A Fan’s Perspective: Finals Worth Every Penny
It's just a playoff Hawks game at the United Center, for triple the price. Right? Wrong.
Attending a game of the Stanley Cup Finals is an experience like none other. As this Hawks fan learned last night, getting and using a Finals ticket is a truly awesome experience. It's something you will never forget and makes you feel like a part of something bigger than yourself; this is not just a game, this is the two best hockey teams in the world clashing for superiority. Here are the top five ways how a Stanley Cup Final game is worth every penny:
The rally towel.Sure, it's cheesy. And sure, you end up getting whacked in the head with towel a few times in the game while fans frantically celebrate goals. But printed on the towel is the Blackhawks logo and the words "Stanley Cup Final 2013". If nothing more, it proves that you were at this game. However, it also shows the success of the Hawks to even have the opportunity to give out rally towels. I still have my rally towel from the first round of the 2010 playoffs against Nashville, and I don't plan on tossing it anytime soon.
The memories.While it is tempting to yank that smartphone out of your pocket and take photos of every player and a video of the entire National Anthem, it's equally important to recognize the people that you came to the game with. This is a momentous occasion. Even if you're headed to the Final with a few buddies from work, you're never going to forget being at that game with those people. Going to this game is also an opportunity you may never have again, whether because of financial limitations or a Cubs-esque pennant drought. (Let's hope not.) So to create a memento of this night, have someone take a photo of all the people you're with. Have an usher take a photo of your whole crew with the ice in the background, or toast that overflowing Bud Light. Then, if so inclined do what you do best: mupload it to Facebook, tweet it, Instagram it, Snapchat it, or whatever else floats your social media boat.
The atmosphere.Yes, the atmosphere at a Blackhawks game is always a wild and crazy sellout. In the Final, however, fans are even more tuned into the game than usual. At your average Hawks game, you may find yourself boozing it up with your buds and just having a grand ole' time. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) But in these games, fans don't leave their seats for intermission and return 10 minutes into the next period. I think the concourses must have been near empty while the game was going on, but then again I wouldn't know, seeing as I was in my seat. While all this makes for a more intense environment, it also makes for a super in-tune crowd. All of a sudden there are 22,000 educated hockey analysts in the building. Alright maybe fans got a little tired for five hours of hollering as last night's game skated on into its third overtime period. But on the whole, crowd sound was electric. The more times you all get to break out into "Chelsea Dagger", the better. The best goal song in the NHL gets even better when you realize--there are no lyrics to memorize!
The competition.Bruins defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara is 6'9", making him the tallest player to ever play in the NHL. But on the ice at the UC, he looks more like 9'7" as he mauls over countless Blackhawks into the boards. Because of the strike-shortened regular season schedule, teams in the Western Conference only played teams within the West this season, and likewise for the East. That made Game 1 of Bruins-Blackhawks the first inter-conference NHL game in 366 days, or one year and one day after the end of last year's Stanley Cup Final between the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils. This means the Blackhawks came into last night's game with little recent experience with the hard-hitting style of the East, and especially the Bruins. The last time these two Original Six teams went head-to-head was on October 15, 2011. Behind the strength of Chara, David Krejci, and goalie Tuukka Rask, the Bruins swept the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in four games in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Penguins were the best non-Blackhawks team in the league this year and were widely chosen to meet the Hawks in the Final by experts. So although that yellow and black's got nothing on the red and black, the Bruins are fascinating to watch, and the competition between the two teams couldn't be better.
The Blackhawks.In this strike-shortened, 48-game season, the Blackhawks collected 77 points through 36 wins and five overtime losses. That was the most in the league, leading the second-place Penguins by five. And for comparison, two teams in the 2011-12 season, the Oilers and Blue Jackets, had less than 77 points in that season. Which means the Blackhawks accumulated more points in 48 games this season than the Oilers or Blue Jackets did in 82 games last season. In the regular season, the Blackhawks had the best goal differential (+53, seven net goals better than any other team) and the second-most goals scored. In the Western Conference, they had the lowest number of goals allowed, the best penalty kill percentage, the two best goalies by goals against per game, best penalty kill percentage, and to top it at off, the fewest penalty minutes. Oh, and the Hawks knocked off the Red Wings after falling behind 3-1 in the second round, winning Game 7 in overtime. The Hawks' young core of Jonathan Toews (25) and Patrick Kane (24) have achieved levels of popularity unheard of for Chicago hockey players since the likes of Hull, Mikita, and Esposito. Plus, considering that record 24 game streak recording at least one point to start the regular season, the Hawks were the talk of hockey for this entire season. It got to the point where ESPN would hold off on the LeBron highlights--for hockey?! Yes, because we may never see a team this good again. Finally, you know by now these Hawks collected 77 points in the regular season. But how many would they gotten in a full season, this year, with this team? At the rate they played in the 48 games, they would have gotten approximately 132 points--which would have tied them with the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens for the most points ever. Which means that if they finish it off with a title, we could be looking at one of the best, if not the best, team ever. And that is why the 2013 Stanley Cup Final is a worthwhile investment. Well where can I get tickets?! you ask. Glad you asked! Gold Coast Tickets happens to have the best seats for the best prices. Click here to get in on this Stanley Cup Final experience.
Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images