All Abbboooooard. PENS WIN.
Maybe it was the excitement of the Olympic hangover.
Maybe it was the anxiety surrounding the trading deadline.
But it really didn't pique our interest that Beej was starting this one.
It's not even something to be worried about anymore when going into a game.
No clue what team "Pittsburgh Ed" has been watching this year.
Honestly, when was the last time you felt this comfortable with a Pens backup goalie?
What a pickup. Only fitting we kick off this recap with a nod to the Shero.
matt s.
kevin p.
Nate K.
buttload of pics from Fleuryous and Lisa Rec
Can't remember the last time a hockey game got hijacked like this.
Such a shame, too, because it was another Sabres/Pens thriller.
Don't want to discount the game, but there are bigger fish to fry.
Some thoughts:
Only reason this game was close was Lalime. Another vintage performance.
He's still eating from that 1997 Wheaties box.
Leopold's first game was excellent.
He was just what Litter Box Cats said he'd be. Invisible. In a good way.
Gonchar's powerplay goal was the 200th goal of his career. What a shot.
Brooks Orpik, the player who possibly benefited the most from his Olympic experience.
Does that even make sense?
He was ferocious. Game on the line with under two minutes to play.
Some guy in front of the net, and Orpik just wipes him off the face of the earth. Big time.
Mike Rupp peed on Paul Gaustad's face.
Feds said Don't Trade Me, Bro. Fedotenko and Dupuis were both acidic.
But the story remains the wheeling and dealing of Ray Shero.
He traded Luca Caputi and Martin Skoula for Alexei Ponikarovsky.
This trade was probably the reason Martin Skoula was signed in the first place.
And then we come to Luca Caputi.
A bunch of Pens fans have a boner for Caputi.
Some just say, yeah, whatever, move on.
Collectively, the boys over at Faceoff Factor
have seen every game Caputi has ever played in the AHL and NHL.
And they offer up their sentiment on his departure:

So please Penguin fans… I beg you. Do not lament the loss of a player that was simply a popular player due to a badass hockey name and a player that was a light in a dark place.

They find the reports of Caputi being a potential 70-point NHL player as insanity.
Solid read.
And now to the arrival:
(First off, we recently made a mistake in spelling Ponikarovsky's name.
It's not Ponikajokesky. P-O-N-I-K-A-R-O-V-S-K-Y.)

Some other photoshops were rolling in:

Poni Boy rolls into town ticketed for a nice, warm spot right next to Evgeni Malkin, not to mention saying yo to Fedotenko, a fellow countryman he's known since they were 5 years old. And there is no reason not be excited about it. Poni Boy has been stuck up in Toronto playing for just about nothing for the last four years. Yet he has put up some pretty decent stats. He has hit, or been damn close to, 20 goals every year in the league…on one of the worst teams in the NHL. Now he gets to play with probably one of the best setup men in the league.

So basically Ray Shero just added 20 goals to his team without subtracting anything.
The Pengins have been missing that piece since Sykora left. And now they have it.
Hell, they were missing that piece all through the playoffs last year, too.
A good look from Yahoo on some situational stats on Poni:

We're not saying Poni Boy is going to change the world here, but the guy is a legit top-six human being.
The big knock on Poni is that he dogs it sometimes.
Whatever. Pretty sure that's been said about every Euro player ever.
This isn't just Ray Shero behind this move, either. Shero probably sought out the advice of Tom Fitzgerald, the Penguins director of player development. Ray Shero himself indicated that Caputi was a name they didn't want to move, but at the end of the day, they wanted Poni. Nick Johnson and ET in the minors are just better long-term prospects than Caputi, as both will probably be on the team next year. If Poni is the Ukranian Gary Roberts, we'll all be okay. We're just happy that Tangradi isn't gone, 'cause we've been waiting patiently to make an "ET phone top shelf" photoshop.
*** During today's trade deadline blogging, Rick will have his own thoughts on Ponikarovsky, what with Rick being from Toronto and all.
Your move.
Caps are the cream of the crop in the East right now.
Their record indicates this, as well as the two dumps they've taken on the Pens.
So Ray Shero adds scoring and a D-man familiar with A.O.
Just brilliant moves.
And now the Capitals have to do something.
And there's a reason you have to Google who the Caps GM is.
We refuse to. It's Mike McPhee or something.
He owes it to the fans of Washington to show up sometime before 3:00 today.
Go Pens

Didn't see this on a lot of people's Twitter feeds…
But if you follow the directions here and Tweet what they want you to,
you get access to an amazing Hi-Res photo gallery from Game 7 of the SCF.
Now imagine being able to zoom in on this pic by 30 times.
Amazing photo gallery. Fitzgerald is a beast.