Some Bastard Stole My Coin
And I used to have a "home team has won the last xyz games" that I've gone to. Well, that didn't hold last night, as it seems to have gone haywire the last 12 months.
First of all, the pre-game happening that I'll remember for a long time is this arena employee outside before 6:30 (at Gate 3), equipped with megaphone, telling everyone that will call was at Gate 1. "If you need to pick up your tickets, you need to go to Gate 1. Go to Gate 1. That's where the tickets are." Pretty much repeating this as a mantra every 30 seconds or so. As a radio guy, repeated audio has a way of keeping itself lodged in my head, especially inconsequential stuff.
Got my Mario Lemieux Commemorative coin. As we (there were four of us) walked through the arena, everyone, and I do mean everyone were popping the bubble wrap the coin was packaged in. It was pretty surreal.
Once we got settled in, I forgot that the very annoying Alan Cox was let go from the X until I saw Vinnie. Of course, Cox had to go to Chicago instead of getting bumped down on the food chain.
The game. I have come to enjoy "ThePensBlog". Hopefully I can get a link swappage with them soon. However, I must disagree with Adam's assessment of certain portions of the contest. Maybe it looked different on the tube...
My boss and I were concerned about any jet lag or what have you, and pretty much from the get go, we were justified. The Penguins won the opening face off, but within seconds found themselves playing well over a full minute in their own zone. We were astounded at how many times the Lightning were able to pass willy-nilly without even being close to having one broken up.
Meanwhile, the Penguins must have accidently dipped their sticks in the same stuff that Steelers personnel have been bathing themselves in before their games, because their passes were not coming strong off the sticks, and the ones that weren't getting intercepted were skipping off of the Penguins sticks. It was never so bad as in the first period, that the Penguins were able to, in my opinion, escape down only 1-0. I remarked to my boss and his father that it looked like we'd come to a game out of last season.
With the exception of a 4:10 stretch in the second period, much of the game played like this, so I'll be nice to the dead horse.
To Nils Ekman's natural hat trick: two of the goals were, from our vantage point in section C20, Row F, damn ugly. The middle one was kind of nice. Of course, as a fan, I didn't care how ugly the goals are as long as they go in. And, I'd never seen a hat trick live, much less a natural hat trick, so that was definitely worth the trip. Penguins record, bonus.
He'd have been hard pressed to beat the NHL record for the quickest hat trick ever,though. I didn't know this (from reference.com): "Former Blackhawk Bill Mosienko holds the NHL record for scoring the quickest hat trick. He scored 3 goals in 21 seconds against the Rangers on March 23, 1952."
Could you imagine being at that game and having to visit the restroom during that time in the game? Especially considering that the Rangers were winning that game pretty handily.
Anyway, the overtime breakaway goal by "Vinnie" LeCavalier was the play that had been waiting to happen all night. With the exception of Ekman's magical 250 seconds, Tampa was a step faster, crisper, dominated the boards, and pretty much deserved to win the game in regulation.
I think the consensus is pretty much that getting a point in the standings after coming off a long road trip, especially coming back from the west coast was a fortuitous thing.
Colby Armstrong. Was. Aw. Ful. His head was not in the game. At one point I shouted, "No wonder you were demoted!" Yes, he had an assist, but NO shots on goal in 19 minutes of ice time. And I do believe he was one of two Penguins who had the puck land right in front of his stick, in the slot, off a fortuitous carom. He didn't even get a shot off then, because he didn't see it until it was too late.
Jordan Staal was just unfortunate. That puck was afraid of him, never landed very solidly on his stick. There was even a moment during a TB power play where they were trying to clear, and puck slowly drifted toward him. He was turning to find it, and it slipped right past him. I don't blame him as much. Except that he was the other recepient of the prime scoring chance from heaven. I think it was his lone shot on goal, and it wasn't very strong. He barely was aware of it being there, either.
Evgeni Malkin had a great scoring chance, I don't quite recall when, but he was committed to shooting low on Johan Holmqvist. If he'd have even thought "top shelf", there would have been no overtime.
Sidney Crosby seems pretty content to spread the wealth, doesn't he?
Rob Scuderi actually didn't suck. He broke up a couple of passes late in the game when the Lightning they were starting to put on some pressure.
Gonchar, while infinitely better this year than at this time last year, still had a couple of WTF moments. One of which was just before an Ekman goal. Yet, Malkin's landlord led the Penguins with 4 shots on goal (20% of the team total).
Marc-Andre Fleury was just ok. He made some pretty solid saves. But there was one point in the 2nd period where he was damn near in the right circle and came all the way back to make a save that was far more dramatic than it needed to be. And he almost fell down at another point in the game in the same fashion as he did during the Sharks game. Of course, if LeCavalier's game-winner was an indication of Fleury was going to play during a shoot-out period, it's just as well that he scored when he did.
But 20 shots on goal... vs. 31. Mike's magic stat, -8.2 SOG differential, is now the worst in the league. Yet, tThe Pens have still scored 3 more goals than the team with the best differential (Detroit +11.1). As much as I'm hoping to be wrong and see the Pens capitalize on the few chances they get, the trend against this happening is pretty strong.
And the Delta Dental Penguins Patrol. The bottom two rows look goooood...
Anyway, the title of the entire blog... I had placed my commemorative coin between my program and the Pittsburgh City Paper I'd grabbed from "The Souper Bowl" under my seat. We never vacated the row during the game. We got up in shifts. When I picked up my "stash" after the game, however, no coin, though I didn't realize it right away. When I did, I made a B-line back for the seat. There were a couple of scavengers looking for freebies by the time I got finished. One of them asked if I was looking for free ones, too. I said, "No, I'm looking for mine."
I made sure I hadn't kicked it or something. I wouldn't have been able to prove it, but I think the folks behind me must have "relieved me of it" during my turn to go to concessions. I would have noticed it falling out from between the program and the paper. But before it even occured to me to ask if the guy I'd spoken to might have found one right where I was looking (like he'd have been honest anyway, right?) he had vanished.
This, of course, was a good thing. He seemed like the type who would have rubbed me the wrong way, and in my mood, it would have only ended up with me in jail and still coinless.
This is the first one listed on eBay. And someone else is trying to get $15 + shipping for theirs. Ah, woulda, shoulda, and definitely coulda...
But it doesn't matter, because I indeed have a coin now. Gentlemen, the moral of this story is that it pays to take your mother to her first-ever hockey game. (Sure, let the "mama's boy" comments ensue, I can take it.)