Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Long, Hot Summer is Over

                   Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh Lake Fong/Post-Gazette

by Jan Snyder

Hockey season is finally back! After a particularly long, hot summer here in Texas, I couldn’t be happier to have October arrive and hockey begin. Already the memory of the Blackhawks hoisting the Cup is fading and I’m clearing out space in my mind to find places to pile up the 2010-11 memories.

What better place to begin than by seeing the brand spanking new Consol Arena in Pittsburgh on opening night! Taking on the Flyers in the first game would be special enough but doing it at Mario’s place will be twice as nice. I’ll stay for game two against Montreal and then report back to those of you who haven’t seen the new arena in person yet. Can’t wait.

The Pens will make an appearance in Dallas in November – sounds like a mid-week road trip for me! Can’t wait.

As visions of sugar plums dance in my head, all I want for Christmas is the Winter Classic! And classic it will be at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The wind coming in off the river will make for a chilly day that will see the rivalry between the Pens and the Caps heat up. Having played in late December, the two teams will already be in a feisty mood on January 1. Caps fans aren’t far away – they will be there in droves to cheer on Ovechkin and company. Can’t wait.


We’ll all enjoy watching the season play out for all the teams. Who will be better than we thought they’d be? Who will fall apart, maybe because of injuries? What rookie will play like a ten year veteran? Most importantly, who will be playing for the Cup in June?

While perusing my three favorite sports magazines, The Hockey News, The Sporting News, and ESPN the Magazine, I couldn’t help but see a theme – picks to win the Stanley Cup include the Caps, the Pens and the Canucks. Here is the breakdown per magazine:

The Hockey News

Media Picks: Penguins, followed by the Sharks and Caps in a tie
Fan Picks: Canucks, Caps and Pens

The Sporting News

Canucks over the Red Wings; Caps over the Pens; Canucks to win the Cup

ESPN the Magazine

E. J. Hradek: Pens vs. Blackhawks; Pens win the Cup
Barry Melrose: Caps vs. Canucks; Canucks win the Cup
Mathew Barnaby: Pens vs. Red Wings; Pens win the Cup

Verrrrrrry interesting….

And the Winner Is...

Let’s flash forward to June – the Pens have won their second Winter Classic, eliminated the Caps in the playoffs and are playing for the Stanley Cup. Out west, the Canucks have taken out the Red Wings and are playing for the Stanley Cup.


The Pens vs. the Canucks for the Stanley Cup? I gather that many hockey people see this as a likely scenario, and I have to agree but here at Hockey and High Heels, this could mean BIG TROUBLE! You see, Lisa Ovens lives in Vancouver and the Canucks are her team. I, on the other hand, although living in Texas, am a Pittsburgher and the Pens are my team! Are you beginning to see the potential problems here?

Can a friendship between two female hockey writers who root for opposing teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs make it through a seven games series?? Will I go to Pittsburgh or Vancouver to see games in person? Will Lisa go to Pittsburgh to see games in person? Will we still be speaking??

Will the Canadian Canuck fans turn on their Olympic hero, Sidney Crosby? Yes, I think they will in a heartbeat if it means winning the Cup. Will they also turn on the likes of other Canadians like Max Talbot, Marc-Andre Fluery, Pascal Dupuis, and Kris Letang? What about their long lost pest, Matt Cooke? And native son, Mario Lemieux? You betcha!

And Pens’ fans won’t enjoy seeing the double-trouble the Sedin twins bring nor the highly talented Roberto Luongo invading the crease in the Consol Arena.

But there are still other problems. Can we stay awake for a coast-to-coast series?? Will we have to call in sick after games played in Vancouver??

Can Lisa be broadminded enough to publish my columns after a Pens win? Can I pretend not to be a sore loser after a Canucks win?

No matter how many problems this situation could potentially create, wouldn’t it be fun? Maybe for Pens and Canucks fans, but this is the time of year when every team and their fans think they will win the Cup and I don’t want to rain on that parade at all, so…

Let’s Slow it Down

Back to present day – just a few days before the drop of the puck for real. The Pens have come through their exhibition season 5-1, off to a good start. No Jordan Staal for 10 or more games will hurt, but we know he’s coming back soon. Can’t wait to see the two new defensemen in action. Can’t wait to see Geno and Max rebound from so-so seasons. Can’t wait to see how Sid reacts without Guerin’s counsel. Can’t wait to see Mario welcome us to the new place.

So much to hope for, so many dreams all around the league. Whatever team you root for and whatever you can’t wait for, I hope you get your chance to see it all start to unfold at a rink near you really soon!

Good luck, NHL!

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