welcome to summer

The Pens got off to a slightly awkward start. Excuses started showing up everywhere for the state of the arena, the state of the morons in the crowd, why Marc-Andre Fleury was “choking” and why Malkin was “shitty.” But: then the Pens picked it up. Crosby took over the fucking universe. Puck Huffers Staff was witness on November 27, 2010, where Sid got the first hat trick in the midst of his points streak, which lasted from November 5th to December 28th. It was snapped by the Islanders on the 29th. From that point on, things were shit. No one knows why. Probably something to do with legal hits to the head. Something to do with irresponsibility within the entertainment industry. WHATEVER COUGH WHATEVER
Fleury absolutely became the goaltender we needed him to be. He put the team on his back as Malkin also went down with a torn ACL and MCL. Then, every other center in the organization basically died. We skated an AHL lineup. We traded Alex Goligoski and some used shin pads around the deadline and got James Neal, Matt Niskanen, and Alexei Kovalev. Why Matt Niskanen was even skating in Game 7 against Tampa Bay remains a mystery, but we made some solid investments for the future. We watched guys like Chris Conner, Mark Letestu, and Dustin Jeffrey truly come into their own, and learn to play like their lives depended on it. But without Sid and Malkin, we all knew it was going to be hard. We saw Dan Bylsma coach a group of players whose major talents were perseverance and hockey sense rather than actual physical skill. We beat good teams, teams that still had their most talented players, with defense and just pure hanging on for dear life. Asston of shootouts–including four straight shootout wins in March.
The power play, was, unequivocally, a disaster. But we were like FUCK IT, what are we even supposed to do right now?
We engaged in some ridiculous war with the New York Islanders that should have never been permitted.
Our team skated way too many minutes, bumped their heads way too many times, and was eventually wore down. Chris Kunitz caught on fire, then disappeared at some indeterminate point in April. Niskanen got a goal before Neal. If you expected the lineup to really click the way it does when a team actually does training camp together at random in March with the amount of injuries and other strugs, you were stupid. So, so, so, stupid. Arron Asham almost got the team going by himself, and he is fucking Arron Asham. What happened? We all know what happened. Seriously.
We put up a fight, but there was a time when it had to be put to rest. Either that, be part of a “Caps in 4 (or 5)” scenario that no one wants to be a part of.
Roloson didn’t Varlmaov. He Halak’d. The Lightning pulled a Montreal, and we looked like tits.
Crosby and Malkin have a lot of time before camp to get to 100%. It’s a new day. A muggy, cloudy day, and all of a sudden, we’re rooting for the Preds to take it all. What on earth. That, or San Jose, or Boston. Tampa got the Caps for round 2. Scuse us while we lol.

Think of James Neal in his postgame, more or less fighting back tears.
We know it’s not a perfect world, but in a perfect world, he’s going to be streaking down the wing in October, and Sid is going to feed him with a pass, and he’s going to bury a perfect wrister behind some asshole in a Flyers uniform. Everyone will scream and high-five and hug. It’ll be hockey again.

Right now, we just get to ruminate, but it’s not forever.
With the first-round exit by the Muskrats, we have some rebuilding to do in our back office as well. We will be in touch.

Go Pens.


About Zoë

from Fayette County, living in Boston, chronically fussy. Writing about the Penguins, the CWHL/women's hockey, and hockey/sports media criticism.