LAS VEGAS – No sports fan can go to Las Vegas without checking out at least one sportsbook and I am no different.
It’s a place where you can bet on all sorts of games and most, if not all of the contests, are broadcast for you on huge screens. In the gonzo tradition so closely linked to this city, I offer some fractured reflections on my lovely time in what is essentially a huge awesome rec room.
• Betting the ‘under’ on a hockey game is utterly terrifying, especially when the Sedin twins are involved. On my first night in town, I made what I thought to be a very rational decision to take under 5.5 on Buffalo and Vancouver – made sense, since Ryan Miller and Roberto Luongo are two of the best goaltenders in the world and all.
But three minutes into the third period, Daniel Sedin made a highlight-reel drop pass between his legs to set up defenseman Brad Lukowich, making the score 3-2 Canucks and my margin of error zero.
The fact an empty-net goal was likely dawned on me then and I lost years off my life during the remainder of the (thankfully scoreless) game.
But back to the Sedins: Think they’re getting fat off those long-term contracts? Naw. Henrik is on pace for 117 points this year and had Daniel not been injured, he’d be right up there, too. If anything, I think the stability they got from GM Mike Gillis has taken them to a whole new level.
• I knew, just knew Alex Ovechkin would not rest after his team dropped seven goals on the Isles, but he was held off the scoresheet. So even though the Caps were playing back-to-back games and their third-string goaltender (who was backed up by their fourth), my money said the Ducks were roasted even before they hit the ice.
Ovie opened the scoring 36 seconds in, then assisted on two more when the Caps blew things open in the third.
• The Northwest Division travels well. I saw fans from all five teams, including two separate sightings of Calgary Flames third jerseys (the new retro 1980s style) on the Vegas Strip: one Iginla, one Regehr. On a related note, the province of Alberta may have to take up basketball if this winter doesn’t turn around soon for the Flames and Oilers.
• Other teams that travel well: University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin.
• You wouldn’t believe how amazing milk tastes after drinking nothing but Mr. Pibb (we don’t have it in Canada, OK?) and Dr. Pepper for three days.
• Fact: ESPN would rather talk about football games that aren’t happening for two weeks way more than hockey games that just ended…by an almost infinite margin.
• Teams just aren’t scared of Detroit anymore. The Phoenix Coyotes demonstrated that by bombarding the Red Wings net for two goalie-pulled goals and an OT-winner, while the Minnesota Wild just dropped a big ol’ stack of cinderblocks on the venerable franchise the next night.
• Finally, if you’re ever in Las Vegas and see a guy dressed as a Star Wars storm trooper just standing by himself on a lonely street corner, let him be – he knows what he’s doing (I assume).
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Monday and Wednesday, his column – The Straight Edge – every Friday, and his prospect feature, The Hot List appears Tuesdays.
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