Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Penguins vs. Kings Review

Just a great night at the Sprint Center thanks to a good game and a large, electric crowd. It turns out the Penguins are huge in Kansas Citywho knew? Must be the residual effects of Lemieux and Crosby? I had no rooting interest either way, and just wanted a good game. I got one.

The Penguins were flat footed for the entire first period. The Kings carried the play but only came away with a 1-0 lead. The Penguins showed up in a big way halfway through the game, and dominated the rest of the night. Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier did well to hold them to two goals, and the Kings managed to bang in a late one to send the game into OT. The 4-on-4 had fantastic flow and back and forth chances, but neither team could put the other away, leading to an eight round shootout. I am generally not a big fan of the shootout (deciding a hard-fought team game based on a few plays by individuals doesn't make a lot of sense), but in the preseason, it was right at home and a blast to see live.

This game felt totally different than the previous two games at the Sprint Center, and it had everything to with the crowd. Tonight, Kansas City was an NHL town.

Evgeni Malkin on Twitter

Star: Hockey Fans Pack Sprint Center, but there's no urgency to land a local team

Penguins official in-game blog


LA Kings Insider game blog

The Royal Half game preview

Penguins vs. Kings Notes

A couple of blogs to keep an eye on regarding tonight's game: LA Kings Insider and Penguins Report.

Goalies Jonathan Bernier and Marc-Andre Fleury are slated to play the full game.

Pens Lineup, Now With 100% More Malkin

LA Kings Insider has the probable Penguins lineup, featuring some big names:

10-Mark Letestu; 11-Jordan Staal; 12-Richard Park; 14-Chris Kunitz; 18-James Neal; 25-Eric Tangradi; 27-Craig Adams; 28-Nick Johnson; 33-Steve MacIntyre; 46-Joe Vitale; 48-Tyler Kennedy; 71-Evgeni Malkin

2-Matt Niskanen; 5-Deryk Engelland; 6-Ben Lovejoy; 7-Paul Martin; 37-Brian Strait; 70-Joseph Morrow; 78-Scott Harrington

29-Marc-Andre Fleury; 39-Brad Thiessen

Randy Covitz at the Star takes a look at the game and the sellout. Paul McGannon gives credit to the Mavericks and Wichita Thunder, "as well as clubs in Lincoln and Omaha...and Des Moines...in helping sell out the arena."

Sounds like the pregame ceremony may just be a formal announcement of the 2012 NCAA Ice Breaker tournament taking place in KC.

Exciting news from Evgeni Malkin's Twitter feed last night, translated from Russian: "I read the opposite word toilet, now I am afraid to sit on it!!!"

Monday, September 26, 2011

Penguins vs. Kings

Sorry for neglecting this space. My blogging focus has shifted to my other sports love, baseball in Kansas City (here and here).

After a two-year hiatus, the NHL is returning to Kansas City for another preseason game tomorrow, September 27, the third such game at the Sprint Center.

Shockingly, it was announced today that the game has sold out. The previous two crowds were both disappointments: 11,603 and 9,972 were the announced crowds in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Somehow they have already sold 17,500 tickets for tomorrow's game. I don't know how to explain it, other than the Penguins being a marquee team and perhaps better marketing and promotion by AEG. The Blackhawks and Blues played here in 2003 at Kemper Arena and drew over 17,000, so perhaps the market is elastic depending on the name recognition of the teams involved. Another potential factor for increased interest and ticket sales could be the return of professional hockey to the area with the CHL Missouri Mavericks in 2009. The Mavericks have drawn quite well, no doubt converting quite a few new hockey fans.

I have argued in the past that the attendance at these games is not a great measuring stick for KC's viability as an NHL town, so I won't try to spin the sellout any other way. But it is certainly interesting, and something KC hockey fans can at least be excited about.

The press release announcing the sell-out also mentions that there will be a pre-game ceremony at 6:40. This is only a guess, but it could be to honor Kevin Gray, long-time president of the KC Sports Commission who passed away recently.

The LA Kings Insider blog has the probable Kings lineup for the game:

Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Hunter
Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Dustin Brown
Jordan Nolan - Andrei Loktionov - Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford - Trevor Lewis - Ethan Moreau

Rob Scuderi - Jack Johnson
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene
Davis Drewiske - Slava Voynov

Jonathan Bernier - Jonathan Quick