Sunday, October 2, 2011

2011 WEEK 39: Canucks vs Oilers

Where has this year gone? It seems like just yesterday that the city was in the midst of play-off fever (and I was blogging about it here). It seems like only yesterday that thousands were crowding the streets, waving flags, cheering, yelling, looting, lighting fires- No, let's not go there. There's been more than enough debate on that subject!

What better symbol of hope and determination than these new sculptures of Terry Fox?

So here we are again. A new season of hockey. New hopes. New dreams of going all the way to the end and hoisting the cup. This past Saturday night was the final game of Pre-Season with the Vancouver Canucks taking on the Edmonton Oilers.

Pre-Season is all about experimenting for the team. New players. New line combinations and a testing ground for discovering new chemistry between players. For the first time fans got a close look at what will in all likelihood be the opening night roster on October 6th when the new season officially kicks off against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

For me, I got an extra special close look because thanks to the awesomeness of eBay I scored a ticket for Row 2 for less than the price of dinner and a movie!

No, not a home goal just the pre-game warm-up...

Warm-up over, it was time to get patriotic and sing "Oh Canada".

Experiencing the game this close is entirely different than sitting anywhere else in the stadium and a world away from watching it on TV.

One gains a whole new appreciation for the game and the talent of the players. It's fast, really fast. The players are a lot, lot bigger and every time the puck slams into the glass with a deafening CRACK! it's hard not to flinch.

Someone who rarely flinches is Kevin Bieksa (known as "Juice") seen above talking smack to Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin after receiving a whack to the legs from a goalie stick.

Khabibulin was a large factor in the Canucks loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in their 2009 Stanley Cup campaign where he earned the moniker of "The Bulin Wall".

Thankfully the Canucks found holes in the wall on Saturday night. The above image was snapped as the Canucks scored their first goal off of a point shot from Dan Hamuis that was tipped in by Cody Hodgson. A millisecond earlier and I would have caught the puck flying through the air - you can see from the expressions on the players faces that they're all still looking to see where the puck is.

I'll talk more about the shooting of these pictures, the challenges involved and what I learned from it over the coming days.  Overall I'm really surprised and happy with what I captured especially since I was shooting through the glass the entire time.

Here's new Canuck addition Marco Sturm battling hard.

The enemy gathers to plan their next attack...

Here's one of my favorites from the First Period...

I'm not sure why team Captain, Henrik Sedin, was grimacing like this but it would make a great picture for a caption contest. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comment box!

Lots more hockey action to come over the next few days so come back soon.

Until then, I hope you've enjoyed the First Period!