Mark managed to get his hands on some unbelievably nice tickets to last night's Kings/Bruins game. I've never sat in anything resembling a nice seat for hockey before, particularly at the Garden, where student section seats for the Beanpot or Hockey East playoffs are typically near the higher parts of the uppermost bowl. This was a bit of a shocking experience, frankly, as we had someone bringing us beer and food. Before the game, we wandered around the lower level and looked at decades of sports memorabilia, including Jim Craig's mask from the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, and other trivialities like the Beanpot trophy. We did attempt to steal the Beanpot and return it to Huntington Avenue, but it seems as though that's something the team will have to do itself. I snapped a couple pictures but I've gotta pull them off my camera first.
The Kings actually looked pretty good the whole game. Their penalty kill, in particular, looked great, never really letting Boston settle into their offense and running a few shorthanded plays. They controlled play pretty much the whole game, but found themselves in a 2-0 hole entering the third, victim of Tim Thomas' multiple stomach saves. How that man puts up the numbers he does with his awful form is completely beyond me.
Halfway through the third, amidst the jeers of the Boston "faithful," Handzus whacked home the rebound of a Simmonds shot to cut the deficit to 1. At this point, the idiots sitting to my right were all over me, yelling "Kings suck!" and "you suck!" and a bunch of other things I'd be reluctant to say were my team holding the slimmest of leads over a clearly inferior opponent. The Kings would get a goal with just over 90 seconds left, prompting yet more criticism and my acceptance of an assist on the play. Boston fans are such idiots.
Overtime was, again, completely controlled by the Kings, who managed to get a goal from Dustin Brown to a chorus of boos. Even after a win, I amazingly found myself getting heckled to chants of "playoff hockey" in North Station, to which I responded "What does first-round playoff loss mean to you?" Ouch. Here's the highlights.
We did, though, sit next to two guys from Scandinavia, one Swedish and one Finnish, both of whom had travelled to the States for the weekend to see 3 NHL games before flying back. Impressive, and much more knowledgeable about the game than 90% of the people in that arena.
I forgot about the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings AHL affiliate in New Hampshire, so there was a surprising contingent of Kings fans at the Garden. It's weird how people from New Hampshire become Kings fans because they grow accustomed to seeing the players while they're still in the minors. Teddy Purcell, Erik Ersberg, Jon Quick, and several others all had substantial representation in the crowd.
Northeastern vs. UMass Lowell (5:00 PM ET, TD Banknorth Garden)
My goal for this season was making the Garden for the playoffs, but being in first place until the last day of the season has a way of changing expectations.
I am nowhere near as optimistic about this game as everyone else is. It's hard to beat a team in this league 4 times in a season, and Lowell just beat Vermont at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in two games. I've said it before and I'll say it again: This is not your freshman year's Lowell.
The Huskies win this game if they stay out of the box and generate early offense. If they're down a goal in the third, I'm not particularly confident, just because they've had a tough time scoring goals lately. I may be liveblogging this evening.
Should the Huskies win, they'll play the winner of the 8:00 matchup between BU and BC...in other words, they'll be playing BU.
NCAA Tournament Bullets:
- Clemson, Butler, Cal, Illinois, and VCU: Good for one thing. Ruining my bracket. Every year, I've chosen Clemson to do something, and every year, they screw me. Rooting against UCLA was weird and uncomfortable, but Maynor needs to hit that 7 foot jumper to end the game. Awful. Took them far too long to get down the court. Cal...might as well be Northeastern. Illinois...sucks. Butler routinely disappoints me.
- Anyone who missed the CSUN/Memphis game missed a really fun game. It was looking like the Matadors were going to pull off an historic upset, but you don't win if you don't play defense.
- I've got Connecticut winning the title over Duke 64-60, so yesterday's 103-47 win over Chattanooga (?) was promising.
- Villanova almost lost to American (?!), so I'm getting the feeling UCLA is going to continue to maul my bracket. Again. I had them winning it all last year.
- I am expecting Marquette to continue their uselessness in the tournament this year by losing to lowly Utah State later today.