One Away

It’s days – or Conference Finals – like this when I wish the Blackhawks were my favorite team.  Wouldn’t that be fun?

joey

Winning makes me cuter.

I like the Hawks a lot, and they bailed me out of some frustrated west coast years when I couldn’t watch Eastern Conference teams.  But it’s not the same, cheering for someone you like when someone you love is out of the running.

poppins

Glorious, I’m sure.

That said, I do enjoy watching hockey when it isn’t trying to kill me.  Yesterday I took three (3!) separate cat naps during the Hawks/Kings game and I still didn’t miss a single goal.  This may be my superpower.  Or my dream life, where I am a princess who gets to watch hockey all day without performing peasant tasks like standing up or walking around.  That’s so basic.

Perhaps I could get a butler – anyone know a few unemployed guys?

stars

Could you repeat the job description?

[Insert creeper photo of Crosby sleeping on a plane yesterday that I can't bring myself to post, but I certainly will point at --> HERE.  I hope he made it to Nova Scotia in time to see @alisonsykora.  Also note, I was not the only one sleeping during the game.]

The Blackhawks won 3-1.  Jonathan Toews is a marvel of modern leadership and ability.  I get so in awe of him that I picture Crosby climbing the telephone pole outside to cut my cable wires.  After his nap.

 

Hossa and Saad each had two points.  It certainly wasn’t a one-sided game though: the Kings outshot the Hawks and 6 of their 26 came from Jeff Carter.  It’s shaping up to be a great series and better rematch of last year’s WCF, which Chicago took 4-1.  After all, this time they’re playing for pizza.

Full and funny Twitter exchange here.

Full funny Twitter exchange here.

Meanwhile, Saturday on the east coast, the Rangers beat the Habs 7-2.  Rick Nash finally scored (NYR goal #7, totally clutch).  The Rangers’ power play that went o-for-350 in the first two rounds (okay, 0-for-32-ish) had three PPG.  I don’t know how this happened and I don’t care, but I hope it never happens again.  Chuck enjoyed herself though.  Game two is tomorrow night – I will try to stay awake.

NHL.com has 236 photos of this game.  I’d rather watch 236 hours of the surgery channel.  Luckily in photo #1, this woman’s face:

twitter

Put on your war paint.

In non-hockey related news, the Rangers and some of the Tampa Bay Lightning attended Martin St. Louis’ mother’s funeral yesterday [link].  Such a sad story, it’s heartening to see so much support from his friends and teammates.  Not the photogs though, the idea of paparazzi at a funeral is gross.

 

It’s Alright, It’s Okay.

The season is officially over for both of us.  We may have that summertime sadness, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be awesome.  As the writer Hal Borland said, “No winter lasts forever; no spring skips it’s turn.”

In fact, the off-season is what some people do best.  Maybe they’ve been hanging around, waiting for us to get here….

mike

Hi Mike.

For me, the last hurdle is today’s Penguins Break-Up Day.  Already the boys have shaved their beards.  Hell, Nisky, would it have killed you to cut your hair?  At least you’re t-shirt is A+, unlike Neal’s.  Yet you are both outperformed by 19-year old Casanova Olli Maata, who bought ice cream for a pack of girls.  Bravo.

Also this happened.  I cannot cite a source (presumably said person lasted just long enough to Tumblr, then fainted), but I could drink to this all night.

sidbar

With Borts. Make mine a double.

See?  I feel better already.  We’ll have to give Chuck a few more days.

 

This Is The End

Allow me to pour my heart into a post in the very moment the Penguins have lost a Game 7.

pens1

Ugh.

For starters, I hate the Rangers with a passion that you can’t understand unless you’re in your 24th year of hating a team with a fire of a thousand suns.  1990 was the year I did two things: became a hockey fan and decided I hate the NYR.  I am from New York, mind, and while I also hate the Yankees I was, as a child, setting myself up for a lifetime of “Whaaaaaaaaat?” from family and friends.  I don’t even respond.  One look of disgust is all they get from me.  If you never chanted  “1940!”, it’s tough to comprehend.  (Some of you can maybe claim longer.)  The Rangers beat the Capitals what seems like every year – and now this.  This is a particular hell for me, just so you’re aware.  If you’ve hated anything as long as I’ve hated the Rangers that was not a vegetable your parents tried to feed you in puree form, I applaud your staying power.

pens1

UFA yaaaas.

When I was in 7th grade, I went on a family ski vacation to VT with my BFF – a Rangers fan. Turns out I had a stress fracture and my doctor said no skiing. The only thing to do for a week?  Sit in the lodge and read some awful Rangers biography. In 1996, my high school boyfriend, a Rangers fan, won a bet and made me wear a Rangers jersey for a day.  There’s a picture of miserable me in our yearbook.

ariel

How many times do we have to tell you?

Secondly, I hate repeating myself.  But this Game 7, in which then Pens outshot the Rangers 250 million to one, is the very reason you cannot have a Game 5 or 6 like the Penguins did.  Last year it sank them too.  There are games where you lose, and there are games where you get beaten, like tonight.  Lundqvist goes ASDFGHJKL!@#$%^&&*()  and you cannot win.  Nothing you could have done, nothing you didn’t try.  That is why you don’t beat yourselves, particularly in the first ten minutes of an elimination game like Games 5 or 6.  This isn’t a genie in a bottle, Xtina.  This shit does not show up when you call it’s name, Pittsburgh.  You had your chances for two games: you were nowhere, you lost.  Tonight, you were HERE and you got beaten.  Those are different circumstances.  We’ve all had good nights and bad nights, we’ve all lost.  They are not the same.

pens1

36 shots. 1 goal.

My last and final point is this: I LOVE THIS TEAM.  Fuck everyone, I love the Penguins.  There is also a difference between hope and expectation.  I hope to win every year.  I don’t expect it.  Anyone who’s been around 24+ years (Old Lady Land) knows better.  Winning is… magic.  It’s impossible.  It’s so many factors times so many obstacles divided by so many things that could never have happened, expect for that time that they did and it was in your favor.

"It's a self-preservation thing."

“It’s a self-preservation thing.”

Winning is ephemeral and impossible and that, more than any blood, sweat and tears, is what makes winning special.  I felt it in ’09 when the Pens won the first round.  I felt it in ’10 when the Blackhawks won the second round.  I am not always right – far from it – but ask people who watched the Kings in 2012.  MAGIC.  They had it.  Watching that was intoxicating and addictive.  It’s what I look for now.  I want to see it every year.  But I don’t.  Contrary to all the evidence, I do not actually control the universe.  James Neal will remove his Gingerbeard and retire to a summer of white Ferrari cruises and tight t-shirts.  Sidney Crosby will shave off his first-ever respectable beard-type-thing and recluse for an off-season of pretending no one saw his girlfriend in the stands in Sochi or NY.  Bless their hearts, as they prepare to come back in October and do it again.  So will I.

Next year

Next year

I don’t believe in burning a team because they lost.  I have always been puzzled by the tradition of firing a coach, since they are the only person who cannot go out and score. This is not to say I don’t identify strengths and weaknesses in the Penguins’ system – or any team.  I do.  I critique.  But blind criticism is another thing and beware, Pens fans who were derided in a late-season article that called us “joyless.”  We are in danger of becoming that.  Entitled, expectant, the celebutantes of hockey.  The Yankees fans of hockey.  The only thing I hate more than the Rangers is the Yankees… it is a complicated life for this Upstate New Yorker.

b23

Love, hate, it’s a fine line.

Luckily, there are a lot of Pens hockey fans (look at me, being generous in depair) who know what hockey is: love and loss and loving through loss.  So many of the people who read and comment or Tweet us restore my faith in hockey humanity on a daily basis.  You guys are the best.  Whether it’s a stupid joke about a turtle or a comment, that some find derisive but I find clever, about someone’s sass or face or post-game comment, you guys give me everything I need to stay with hockey year after year.  Teams lose.  I get disappointed.  I get angry even, and I want change.  I want wingers and no injuries and confident goalies and to clean up acts.  But more than anything, more than winning, I want you guys – my friends – to be part of this every year.  I want to be talking to you in May, or June, or even ending in April. Saying goodbye or saying “great job.”  You’re it, for me.

hogwarts

Hockey fans

Writing this blog is my favorite thing.  My daily (if I can make it that often) highlight.  It’s also a lot of freaking work.  My job… well, if they ever put in one of those internet time trackers, we are sunk, WUYS fans.  I wish every one of you could start your own blog and I would read it, comment and rejoice in the free time it leaves me.  But I write this because I love it and I love you guys – even the Rangers fans.  Yes you.  Teams aside, we are each other’s people.  You know what it’s like to be called “that girl/guy who loves hockey.”  My husband is a chef, and someone at his restaurant the other night told him, “You look like this hockey player, this guy Sidney Crosby.”  My husband said, “Yeah, so my wife says.”  But me?  I said, “Who is this person and do they want to be my best friend for life?!”  I almost chased a girl with Carolina Hurricanes license plate frames out of the parking garage at work yelling, “Here’s my number!!!”  So for those of you I’ve had the pleasure to meet in real life and those of you I have yet to meet, you’re the reason.  I want to win for you as much as for myself, and while I hate your teams, I know you love them.  I feel you. Thanks for being here with us through all of this and next year, well… I still hope the Pens kick your pansy asses.  But I know you’re thinking, “Right back atcha.”  Don’t let the haters get you down.  Don’t listen when the media (which someone once called us and I laughed till I cried) pretend they know better than you.

amy p

Suck it., 24 hour news cycle and Twitter.

My text messages are blowing up - think I’ll drop my phone in the bathtub.  See you in September.  Or when Southern Ontario gets to Instagramming this summer.

Love (and maybe a little wine), Pants

pens1

Signed. Me

PS: Let the record show I wrote this from a suite at the Ritz, for work, and near bottom of a bottle.  Thus my sympathies are such as they might not be otherwise.  Both for myself and for others (see: Rangers fans).  But hey, that’s hockey.  Time for a summer vacation for myself, I think.

pens

#IsItOctoberYet

Sevens

Unusual is the day Chuck & I can be equally depicted by a single .gif:

hermione

Ginger Defense League

GAME SEVENS FOR ALL OUR TEAMS!  We’re supposed to love it, right?  This is what sports are all about?

amyadams

Classy ladies

YES. PUNCHING.  I will see you guys tonight.  For additional inspiration, enjoy this video – and Sid’s beard, which I really do love this year.

 

I’ll be over here practicing for later.

river

 

Be Cool

Penguins love me back, lead series vs. Rangers 3-1

It was another good night at Camp Pants, but let’s not get too excited yet.  I mean, in-game it’s fine to look like this picture I found by searching “Gibbons gif:”

gibbons

Thanks, internet.

It’s exactly what Penguins’ fans looked like after the gif I really wanted:

gibbons2

Thanks, as always, @myregularface.

He meant to do that, right?  The fantastic Brian “Cookie Van” Gibbons, who almost wrote his own short joke by scoring shorthanded?  Instead he served it up for BSutts and maximum @alisonsykora reaction.

I celebrated with half a pizza and some chicken wings, because I am American.

pizza

Single serving

The Pens had the upper hand all night long, increasing their hold as the game wore on and avoiding the too-common whirlpools of stupidity that have allowed opponents back into so many games.  There was quite a lot of doom-speaking from the commentators about the NYR… “lowest point of the year” and so on.  They said it, not I.  I learn too many superstitious lessons during playoffs, only to forget them all summer long.

trib

The one time James Neal’s face isn’t my favorite face.

The Rangers were held to 15 shots all game.  Four of those came from Rick Nash, who is pushing so hard he’s going to end up in the zamboni tunnel one of these shifts.  That Mats Zuccarello is is quite good, I will begrudgingly admit.

penguins

This is my happy face.

Who else is in beastmode?  Malkin-Crosby-Kunitz.  They combined for nine shots, five points and Sid won 67% of his faceoffs.  I do so love Malkin/Crosby together – when they are clicking it’s great fun to watch.   Back in Pittsburgh Friday night it’ll be even more possible to keep them on-ice when Girardi and McDonaugh are off.

geno

Fashion baby.

We still need one more win, of course.  Let’s not call something over until there is no more pizza to eat.

It was almost a luxury to have only one game last night, because how else am I supposed to catch up on Game of Thrones?  Back to the grind tomorrow, as the Bruins try to even their series with Montreal and the Kings look to win a 7th straight and go up 3-0 on Anaheim.  Anyone think the Ducks are getting back in it?

Side note: Sansa, you are an insufferable wet rag.  More Arya, please.

Buck up, it's playoffs!

Sansa would never make it through playoffs.

21 Days

It’s hard to believe three weeks of playoffs are in the books!  In some ways, I appreciate being down to just a few games per night.  Some nights I can even play hooky from watching.  That means catching up with NHL Network though, and there’s nothing worse than hour after hour of only 2 games to talk about.

flynn

When I fall asleep while Roenick or Milbury is on TV.

Canadiens take series lead over Bruins 2-1

I watched the first period of this game – long enough to see PK Subban get a minor for “roughing” Rielly Smith.  It should have been 1 minute for roughing Smith + 1 minute for roughing Thomas Vanek.  Or 2 minutes for missing.

pk

So many butt-related jokes.

Then he scored on a breakaway coming out of the penalty box.  So perhaps he meant to miss his check, get the minor and end up in the right place at the right time?  Sounds legit.

The Bruins came roaring back, as they are wont to do, but it was too late.  3-2 until the last moment when Lars Eller made it 4-2.  My favorite stat about this game is Shawn Thornton had five hits in 7:42 of ice time.

_CE25956.JPG

Unrelated photo of Bergy to make Chuck feel better.

Wild score 4G on 8 shots in the third; trail Blackhawks in series 2-1

Someone who watched this game should write the recap because it sounds bonkers.  Chicago had just 19 shots in the game, Minnesota only 18.  That’s not unusual for the Wild, who ranked 29th in shots-for during the regular season.  (“Shots for” = favorite hockey stat name.)  But last night, eight of the Wild’s shots came in the 3rd and they scored four goals.  On eight shots.  One was an EN, but still!  They had 32 shots/2G in Game 1 and 19 shots/1G in Game 2.  This breakout had to feel great and restore serious confidence.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild

We share in your surprise.

Or not, because it’s the Blachawks.

Unrelated Kaner smile no one can resist.

Unrelated Kaner smile no one can resist.

Penguins/Rangers Game 4 is the only show tonight.  You can find me on the floor in front of my TV with plenty of chicken mushroom farro risotto, watching the beards.

pens

Goals make your beards grow faster.

Night Moves

I had a good night.  Did you guys have a good night?

nyr

Rick Nash’s “no” face.

Fleury throws another shutout, Pens lead Rangers 2-1

MAF had his second shutout in as many days, standing on his head at times to keep the NYR off the board in Game 3.  Not bad for a goalie who has playoff confidence problems, right?

flower

Prancercize

In case you tuned in late to the game and heard 47:26 of dead air, that’s because CROSBY SCORED (!!!!)  in the first period and the commentators had nothing else to talk about.

Talking.  Who needs talking when you have… goals.  I was going to say goals.

sid2 (2)

High score

Sid’s goal was set up by a long, beautiful pass from Robert Bortuzzo.  This advertisement paid for by @alisonsykora.

borts

Hoodie by lululemon

The Rangers have played a ton of hockey in the past two weeks, so today gap gives them much needed rest.  Personally, I hope there is construction in all of their luxury condo buildings until Game 4 on Wednesday night.  I made a lot of this delicious chicken mushroom farro risotto, if you want to come over.

Here’s Sid post-game on PensTV, and post-game with Pierre leaning in on NBC Sports.  Can’t blame the guy, honestly.

crosby

This hair. I love playoffs.

Kings win again, go up 2-0 over Ducks

So far this series can be summed up with one headline from LATimes.com:

gaborik2

Understated elegance

Marian Gaborik scored 34 seconds into last night’s game.  The NBC announcers were barely in their seats before the puck was in the net.  After his last-minute tying goal in Game 1, then the OT winner, Gaborik sure is “fitting in” – so well I bet he got randomly drug tested during first intermission (probably by someone from the Blue Jackets).  He is on fire, and so are the Kings.  This is their sixth straight win.  Jonathan Quick is playing like he did in their Cup run.  Hell, they had Jeff Schultz on D last night and they still won!

gaborik

Marian Gaborik vs. The World

Down 2-0 in a series is not really “must win.”  If anyone proved that, it was the Kings in R1.  But the Ducks are reeling.  History may be destined to repeat itself but if Anaheim doesn’t win in GM3, I don’t think another legendary 0-3 comeback is happening so soon.

kings ducks

Look out behind you.

Tonight it’s Bruins vs. Habs in the battle for a 2-1 series lead, followed by the Hawks quest to go up 3-0 over the Wild.  Are you surviving?  How is anyone getting any sleep?  Who washed my Toews shirt on hot so it shrank into a size only James Neal would wear?  I think I need a break.  Even Pierre is off tonight – 20 games in 20 nights?  Big deal.  We’ve watched at least 40.

Happy Monday

Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone!  I got to wear shorts and a tank top this weekend AND the Penguins won last night, so I don’t even hate Mondays.  It’s Day 20 of the playoffs, and if you spent the past few days enjoying the sun, here’s what was happening on TV:

Penguins and Rangers series tied 1-1

The Pens had a shaky first period Friday night and got themselves down 2-0 like they think every game needs to be crazy a la Round 1.  No thank you – because it doesn’t always work.  The Rangers won in OT.  Just as well I was on a Twitter ban and only talking to Alison.

Brad Richards scored on his birthday. I hope his ice cream cake melted.

Sad Brad scored on his birthday. I hope his ice cream cake melted.

Last night, I was at a dinner and trying not to check the score.  Go home and watch the whole game, right?  Ha!  Zero will power.  I did pass my phone around the table for independent verification of the score, then had more celebratory sangria.  I watched the game afterward – fast-forwarding through Pens’ penalties, which was pretty much the entire first period.  Nisky for roughing – in hindsight, I can love that.

pens2

Incoming Geno hug

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Still no goals for Crosby or Nash.  (See what I did there? I almost hope you don’t, it’s so bad.)  At this rate, they’ll find that missing plane before one of these guys scores.

Want to see my Art Ross Trophy?

Want to see my Art Ross Trophy?

Blackhawks lead Wild in series 2-0

Friday night’s game was tied 2-2 until Patrick Kane decided it was time for this goal:

 

If this blog had audio, I’d whistle.  That’s so good it’s worth another goal, which Kaner scored 8+ minutes later to put the Hawks up 4-2 and shut the door (won 5-2 on an EN).  Sunday afternoon, playoff hero Bryan Bickell extended his point streak to five games with 1G and 2A.  Remember how many points he had last year?  17 (9G, 9A) in 23 games.  He’s got eight points in eight games so far this post-season.

hawks3

Must. Have. Points.

Patrick Sharp didn’t have any points in the game (he had 1A on Friday), but he wore these shorts and we think that counts for something.

hawks2

Somewhere Toews can’t find his shorts.

Bruins and Canadiens tied 1-1

After PK Subban’s double-OT winner last week, the Habs were up one game to none.

pk

BeardWatch

Remember Boston lost the first game of the last series too, then adjusted and won four straight.  They got back on that track with a come-from-behind 5-3 victory Saturday, which I watched from the elliptical runner at the gym.  I can go a lot of miles fueled by my dislike for Brad Marchand.  That said, four unanswered goals in the third period (one EN) made the B’s look more dominant that the scoreboard showed.

bruins2

“Ha, little man.”

Kings take first game, lead Ducks 1-0

I wish this series could be weekends-only, so I could stay up for every game.  It was worth the late night Saturday – I caught just the 3rd and OT – to see Marion Gaborik tie the game with seven seconds left.

 

God, that is SO exciting when it’s a) your team or b) you don’t care who wins!  Gaborik scored again in OT.  I still have the Ducks taking this series, but the Kings are going to make me look stupid every time I don’t pick them.

kings2

Five in a row, and counting.

Tonight the Penguins and Rangers are back at it, this time in NYC, and I will be glued to the TV and (trying to stay) signed out of Twitter.   Late night it’s Game 2 of Kings vs. Ducks.  It promises to be really exciting and also excellent for your productivity at work tomorrow.

puppy-falling-asleep-o

Must… watch… hockey…

 

Bring It On (Again)

Round 2 is upon us like prom season, and everyone finally has their dates.  How are you feeling?  Like the prettiest girl in the room?  Anyone afraid someone else might wear the same dress?  I’m nervous and we definitely need a chaperone.

We bid Round 1 farewell with this announcement: I am no longer 100% right. Thanks for nothing, Avs and Sharks!

bracket5

Current predictions score: Pants – 6 of 8, Chuck – 4 of 8

Rangers do one thing for me, beat Flyers in series: 4-3

When the Flyers are knocked out of the playoffs, regardless of year, other teams or life in general, I have a moment of bliss.

oprah

Bubbz always.

The Rangers came out strong in GM7, then got back on their heels while the Flyers surged late.  Sound like any other hockey teams I know?!  King Henrik was the difference maker yet again.  New York will get one day of rest and of my gratitude, then it’s back to work and hating them Friday night in Pittsburgh.

ny2

Admiring his own face on the Jumbotron.

In other breaking news: Rick Nash has no playoff goals. This is apparently the only Rangers storyline available so tell your friends. It will be broadcast continually on sister station Radio Crosby.

For the record, I do hate the Rangers more than the Flyers.

arrow

God, that is a thin line.

But I’d rather the Pens play the Rangers in R2. The Flyers bring out the Pens’ most infuriating problem – composure – while playing Pittsburgh seems to ignite Philly’s tenacity.  The Rangers are no easier opponent but at least it will (hopefully) be the Penguins playing, not Hurricane Neal and the Tantrums. Watch me hate this decision later.

consol

Tomorrow, tomorrow.

There’s only one reason for us to miss the Flyers in May.  Give it a moment, then move on.

giroux

Maybe he’ll grow a summer beard.

Wild take it to OT, take series from Avs: 4-3

Game 7 overtime?  Someone hold my hair back.  The Wild got there with a goal at the 17:33 mark of the third, and it only took 5 minutes of OT to put the Avs away.   Nino Niederreiter, who sounds like an imaginary friend at a tea party, had two goals including the OT winner.  Listen to the clang off the backbar.

 

Yowza.  This is the first time the Wild have gotten past R1 in 10 years.  The Wild have this headline and I confess I laughed (just once):

nino

I hear a rimshot.

We’ll miss the Avs kids who were having a blast out there, but MacKinnon, Gabe and the boys have many years of playoff hockey ahead of them.  Gabe’s beard though… bummer.

gabe

Sad first, then shower and selfie.

Kings win 4 in a row, collapse Sharks series: 4-3

Sharks gonna shark.  There are so many bad jokes – Sharks get bitten! – but the worst of all is San Jose’s record of playoff choking.  That said, we should have all picked the Kings because they know how to win 4 in a row (and then some) in pursuit of post-season glory.  Plus their bandwagon fans are famous and sparkly, and the NHL could use a few entertainment column inches.

kings

So long and thanks for all the fish.

You should hug Sharks fans today – that was eviscerating. Sweep? Sucks. Reverse sweep?

panda2

Come back with carbs.

Round 2 starts tonight, with the Bruins and Canadiens (and Chuck) asking everyone else what took so long.  Typical dates, we’re never ready when they come to pick us up!  This series is going to be like the holidays with family – everyone knows each other, hates each other and every old crime comes out in a stress-spolsion.

Save us a good seat, okay?

Elevator to Chuck's party.

Elevator to Chuck’s party.

Tyler Tuesday: And So It Begins…

The Dallas Stars’ season is over but weep not, interweb friends!

You know what that means?

More of this!

Seguin, Tyler - cabo beach

And this!

And hopefully much MUCH more of this!

#SquatsSoHard

#HatTip to Tyler and Co. for even making the playoffs and for holding their own against the Ducks. I’m sure that Seguin would rather still be playing hockey, but I think that he’s gonna just fine.

Also fine (both literally and figuratively) – Jamie Benn.  Seguin’s life partner will no doubt be spending his summer making Pants I and fall more in love with him.

dallas

Bless your heart, Instagram.

We are girding our loins in preparation for what Mr. Seguin and social media holds for us this summer.

This is actual quote.

Judging by the photos above, I think we’re off to a great start.

Birthday Boy: Jonathan Toews

If I had Photoshop at work, I’d make a picture of Jonathan Toews wearing a pair of Olympic gold medals and a pair of bootyshorts, standing atop two Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe trophy, the city of Chicago and your boyfriend’s hopes and dreams of ever being good enough.  Since I don’t, this ought to give you the idea.

t ski

Better than a wind machine.

Or maybe his selection to Rant Sports’ 15 Pro Athletes Who Would Steal Your Girlfriend in a Heartbeat.  Jon is listed at #1.

2014 NHL Stadium Series - Pittsburgh Penguins v Chicago Blackhawks

Truth in advertising.

Happy 26th birthday, Jonathan Toews.

toews-lean

Right down the fairway.

We didn’t get to talk a lot about the Blackhawks this season, consumed as we were with life in the East.  If I could freeze time to watch hockey, I’d never miss a Toews game.  Chicago didn’t replicate last year’s season-start winning streak, they didn’t win the conference or even their division.  But they did just win four in a row to put down the Blues and advance to Round 2 like they owned the place. And after two Cups in four years, maybe they do.

t cup

Toews knows how to party.

I could talk forever about Tazer.  Suffice to say I wish he played for my team, or barring that I wish I got to watch him more often.  If I had kids – boys or girls, fans or players – Toews is who I would tell them to watch. Nowadays, they might even learn to have a little fun.

Past JT19 birthday celebrations: 2011; 2012; 2013 As the Blackhawks await the winner of the Wild/Avalanche series, we hope Jon puts these days off to good use.  Rest that beat-up arm, do some squats, have some cake.  We’ll see you soon.

serious

They look so grown up.

Hard Out Here

Well, that was a night.

merida

Penguins take years off my life, defeat Blue Jackets in series: 4-2

What are we supposed to do?  NOT hope for leads because they get snatched away? NEVER want a power play for fear of giving up a shorty?  I don’t know which end is up except the Penguins won so hallelujah.  Columbus played their pants off and boy, were they having fun right up till that final buzzer sounded.

Can we still come to your All-Star Game?

Can we still come to your All-Star Game?

I will say nice things about them in the off-season.  You guys can say them now. They’ll all be true and I won’t read them because I am busy going to Round 2.  The Pens found some dominance in Games 5 and 6 – even if they didn’t hold it for 60 minutes, it felt good to know it’s still there.

I AM SCORE THREE TIMES.

I AM SCORE THREE TIMES.

Besides CBJ, the off-season isn’t so bad.  Ask the Stars:

Is there an Instagram filter called “Leg Hair” used on Seguin?  Also, is it weird the thing I’m most envious about in these photos are that it’s warm enough to wear shorts?  This winter has ruined me.  I digress.

Back to business: In case you missed it, Sidney Crosby has no goals. Maybe you didn’t hear last night’s commentators repeating it like a rosary or you failed to see the hilltop bonfires lit to spread the news from town to town.  It’s like the scene in 101 Dalmatians where every dog in London barks at the same time.

sparrow

Yes, Captain.

The only real question is: how many goal-less playoff games until Superstitious Sid tosses the yellow Crocs?  (Answer: Never. They are hideously fun, so be glad for them. He could have gotten black ones.)

pens

Silly, his black Crocs are for formal occasions only.

Brooks Orpik, it takes a man to stand front and center in pink-on-pink businesswear. Or, since it’s probably designer, salmon-on-salmon.  Elle Woods Approved.  Taylor Pyatt’s back there looking perfectly pastel acceptable in lavender and it’s no mistake Megna’s standing up front in that outfit. Just a mistake to stand next to Borts, the handsomest Penguin you’ve never heard of.

Only one beautifully bracketed addition today.  Everybody else is headed for a one-game cage match.  We’re going to need beer and bandages.

bracket

Day 14

Wild: 5; Avalanche: 2 [Series tied 3-3]

The Wild and Avalanche (two of the three NHL teams whose names are not plural) were locked at 2 goals a piece for nearly 30 breathless minutes.  Finally, with his second goal of the night and powered by chocolate milk, Zach Parise scored the goal Minnesota paid him $98 million over 13 years to score.  Well not the only goal, but you’ve got to get the first one first.  Add in two Wild ENs because Patrick Roy loves to pull goalies early and Minny forces this series back to Denver for Game 7.  My money is still on the Avs, but it’s not $98 million worth.

 

Kings: 4; Sharks: 1 [Series tied 3-3]

Three in a row – done. Why not four? The Kings scored three goals in 2:46 to break this game open and fuel what could be an historic comeback in playoff hockey.

 

Only three NHL teams have ever pulled off a four-straight resurrection [great stats on 0-3 comebacks].  Usually fans of the trailing team start fantasizing about this at the end of Game 3.  The last time I was still talking about it after Game 6?  Red Sox/Yankees, 2004 ALCS.  Chuck and I know it can be done.  The Kings clearly do too.  But the Sharks?  They’ll need to reset their heads and play like they were, not like they are.

Ask for Thursday off now, Wednesday is going to be a late one.

kings

Who needs sleep? Well you’re never gonna get it.

Tonight now means more to me than ever.

Rangers at Flyers – Game 6.  You know what I’m going to do? Root for the Rangers.  Though I’d be fine with PHI taking this to seven and then losing, it’s a little too close.  I would rather Pens/NYR in Round 2. Pittsburgh showed composure in R1 through plenty of tough situations, so I have faith they can hold it.  Just something about the Flyers brings out the worst in me them… but GAH I kind of want to play the Flyers, I ADMIT IT!  BLOOD AND FIRE!

ronb

Someone should check on me later.

Weekend Update

I didn’t get to watch much hockey after Friday night, but the playoffs wait for no DVR.  In case anyone else (mostly) missed the weekend festivities…

The networks have all kinds of on-hiatus hockey players pitching in as commentators during these playoffs.  Let us make the offer official: Alex Pietrangelo, you and your currently unemployed hair are welcome here anytime.

Mike Green hair substitute, you'll be missed.

This look will be missed.

I think we could even use a pool man now that the Stars are available.  We don’t have a pool, but…

Leave Hartnell and the socks at home.

Leave Hartnell and the socks at home.

Ducks eliminate Stars: 3-2

This one hurt.  We were all falling a little in love with Dallas, or at least their Twitter account.  Let’s hope that doesn’t get a summer vacation.

tweet

Like so many game in this post-season, the Stars had this one and they blew it.  The Ducks scored two goals in the last 2:10 to tie the game, then won it shortly into overtime.  It’s all summed by this beard and the scoreboard which I’ve helpfully left visible for anyone who likes to wallow in misery.

beard2

99% beard, 1% brows

It’s hard for me to understand the rage Corey Perry causes people without watching him in a long series against a single team.  Now I really get why he’s good at it and why other fans hate him.  Round 2 will be an in-state series vs. the Kings or Sharks.

ducks

We’ll never be far from an In-N-Out Burger!

Blackhawks eliminate Blues: 4-2

Sorry Blues.  (I’m not, not at all.)  After being up 2-0 in the series, they dropped four in a row to the defending Champs and are on their way to summer.  Here’s what you need to know about Chicago going into Round 2.  Patrick Kane can score in OT [video].  Jonathan Toews can score in OT on a breakaway:

gif by @cjzero

gif by @cjzero

And Patrick Sharp can score on a breakaway while someone puts their stick blade in his perfect face:

Bruins eliminate Red Wings: 4-1

Oh happy Chuck.  How nice it must be to root for a team withs so few weaknesses and also the ability to fix them.  In Game 1, the Bruins played with all the speed of Red Sox’s David Ortiz.  (Non-baseball fans, this is sarcasm.  The man cannot run.)  Starting in Game 2, they went faster… and it worked.  They will face the Canadiens for the 257th time in NHL playoff history.  Everyone hates each other, prepare to die.

bergy

Video: Bergy has some sleepy-voiced things to say.

Thus the bracket has been bracketed three more times.  For the record, so far I’ve been right 100% of the time.  Chuck is currently at 75% since she didn’t pick the Canadiens.  She would never pick those jerks.

bracket

For those of us with teams still battling to the pain:

Rangers lead Flyers: 3-2

The Flyers figured how to win once at MSG and they’ll need to do it again to survive this series.  But first, they have to win Tuesday night at home.  They held the NYR to only 22 shots Sunday, but the Rangers capitalized on what few chances their persistence and speed (and Flyer mistakes) could generate.

While I want both teams gone, is there anyway they could just leave the beard?

Sunday post-game interview

Sunday post-game interview: Gingertime Sadness

Penguins take series lead over Blue Jackets: 3-2

I ditched a bachelorette party mid-bar crawl to catch the end of this.  Of course I refused to leave even after Letang’s EN goal just in case.  Kunitz had 1G, 1A plus 7 SOG and 6 hits.  Throw that body around, Sock Monkey!  Fleury bounced back (See? SEEEEEE???) stopping 23 of 24, while the Pengins had a whopping 50 shots.  Game 6 Monday night, I’ll be on the floor of my living room in a fort made of pizza boxes.

flower

Dog days are over?

Kings stay alive again, still trail Sharks: 3-2

Well what do you know, the Kings have staved off elimination twice now.  The first four games of the series averaged 7.75 goals per game.  Jonathan Quick gave up 16G in that stretch, but found his mojo Saturday and the Kings won 3-0 in an orderly fashion.  Can they do it again Monday night or will the Kings leave LA’s perpetual summer for regular old summer somewhere else?

Pelvic thrust.

Pelvic thrust.

Avalanche take lead over Wild, Errrrrrybody Mad: 3-2

Remember me raging about the disallowed Tampa Bay goal back a ways?  Well the Wild had plenty to say about this oh-so-close, offsides-or-on moment with less than 1:30 to go in Game 5.  There was no call on the play, so of course the Avs scored and forced overtime.

Image by @johncanref

Image by @johncanref

Offside say the Wild media | Inconclusive say the Avs media

If the Wild had won, we wouldn’t still be talking about this.  Too bad the Avs have TriWizard Tournament hopeful Nathan MacKinnon with his 2nd goal (and League-leading 10th point) of the playoffs.

 

Monday night Colorado will have the chance to reach Round 2 for the first time in 6 years.  Guess who else they’ll very likely have?

Colorado Avalanche v Phoenix Coyotes

Hey girl.

Duchene’s go/no-go will be announced after the morning skate.  We say go.

What this all means is that three more bracket spots could be locked Monday night, or any of three series could need a Game 7.  I could need blood pressure medication.  Just another day in the playoffs.  Stay ready.

eve

Of Course It Did

Well…

Screw you, Day Eight.

Screw you, Day Eight.

Last night I was very PANIC! AT THE DISCO.  I feel a little better this morning , so allow me to re-edit my thoughts.

Blue Jackets: 4; Penguins: 3 [Series tied 2-2]

Listen, Fleury has been the Penguins’ best player all series.  Sometimes he is their only player actually playing.  So much has been said over the years about his fragile confidence that I want to sucker punch a sportscaster in the junk.  Last night the Penguins played a  great 20 minutes, followed by what felt like a 40 minute penalty kill.  So after an endless amount of this:

save

There was a single, slow motion, crash zoom moment of this:

flower

With 24 seconds left in the game and a 1 goal lead.  And then overtime.  And then the Penguins lost.  Series tied.

expletiveexpletiveexpletiveexpletiveexpletiveexpletiveexpletive

There is no reason, no why.  But if I had a dollar for every time I yelled, “STAYINYOURNETFLOWER!” I’d be blogging from a private island where Chris Evans brings me cake between rounds of shirtless push-ups.  So there is also no surprise.  It’s a flabbergasting and inexplicable mistake, I don’t think Flower himself would argue against that.

tyra

Yet it was made by the man who’s been holding everyone else’s crap together for nearly four games.  I hate that this happened to Flower – it’s like a bad rumor making itself true.  His job is to make saves, not carry the team.  If those things are one and the same sometimes, so be it.  Blame falls far and wide for how the Penguins even ended up in this situation.  In that way, Fleury is lucky.  If Scuderi had made a mistake this costly?  Riots.  Letang?  WAR.

paper

That it’s Flower is both the best and worst thing for a team that has no choice but to rebound Saturday night.  Fleury will get a chance to prove, in real time, that he is not the fall apart mess people say.  He’s a great goalie.  The damage is done.  We’re asking him to forget it and move on so let’s do the same, yeah?  Let’s have faith, and please don’t let it be the delusionally misguided playoff kind.  If these guys need their backs against the wall to win battles and outplay their opponent, well they’ve got their chance.  (#PensInSix)

Stars: 4; Ducks: 2 [Series tied 2-2]

On a night when Ryan Getzlaf was out with an upper-body injury and Teemu Selanne was a healthy scratch, Game 4 in Dallas promised to be exciting.  Like final whistle line brawl exciting.

 

The Ducks were unhappy after Game 3, where they felt the Stars were running Ryan Getzlaf because of his injured face. [link]  Dallas’ Ryan Garbutt broke the leg of Anaheim’s Stephane Robidas in a play for the puck [Garbutt apologized, Robidas accepted: link].  There’s history now and bad blood.  The Stars scored four unanswered goals and the Ducks are in a bit of a panic after being ousted in the first round last year.  Regardless, all fights should have streamers.

save

Jamie Benn had another goal.  That’s all you really wanted to know, right?

benn hair

Blackhawks: 4; Blues: 3 [Series tied 2-2]

It wouldn’t the Blackhawks if it didn’t take overtime.  They blew a two goal lead in the first.  The Blues had plenty of chances to extend their lead but could not convert.  Brian Bickell tied the game with under four minutes left in regulation.  Then in overtime, which they’ve needed three of the four games in this series, Patrick Kane:

 

Because Jess is a good person who loves the Blackhawks, she wanted to be sure you didn’t miss Captain I’m Fun Now doing post-game press in his booty shorts [video].

toews

Now all of these series are new again.  They’ve done the homework, there are no surprises left.  Chicago and Dallas are on the upswing while Pittsburgh could certainly use a fresh start.  Everyone knows exactly what it will take to win a Best of Three.  Give yourself a day (two if you’re the Penguins, whose practice this morning was cancelled) and when this resumes we will fight not to the death.  No no, our losers have to watch someone else steal their dream.  As always we fight:

westley

Day Seven

It was bound to happen and one night it did (Thanks, Garth)… the Tampa Bay Lightning were the first team eliminated from the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.  I haven’t heard from Lindsay, who is probably wrapped in her Stamkos jersey like a shroud and laying on the floor in the space between her bed and the wall.  That is what happens when you let yourself fall for more than one team.

Canadiens: 4; Lightning: 3 [Habs win series 4-0]

It looked like OT until Max Pacioretty, who I still have trouble remembering is American, scored his first ever playoff goal with 43 seconds left in the third.

 

And the crowd goes wild.  Literally.  I don’t care for/about the Habs but a moment like that melts my heart.  Much has been made of the Habs being the only Canadian team in the post-season, and they haven’t advanced past the first round since 2010. They become 2014′s first playoff bracket move:

bracket

Farewell to the Bolts, whose beards we will not get to enjoy.  We’ll give Stamkos a week to mope then we expect daily Gary Roberts workout videos.

bolts

You’re welcome.

So Lightning fans, who will you root for now?

Bruins: 3; Detroit: 0 [Bruins lead series 2-1]

The Canadiens will await the winner of this series, which is getting fiesty slimy.  In the grand Detroit tradition of throwing octopi on the ice, a fan tossed one during the anthem.  Chances are it wasn’t Justin Verlander because it came up short, sliding gently into Tuukka Rask’s skate like it was afraid of becoming sushi.  Tuukka gave it a well-deserved look of disgust and proceeded to beat the Red Wings in reply.

rask

Gif by Twitter/@PeteBlackburn

Brad Marchand barely dodged a potentially terrible knee-on-knee hit from Brendan Smith – then went down and grabbed the wrong leg.  I have to mention it, you know that about me.  Video/Gif/weaksauce explanation at CBS Sports.  Better examination on Days of Y’Orr, including a Marchand gif that makes me want to stab myself in the face.

Rangers: 4; Flyers: 1 [NYR lead series 2-1]

This game can be summed up in two images:

tweet

carcillo

I’m still rooting for everyone to lose but even I had a little bit of fun at the end there.

Sharks: 4; Kings: 3 [Sharks lead series 3-0]

It took OT and by far the Kings’ best result in this series, but in the end it was still the Sharks and their weird beard dreams taking a chokehold lead on this series.  BU’s Matt Nieto scored his first playoff goal last night – yay for days!  The Kings will try to stay alive Thursday night.

Read this adorable Hertl/Nieto rookie BFF story from the SJ Mercury News.  They better have those Minions in the locker room.

For tonight…

notebook

Pens and Blue Jackets are up first thing evening, as if anyone has recovered from Saturday night.  The Stars and Ducks are on early (8PM ET), so you can see Jamie Benn’s face/Jordie Benn’s beard and if they’re able to even that series.  The Blackhawks will try to take two of two at home from St. Louis in the not-quite-so late game (9:30 PM ET).

These little recaps are really helping make sure I have at least looked at every playoff game.  That said, they are 3-minute looks.  If I miss something good, let me know!  I can’t be everywhere and Mr. Pants is already really tired of the playoffs.

The Night Before

Allow me to present the Day 6 update as an autobiographical look at my catastrophic emotional instability.

goal

Penguins: 4, Blue Jackets 3 [Pens lead series 2-1]

This game started and an instant later the Jackets had scored two goals.  Okay, maybe it took 3:18, but it felt like a heartbeat.  The Penguins were not ready, not willing and not at all able while I just watched like:

tornado cow

It continued into the second period.  Pittsburgh shot total multiplied exponentially but nothing got past Bobrovsky.  They had 257 power plays – alright 6; the CBJ were throwing themselves into the box – but converted on zero.  This from the NHL’s #1 regular season PP!  When I tell you I yelled, “The next person who blows a drop pass coming into the zone gets my foot up his ass!” I mean I was loud.

carol

Finally Brooks Orpik (ofallpeopleexceptLetangmewlingdeath!!) scored in the last gasp of the 2nd period.

lc

And of course, the Jackets got it right back to start the third.

hermione3

Only I didn’t leave.  I sent my Patronus away so it wouldn’t have to watch but I am not strong enough to resist.  Then the Penguins scored.

beckett

1:10 later they scored again.

gwenth

1:03 after that they scored again.

panic

I was freaking out and faith-healed and curled into a weird knot on my living room floor.  Three goals on three shots in 2:13.

pens

I KNOW, RIGHT?!

Then they won.  And this was me, for a solid two hours after:

amy

It’s only Game 3.  Crosby, Kunitz, Malkin and Neal have no goals – only Geno even has a point.  So many wasted man advantages.  Flower stayed confident despite a messy start.  Alison & I both performed mid-game costume changes to what we wore for Game 1 and it worked.  I’m exhausted.  I might be overreacting.  Maybe everything is going to be okay.

Right, Sid?

sid

GAH.  That’s what you always say.

Blackhawks: 2; Blues: 0 [Blues lead series 2-1]

Well no one died, which makes it a model of restraint after last game’s dirty hit/suspension/general abhorrence.  Instead the Hawks set the pace early when Captain I’m Fun Now put a gimmie through the wickets on Ryan Miller.  Corey Crawford pitched a shutout and the Hawks staved off an almost certain death – for now.

hawks

Wild: 1; Avalanche: 0 [Avs lead series 2-1]

Zero goals until 5:08 of overtime.  After a combined 9 G in Game 1 and 6 G in Game 2, this match was locked down.  The Avs managed on 22 shots on Darcy Kuemper in his playoff debut, while Minnesota threw 46 shots on Varlamov.  Matt Cookie hit Tyson Barrie knee-on-knee and will likely (deservedly) be the second player suspended this post-season.  See it here.  I don’t want to watch it again.  Instead watch Mikael Granlund’s holy moly game-winner:

 

Stars: 3; Ducks: 0

I was only half-watching this game after the emotional trauma of the Pens’ game, but I know the DuckTales theme when I hear it!  The Stars in-game staff played it during a third period timeout.  If you were sleeping, search ‘DucksTales’ on Twitter.  Harmless fun and who doesn’t want to hear that song?  [The Albany River Rats used to play "Even the Losers (Get Lucky Sometimes)" when the opposing team scored.  I laughed even when we were losing.]

Jamie Benn had a goal and the post-game interview, but you should be tuning in for Jordie Benn’s megabeard.  Someone find me a picture of that!

benn

Tonight, tonight it’s Montreal with the chance to give Tampa Bay the first playoff exit of the year.  The Bruins/Red Wings and Rangers/Flyers all try to gain the edge in tied series and late night, the Sharks will attempt to go up 3-0 over the Kings.  The first two games have each seen 9 total goals scored.  Sounds exciting – if only we could stay awake!

Days Go By

I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend.  I embarked on a “No carb left behind” mission and managed to consume every jellybean within a 10-mile radius (that moved as I did).  Mostly I was drowning Penguins-related sorrows and the sound of “Letang” from my memory.

joey

Anyway, let’s have a look at Friday (Day Three):

  • Canadiens: 4; Lightning: 1
  • Red Wings: 1; Bruins: 0
  • Ducks: 3; Stars: 2

No one wants to talk about theses.  They are depressing and also old news.  Ryan Getzlaf’s wife did have a baby girl, though, and Getz scored the requisite “welcome to the world” goal with his Iron Giant Helmet Extension on.

getz

Saturday (Day Four):

Blues: 4; Blackhawks: 3 [Blues lead series 2-0]

The Hawks have played so much playoff OT over the past few years, it’s the only way they know how to end games.  Unfortunately these OTs are not going their way and they’re down 2-0 to St. Louis.  Add in the hit on David Backes that earned Brent Seabrook a 3-game suspension, the alleged comments by Duncan Keith and tonight’s game in Chicago looks to be all fired up.

I might dislike David Backes (a lot) but that is pretty messed up.

Blue Jackets: 4; Penguins: 3 [Series tied 1-1]

Did you know you can go to Twitter jail for sending over 100 Tweets in an hour?  This did not happen to me, but I may consider it again if the Penguins play the way they did Saturday night.  100 Tweets x 140 characters = 3500 four-letter words.  That’s about how many Alison and I traded via Gchat.  Alas, the Pens were still in a game they played terribly, which gives me hope for a Head-Out-Of-Ass strategy tonight.  The Blue Jackets… well, I yelled, “I HATE YOUR SKILL AND EFFECTIVE ON-ICE PRESENCE!” at least once.

cbj

Avalanche: 4; Wild: 2 [Avs lead series 2-0]

MacKinnon, Landeskog and Stastny had 10 of the 11 total points awarded for G & A in this game.  It felt more lopsided than the scoreboard indicated – Stastny’s goal was an EN, so the Wild were close for a long time.  Still you should be watching these kids to remember what fun feels like.

 

And Sunday (Day Five):

All the wrong teams (for me) won yesterday until the Sharks.  I was ready to write the day off.  Perhaps it was my punishment for playing Cards Against Humanity with a very mixed-age crowd and hearing my friends’ 70-year old parents say things I can never un-hear.

Flyers: 4; Rangers: 2 [Series tied 1-1]

The Flyers finalllllly won a Game at MSG (first since 2011).  Giroux’s gingerbeard is magnificent.  It was a comeback win for Philly, who were down 2-0 in the first.  Just remember: the longer this series goes the more potential to destroy each other.

flyers

Bruins: 4; Detroit: 1 [Series tied 1-1]

This must’ve been fun if you’re a Bruins fan.  I’m not, but I’d like to win a game by more than 1 goal (or at all) right now.  Misty water colored memories…. Chuck can expound on the enjoyment of Easter Sunday Bruins Victory if she’s got a moment.

Zdeno Chara, Brendan Smith

Canadiens: 3; Lightning: 2 [Habs lead series 3-0]

Let me tell you something.  This is a b$##@*^$ disallowed goal:

 

My first reaction was “Bleeeeeeeeeep!” and my second was, “I cannot believe I am cheering for Ryan Callahan.”  Ah trades, you make everything new again.  I wrote a whole diatribe on this call, then deleted it, went outside and vehemently landscaped my front yard.  Positive outlets for playoffs frustration!  In short, this cannot be called ONLY if it results in a goal.  It’s either a penalty when it happens or it’s not, regardless if it results in something important. This isn’t even my team.  I’d be enraged.  The Bolts might not have won, and MTL clearly has a handle on the series, but blown goal calls infuriate me like no other.  Especially in playoffs.

steven

To add injury to insult, Steven Stamkos took a knee to the head.  He did not get up well.  Prayer circles were formed – and they worked (Easter coincidence? I think not.).  Steven returned for the start of the third period.

Sharks: 7; Kings: 2 [Sharks lead series 2-0]

Seven (7!) unanswered goals by San Jose.  I don’t think this game needs a recap. If someone wants to get in on the Sharks now, I’ve got a jersey and perfectly matching teal nail polish you can have.

sharks

What will tonight bring?  Three of the games offer the chance to go up 3-0 in their series (COL, STL, ANA) – we wish luck to the fans of the teams down 0-2.  Be strong and believe.  As for the Penguins game, you know where to find me.

flip table

Obviously we still cannot center things.  Sorry about that.

Foxy Friday: Matt Niskanen

This took forever today because I was having too much fun.  It’s time!  Time for turtles and Minnesota accents and the true, though somewhat unsung, love of Penguins fans everywhere.  Unless you are me, Lindsay or Alison, then there is a lot of singing.

Foxy Friday: Matt Niskanen

Oh yeah, I went right for the puppy picture.

Oh yeah, I went right for the puppy picture.

Most of you met Nisky that time he fought Sidney Crosby.

My screams still echo somewhere in the depths of outer space.

Four months later, Matt and someone else you know (sing it: Gingerbeeeeeeard!) got traded to the Penguins.  Niskanen and Sid joke about the fight.

t1

Where is that video, hey?  This may be the one time Sam Kasan let us down.

 

Did I mention Matt is from Minnesota?  If not, you heard it in that interview.

n6

2013-2014 has been the Year of Niskanen in Pittsburgh.  He had 46 regular season points, including 10G.  He leads the Penguins and all NHL defensemen with a +33.  He had 6 GWG – tied with OEL for best among League d-men and second-most on the Penguins.  That’s right, Matt Niskanen had more GWGs than Sidney Crosby.

nisky4

What else?  Oh, he plays defense.  Actual, consistent defense on a team whose blueline rode the strugglebus all season.  There were monumental lapses in ability among the Penguins top 4 D, added to serious injuries like Letang’s stroke, Paul Martin’s broken hand and Orpik’s concussion.  Niskanen played 81 games.  There was a stretch in December when Nisky was the only Pens’ defenseman old enough to drive (slight exaggeration).  He held it down, guided Olli Maatta in a ROTY consideration-worthy year and kept me, personally, from losing my damned mind.  And these guys too: Hockey Writers, Rant Sports, everyone.

Thanks, Matt.

nisky8

In the last year of a 2-year deal, making just $2.3 million, Nisky looked like trade bait at the beginning of the season.  Now he looks like:

paid

That’s his reserved Minnesota version of GETPAAAAAAAAAAAID.

The Penguins haven’t talked contract yet.  Read this Puck Daddy piece on factors important in a potential deal for Matty.  We can only hope Swami Shero makes this a long-term relationship because:

t2

He’s also said: “I’ve fallen in love with this organization….” [video]

WE LOVE YOU TOO, MATT!  And not just “we” as in me and Lindsay, because we fall in love with everybody, but other people whose standards are much higher.  Like Alison.  She does not suffer fools on her blueline.

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What else is great about Matt?  This time he fought Brad Marchand.  His middle name is NORMAN.  He says “darn” and “heckuva.”  The way he slicks his hair back but cannot ever defeat this center-part cowlick:

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This terrible, terrible tie/shirt combo:

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What do you expect from a guy with an unabashed love of sweatpants?

 

In his free time, Matt enjoys wearing light-colored jeans.

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Having his car “pimped” before selling it for charity:

 

Learning his lesson the hard way about losing that shootout.

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And holding a turtle.

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Okay, it’s not a turtle – it’s a rock.  But when I first saw this picture [link] I was convinced Matt was rescuing a turtle in this forest, probably from some slow-moving distress, because that’s just the kind of nice guy he is.  He’s turtle-esque.  I laugh about this daily and it inspired one of my favorite WUYS memes of the year: Matt Niskanen Goal Turtle Celebrations.

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And for those of you who see why this is hilarious, I thank you.

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There is so much more, I could go on for days (or at least until the Pens game starts tomorrow night).  For now enjoy the adorable American-ness that is Matt Niskanen and his puppy:

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Because Saturday night it’s back to work.

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*Please pardon the fact we cannot center any images today.  It’s being address by someone who knows what HTML stands for.  All we can do is lean left a bit and everything seems fine.

Day Two (and Three, if you count OT)

One more  night in the books!  Welcome back to my way to be sure that I have noticed every playoff game around the League for three minutes.  Some of you probably called in “overtime” to work and are just waking up.

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Blues:4, Blackhawks: 3

Look,  overtime is one thing.  Triple overtime is two more things but is there anything more annoying than waiting 17 minutes of intermission in the middle of the  damned night just for someone to win it 30 seconds into the next extra frame?

Aside from being the team that loses that way, I mean.

 

Coach Q, how do you feel about this game?

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I can’t stop laughing.  I hope Joey, the Junior Reporter didn’t see that!

Avalanche: 5, Wild: 4

Since all the cool kids who won the Cup last year were going to OT, the Paul Stastny of the Avs thought that sounded brilliant.  He tied it with 14 seconds left [video].  GAH, that is what Playoffs are about!  Paul enjoyed that so much, he did it again.

 

Look at Nathan MacKinnon with the hugJUMPhugJUMPhugJUMP.  19 year old puppy.

Rangers; 4, Flyers: 1

I hate everyone but wow, Giroux’s beard is already amazing.  It was the only positive thing about this game for the Flyers, who gave up goals 2 and 3 in 47 seconds while I was brushing my teeth.  If they Flyers could do that every time I left the room, I’d stay out my whole life.

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G’s beard looks even more orange because Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell have dyed their beards black for the playoffs.  I’m torn between saying, “Well they can’t look worse.” and “That was cool when Mike Green did it.”  Photos by the only officially Flyers-related person we like: @sbaickerCSN.

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Just to be fair:  The Rangers changed their homepage to look like Tumblr and I hate that too.  Sad Brad Richards had three points and I bet he went home and laughed while making 6 AM tee times under the name “Tortorella” at every golf course within 50 miles of wherever Torts lives.

Sharks: 6, Kings: 3

This game was “mostly dead” in the first with the Sharks up 3-0.  In the second, they scored 2 more.  But to start the third period, the Kings came out and got 3 goals.  I don’t know if it felt like they could really climb the entire hill (thoughts? I was asleep.) but that has got to help their confidence in an otherwise brutal loss.

Tomas Hertl had one of the Sharks’ goals – looks like those water aerobics he used to recover from injury really paid off.

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The Bruins kick things off against the Red Wings tonight (finally!), while the Habs/Bolts and Ducks/Stars will go again.  Ryan Getzlaf expected to be in the lineup with his new Frankenface.

Enjoy!  I hope all of your teams lose!

Day One

There are two ways to spend any night during the NHL Playoffs:

  1. Enjoy a composed evening of important hockey that matters on a theoretical level, but not to your team.
  2. Like me, last night:

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One goal games all around, and no one made it look easy.  Here we go, Round One: Day One already gearing up to be great.

Canadiens: 5, Lightning: 4

Did you get dizzy watching this one?  Twice Tampa Bay took the lead, only to lose it in 0:19 and 3:15 respectively.  Montreal went up by a goal twice, only to be tied again in 2:01 and 1:57.  The last game-tying goal was a beauty by Stamkos, coast-to-coast, all alone:

 

Almost an entire OT period was needed to end this, the Habs getting the win.   Still some good numbers for the Lightning – they had only 25 shots on Price but scored 4 times, while Lindback stopped 39 of 44.  On Montreal’s end, that’s a lot of shots!  Vanek had 7 of them, including this very pretty goal:

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Penguins: 4,  Blue Jackets: 3

TOO CLOSE, THANK YOU.  If every game in the series is like this, I may not survive.  I expect it will be, since all Pens defensemen over the age of Matt Niskanen have a tendency to do what only Mokiki can do so well: the Sloppy Swish.

They will magically get it together for periods (of time, not hockey).  Let’s hope for more of those.  Flower I thought was not bad – the first 2 goals were all the D’s fault, the 3rd he’d love to have back.  If only the world were a wish granting factory.

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The Jackets are, of course, good and scary.  I was sore from watching guys get hit on TV.  Also from punching the screen every time Brandon Dubinksy’s face came up.  That’s his job and he does it so well.

Ducks: 4, Stars: 3

I went to bed when this was 3-0 Anaheim, all in the first.  I did a “WHAT?!” this morning when I saw the final score.  For twenty minutes things were bleak, but it was just the rust of not making the playoffs for the last 5 seasons.  They are good now.  But are they as good as the Ducks?

Ryan Getzlaf, with the Tyler Seguin slapshot-to-face:

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If not for Getz’s mug, who knows?  The Stars could have tied in the final seconds.  They came close more than once.  Coach Boudreau expects Getzlaf to have a “nasty cut” but hopefully be fine and they will know more today.