For the first time in the 2007-2008 campaign, the Eastern Conference Champion Ottawa Senators paid a visit to the Bell Centre for a preseason tussle with the Habs. As I will be many times this season, I watched the game from Section 304, just a few stick lengths from the press box. In my “View from the Greys” column I will give you a perspective that a lot of you faithful Habs fans don’t experience… a Canadiens game live at the Bell Centre!
Most people acknowledge that the “true” or “die hard” fans fill the upper bowl of the Bell Centre regardless of the day, opponent, or spot in the standings. This was most evident this past Saturday evening as the warm weather brought a rowdy crowd to the Bell Centre.
As usual I made my way up the two sets of escalators, I laughed to myself at the unreal marked up price of beer. As expected I had to dip into my retirement savings for a $9.50 Molson Export. Of course being the sucker for punishment that I am, I grabbed one. Now mind you counting parking I am already $35 in the hole and I haven’t found my seat yet!
I was disappointed to see that the Gillette Entertainment Group did not upgrade the 8-sided scoreboard in favor of the new larger ones with high definition screens that can be found at the Air Canada Center and TD Banknorth Garden. I have found these to be a much better in-person viewing experience, especially when it comes to viewing replays that we take for granted when watching games on television.
As Gnarls Barkley played “Crazy” over the extra loud speaker system, it was very clear who the Habs fans view fondly in their mind. Saku Koivu, Chris Higgins, Steve Begin and Andrei Markov all received huge ovations from the admiring crowd.
There hasn’t appeared to be many visual changes inside the building with the exception of a new digital game clock on both end sections as well as some graphic improvements to the two digital ribbons that circle the rink.
As the game proceeded through an uneventful 1st period, the crowd exploded when Kyle Chipchura scored the first Canadiens goal of the game. After making many impressive saves against the Sens, it appeared that Cristobal Huet had the support of all 21,273 as the crowed chanted “Huet! Huet!” on more than one occassion. Even though the Sens grabbed the lead late in the third period, the crowd never skipped a beat as they were very loud as the Canadiens put intense pressure on the Sens during the final three minutes.
Sure most people are content watching the game at home with friends on RDS or CBC however I for one will take a game from the nosebleeds any day. With it’s high priced beers, parking and souvenirs a game at Centre Bell can cost a pretty penny, however, it brings an electric atmosphere not found anywhere else in the league. And of course the best place to view that atmosphere is from the Greys.