I was lucky enough to attend the Ducks / Avs preseason game last night, getting to see some of the new roster and a few guys who will never make it to the big club. Some notes from the game.
– First off, $25 club seats. Yes. We found these on StubHub, which shows that shopping around helps. The guys sitting next to us, Travis and Stephen / Steve O./ Estephan / Gloria / “That’s Icing” (dude had a lot of alternative names) found theirs with $20 food vouchers for the same price. That’s a $25 club level ticket with $20 of free food. We all hate the secondary ticket market until it serves us directly.
– The Ducks have a new jumbotron, which is nice and pretty and smaller than the one the Avs have. It’s smaller than the one the Lightning have. It’s better than the old options, and it fits the space well. I like a big jumbotron, but this one wasn’t a distraction the way the Avs one can be. I came to watch a game, not a TV. Still, give me the Avs one any day. Contradiction? Sure, why not!
– So how were the Avs? Not great! The chemistry wasn’t there, the play was sloppy, the D was not looking so hot, and no one seemed to want to spend any time in front of the net.
This is the preseason, so all the usual caveats apply. The game is meaningless for the vets, the D isn’t the regular pairings you would expect, blah blah blah. I get it. But Frozen Fury is around the corner, and then the regular season begins. Now is the time to start looking like you are ready to play some meaningful hockey.
The Ducks looked ready for the season. Crisp passes, sticks in passing lanes picking off the soft and slow passes of the Avs, mixing it up along the boards and throwing the body around. They are a skilled team with speed and size. They got as far as they could without making it to the Stanley Cup Final for a reason. They look poised to go further this year.
– Avs players that stood out to me:
Duchene – Lots of missed shots. His skating was there, his hands were not. Shaking the rust off, I’m not worried about him.
MacKinnon – The hands were there, but the “do it all yourself” attitude was there as well. A few times while he had the puck, he looked to the point and had a wide open defenseman while being hounded by the Ducks. Instead he chose to cut back and stick handle. Maybe he had a good reason, but there are times to open things up a bit with a pass. The points are there for a reason.
Stuart – Not a good night for him. He turned the puck over often, made poor choices on D, and generally seemed lost. I want him to be good. I want him to step up. I’m still waiting.
Glencross – He was hungry. He wants it, but he was one that I wanted to see go to the net more. This is something few Avs seemed to want to do. They all wanted to spread out along the low slot more, looking for that cross ice pass. And there is nothing wrong with that, unless the other team clogs the slot (which they did) and you aren’t willing to fire that puck through with some power behind it (which the Avs did not). So this isn’t about Glencross as much as the entire team. For all the talk of going to the front of the net, no one seemed to want to do it.
Zadorov – Big guy. Real big. And he can skate. The hands? We will see.
Rantanen – Was he out there? I am pretty sure I saw him in the first, but I don’t remember seeing him much. That’s either an indictment on my memory or his impact.
McLeod – Looked fine.
Skille – Who? Seriously, I had to look him up.
Soderberg and Comeau – They looked fine. Not great, but fine.
Varlamov – He looked alright in net, but he wasn’t getting a lot of help from his D. They started showing up more in the second and third, but the Ducks quick passing had Varly moving side-to-side quite a bit, making his night adventurous. If I were to be concerned about him or the defense, I am much more worried about the D.
– Back to the game, Iginla and Landeskog were talking to the refs quite a bit. I wonder what they were saying.
– Travis, an Avs fan sitting next to me, said he was tired of the dump and chase of the Avs. I’m with you Travis. I think everyone is.
Shortly after he uttered those words, the Avs made a few tic-tac-toe passes though the neutral zone to ALMOST get in the offensive zone, then dumped and chased. That sums up the frustration of watching them play. Skill until it gets too tough, then dump. And if you aren’t going to win those battles in the chase side of the equation, don’t dump it in the first place. Hit the line with speed and options.
– Looking good, boys.
– 3-on-3 overtime: Wow, what a hot mess.
Really, I can’t think of a better way to put it. Hot mess, and that made it fun and entertaining. Lots of room, lots of swooping, and plenty of fun. If you are a fan of technically perfect and efficient hockey, you might not like 3-on-3. Players will be “out of position,” whatever that means in 3-on-3. Forwards will get in behind the single defenseman. There is too much space and time. And from what I’ve seen, there is more man-on-man coverage rather than zone coverage, which means more opportunity to beat your man when you have the puck.
And that’s the point. You have time and space, you have room to create, and you can’t defend the same way you can when it’s five-on-five. It’s exciting, it’s fun, and yes, it’s skills competition 2.0. And who cares? It’s a good time.
Avs won the exhibition overtime, but lost 3-0 in regulation. It’s one of the rare times where both teams “win.” I’m just going to say the Avs won the game, since they won OT, even though they lost badly in regulation.
Hey, look! Chris Stewart!
– If you are going to be an away fan, do it in Anaheim. They are super friendly to away fans. It also helps to wear the jersey of a former player that was beloved. I was wearing my Giguere game-worn jersey, and Meg wore her Selanne. You can’t go wrong. Also, don’t be a jerk. Smile a lot and enjoy the game. That helps.
– This is real.
– Saw this guy’s jersey and had to get a photo. British ELITE League. When I said ELITE League, he turned to his friend and said “Someone knows!” Then I said I had a Sheffield Steelers jersey and he was less than pleased. He still posed for photos.
And this guy let me take a picture of his shirt.
Hockey fans are the best.
– If the New York Islanders are the team of hipsters, the Ducks are the team of punk rockers. I love it. For instance, this is Wil. He’s a buddy of mine, and you might be hearing him soon on the Avs Hockey Podcast.
What’s that Wil is wearing? Since you can’t see it, I’ll tell you. An Operation Ivy hoodie. Fantastic. You are the man, Wil.
– This isn’t a real travel post, as I’ve been here a few times, but the travel season starts soon. I have a few WSHL games to go to in the next few weeks, maybe a few AHL games. This game, I took my Panasonic point-and-shoot camera, and I’m just starting to notice some spots on the sensor. Ugh. Regardless, expect more soon.