HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

hockey

Looking back

What a season.

The Pen’s quest for a fourth Stanley Cup ended last night with a 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, a real heartbreaking loss.  Not that all playoff losses aren’t heartbreaking, but you just had the feeling that the Pens were just one lucky bounce away from moving on to the next round.  I do have to give Tampa Bay some credit.  They played a solid series, fueled by 41 year old Dwayne Roloson in net and by all accounts derserved to win the series.  They capitalized on chances nearly every time they got them and Pittsburgh didn’t.

The lone goal was scored by Sean Bergenheim, on an absolute identical play that they scored on in Game 6.  With Dominick Moore going around the net, he dropped a blind pass back to Bergenheim who, with Marc Andre Fleury moving to the far post, slammed it into a half empty net.  Not that the Pens didn’t have their chances.  They finished the game 0-5 on the powerplay, including a six on four for the final two minutes of the game, making them an abysmal 1-35 on the man advantage in the series.

I don’t want to talk too much about last night, just wanted to touch on it.  This has been one hell of a season with a lot of ups and downs along the way.  CONSOL Energy Center opened this year, replacing the Civic Arena, where the Pens called home for over 40 years.  Although we lost the inaugural game to hated cross-state rivals the Flyers, you could just feel the excitement in the building.  The consecutive sellout streak also rolled on, eclipsing over 200 at the end of the season.  That just shows the support and the dedication of the fans in Pittsburgh.

We hosted the Winter Classic this year at Heinz Field against another rival, the Washington Capitals, as well as being featured in the HBO special, “24/7”.  Again, the game didn’t turn out exactly as hoped, as the Pens were handed a 3-1 defeat, but that was an experience like no other.  The game was supposed to be played in the afternoon, but inclement weather pushed the game into the evening, underneath the lights, and with 68,000 plus fans screaming, it didn’t matter if there was a monsoon, it would have still been incredible.

However that game will live in infamy, as that is the game where Sidney Crosby suffered a concussion after he took a blind side hit from David Steckel that ended his season.  The injury most likely occurred during that hit, but ironically, it was a hit the following game by Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning that sidelined him for the next three and a half months, the same Lightning that just ended the Penguin’s season last night.

Sid wasn’t the only one to get hit by the injury bug this year.  Evgeni Malkin took a hard hit by Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres that tore a ligament in his knee.  Jordan Staal, out the first few months after recovering from foot surgery from an injury suffered in last year’s playoffs, got sidelined again in late October by a broken hand in practice.  Mark Letestu and Dustin Jeffrey suffered knee injuries as well, and Arron Asham and Eric Tangradi both, like Crosby were victims of concussions.  The final count in man games lost due to injury was nearly 400, yet they were still able to get within 13 victories of the Stanley Cup.

All in all, it was a great season, a fun season to watch and be a part of as a fan.

About the shots in this post, all taken last night.  The top shot is one that I’ve been trying to get for a while, and I finally got it last night.  I had been trying to get a silhouetted fan waving their rally towel and I think that this one game out pretty good.  The next one is someone holding up a beer toasting the Pens, and this one will be my post on flickr today.  The next two are both from after the game, one during the handshake between the two teams after the series and the other of the Pens holding up their sticks in salute of the fans after the game.  Lastly, I threw on in there from the walk back to the car, because I like how the bokeh turned out.

One more time…Let’s go Pens.

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Lucky 13

Well, you know I have to do it.  Ok, so maybe you don’t know what “it” is, especially if you aren’t a hockey fan.  But if you have been following my blog you know I’m kinda sorta a big Pens fan, and you would also know that they are in the first round of the playoffs right now.  And last night’s game…well…it was awesome.  And while you can read recaps on about 50 different websites, I still can’t help but at least tell you how exciting it was.

This game had just about everything that makes hockey exciting (aside from Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, still out with injuries).  The Pens went up 2-0 in the first 1+ period of the game on goals by Tyler Kennedy (pictured above in warm ups earlier this season) and Arron Asham, who is having an incredible post season.  TK’s goal was huge because it snapped the 0-Forever powerplay drought the Pens were on.  Early in the second Asham tallied his to double the lead.  But again, the Lightning fought back.  Martin St. Louis took a beautiful area pass, scorched past Ben Lovejoy and buried it to the far side past Fleury.  I’m not a fan of St. Louis at all, but damn that was one hell of a goal.

Pittsburgh made it out of the second up 2-1 and looked like they were on their way to a victory by the same score until Sean Bergenheim found the puck in a scrum in front of the Flower and shoveled it home, knotting the score at 2 with just 3 minutes left in regulation.  The first overtime came and went, but not before we had some more excitement.  Craig Adams was called on a terrible interference penalty (one of many terrible calls by the referees in this series) that put the Lightning again on the man advantage.  But then Pens held strong killing off all 4 Lightning powerplays last night.  Max Talbot, Tyler Kennedy and Craig Adams all had odd man chances to score but couldn’t put it behind Dwayne Roloson.  The defensive play of the night, however, was Paul Martin’ play on Lightning superstar Steve Stamkos.  Stamkos took a pass up the middle and had a breakaway, but Martin smoothly came up behind him, lifted his stick and poked the puck away.  Crisis averted.

NHL playoff overtimes are the full 20 minutes, with no shootout and a full intermission in between.  There are also no TV timeouts, so the players can get very tired very quick.  This is a factor, since this game went into the second overtime.  The Pens owned the puck for most of the fifth total period played, and it led to the play of the night.  Jordan Staal won the offensive zone faceoff and James Neal (second and third pictures above) got a shot on net, which was turned aside by Roloson.  The puck was swept around the end boards, and Kris Letang made a nice play to keep it in.  Staal corralled it with his stick and through it behind him against the boards, where it was picked up by Neal who just tossed it on net.  At the same time that announcer Bob Errey was saying “He just needs one” (referring to the fact that Neal hadn’t scored in 21 games) the puck zipped over Roloson’s shoulder for the game winning goal.  3-2 win and a 3-1 series lead as Game 5 rolls back to the ‘ Burgh on Saturday.

So why Lucky 13?  Since there are no first round byes in hockey, a team needs 16 wins to capture the Stanley Cup.  The Pens have won 3, so just 13 more.

I’m feeling lucky.


On the rebound

You hate to call a game where the best of seven series is tied 1-1 a must win, especially in the first round.  But that’s what last night was for the Pittsburgh Penguins.  After a gem of a Game 1 by Marc Andre Fleury, the Pens collapsed in Game 2, losing 5-1 and looking terrible in doing so.  Tampa Bay seized all of the momentum and they were playing Game 3 on their turf.  The Pens needed to respond by being physical, putting goals up early, and staying off the penalty kill.  They did two of those three things, and the one they didn’t (putting Tampa Bay on the power play) almost did them in.

The Pens opened up the scoring early with Max Talbot and Arron Asham scoring just minutes apart to stake Pittsburgh to a 2-0.  That would hold up until the Lightning were the beneficiaries of an atrocious penalty called on Alexei Kovalev for goaltender interference when in reality it was the defenseman who checked him into the goalie.  Martin St. Louis scored in the waning seconds of the powerplay to cut the lead in half.

In the third, the Bolts again went on the man advantage after a questionable interference call on Paul Martin.  Once again, St. Louis came down from his position on the point, corralled the puck with his skate and buried it between the pad and glow of a sprawling Fleury.  The Pens needed to answer quickly, and just 31 seconds later, with Tampa Bay goalie Dwayne Roloson looking for the puck between his legs, Tyler Kennedy scooped it out from right in front of him and put it home.  Pens win, 3-2 and take a 2-1 series lead.

Last night was a huge win, not just for the fact that the Pens did win, but because they got some of their swagger back.  Kris Letang (first picture above) had one of the worst games I’ve seen him play in the loss last Friday, but looked very solid last night and earned the #1 Star of the game.  Brooks Orpik (second picture above), known for his physical play, was back at it last night, sending players all over the ice.  Game 4 is Wednesday night, and I think the Pens will be ready.

Until tomorrow.


Unbeatable

And that is what Marc Andre Fleury looked like in last night’s playoff opener.  It was possibly the best performance I have ever seen out of a goalie since I can remember, he was that good.  Didn’t matter who was shooting from where, the Flower was making kick saves, glove saves, blocker saves, pad saves.  I mean, it was just unbelievable to see.  Obliviously the Pens won, 3-0, as Fleury earned his fifth career playoff shutout.

This was a really important game, more so that a normal Game 1 of the first rounds of the playoffs.  With no Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in the lineup, it was vital that the Pens were able to establish their game early and often against the high powered Lightning offense.  Pittsburgh came out hitting, with Steven Stamkos, Ryan Malone and Vincent Levacalier getting the worst of it, especially Stamkos, who got absolutely destroyed by Brooks Orpik.  The best part about watching that hit was the fact that everyone saw it coming.  Everyone except Stamkos that is.

As solid as any goaltender is, a team still needs to score goals.  Even though the Pens were peppering the Tampa Bay goalie Dwayne Roloson with nearly 30 shots through two periods, they still weren’t able to put one in the back of the net.  Then, about six minutes into the third period, Alexei Kovalev (pictured above from a game last week) changed all that.  After he appeared to be tripped (with no penalty), he layed on the ice for just a second.  When the defenseman drifted away, Kovy jumped up, took a shot-pass from James Neal, and buried it in the back of the net.

Just 18 seconds later, Pens fourth liner Arron Asham (above, from last night’s game) streaked down the right side of the ice, faked a shot to draw Roloson away from the net, wrapped around the net and tried to bury one.  It bounced off a stick, came right back to him, and he buried it in the open net.  We were still going crazy from the Kovy goal, that half the arena didn’t even realize we’d scored again.  Asham is one of those roll players I talked about yesterday who, if the Pens are going to win the Cup, needs to step up, and he did just that.  Chris Kunitz added an empty netter to seal the game.

Overall the Pens looked great.  Hard hitting, great penalty killing, beating the trap that the Lightning play is what led to the Game 1 victory.  The important thing is sticking to their game for the rest of the playoffs.

Game 2 is tomorrow.  And it can’t come soon enough.


Eyes on the prize

Well it all begins tonight.  The 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs will open with the Pittsburgh Penguins taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning at the CONSOL Energy Center.  It certainly has been a trying year for these Pens, but they have shown that they have what it takes to win under extreme adversity.  They have only had the combined services of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal for two games this season, with Staal missing the first half due to a broken hand/severed tendon in his foot and Sid and Geno missing more or less the entire second half of the season.  Yet these Pens have fought through rough stretches of poor powerplay performance, low goal totals and a host of other injuries to finish fourth in the conference and gain home ice advantage through at least the first round of the playoffs.

So what is it going to take to win?  The same things that they have been doing all year.  Solid penalty kill.  Team defense.  Brick wall goaltending.  And of course production from their role players, like Craig Adams, Max Talbot, Mike Rupp and others.  I like the Pens in this series in five games because of all these factors, but one thing I think that really sets up apart from the Lightning is our consistency.  We never really let the season get away from us, even with the loss our two biggest superstars.  Yes, we did lose five or six games in a row after Sid was out, but that can be expected when you lose the main focus of your offense.

The Pens are also very versatile while I believe that Lightning are much more one dimensional.  They want to get the puck to Stamkos, St. Louis or Lecavalier and let them shoot.  They rely too heavily on the powerplay and if they aren’t getting the opportunities, then they won’t be effective.  The Pens have scorers on every line and guys that bring a high level of energy to team like Talbot, pictured above.  I took this during a game back in February, and it’s always fun to photograph Talbot, as he seems to always be looking into the camera.  He’s a guy who can win you the faceoff, kill a penalty, and then find himself alone in the middle of the ice for a breakaway.  Max went through a bit of a dry spell early in the year, but the intangibles he brings to the team in the absence of their captain is immeasurable.

Today’s shot is one I took at the last game I was at which was the last regular season home game.  We were in a suite above the single attack zone, which is a great view to watch the game from.  I took this HDR during the national anthem, as you can see by the stars and stripes on the ice.  This is a five exposure JPEG HDR that I processed with HDR Efex under the “Clean” method.  Since the players and scoreboard were both moving, I took the +2 exposure (for the players) and the -2 exposure (for the scoreboard), tonemapped both of those under the Clean method and masked in the respective shots of the picture to give it a crisp look.  I also added a Pro Contrast filter in HDR Efex to give the shot a bit more pop.  As a note, that is also Max Talbot on the video screen here as well.

At the time I am finishing this, 11 hours and 39 minutes until puck drop.

LET’S GO PENS.


Focused

What a great way to close out the regular season at home last night at CONSOL Energy Center for the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Pens put up four goals on former Penguin netminder and current New Jersey backup goalie Johan “The Moose” Hedberg to move one step closer to clinching home ice for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  The start of the game was a little shaky, as the Pens were trying to break the 1-3-1 trap that the Devils play, but once they got in the groove, they owned the ice, picking up goals Jordan Staal, Chris Kunitz on a great feed by Tyler Kennedy and two from Pascal Dupuis, one being an empty netter with time expiring in the game during a Devils powerplay.

There is something magical about playoff sports, well at least for playoff hockey.  I’ve never been to a Pittsburgh Pirates playoff game and only one Pittsburgh Steelers playoff game when I was younger, so playoff hockey is really the only playoff action I know.  Don’t get me wrong, the regular is awesome, especially against rivals like the Flyers and Capitals.  But everyone just seems to cheer a little bit louder, the players skate harder, and there is just a buzz that resonates throughout the entire building. 

Players saluting the fans after the game

Very few times will you see someone sitting back in their seat, casually watching the action.  No, everyone is hanging on the edge, just waiting for that big goal to be scored by a superstar like Sidney Crosby or Jordan Staal, a talented young star like Mark Letestu or Chris Conner, or a grinding role player who is ever so important to the team like Craig Adams (pictured in the first shot above) or Max Talbot.  Playoff hockey is about watching Marc Andre Fleury make an unbelievable save to bail out a defenseman and keep the game close or seeing Brooks Orpik or Deryk Engelland flatten someone into the boards so hard you need a spatula to get them off.  I can’t wait.

Today’s shot keeps with the theme of the post as it is the exterior of CONSOL Energy Center.  While the new home of the Pens doesn’t quite have the character of the old Civic Arena, it still as its own mystique, especially early in the morning with the sun rising.  I took this one a few months back during an early morning photowalk around downtown Pittsburgh.  This is the lower gate of the arena, the American Eagle Gate, located on 5th Avenue.  I thought that it was so cool how you can see reflections on the left side of the glass on the building, but in the front you can actually see right through into the stairwell that ascends to the seating level.

This is a nine exposure HDR processed in HDR Efex under the “Clean” HDR method.  After fixing some of the dust spot, I masked in the entire blue sky, because I wanted it to be rich and contrast nicely with the warm look of the building.  I also added blue and red layer curve adjustments to bring out some contrast in the sky and building, and a slight selective coloring layer to enhance the sun.  Finally I added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex and sent it off the blog.

Thanks to everyone who stops by, see y’all tomorrow.


New horizons

First off I just wanted to thank everyone who gave their input on flickr and Explore in my post yesterday.  I really enjoyed the feedback and hearing some different views on it.

Yesterday’s post was a bit long in verbiage so today I’ll give you a break and make it a bit longer but in pictures.  Every so often I like to put up a whole series of action shots that I took before the Pens games and today is just one of those days.  Originally I was thinking about doing this for today’s post because I thought that we would have pulled out a great win last night against our hated in state rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers and pull even with them for the division lead.  The Pens were looking great to, all over the ice, help two one goal leads, but the Flyers proved the luckier of the two teams last night, with pucks bouncing over, around and under Marc Andre Fleury for a 5-2 win by the men in orange.

So where does that leave the Pens?  Probably in fourth place at the end of the season, which means that we will have guaranteed home ice advantage, at least for the first round and that our like opponent will be Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning.  I like this matchup for Pittsburgh, as the Pens are a much deeper team than the lighting with a lot more playoff experience.  However, anything can happen at any time in the playoffs.

On to the shots.  The first one above is Mike Rupp, and I thought that this one was appropriate to start off with as it was one of the first pictures I took from last Friday’s game.  All the images you see here today are from that contest between the New Jersey Devils and the Pens, which the Pens won in a 1-0 thrilling shootout victory.  I was able to capture this one right as Rupp skated on the ice, and I was lucky enough to get the spot light right on top of him, which has never happened before.

Next up is winger James Neal, one of the players taking the Pens to the new horizon.  He came over from the Dallas Stars along with Matt Niskanen back at the trade deadline for Alex Goligoski.  Neal is a hardnosed, physical player who has a lethal wrist shot.  He’s got speed and puck handling ability and was a very valuable add to the roster this year.

Above is Ben Lovejoy, a right handed shooting defenseman who has certainly made his mark in the NHL this year.  Lovejoy is a shutdown d-man who has a decent shot too, and always willing to jump into the offensive play.  I’m posting this more for the funny expression on his face than anything else.

Here we have Mike Comrie, another new Penguin this year.  He was signed as a free agent, and although he has missed most of this season due to hip surgery, has put up 30 goal seasons in his past.  I happened to catch him right as he was spitting in warm ups, which made for an interesting shot.

Taking a shot during warm ups is winger Pascal Dupuis.  Dupuis is a high energy player, very quick, always flying around the ice.  He gets a minute here or there on the penalty kill, but strength other than his speed is his killer slap shot.  He may not be able to maneuver around you, but he can definitely rip it past you.

Last but certainly not least is a name that is near and dear to many people in Pittsburgh and that is Alexei Kovalev (right in the above shot), or Kovy.  Kovy is on his second tour with the Pens, reacquired at the trade deadline this year for a conditional 6th round pick from the Ottawa Senators.  Though he has only put up two goals (and two more in the shootout), Kovalev can still wheel and deal the puck with the best of them.  The game is certainly faster than the last time he played for Pittsburgh and was in his prime, but it’s still so much fun to watch him play.  He showed off some of that stick handling ability in the bottom shot here, where he bounced the puck on his stick from the red goal line all the way to center ice.  Just awesome.

Today’s shot is a view from our new office building that my company moved into on Monday.  We have a great view of the sunrise, which is much better than the view we had before, which was none, as we were smack in the middle of our last building with no windows at all.  I know you can see the reflections of the lights in the window, but I just wasn’t able to clone them out.  If you look directly to the right on the bottom part of the reflection, you can see the moon as well.

This was a seven exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex under the “Natural” setting.  No masking in this one, just adjusted overall curves and then added a green curves adjusted layer to enhance the grass.  Cloned out a few dust spots, increased overall saturation and finally added a Tonal Contrast filter to everything but the sky.

Well, that ended up being longer than yesterday.  I’ll try to keep it shorter tomorrow.


Just another day in paradise

I try not to recap full Pens games, but I really have no choice today.

Whew.  What a game.  The Pens played the Detroit Red Wings last night at Joe Louis Arena in the Motor City and escaped with a 5-4, shootout win.  They chose to make it as interesting as they possibly could though, having been staked to a 4-0 lead through almost two full periods with two goals from Pascal Dupuis (one a sneaky bag hander and one off of a gratuitous bounce off the boards), a nifty backhand by Tyler Kennedy over sprawling netminder Jimmy Howard and one off a sweet deke by Chris Kunitz.

The run ended with about two minutes to go in the second, when Henrik Zetterberg banked one off Kris Letang’s skate past Pittsburgh goalie Brent Johnson.  Next thing you know the Red Wings are getting powerplay goals from Niklas Kronwall and ageless wonder Mike Modano, and one more from Valtteri Filppula, who shuffled one between the pads of Johnson that Johnson ended up kicking in his own net.

The Pens got some momentum back though, carrying it into overtime where they had chance after chance against Howard’s replacement Joey MacDonald.  Into the shootout it went.  Both goalies were brick walls until Penguin newcomer James Neal blistered a wristshot over the glove of MacDonald.  Lights out, game over, the Pens earn a precious two points in the standings.

No, the shot above is not from that game, it is from a playoff game in 2008 between these two rivals, the same 2008 playoffs that saw the Red Wings hoist the Stanley Cup in the Igloo.  Neither of the players depicted even played last night, as they are both out due to injuries.  Sidney Crosby obviously has been dealing with a concussion since early January and Chris Osgood, the Red Wings goalie has been out for about a week with a sore groin.  Although it’s not from the game, it is one of my favorite hockey shots that I have been lucky enough to get.

Today I’ll be wrapping up the Jamaican honeymoon shots.  I’ve enjoyed doing this series on my blog over the last week and a half, as it has sort of allowed me to relive being there.  I had not gone through all my shots from there in a few months, and it was nice to put myself there again.

Sunset was just an incredible time of day there, more so that in a lot of places.  It was almost as if you waited with anticipation to see what kind of colors were going to appear, what the clouds were going to look like.  These are two of my favorite shots I got right around dusk.  One was taken with my S90, a bracket of three exposures, and the other with my D40X, an eleven exposure HDR.  Both were processed in Photomatix, with some slight masking of the sky to get rid of some noise and colors.

I hope that you have enjoyed the Jamaican series.  I’ll figure out another series to do next.

Thanks for stopping by.


Igloo overload

Monday morning: back to work, back to blogging, and only three more days until the iPad 2 is at my door.  Cannot wait.

Today, as the title suggests, is going to be a bit of an Igloo overload.  For those of you who are from Pittsburgh or may have read one of my previous posts, the Igloo is the nickname that was given to the old home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Civic Arena.  This is an appropriate name because, well, it looks like an Igloo.  Even more appropriate that the team who (whom?  nah, who) it was built for are the Penguins.

What inspired this Civic Arena kick?  Not too sure.  Just been going through a lot of my old shots lately, and I came across a whole series that I did last year.  The Penguins had an employee skating party to celebrate the end of the season and the closing of the iconic building, and since my wife falls into that category I got to attend.  I knew it was going to be my last chance to take pictures of the inside of the Arena, so I snapped as many as I could before we left.  With the hockey playoffs fast approaching, I have been reminiscing about the Civic Arena, and will be posting the pictures both on my blog (that’s here) and flickr.

The last post that I did specifically about the Civic Arena focused on pictures of the outside, while today, you’ll get a tour of the inside.  We’ll start out with the entrance to and view from our seats for almost every game.  Located in C3, the single attack side (meaning the Pens only shot towards us once), they had a great view of the entire ice.  You could see plays develop, pick up on opportunities, and the play was never really blocked or shielded in any way.

Another place that had a great view was from the club seats or the press area, way at the top of the building.  This is something that made the Igloo so unique, the domed roof made the whole place seem twice as big as it really was.  Watching a game from that high up was something special, because although you could barely read the players’ names on the back of the jerseys, you could hear everything they were saying, and it really gave you a different perspective on the game.

Then of course there was the ice level, where I was lucky enough to have my camera and tripod to get these shots.  The first one above is from one of the goal creases, and this too gives a sense for the vastness that was the inside.  The second one above was taken from one of the penalty boxes looking towards both benches.  You can see Penguin employees milling around, enjoy the last few hours of public access.

Of course I had to get a picture (after waiting in line) of the locker room.  Well, not actually the locker room, but the door to get in to the locker room.  In the new CONSOL Energy Center, like most of the arenas around the league, the entrance to and from the locker room is behind the bench area, which is more convenient for intermissions and to handle injuries.  The Civic Arena had a separate entrance however, off to the corner of the ice.

To wrap it up, how about a few new pictures of the outside?  This is the sign located at Gate 3 at the bottom of the Arena, welcoming fans entering from the city.  If you walked up the side of the arena, you would see Gate 2, where staff and players entered, and finally Gate 3, one of the more popular gates, as it gave easy access to fans coming from above the arena as well as 5th Avenue.

That’s it for the tour of the Igloo today.  Let’s hope this walk down memory lane will bring them some luck against the Red Wings tonight.


Looking at the road ahead

I haven’t really talked about the Pens much over the past week and there are a couple of reasons for that.  First, they have only played two games in the past seven days, which has given the banged up team some time to rest.  Second, they haven’t been playing too hot as of yet, but that can be forgiven, as they do have some new guys in the lineup (Alexei Kovalev, James Neal and Mat Niskanen), and it is bound to take a few games for them all to gel with the incumbent team.  We are starting to see a little more chemistry in every game, so the moves of general manager Ray Shero are certainly showing promise.

Today I wanted to address the Sidney Crosby story.  As most people inside of the world of hockey and out know, Sid has been sidelined with a concussion since January 5th of this year, the result of two hits to the head.  The first occurred in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, while he was looking back for the puck and David Steckel, who was moving up the ice to go for the puck, caught Crosby blindside with a shoulder to the side of the his head.  Then, in the next game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Crosby took what looked to be a fairly normal check from Victor Hedman, but his head hit the glass in a bit of a awkward way.  As a side note, neither of these hits were penalized, yet Matt Cookie of the Penguins received a four game suspension for a hit on Fedor Tyutin of the Columbus Blue Jackets that Tytutin saw coming and just neglected to get out of the way.  But that is neither here nor there. 

It was originally thought that Crosby would miss just a week with a mild concussion, however eight and a half weeks later, we still have no word on his status, only that he is “getting better” and hopes to come back this year.  He has been absent from the public eye, which has lead to some wild rumors being thrown around about the actually severity of his injury.  The last thing that we as the fans and more so Sid and the Penguins want to happen is to have him come back too soon and suffer a career threatening injury.

So what does the future hold for the Crosby-less Penguins, who are also missing star center Evgeni Malkin who had season ending knee surgery?  Well, the immediately future is looking better than it did just two weeks ago.  With the aforementioned acquisitions that the Penguins front office has made, it certainly bolsters a lineup that was starting to thin.  Injured players are slowly recovering from injury, like winger Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Mark Letestu and Dustin Jeffrey.  They have been getting solid goaltending as of late from Marc Andre Fleury, who has really taken the team on his back over the last few months and allowed the Pens to be in games that they may not typically have been in had he not made some unbelievable saves.  The penalty kill, which struggled for a few games, seems to be playing like the number one unit in the league again.  Jordan Staal has certainly stepped up and embraced his new role as the leader of the team and has certainly gained confidence playing on the first line.

But it’s not the same without Sid the Kid, Hart Trophy winner, Rocket Richard Trophy winner, Stanley Cup Champion, Olympic gold medalist, and frankly the best hockey player in the world.  If he doesn’t come back this year, I’m okay with that.  I will be a Penguin fan my entire life, I want Sid to stay healthy and a Penguin the rest of his long career and I plan on watching all of it.

To go with the theme of the title I thought that I would switch it up today and post a candid from a few weeks back.  I think, subconsciously or not, I’ve been posting one non pager a week, which seems to be a good practice to liven up the stream a bit.  The main types of public transportation in the city of Pittsburgh are buses and the “T”, as it’s known locally.  The T is more or less a trolley that will take you from about fifteen miles south of the city straight into downtown.  I live very close to a few of the stops, so when I go to Penguin games, I simply hop on the T and it drops me right off the next to the arena.  Pretty sweet deal.

This is a candid that I took on one of my rides down to a game.  We were just about to go over the trolley bridge over the Monongahela River into downtown and this guy seemed to be oblivious that I was there.  I wanted to get a picture with the girl behind him and the city bokehed out the window, but I picked a bad seat, as I was sitting right across from them.  Cranked the ISO way up and literally put up the camera up the in the air and clicked the shutter.  Not too bad for “shooting from the shoulder”. 

Just some light processing here.  Desaturated the image to give it a cinematic feel, added a warming layer and a blue curves adjustment layer to enhance, well, the blues.  Gave it a very light Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex and added the pill box to finish it off.

Hope you all enjoy your Friday and have a great weekend ahead.  Let’s go Pens.