Remember long ago when this blog covered hockey semi-regularly? Such different, more innocent days. I still love the sport but it doesn't get much of my attention these days. A while back, when I was writing on Jes's blog, I mentioned that I hadn't seen a game in two weeks and some commenter held me up as an example of all that was wrong with hockey in America, proof positive that the Southeastern Division should be forcibly relocated. Last night's game was the first I attended this year, and I hadn't seen any on television in more than a month. I wonder what that anonymous fellow would think of that. Probably that I should be shot.
The last time I saw the Avalanche play in Atlanta -- probably 2000 or 2001 -- the Colorado goalie (David Aebischer) gave up three goals in the first period on the way to a shameful loss. Last night, the Colorado goalie (Peter Budaj) gave up three goals in the first period. The only thing that's really changed is that in the early naughts, only Atlanta sucked. Now both teams do.
Last night was a revelation: though I've logically known that Colorado is not what it once was, my heart has continued to hold true that this is just a momentary downturn. The game put that to rest. It ended up close thanks to a late goal, but with a few exceptions, the Avalanche are pretty putrid.
It was nice to see Milan Hejduk playing really well (two goals, a constant threat). I've started thinking of him as an ailing dog, much loved but soon to go to a happier place. But he looked great last night. Ryan Smyth looked good. Paul Stastny wasn't bad after a long layoff.
The rest... I noticed Scott Hannan a lot, but in a "how can one defenseman be so out of position?" way rather than a good way. I noticed Peter Budaj, repeatedly looking sadly over his shoulder after another puck trickled into the net. And I noticed a lot of players looking very confused, skating into each other, tripping over sticks, waiting for some divine power to explain what they should do.
Making up for lost time, I've got a lot of tickets for games in the last half of the season. It's looking like this is going to be a meaningless season for me. Saves stress on the heart, at least.
* * *
* They still play that fucking Blur song after every Thrashers goal. It would be great if they stopped that.
* I didn't hear the attendance announcement -- maybe none came -- but I think there were about 22 people (half wearing Avalanche jerseys). I guess there's not a lot of desire to see 14th place versus 15th place.
* The most energetic fans: a 50-some couple, man in a suit and woman in off-duty hooker outfit, sloshed out of their skulls and engaging in spirited foreplay (without spilling their drinks) when the Kiss Cam fell upon them.
* I was wearing a Kometa Brno jersey (second round of playoffs start tomorrow!) and ran into a group of Czechs between periods -- including a girl from Brno, who was amazed to see the team's jersey here in Atlanta (and on some schlub from Colorado, no less). I complained about the lack of Kometa t-shirts in my possession. I should have asked if she had any professional connections over there.