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Monday, November 1, 2010

The NHL Weekend Roadie: West Coast Stargazing

Another week, another NHL Weekend Roadie. If you don't already have plans for the second weekend in November, well...you do now. As with all OGA-approved roadies, it’s guaranteed good, featuring two games between divisional rivals and a bonus game between a Cup contender and a talented young team on the rise. If that’s not enough entertainment for one weekend, you can also go to Disneyland. Intrigued? Read on:

The itinerary:

NHL Week Six (Thursday, 11 NOV – Saturday, 13 NOV)

Thursday, 11 NOV: Dallas @ Los Angeles – The last time these teams met, the Stars were embarrassed, 5-2, on home ice. They’ll be looking to return the favor on their first West Coast trip of the season, and they’ve got the firepower to do it. This is a contract year for Dallas pivot Brad Richards, and his stats (10GP, 3-11-14, +7) indicate his desire for a raise. Wings James Neal, Loui Eriksson and Brenden Morrow lead the Stars with 5, 5 and 6 goals, respectively…The Kings, led by Justin Williams’ 5-6-11, +5 in 11 games, are no slouches, either, and currently sit atop the Western Conference with a record of 8-3-0. Expect a hard-hitting game with plenty of scoring on this night.

Friday, 12 NOV: Dallas @ Anaheim – The last time these teams met, the Stars were embarrassed, 5-2, on home ice. Does that sentence sound familiar? Well, that’s exactly what happened. Dallas will be looking for revenge for the second night in a row. The fatigued Stars should start backup goalie Andrew Raycroft against the Ducks, as well as a player or two who were scratched Thursday night. One of those fresh players will undoubtedly be enforcer/winger Krys Barch. The Stars and Ducks, division rivalry aside, really do not like each other. If Barch doesn’t drop gloves with George Parros, I’ll eat my fedora.

Saturday, 13 NOV: NY Islanders @ Los Angeles – Head back to the Staples Center Saturday night to catch the Islanders – Kings game. The Isles, led by 2nd-year centerman John Tavares, are currently battling injuries to a couple of key players (Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo), but have enough individual talent to make for an entertaining game (and a solid win for the home team, if they stay focused). Besides, the boys from Long Island count one of the toughest players in the NHL among their number: Zenon Konopka. Konopka’s 265 PIMs led the league in 2009-10, and he’s currently on pace for 373 this season. Hey – if your first name was “Zenon”, you’d fight a lot, too.

As with last weeks’ trip, this is three games in three nights in two arenas. The difference is the short driving distance between games, which allows for more free time during the day. Live it up – go to Disneyland during the day and watch exciting NHL games at night. Does life get any better? Okay, maybe if there was an NHL team in Las Vegas…

HOTELS – As always, the OGA Boys recommend Hotwire.com for your accommodations. As always, we anxiously await a check from Hotwire for our weekly plugs. For the weekend in question, a room in a three-star establishment within 4 miles of the Staples Center may currently be had for $84/night, while 3.5 stars within 4 miles of the Honda Center (and Disneyland) are listed at $66/night. Where you stay depends on your choice of extrapuckular activities, so plan carefully.

FLIGHTS – The OGA Boys suggest an early morning flight on Thursday, so you have plenty of time to check into your hotel and catch a pregame nap, even if your flight is delayed. Remember: you gain time flying west, but lose it going back east. Plan accordingly.

FOOD – The tremendous number and variety of restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area can be overwhelming. To help narrow it down, we recommend roadfood.com and flavortownusa.com – you can’t go wrong with either one. Two tips: First, if you go to the Nickel Diner for breakfast, don’t miss the Maple Bacon Donut. Second, none may claim to be a fan of the French Dip without making the pilgrimage to Philippe’s, the (alleged) birthplace of the bread, beef and au jus masterpiece. If thoughts of maple bacon donuts and French Dips don’t put a rumbly in your tumbly, you’re on your own.

TICKETS – A decent selection of seats remain for the Stars-Kings game, but they’re selling fast. If you can’t find what you like through Ticketmaster, try either the Kings TicketExchange or StubHub.com. Plenty of good seats are available for Islanders-Kings. The Stars-Ducks contest Friday night is far from sold out, though premium seats near the benches or penalty boxes will have to be purchased through TicketExchange or StubHub.

GETTING AROUND – If you don’t want to drive around El Lay, well, we understand completely. While some driving can’t be avoided, you can take Metrolink rail to both the Staples Center and Honda Center. If you take the train to the two Kings games and buy your tickets at the arena box office, show your Metrolink ticket stub and get a 10% discount on your game ducat (NOTE: The OGA Boys strongly recommend purchasing your tickets in advance for the Stars-Kings game, as it will most likely sell out).

This might just be the most relaxing NHL Weekend Roadie yet: Two games between division rivals, a third game between the Kings and the up-and-coming Islanders, and you can stay in the same hotel for the duration of the trip. Great hockey and a great time, guaranteed.

DO NOT MISS the next installment of The NHL Weekend Roadie, as we send you on an NHL odyssey which will push your Significant Other to the limits of his/her endurance! Wanna test the strength of your relationship? Just tell your S.O. you’re seriously considering taking this road trip.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis.

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