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.

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.

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.

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.

And We’re Back…

NHL games are BACK today and boy are we ready!!

tumblr_mpq78iO9W31qhub34o1_500

The last two weeks were amazing. The Olympics provided more than enough entertainment to make up for the lack of NHL games. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out so well for Team USA.

But just a few great things did happen in the world of Olympic hockey…

1) Everyone and their mother now know who TJ Oshie is

ice-hockey-winter-olympics-day-20140215-151212-394

And the majority of those people are going to claim to have loved him before this epic shootout…

but what really matters is that AMERICA loves him now.

Let’s face it.. how could you not?

tumblr_n1gw2numtL1qd89cio1_500

2) America didn’t suck as bad as we thought they would 

They still didn’t bring home a medal but before the games started most people predicted that Team USA would be a joke. The Olympics were going to be a great opportunity to make fun of this amazing country on the world stage.

And it’s true… Team USA didn’t have the depth or skill level.

But what they lacked in talent they made up for in HEART.

To say that we were surprised by how well their first few games went would be an understatement.

We loved it though. Every second of it.

tumblr_n198bo8f611skgd7ao1_r1_500

3. PUPPIES

Oh yeah… this happened too.

So while it wasn’t the best outcome for Team USA, it’s time for us to hug it out and move on

tumblr_n1einz0SXh1syzc36o1_400

BACK TO THE NHL

We’re ready for games to be on at normal hours of the day again…

And there’s a good game or two on this week.

Like this one.

So have a great week everyone. You deserve it. 

Happy Birthday, Dutchy!

On this glorious January day in 1991, Matt Duchene graced the world with his presence and we immensely thank his parents.

He’s officially a member of Team Canada, meaning he’s going to tear it up in Sochi, if and when he’s Sid’s and or John Tavares’s winger. Yes, either of those good-looking men since they workout together in the summer!

It’s so easy to love a guy who keeps really great company. But if you’re an Avalanche fan you know he’s capable of magical goals that leave everyone speechless and 29 other goalies looking like helpless kittens.

Just watch the first one again, close-up.

how does he do it?!

Not only does the birthday boy have unbelievable hockey skill, he’s actually a huge country fan. So much that his dog, Paisley, is named after Brad Paisley.

Oh yeah, he plays the guitar too! In related news, all the single ladies just put their hands up to volunteer to be his girlfriend.

Just to make all you country girls fall in love just a bit more, over the summer Matt and a few teammates attended Luke Bryan’s concert. Then, they casually met him afterward!

If you didn’t love Matt Duchene already, you do now.

Happy 23rd Birthday, Dutchy! Celebrate wisely after playing the New Jersey Devils tonight!

obviously with Pauly

Bowling for Smiles

There’s nothing like when hockey player’s are performing charity work within the community. Last night, the Pittsburgh Penguins took a break from being the on-ice idols to become friends with children who are in less than fortunate circumstances.

2014 “Pens & Pins” Make-A-Wish Charity

It’s events like this that make my heart melt. Seeing guys who are larger than life, take time out of their busy schedules to have fun with well deserving kids, is a sight that is always welcome to any fan.

It’s these kind of moments that bring a smile to anyone’s face. Not only does it make you want to restore faith in humanity, but it makes you want to try to be a better person.

It’s no secret that all NHL teams perform acts of charity, like going to local children’s hospitals to deliver Christmas presents. But every time it happens, my overall “level of happiness” soars through the roof.

Whenever any hockey player performs charity work, it completely reaffirms the reasons why Hockey Players are Actually Sweethearts.

Like #4 Can Make a Difference.

24 Reasons Why Hockey Players Are Actually Big, Cuddly Sweethearts

And #7 They’re Very Caring.

But they're also very caring.

Hockey players are the most awesome athletes in the world. Bringing smiles to well-deserving kids and their families warms my heart beyond belief. So, thank you NHL players for being the amazing guys you are and being a part of something that’s greater than yourselves.