In Search of Lord Stanley

An epic journey into the frozen heart of hockey

toewstoes:

People follow a sport like hockey and they look for symbolism. They want the game to mean something. They want the game to matter. So to them, a fresh sheet of ice just after the zamboni’s laid its final spray of water presents the purest vision of possibility they could imagine. Skates being sharpened over and over and over again are meditation on perfection. And the routines and rituals that surround the rink are a language of dedication in need of no translation.  To them games aren’t meant to be seen they’re meant to be felt. Blood points a path directly to the heart. Sweat, a trail to the soul and tears, a connection to a conviction that people search for their entire lives. The ones that look for something more, believe in something more, are the ones that turn close games into unforgettable nights, who transform great players into heroes for all time. And who no matter what maintain unwavering faith in the incredible. They’re people out there who look at something like hockey and they want the game to matter. So it does. {x

So it does.

(via vodkagingerale)

 Game Notes: Pens/Wings. Pens SO win, 4-3

Things I wrote in my notebook during the first 40 minutes of this game:

 -‘Are we 100 100 100% sure it’s safe for Letang to be playing?’

-‘PLEASE LET 58 BE SAFE AND HEALTHY’

-‘zzzzZzzzzZzzz’

-‘nice move from [Swedish person who plays for Detroit]’

-‘PIERRE SHUT UP SRSLY’

-‘Detroit player names fun to say—Abdelkader, Kronwall’

-‘v. boring game’

 If you are a Pens fan and you were able to get truly excited about the first and second period of tonight’s contest, I applaud you. It just felt kind of meh. Meh, that is, except for the elation that we no doubt all felt at the sight of Kris Letang back in the active lineup. If you didn’t get a little teary seeing him suited up, knowing full well everything that both he and his family have been through over the last few months, you are made of stronger stuff than I.

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ARE YOU OK FOR REALS THOUGH?

 Other than that, this was not riveting Pittsburgh hockey for the most part. Not until Marc Andre Fleury came cartwheeling to the rescue, anyway, BUT MORE ON THAT LATER, DEAR READERS.

 The first period featured many, many shots on goal for Detroit, and rightfully so, as they were the team with something to gain this evening. The Wings only needed one point to ensure their place in the post season for the 23rd consecutive year, and despite the fact that they have a few more games to play they looked pretty determined to put the whole ‘will they or won’t they’ debate to rest RIGHT NOW TODAY. And by the way, TWENTY THREE STRAIGHT YEARS. I offer you an eight-tentacle salute, my friends. That is a record to be proud of. image

Theirs is a proud and dignified tradition.

 In many ways this game felt like an opportunity for Professor Bylsma to experiment before the big science fair begins next week. What happens, Dan wanted to know, when you cross a James Neal with a Sidney Crosby and a Chris Kunitz? Turns out you get some pretty productive pea plants*, students. Neal exploded into action doing what he does best, lighting up Gustavsson’s net on the power play not once, but twice. No one can take the place of Papa Dupuis, but it’s nice to see the obvious chemistry between these three.

 *shout out to anyone who picked up on my feeble attempt at a Gregor Mendel reference there, and to the weird part of the Venn diagram where biology and hockey overlap.

 The success of the great gene-splicing experiment aside, things only got truly entertaining when Detroit tied the game with less than two minutes left. The fact that they were able to tie felt more like a result of their frantic determination than a defensive failing on the Pen’s part; Pittsburgh’s blueliners did a stand-up job considering the number of scoring chances Detroit had. There was no shortage of thundering hits in the corners, the Pens trademark, but despite that the Men in Black only found themselves on the penalty kill twice over the entire 60 minutes. Not too shabby.

 After a fairly rousing but still scoreless overtime period, the fun started. Editorial note: I became a Pens fan because of Marc Andre Fleury. What’s not to like? The man is congenial as hell, and he sits between the pipes like a tightly coiled spring, bouncing around and gleefully bounding out of the crease to meet the attacking enemy. Also, this season he has a mustache so…there’s that! Anyway, as Pens fans I think we can all agree that there are few things more joyful to watch than Flower in the shootout. I generally abhor the shootout on the grounds that I like to see hockey games decided via the playing of actual hockey and not stupid carnival games, but there’s nothing better than seeing a player in his element.

His first save, against the venerable Daniel Alfredsson, was probably an accident an acrobatic masterpiece of flailing legs and feline playfulness. Following that, MAF made himself so imposing in the cage that he caused elfin wizard Pavel Datsyuk to miss completely. And finally, Tomas Tatar, who till that point had been putting on a convincing display for his team, was SHUT THE HELL DOWN by another tuck-and-roll by Fleury.

 

Wheeeee! *BIG THANKS to sidmalkin (link), original poster of this fabulous GIF

 In the end, the Pens won on the strength of Jussi Jokinen’s shootout success. To paraphrase Doc Emrick, it’s not often that everyone goes home happy at the end of a hockey game, but tonight was one of those rare occasions. Detroit, congratulations on keeping the party going. Pittsburgh, we are one game closer to the most wonderful time of the year. See you on Saturday for what will surely be a rip-roaring good time as we take on no one’s everyone’s favorite bad guys.

 Cheers!

Game Recap. Rangers/Hurricanes. NYR win 4-1.

 

A Little Something Extra

 

Thankfully the Rangers have already secured their spot in the playoffs, so this game isn’t quite as meaningful as it might have been, although gaining home ice is vitally important. Poor Carolina is out of the race, sitting at the sidelines watching the other ponies trot past. Will the Rangers play with all their might, or will they ease off the gas pedal in some kind of post-qualification slump? Will the Canes play bravely through their tears, making an impact the only way they can at this point, as party poopers? All these questions will be answered shortly, hockey fans, BUT FIRST:

 

A MAJOR AWARD

imageNot *this* major.

 Zucc wins the Steven R. McDonald Extra Effort Award, and how well deserved it is. Number 36 is the hardest working guy on Broadway, and seems custom-built to become a Rangers legend.  He has his own chant, his interviews with Al Trautwig are consistently unintentionally awkward, and he is on Battle Level 11 more or less at all times. Insert your favorite well-worn cliché re. good things and small packages here, and tap those sticks.

1st Period

After the warm fuzziness of the pre-game ceremony, things get off to a slow start. The Rangers are hanging out in their own zone, watching Carolina skate circles around them. The Canes play a dynamic game, there is no ‘get ready, get set’- the puck drops and it is GO GO GO. The Rangers are still digesting all the cake they ate at Zucc’s post-award party. They’re lethargic. They’re having trouble reading the puck because they’re jittery from all the sugar. Their heads are spinning from trying to keep track of all the jerseys with ‘STAAL’ on them.

MARC SAID TO TELL YOU TO CALL YOUR MOTHER

 

From inside the haze of our frosting coma, we stand mesmerized by the whirling, candy-cane pinwheel of Carolina forwards. The Rangers defense lets out a big burp and next thing you know Patrick Dwyer has hoisted the puck into the net off a feed from Bellemore from behind the net. 1-0 Carolina. Somebody get these kids some ice water and a good multivitamin before this starts getting ugly.

It’s the small victories, I guess.

 

Fortunately it’s not all bad news. The Moore-Boyle-Dorsett line performs well, keeping the flow of play moving and playing exactly the kind of two-way game you want to see in the run up to the playoffs. They’re the Rangers foundation, the picnic blanket on which the Broadway buffet rests. I’ve been happy with Brian Boyle especially; anyone who’s been watching since the season opener knows that for a while there he looked less like a hockey player and more like six feet and seven inches of rickety dead weight. Kudos to Vigneault for seeing his value as a solid fourth line man and keeping him in the mix.

 

The Rangers find themselves with a man advantage after Alexander Semin gets booked for hooking John Moore. Recent power play performances indicate that this will be a good time for NYR fans to use the bathroom or maybe do some quick jumping jacks in anticipation of bathing suit season; there is no evidence to suggest that it will be productive or even watchable hockey. BUT LO, ME YE OF LITTLE FAITH. Just nine seconds after the faceoff, Brad Richards is enjoying more than his fair share of personal space just outside the crease when he tees one up off a pass from St. Louis and WOULDJA LOOK AT THAT, it’s a POWER PLAY GOAL! Tie game, party people.

This one’s for my haters.

 

The period fades to black after a few more bursts of activity in Cam Ward territory, most notably a juicy opportunity for award-winning Norwegian Mats Zuccarello who is denied in front of a wide open net after he fails to get a solid shot off and watches as the puck is scooted to safety. But no matter. We have come to our senses. Our tummies have settled and we’re ready to get back on the dance floor.

 

2nd period

 Before I even have a chance to let my eyes refocus after spending the intermission gazing upon the shimmering glory of Ron Duguay’s gleaming teeth and hair, Benoit Pouliot has put the Rangers on the board after receiving a pass from Zucc that was so smart and so magical it immediately earned him an honorary doctorate from Hogwarts. The play begins with Anton Stralman working to keep possession and directing the puck to 36 high outside the circles, where he FAKES EVERYONE OUT OF THEIR BRAINS with what looks like a big fat slap shot but is actually a sleek, elegant pass to Pouliot who just happens to be zipping off the bench and towards the net at exactly the right speed, at exactly the right time. Just…oh man. This is the kind of stuff that makes you happy you stick with the Rangers even though lots of times they make you want to superglue your hands over your eyes. 2-1 Rangers.

 

I don’t know if Zuccarello, Brassard, and Pouliot have been doing non-stop trust falls and group therapy sessions or reading each other’s dream journals or what but they are intuitively united right now. Their command of the puck and ability to find each other is quite a thing to see when you consider that it wasn’t long ago when Zucc was constantly passing into empty space, Pouliot couldn’t get into position if it was his job (LOL IT WAS LITERALLY HIS JOB), and Brassard just looked like some guy you might run into at the salad bar at Whole Foods.

They even share a Netflix account, you guys.

 Jeff Skinner gets whistled for an elbow on Zuccarello, and the Rangers do the last thing you’d expect of them again and put on a power play clinic. Face off win, everyone in position immediately, clean passing, and after toying with a sans-stick Patrick Dwyer for a few delightful moments, Brad Richards has himself another power play goal. 3-1 Rangers.

 

3rd period

 

If you’re interested in ‘stats’ and ‘the score of the game’ then it will please you to know that in the third period Derek Stepan tipped the puck into the goal and put the Rangers up 4-1, thereby making the presence of the Carolina Hurricanes more or less  irrelevant for the remaining 15 minutes of the game. For this reason, or maybe because I was drunk on cupcakes (don’t tell me it’s not possible, it is possible), but during the third I was more concerned with making more general observations, SUCH AS:

 

-Let’s give Martin St. Louis three cheers, one for each assist he notched in this game. This is his first multi-point game as a Ranger, which is wonderful because it has been painfully obvious at times that he has been subjecting himself to an immense amount of pressure to fulfill his potential as a tiny, powerful scoring messiah. Stop being so tough on yourself, Marty. There are many ways to contribute here. We all know you’ll find your scoring touch eventually.

 

Who’s worried? We ain’t worried.

-There seems to be a lot of extra effort among the Rangers to set each other up for goals of late. This is a) cool, because it’s evidence that the boys are playing for each other, which in my opinion is one of the most powerful intangible factors in winning championships, and b) a little bit not cool at times because it leads to over-passing. Sometimes the best way to be a team player is to shoot the puck. Maybe I’m talking to you tonight, Derick Brassard. Maybe. But don’t feel bad, because this also applies to any Ranger who has played a shift with St. Louis. It’s sweet of you to want to help him score, guys. But don’t lose the Stanley Cup forest for the trees.

 

Teamwork makes the dream work, eh buddies?!

This was a solid, believable win, Rangers fans. Dare I say we even have cause to feel downright optimistic at this point? With McDonagh and Kreider both apparently on the mend and the rest of the dudes playing with intensity, it seems like anything is possible. Let’s hope this continues well into next month. On to the next one.  

 

Cheers.

Counting Down The Minutes: Off-Season Edition
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Can we blame Gary Bettman for the fact that it’s not October yet? Let’s do it anyway. 

 If, like me, you reside in the Pens camp, maybe you’ve been following the news that we’ve just hired a new goalie coach: Mike Bales, who was already a cog in the Penguins machinery as our goalie development guru. Goaltending has been a spot of some concern for the Pens over the last few seasons- *cough* playoffs *cough*- so here’s hoping that Bales can coax some consistent brilliance out of Flower and Co. The goaltending tandem at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton put up some of the best numbers in the AHL under Bales’ tutelage in 2012-13, which is enough to fill our heads with wild optimism and pre-season giddiness. What if Flower posts a 1.20 GAA this season, guys?! He could! He could do it!  image

This is the time to be drunk on POSSIBILITY.

 

Bales joins Jacques Martin in the newbies section of the Pen’s coaching corner. A one-time Jack Adams winner (1999, Ottawa), Martin has a very impressive resume. I’m hoping he’ll bring a fresh perspective to the bench, as well as some gravitas and balance, but what I really need to know is, can he hop up the wall and hurl obscenities over the gleaming dome of Pierre McGuirre and in the direction of the always delightful Peter Laviolette? Because that’s an important part of the job, Jacques. Do you mind if we call you Jacques?
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Just another day at the office.

 

And what about you, Rangers supporters? What news have you been nibbling on before your entrees arrive in October? Most likely you’ve been daydreaming about what our shiny new coaching staff has planned for the coming months. Shouting relentlessly at beleaguered forwards and cursing angrily at reporters for no real reason? No, friends, that is so last season. It’s a brand new day at MSG. Welcome, Alain Vigneault! Welcome back, Ulf Samuelsson and Daniel Lacroix! We can’t wait to see what you have in store. May I suggest simply speaking to your players in a normal, even occasionally respectful, tone of voice? There, we’re improving already.

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Honestly, it was fun while it lasted. Mostly. Is fun the right word?

 

For those who don’t support the Pens or the Rangers, we still feel your pain. The off-season may be the one thing that truly unites all hockey fans, regardless of team orientation. Because whether you dance with the Devils, get your rocks off in Colorado, or by the misfortune of your birth are somehow wedded to the Leafs, we’re all thinking the same thing right about now:  http://24.media.tumblr.com/d62229eb00535db4f387ee8fb6e61d5b/tumblr_mi6pt5O63O1ql5bibo1_500.gif

DROP THE FREAKING PUCK ALREADY.

Cheers, and thanks for reading.

Game notes: Rangers/Pens. Rangers win 6-1.

Let’s Go Rangers?

Sometimes when people ask me what my favorite movie is, I tell them something respectable like Rashomon or Vertigo or The Seventh Seal or whatever. But honestly, it’s Dumb and Dumber. Which, as you may know, features the following quote: "Just when I think you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this…AND COMPLETELY REDEEM YOURSELF!

The Rangers beat the Pens last night. Everyone came to play. Everyone. 
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So much happy!


But I should clarify. When I say ‘everyone’, I do not mean Marian Gaborik, who now hustles for the Columbus Blue Jackets. But I do mean Ryan Clowe, Derrick Brassard, and John Moore, the new kids on the block. Brassard and Moore hit the ice just 15 minutes after arriving in New York, and then combined for two goals and three assists on the night (Moore: 1 G; Brassard: 1 G, 3 A). Clowe got his name on the score sheet just days after making the move from San Jose. What in the name of Messier is that about? The noobs took the welcome mat, doused it in fine champagne, and set it on fire. image

Welcome. We love you already.

Oh, and on the subject of Gaborik— he deserves sincere thanks for his services to the club, but I have felt for a long time that Gabby needed to go. His performance this year was absolutely horrendous, but more than that he just didn’t look happy. Square peg, round hole. I wish him all the best in Columbus. And he gets to play with Dubinsky and Anisimov again. That’s cool, right?

Back to all the good stuff. Brian Boyle picked one up to start things off in the first, and also notched three assists. Ryan McDonagh tallied twice. Brad Richards had three assists, Dan Girardi had one. Granted the Pens defense was asleep at the wheel (also asleep at the wheel: the Pens offense, aside from Pascal Dupuis, because of course. The man is a warrior), but wouldn’t it have been just like the Rangers to fail miserably to take advantage of that fact?

Somehow, though, they managed to turn on the charm and seal the deal.

So what clicked? Don’t act like you know, because no one knows. The team has been nearly impossible to diagnose this season. Maybe this new group of players can manage to stop the blood that has been gushing directly out of our hearts since we banished Brandon Prust and the aformentioned Dubinsky and Anisimov. Will the Rangers give a similar performance tomorrow night in Pittsburgh? Flip a coin. Let’s be honest— there’s nothing about the Rangers performance this season to  suggest that a win of this magnitude could herald a lasting upward swing.

But then again, we know they can do it. Hell, we’ve always known they can do it. Sticks up and fingers crossed, boys. We’re all hoping that you, too, will be able to go from this:
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To this: image
The look of success if I have ever seen it.

Cheers, and thanks for reading.

Anonymous asked: Your game recaps make me laugh so much!

Aww, thank you very much! I am always so glad to hear that. I hope you’ll keep reading. Cheers! :)

Game notes: Rangers/Pens. Rangers win 6-1

So…that happened.

Clearly— and I’m saying this with great deal of love— the Pens have some adjusting to do. Yes, Crosby is still out and that’s obviously huge, but the continued absence of Kris Letang and Paul Martin is a pretty big challenge too. I really believe that the Pens have all the depth they need, but that doesn’t do much good unless everyone is on the same page. And I don’t know what book the Pens were reading last night but it did not contain any chapters titled, “Giving Two Shits: How To Appear As If You Do” or “Defense: A Love Letter”. 

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And who, may I ask, is in charge here?

I do not think that the Pens are destined for shipwreck simply because they’re sailing with a Sidney Crosby-shaped hole in the boat for a while. I do, however, imagine there are a few people in that locker room glancing around and wondering how all the pieces fit together with the keystone missing. It’s absolutely fixable. Fine-tuning, boys. Let’s do some.

Still in it to win it.

Anyway. Rangers perspective to follow soon.

Cheers and thanks for reading.

Game notes: Pens/Sabres. Sabres win 4-1.

You’re eating an ice cream sundae. No, I’m sorry, you’re eating a superlative, 100% delectable ice cream sundae. It’s everything you ever could have wanted, as far as desserts go. It even has a glistening, juicy cherry on top. image

And it’s ALL YOURS.

Then your little brother starts wailing behind you. You whip your body around in your seat awkwardly. Your elbow hits something…something cold. My god, the cherry. You watch helplessly as it rolls quietly off the table and onto the bare floor.

You’re freaking out inside.But it’s all going to be just FINE, little buddy! No need to fret— you still have one hell of a good thing in front of you. Right?

What I’m trying to tell you is that the Pens lost to the Sabres. OK. No biggie. Still #CupOrDie around here.

Honestly, what can you do? Sometimes you win 15 games straight, setting a record for the second-longest win streak in NHL history, and sometimes you lose 4-1 to Jason Pominville and his jolly band of C students. C students except for Ryan Miller— he’s totes in all AP courses. Steve Ott dropped out but is for some reason still smoking in the Seniors Only parking lot.

There were of course highs along with the lows last night. Jarome Iginla scored his first goal as a Penguin. Let’s give the man a proper slow clap and not let that little milestone get lost in the shuffle.

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You’re really one of us now!

And, ladies and gentlemen, I’d also like you to turn your attention to Brooks Orpik. Number 44 now has more career appearances than any other Penguins denfenseman in history, 622 to be exact. Tap your goddamn sticks on the ice. Three cheers for Free Candy. image

Yes, Brooks. You get a slow clap too.

Also of note was the fact that Marc Andre Fleury saw a little action after Vokoun got invited back to the bench. He stopped all 16 of the shots he faced. Don’t tease us, MAF. How’s the head feeling? image

Flower. Je t’aime.

Next up is a home-and-home against the Rangers, which should be interesting. The last time I tried to recap the Pens/Rangers game my brain turned inside out and I could smell colors for a week.

Anyway, let’s all get back to enjoying the fact that our team is still dominating. And someone should probably bring Sidney Crosby a bite of that sundae. You can eat ice cream with a broken jaw, right?

Cheers, and thanks for reading.

Game recap: Pens/Islanders. Pens win 2-0

This game was kind of like an Easter egg hunt. But in this case, as you scurry around the hedges in your starchy white pinafore, you quickly realize that a lot of the eggs are filled with things like battery acid, and toenail clippings, and bloody teeth. Sidney Crosby’s teeth.

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How could this go wrong?

Frustration takes over. You’re sitting on the lawn amongst the clover and cursing the Easter bunny for all he’s worth. Fluffy little flop-eared jag.

Lucky for you, you have a mom and dad and grandparents who love you, and who have secretly hidden freaking SOLID GOLD NUGGETS around the yard just in case the Holiday Lagomorph comes up short.

TAKE THAT, RABBIT. Anyway, point being: the game turned out alright. Let’s roll.

1st pd.

All you need to know about the first period is that Sidney Crosby got hit by a Brooks Orpik slapshot right in his precious, angelic mouth.

Slapshot. In the mouth.

Sidney Crosby. During his first shift, a puck flew through the air with great velocity and landed directly on his talking/chewing parts.

Did you hear me? Did you hear Steiggy and Errey mention it 657,842,228 times? THIS WAS A BIG STORYLINE, OK?

Now Dan has to reshuffle all his lines and we’ve got Tyler Kennedy playing center, Dupuis all over the dang place, James Neal oscillating wildly between left and right wing…things are messed up, man. The period ends and our only two shots have come from Deryk Engelland. At this point we don’t know if Sid is coming back or what.

Welcome to Bizarro World. Find a comfy chair, because we’re going to be here for a while.


2nd pd.

We start the 2nd by successfully killing what’s left of a Deryk Engelland hooking penalty. Apparently Engo wants to see his name in print tonight because he’s all over this one early on. The kill goes fine, thankfully.

Maybe it’s the combination of Sid being MIA and all our new guys out on the ice, but things just feel weird for most of this period. Accidentally wearing our shirt backwards all day weird. Store-brand Oreos weird. image
Eewwwwwww.


Andrew MacDonald gets booked for tripping, but all that happens on the resulting power play is that Kunitz blasts one waaay wide, and Dupuis fans on a slap shot seconds later. Duper is playing right point because WEIRD.

We get an update: Crosby will not be rejoining us this evening. OK. It’s like that, huh Universe? SERENITY NOW.

Jarome Iginla, bless his warm and fuzzy heart, sets up James Neal with a beautiful little pass in front of the net, but Nabokov says no way. I would like to take this opportunity to say how curse-wording awesome it is that Jarome is a Penguin. Welcome, sir. Extra mega bonus points for pulling an epic PSYCHE move on Boston. You really thought you had him, you silly bears.

The weird keeps on rolling as Kunitz, who everyone knows is a harmless little hedgehog who just likes to score wicked goals, gets a boarding major and a game misconduct after a 100% legitimate shoulder hit on Josh Bailey. The penalty was bullshit, but we do hope that Bailey is OK. He did not return to the game.

During the kill, Matt ever-loving Cooke gallops onto the ice and proceeds to put the hurt on every Islander he sees. He is an absolute beast down low, on the half boards, everywhere. The crowd is out of their seats. Cookie is a one-man penalty killing machine. Someone starts passing around a petition to exempt him from next month’s Moustache Boy. It gets over 6 million signatures in under two minutes.

 But wait! The fun doesn’t stop there! As Cooke continues his righteous crusade, the Universe decides to throw us another curveball and Brooks Orpik gets called for hooking. Now we have to deal with a 5-on-3. I repeat:

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This is how the period ends.

We’re gonna be OK, right Dad? Dad??

3rd pd.

For those of you keeping count, our top line— AKA the top line in the entire NHL— has now been completely dismantled and Pascal Dupuis is the last man standing. We are not amused. Duper seems to have things under control when he chats with Dan Potash during the 2nd period intermission, but he can only manage a weary, half-hearted version of his usual “Daaaaan”. Dan hangs his head and sheds a single, mournful tear.

We come out of the gate ready to fight the good fight in the 3rd. We take the remaining minutes of the 5-on-3 and KILL THEM TO DEATH. We are not going down like chumps, Universe. DO YOU HEAR US?

Suddenly it starts to feel like we’re finally shaking the weird off. The Iginla-Malkin-Neal line has a fearsome shift, passing with furious accuracy and pelting Nabokov with shots from every angle. The puck ends up back at the blue line where Despres acccidentally turns it over to Michael Grabner, who takes off on a breakaway. No biggie, Vokoun is there to slam the door in his face. Have I mentioned that Vokoun has been solid as a rock tonight? He is a blessed spot of consistency in a night that has otherwise been a drunken, sideways roller-coaster ride.

THEN, right after Vokoun sends Grabner to bed with no dessert, knight in shining armor Matt Cooke reappears and sends one home off an Engo rebound. GOAL, suckers! Pens are up 1-0. In the name of Crosby’s mouth, WE WILL WIN THIS.

Another update: Crosby has been sent to the hospital for Extreme Makeover: Hockey Edition dental work. He’ll probably have some blank spaces where his teeth used to be when all is said and done, but it looks like that‘s the worst of it. Poor little buddy. Am I the only one who thinks he’ll be kind of adorable with missing teeth?

Cookie’s goal has got everyone fired up. James Neal makes a thunderous hit on Travis Hamonic directly in front of the corner camera, sending a shower of delight across the realm. It is a perfect storm of body placement- meets camera placement- meets James Neal is pissed off and wants in on this action.

Nealer soon proves that monster-truck body shots aren’t all he has to offer, as he rockets up the right wing and treats Nabokov to one of his trademark faster-than-a-speeding-bullet wrist shots. GOAL. Neal is relieved- he hasn’t made an appearance on the score sheet for his previous nine games. We weren’t worried or anything, Nealer, but we’re glad you’ve got your scoring touch back. Oh and by the way, KICK ROCKS, ISLANDERS. 2-0 Pens.

Finally, after the Isles pull Nabokov with about three minutes remaining and fail in their attempts to tally, it’s over. It’s all over. Merciful heavens, this was exhausting.

Pens win. FIFTEEN GAMES unbeaten, kiddos. It was a wild and weird ride tonight, but we got home safely in the end. Also, we got to welcome Uncle Jarome into the fold.

Let’s keep this thing going. Join me as I raise a toast to an entire calendar month of winning, and to Sid’s prompt return.

Cheers, and thanks for reading.

Sure, Ray Shero is a trade-making machine. But he’s really just in it for the hugs.

Sure, Ray Shero is a trade-making machine. But he’s really just in it for the hugs.