Monday, April 14, 2008


I will readily admit that it's official: I have climbed aboard the Penguins bandwagon. Now, in my defense, I started to watch the games in earnest about... hmmmm... when was that? About the time the clock hit all zeroes in the Jacksonville playoff game. So, it's not as though I heard they made it into the playoffs and were kicking ass and suddenly decided to dust off my old Barasso jersey on game days. Not only do I not have a Barasso jersey, it wouldn't fit.

But, it's not like I've followed them for years and I actually know what the fuck a five-hole is, other than it has been known to be used successfully in a pick-up line. At least by me.

(Are you all done bleaching your mind's eye? Okay. Then let's get started.)

I was actually going to post this on Saturday, then I got caught up with other things, then I went to church Sunday morning, then I got on a plane and headed in Winnipeg. That's right. Hockey playoff time and I'm in Canada. And, I must say it is awesome. You know what a Steeler's bar is like on a Sunday? Well, imagine that, then add Canadian accents and mannerisms (so, ya know, eh, they don't throw out no obscenities, 'cause think of the queen, eh... and they're more reserved, but they still yell. Kinda like the yell gets caught somewhere in their esophagus, then manages to fight its way out.) Then imagine that it no one cares what teams are playing. To them, the Steelers are on all the TVs, they're just wearing different colored uniforms.

It was insane. Montreal got beat by Boston and everyone went nuts. New Jersey beat New York... and everyone went nuts. Calgary was trying to come back against San Jose and everyone treated it... like it was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup. Unbelievable. I rarely, if ever, use the term "electric" to describe a crowd, but the scene in that bar was electric. I'm going back there tonight to watch the Pens game.

Notes from what I've seen so far in the playoffs:

  • Everyone on Ottawa's roster, coaching staff, and front office owes Martin Gerber five Sloppy Head Vouchers, redeemable at any time. Without him, they'd be getting even more embarrassed. Without him, goals against would be about 15. The guy has been friggin' amazing. And, to explain Sloppy Head Vouchers, that means that whenever Gerber
    feels like getting a hummer, all he needs to do is call one of the Senators and redeem it. Two a.m. on a Sunday? Sorry, start sucking. You're at your kid's fifth birthday party? Shine it, buddy. That's how much they owe him.
  • I need everyone to back off Marian Hossa. Seriously. Back off. The man has 11 shots on goal thus far this series. The only person with more shots on goal is Malkin. And, really, Hossa wasn't brought in to be the next Malkin. No one expected that from him. It just turns out that none of his shots have made it through yet. Part of that is luck, part of that is the reason Gerber is getting those vouchers. It just hasn't happened yet. But it will. In the meantime, take a good look at his game and admire it. He never loses the puck. He never loses his balance. He's a great passer. Without those three traits, Malone never scores that empty net goal in Game 2. He's a great two-way player. He's exceptional on special teams. And, granted, that's not why the Penguins brought him in, either, but at least it's something. So, really. Just back off. The goals are coming. It's best that we don't waste them in a series that we could've won without him.
  • Which brings me to my next point: If you're at a bar and you're chatting up an absolutely stunning girl and getting somewhere, one of the two of you is drunker than you think. So, either the Penguins are going to win the Stanley Cup easily, because they're the best team on the planet, or the Senators are riding shotgun on the "just happy to be here" bus. I'm going with Option B, but that doesn't mean that the Pens aren't going to win it all.
  • My buddy Dan said the other night that the 2008 Penguins could very well go down as the
    greatest offensive hockey team in NHL history. In his defense, he was drunk. In the Penguins defense, it's still possible. If Hossa catches fire at the right time, Malkin continues to be unstoppable, we get some good play out of Malone, DuPuis, Sykora, and Gary Roberts, and Sidney Crosby can become more than the world's most talented decoy, then it's possible that, if we run the table and keep scoring goals at this pace, we'll be the greatest offensive hockey team of all time. But, as of right now, I can immediately think of two Penguins teams that were better (the Lemieux, Jagr, and Francis teams of the early 90's and the Kovalev, Jagr, and Lemieux teams of the late '99s/early 00's), not to mention some of the offensive teams the Oilers fielded with Gretzky. But, hey, I have to say I love the enthusiasm.
  • And, one of the reasons that enthusiasm exists is because, unlike every other Penguins playoff team in recent memory, these Pens follow the sage advice of Scott Paulsen and
    "shoot the puck, shoot the puck," with the pom pom and the cheering of the fan. Fifty-four shots in Game 2. Fifty. Four. Playoffs or not, I can't recall a Pens team that took that many shots in a game before. And we come back to Gerber. Did I mention how amazing he's been?
  • All of this Gerber hype is not taking anything away from The Flower. Everyone seems to be calling him that now from announcers to radio personalities to his teammates, so I feel okay calling him that. He hasn't really been tested yet. I hate to sound negative and to be the one dissenting voice among the new bandwagon members, but beating up on the Senators is kinda like kicking your little brother's ass. Just because it's fun and easy doesn't mean that you can kick anyone else's ass. At the risk of jinxing our beloved Pens, I'm actually really looking forward to playing a good team in the next round. Perhaps the Flyers? That'd be sweet.
  • After watching the Flames-Sharks game last night, I have to say they play a faster, better
    brand of hockey in the Western Conference. I just have a feeling that this year's Cup champion is coming out of there, not the Eastern Conference.
  • The Pirates still suck. I might re-visit this analysis in May.
  • Steelers Draft Review and Preview are forthcoming. I haven't forgotten about you guys, it's just that the offseason is usually my time for rest, relaxation, and reflection. So, I officially hate NFL Network for saying that there is no offseason.


  1. I like the description of watching hockey games at bars in canada - but you wanna see electric, wait till you actually GO TO a playoff hockey game. That's how jen(n) got me hooked.

  2. Lemieux and Gretzky actually played on a team together... on the same line... Canadian Jr all star or something. I saw a tv show about it, said it was like they could read each other's minds as well as everyone else on the ice, so it was all just like a play they were co-directing. I'd say that's the best offense ever. Then Gretzky + Messier winning 15 Stanley cups with edmonton (ok, it may have been 4). Though I hate to say any combo is better than Lemieux + Jagr, after leaving the Burgh for so long, I've come to realize how much of homer I am to insist that Lemieux was far better than Gretzky -- you just can't argue about how good Gretzky was, and even though Mario was injury plagued, cancer ridden, and still amazing, it doesn't take anything away from Gretzky. I'm just sayin ;)