Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Free Tickets are the Best Tickets

When I got up Tuesday morning, I didn't have much in the way of plans for the day. Some groceries to buy, a few things around town I had to hit up for various products, and a what promised to be an uneventful night that would be thankfully filled watching the boys in Red on the television. The days events went off without much surprise. The night, however, was an entirely different affair.

An hour or so after the groceries we put up and a cheap lunch of Safeway Chinese food ingested I sat down to pour through the days events on various forums, social networking sites, and blogs. My usual haunts offered little in the way of interesting content on the day. Twitter on the other hand was, as usual, abuzz with hockey tidbits. New tweets came up as I read and upon clicking to read them I came to find Nate Ewell was giving up two tickets to the nights game against Tampa Bay in an impromptu contest.

I went mostly with instinct on the choices. I knew Ovi was mic'ed from watching the game. The others I took educated guesses on. Knowing that Hendy was featured rather prominently though the show so far, and they would likely go with two other big names. Green and Knuble stood out as solid choices. A few refreshes later and I saw this:

My first reaction was disbelief. A friend I had been chatting with had a more vulgar reaction as he learned of my luck. When the excitement had worn I was struck by the disturbing realization that my wife might not actually be able to make the game, and thus I'd be forced to forfeit the tickets so someone could fill those seats. I immediately set to text messaging her at work and uneasily waited for her response. When she was finally able to get back she couldn't have been more excited by the idea of going directly from work to the game!

I sorted a few things around the house and headed to the metro to meet up with her. Things were slow there. But as has happened many times before, when I show up things get busy. The early optimism waned and the chance of missing puck drop was becoming the reality. We rushed out as soon as she was able and hit the metro once again on our way to Chinatown. I love the convenience of the train, but it couldn't have felt slower that night. Every late passenger that threw a hand out to stop the doors from closing became my newest enemy. The choppy break job by the driver made for slow stops which ticked more time off the clock. We were going to miss puck drop.

The Chinatown stop finally came and we rushed out metro-cards in hand to expedite our exit. Up the escalator at a jog and through the gantlet of scalpers we rushed into Verizon Center and to the Will Call windows. Through the ticket check, up a bunch of flights of escalators, the game was in progress but the scoreboard still showing double zero. Taking the chance at fast vendors, we grabbed some food and beer before heading to our section.

Most games we tend to sit in the lower bowl in what are rather expensive seats. The last game we attended found us in club level seating. These seats were our first chance to watch from what we've always deemed 'the nosebleeds'. I've always wondered just how much you could truly see from so far up. I couldn't have been happier with the view of the rink we were afforded from our vantage point.

The game was a defensive back and forth with some really great chances but unfortunately it didn't quite go our way in OT. I turned to my wife and shrugged after the Lightning's winning goal. "At least we got a point." I lamented. "Hey, it was free!" she replied with a smile.

Making our way back to the Metro in a sea of red, I couldn't help but think about how different the night ended up from what I was expecting. We missed the first train, but a thankfully empty second led to a comfortable ride home. This last bit of luck a good send off to a great night.

Thanks to Nate for the tickets and to my lovely wife for being the perfect company. This is something I'll remember for some time to come.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I blame Carlson.

After reading this tweet from Carlson a few days back I couldn't help myself.

All the best to Alzner though, he's doing a great thing for a great cause, as are the rest of the participants of Movember.

I will be posting what I can spare for the cause, you should too. Do something for someone else. And lets get Alzner's awesome stache the money it deserves :).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

To all the Veterans

To all that have served your country, past and present, thank you my brothers and sisters.

It's 120 degrees. It's hard to concentrate in that sort of heat. You don't even want your DCU's to touch your skin kind of hot. The metal roof just redirects it all into your face and nothing is safe to touch, not even the plastic of the trigger is comfortable. There's always someone watching, even in the middle of the day when the bad guy is holed up in his house keeping out of the heat. He's still watching you in all of your miserableness. Sweating. You don't even stink in that sort of swelter, it's just water draining from you as fast as you can pump it into your body. Your welcoming the idea of an IV stick at any moment just so you don't throw up from filling your gut with what ice from your frozen water bottle has melted so far. Turtle your neck keep your face pointed down a little and keep your arms and hands covered, it's all you can do while on patrol. Then, you're on the move again. Hot exhaust meets hot stale air from the local sewage hole in the street, if you're lucky, this time it won't splash in your face and mouth. Your driver veers around hard and slings your ribs into the turret ring. You don't stand up on the route. You do and it's your ass. An overpass is coming up. God damnit. Your up, your down, your up. Clearing those never gets easier. You need to wait a little longer on the back end before coming up. The insurgents got smarter, again. Last week some kid got his face blown off on the backside clearing an overpass, so an extra second down behind your armor plates should get you clear of anything the baddies put up there. Coming up on 3, thank god. One last loop and it's back in the AC to pray there isn't a situation that needs QRF later today. It's a fruitless prayer though, and you know it. One oil can on the side of the road and it'll be you, back on the route again, with your other squad stuck baby sitting EOD for 2 hours. They will never use those god damned 50 cal rifles to recon by fire. Would speed things up so much if they would only learn that. You're up, you're down, you're up. Overpasses get old being the middle truck. At least this time the lead truck didn't get stuck on the off-ramp like yesterday. It's 3. Of course the gas station on the route is completely overwhelmed today, keeping you on the route for longer as you get the ING to do their job and clear the road. They will never really understand will they? Changed over on the radio. God that AC will feel good. There isn't much of a change in mentality out the gate or in, just differing levels of armor. It's gotten so easy to strip that vest off after weapons are cleared. Undo the velcro, left arm then right and it's laying on the truck roof next to you. Dump it into the seat on the way to the motor pool, find your hat, hop down and turn the radios off. Only a few rounds expended today, only a headlight the casualty. A good day. Here's to hoping there is some unfrozen water around.

-Aaron P.

Enjoy today. We've earned it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Got Grit?

The games are going, the drama is back, and I couldn't be happier. It's been such a long hockey starved summer for me with life and obligations keeping me from hitting the ice myself in the off season.

With every play and whistle my emotions are running high to low. Friday it ended on a low point. Saturday the night had me smiling from ear to ear and tonight I look to the rest of the season as a much tougher slug fest than the last. With the tough win over Ottawa, it's hard not to think of the East in general as being a much rougher place to play than it was.

With most of the teams feeling upgraded in some way or another it's hard to not think that the boys in red will have a much tougher gauntlet to run through the regular season, and for what it's worth, I believe that can only benefit where they want to go in the post season. With more close and hard fought games with teams that are learning to reign the run and gun style of the Caps in, there will be more chip and grit from all sides of the team coming out. Something that's already started to show its face in the last game against the Devils and continued against the Sens (albeit with less frequency).

Carlson stepping up two games in a row to dig into the scrum and protect his mates. Both times losing his lid in the mix. John Erskine getting in hard on the body and making the Senators pay down low each time they touched the puck after his stint in the box was a nice way of saying the penalty wasn't going to deter him from playing rough. Green stepping in the ring. Bradley laying one out showing he hasn't skipped a beat. You don't have to watch long to see that team toughness has stepped up to a new level this season and that they won't be standing off and I couldn't be happier to see it.

It's going to be interesting to see how things progress through the season as the team hits their stride and line chemistry kicks in and tweaks are made. I just hope they keep that hard nosed attitude front and center.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hockey Ramp Up!

The season is ramping up and the hockey creativity has found root once again! Today I bring you a patterned wallpaper/wrapping paper design worked from available Caps imagery from the official website in various places.

Wouldn't it make for a fantastic way to present that new game sweater to some loved ones this holiday season? Ted, we should talk :).

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dev. Camp Scrimmage and Fisticuffs

Getting to Kettler at around 10:00 this morning, I knew my wife and I were going to have trouble finding a seat. I didn't quite expect things to be as jam packed as they ended up being though. Standing room at the top of the bleachers was at a premium, but somehow, we found a niche to fit into and planted our feet to watch the already in progress game with a constant flow of people shuffling along behind us.

The game went about as I would have expected with a good fast pace, some sloppy play on occasions, and a few sparks of raw talent. The competitive nature of the guys on the ice was never in question with checks being finished heavily and open ice being a near no mans land across the blue lines from time to time as someone gets caught head down by a beast of a defender. With that competitiveness in full swing, the whistles would get chippy as players would stand up for their temporary teammates down in a scrum from time to time with some players even coming to fisticuffs during the game. Not one, but in fact two fights broke out in rapid succession around halfway through the second period. Luckily, I had my camera set for video for just such an occassion!

Finley vs Pisano:

Della Rovere vs Bruess:

My apologies for the first video, but apparently my camera isn't keen on zooming and auto-focus during video recording.

I remember hearing about a fight during the Blackhawks dev camp that ended up with a player injured and out of the camp earlier this week. I thought to myself 'how stupid can these kids be to fight during a camp?', but my point of view has quickly tempered. Watching Bruce Boudreau's video from OFB, and then actually witnessing a game in progress where players squared off, my understanding expanded. It's the nature of hockey that you quickly take up for even temporary teammates, take exception with a play, a hit, trash talk, and make your will known. This also shows those higher up in the organization that you are willing to make that sacrifice for your team. As seen the few times the Caps players squared off this past season, the fans love the guys who step up and square off for their teammates.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Vacation Weight, Cold Sweats, Aches and Pains

Vacations are always the death of my fitness level. Earlier this month, it proved itself true yet again after some fun and sun on the North Carolina coast. A good amount of beach time mixed with some really amazing food and drinks and I've fallen off the wagon. I know this because before heading off for vacation I sat at a comfortable 184 and came back to a 'healthy' 190. It's not a terrible number to be sure, but definitely not the number I was hoping to see upon return!

I decided to kill off some of that heft and get back at it, I would dive head first into some pick up at Kettler last Thursday. 'Fortunately' only 3 other Skaters and a Goalie showed and I got all the ice time I could have ever hoped for, possible a few shifts too many (see: All of them!). Playing 2 on 2 with a group of guys that I've seen playing a lot and far better than myself really isn't good for gauging your experience level. I found myself chasing almost immediately. It wound up being an extremely hard skate with a pace I just couldn't keep up with, but I wouldn't have traded it for anything. By the midway point of our ice time, my body was giving me some wonderful cold sweats and having a hard time keeping my skates under me in a few situations with just the lightest contact. I attribute most all of this to the time off leading up to and including my vacation. It was a really great skate with a good group of guys willing to put up with a skater nowhere near par for the sign up sheet. I was rewarded at one point with a goal for playing the front of the net. Picking up a rebound and throwing it home, I quickly remarked an adage I've heard many times this past season 'Go to the net and good things happen'.

It's always a fun couple of days after a hard skate. My body finds things that have never ached before and cramps them up for a few minutes or an hour and then moves on to a completely unrelated area of my body to do more of the same. It's an interesting battle but one I hope will go away in time.

Here's to another good day on the ice tomorrow, hope to see you there!