Wednesday, January 12, 2011

AHL vs NHL. I finally get it.

New blog. First post. 6 hours in an airport. Did you really expect anything less? So exciting.


Topic of discussion: My recent trip to Grand Rapids to see a Griffins game. Alright let's be honest. I hadn't seen Meech play since April and it was killing me. I REALLY wanted to see a Griffins game though.

The Arena: I was super impressed by Van Andel. It was really clean and super easy to get around. There was almost NO line for the bathrooms and the food was reasonably priced. I'm talking $9 for a pizza and 2 drinks. Are You LISTENING, JLA? Oh wait. AHL. Nevermind. And the staff. Holy crap. Ridiculously friendly and helpful. One guy even offered to make a Meech jersey for my DURING the game so I could take it home with me that night. But, I controlled my impulse to buy hockey things (for once in my life).

I wasn't a huge fan of their big screen set up. The big screen in the middle is used for advertisements all game and the big screen for the game/the one they put fans on is only on one side, over home goal.

Our seats were bomb. You could see everything. It was only $10 for a lower bowl seat. My favorite part about our seats? They were close enough so Meech smiled at me (deal with my love for the guy or stop reading), and for J-Mac to give me and my lovely HockeyMILF (no, not MY mother) the stink eye for yelling at him. More on J-Mac's suckage later.

Point is, Van Andel is an awesome. Go to a Griffins game. It's worth it.

The Game: The Griffins won.  They beat the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-2. For those of you who don't know, the Bulldoggies feed into the Habs. It is so about time I went to see a winning hockey game.I was kind of upset I didn't et to see Brendan Smith play though; he was out with a knee injury. I would have liked to have seen what he could do. Oh well. That just means I'll have to go back :)

I learned a shit ton from watching this game.

It's been a long time since I went to see a minor league/ not NHL hockey game. The last time was the Red Deer Rebels right before Meech got drafted, so it's been awhile. I totally get the pace difference now.  I didn't really understand until I saw it first hand. I was always kind of like "well it's still professional hockey, so what's really the difference?" I'm clearly an idiot. The pace was noticeably slower. I was seriously like O_O until I got used to it. What makes it even more noticeable is the play of guys who have been in the NHL, like Derek Meech, compared to those who haven't had NHL experience, like Jamie Tardif. ( I realize they play different positions, I'm trying to make a point).  I'm not even saying this because he's my favorite. HockeyMILF and I talked about this for a legit 25 minutes at the after-party.

I clearly think Derek Meech is worth a damn or I wouldn't have invested half my life in his career. But watching him in Grand Rapids was kind of like watching him for the first time all over again. I was seriously amazed at how well he was playing. Skating has always been one of his strengths, but he could literally skate circles around 80% of the players. He knew when to shoot, when to pass, he even got a goddamn breakaway. Yes, Derek Meech got a break away. And he damn well almost scored. He was the ONLY presence on the power play, and at the end of the first, 10 of the 19 shots on goal were his. Yes, I counted.

I was blown away. Then I realized I'm watching play in the AHL. And he has NHL experience. The game is at an entirely different speed...and skill level. I didn't get it until I saw him play with the Griffins. There was a seriously huge difference in his style vs the other 9 guys on the ice. I'm still holding firm that he should be in the NHL. He'll be a top 6 and make some NHL team very happy one day. If its not Detroit, welp, I'll have a new 2nd favorite team.


Then there's this whole J-Mac issue. Am I the only one terrified that he's Jimmy's back up while Oz is recovering? HockeyMILF and I were seriously concerned that the Griffins were going to lose. Terribly. Because of J-Mac and his antics. I know this is terrible, but we shouted "J-MAC! STOP BEING A SLUT AND CLOSE YOUR 5-HOLE!" He glared at us. But it was true!!! Both Hamilton's goals were 5-hole goals! You're not Hasek, Joey. At one point, I swear on Dan Cleary's life, He was SITTING in the middle of the crease. SITTING. And following the puck with his head. Is THAT how he closes his 5-hole? Jesus Christ. He terrifies me. I was terrified Hamilton was going to tie it up until the buzzer. Legit. Terrified. Hockey gods help J-Mac. And keep Howie healthy. And let Oz recover FAST,

Anyways, there it is. I now understand why everyone who gets called up needs time to adjust to the NHL's pace.

 Overall, I was thrilled the whole time. PLUS: There were so many more fights. OH MY GOD. And I met Adam Keefe, who beat the ever loving crapola out of someone from Hamilton. And Jamie Tardif, the Captain, at the afterparty :) A lot of the players showed up, but Meech wasn't there, so I wasn't super interested. I'm terrible. So HockeyMILF and I got Keefe's and Tardif's autographs on the way out :)

Go see the Griffins. DO IT. It's seriously so worth it.