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.
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.
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.
Even though it is so bitterly cold out still, we have eight inches of snow on the ground and more wicked weather seems to be coming, we are certainly drawing closer to the end of winter. Spring is almost here, flowers will bloom, jackets will go in the closet, windows rolled down, baseball season starts and everything seems to come alive again. To me, THIS is the time to make your New Year’s resolutions (you did make them, right?) I realize that we just had New Year’s last month, but it’s difficult to distinguish one year from the next in the middle of winter, especially when winters here in Pennsylvania last from November until March. But when the seasons change, and new life is breathed into everything around us, it seems like an appropriate time to make those changes in yourself as well.
Now I’m not saying you have to make resolutions. Especially since they are so difficult to keep. It’s not that we make way over the top, unachievable goals that we want to reach in the new year. For me, and I don’t want to speak for everyone, they just kind of get forgotten about, unless you make a conscience effort to drive towards them. I read an article (and I can’t remember where now) that said that if we share our resolutions and goals that we are less likely to achieve them. I think I agree with this (I think). At a previous employer, we had to write goals out, read them in front of the office, hang them on our wall and review them every two weeks. That’s a lot of pressure to achieve them, and it’s not the kind of pressure that really motivates you. It’s the kind that says, “Wow, everyone knows what I have to achieve, and if I don’t, I’ll look bad to everyone”, which has the potential to put you in a bit of desperation mode. Keeping them to yourself can give you that self empowering, self motivating attitude that can get you to where you want to be and achieve what you want to achieve. So I look at spring to a fresh start to the year, a time to take one more look at those New Year’s resolutions and make them happen. I know I will.
Today’s post is my last from the New York Public Library. I couldn’t go there and not get a shot from the one of the reading rooms. This is the Rose Reading Room, and I wish I could have gotten more pictures of it, but my wife was a little embarrassed at how loud the five exposures were, so I just got this one shot and moved on. I will say that they did kind of echo throughout the room, and you can see the look I got from someone on the left side of the screen. This shot is one reason I love HDR. You are able to see the outside skyline as well as all the intricate details in the ceiling.
The processing wasn’t too difficult, just a bit time consuming. Like I said, it is a five exposure handheld HDR processed in HDR Efex. I obviously had to mask in all the people, the lights because they were a bit blown out, as well as outside the windows. For the outside, I opened up the -2 exposure, recovered the highlights, reduced the exposure, and then masked in just the windows. Boosted the color a bit to make the blue pop. No Color Efex to this one, just added a High Pass Sharpening filter to it. I think that this is my favorite of the library series.
Pens are playing the Sharks tonight, and we will see the Penguins debut of James Neal and Matt Niskanen. I’ll be there cheering them on. Let’s Go Pens.