Challenge Accepted

Yes, it’s been a quiet summer here at For the Love of Goons. But that doesn’t mean we’ve gone underground. Tina and I are here, just with work and life consuming every free second.

One of those free moments was used to complete the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I was so glad to be nominated and excited to dump a bucket of freezing cold ice water over my head with the rest of my coworkers. But what’s even better, watching athletes complete the challenge themselves.

Here’s the story behind this awesome trend that’s swept the nation:

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:11366483

Obviously, Sidney Crosby completing it was one of the highlights of the summer. However, nothing was going to beat seeing James Neal’s long overdue acceptance of Paul Martin’s  nomination. Which led to this video appearing on my Twitter feed this afternoon.

It’s the second (or third) time Evgeni Malkin has been nominated to complete the challenge. So let’s go Geno!

Just a small update for the time being. Hope you all are enjoying your last few weeks of summer. Can’t wait for hockey season to be under way!!

Advertisements

Separation Anxiety

To say I’m heated, fuming, livid, sad, devastated, rip-roaring  mad, crushed, and/or pissed off just would not cover my feelings towards what’s going on with the Penguins these days. Fine. Fire Shero and Bylsma. That needed to happen. Fine. Hire … Continue reading

Closing Time

The greatest trophy in all of sports has once again been lifted. This year, by the LA Kings.

Talk about one hell of a way to win the Stanley Cup. Alec Martinez coming in the clutch AGAIN with the series-clinching goal, just like he did against the Blackhawks.

Alec Martinez

In all sincerity, congratulations to the LA Kings. That win was beyond well-deserved, especially considering the hole they dug themselves out of in the first round.

Forgot about that already? Logan Couture sure didn’t.

But at the end of the day, no matter what team you’re rooting for, the greatest sight every year is watching the Stanley Cup being hoisted over the head of the team captain and his teammates’. There is no emotion more pure than in that moment, and it’s special to watch. (Even from at home, on the couch.)

Then, there was the super heart-warming scene when Darryl Sutter’s son, Chris, got to raise the Stanley Cup; it was the highlight of the entire night. Also, since the entire LA Kings team considers Chris as their brother, it made it all the more special.

Chris Sutter Raises Stanley Cup

It’s all of these moments added up together that make me love being a hockey fan, even when it stresses me out. I have never seen celebrations year after year where the players excitement slowly dulls, simply because it is what they had worked so hard for their entire lives. The Stanley Cup is described to be the most difficult trophy to win, and seeing player’s reactions after winning it supports that theory.

Even if they’ve won it before, it’s still pretty special. We saw that last year with the Blackhawks.

And to be honest, I’m totally looking forward to seeing what Dustin Brown’s kids do with the Stanley Cup this summer. In case you forgot, they blew chocolate milk bubbles  in 2012.

Season after season, this is what 30 teams are attempting to win. For their moment of glory and a place in history. Season after season, fans hope that “this year” is the year when their team is the only one left standing. (And to see awesome moments like this.)

But no matter who is left standing, watching the Stanley Cup be hoisted is the perfect closure to each season. It’s the ultimate sign that the following day, all 30 teams are heading back to the drawing board for the next season.

So here’s to the LA Kings: 2014 Stanley Cup Champions.

(via King Doughty tumblr)

Especially Jonathan Quick for this gem. He’s seriously representing our home state, Connecticut, so well.

But also, here’s to the countdown til next season. Does anyone have an official countdown yet? I could really use it.

Summertime Happiness

Thinking that hockey season is just a few short weeks from coming to a close is really depressing. Myself, Tina, and all other hockey fans around the world have to wait until September just for our favorite groups of guys get back together for training camp. Then, we have to wait another month for the regular season to officially start. That’s just so far away!

But then again, it’s SUMMER!

So when there isn’t hockey on tv, what is a girl to do? Oh yeah! Get on social media and find things related to hockey!

Like, “How To Be a Hockey Player” for all you summer / beer leaguers out there.

Or, “How The Playoff Beard Came To Be”

Or, there that whole, follow hockey players on social media to see what they’re up to. Because why not live vicariously through them?

Seriously, I wish I was in Matt Duchene’s shoes, hanging out with country singers in my spare time.

But let’s be honest, we’re way more excited for the new NHL season to start, especially when we have no stock in the Stanley Cup Final. Yet, I will be watching every single game, including tonight’s Game 7 between the LA Kings and Chicago Blackhawks.

P.S. – Go Hawks!! (because Patrick Kane is on a whole other level)

So during this all too long wait, players go to training camp. My particular favorites are Andy O’Brien:

And then, there’s Gary Roberts’ group / Biosteel #CAMP

To say the least, I’m excited for #CAMP 2014 and all things related to hockey players training. If it meant I could hang with those guys, then count me in for insane workouts and a strict diet.

As much as I love summer, I love hockey season even more. So I’ll enjoy the last few games before it’s 3-4 month hiatus.

In That Moment… Part Deux

Last night, it all ended. The Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated from the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

And I’m officially like:

(almost) all of the people around me

This is partially my fault because I chose to go to school in the Greater Boston Area and live with a Bruins fan. Then, I come home to Connecticut, where I didn’t choose to live, to a mix of Rangers, Bruins, Devils, Islanders and a mix of every other fan of an Eastern Conference team because this is no longer Whalers country. It’s quite awful. Especially since I am an all-too-proud Penguins fan.

There are other Pens fans in the state, and though I am friends with them, they are a rare sighting in this part of the country. Either way, we are not a particular favorite no matter where we go in the tri-state area or New England because (DUH!) it’s technically Rangers/Bruins/Islanders/Devils territory. We are those awkward, rebel children who people think were dropped on the head as babies or our parents didn’t raise us properly. It’s more like my parents were Hartford Whalers fans, then Carolina stole the franchise. So you ask, “Shouldn’t you be a Canes fan then?”

Umm, NO!

image

Long story short, my parents didn’t care who I was a fan of, so I turned to the Penguins when I could’ve so easily ran to the Bruins or the Rangers, like (almost) every other citizen of Connecticut.

So, the “how I became a Pens fan” aside, last night was torture. Once again.

Last night was too much because, the reality is, this is another horrendous playoff loss that adds to their trend of the last few years. They give their fans all the hope in the world during the regular season, to have it all come quickly crashing down in the playoffs in rather spectacular fashion. I think that’s where it really kills us.

Expectations: Thank you so much, media, for placing the Pens on your highest pedestal because they have arguably the two best players in the world. One of which in a press conference the day before, promised that they were going to win Game 7.

Personally, I don’t make promises that I can’t keep. Never guarantee anything. But in Evgeni Malkin’s case, he needed to make that promise to the fans to keep them faithful seeing as Game’s 5 and 6 were not pretty. At. All. Especially in comparison to a spectacular Game’s 2, 3, and 4. And since Geno and Sid are *arguably* the two best players in the world, they have the weight of the world on their shoulders because if they don’t perform and the Pens lose, they are the ones to blame, right? Well, I don’t really know. Granted, I was visibly upset the past couple nights when a certain number 87 wasn’t really shooting the puck or crashing the net nearly as much as he should. But, he’s changing his game, right? I don’t know. Either way, it killed me whenever numbers 87, 71, 18, 58, and 14 were on the ice (not necessarily for a power play, but even just individually) and not shooting the puck. There was WAY too much “pretty” passing and play-making, which drove me up and down a wall.

Sure, Geno is score. But not this time.

I can’t say I’m necessarily pointing my finger entirely at Sid, Geno, Neal, Kunitz, Letang, and the rest of the goal scorers, but they certainly didn’t help the cause. There are a multitude of things that have gone wrong in the Pens locker room and I can only make that assumption based on what we saw on the ice for the last three games of the series.

Though there were a few people who under-performed, other guys stepped up to the plate and I just have to say, thank you. I seriously and sincerely mean it.

Brandon Sutter (aka Flat Stanley)

Because he did a hell of a lot of this:

It’s literally impossible for me to be mad at him because  he was unarguably the Pens MVP for the last month. Flat Stanley did it all. Kill penalties, score, and score shorthanded. I will cry if he is traded this summer. I will be sobbing all the way from Connecticut if Ray Shero deals him because he earned his spot on the team.

Jussi Jokinen

He also happened to enjoy scoring quite a bit this post season for the Pens and the fans thoroughly enjoyed watching him tear it up. It was a career post season for Jokinen and we hope to see many more.

did Jussi that?!

Thank you so much for scoring the Pens lone goal last night. Just, thank you, in general, for showing up for the playoffs. Much appreciated.

Matt Niskanen

So maybe towards the end of the series he wasn’t playing his best hockey, but I love Nisky. Shero neeeeeeeeeeds to resign him to, or like Sutter, I will be sitting in a pool of my own tears if he doesn’t.

He’s such a cutie and he’s pretty good at scoring a few goals too.

Oh! And he has a puppy, therefore, Shero needs to resign him if they ever want me to buy the puppy calendar ever again.

Paul Martin (aka The Breakfast Maker)

Pauly has improved significantly since his initial acquisition by the Penguins. He’s also the official breakfast maker of James Neal, so he needs to hang around if we ever want to see Nealer score again.

He’s also a wearer of glasses. Aka the sexiest thing a guy can possibly do.

Plus, Pauly is a former Minnesota Gopher and here at For the Love of Goons, we looooooove us some cawlidge hawkey.

All in all, the 2013-14 season didn’t have the ending us Penguins fans were hoping for it too. Once again. Yes, it’s begun to take a toll on us, but here’s a bright side: at least we have a Stanley Cup. There are franchises that actually don’t have ANY. We have three and luckily, we were able to see one only five years ago. Understandably, that’s quite some time ago, but we should have some faith, right?

Changes will be made this summer, no question. What changes will be made? Who knows. The waiting game is on for the draft and free agency.  Then, hopefully sooner rather than later, it’ll be October again. A new season, a clean slate, and a new chance at winning the Stanley Cup. Just maybe 2015 will finally be the year.

In That Moment

Ask me the question, “Do you believe in miracles?” and obviously my answer is, “YES!”

But I’m not talking about the 1980 Olympic Men’s Hockey Team. I’m talking about the 2013-14 Pittsburgh Penguins. I would like to think in a perfect world that they are more than capable of pulling off miracle-like situations.

If any night I was hoping for it to happen, it would’ve been last night. Granted, in the opening minutes when the score was 2-0, I started to slightly panic. But, per usual, Brandon Sutter came up in the clutch.

Brandon Sutter Goal Game 6 v NY Rangers

Come time for the second period, I had some hope. Thoughts along the lines of, “Ok, it’s only one goal and maybe we’ll have an unlikely hero.” And that almost did happen. Twice.

Then, not much later, Brian Gibbons came up with another great breakaway chance, in which Lundqvist didn’t even know where the puck was.

So those two chances go by and the clock starts winding down, until Derick Brassard punishes the Pens once again, and then the period closes.

Me at this time: Ok, 20 minutes to go, and only a two goal deficit. There are worse things.

Welcome to the third period. Might I add that the only thing I was yelling at the TV was, “SHOOT THE PUCK!” Because at that point, the Pens apparently had forgotten that the only way to score the goal was to shoot the puck. Especially on the power play.

The game ended, the Pens on the losing end, aaaaaaaaaaand there was not steam pouring out of my ears for a change. It was more like, “I’m just done.”

Kinda like a few weeks ago when the Pens lost a horrendous Game 5 against the Blue Jackets. Want to revisit that little meltdown <— click there.

But, Sid looks like he was pretty done too.

And so was James Neal. Who received a 10-minute game misconduct with just under 10 seconds left in the game. I have still yet to figure out what he did to get that. Anyone with a clue, let me know.

same, though

But more or less, if the Pens don’t win on Tuesday, we can’t call it “out of the ordinary” since that’s been the trend for a few years now.

If they do lose, my sanity goes with it.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Dazed and Confused

To believe or not to believe? That is the question I posed to myself last night, as the Pens were on the receiving end of another 4-3 overtime loss. This time at the hands of Nick Foligno.

Tina was sitting in our common room watching the last few minutes of the third and overtime unfold with me. Obviously she saw my immense frustration after a really, really awful game tying goal by Brandon Dubinsky with 24 seconds left in the third period.

Then, overtime came and, although I hate to admit it, I knew the Pens were not leaving Columbus with a 2 game advantage. I said this to Tina, and then she questioned my belief in the Pens. I didn’t really have an answer because, well, I just didn’t. I generally do believe in my team, expect when they pull these shenanigans.

Every year, especially during the regular season, Sidney Crosby and the boys give me every single reason to believe that they are finally going to win another Cup.

Yet, every year since 2012 (2011 was an anomaly because Sid and Geno were out) they’ve managed to disappoint in rather spectacular fashion. It’s not like they go out in a hard fought battle, like last year’s Western Conference Semifinal between Detroit and Chicago. The Pens go out in a rather embarrassing fashion:

2012 : Yeah, that horrible series against the Flyers who were under their skin nearly every single game. Oh, and the scores were absolutely insane: 5-1, 8-4, 10-3. Of course it was against a team that they were more than capable of beating. But only if the Pens kept their emotions in check.

2013: Oh, hell yes I totally believed that this was their year. Sid, Geno, Neal, Kunitz, Letang, and basically every other member of the Pens was playing really well. And then, Marc-Andre Fleury happened in the first series against the Islanders.

We all know what happened. No need to beat a dead horse. Tomas Vokoun took over the net, leading the Pens to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins. Which, I still can’t talk about because of how mortifying it was.

We know how it went down and not one Penguin player or Pens fan is proud of their “effort.”

2014 Regular Season: A league-leading number of man games lost to injury. Well over 500. There were highs and lows of the season, especially after the Olympics when the Pens had a few small losing streaks. But adversity is a great teacher, right?

After having the expectation to win the Cup the previous two years, it is nice not to have that pressure from the media for once. Although the Pens are considered serious competitors, by no means do they have the same high level of expectation.

2014 Playoffs (thus far): Uhhhh, I don’t even know what to say because I’m just like Pens reporter Sam Kasan:

It’s also little facts like this that have me really concerned.

And after tonight’s game, where the last two goals are actually on Fleury, I almost don’t know what to do, say, or think anymore about the Pens. But then again, this is a part of the emotional roller coaster that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The only suggestion I have is listening to “Let It Go” on repeat until Game 5 on Saturday.

Hit the reset button, come into the game with the desperation that they had in Game 4, thus leading to their victory, and PUH-LEASE come with a power play that’s capable of doing some serious damage.

So please, please, please Pittsburgh Penguins, don’t let me and the rest of your fans down. Give us a reason to really believe.

You. Can. Do. It.

New Kid on the Block

Move over Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon is driving the Halifax domination bus now.

Basically, the kid’s got 7 points. In two playoff games. His first two Stanley Cup Playoff games. Which also coincide with his rookie season.

These first two games have looked like a walk in the park for him. Did anyone else see the INSANE goal he scored during Game 2?

If not that, did you catch any of his 6 assists from the last two games?

Did I mention he’s 18? Let’s leave it at: I’m reeeeeeeeally looking forward to seeing what the rest of his NHL career is going to bring.

But obviously, there’s more to Nathan than just hockey.

He’s an excellent student.

His four-month-old puppy, Duke, is the love of his life.

Nathan’s still a kid a heart.

but really though

(via http://ryankesler.co.vu/post/80542027515 )

His bromance with Gabe Landeskog and/or Ryan O’Reilly is probably one of the best new bromances to bud this season.

I could go on forever about Nathan MacKinnon, but….. Well I don’t think there’s a downside if I went on forever about him. He’s a pretty cool 18-year-old, that also happens to be one of the NHL’s and Avalanche’s emerging stars. Can’t wait to see what he’ll do the rest of the playoffs!

Tis the Season

No, it’s not Christmas quite yet. But, personally, this is my third favorite holiday on the calendar (after my birthday and Christmas, of course).

It’s that thing 16 teams have worked so hard to earn since October.

IT’S PLAYOFF SEASON!

These first two weeks are the ultimate test of how faithful I am to hockey. There’s either three or four games each night and with finals creeping around the corner, I will be watching (almost) all of it.

the motto until someone wins the Cup

My bracket has been officially entered to NHL.com. I’ve joined a few leagues. So we’ll see where my guessing gets me in two months.

bracketYup, 32 goals will be scored in the Stanley Cup Final between Pittsburgh and Chicago. Whether or not any of that actually comes true is a long ways away. But tomorrow night is a start in the right direction.

Good thing school is not my number one priority, otherwise I wouldn’t watch games during group meetings.

Because if I miss any game, much confusion will follow.

(via http://thg-joshifer.tumblr.com)

Because I hate not knowing what is happening during the playoffs. I’d be like a lost puppy. And that’s not good.

though terribly cute

More or less, the Stanley Cup Playoffs manage to be some form of paradise and torture. All at the same time!

It usually starts like:

Then, when the roller coaster of emotions begins, I’m like:

And at the end of the day, I remember:

So good luck to the 16 teams (more luck to some than others). May the best team win 16 games.

To the Ship!

March Madness finally ends in April. Clearly, I’m not the biggest basketball fan ever, but knowing that championship season for like every sport is about to start is really exciting.

First, on April 10th and 12th, the Frozen Four is happening in Philly! Let’s go *insert team that will beat Boston College here*. I seriously hope that Union can knock them out before the championship game, otherwise, I have the Minnesota Gophers winning the whole thing.

Then, four days after that, mine and Tina’s favorite two months of the year officially begins: the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It’s on like Donkey Kong. Yup, I just went there.

The 8 teams representing the East have been  finalized and we know the Boston Bruins will be the top spot.

The other teams that have clinched a spot in the East are:

Pittsburgh Penguins

Montreal Canadiens

Tampa Bay Lightning

Columbus Blue Jackets

New York Rangers

Detroit Red Wings

Philadelphia Flyers

ugh, I still hate them

In the West, there’s a bit more instability. The Anaheim ducks have clinched the Pacific Division, but the top spot is still up for grabs. Also, as of last night, the Sharks and Kings will play each other in the first round.

Here are the seven teams that have their spots locked:

San Jose Sharks

Los Angeles Kings

St. Louis Blues

Chicago Blackhawks

Colorado Avalanche

Anaheim Ducks

Minnesota Wild

And maybe Dallas will clinch the last spot in the West? We’ll see!

So more or less, championship season is on and I’m stoked.

Yeah, that’s all I had to say.