Let me preface this by saying this: If you were expecting pictures, you're shit outta luck. I have a grand total of two--there was gonna be a third, but I'm not sure where that went, and anyway, it wasn't much. Just metal detectors to get into RBC. (Yeah, I don't know either.) So the game was a 4-2 letdown, but the team came away with 10 points out of 16. I am honestly fine with that, even the bit where I had to fly into a winter storm warning. Originally, I was meant to fly in Saturday morning, but when I called Southwest, I was told they could change my flight to Friday evening as there's a risk of the Saturday flight getting canceled (which it was, but I didn't know that until Saturday). So Friday afternoon I got home from work, did the fastest packing job I could manage to do, headed to the airport and arrived with time to spare. They announced it was time to board, but that announcement came with this disclaimer:
Because of weather conditions in Raleigh, the plane may be diverted to Baltimore. We'll try to get you to Raleigh, though!
After figuring out that my best option was to stay on the flight--Saturday, at this point, was booked solid--my next thought was whether or not I'd be able to catch a weekend Capitals game should I end up in Baltimore. I theoretically could have, but thankfully I didn't have to find out. We ended up in Raleigh after all! Anyway, the friend I was visiting picked me up, the next day we wandered around 3 miles of Duke University (on a snow day, no less), and then headed over to RBC Center after checking to make sure the game was still on. The game was sparsely attended because of the weather-- the Hurricanes had posted on their site that they would refund/replace unused tickets, so I suppose a majority of the people decided to stay at home. We had the news on during the day, and though the weather wasn't exactly severe by Chicago standards, it was not something North Carolina was accustomed to. The governor told everyone to stay at home, basically, and on the way to the arena we passed by quite a few cars that had gotten stuck in snow. Observe the picture I took before the game started, during warm-ups: Here is the same arena sometime late in the first period:
Bullet-point notes about the arena/in-game experience:
- Where the Blue Jackets fire a cannon to start off the game, and then again with every goal, the Hurricanes sound a warning siren at the start
- They also play "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and a few of their warm-up songs are similar to the Hawks
- They shout "JUSSI!" during the "you see" line at the beginning of the anthem, and "RED!" during "and the rocket's red glare"
- Saw quite a few of Andrew Ladd's Hurricanes jerseys
- Yes, the arena was half-empty, but I wouldn't say it was a majority of Blackhawks fans, exactly. Cheering was equally loud no matter who scored, har har. Plus, we were able to move around in the 2nd period when we realized the seats would never fill up...
- Half the arena's concession stands were closed, though, due to the weather. They didn't have their normal anthem singer as well, so they put a security guard on the spot and while he was pretty bad, I thought he did a respectable job all things considered.
The game, the game, the game:
- Here's a fun fact, and also the first sign I should have known not to expect much: the last time the Blackhawks were playing a game someplace there were snowstorm warnings aplenty was in Buffalo. They lost that too, against a hot goalie
- Hawks came out looking like they were at the end of an 8-game road trip, but Huet kept the team in the game for the first two periods
- The second line, similarly, had been fairly stellar. Both goals came from them, and it's good to see them clicking. Too bad it'll be short-lived, as they're the likeliest to break up when Bolland returns (possibly this Wednesday!)
- Can we talk again about how hot a streak Cam Ward's been riding lately? Numerous times the Hawks came SO CLOSE to scoring, but no dice. There were AT LEAST two chances that I remember off the top of my head (one toe-drag move by Versteeg, another move by Kane in the last seconds of the third period) that would have gone in on any other night on any other goalie, but just. Didn't. Though I'm starting to believe that abnormally large shot differentials are sometimes indicative of desperation instead of good offensive pressure, I don't think that was the case at all in the Carolina game. The Hawks were getting chances, and a few of them were damn good point-blank shots. Ward was just stopping them cold.
- That being said, I'm glad Carolina didn't get too lucky. In the last minutes of the game, when Huet had been pulled and Chicago drew a penalty to create a 6-on-4 chance that turned into a massive clown shoes display, Carolina had about 4 shots on the empty net... and they missed all of them.
- Despite what it looks like, the Hawks have had a good month, going at a .700 win percentage for January (10-4-1) compared to the 0.536, 7-6-1 run last season. October was actually the worst month, with a 0.654 win % and an 8-4-1 record. Yeah, the defense has been less than perfect recently, and there are a couple of clunkers here and there, when the effort doesn't seem to match the result, but wow, somehow the team is still finding ways to win.
And now for something completely random: Not that I'm calling them out or anything, but the Blackhawks are, I believe, 1 of 7 teams this season that don't have a hat trick. The other 6 are Anaheim, Atlanta, Buffalo, Colorado, Edmonton, and Washington. Of all the teams, I'd say Washington is due one soon.