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And Another Thing

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The thrill is gone

Maybe it was just the style of play, disciplined and positionaland ever mindful of defense all over the ice, no trace of what NHL announcer Tim Ryan used to call "end-to-end"action.

I'd like to think that's why Memorial Coliseum felt Saturday night like a bottle of pop that had been left uncapped too long. Something tells me it's more than that, though.

Something tells me that when you've won two straight Turner Cups and are closing in on a third -- in a league that, for all official protestations, feels more and more to be in a state of imminent collapse -- you get what you got Saturday for Game 1 of the finals.

Once upon a time, the place would have been bursting at the seams, and the roar would have blown us off the face of the world. But on Saturday, more than 2,000 seats showed up without occupants, and even when Guy Dupuis scored the go-ahead goal in a 3-2 victory, you could still hear yourself think.

There was, to go back to the pop bottle analogy, no fizz. No zing. The Jungle felt distinctly un-menacing, as if this were just another regular-season game in February instead of, ahem, the Finals.

In a league that could well be playing out its string, the crowd felt -- to me, anyway -- the same way. Been there, done that. And the last guy out of the IHL building, don't forget to turn out the lights.

Ben Smith's blog.

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