play. Not sure what he looked like on TV, but he lead his line big time and looked really, really good.
I’m glad Datsyuk scored in the end, because I didn’t think he had his best game. He seemed to be trying to force it even though he was having an off night and all too often his efforts just fell flat. Even he can have an off night.
Jimmy mostly made up for his pathetic showing on the Oilers’ goal with a strong game after that. But Dubnyk really stole the show.
Once the Wings tied it up, the blood was in the water. It was exciting a finish as I’ve seen in any game I’ve attended. There’s nothing like high-fiving fans around you as the Joe erupts. As frustrating as the game was, an ending like that definitely colors it in a different light.
The Rest: The rest of the night included a walk back from the Joe to the Grand Circus area with a group of H2H2ers who didn’t want to wait for the shuttle bus to show up. It was a good walking tour of the area at night.
On Saturday, Megan and I went to Ikea before catching up with a group skating at a rink in Farmington Hills. We caught Petrella, Discher, Hollis, Serven, Drew, Casey, Sara,Â Stevie and others skate for a bit before we had to head home.
It was an awesome weekend. It was great to see everybody and be a part of such an incredible fundraising effort. We’re thankful we were able to go.
The Blues Game: I didn’t watch as attentively as I should have, but I’m both disappointed with the blown lead and impressed that they still managed to pull ahead again and close it out. I think they’re on a good trajectory, as long as they bear down and stay focused.
They stayed ahead of the Sharks, which is important, and now have a four-point buffer. They’ll need to be on top of that going forward.