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Thursday, August 12, 2010

The NHL Weekend Roadie: California Dreamin'

OGA’s second installment of The NHL Weekend Roadie highlights a road trip for the second weekend of the 2010-2011 season. For Opening Weekend, we suggested a very doable four games in three days on the East Coast. Our theme for Week Two is (drum roll please)…California Dreamin’.

Here’s the itinerary:

NHL Week Two (Friday, 15 OCT – Monday, 18 OCT)

Friday, 15 OCT: Vancouver @ Los Angeles – Though this will only be the Kings’ fourth game of the season, it’ll be their second against the Canucks. Vancouver eliminated Los Angeles in six games in the Conference Quarter-finals last April, so expect a physical game on Figueroa.

Saturday, 16 OCT: Detroit @ Phoenix – After two games in Prague to start the season, the Coyotes return to the desert for their home opener against the Hated Red Wings. Last spring, these two clubs went the distance in the Conference Quarter-finals, with Detroit coming out on top. Obviously, there’s no love lost here. From El Lay, Phoenix is just 370 miles east on I-10 – less than six hours by car. Easy drive.

Sunday, 17 OCT: Phoenix @ Anaheim – If you spend Saturday night in Phoenix (we recommend it), don’t plan to sleep in on Sunday, as the Coyotes and Ducks drop puck at 5:00pm local time. This will be the first meeting of the season for these Pacific Division rivals. Catch this game and save a little money by flying home on Monday.

There it is: three games, in three arenas, in three days. ‘Nucks, Ducks, Kings, Wings and Desert Dogs. Playoff and division rivals. Sand. Sun. Surf. Wearing t-shirts and shorts to hockey games. Beats the hell out of Edmonton in February, says I.

HOTEL – Again, we suggest Hotwire.com (if only they’d pay us for saying that!). One valuable tip regarding Hotwire: ONLY book rooms at hotels rated three stars and up. Don’t even get me started about the two-star dive in Harrisburg, PA, with bedbugs and a haunted shower.

FLIGHTS – As always, allow yourself a healthy time cushion if you’re flying in on game day, to account for possible flight delays. We recommend an early morning flight for a Friday night game, as that gives you plenty of time to get your rental car, have a good lunch, check into your hotel, and maybe grab a pre-game nap. The nice thing about flying to the West Coast is the time you gain along the way. The bad thing about flying home from the West Coast is the time you lose.

FOOD – Never been to Los Angeles or Phoenix and want something good you can’t get anywhere else, but don’t know where to go? Two good places to find what you seek are Roadfood.com and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (yet another free advertisement, dammit). In particular, I have to say Guy Fieri (host of Triple-D) has good taste. I’ve eaten at a half-dozen establishments he’s raved about on his show, and every single one has lived up to the hype. You just can’t go wrong with one of his recommendations.

TICKETS – Single-game tickets for the Canucks @ Kings tilt go on sale 9 SEP. Tickets for Coyotes @ Ducks go on sale 28 AUG. As for tickets for the Hated Red Wings @ Coyotes, well…the ‘Yotes ain’t tellin’. Early September is a good guess, though.

GETTING AROUND – You’ll need to rent a car to get to Phoenix and back, so you might as well make it your primary transportation for the weekend. Traffic in Los Angeles is some of the worst in the U.S., so budget your time accordingly. I-10 between LA and Phoenix should be smooth sailing.

So that’s your second NHL Weekend Roadie: a Pacific Division trifecta. What are you waiting for? Book it, Dano.

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