With all of the wonderful stuff happening in Detroit yesterday, and the volumes already written on the game, decided to forego the usual game review for a retrospective on the whole experience.
Detroit Traffic System -- OK, first I need to get a rant out of the way. I have always thought that the Columbus traffic engineers were the folks that flunked out of engineering school. (i.e. putting signs for a turn after the street at which the turn was to happen.) The Detroit traffic engineers are obviously the ones who flunked out of elementary school. The little closure of I-75 was inconvenient coming North. It was a day in purgatory going South. Little signs pointing directions that lead to nowhere -- two signs with inconsistent directions right next to each other -- a marvelous infinite loop of a detour -- followed by the real detour, which takes you halfway to Chicago on 94. Throw in potholes the size of school busses, a torrential downpout, flooded out freeway lanes and schizophrenic drivers, and you have all of the makings of a hellish drive home. Your tax dollars at work, Michiganders . . .
Jackets Fans -- what a great showing by the Jacket Backers and the other Jackets fans who either live in the area or made the trek to the Joe to get to the game! Nice coverage on the tube from what I hear, and recognition from Nash himself (see link in the prior post on this blog). Great turnout, good enthusiasm, and continuing the tradition of providing the sound backdrop for the post-game show! Thanks to Danny, Jeff, George and Bill for putting up with our noise! Some of our number were a tad too enthusiastic in their use of linguistic epithets, but overall a good, enthusiastic group. Well done!
Wings Fans -- For the most part, they were helpful, receptive and appreciative of the support we were showing for the CBJ. I had several comments, both before and after the game, on how the CBJ were a tough team to play. One Wings fan had his picture taken with us, and wanted to join in our Osgood heckling! A few sore losers, and some who responded badly to the language choices of some of our members, but overall, mostly good natured jousting with the home town fans. Lots of credit to those fans who helped us navigate the weirdness of getting to the Joe from Greektown last night. (See below).
Detroit Transit System -- Distinct from the traffic system, but just as fouled up. We stayed @ Greektown Casino, so thought we would just grab a cab to the Joe. Nope -- not many cabs, couldn't guarantee one before we got to the game. Suggested the People Mover, a neat railway system that moves between the various downtown venues for a 50 cent charge. Station at the hotel, goes right to the Joe. Super, right??? Wrong. Hordes waiting at the station, due to the pouring rain, trains (all three cars of them) full. We try going for Plan B, a shuttle from a bar. No luck. Finally go scouting for cabs, but end up near the next People Mover station, where very few people were. Wedged our way in to a mass of humanity in the front car (to a chorus of boos from Redwings fans) and made it just in time for the puck drop. With a car show and concert at Cobo, the Red Wings at home, and rainy weather, you would think it would have dawned on them to put extra cars or trains on. Nope . . . Coming out, just threw my body in front of an empty cab . . .
The Joe -- You know that your are in for something a little special as you approach the Gordie Howe Entrance to Joe Louis Arena. Step inside and you are struck by a massive, dynamic sculpture of Gordie, and a bustle of activity. Stepping inside the arena, you can't help but be awed by the sea of banners for all of the Red Wings championships and the retired jerseys. Even up in the confines of 203B, the view was good. The common pathways were a bit congested, and the bathroom lines unimaginablely long -- for both genders. Still, a great experience and one of those "must dos" if you are a hockey fan.
The Game -- Tough to come up with anything new to say on this, other than WOW! The 2 - 0 lead at the end of 1 was gratifying, because we have been starting slowly of late, we scored by having people in front of the net, and Mason was playing very large. The 4 - 1 lead after 2 was a cause for hope, but hardly celebration -- these are the Red Wings, after all, and the fear was that we would go into our "prevent defense" mode and allow Detroit to take control of the 3rd. Nothing could be further from the truth! Nothing could prepare you for those 4 third period goals. One of our number left her seat briefly, and missed 3 goals! I stepped away for about 90 seconds and missed the completion of the Nash hat trick! Great to see us put the foot on their necks, especially the Wings.
Vermette -- Going beyond the one assist, I was impressed by two things. First was his smoothness -- he is fast and quick, but somehow gets where he needs to be without you noticing it. Sort of like the difference between Mason and Leclaire. Leclaire is all arms and legs, a lot of suddend and jerky movement. Mason seems to glide between positions. The second thing I noticed was that he was always in the play. Whether it was forechecking, penalty kill, cycling, whatever, he was right there and was a factor. He is just getting used to everybody, but already that line looks good, and will only get better. This is going to be a nice pickup for us.
Mason -- I saw several things last night that I loved. First, Steve was more confident and certain in his moves. Secondly, he was coming out more -- he had been creeping back a little deep in the crease, which I think had hurt his timing. Finally, he didn't let anything rattle him. All good signs heading down the stretch.
Nash -- Not much you can say that hasn't already been said. This was our Captain leading by example. A hat trick -- all unassisted -- unreal. Not since 1948 had such a thing happened in the NHL, and then it was a guy named Richard, first name Maurice, better known as Rocket. You know, they named a trophy after him, which Nash already has his name on. Elite company, Rick . . .
Umberger -- Not sure that Howson really understood how good this guy could be when he orchestrated the deal that basically amounted to Adam Foote for R.J. Umberger. He is getting better and better as we get closer to the end of the year. His game is really rounding out.
The Experience -- Despite the weather and transportation hassles, the experience was a blast. For anyone interested in the Jackets and hockey in general, Detroit is a must. The town takes a bad rap, and I sure wouldn't have an outdoor picnic after dark in most areas, but our hotel was fantastic, the deal was great, and the Jacket Backers crew was fantastic as always.
Shameless plug for the St. Louis trip in 3 weeks -- that one includes bus transportation, hotel and tickets. Hotel is fantastic and about a 7 iron shot from the Arena. Walking distance to the Arch and related venues. Check it out at the Jacket Backers table behind Section 115 during any of the Jackets games, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. We went last year as our first trip with the club, and were so impressed, we volunteered to help organize travel this year! Get your blue hair and hop on the bus!