Saturday, October 21, 2006

Opening Night: Success!

I had a great time on opening night, I think it went really well, and it's a good indication of good things to come. That being said, I'll rattle off my observations, in no particular order, about their performance on the ice and off.

The overall production quality was good. There is room for improvement but they did a good job and definitely helped the overall atmosphere. Basically they just need to smooth things out. They need flow. At times, things seemed contrived, like "ok, we're going to do this ___ now" and then "ok, we're going to do that ___ now." But like I said, overall the helped atmosphere, they will get smoother with experience. I'm pretty lenient in judging this area because I know it's just not easy. They coudl have sat around and planned it all closely, but it's still different when the show starts. There's no way to really practice or rehearse -just get out there and do it. Hopefully they are being analytical of their production performance and improving as they go. But, I was happy with it.

Paul Horton was definitely trying too hard. Again, I believe he will get smoother, but he needs to take it down a notch or too. Same goes for "Mitts." Trying a little too hard - but I would rather have them over-doing it instead of being a couple of lame-asses with no hope for improvement.

I like Wildman's role. Still involved in the traditional ways but not the only voice on the PA all night.

I thought the attendance was "just right." More would have been great, but realistically the crowds are not going to be the same as the IHL days. I think management is expecting modest crowds, and planning their business model on moderate crowds. But if we had a super-packed house tonight, I would have been suspicious of too many free tickets being given out. I think tonights crowd was solid. Sure, it won't be that high every night, but I saw lots of familiar faces - people I don't know by name but I remember them as frequent flyers and season ticket holders. So I'm happer with a solid 4300 than a fluffy 5000. Does that make sense?

I also liked that most fans stayed in their seats most of the game. I expected to see people walking out with a couple mintues left, when the game was definitly in-hand. But the crowd stayed in their seats until the stoppage at 17 seconds. That tells me the fans were interested in hockey.

I'll ask Twister about YMCA. Basically he will also smooth out and only get better. I think he has the personality to be a great mascot, with practice.

I actually think they played better in the offensive zone. Maybe they did not score on some power plays, but the Ice Pilots ran a very aggressive penalty kill. It was impressive. They kept pressure up. I thought the Cyclones also had an aggressive power play style, that will chew up teams not prepared to attack. Some of the missed opportunities will get better as the team plays together more.

It is ECHL hockey. They aren't going to have the skills of AHL or IHL players. I thought it was a big drop from the heyday of the IHL. But, I don't think it was a huge drop compared to AHL just because AHL play is more beholden to grooming systems, styles, and individuals of the NHL, not necessarily to build a winning team with the players they have. So, the level of play was actually better than I expected.

I think they need the most improvement first and foremost in breaking out of their own zone. Then they also need to clean up the neutral zone play. Once they established themselves in the offensive zone, they were powerful. I noticed some good set plays, and they generated good opportunities that they just didn't capitolize on.

That takes us back to ECHL skill level. They are going to whack and hack sometimes when higher skilled players would have taken possession or made a better pass. They are going to bobble the puck more and be less able to handle bad bounces, etc. That's OK with me, I knew what to expect and my expectations were exceeded.

Man, I'm really rambling. Are you still reading? Continue...

I like Daust and Gajda, they are definitely the fireball, shooter type players with a goal-scoring mentality. But I thought they were sorta puck hogs. They need to work on making more plays and they have the opportunity of the old "total is greater than the sum of the parts."

I thought Ftorek was the best man on the ice. Definitely the best skill and playmaking. He can grind but also had soft hands. I enjoyed watching him the most.

The jerseys were fine. I'm OK with plain. Sometimes I think they get carried away with multi-panel jerseys.

I was satisfied with the music but they can definitely do more in this department. I'm on an alternative kick these days, listening mostly to 97.3 and there is some good stuff that could be used. Stuff that's upbeat and appropriate, that everyone can enjoy. I like that they did the standards, but they could mix it up more. They did play "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World when the score was tied - that was a good choice but they should have played the part where it says "Everything will be alright, alright..."

That's all that comes to mind off the top of my head. I'll be there Saturdy night, unless something unexpected happens. I'm also working an angle to drive the Zamboni for them some.

I'll depart with a question....

If the Gardens folks can try to lure and NHL team with an AHL franchise into theri building, is there any reason why the Nederlander folks can't do the same thing?


This blog is my sole opinion. It may be based on reason and fact; or it may be purely my emotional preference but it is mine alone. I only claim to be perfect most of the time. You are entitled to disagree, and I invite you to do so - somewhere else.


Anonymous bucky69 said...

"If the Gardens folks can try to lure and NHL team with an AHL franchise into theri building, is there any reason why the Nederlander folks can't do the same thing?"

From all that I've seen and heard since Nederlander has owned this franchise, they seem to have no interest in owning or operating a hockey team. I believe that the only reason they activated the team this year is so they would have a franchise to sell. I hope they prove me wrong, or perhaps change their outlook if the team is successful this year. Stranger things have happened. But, after the way they blew up the team three years ago, they have a ways to go before they gain my support. I'm glad we have a team this year, but so far I have little confidence in this ownership group's ability or intent to make this a long term success story.

6:58 AM  
Blogger Guido said...

Yeah, either scenario is possible.

We are in Wacky-nati.

2:14 AM  

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