Whoo! Finally a Penguins game I can write about, and I’m personally happy that I can. I’ll be honest, I was worried about going to Canada to see my team play as the visiting team and potentially losing, or at worst it not being an exciting game to watch.
Boy, I was wrong to doubt them.
— Kim O'Reilly (@BravetheIce) October 28, 2018
First things first, it’s sad to say that the production value of Rogers Arena’s presentation is superb if I merely were to compare it to that of Staples Center. I haven’t been to a Honda Center game since the lockout as I’ve already moved up to Los Angeles around that time, but I can say that they’ve probably upped their presentation as well.
The “Van Base”
Back to Rogers Arena, it’s such a passionate fanbase—excuse me, “Van base”—that there is not a single moment of tooth-pulling when it comes to firing up the crowd. I was wedged in the center of small clusters of Canucks fans, and thankfully, they were quite polite to me all things considered. Being the person I am, I tried not to be like those Sabres fans who sat behind me at my last Kings game.
But, man, if the Canucks aren’t doing well, it’s almost an emotional tether. Even with the projection of a shutout, they still all did their “Viking clap” rallied by their… lumberjack named “Johnny Canuck” via their scoreboard.
Hearing on TV is one thing; experiencing it in person is one of the most intimidating things I’ve sat through at a hockey game.
Canucks fans are a wild crowd, W or L. Maybe it was the acoustics of the arena or something, but their roars weren’t anything I’ve heard and felt at the Kings games as of last few years. I wish it came back to that. I don’t think changes towards that kind of enthusiasm comes back overnight. But here’s to hoping.
LA Madhouse… Or Used to Be
A felt my heart partially sink thinking about the Kings. I remember sitting at the pre-season game against the Ducks and a man behind me was having a conversation with his friend talking about how the Staples Center used to be a “madhouse” and that it wasn’t the same anymore.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear his opinion on why he thought it had changed—the way the team markets themselves, their identity, them being a leading team of experience, hockey not being “violent” anymore—so who knows. All I knew was that, despite the cultural changes around hockey, I wasn’t going to jump ship on my teams.
My experience being wedged between two clusters of Nucks fans is hearing that they acknowledged the Penguins being a threat once they were comfortable on the ice (assuming they weren’t comfortable, to begin with). If the Pens were setting up in the Nucks zone, I could hear the immediate reactions of “oh god” and “oh no,” almost in a defeatist tone because the Pens are “fast and dangerous” and once they were driving, they were going to drive.