First of all I want to say that I've been lurking here for quite a while and I have to say that this is maybe the best sporting blog I've ever read and followed. Lot's of great posts from regular and not-so regular members, and you all seem to have great knowledge.
Anyway, as you might see off of my nickname, I hail from Norway. Yeah that's right, Norway. Not a hockey-hotbed and the Hurricanes certainly doesn't have a great name here in comparison to the Red Wings, or some of the teams containing Norwegian players. I however, went to North Carolina to visit a friend of mine 3 years ago in Chapel Hill, and got dragged along to a Canes - Capitals game, which we eventually won. After that I've been hooked on the Hurricanes, staying up until after midnight almost every night, watching most of their games since I got home from that particular trip. I've caught on to hockey pretty darn fast, and it is now maybe my favourite sport, and the Carolina Hurricanes may be my favourite team of all.
So, I was in other words stunned when I read that my Hurricanes were opening their season in Finland. Helsinki is a 1,5 hour plane ride from here, so I was more or less set to go the day the news were released. Me and my girlfriend (who is a Penguins fan), ordered tickets as soon as they hit the market, and ever since March, I've been hyped for this trip.Following the Helsinki-posts in here, as well as digging for news on my team in the off-season got me more and more psyched for the trip, and even though we didn't get tickets through the Hurricanes organization which excluded coming to morning skates and stuff like that for our part, just watching the Canes live again after two years should be great.
We arrived in Helsinki early on thursday, and wandered about in the lovely city, looking at different things, eating, and eventually getting back to get some sleep. We went to the Hartwall Arena around 5:00 in the afternoon, and I was thrilled to see how many people had taken the time to go watch. We set down in our lower-level seats, and when our guys hit the ice for warm-ups I ran down to get some nice pictures of my heroes. On the way into their dressing room, I squeezed past a couple of people and got some fist-bumps from a couple of the players, including Brandon Sutter. See how that affected his game later that evening ;)
It was lovely to get the win even though our guys looked a little jumpy, the first line is a little sketchy in my opinion and I'd really like to see O'Sullivan wing Staal for a couple of matches, or even shifts. I won't dwell to much with Mo's lines, but I think there should be some shuffling around, like getting Dalpe to play on something else than the fourth. The kid is a monster, and should be taken advantage of.
Anyway, the next day, we took a long walk and got to see some of Helsinki's main sights, as well as that Rock Church, the Beach, a monument and a couple of other stuff. We wanted to spare the cathedrals until Sunday since we had a lot of time on our hands before our flight home. We went to the Arena around 5 again, and even though we sat much higher this time around, we had a great view, perhaps even better than the day before even though we sat closer. It was nice to see the guys being a little more gritty, physical and getting in a couple of scrums, something we didn't see the day before. I do however think that Minnesota was the stronger side, and if it wasn't for Wardo we would have lost. Our face-offs were a disaster, and to be honest I think we lack some safe guys at our blueline. We aren't stable enough at defense, and if Ward has a couple of off-nights, we could lose a bundle of points against stronger teams. Only time will tell though.
Will post some pictures later, when I get my camera up and running :)