My first game experience at Consol Energy Arena last evening was an enjoyable one. I met up with my brother at Cafe Fifth Avenue which is about a 9 iron shot away from the new arena and had a couple of beers and some wings. Cafe Fifth, like our other favorite pre-game haunt Souper Bowl, won the jackpot when the new arena was built literally accross the street from them. If you're travelling from out of town, I highly recommend both places but be sure to get there early if you want a seat. I've never seen any problems with fans from other cities except for one Caps fan that hurled all over the Souper Bowl bathroom before a Sunday afternoon game a couple of years back.
Heading up 5th Ave. towards the arena-
Up the escalators. Amazing how much more open these are. The old ones at Mellon Arena felt like you were going up to the 2nd floor in your grandma's house.
Malkin scores the opener, view from our seats in 116. Crosby sat out but it was a good chance to see some of the younger guys. My favorite, Goligoski, was out there and looked very sharp carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Kane played for the Hawks, as did Brian Campbell (another favorite) and big John Scott- they show Scott at 6'8" on the roster, he looked like 7'8" on skates.
One strange new twist to the Pens is the introduction of a group of youngsters that have the job of entertainment and ice crew. I don't know if Mario is trying to scrimp on costs because of the new arena, and is trying to consolidate expenses, but both of these roles used to be clearly defined- one group consisted of young hotties who pranced around the arena, the other was made up of grizzled guys who trundled out onto the ice during breaks to clean up around the crease. Unlike the old ice crews that wore shoes with ice cleats, these kids were wearing skates and skated out onto the ice with shovels and buckets. The big difference was that the old ice crew did their job quickly and efficiently. The new ice crew was an outright cluster fuck.
Here is my pic of the "ice crew" coming off-
I'm going to make a prediction here- this venture, no doubt dreamed up by somebody on the Penguin's marketing staff, is going to get the hook in about 2 more games. First, one of the blond girls (who apparently has a twin that was out there with her- eliciting comments from my brother that will go unpublished) nearly ran into Hawks goalie Alec Richards with her shovel. Richards gamely skated out of her way without smacking her with his stick but had to be wondering what perverted sequel to "Slap Shot" he had skated into. Second, and more ominously, I saw some pretty scolding looks from the linesmen and ref which roughly translated as "get your ass off the ice you are holding things up." Since it was a pre-season game, I can sort of see this sliding by- come regular season, I wouldn't be surprised if its being discussed in Toronto.