Monday, April 11, 2011

It's Playoff Time!!!!!

by Jan Snyder

Whew! What a season it’s been for the Pens. Beginning on Opening Night at the Consol Energy Center with Mario pouring water from the Igloo onto the new ice before the game. Then “BOB” and the Flyers ruining the start of the season for the Pens by beating them.

Fleury’s slow start, but Brent Johnson’s timely play. Sidney Crosby on a pace for an incredible season and us with visions of year-end awards dancing in our heads. The tide turning as the fans chanted for Fleury, giving him a confidence boost and how he turned it all around.

The fantastic addition of Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalak, plus the fantastic play of Orpik and Letang.

The lead up to the Winter Classic and hours of the best reality TV ever with HBO’s 24/7. The warm weather and rain that came over Pittsburgh to make the ice bad, but none of that could dampen the enthusiasm of the Pens/Caps fans who made the most of a soggy situation.

The big hit on Sid – none of us realizing at the time how much that impact would impact our whole season.

Sid’s out, but we still have Geno – oops, down he goes until next year. But Staal was back and that would help. Sid would be back soon, right? Here we are four months later still without him.

Our Baby Pens came to the rescue as we watched more and more injuries occur. The hatchlings turned into full-fledged Penguins right before our eyes! Mark Letestu, Dustin Jeffrey, Eric Tangradi, Chris Conner and the d-men, Deryk Engelland and Ben Lovejoy. Their continued call ups came to be the norm.

A trade brought us James Neal and Matt Niskanen from Dallas. A great signing brought Kovy back to the Burg. As the injured started to return, they became a force again, especially Kunitz and Orpik.

Looking forward to seeing contributions from all of them as we head into the playoffs.

What can I say about the heart and soul players like Max, Dupuis, Rupp, Adams, Kennedy (Kennedy!)? They have all done their thing and the future Jack Adams award winner (I hope) Coach Dan, kept the ship on an even keel, no matter what happened, no matter who got injured. His optimism was contagious.

Even through the ugly game on Long Island, followed shortly by the Cooke incident, the coach navigated everyone through it all. He convinced the players and the fans that everything would be fine.

And so it is! We have home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. We have hope that Sid may return yet before it’s all over this year. We have fans who will do everything but get on the ice and play to help. We have a courageous team who let nothing keep them down or get them off the course they set out on before that first game in October.

The Lightning will be tough. Rooting against Ryan Malone will be tough. I’ve always liked Martin St. Louis, but I can stop that during the playoffs! Lecavalier and Stamkos will keep things very interesting.

I hope to see Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman drop the opening puck! I hope to see good, clean games with no injuries. I hope to see sportsmanship and great hockey – just what we expect each playoff season.


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