Today is a relatively slow day at the U-18 with many of the top teams not playing. I choose to make the 3.5 hour drive back down to Minneapolis-St. Paul to take in the final regular season NHL game here in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Wild are still have a small chance of snaring the final playoff berth out west, but they need to win and get very lucky to qualify. The Wild face off against the Nashville Predators who are also battling for that last spot. A two point win for Nashville would greatly aid their cause. So this is arguable the most important NHL game being played tonight as most clubs have either been eliminated or clinched the playoffs at this point.
I purchased my ticket yesterday at the Xcel Engergy Center box office. I must say I was very impressed by brief look at this NHL building. I'll have more comments after the game. At the moment I'm just down the street at Dunn Bros Coffee having a humongous cup of hot chocolate. Everyone in Minnesota seems to think that temperatures in the high 40s to be a "spring heat wave" as I see many locals strolling about in t-shirts.
I have to say that I'm favorably impressed with downtown St. Paul. There are many great old building with odl fashioned facades filled with modern resturants and bars. I'm also impressed by how organically the Xcel Center seems work in this urban setting. Many NHL arenas are surrounded by acres of empty parking lots that give them an isolated feeling. Of course, it helps if you have a functional mass transit system. I'll never forget my first visit to Wrigley Field in Chicago where I drove up looking for parking and ended paying $10 to park at the McDonald's across the street--oops--everyone takes the L.
After this game tonight I will have reached the 1/3 mark in terms of visiting all 30 NHL buildings. Other cities I'v visited include Atlanta (of course!), Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington, Carolina, Toronto, Denver, Buffalo and now St. Paul. I intend to add Montreal this summer when I attend the NHL Draft.