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.
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.
~Sid before the Detroit game last January
So I know that I may be a bit late on this, but I felt compelled to comment. We all know by now that Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal for Canada as they completed their gold medal run witha 3-2 overtime victory against the US on Sunday. And I have been hearing a lot of negativity around Sid in the past few days. Seeing as I live in Pittsburgh, this bothers me. Now, I don’t want seem like I am un-American. I was very vehemently rooting for the US, jumping on top of my couch and screaming when Parise tied it up with some 24 seconds left. I wish they would have won. But the fact that they didn’t, and it was because of Sid, doesn’t really bother me. In fact it makes me happy.
Had I felt this way if any other Penguin would have won it? Maybe. I would have loved to see Geno win the gold, but I would have hated to see Ovechkin win it. It comes down to this. Sid is a champion, a class act, and the captain who brough the Stanley Cup back to my hometown, Pittsburgh. He is having the best season of his life so far at 42 goals, he was the youngest captain in the history of the NHL, and the youngest captain to win a Cup. If you are from Philly, New York, Detroit, Washington, sure hate Sid, I don’t care. We beat all of you in the last 2 years in the playoffs (Philly twice). But if you are from Pittsburgh, and cheer and scream and root for Sidney Crosby every day, and defend him against all those fans from those other cities, don’t say you are upset at him for beating the US.
In my mind, he deserves it. And the bottom line is, he earned it.
So tonight we play the Flyers!!! I haven’t been to a Flyers game yet this year, went last year, and saw the Pens win in OT. I am pumped for the game, wearing my new Craig Adams jersey, and hopefully the Pens can stay out of the slide they were in (they lost 5 in a row, but won on Tuesday night!), and make it 2 in a row.
We have beat the Flyers 3 times already this year (5-4, 6-1, and 3-2 in a shootout with Sid getting the winner!), so let’s make it 4 in a row boys!!