Lights Out at the Igloo
I’m calm enough now to actually write about it; I was a hyperactive wreck last night for about an hour after the game finished.
So after the dust has settled, a new day begins in Pittsburgh with the Pens failing to capture Lord Stanley’s Cup.
And you know what? That’s ok.
C’mon, raise your hands – who among you thought the Penguins were finished after Game 2? I’ll admit I was seriously concerned: no goals in nearly 135 minutes? A powerhouse, cloying defense that attracted the puck like a magnet pulls on iron?
Yeah, I think even the most diehard of us were freaked out.
But thankfully, our boys didn’t disappoint. Sure, we lost a close one on Saturday in Game 4, but the fire was back.
Game 5? Hope reborn. A hammering, solid, pugnacious game in the heart of Wings country that jolted into three overtimes – I know I wasn’t the only one reminiscing during the intermissions about the 6 OT wringer with Washington and the brutal 5 OT with Philly so many years ago. Watching Sykora and Gonchar slam that puck home was pure, sweet joy so early in the morning.
And then, Game 6. There was a buzz. We could take it! The Cup really could come back to the Iron City!
But after 60 minutes of brutal, fast, slash-attack hockey that featured amazing displays of skill on both sides of the red line, fantastic goalie acrobatics, fluke goals and a last-minute frenzy that put the waning minute of Game 5 to shame, the Wings scratched out the win.
And thus ended the Penguin season.
But we do not need to hang our heads.
Those guys – those twenty guys who skated their hearts out – gave us the thrilling season we all secretly hoped for at the start. They never, ever gave up. That’s what makes our Penguins special to us. We’ve all adopted them in our homes and televisions and magazines and hearts in one way or another; we talk about them excitedly at the water cooler and over a cold Yuengling, we scan the internet for highlights and stories, we know all their names and vitals better than we do our friends and neighbors. They’re “our boys” and that doesn’t end today.
Regardless of what happens now, as Ray and Mario and the rest of the management sort out and prepare for next year’s campaign, this season will remain etched in our minds as one of the Penguin’s finest. Oh, I know many of us still remember fondly the Cup years of ’91 and ’92, but this year is special. It’s a year of comebacks, of proving themselves, of bonding with this town that has wholeheartedly adopted them as their own.
Sidney said it best last night when a reporter asked him for his reaction to us, the fans:
“They’ve been great all year. We appreciate their support. And it doesn’t make it any easier for sure. But they stuck through with us all season, and a long time before that, and so we appreciate it.”
Hold your heads high, Penguins Nation. Talk proudly of our boys. Remember the excitement of this playoff run. Don’t let this for-a-moment pain dampen what these guys have accomplished. And finally, remember this:
The Penguins are back. For good.
Is it October yet?