What's the best place to watch an NHL game?
Greg Wyshynski: Recency bias alert! The experience of watching a game in Las Vegas is something I've never experienced before.
To wit: There's fun to be had inside the the arena at Vegas Golden Knights games, what with the great sight lines and Vegas kitsch and the enthusiastic local fans and the swarms of invading fans from visiting teams that make for a raucous atmosphere. Oh, and the games are weirdly competitive, despite the Golden Knights being an expansion team. Maybe in name only, based on the results.
There's fun to be had outside the game, what with all the bars and restaurants located around T-Mobile Arena for pregaming and postgaming and during-gaming, depending on how badly the Knights are beating your team.
And there's fun to be had across the street from the arena, where you can walk to one of the local sportsbooks, place a wager on the game, walk back across the street and then watch the game you just wagered on. Needless to say, this is not something one gets to experience in every NHL city.
Again, this is clutching the shiny new toy in the league, and perhaps the luster wears off soon. But I implore you, NHL fans: Do the Vegas thing for your team, at least once. You won't regret it. OK, you'll totally regret losing too much at blackjack or spending too much for a magic show or not taking advantage of those glorious buffet deals instead of shelling out for a gourmet meal. But the hockey, not so much.
Emily Kaplan: Since it's my rookie season covering the NHL, I have only attended or covered games at about a third of the league's arenas. That said, a few experiences stand out. I'm taking the full cop-out here and dividing this into categories. I live in Chicago and frequently attend games at the United Center. I can unequivocally say there is nothing like the national anthem in Chicago -- and I'm not just comparing it to hockey; this national anthem stands out across all sports. There's a reason the arena is at what seems like 90 percent capacity before puck drop. Jim Cornelison (vocals) and Frank Pellico's (organ) rendition is quite powerful.
If you ask most players what arena they look forward to playing in most, it's Madison Square Garden -- call it the bright-lights-of-Broadway mystique. Players also might say the Bell Centre in Montreal (a venue that's probably No. 1 on my bucket list, followed by Calgary's Saddledome and Winnipeg's MTS Place, which intrigue me for their authenticity to their respective cities).
And lastly there's the novelty factor, and this is where Nashville and Vegas factor in. Whether it's throwing catfish or watching a glow-in-the-dark drumline, how could you compare those experiences?
Chris Peters: Covering the prospects this year, I'll spend more time in the junior and college rinks -- and there are many great ones in those leagues. But there's a particular NHL arena and experience that vaulted to the top of my list after the playoffs last year.
Of course I'm talking about Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. It is really hard for the energy of a building to come through the television screen, but the magic of last year's run and the remarkable fan support the Nashville Predators received had me looking up flights. I haven't had a chance to get down to Nashville in my hockey travels, which is something Il hope to rectify soon.
As far as arenas I've been in, I have to agree with Emily that the United Center, especially after 2008, has one of the most electric atmospheres. Having grown up in Chicago, I remember when the UC was library-like. Covering Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in Chicago in 2015 was a memorable experience because of how alive that building was with the anticipation as the Stanley Cup could be won that night. I still haven't heard a sound quite as loud as the crowd exploding after Patrick Kane scored the goal that pretty much clinched the game. Or maybe it was mid-anthem that same night. Even for games where the stakes aren't as high, there is a unique buzz in that building