4 October 2009

NHL Premiere 2009 in Stockholm – Day Two

St. Louis Blues 5-3 Detroit Red Wings, 3 October 2009

Friday night’s season opener saw the Blues withstand some early dominance by the Wings to overturn a two-goal deficit in the second period with some opportunistic finishing, then hold on with some comfort in a more defensive third period. Game two on Saturday featured…well, pretty much the same thing in the end, strangely enough.

As before (see HERE), the following is merely a fairly unfocused stream of observations and highlights plus a fairly unfocused stream of amateur photographs. (I did manage to venture down to the glass – or near to it, at least – for warm-ups this time. I happened to be at the Wings’ end, hence the uneven spread of shots. No anti-Blues bias intended.)

  • Expert planner that I am, meal time is once again spent in the Arena. A 77kr hot dog/drink combination providing far greater VFM than Friday’s caviar and pheasant.

  • A second Håkan Andersson interview still doesn’t illuminate me any. Still seems like a decent bloke though.

  • Culture vulture that I am (ahem), I should note that pre-game entertainment came courtesy of Swedish 80s rock throwbacks Bullet, an example of whose work can be found HERE. (Friday saw the not dissimilar Backyard Babies take the stage.) The crowd again are left mystified and disappointed by the absence of native Eurodance leviathan, Basshunter.

  • An brief appearance by Mats Sundin in one corner of the rink, for a TV interview, starts a mild commotion in the crowd. A subsequent Darren Pang sighting in the same place does not.

  • The newly-decisive Sundin later carries out the ceremonial puck drop, receiving a huge standing ovation from the crowd, who are clearly expressing relief that the next three months will be free of “Where will Mats play?” speculation.

  • Battle of the backups tonight, as Ty Conklin and Jimmy Howard start.

  • The Wings almost overwhelm the Blues in the first few minutes, taking a 2-0 lead and having another negated by a high-stick call. Conklin is quickly getting reacquainted with Tomas Holmström’s (and Dan Cleary’s) rear end.

  • A much more physical game than Friday’s – Backes, Tkachuk and Stuart prominent playing the body.

  • A big PP goal late in the first by Tkachuk keeps the Blues in the game.

  • The game turns on two quick goals in the second period for the Blues – both clear scoring chances, but as the cliché goes, both efforts Howard “would like to have back”.

  • A rare cheer for a Blues player when Patrik Berglund’s goal is announced.

  • Again, the Blues aren’t put under huge pressure in the third period, this time adding an insurance goal (again on the PP – the Wings’ PK still looks a weakness).

  • As one final chance passes, Johan Franzén demolishes his stick against Conklin’s goal. The typical impassive Swede.

3 October 2009

NHL Premiere 2009 in Stockholm – Day One

Detroit Red Wings 3 – 4 St. Louis Blues, 2 October 2009

I’m both incapable and too lazy to (a) do some sort of informative travelogue thing illustrating the delights of Stockholm, or (b) provide an insightful write-up of the game itself, so

The following is merely a fairly unfocused stream of observations and highlights from my attendance at Friday night’s game at Globen Arena in Stockholm, plus a fairly unfocused stream of amateur photographs. (Yes, I wasn’t sat that close. I will see if I can get closer to warmups for game two.)

  • It was probably a mistake to take my chances by waiting to eat once I was inside the Arena. A ropey burger, a huge vat of crisps (potato chips, for the hard of English-speaking out there) and a Coke is standard Arena fare. Not really worth 153kr though – I might rethink my strategy on Saturday…

  • The 100kr programme is nice enough, but I’m a few decades away from being able to understand most of it. Who could argue against it saying Roman Polák “är stark som en oxe” though?

  • Similarly, I’m not sure I followed much of the pre-game interview with Red Wings über-Euroscout Håkan Andersson, but he seemed like a decent bloke.

  • Interviews throughout the evening were conducted by a coach-turned-TV host (apparently) Niklas Wikegård, who couldn’t resist poking fun at the American announcer’s pronunciation of his name (Why-ker-guard rather than Vee-ker-gord).

  • There’s some sort of huge luxury box/restaurant area on my left in the Arena, with a curtain that can be pulled across to cover it. Not in use tonight, but sure to be used when New Jersey and Columbus play here next year.

  • Hearts in mouths for Blues fans as injury-on-skates Carlo Colaiacovo performs a slow-motion stumble into a team-mate and down to the ice during warmups. He turns out to be OK though.

  • Very pro-Wing crowd (a lot more Wings jerseys in evidence around the city before the game too). Lidström and Zetterberg win the popularity contest by a long way.

  • On the Wings’ first goal, referee Bill McCreary sets a perfect pick (maybe throwing in a slight hold too) on the ox-like Polák, allowing Kris Draper to burst to the net untouched.

  • The Wings’ second goal is a short-handed breakaway for Kirk Maltby, nicely finished. These kids Draper and Maltby have some good speed. They could stick in this league.

  • Ville Leino should score some goals this year if his wrist shot is that good.

  • Chris Mason keeps the Blues in the game in the first period then completely robs Johan Franzén in the third to preserve the lead.

  • Markus Näslund is among the celebrities shown in the crowd at one point – he strangely looks bored out of his mind, chewing gum. An expression no doubt honed while playing on the Rangers’ powerplay last year.