No other sport compares to Hockey; The speed, the intensity, and the nail-biting that goes along with it. All season fanbases go through a stream of emotions ranging from anger/frustration to pride/elation. But when it’s that time of year when the race for 16 wins to hoist the cup begins everything intensifies to an out-of-this-world level, bringing the best and worst out of everyone. Inevitability there will be smack talk and spirited debates as with any sport, but with today’s age of social media things can go from A+ to ugly in a matter of a few tweets thanks to the semi-anonymity of the internet. So what is a hockey fan to do in order to survive this time of year? Hit the bottle? Invest in an AED? Up their blood pressure medication? Well here are a few tips from this seasoned veteran on how to survive the highs & lows of the playoffs.
1.Remember, nothing is sure in the playoffs
Truthfully the only thing 100% sure about the playoffs are hte initial seeding, and from there on out anything can happen. Being the top three seeds doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have an easy sweep, no matter what the sports analysts and couch coaches say. Attitude, grit, and perseverance is what leads teams to the next round of the playoffs — not scoring titles, trophies, or superstars in this team sport. Injuries, fights, suspensions, wins, and losses can bring momentum or change the standings in a heartbeat – so be prepared
2. Hang onto your Rally Towel and Don’t Panic
If your team screws up a game you can be upset, but don’t take to the Smithfield street bridge yet. Remember, you need four wins to proceed in a series. I repeat, you need FOUR wins. As stated above anything can happen in the playoffs, so do not “give up hope”until your team is hitting the golf course. You wouldn’t want them to give up if they are down by a game or two, so why should you? #Believe
3. Don’t Feed the Trolls
Trolls can be hiding anywhere; on twitter, facebook, tumblr, or even within plain sight at your office. Know when to defend your point of view, and when to step away. If you base your argument in facts, stats, and replay videos be prepared for them still to call you a fuckhead (or other choice words). Remember that feeding the trolls is bad – You can make a valid argument, but in their mind you are the moron and they are always right. So save yourself the frustration and annoyance by refusing to feed them anything to go off of. Trust me from experience, that 15 minute rant you made on Facebook or 160 character tweet isn’t going to make things better.
*Note: There are some people who are phenomenal at destroying trolls, so sometimes you have to leave that up to the experts
The three keys mentioned above may seem to be silly reminders, but sometimes we all need a smack to the back of the head. We all get emotional during the playoffs; from the players, to coaches, to veteran and new fans! OK, Now are you ready to continue your quest as a hockey fan watching the race to the cup? I know I am. Let’s Go Pens, Blackhawks, Kings, and Rangers!
I swear had every intention of posting this review this weekend, however “life” happens sometimes! But before the playoffs begin tonight I wanted to end the regular season with a quick highlight review of this shortened 48-game season. The Penguins ended the season in the top spot in the Eastern Conference & Atlantic Division with 72 points, coming in second in the league overall to the Chicago Blackhawks. They made it though the season with 36 wins, 12 Losses, and zero overtime losses. They even recorded a 15 game winning streak, the only team ever to have an entire “prefect month” — Not too shabby for a shortened season eh?
I have always had a strong respect for goaltenders as both a fan and a player. They are the final defense of your home, and their skill can either make or break your team. But when watching professional sports or even some beer leagues I often hear people say “Pfft, I could do that.” Well fans and critics, I hate to burst your bubble but it is far from an easy position to play.
I’ve played defense primarily, and even had a few stints as a winger, but Sunday afternoon was my first opportunity to take the position in between the pipes in our all girls dek league. My fifteen minute crash course in goal-tending included tips on body positioning and how to “read” where the opponents would move to. I also had to learn how to properly hold the goalie stick, which felt completely unnatural after playing D/F for so many years. And the final advice I was given was when all else fails, just fall and cover the ball. And then just like that, I was walking into the rink and taking my my spot.
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The goal-tending on both sides of the ice was insane. While Vokoun faced more shots and Nabokov let two in, If it wasn’t for both the goaltenders performance the score would have been much higher. This makes the second shutout in a row for Vokoun, and three shutouts in the last three games. Maybe now people in Pittsburgh will stop ragging on Vokoun (though I doubt it).
The PK Units had their work cut out for themselves today with multiple penalties and a 5-3 opportunity for around a minute and a half. From what I saw at the game in person Matt Cooke, Craig Adams, and Mark Eaton were just downright amazing. You can really tell that these veterans stepped up their game in order to fend off any scoring opportunities for the Islanders.
Matt Cooke was rewarded for his hard work on the Penalty Kill unit with a great goal in the third period which changed the tide of the game. And finally, after a nine game drought James Neal scored a beauty of a goal. And the icing on the cake was that after grinding their way through the game, both Engelland and Doug Murray each recorded a point today. With the loss of Sidney Crosby due to injury early in the game, and Chris Kunitz’s game misconduct the lines were quite shuffled, however they did generate some amazing scoring chances. And while it will take some time, the idea of Neal, Malkin, and Iginla on the same line sounds awfully dangerous once they build up some chemistry.
Murray was a wall and parted the seas through parts of the game. Eaton was a strong and stable piece of the equation, and Engelland had a great game after being scratched. Orpik had his high and low moments, and there were some blatant miscommunications between Niskanen and Despres. Missing Letang and Martin on th ice is a huge loss, so the other half of the defense are going to have to find their groove in order to keep this streak alive. However it’s my hope that Vets like Eaton will step up be able to help everyone keep calm and playing strong.
During the first period of today’s game we lost captain Sidney Crosby, who took a Brooks Orpik slap shot to the mouth. In the Post-game press conference we learned that Crosby had been transported to a hospital for oral surgery, and a timetable or status at this point is unknown. We also learned that Paul Martin will be going in for surgery tomorrow for an upper body injury, his estimated return is around 6-8 weeks. Speculation is that he was injured when taking a shot to the wrist/hand area though his exact injury was not stated. This is a huge loss for the penguins Defense if he cannot return until the second week of the playoffs. These two injuries are compounded by Kris Letang being out 7-10 days with a broken toe and the scary hit to the head for Fleury (though he appears to be fine now).
Between the excitement of Iginla joining the ice, the cringe worthy moment of Crosby’s injury, and the intense battle between both teams this was truly an edge of your seat type of game. It was a memorable experience being out in the crowd this afternoon as the streak extended to 15 games. You know you are becoming a spoiled fan when you say “You know what is better than 15? 16.”
Last night it looked like Jarome Iginla was going to be shipped off to Boston, this morning we awake to find he is a Pittsburgh Penguin. The Calgary Flames in return receive Ben Hanowski, Kenny Agostino and a 2013 first-round draft pick.
Let’s just let this sink in…
We Get Iginla, the Flames get a 1st round pick and two draft picks.
You have to sit back and wonder how does Ray Shero do it? Is he a Suma Kum Laude graduate of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? Does the Devil owe him a favor? Perhaps he has some “TMZ” style dirt on the other GM’s? With Iginla’s ‘No Trade Clause’ he had the final choice on where he would end up. While Boston had the better deal for Calgary, Iginla wanted to come to Pittsburgh which speaks volumes. He wants a shot at the cup, he wants to play with Sidney Crosby, and he wants to be a part of the organization as a whole.
You can sit and debate “Oh all these are rental players” till you are blue in the face, but in reality you have to accept the fact that this is a big move and that a perfect storm is brewing in the Eastern Conference. It will be interesting to see the results of this trade, and to find out if Lord Shero is done yet or not. Well Pens fans, I hope you have your seat-belts on because this is going to be one hell of a ride.