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!!

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

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.

Preview: Sochi 2014

In a few weeks the Olympic hockey team rosters are due.

Team USA and Team Canada have quite a bit up in the air and the players haven’t been making their roster decisions any easier. We’ve decided to take a little look at some of the players around the league that may (or may not) have a chance at making it to Sochi.

Team USA

Goalies:

Ryan Miller

While not playing as well this season as he has in the past, Miller has made the saves that he’s had to make. He’s currently at the top of our list for making the team given that there really isn’t anyone else that is stepping up for the spot. And after all, he’s just so damn American.

Jonathan Quick

A groin strain has had Quick out for a while and the Kings are being relatively vague about how much longer until he’ll be playing again. At the beginning of the season he was USA’s number one choice, so if he can get back out on the ice in time there’s a chance that he could still be considered… but most likely not.

There are obviously other goalies that are being considered such as Ben Bishop and Jimmy Howard. With Howard’s recent injury that’s going to have him out for 2-4 weeks there’s no telling what Team USA is going to end up doing. They’re going to have to consider not only who’s the most skilled but who’s going to be the healthiest and in best shape when it comes to game time. (No I didn’t forget about Timothy Thomas… I just don’t want to talk about him).

Defense:

Team USA is going to look at getting defenseman that work well together as pairs and not necessarily players who are good individually. There are a lot of options out there for Team USA to choose from so pulling players that already have chemistry is going to be where they start from.

Ryan Suter

As a veteran on Team USA, Suter is going to play a big role at Sochi. You’ll find him leading the teams defense and most likely getting the most time defensively on the ice.

Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin

While both of these players are currently out with injuries, there’s no way that you can count them off Team USA’s roster. If there’s any chance that they will be healthy by the Olympics, Poile is going to make sure that they’re going to be making the trip.

Some other players that have a good chance of making team USA on defense are John Carlson, Justin Faulk, Jack Johnson, and Erik Johnson. Young players like Torey Krug and Seth Jones are most likely being considered as well.

Forwards:

When it comes down to deciding which forwards will make the roster there isn’t much controversy. It’s going to be the last few spots that are going to be a tough decision for Poile. Some of the men that have a pretty solid chance at making the roster are Zach Parise, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Kane, Phil, Kessel, Bobby Ryan, Ryan Callahan and Dustin Brown.

David Backes

Our favorite goon of a forward that is most likely headed off to Sochi is the David Backes. A mysterious upper-body injury that forced him to leave the game on Thursday against the Senators hopefully won’t hamper his opportunity.

Team Canada

Goalies:

Carey Price

As expected, Price is doing an alright job with the Montreal Canadiens so far this season. He currently has a record of 15-10-2, save percentage of .935 and a goals against average of 2.00. He has the potential to be the teams starter, but thank goodness back-ups are a thing.

Roberto Luongo

Luongo has been playing better as of late, but his overall stats are no better than those of Price’s. With a record of 16-8-5, save percentage of .921 and goals against average of 2.19, it’s going to be a tough decision for Coach Mike Babcock to decide who will be Team Canada’s net-minder. However, the positive is that he was the starting goaltender in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Oddly enough, Marc-Andre Fleury may potentially be an option for Team Canada as well since he currently leads the league in wins with 18. However, Steve Yzerman has some tough choices because Braden Holtby, Mike Smith, and Corey Crawford were also invited to camp this past summer. None of these choices are outstanding, but they’re all a solid choices for the team.

Defense:

Duncan Keith

Keith currently has 28 assists and 30 points in 36 games. He can quarterback a powerplay and shut down the oppositions offensive threats. He would be a perfect fit for Team Canada.

Shea Weber

Most famously known for having the second hardest slapshot in the world (next to Zdeno Chara of course), he is a strong stay-at-home defenseman that Team Canada will need if there are going to be some offensive defensmen on the roster as well.

Kristopher Letang

When he is in the Penguins line up, he is a difference maker seeing as he quarterbacks their powerplay and also is not afraid to jump into the offensive rush. However, he is currently on the IR with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Meaning there is room for guys like, Drew Doughty, Brent Seabrook, and Alex Pietrangelo.

Forwards:

Jonathan Toews

Since the 2010 Olympics, Toews has done nothing but impress. Winning two Stanley Cups and taking home the Selke Award for Best Defensive Forward, proving that he is capable of leading teams to championships and being a great two-way player that is key to every teams success.

Mike Richards

Another strong, aggressive player who is excellent on the penalty kill as well as the power play. He’s proven his ability to win at all levels with having a Stanley Cup, World Junior Championship, and was a member of the 2010 gold medal winning Team Canada.

Sidney Crosby

Since he was Mr. Golden Goal back in Vancouver and is currently leading the league with 47 points I suppose I have to put him on the list. He is the first layer of the offensive threat that Canada is going to be able to bring.

There are many other options available to Steve Yzerman like Chris Kunitz, Matt Duchene, Patrice Bergeron, and John Tavares to name a few.