with balls and brute strength

This is usually the time of the season when you get a feeling in your heart about who your team is going to be this year.
Sure,  there will be streaks of bad and good, but it’s probably the best feeling in the world to sit down to watch a game in mid-December (whether in front of your computer, on the couch, at the bar, or at the arena) and know that your team might play like shit, or like a bottle of perfectly aged scotch, or like a beautiful space rocket, and you still know what type of team they are.
Some teams don’t have that luxury, and Pens fans, being lucky as they are, have had it in spades in the post-lockout era.  Even on the worst nights, it was kind of hard to have a complete character crucifixion in mind.  Imagine being a confused Ducks fan right now.  Imagine if Bylsma’s system had been a bust and ever since then it had been a slow decline.  No, actually, don’t imagine that.  No hockey fan should ever have to, in a perfect world.  But this world ain’t perfect.  We’re just lucky.

Right now?  Well, the Injury Ray of Doom continues to shine down on the Penguins, taking down big-minute defensemen (KTang, Zbynek) and Tough Mother Fuckers (Deryk Engelland possibly).  Jordan Staal was just hit in the face with a puck so we can only hope that nothing more serious is going on inside his sod-blessed face.

But we can’t be too worried because the Penguins eternally keep us guessing.  Everyone has a shitty night now and again, and everyone gets assaulted by a Hot Rookie Goalie, and everyone makes ridiculous mistakes because they got too excited and thought there were going to be Parmesan Goldfish in it for them if they played the right way.  But we don’t act on a rewards system here.  At any rate, the Penguins keep you guessing, but not too much.  Meaning: there’s always hope, even when we’re down 4-1. There’s always hope, like there was last night, when it’s a 6-on-3 and Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke, and Craig Adams are wholly unavailable.  There is always a chance that you’re tuning into what feels like the most hard-fought game of the last ten years there for a second, or that it’s going to be a magical night filled with beauty and skill.  Who knows?  Or maybe we shit the bed.  But we still love to watch yinz try.

Even when we’ve lost so far this season, we’ve been treated to wonderful games, for the most part.
Even if someone was being a dick, it was worth it to haul our drunk asses out of our seats to yell.

Hockey is good because simple moments bring joy back to the spirited place where it belongs.

You know, like GWGs.

Basically, Pittsburgh Penguins, we feel you.
You are the team of Balls That Don’t Quit.
It’s only fucking December, but now, as ever, we’re pretty lucky.
It’s kind of impossible to jinx it because I don’t think we’re going to wake up and find out that the team is actually a masquerading puppy-hunting squad that kills puppies in every city it visits, wreaking havoc on the puppy community on an international level.
Win or lose, it’s regular gameless nights in December that sometimes make you love your life with your hockey team even more.

And Pretty Princess James Neal’s beautiful gingerbeard.

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.