My fellow Pens fans will probably hate me for a little while after this! But only until the outcome of the playoffs proves me right!
In my opinion, which I believe to be a very in depth one, there is no way the Pens make a Cup run this year! Only by a leap of faith do they have a chance to win it. Anyone that knows me, knows that it pains me to say this! I just have no choice!
In the second half of the season they lost two of the top five players in the game today. They are playing with pretty much a new and fresh team. It kind of feels like the Pens just came out of the lockout and dressed some guys to start the new season! It's difficult to watch a team have one of the best years they have had in recent history, only to watch the steady crumble of them. They are not playing bad now, just kind of in a rebuilding process! But it's hard to get so many fresh faces used to the system in such a late time of the year. They still have playoff hopes, that I see to be useless except to give some of the youngest guys a chance to see what the post season is all about and be prepared for the next run. My only problem is the false sense of hope it will give many Pens fans out there.
Me, I'm a realist! I know this team. Maybe not the exact stats of a player or his favorite ice cream or where he played junior hockey. But I know this team. I know their ebbs and flows. I know their chemistry. I know pretty much whether they are gonna win or lose a game before they even hit the ice. I do not have premonitions and I am not a psychic, but I pay a lot of attention to their mannerisms and their attitudes. You can see when they feel defeated or just not in it one day. The same as you can see when they are out to do nothing but win and have an air about them that just shows confidence and comfortability.
THEY ARE THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS!
The every mans team. They are the grinders, the strikers, the shooters and the looters! They are the number one team on the ice that any of the other 29 teams would love to beat. You don't believe me? Go check the stats of every arena in the league before the Pens come to town and when the Pens come to town. Arenas sell out, news coverage will all of a sudden start to give hockey more airplay time than they would if the home team was playing the Panthers! Nothing against the Panthers, they just can't bring a crowd like the Pens can. If the Penguins are involved in any city, sales of all things hockey go on the rise.
They are also the most hated team in the league, for many reasons. It first started with the greatest player that's ever hit the ice! You know him as the Big 66! As the team got better from '84 on they started to build rivalries. 66's biggest was 99! Maybe not in their heads but for us Lemieux lovers, Gretzky didn't hold a candle. Like PAC and Biggie, the east coast west coast hockey war had begun! Since then of course you have cross state rivals the . You can never go wrong when these teams meet up. But then you head South East down 76 to 70 to 270 to 495S to the GW Parkway head north on 395 and make your way to F Street and the biggest rival of the time that dates back 30+ years sits in the middle of Washington DC. Yes I'm talking about the !
Some newbie fans on both sides want to believe this rival is a recent media trick spun out of Hollywood! You know like "SidVechkin!" But that's not when the tale started. It goes back to an old division that a lot of you seem to forget. The stars of that division were Lemieux, and Stevens, don't forget about Barraso and Wregget. But there was also Al Iafrate, Ciccarelli, Hunter and Donnie Beaupre! The former helped run the latter out of the playoffs for years. It was a very rare occurrence when the Capitals of the country were able to take down the Steel boys of Pittsburgh. It was always a good showdown but the Pens defeated and went on to win TWO and left the Caps in the dust with none. That is the number the Caps continue to have to this day! That is when the rivalry started. We older fans have an idea of it because we lived it. We were there to see this rivalry build and the hate start to take over when these two played each other. It was like thunder and lightning crashing down all over you!
But to be on top you have to have enemies. The Pens don't really have many enemies with the other players on the ice. It's more with the fans barely in the stands. All Caps fans these days hate Sid. I say it's envy and the only reason they can muster up out of their weak hockey knowledge database is a phrase either some idiotic commentator or ignorant to hockey fan out there blurted out one night. "Cry Baby!" The most hurtful phrase any twenty year old man would have to hear! I hear him sobbing, ssshh.... You hear that?, wah wah! I guess they finally got to him. Envy is worse then anything because it's a slight hair away from jealousy. But once you hit envy you've left jealousy alone on a date with some other up and coming "Fair-Weather Red Fan"! I admit Ovi gets under my skin. But not because he cries. It's because he is flashy, crazy and just doesn't give a damn. That's an awesome attitude, just not for the Pens. I hate the guy but I respect the hell out of his hockey! I just wish he would move out of his parents' house and be his own man! Haha, really I don't care. It's his choice! Yes the media hypes these two whenever they play each other, which does raise the intensity of the rivalry, which is good for the sport. But this is the new end of it. This came from years in the making not just the past five.
Which brings me back to my original topic; post season! The Pens and Caps will likely face off this year in the post season but with a depleted core group on the Penguins side of the blue line and a fairly strong, fighting and still mainly together group on the Capitals end, I believe the Capitals will be able to make a mark on their belts when they finally defeat the Pens in the playoffs in a year that actually means something. The Pens will have the heart to make it to the cup but will they have the skill? Knowing where the team is will bring a load of intensity from any team facing them because they will believe they have a pretty good chance of taking them down! But as I said earlier, They are, The ! They play in a class of their own and they are always the team to beat! So to all my Pens lovers out there, Keep your heads up and just wait till next season! The birds that cannot fly will take off with a magic in their skates to play for Lord Stanley's Trophy! Never give up because......