- Work, and, for the last
three days weektwo weeks (it was a long two weeks, okay? Computer shenanigans happened.) or so,
- BEING DEAD OF SHEER JOY BECAUSE PATRICK KANE SCORED A SPINORAMA GOAL THIRTY FEET FROM MY FACE.
Yes, by the grace of the NHL schedule, the Stars played the Blackhawks at home on a Saturday night, and because bienenalster is a glorious enabler, we drove up to Dallas to watch. This was the best decision I have made all year, and I am including the one about putting mochi bits into Nutella. It took a while to recover from my unfortunate demise, but, like Jesus, I have risen to preach the good news of Brandon Saad’s hockey sense.
But first, we had to try to assimilate Coworker J into the glories of hockey by throwing the Aeros at her.
The Abbotsford Heat-Houston Aeros game actually turned out to be a great first game for Coworker J, mainly because the Abbotsford Heat could not have been better heels if they were actually holding a WWE belt over their heads and sneering. There were goals! There were fights! There was very nearly a shutout by Darcy Kuemper, whom I love more with each passing game, but he let in a soft goal with 14 seconds to go. POOR MR. DARCY.
Biene, because she is a troll, is now fond of the Heat.
A good time was had by Coworker J, and she has asked to come with us to future games, but for Biene and me, it was just a warmup for the main event.
This weekend, I made the ultimate sacrifice, as a fan.
I went to Dallas.
For those of you who are not fortunate enough to be from Texas, it’s important to understand that people from Houston and people from Dallas kind of hate each other. People from Dallas resent Houston’s multicultural vibrancy and our fantastic economy; in turn, we resent the fact that all the good music tours stop there. So Biene and I, both native Houstonians, drove to Dallas only with great reluctance, and with a burning wish in our hearts to watch the Dallas Stars get crushed into a fine powder.
The Blackhawks are the bestest fairy godmothers ever.
BEFORE THE GAME:
Despite the protestations of Biene's GPS that we were going to be LATE, we made it to the American Airlines Center with time to spare, where the lovely and personable hananobira was waiting to meet us. Because we arrived ridiculously early, we had time to enjoy a PRIVATE VIP RECEPTION in the 200 level, where we enjoyed conversation, popcorn, drinks, and the extremely attentive attentions of a number of well-dressed young sales representatives, all of whom were very eager to make it easier for us to purchase tickets to more NHL games. Hana made a spirited attempt to convert Biene to the personality cult of Evgeni Malkin, while I raged and cried into my complimentary popcorn about the 2013 Flyers. (Suck for Seth!)
Warmups happened. Jimmy Hayes subjected us to a drive-by winking. Patrick Kane played with his stick three feet from my face. All three of us took lots of pictures, none of which I can put in this post because technology hates me. It was awesome, and then, finally, the game started.
For those of you who noted that this sounded like a Blackhawks home game: that’s only because it was. At least half of the fans in the lower level were sporting Blackhawks gear, and during the National Anthem there were noticeable cheers. Given the fact that one of the Stars’ fan traditions is also anthem-based, I thought this was kind of classless, and I am the kind of person who makes sure she knows the opposing goalie’s name before puck-drop for more personalized heckling.
DURING THE GAME:
I am about to say something that I do not say lightly: if you love hockey, and if the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks are playing within 300 miles of where you live, you should go. Rent a car, call in sick, call in dead - do what you have to, because this team? Is UNBEFUCKINGLIEVABLE.
I love the AHL, but there was a fundamental difference in the level of play. At the Aeros game on Thursday, if two players were on their game, it was a good shift. Not so for the Blackhawks. The best example I can give was Jonathan Toews’ first goal, which started with a takeaway by Hjalmarsson and passed through what seemed like every player on the ice before Toews tapped it in on a rebound. Every single player was exactly where he needed to be, all the time.
If you haven’t seen the game, you really, really should. Highlights:
Brandon Saad was consistently, quietly awesome, except for the moments when he made a two-foot vertical leap in front of the net to snag and play a puck that had been chipped up from the trapezoid, when he was brazenly awesome.
Jaromir Jagr had a very pathetic disappointed face on the Jumbotron every time he had a shift, which was a lot. SORRY JAGS. YOU LOOKED BETTER IN ORANGE.
To give you an idea of how much the Hawks dominated: Brandon Bollig almost scored. TWICE. ON A POWER PLAY.
At the start of the third period, the Stars Jumbotron announced that if a Stars goal was scored in the third period, a local TexMex chain would give out free tacos to all attendees. The Blackhawks proceeded to allow exactly one goal. Hana, Coworker A, and I consider this a sign of the Blackhawks’ mercy; they are conquerers, yes, but they will permit the distribution of the tacos of benevolence.
NOTE: When we actually received the coupons for the tacos of benevolence, Biene noted that they said “Stars Win!” not “Stars Score!” This is how badly the 2013 Blackhawks are breaking the NHL; scoring is the new winning.
Patrick Kane narrowly missed a goal on a breakaway in the third, then made up for it by scoring with a spinorama two minutes later. My default emotional state regarding this man is officially “disgusted and aroused.”
AFTER THE GAME:
Hana, Coworker A, and I retired to a very nice hotel bar and drank expensive cocktails while talking about our different fannish life histories. When I was a wee child, no one told me adulthood could be like this.
Normally, this would be more joy than any mere mortal could take in one weekend. Fortunately, Coworker A and I are made of sterner stuff.
On Sunday morning, the intrepid Coworker A and I arose and made our way back to Houston, because we had tickets for a skating and autograph session with the Houston Aeros.
We had three missions for this: don't completely disgrace ourselves, get a photograph with Darcy Kuemper, and try not to swoon. Hana pointed out that if we had to swoon, we should attempt to do so in the direction of the nearest hockey player. Coworker A and I agreed that this was a solid plan.
At this point, I would like to state that we totally succeeded at one of these missions, but that in doing so, we completely invalidated another one.
LOOK, DARCY KUEMPER JUST LOOKED REALLY GOOD THAT DAY, OKAY?
Our grades on the disgracing sections, however, were more marginal, and deserve their own stories:
CAPTAIN DREW MOTHERFUCKING BAGNALL OF THE HOUSTON AEROS TEACHING ME HOW TO SKATE BACKWARDS
Me: *skate skate skate skate skate*
CDMFB: Hey, looks like you're getting around okay out there.
Me: (BE COOL, SODA POP) Thanks! You know, I'm trying.
CDMFB: I don't know how you do that with the toe picks. That'd drive me nuts.
Me: It's not so bad going forwards, but I can't figure out how to go backwards. I'm trying to teach myself, and it's not going so well.
CDMFB: Well, I mean, I don't know about the toe picks, but *stops, turns* you just sort of learn forwards on your toes, and kind of move in a c-cut with your weight on the foot in front of you.
Me: *stops, turns, does what Drew Motherfucking Bagnall says, goes backwards* Oh, wow! That works! Thanks!
CDMFB: No problem! Thanks for coming out!
Me: *dies of seven heart atttacks*
Drew Bagnall, while not so good with toe picks, appears to be pretty good at this captaining stuff; he's been out with an ankle injury, and in the autograph line, he was teasing Darcy Kuemper that if he'd been on the ice, he'd never have let that soft 14-second goal get to Kuemper. In case the above didn't make it clear, he's also great with fans. I don't think I ever saw him cliqued off with other players on the ice; he was always talking to people, or taking pictures.
The Education of Kris Foucault:
Me: So, do people ever mix up you and the philosopher?
Foucault: No, you know, only, like, two people have ever asked me that. I don't think too many people know about him.
Me: That’s a shame. Well, it was nice meeting you! *moves on down the line*
Foucault: *to Coworker A* So, do you think people ever mix up the philosopher with me?
Coworker A: No. I mean, he's dead, so that'd be a little tricky.
Foucault: Oh. I don't actually know that much about him. I think he did something with a pendulum?
Coworker A: Actually, he's best known for his three-volume history of sexuality and his treatise on insanity!
Foucault: *blink* Oh.
Coworker A swears that in that moment, she just didn't want to make him feel bad for mixing up the Panopticon with a pendulum. I'm mainly amused that there is now a tradition of edifying the Aeros in signing lines.
Other highlights included:
Kyle Medvec adorably playing on-ice tag with tiny children long after all his teammates had hit the locker rooms.
Riley Grantham really, really obviously checking out Coworker A's rack in the signing line, via such smooth and subtle lines as, "Hey, I really like your tank top! What's on it?"
Stalking David McIntyre for three laps before he finally separated from the bro-herd enough to grab him for a photo.
Finnish Baby Jesus proving that whatever else they taught him in Savior School, they did not teach him how to interact with fans. AWKWARD, AWKWARD MIKAEL GRANLUND.
Us totally not falling even once!
NEXT TIME, OR WHENEVER TECHNOLOGY STOPS HATING ME: PICTURES!!