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I’m here today to give a preview to the Pittsburgh Penguins first round playoff with the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s very evident that I am a hockey fan, but why? Why would a grown man dedicate so much time and an unhealthy amount of money to a team in which he didn’t make the cut? There are a lot of answers to that question and I’d like to talk about that before I make my preview of the playoffs.

 

First things first, I grew up a hockey fan, I play hockey (not ice because I’m an uncoordinated oaf who skates like an inebriated 3 year old), a lot of my close friends are hockey players collegiate or otherwise. By being around the game and trying to be part of the game, you realize that these guys are very unique characters…

 

“American professional athletes are bilingual; they speak English and profanity.”~Gordie Howe

 

Ron Francis, asking teammate Mario Lemieux what he did to stay in shape in the off season. Lemieux”s response: “I don”t order fries with my club sandwich.”

 

Explaining why he keeps a color photo of himself above his locker: “That”s so when I forget how to spell my name, I can still find my (expletive) clothes.”~Stu Grimson

 

“How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?”~Jacques Plante

 

The players in the league are what make the experience unique. It’s been written about on ESPN.com that fans in Pittsburgh have the most intimate relationship with their teams. It’s very true, I’ve traveled to other arenas and watched other teams and their fans, a hockey fan in general is very passionate, but Pittsburgh fans are passionate about this team on another level. I’m only 24 years old and I was not born here, I was not a Penguin fan when the Penguins won either of their 2 Stanley Cups. But over the past few years you develop a close and tight-knit feeling with this organization. The fans rallied behind the team when the team was in jeopardy of leaving the city. Mario Lemieux won the team 2 cups, and then saved the fans their team. With the rallies that occurred during that process, the players interacting with fans in the student rush line, the “shirts off our backs” fan appreciation night, and the countless trips the players take to local hospitals to be with sick children, this team cares about this town, their fans, and the fans care about this team right back.

 

 

“Hockey captures the essence of Canadian experience in the New World. In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive.”~Stephen Leacock

 

This quote really seems great with everything that has gone on in the economy throughout the country, and with the tragic events that took place in Pittsburgh just last week. We live in a cold world where nothing is easy and sometimes things happen that we have no good reason for. There can be days where it just doesn’t seem like anything is going your way and you don’t know when things are going to turn around. I’m not advertising for hockey to be a cure for anything along those lines…its not like “Hockey: We’ll cure that cancer!” or anything like that. It’s just a game. But it’s a temporary escape. An outlet. A distraction you can have for a few hours every game night, you can really get involved with something and feel the camaraderie when you are at the game. It lets you forget about what may or may not be going on with you, and get involved with something outside yourself. It really is amazing, in my opinion.

 

Anyway, moving forward. Preview of the 1st Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

4. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 5. Philadelphia Flyers

 

The abridged version, Philadelphia is for rapists. Pens in 6.

 

The unabridged version, I don’t like Philadelphia. I don’t like Mike Richards. I don’t like Scott Hartnell. I don’t respect Martin Biron’s goaltending abilities. They do not like Sidney Crosby. I have a large man crush on Sidney Crosby. They have abused Sid in the past, knocked out his teeth, fans heckle him unmercifully, and my Lord the things these people on the internet have said about him are pretty appauling. But, you don’t piss off Sid. He will punish you for it. When I found out that Philadelphia was our first round opponent, I worried less than (insert joke here). If I were a Flyers fan, I would be more worried than a starving Somalian child watching Sally Strothers unpack the air dropped food. In his career against the Flyers, Crosby has been just short of spectacular. For a player who never takes a shift off and is always working hard, watching him play against Philadelphia is truly hockey, passion, and effort at its finest.

 

And it’s not just Crosby. Last season, we eliminated the hated Flyers from the playoffs in just 5 games. This season we took 4 of 6 against our cross state rivals. Evgeni Malkin won the league scoring title. Sidney Crosby is an elite force himself. We are one of the most lethal offensive teams in hockey. Martin Biron is not good enough to win Philadelphia this series.

 

All in all, we’re going to win. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re going to get out of the first round. We are a different team than we were last year. It’s very important to remember that. But with a new year, comes new magic. This team is good enough to compete every night. Always remember that. Always have faith. Pens in 6.

 

NHL.com has a great piece about the playoffs available on their website. A few highlights are “Put away the foil.” This is great for the hockey fan who doesn’t enjoy the fights. This isn’t guaranteeing that there will be no fights in the playoffs, because as anyone who’s watched any hockey this season, especially with the Penguins/Flyers, anything can happen, but the stakes in the playoffs are so high and every ounce of energy is important, know that if the gloves do come off, business is about to pick up.

 

This next part is so good and so true I’m just going to copy and paste it. Judge me if you will. I really don’t care.

 

Find the Kleenex — It’s OK to admit it; the Stanley Cup Playoffs will make you cry. It remains to be seen whether they will be tears of joy or tears of sorrow, but there will be tears. There’s always a moment, if not several, during the march to the Stanley Cup presentation that will make even the most hardened hockey player get a little misty eyed — remember when Joe Sakic handed the Cup to Ray Bourque to end the defenseman’s two-decade quest for the Holy Grail — so it’s all right if you get a little chocked up, too. You can always blame it on allergies.

 

I entirely expect the above to happen, and I don’t care. Deal with it. Or don’t. Again, don’t care.

 

It’s an amazing time of year. One of my favorites. The weather is turning, shockingly the Pirates are above .500, and the Penguins begin their march towards Lord Stanley. That’s all I have today. If I’m welcome back I will provide recaps or just thoughts about the games as the series and playoffs progress. If you actually read this far, I’m stunned. Keep the faith alive. Anything can happen in the playoffs. Just gotta believe.

 

“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” Jim Valvano

 

 

 

 

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