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.
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.
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.
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.
Yeah, I know, I know, I missed a post yesterday. We have been a bit busy at work lately, as we are moving to a new building, and we are currently the last ones in the old building, so there is a lot to get done. Back on the wagon today.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Elton John concert at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Now, I am a huge classic rock fan, and while I do enjoy Elton’s music, he wouldn’t be in my top 10 of favorite musicians, but let me say this: It was awesome. I mean, he really rocked the stage, it was incredible to watch him play, overall an immensely entertaining show. He kept the crowd engaged, standing up and acknowledging all four sides of the stage after every song and even took the time to sign autographs before his encore, probably about fifty or so people that he let come up and stand by the stage for his last few songs, which included Bennie and the Jets and Crocodile Rock, along with his encore of Your Song. Shots from this concert were taken with a Canon S95.
I did find the concert very enjoyable…except for the eight songs that he did with Leon Russell right in the middle of the show. I know that Russell is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, but it just really seemed to detract from the energetic vibe of the rest of the show. The songs were slow, very few people knew them, as they were from the collaborative new album between Elton and Russell. Other than that, awesome show.
Back in August, on opening night of the CONSOL Energy Center, before any hockey game had been played, I was in attendance to see former Beatle Paul McCartney. In regards to entertainment, Sir Paul most definitely put on the best show I have ever been to. It also helped that I knew the majority of the songs played and could sing along (not that anyone would want to hear that), but being able to see a legend like McCartney, that is a once in a lifetime thing, at least at this point in his career. For this concert I had my Canon S90.
Finally, last March we attended an Eric Clapton concert at the old Civic Arena. I know that I just said McCartney put on the best show ever, but Clapton’s music was just mesmerizing. When they showed his hands making that guitar sing like it wasn’t anything at all was truly something special. Clapton is not the same kind of entertainer as Elton and Paul, but he put on one hell of a show and I would gladly go back to see him again. Didn’t have a great camera with my this time though, so just iPhone shots for this one.
I am very fortunate that I was able to see three of the great rock/pop musicians of our time in my hometown. I don’t go to many concerts, but when I do, I make it worthwhile.
Speaking of these Pittsburgh hockey arenas and to go along with the nighttime Pittsburgh skyline, here is a shot of both. I took this a few weeks into the season form the upper parking lot above the Civic Arena and had to hold up a lot of traffic to do so. People honking, yelling, screaming while I just threw up my hands and said, “It’s bracketing nine exposures at night, it takes a lot time, what do you want me to do?” One way to shut people up is just to confuse them!
Tomorrow’s Friday. Woo hoo.
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.
I thought that it would only be fitting that I post a picture of the two hockey arenas in Pittsburgh since I posted the football and baseball stadiums the last couple days. The city of Pittsburgh truly has been blessed with some incredible sports venues, and both of these are no exception. I did a write up on Mellon Arena, the old home of the Penguins a view months back, when I was blogging every month and a half or so. I wanted to take some time and talk about the sporting arena in general, especially those in Pittsburgh.
Now, we haven’t always had the good fortune of having three of the best venues to watch professional sports in the country. It all started back in 1895 with the Schenley Park Casino, which was Pittsburgh’s first multi use arena, and the first arena in the country to have an artificial ice surface. It was destroyed in 1896 by a gas explosion. That was succeeded by the Duquesne Gardens, which played host to a variety of sports teams, but mainly the Pittsburgh Pirates (who became known later as the Penguins…totally different from the baseball team, as the baseball Pirates have been around since the late 1800’s). Duquesne Gardens was the first arena to actually have glass above the dasher boards, developed by (you guessed it) Pittsburgh Plate Glass (ok, so maybe if you weren’t from Pittsburgh you didn’t guess it). It stayed open from 1899 until 1956, when it was destroyed as the city was beginning construction on the new Civic Arena (more on this in a bit). But that was strictly for basketball and hockey. The Pirates (baseball) needed a home too. They first played at Exposition Park, which was located not too far from the current location of PNC Park along Pittsburgh’s North Shore. They played their home games there for almost 20 years, from 1890 until 1909, when they moved to the famous Forbes Field. Here they would share the stadium with the Pittsburgh Steelers and University of Pittsburgh Panthers until 1970.
However parts of the field still remain around Pittsburgh today. You can see the left field wall over which Bill Mazeroski hit his legendary home run to beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, as well as a statue of Maz outside of PNC Park (pictured above). You can also find the home plate from Forbes Field in Posvar Hall at the University of Pittsburgh’s campus, very near its exact location in the park, and the outline of the outfield wall still remains. Two separate fires sadly forced the demolition of this historic venue in 1971, being replaced by Three Rivers Stadium.
Three Rivers, aptly named for being where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio near the Point in Pittsburgh, played home for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers for three decades. It was built in the era of “cookie cutter” stadiums, very drab on the outside, and not much better on the interior. In fact, for baseball games, they had to tarp off sections of the seats directly behind center field, as it would interfere with the batters’ ability to pick up the ball from the hand of the pitcher (newer stadiums simply do not have seats there, including PNC Park). The park could be reconfigured to suit both football and baseball, but by the early 1990s, talks had begun to get the Pirates their own stadium and remodel the existing Three Rivers to be strictly a football venue. In July 1999, over $800 million worth of funding was approved for both Heinz Field (pictured above) and PNC Park (pictured below), and ground was broken to begin construction in 1999, with both teams enjoying their new homes for the 2001 seasons. I’ve only ever seen one game in Heinz Field (and it was a hockey game, the Winter Classic), but it is one of the most unique football stadiums in the country, with the open end giving spectators a view of the city of Pittsburgh and the Point. PNC Park is consistently voted the most beautiful baseball park in the country, again having one whole side of the park open and being able to see the entire city skyline.
As for the Civic Arena (pictured below), home of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1966 until 2010, I won’t go into a lot of details since I’ve written about it before. Feel free to check out that post. I will mention that it was the first domed sporting venue that had a retractable roof, though it has not been functional for over a decade. One interesting fact is that when it opened it contained only 12,508, just eight seats over the minimum NHL requirement for capacity.
In August of 2010, the CONSOL Energy, pictured above, opened and it makes the Civic Arena look like something from ancient Rome. Don’t get me wrong, I love the “Igloo” as the Civic Arena was nicknamed, there is something about old sporting venues that you just have to appreciate. But CONSOL is the new model that arenas will be built around in the future.
I took the last shot, which is today’s upload, on my photowalk last Saturday morning. I did the best I could to include all both the Civic Arena and CONSOL in the photo, but this is literally as far back as I could stand, as there was a fence and a steep fill behind me. This is a side of the building that I’ve captured before, though you weren’t able to see the Igloo in the background. For the processing, this is a seven exposure HDR processed in HDR Efex under the Clean HDR Method. Masked in the entire sky as well as the flags, as it was really windy on this particular morning and I had crazy ghosting effects. Overall desaturation and then added a blue curves layer for the sky, as well as a Tonal Contrast Filter from Color Efex, then finished it off the with a High Pass Sharpening filter.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little walk down Pittsburgh sports arena memory lane. Catch you tomorrow.
With the Pens in the midst of another playoff run, and since this is the last season ever at Mellon Arena, I thought I’d share some of my shots of the historic Pittsburgh landmark.
Built in 1961 for the Pittsburgh Civic Light Orchestra, the $22M structure was the world’s first largest indoor sports arena with a retractable roof. It has played host to multiple concerts, basketball, tennis, boxing, wrestling, and soccer matches, with some notable concerts being the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Queen, Elvis Presley and the Beatles. The Penguins began playing in the Arena in 1967, when they were one of 6 new hockey franchises to be added to the NHL. (wikipedia)
But this is information you can get off any website. What you CAN’T find on a website is the Mellon Arena aka the Igloo aka The House that Lemieux built, experience. Now, anyone from Pittsburgh will know what I am talking about. However, for those of you who aren’t, or those of you who have been to the Arena but never to a Penguins game, here’s what you can expect, at least for another month and half or so, before the Pens move across the street to the newly built Consol Energy Center.
What you can’t read on a website is how when you walk in, you immediately get inundated with the smell of every fried stadium food you can imagine. The Arena is so small, that the smell of hot dogs, nachos, fries, sausages and chicken fingers just overwhelms you, and you will find that you can still smell it on you two days and four showers later. Speaking of the limited size of the concourse of the Arena, the only place that I have ever been to that is worse is Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, and that is only because they only have one concourse for all 20,000 fans. Mellon Arena is a bit better, as it does have two concourses, however I feel like the cowbells that people ring during the game should be distributed so we can all be herded in the intermission. “‘Scuse me, sorry about that, whoops, my fault, I’m sorry, comin’ through” is pretty much the dialogue that you hear as you meander through the crowds.
What you can’t find on a website is all the different people who you see game after game. There is “Steel City Man”, dressed in armor; there is the super fan who looks strangely like Hulk Hogan; there is the girl who always wears a hockey mask and pajamas; there is the kid who puts on a show during the nightly playing of “Cotton Eye Joe” in the Igloo club; and, this time of year, there are clip on beards, painted on beards, glued on beards and of course real beards, all in support of concept of “playoff beards”. Men, women and children all partake, some better than others!
And of course the last thing you can’t get off a website is the sheer awesomeness of watching Sidney Crosby and his Penguins play. The electric atmosphere when Sid or Geno touches the puck, you feel like it’s going to end up in back of the net every time. When the opponent has a breakaway, you have faith that Marc Andre Fleury will come up with a save reminiscent of the one he had against Alex Ovechkin in game 7 of last year’s conference quarterfinals, or against Dan Cleary on the breakaway in game 6 of last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. Just being there, taking it all in, and knowing that you are watching one of the greatest players to ever play the game, it’s just an experience like no other.
Good luck in the second round of the playoffs against the Canadiens Pens!
LET’S GO PENS!!! LET’S GO PENS!!! LET’S GO PENS!!!