Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kings vs. Penguins in Perspective, Plus Pictures!!!

Well, if you attended last night’s preseason game at the Sprint Center, you certainly got your money’s worth.  The Kings and Penguins tied 2-2 after regulation and a five-minute overtime, and went eight rounds into the shootout before deciding a winner.  Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen beat Jonathan Bernier in the shootout to seal it 3-2 for the Penguins and sent the KC hockey fans home relatively happy.

Politics, and Tim Leiweke, and struggling downtown businesses, and all of that nonsense aside, this kind of game is what makes Kansas Citians desperate for pro hockey.  

As you can tell by my pictures below, the arena was not totally full.  But, it wasn’t empty either. Of course, bringing in a nationally recognized product like the Pittsburgh Penguins helps.  I would say the Sprint Center sold out about as much as the Scottrade Center in St. Louis “sells out” for a weeknight game, and that’s a good sign for Kansas City/KC region hockey fans.  It does not mean KC will be awarded an expansion franchise tomorrow or the Coyotes players are packing their bags and FedEx-ing their belongings to Overland Park, but it is comforting to know that there are some hockey people in and around this town.  Eh, allow me to explain that better.

I cannot help but shake the fact that this game felt like a midseason game between these two teams.  Of course, the product on the ice did not meet the same criteria, but it just felt like the crowd ebbed and flowed with the game.  They were attentive, but not overly engaged in the action, and the fervor in the crowd built leading up to and during high action events in the game.  The game played to the crowd, as the big moments unfolded from the moment people started shouting to rising out of their seats.  But the crowd was not too excited throughout the game, meaning they didn’t just jump around and lose their minds when someone was checked into the boards or even when post-whistle scuffles broke out.  By the third period, the crowd knew what was on the line and knew that the teams weren’t going to start laying right hooks into each other when the situation did not call for it (although, it should be noted that everyone really wanted to see a fight). 

The atmosphere was good, the crowd seemed to favor the Penguins, but the dual loyalties (or no loyalty to either team) gave the buzz running through the arena a certain calm which allowed the game to be watched and enjoyed.  It didn’t matter who won this game because the fans won by buying a ticket and watching this play out in a familiar home.  Again, no, the product on the ice was not in midseason form, but this type of game is ours, if that makes sense.  This is what Kansas Citians and Nebraskans and Kansans and Iowans and others who travel from not too far get to see.  These exhibition games mean something to us, and it’s great to see it play out in front of a (semi) packed house in the middle of where many of us work and call home.  Neither of these teams are our team that plays in our house, but it’s a sport we all love played in our house, and even for one night that’s pretty cool.

Now I want MOAR!!!

A retrospective of the game in grainy pictures below (click for bigger picture):
Game during the first period.  During a "two minute media timeout!"

Dustin Penner: Look how big he is!

Getting ready to faceoff

Your logo here

Bernier warming up before the 2nd period

Start of the second period

Click on this for a better view, but this is my attempt to show the whole arena and what is labeled a "sell out."  The patching of the panorama function on my camera is not too great, but you get the idea.  And, wow, that came out a lot darker than I thought it should.  Damn.  Taken during the second period. 

Long shot of the arena

Bailey, the Kings mascot.  Sadly, no Air Bailey for this game.

More Bailey and Zambonis

The final score.  Penguins 3, Kings 2 OT/SO

Bonus!  Mizzou-Kansas Shootout Game.  Here is Mizzou in their generic hockey/baseball jerseys.

Kansas in their less generic jerseys.  This game had very little structure, but these teams are fun to watch.
Hey, what was up with those trivia questions during the second intermission?  I mean, what the hell?

Shoot over to my YouTube page for some videos of the game.

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