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!!

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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

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!

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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.

The Unfortunate Nickname

Poor Brandon Sutter. You ask  why? Watch this weeks preview of “In the Room”

In the Room: A Peek Inside 2/25/14

Sutter gets THAT nickname because he’s skinny? But as our resident bad boy, James Neal, admits, he doesn’t even know how “Flat Stanley” became the official nickname for him.

If he was so skinny, he probably couldn’t do this:

Definitely making it my mission to make sure “Flat Stanley” doesn’t stick around for much longer.

Making Amends

So I should still be mad at James Neal, right? WRONG!

It’s been over a year and a half since we were exposed to the first sighting of him owning a pair of glasses via NHL 36.

Then, last night from the press box at Consol Energy Center, James did the unthinkable. A dream many of us had given up on.

He wore the glasses.

(Courtesy of herecomestomorrow.tumblr.com)

james 1

james 2

Moral of the story: Nealer is forgiven for all the heartache he’s caused me this last week and half because my heart melted the second I saw these pictures.

 

The Night Hockey Broke My Heart

Forewarning: This isn’t our typical kind of article. So if you’re looking for pictures, gifs, and funny commentary, please continue to the next article.

It’s an unfortunate reality that  in life our favorite things, people, and sports teams inevitably disappoint us for something they did that we simply cannot stand behind.

Clearly I am an avid hockey fan. I have a passionate love for the game that my parents and non-hockey-fan friends see has borderline crazy.

On more than one occasion, I have been thoroughly disappointed by the Penguins before. Whether it was the end of the 2011-2012 season with their last game against the Flyers ending in absolute bedlam, along with the atrocious  playoff series to follow or in the Eastern Conference Final last year where they were swept by the Bruins and the rivalry that has budded since. And I’m sure Tina can say how many times the Bruins have disappointed her as well.

Leading up to my next point. In my time as a hockey fan, the game itself has never disappointed me. But there’s a first time for everything.

Last night was nothing but normal here at school, Tina and I in separate rooms watching the Penguins @ Bruins final regular season game for this year.

Then, incident #1: Brooks Orpik laid a huge hit onto Loui Eriksson within the opening minute. I’m not going to discuss whether I think it was a clean or dirty hit, but this hit set the stage for the rest of the game seeing as Eriksson had to leave the remainder of the game and no penalty was assessed on the play.

Now mind you, at this point I’m looking at the TV like “Oh God. Here we go again.” Because as tough as the Penguins are, hard hitting will always and forever be the Bruins dominant territory. If you watched you know the game got more and more intense throughout the first period. Shawn Thornton being the “stick up for your teammate” kind of guy was going after Orpik to make sure he answered for his hit on Eriksson. However, if you know Brooks’s game as well as I do, you know he’s not the kind of guy who feels the need to fight in order to settle a score for something he did. Thornton continued to harass him without answer and was given a minor penalty for roughing about 6 minutes into the game.

mckenzie

The game continued in its rough nature until the two most highly controversial plays of the night. Let’s go in chronological order and discuss James Neal’s run-in with Brad Marchand first.

Everyone knows I love Nealer, but his knee to Marchy’s head is something I will not standby and defend him for. It made me even more upset when in his post-game interview he tried to play it off as if it was an accident and he didn’t notice him laying on the ice. I call shenanigans on those statements. Luckily Marchand was okay and able to finish out the game. As for another post-game interview, specifically coach Dan Bylsma’s, I applaud him for calling Neal out and saying he didn’t make the effort to get out the way. Neal has a phone hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety at a date TBD and since it is a phone hearing, his suspension will be no more than 5 games.

Now the incident that ensued in the seconds after Neal’s knee on Marchand.

There was a bit of a scrum occurring between the two teams at the other end of the ice because if the previous incident and dutifully, the referees were breaking it up. One of the people involved in the scuffle was none other than Brooks Orpik. If you’ve seen the video (which will not be posted on this blog), then you know Shawn Thornton made an effort to skate towards Orpik, pull him down to the ice, and punch him in the head a couple of times. I do not want to know what possessed him to do such a thing to an unsuspecting player who made it pretty clear in the minutes before that he was not interested in fighting.

Orpik was down on the ice for a significant period of time and the training and medical staff were immediately called from the benches once the referees saw the condition he was in. After getting him to Mass General Hospital, where he was able to complete a number of tests to ensure he was okay, the Penguins did release a statement saying the Brooks was conscious and alert. *insert slight sigh relief here*

In Thornton’s post-game interview, he did nothing but apologize for his actions, and as a Penguins fan I’m glad he did. He will have an in-person hearing with the Department of Player safety at a date TBD, meaning he will face a suspension of 6 or more games. Now before any of you start smack talking Thornton for being “such a dirty player” please keep in mind that this will be his first suspension EVER. One dirty play does not make him a dirty player. Make sure you get your facts straight.

When all hope was essentially lost at this point in the game, there was one moment that made me realize there was still some class left. This act was performed by none other than Patrice Bergeron, helping the responding EMT get the stretcher over to where Orpik lay unconscious.

bergeron

 

This was the only redeeming moment in the entire game. So thank you Patrice for making me believe there was still some sort of light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

Say whatever you want about what happened at this game, but for me, I was crushed at what this “rivalry” has come to. If playing tit-for-tat and messing with a players long term health has become a part of it, then count me out because that’s not a true rivalry. Also, if you’re a so-called fan saying “Orpik got what he deserved”, then you need to learn to respect another human beings life. Because it doesn’t matter what team you cheer for, any decent fan would never wish this upon their worst enemy. This is a time when Eriksson and Orpik’s long term health has come into play and all any fan should be caring for is that they both make a full and speedy recovery.

I’m happy this is the last time the Penguins and Bruins are to meet in the regular season because I don’t want to know what the next game would (or may (come playoffs)) have entailed after this disgusting, gutless display of hockey.

The score may have been 3-2 in favor of the Bruins, but there was no real winner at the end of this game.

Take the time to read these articles as well:

http://section328.com/2013/12/08/no-place-in-our-game-for-what-happened-tonight/

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/shawn-thornton-s-hit-on-brooks-orpik-is-the-kind-of-garbage-the-nhl-needs-to-clean-up—quick-144044508-nhl.html

What We’re Thankful For

Tina and I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season. We go to an awesome college, there’s no lockout this year, and our favorite players have continued to impress us with their good looks and charm throughout these past few months.

Here’s some of our favorites:

But most importantly Tina and I are most thankful for all our loyal readers. Without you guys, this blog would not exist!

Pens vs. Bruins (Megan vs. Tina)

Living with someone else who’s as passionate about the game of hockey as you are is a wonderful thing.

Except for when you like different teams.

That are in the same conference.

Have a pretty big rivalry.

And a fairly brutal history.

Luckily Megan and I manage to keep our differences to ourselves the majority of the time.

So with that said this article isn’t going to contain too much opinion and I’ll try to stick to an objective recap (wish me luck).

While the Penguins outplayed the Bruins, especially in the first 10 minutes of the game, the bruins managed to be the first to put the puck in the back of the net.

Loui Eriksson, from Soderberg, went between the legs and had a beauty of a goal to kick the bruins into gear.

Shortly after, Soderberg had another assist and set up Smith to score on the Bruins only power play opportunity of the night making it 2-0

 The Pens weren’t going to let that last for long though and good ole’ ginger beard Nealer came to the rescue scoring just 37 seconds into the second

He did it again in the third with a gorgeous top shelf goal to tie the game

Chara answered though and brought the Bruins ahead 3-2 with 5:15 left in the third

And then the game was almost over

But then this happened…

Crosby, being his usual self, decided that he really didn’t want the game to be over and tied the game with .3 seconds left

Shave it. Now.

So they headed to overtime, but the Bruins didn’t let Crosby’s goal bring them down.

At all.

And Krug only let OT last for 34 seconds

While neither team played at the level that they’re capable of, they gave us fans a pretty great show

Rask is still one of the keys to the Bruins success, keeping them in it when they’re being outplayed

And while the Pens weren’t on top of their game, they once again relied on their top talent (Crosby & Neal) to pull them through when needed

Fortunately (for me) the Bruins still found a way to win.

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