Friday, 29 May 2009

Ante Up, Bitches: The Pens 2008-2009 post-season in semi-review

Before I begin with today's post, there are a few offsides...
to use TSN's phrase, one up, one down.
We're doing them in reverse order.

ONE DOWN.
I'm going to depress you all for a minute. Sorry.
(Okay, I'm not really sorry, you should all feel depressed by this...)
Take a moment out of your day today to remember Luc Bourdon, who died a year ago today in a motorcycle accident outside his hometown of Shippagan, New Brunswick. Luc, a Canucks prospect who had been spliting his time between Vancouver and their AHL farm team, the Manitoba Moose, was 21. We miss you here in Van, Luc.

Here's praying we don't lose anyone this summer.

* * *

ONE UP.
It's someone's birthday today!!!

(What's with all these May babies!?)
Happy Birthday Stevie!!!
Mase is twenty-one today. Woohoo! Probably doesn't matter a lick since there's about a 90% chance he's back home in Ontario where he's been legal since he was still in juniors, but still TWENTY-ONE!!! This means that I can split a pitcher with him and Kylie and RJ and Carl sometime when Carl gets back... and I look forward to getting this kid moderately pissed and seeing if Cabbie's Journey to the Cup videos do his sense of humour justice. My abs will probably get the best workout of my life laughing if he's as funny as he seemed in the goalies video.

In any case. He's 21. He's going to win the Calder. Maybe even the Veniza. Not a bad showing for twenty-one years on the planet. How about you play a playoff game on your birthday next year, Mase? A shutout would be kick-ass. We'd cheer for you against anyone, even the Pens if it was a SCF game. Just because it's your birthday. That's a promise. LOVELOVELOVE!

***

Now, down to business. I used to think that all the nonsense about the NHL's marketing department over-exposing Sidney Crosby for their monetary benefit was utter bullocks. (Bear with me Pens fans, I have a point, I promise.) Now, I'm not so sure. Maybe the marketing department has been messing with cosmic order to get what they want this post-season. Think about it for one second: the Pittsburgh Penguins' entire post-season has been an exercise in upping the ante.


Round One: The Inter-State Rivalry Showdown
The Battle of Pennsylvania
As if a Battle of Pennsylvania in last year's Eastern Conference Final wasn't good enough to get the state's blood boiling in renewed rivalry.
(As if it needed renewing...)
The two face off as 4th and 5th seed, the most evenly matched teams (theoretically) in the east.
A.S. tells me the Pens are going down.
I try not to laugh too effing hard.
Pierre McGuire does indecent things to Mike Richards on CBC, NBC and every other service provider airing these games.
'Service provider' suddenly becomes a double entendre again...
The Flyers force six games by showing up to Games 3 and 5 after making everyone wonder if Mike Richards really was the leader everyone *coughpierremcguirecough* is constantly framing him as.
There is never really any doubt that the Pens will come out on top.
Sid can take Richards. Easy.
We get our minds out of he gutter for long enough to watch the Flyers lose.
Apparently, you need skill, not just Mike Richards' leadership, to win.

Rating:

Is there anything that can beat this series? We aren't sure. Until the Caps beat the Rangers. Then we know... there is something bigger than us in the universe.


Round Two: The Superstar Showdown
Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin
The NHL has been waiting for this moment since July 30th, 2005.
We're actually appalled by how psyched we are to watch this series, even though it makes us nervous.
We're the better team.
The Caps have good players, but they don't play as a team. Not enough for the post-season. Not enough to make it far in the post-season.
Then we drop Games 1 and 2.
Mer is stuck in effing O'Hare Airport unable to watch her favourite boys take back their dignity on home ice in Game 3.
Kylie watches the game in a hotel room and then heads to the airport.
PENS WIN!
Big time.
In OT.
Thanks to one ever-swooony Kristopher Letang. (OT game-winners by d-men are HOT!)
The Pens show Ovie and Green who's boss in Game 4 and again in Game 5.
Then the Caps decide to rain on the Pens' parade and take Game 6 in OT.
The series goes to seven games.
Game 7 is the most frightening thing in the world... until we're up 4-0 a couple minutes into the second thanks to Letang's SWEET slapshot.
All we want to know is what is up with Varlamov and why hasn't Boudreau pulled - oh, wait, there he goes...
Then we school the Caps in how to play a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Pens win 6-2.

Rating:

There's not much more you can ask for than to watch Sid and Ovie face off in Game 7 of a playoff game... is there? Oh, what? Watching brothers face off? That would be interesting... if the Canes can pull off their own Game 7 victory.

No one is more surprised when Carolina actually wins. We were kind of banking on having to beat the Bruins to get to the Cup final... suddenly the Cup seems so much more attainable. As long as the Pens can keep Eric Staal from scoring...


Eastern Conference Final (a.k.a. the WTFCF): The Staal Brothers Showdown
Team Eric vs. Team Jordan
This was supposed to be epic.
I, along with everyone planning on playing the Staal Brothers Drinking Game, was looking forward to this FAR more than we should have been, considering the beating we thought our livers we in for.
And then... nothing.
Nada.
Zero.
Snooooorrrrrre.
This was the most anti-climactic series in the universe.
We are wholly disappointed by the lack of brotherly bash.
Also, fairly unimpressed by the Carolina Hurricanes overall, but we'll not go into that since they just got swept in the Conference Final.
And I thought getting swept in round one last year sucked...
(I'm sorry, but WHO THE HELL GETS SWEPT IN A CONFERENCE FINAL SERIES???)
The Team Jordan vs. Team Marc games in the Rangers-Pens conference semi-final last year were about 100x more interesting that these four short games.
Even TSN was bored by the end of Game 2.
Not bored with the series, but they sure had laid off the whole Staal vs. Staal angle.
Game 3 was the most boring playoff game not involving the Detroit Red Wings.
Game 4 was just a little painful. We were kind of glad it was over fast.

...massive disappointment all around...
There are only two really nice things I can say about Carolina right now: you have the best anthem singer in the league, and your fans are amazing.

Rating:


And then, just when you thought that the NHL's marketing department had run out of gimmicks to sell this year's playoffs... Pens fans everywhere get the first taste of sweet, sweet redemption...

Redemption, it turns out, tastes like a perfectly ripe revenge-strawberry dipped in chocolate, rolled in sugar, sprinkled with cocaine and served with 7$ champagne you drink illegally out of Uncle Stan's mug when you think your parents aren't watching...

Stanley Cup Final: The Rematch
Reigning Stanley Cup Champions vs. Last Year's Losers

Rating:
And the series hasn't even started yet.

I wanted this.
Given the events of the past twelve months, I am simultaneously stunned and completely unsurprised that it's actually happening.
Sidney Crosby will not settle for anything less than the Cup.
I will bet anyone anything that he will, single-handedly if necessary, win the Pens the Cup.
(Do you really want to bet against someone who can call Pens goals like she's got Kris Letang and Max Talbot on cosmic speed-dial? Really? No, we didn't think so...)
Marian Ho$$a, on the other hand, is going to look like a fool.
We don't feel sorry for him.
Neither should you.
He's a greedy bastard who had no faith that a team that lost the Cup could buck convention, overcome adversity in the regular season, peak just in time to plough through the eastern conference to meet the defending Cup champions back in the final.

TSN summarized it perfectly: Marian Hossa is about to find out if the hockey gods have a twisted sense of humour.

I have nothing to say to him.
The score board will say it far more eloquently than I ever could.

I'm not going to call this series.
It could be over in five games.
It could go to seven.

Regardless, this year the NHL's marketing department will get its long-awaited story-book ending.
Just how far are the Pens going to go with this?
Sidney Crosby is probably too polite to say it, so I'll say it for him,
in the immortal words of Pierre Elliot Trudeau:

Well, just watch me.





We will be watching, Sid, everyone will.
Time to up the ante.

9 comments:

Lauren said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. I think at the end of this series, Marian Ho$$a still won't have a cup and Sidney Crosby will be puffing his chest out like the Emperor Penguin he is.

ali said...

The one guy on NHL Live can't stop reading Ho$$a's quote from July 2nd. He's sure that it will make the Pens want the win more than they already do.

Frankly -- I'm just ready to get this thing started!

LETS GO PENS!

lauren said...

I'm not predicting who will win it all, or who will win which games, but I think it'll go to seven. Mostly I'm just annoyed that I don't get to watch, especially since my favorite player has been stepping up big time.

It's interesting how many Wings fans think we're going to lose because of Hossa. He's obviously a huge motivating factor for the Pens, and he's also been fairly nonexistent in the post-season... he's been on the third line recently, and he's only looked good when my boy Filppula has set up plays for him. Oh well, we're rid of him in July!

mer said...

@ deets - if nothing else, it's going to be one HELL of a series. Hossa should be interesting to watch. I mean, it's not strange for him to choke in the playoffs *coughottawacough*. His run last year was somewhat anomalous... and the Wings' injuries do not bode well for them, unfortunately. I kind of wish they were all healthy; then, when we beat then, we'd know we were beating them at their best :P

All in all, though, most I've anticipated a series in YEARS. Even more than the Sens-Ducks...

Cannot wait for tomorrow!

lauren said...

@mer- As if you could beat the Wings at their best! Sorry, I had to go there. =P You should be happy to hear that Lidstrom and Ericsson are both playing tomorrow. Datsyuk is still a game-time decision, but two out of three isn't bad.

Part of me thinks that Hossa is going to get swarmed every time he's on the ice (a la the 'Hawks going after Kronwall) and another part of me thinks that the Pens have grown out of that.

I never expected the Wings to make it to the Finals again, so I'm pretty pumped about this series!

Val said...

Bear with me, as I am still mulling over the multi-entendre word "service provider" while trying to get my thoughts together...oh never mind, can't do it...

May have to write more later, but in the meantime, excellent observations as always and I am liking Lauren's Sidney Crosby = Emperor Penguin :) I shall have a quaff of wine or beer in honor of Mase's birthday and in memory of the beautiful Luc B.

Clare said...

I feel the need to post this wherever I can today so sorry if you saw it on Twitter but Max Talbot's quote:

“There’s nothing I’d like more than to be able to shake Marian’s hand at the end of this series, look him in the eye and say, ‘You chose the wrong team.’”

ali said...

Clare -- That quote is just another example of why I want to give Max Talbot a hug every single time I hear/see his interviews.

What. A. Man.

It's 12:24 EST. That means it's GAME DAY!!! LETS GO PENS!!

mer said...

@ deets - I knew you'd go there :P