Three weeks ago when I decided to make an effort to start watching NHL and write this blog, I didn't really know what to expect. In all honesty I thought I'd write a couple of posts, get bored of it and go back to watching football - but it hasn't been the case. I've thoroughly enjoyed watching a new sport, am understanding it a lot quicker than I expected and will definitely be following for the rest of this season and in all likelihood beyond.
I already find myself examining the stats online on the train to work in the morning, or trying to watch video highlights on Chiltern Railways poor excuse for wi-fi. I've even changed my homepage on Google Chrome from BBC Sport to NHL.com and I reckon I understand at least 60 per cent of what the commentators are saying during games now. To sum up, I'm getting into it!
The Canucks' start to the regular season has been a little hit and miss, they've been up and down more than the Grand Old Duke of York! Games they (can I say 'we' yet?!) should have walked through have been lost, yet there have been flashes of genius, particularly in the 7-4 romp over the Caps this weekend. I guess it's only to be expected that the team wouldn't be the fastest out of the blocks this year after the traumatic end to last season but there are certainly signs that things are going in the right direction.
While much of the early debate this season has been around Roberto Luongo, the hard cold facts show that the offense not firing has been the root of the problems. As they say in football 'attack is the best form of defence'. Saturday night's seven goals should go some way to instilling confidence in the forward lines and will hopefully be the start of a free-scoring run with the team off on another road trip this week.
One thing that impressed me in the win over the Capitals was the depth of the squad. Each line looked threatening and I was particularly impressed with Chris Higgins who looked dangerous playing on the third line. I'm still not sure that Cody Hodgson is suited to playing out wide alongside Ryan Kesler and David Booth but given time hopefully he'll come around. As long as the forwards continue to fire then the heat will come off Luongo a little and hopefully allow him to get some confidence back and find his best form. It can't be easy for the guy constantly being one bad move away from a chorus of boos from his own fans. Right now he needs support and, for the good of the team, that's what the Canucks faithful should give him.
I'm obviously learning a lot following this sport and I'm particularly enjoying the speed and sounds of hockey. I'm trying to stay linked in with the rest of the league as much as possible and was glued to the highlights of the Jets Flyers game which was either superb or terrible, depending which way you look at it. I like the fact that there are more goals in hockey than there are in football. The unpredictable nature of the game means it's pretty rare to see a 0-0 or 1-0 score-line which makes the action more exciting. Claude Giroux's goal against the Canucks proved that at any moment you're just one lucky bounce away from putting the puck away.
One other thing that I like is the disciplinary board videos which explain why decisions are made and why suspensions are enforced. It's a great idea which can help fans and players understand the decision making process and something a number of British sports should sit up and take notice of. There appears to be a lot more respect for officials in this game too, in football I'm used to the ref being surrounded by whinging players after almost every blow of the whistle. From what I've seen of the NHL they just get on with it, even if the decision is dubious. It's good to see and sets a much better example to young supporters than our spoilt brats do in this country.
It's fair to say I've enjoyed every minute of my first taste of hockey, bring on November and a surge up the conference!