Thursday almost liveblog: Wild times

Categories: NHL

It's Thursday evening, and Thursday is the sickly stepcousin of Friday. Skies are gray. It is the next-shortest day of the year. My attorney calls me up. This, as anyone with an attorney can tell you, is rarely good news.

This is about the poop figures, isn't it? I say. If we're getting sued over that, I'm legally changing my name to Chadus Rigsborik and moving to Slovakia.

"Oh hell no," he intones. "I've got Wild tickets. Good tickets. I know people who know people." In addition to keeping me out of legal trouble, on occasion he plays the role of my muse. I've been in town six weeks, and haven't been to an NHL game. I'm sniffing at the promise of the night, and I catch the hockey-tinged scent of awesome. Let's light this candle.

The Wild's anthem, "State of Hockey," begins to play just as we hit our seats. There are scattered attendees singing along to the inspirational ditty.

"You know," my attorney offers, "that song has precisely the same meter as Edward Lear's poem 'The Owl and the Pussycat.'" After just a few bars of the anthem, I realize instantly that lawyer boy is right. Watch this clip, and you will, too:

Awash in liquid inspiration, my attorney begins to sing along:

'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Like I said: muse. But people are staring now, so it's already time to change seats for a while. "This way," he suggests. "I know a bartender that'll get us free beers." You had me at free beers.

Hockey, it is often said, is more exciting in person. This is said for good reason. The Xcel Energy Center doesn't seem to have many bad seats, either. Even the vertigo-inducing upper deck affords ample views, as I found while strolling about and trying to prevent my attorney from singing further nonsense verses.

The Rangers score the game's first goal with less than 10 seconds left on the power play. The Team of 18,000 react like a deflated balloon. In retrospect, the Blue Jackets should have probably skated off the ice then. At the time, though, there is much dismay and gnashing of teeth. This was before the Marian Gaborik show started.

Interlude: Owned! Part One. Brent Burns blasts a Ranger into the boards with a forceful but clean check. Another Ranger skates up to defend his prone companion's honor. Burns offhandedly shoves him to the ice. A third and fourth Ranger skate up and jostle Burns, but clearly want no part of the inevitable loss of dignity.

An artist's rendering (warning: audio) can be found here. [/end interlude]

Even early in the evening, it's clear that Gaborik is moving well. As a casual hockey fan and newbie to the Wild, watching his virtuoso performance makes me feel a bit fortunate and a bit guilty at the same time. It's as if I've had one violin lesson, wander into a bar and find that Yitzhak Perlman is in town for an unannounced jam session with Andrew Bird. You're glad to be there, but you almost wish you could switch places with someone who could truly appreciate the artistry.

As Gaborik notches his third goal, the hats come out on the ice, dozens of them -- baseball caps, santa hats, toques. You name it. I half expect to see a Scrooge McDuck top hat. The JumboTron flashes a message that, in honor of the hat trick, all lids will be 15 percent off for the rest of the evening.

If the Wild just take those thrown hats and re-sell them at discount rates, I bow down before their superior capitalism.

Interlude: Owned! Part Two. Two kids, a boy and a girl, are brought out at intermission for a contest. They must identify recognizable figures such as the Genie from Aladdin, a skunk that is (against all odds) not Pepe LePew, and so forth. The boy goes first and gets two right, narrowly missing a third answer when he says "Nemo" instead of "Gil," who is the angelfish from Finding Nemo.

This is a controversial decision, because L'il Nemo was actually in the picture, though much smaller than Gil. The kid and his mom are visibly nonplussed. If it was my lawyer's kid, there'd have been a riot. He's already thinking of people to sue over this, I'm sure.

The girl has two right until the very end, and we're looking at a tie, until the last image flashes on the screen:
demitra.jpg

"Oh," the kid says casually. "Demitra."

Summary: one kid gets owned for a Wild prize pack because another kid recognizes Pavol Demitra. [/end interlude]

Just as the Wild appear to have a comfortable lead, defenseman Martin Skoula decides he's Chevy Chase playing Gerald Ford. He falls down while minding the puck less than five feet from goal. There is gnashing of teeth. There is consternation. I consider implementing a "defenseman falls down, do a shot" rule.

I imagine Marian Gaborik muttered something like "It's cool, baby" in Czech to Skoula at that point, because :41 later he had goal No. 4. A couple of minutes later, he had No. 5.

This brings us to the ultimate ownage. My lawyer and I order celebratory slices of pizza, and I ponder a heretofore-unasked question.

Denouement: Owned! Part Three. The name "Marian" (or "Marion") does not typically inspire intimidation. But perhaps it should. I offer the following tale of the tape between two famous men of that appellation:

Marian Gaborik
gaborik.jpg
Proper Name: Marian Gaborik
Shoots: left
Best Performance: Five goals against the Rangers
Almost crippled by: Dominik Hasek

Marion Morrison
johnwayne.jpg
Proper Name: John Wayne, Duke Morrison, Marion Robert Morrison, Marion Michael Morrison
Shoots: Indians
Best Performance: The Searchers
Almost crippled by: Bodysurfing, progressive thinking

Full disclosure: I have a cardboard cutout of "Hondo" in my office. Looking at these numbers, though, I have to give the edge to the Czech in nearly every category. Fewer names is more bad-ass, and rocking the "Marian" with pride merits mad respect; time has not been kind to the politics in John Wayne's films, while hockey expertise is always in fashion; and while The Searchers is probably an even more impressive achievement than five goals (five goals hasn't been accomplished in a decade, but there will never be another John Ford masterpiece), on balance, the modern Marian takes it down.

The result are in, and Marian Gaborik is my new favorite Marian. John Wayne: owned on the same night as the Rangers. Not bad for a dreary Thursday.



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