At least the home back here in VA Beach, that is.
Aaah, there is nothing like the wonderful experience of driving 500 miles in holiday traffic on I-95 and the PA Turnpike, it doesn't get much better than that.
Nice little vacation back in the haunts of NW Pennsylvania to visit the family, and of course, partake in some Penguins hockey.
Started Friday off in the afternoon by hitting the Strip District for a new hours. As I've said, I'm not what you would call a Pittsburgh expert, my experience has really been the 20 or so times that I've been there for games. We liked the variety of stores and vendors down there. Geez, if I'd known about the quantity of Steeler/Penguin stuff down there, I would just've grabbed it there instead of scrambling online. Got my son a "Malkin 71" hoodie and a couple of T-shirts, as well as some seafood that the old lady was salivating over.
A couple of hours before gametime we did the required visitation of hitting Primanti's restaurant in the Strip. I inhaled a capicola and cheese, while I have to give my son props for almost eating his entire sandwich, and the old lady gave it a college try, but couldn't quite dust off her fish sandwich. I think she was intimidated by the whole fries and coleslaw thing.
On our way down I-79 Friday afternoon, I passed numerous cars with Ontario plates, so I knew that this would be a similar game like last year with a few thousand Leaf fans in attendance. And I was right, the SRO crowd had quite a throng of loud and boisterous Leaf fans. It made for great atmosphere. I'll speak about this sometime in the next couple of days, but count me among those who would have no problem with the NHL's proposed realignment. I would welcome the opportunity to have the Leafs as a common opponent as opposed to the snoozers of the Islanders and Devils.
The towel giveaway seemed to initially be a ho-hum promotion when I first saw it a few weeks ago, but combined with the Leaf fans in attendance, it really gave the Igloo a playoff atmosphere. I mentioned to my buddy there that considering the way that place was rocking Friday night, it must've really been something during the Cup years.
Even the dual National Anthems pumped the crowd up. It's unfortunate nowadays that you don't hear American crowds sing their anthem like you used to, but the Pens fans Friday night sure did, kudos to them.
Because of my tardiness in posting, I won't get into that much detail about the game, but here are some notes;
- After watching the game this morning on TIVO, I didn't realize how badly Ruutu kicked Ondrus' ass, but he sure as hell did. Ruutu got several solid shots in.
- Mark Recchi tossed a couple of pucks into the crowd in our section before the game. His second toss I believe was intended for a young fan who made a sign, but Mark's toss was a little too strong, and it landed a few rows back, where the fan who grabbed it seemed oblivious to that fact, despite the heated pleas of the youngster's father.
- I continue to be shutout on the lifetime scoreboard of getting a T-shirt from those damn giveaways from the cheerleaders, or whatever the hell they're called. I did come close, one tipped off of my fingertips, I mistimed the jump. I would have had that damn shirt 5 years ago, I tell ya.
- As some of my colleagues in the Pens' blogosphere have already noted, there was a tussle in the stands behind the Leaf's penalty box immediately prior to the Ruutu/Ondrus fight, coincidence ???
- Prior to the 2nd intermission, Glenn Healy walked passed us in A5 on the way to his location between the benches (I'm assuming it was for TSN, DirectTV showed the Pens' feed). Lots of cheers from the Leaf fans, but one guy right in front of us went right to the glass and gave Healy a thumbs down. Healy just grunted and continued walking. Hilarious.
- Still no word on Ekman's injury, other than he'll get an MRI early next week. Doesn't look good for Nils. Even though he hasn't lit up the lamp nearly as much as expected, how much more has to happen before the Pens get some help in the wings for Sid and Geno ?
- But until that happens, Therrien should keep Sid and Geno on the same line. Hardly anyone else on this team is scoring, they need to keep that one potent line together to generate SOME offense.
- OK, someone please try to find out the NHL record for most "too many men on the ice" penalties in one season. The one assessed during Ekman's injury was understandable, but not the second one. Come on boys, this is getting ridiculous.
- With about 4 minutes left, a good chunk of the crowd was chanting "67", in reference to the last Cup for the Leafs in 1967. Couldn't hear it very well on the TV feed, but it was loud and clear in person.
- For some reason, when I think of Erik Christensen, I think of Cris Carter. "All he does is score goals".
And finally, for my buddy Pojo Risin, everyone in NW PA said hello back.
The Canes are next for the Pens on Tuesday at the Igloo.