Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Penguins

02
Oct
10

Icing the Pens

As many of you know–Chicks Dig Sports Too pledged to take the Chicago Sports Challenge : where we immerse ourselves in Chicago sports culture. We have an unexpected post courtesy of Durkins–my neighborhood Steelers bar. After winning a raffle on Friday night, my high-school buddy Jess and I were whisked away (via party limo, no less)  to the Blackhawks game–and they just so happened to be playing my Pittsburgh Penguins (Crosby, Fleury and the whole gang  :-))

High School Buddies 🙂

This was my first time at the United Center for a sporting event. It’s true–there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Sitting in the 300’s, we had an excellent view of all the action on the ice (yes, even those two goals scored by MaryANN…gag me). It was also my first sporting event while I was in Chicago as a faithful member of the opposing team. I really had no idea what I was in store for.

Getting there right before the start of the game–I really enjoyed the pump-up video to get the fans going. Strangely enough, nothing screams hockey like the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song and a killer light show. Paired with the “tunnel-vision” camera of the Hawks walking to the ice and everyone was raring to go. One thing I don’t get–that I was glad to experience as its specific to Blackhawk culture–is the yelling, screaming and making noise during the national anthem. I just don’t understand it and find it fairly disrespectful-to the country and the singer–who actually was quite good. I know that incorporating fun things in the anthem is all the rage these days (“O!” for Syracuse, “Hail” for Michigan etc.) but I think just making noise is kind of weird. That being said–it definitely continues to pump everyone up for the game at hand–there’s absolutely NO LULL in excitement and support from the fans, from the moment you walk into the United Center to the moment you leave–and I can dig that.

Hawks Pre-Game

  I was impressed by the Chicago fans for a few reasons: the arena was packed by face/0ff. Even for a pre-season game, the support of the fans was tangible–with fans genuinely enthralled and paying attention to the game. Additionally, I thought–overall–the fans were pretty classy. Never toeing the line of acceptable obnoxious sports behavior–and as we all know the tendency gets greater when you are CRUSHING the opposition–  I was met with a variety of awesome comments–“We’ll see you in the Stanley Cup” being the one most popular.  Also, we were allowed the ability to cheer–often loudly–for our team, with little to no friction from home team fans. This is hard to find in the sporting world today (I’m looking at you, Philadelphia) so I appreciate the positive atmosphere.

311 Heaven

One thing I did notice, “The Song”, yes that one is NOT as much fun when it’s being played against your team (over and over). However, it was really cool to be in the UC and experience the goal celebration ritual that I’ve come so accustomed to through television.

Goal Celebration

One thing that I was disappointed in was the mass exodus of Blackhawks fans with 4:41 left in the third period. Yes, you were killing us 4-1, and yes, it’s a pre-season game. And yes you’re always going to have people everywhere  that miss the whole point of sports–that saving an extra 20 minutes in the parking lot is worth abandoning your team–but the mass exodus of people leaving was alarming. When MaryAnn put the nail even further in the coffin by scoring his second goal of the night-no one was there to cheer. That would have NEVER happened in Pittsburgh–in fact, it would have been over their dead body–even if they were losing by five.  And last night, when we were getting slaughtered, we stayed till the game was over and cheered like CRAZY when we finally got on the board, because you don’t leave your team behind–win or lose. Just an observation we Yinzers noticed last night–but I’m completely willing to give the fans another shot before passing final judgement. One thing’s for sure–the fans awareness of the game and enthusiasm for it drowns out Cubs fans–hands down. And let’s get serious–if they were playing anyone OTHER than the Pens, I would have been in my glory.

The game ended and we strolled back to our party limo (singing the Pittsburgh Polka, natch) and returned back to the comfy nook of Lincoln Park. While it’s always fun to go to sporting events, this experience was elevated to a different level of awesome as it was completely unexpected–and a great ending to a long week!

We are going to the White Sox game tonight–so look for a recap tomorrow 🙂

Was anyone else at the game last night? What is your favorite Blackhawks ritual? and, most importantly, HOW THE HELL CAN YOU ALL OPENLY EMBRACE MARYANN HOSSA??? 😉

Talk to us people,

Sam

21
Mar
10

What’s Your Sports Dream?

The Sports Dream. What every fan lives for. Even a casual fan. There is nothing like when your team wins his or her respective championship. This post was inspired by Northern Iowa win over Kansas this past weekend in the NCAA tournament. What a high for every fan, alum and watcher of that game.  In my young, almost 24-year-old life, I have been blessed to see MANY of my sports dreams come true. So much in fact, that I only have one MAJOR one left on my list (and a midsized one) It’s a pretty difficult one though. Almost impossible. So here is a run down of my achieved and hopeful sports dreams. Please make sure to hit the comments with yours!

Steelers win Superbowl XL and Superbowl XLIII

I’ve been able to see my Steelers (who are my FAVORITE team out of all my teams) win not one but TWO Superbowls. I bawled my eyes out both times. Superbowl XL I road-tripped to Detroit with five of my sorority sisters. Jerome Bettis wins in his hometown and retires. Amazing. Superbowl XLIII I blew off graduate classes to be in Pittsburgh at Carson City Saloon at 10am. Steelers win and South Side in Pittsburgh was shut down, the celebrations in the street were amazing. Everyone hugging and crying. Pittsburgh fans are the best in the world. Below are two videos: The bar singing ‘Pittsburgh’s going to the SuperBowl’ before kick-off. The bar was at maximum capacity and no one could even move! And the street celebration after.

Pittsburgh Penguins Win 2009 Stanley Cup

Lord Stanley, Lord Stanley, Bring me the Brandy! This win was SO awesome. We avenged our loss to the Red Wings in 2008, we did it without Hossa, who left for ” a better chance to win” and this was the city of Pittsburgh’s second major sports championship in four months! I watched the game in Chicago and loved every minute!

2009 Stanley Cup Champs!

Eat it, Hossa

Syracuse wins 2003 National Basketball Championship/ 2004, 2008-2009 Lacrosse Men’s Championship

Few people know that, even though I attended Syracuse for grad school, I’ve been an Orange fan all my life. It’s true! My good friend Eric (@eric_hughes) and I tell this story all the time. When I was a senior in high school in ’04, he was a junior. We had AP Statistics together and as we giggled, made fun of our teacher and played cards during class, I told him “I’m going to PSU for undergrad, but I’m going to SU for grad school, and we’ll rebecome best friends” (Eric was gunning from Syracuse for the start!) And..what do you know, five years later we met at Faegan’s on Marshall Street to re-connect and become bff’s.

Eric and I, February 2009

I tell this story because, I’ve always appreciate Syracuse and its wins. So seeing ‘Melo (and McNamera!) take them to the National Championship in ’03 was amazing! Although I’d probably appreciate a ’10 one even more being an alum now! Also, the men’s lacrosse program works so hard. I interned in athletic communications at Syracuse last spring semester, and to watch the men’s lacrosse season unfold was amazing. Those boys work so hard and, I’m proud to say are back-to-back champions (and 11 overall!) It was awesome to see it done while I was there. (and they just beat John’s Hopkins yesterday!)

'Melo in '03

I’ve been blessed to see a lot of other awesome sporting things happen: Women’s Softball being included in the Olympics, UCLA winning back-to-back softball championships in the mid 2000’s, Michael Phelps winning EIGHT Gold Medals in one Olympics, Hasim Rahman knocking out Lennox Lewis etc. etc. the list goes on.

So what do I need to see happen? TWO major things:

Penn State Nittany Lions Win a National Championship

Last time they’ve won, was 1986…two months before I was born. Womp Womp.

I want JoePa to be my Grandpa ❤

Chicago Cubs Win a World Series

I know what you’re saying. I know it’s been over 100 years. But damn it, I’ve been a fan for 14 years and I’m not giving up hope. I now live two el stops away from Wrigley Field and I can’t believe it. It takes my breath away every time I go to a game, or get a drink in Wrigley Field. I LOVE THE CUBS. and I WILL see a World Series. Note though: When I do. I will never watch another baseball game…EVER AGAIN. People have lived their entire lives and died and not seen the Cubs win. When I see it, I’m going out on top. That’s it for me. So as much as it would suck to give up baseball, it’d be worth it! Let’s Go Cubs. 2010 is our year! 🙂

1908 Cubs ... the last winning team!

What are YOUR sports moments? What do you remember? What do you HAVE to see happen before you die? What’s your fondest memory? Talk to me people, I’d LOVE to hear!

02
Feb
10

hockey: the elephant in the room

I’m just gonna put this out there. Hockey is the awkward, red-headed stepchild of major league sports. It’s true. It is.

Let me paint this picture for you with a high school metaphor. Major League Baseball is the older, more accomplished brother that’s been around forever. The responsible one. Sometimes a drag but socially adapted and successful.  The National Football League is the stud of the family, the popular one that knows everyone and wins Homecoming King in high school. Everyone gossips about him and is really tuned into his life. The National Basketball Association is the youngest of the three, that has to live  in the shadow of the other two, but when you actually look closer, he’s found his own group of friends and really thrives in his environment. Then, there’s the National Hockey League, the red-headed stepchild.

This cute baby represents the NHL

I say this for a multitude of reasons. The main one being that the Hockey Championship, the Stanley Cup, is aired on the Versus Network.  VERSUS NETWORK.  This happened because ESPN failed to pick up the option for the Stanley Cup playoffs. VERSUS NETWORK. Do you know how many people DON’T get Versus Network? Hell, it was just dropped from DirecTV in September, so that further diminishes its reach. No offense Versus, this is a major win for you, but it’s a major loss for hockey fans, especially casual ones. Leagues should go out of their way to make the sport accessible, and frankly, Verses, you are not accessible to a lot of people.

Let’s put this in perspective though, this is the championship of the sport and none of the ‘major’ sports channels care  enough broadcast it. Some may argue that hockey just isn’t a television sport–In 2006, a scant 3% of NHL revenue came from television, compared to 66% of the NFL. It doesn’t change the fact though that ESPN broadcasts bowling for God’s sake, but they passed on hockey…awkward red-headed stepchild. The loss of the 2004-2005 NHL season due to a lockout worsened the matter and it seemed that nobody really cared. Hockey is still bounding back from the strike…but it’s starting to do great things.

the artist formerly known as OLN

I would go out on a limb and say that Sidney Crosby has revitalized the NHL. Whether you love him or hate him, and there plenty in both camps, he IS the answer to hockey’s drought. He is a marketable, young, talented star. Last night, his hat trick in the second period led to a 5-4 win over the Buffalo Sabres. He is a star. A star is ALWAYS a good thing for any sport. It makes it fun to watch, it draws people in. We were reminded last night, for the millionth time, that Sidney Crosby can, single-handedly, go on a scoring binge and change the course of the game in less than 20 minutes. He is what the NHL needs.

Here he comes to save the day!

I’m not going to lie to you, I am a Pittsburgh Penguins fan. I love them. I love Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury (“McFleury”), Evgeni Malkin and Matt Cooke. The Pens are awesome. The city of Pittsburgh LOVES them. I get a lot of flack sometimes from people who say that no-one cared about the Pens from 2002-2006 and that this ‘bandwagon’ stuff is ridiculous. That Pens fans are fair-weather and we are just lucky to have Crosby. I say that America abandoned hockey during that period. The NHL was declining steadily in viewership and attendance during this time. It’s ALWAYS been the awkward turtle of professional sports, coming in last during its playoffs/championships. If you want to blame me for watching hockey more now that the league has busted its butt to get some stars, fine. I think it’s stupid though. Every other sport has great world-known ambassadors: hockey had two (Gretzky and Lemieux) … now it has three with Crosby. Hockey fans should quit nit-picking and just be happy that the sport is finally gaining the traction it deserves and coming out of its rut in America. ‘Cause let’s get serious, it’s an AWESOME game to watch and COMPLETELY underrated. Here’s to hoping that the NHL goes from the awkward pubescent teenager to the studly man you wished you looked at twice ten years ago.

The Greats

What are your thoughts on the NHL? Are you watching the games? (You should be!) Do you get angry at the bandwagoners? Why do you think hockey has never truly caught on in the U.S.?

Talk to me people 🙂

–Sam

27
Jan
10

Sports Digest 1.26.10

Hockey

Since I NEVER talk about hockey I’d just like to say: How ‘Bout Dem Penguins?! Cooke’s last-minute goal on a Power Play Sunday helped the Pens send the Flyers home crying…AGAIN. A win at the Rangers on Monday has the Pens sitting pretty, tied for third in the Eastern Conference. I smell a repeat 🙂 But I AM ridiculously biased.

2009 Stanley Cup Champs!

Australian Open

Bummer about Andy Roddick. Huge bummer. He wasn’t playing his best tennis, that’s for sure, but I always see him as a dark horse in any grand slam competition (minus the French Open though, since he can’t play for squat on clay) After his win in Brisbane, I thought he had a good shot. Roddick was playing a lot of grueling long matches throughout the Australian Open and it looked like he was favoring his shoulder. While those are all valid excuses, I don’t want to take anything away from Cilic, who went up on Roddick 2 sets to love and staved off a triple break point in the 5th.

Also a bummer about Rafael Nadal, who retired after being down 2 sets to love with an apparent knee injury. At 23 years old, Nadal is right to be better safe than sorry in retiring, but it’s a shame to see the defending champ bow out. We haven’t had enough of Raffa lately, and tendonitis in the knee has been the cited source of his troubles lately. The sport isn’t the same without him. Similar to Roddick’s case though, we should not take anything away from Andy Murray, who–even with Raffa’s injury– was making pretty short work of the defending champ. His explosive play has really started to capture the tennis world and deservingly so. So instead of a Nadal/Roddick semi…which would have been AWESOME (Raffa leads the series 3-2) but we have Cilic vs. Murray, which is a match no one could have predicted but we arguably are lucky to have.

Nadal getting medical attention during his quarterfinal match

Federer hangs in there as a heavy favorite to be playing on Sunday in the Australian Open final.

On the women’s side, Justin Henin is through to the semi’s (holler!) and a Williams/Williams semi seems inevitable.

Comeback Kid, Henin

College Basketball

How good does No.4 Syracuse look? No seriously, how good do they look? ‘Cuse rallied after being 14 behind in the opening minutes against arch-rival  No. 7 Georgetown yesterday, to win in an impressive fashion with a final score of 73-56. At times, watching this Orange team is almost unbelievable. They look unstoppable. Their one weakness, and it’s a big one, is that they are a second half team. They have been slow to start in almost all of their contests this year. While it’s all worked out alright, it cannot continue, especially when we play Villanova on February 27th. If we can put together 40 minutes of solid ball we’ll be unstoppable. I say right now, on any given day, we play about 30 minutes of solid ball. Either way, I’m excited to see Syracuse ride it out for the season (we’re final four bound) and PUMPED to see them play at DePaul on Saturday 🙂

I Heart Dome

NFL

I will do my Super bowl predictions closer to the game but just a word on officiating in the NFL. While I really like the Saints and am SO thrilled they are going to the Super Bowl, the officiating toward the end of the NFC Championship game was tres lame. So lame in fact, that it ruined the whole experience for viewers and robbed the Saints of what should have been a very legitimate game. The three plays I’m talking about all occurred in over time back to back. 1) the pass interference call –which I allowed since they are always somewhat subjective 2) the forward progress call — should have been negated because the running back LOST control of the football 3) THE PASS THAT HIT THE GROUND THAT WAS COUNTED AS COMPLETE.

So while I love you Saints, especially for sending that pompous ass Brett Favre home, I think you deserve to go under better circumstances. The game (as my twinny @jrflynn86 would say) COMPLETELY stood up to its billing, until the end…and EVERYONE deserved a better ending than that. Still, I’m pumped about two #1 seeds playing in the Super Bowl (First time since 1993!) It should prove to be a helluva game.

Congrats Drew!

What are your thoughts on the recent developments in sports? Who you got in the Super Bowl? Who you got in the Australian Open? What basketball team do YOU like?

Talk to me people 🙂

–Sam




Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6 other followers

Tweet Me!