WINTER CLASSIC RECAP: Fehr And Loathing. PENS LOSE.

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After the game, Bruce Boudreau said this: "This is as close to the Stanley Cup as we've gotten and we're not denying that it was more than just two points."

If there's a sting lingering from the Pens losing this game, just take solace in the fact that when you see quotes like this from Boudreau, you know the Caps will never win a Cup with him behind the bench.  Every team has the ultimate goal to be still standing there in the middle of June, and it's not good when you're sitting on January 1st thinking you've accomplished something:

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Meanwhile, we're sitting here on January 1st wishing that the objective of the NHL season was to beat the Washington Capitals. 
How great would that be?  Unfortunately, there's bigger stuff going on.

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This was from a Caps fan in response to our saying that the biggest thing we took from the Classic was how good Staal looked. 
Most Caps fans will never get it.  This was a regular-season game.
 
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Yeah it sucks. Penguins are 25-12.
It's so great that Capital fans are more worried about us than they are about enjoying a win.

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Judging from shit on Twitter and the comments from the quick recap last night, no one is discussing the weather and ice conditions unless they're trying to sell a newspaper, which is a good thing.  Both teams played on the same surface, and the Pens lost.  The final score was 3-1, a common score seen throughout the course of an NHL season.  There were more goals scored in this game than in the December 23rd Pens/Caps game in Washington.  If this was a 0-0 game and players were falling over themselves while taking shootout attempts, then we'd have something to talk about.

This Winter Classic was the dream culmination of HBO's narrative for 24/7.  The down-and-out team came back and beat the team that looked like they had their shit together.  It's gonna make for some great theater on Wednesday when the final 24/7 episode airs, and it will give some fringe NHL fans an idea of how momentum swings back and forth over the course of an 82-game season.  Unfortunately, HBO cameras won't be around in April or May when the entire book is completed and this Winter Classic loss to the Capitals is a meaningless Chapter 2 that no one will bother reading.

Pens have some days off from this and will gear up for game #41 on Wednesday.   It marks the halfway point of the regular season.  Aside from an All-Star break, the NHL season is reaching its dog-days-of-winter stage until the trading deadline comes into focus near the end of February. 
 
Plus, Jordan Staal is back.  Man.
 
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No question it was a great scene at Heinz Field.  Yet with all the yellow lingering around the stadium, it left us wondering what this could have looked like if the Pens went with straight-up black-and-yellow from the early '90s.  So, on that front, the Caps uniforms won the night.
 
Then there were the bizarre player introductions with a marching band playing a song that was probably from the Inception soundtrack.
 
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After that pomp and suck, Jerome Bettis and Franco Harris came out for ceremonial face-offs with Mario Lemieux and a veteran.

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Such a joke that Jerome Bettis and Franco Harris were anywhere near this thing.  Jerome Bettis had a stake in Don Barden's casino, and Bettis' pull in Pittsburgh helped bring that home for himself.  Guaranteed Bettis requested a fee for showing up to this game.  Franco Harris shouldn't have been there, either,  Both of them couldn't have cared less about the Penguins back in 2006 when they were more interested in cash.  If you were searching for a reason why the hockey gods didn't let the Pens win this game, having these two associated with it is why.

Barenaked Ladies guy came out to sing O Canada.

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wtf


Jackie whatevero sings the national anthem.  Longest anthem of your life.

Thanks to everyone who sent pics in.
Too many to name.
 
 
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The game kicked off with the overhead NFL cam thing.  Immediately thought it'd be useful for power plays, if anything.  Turned out the only thing it was useful for was stopping at least a couple of handfuls of rain from hitting the ice surface.  Anyone watching the game understands why NBC would've tried using the camera, because it's a good idea in theory.  But it ended up being pretty embarrassing.  The standard camera angle used for any Winter Classic will never be up to snuff to the angles used in hockey arenas, so we applaud NBC for trying this out, and hopefully they've realized that it sucked balls.

Staal was on the ice for the second shift of the game.
Good to see that son of a bitch.

The Caps weren't happy to see him, 'cause he was a force early on.  

Staal had the best early scoring chance and killed a penalty like it he's been doing it for 3 months.

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He's fine.

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Pens get their first PP when Crosby blows past Mike Green again.  Horrible defenseman.
No dice.

Play went back and forth for a while.
Every time Staal was on the ice, something was happening.

Rupp and Erskine drop the gloves.

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 NBC was fortunate enough to have a great camera angle showing everything leading up to the fight, as well.  It was a great sequence.

Highlight of the game came late in the first period.  On a night where ice conditions were supposed to be a big deal, the only player taking an embarrassing fall was the great 8.

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Could have blown out Dupes' knee.

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Stephen S.'s sauce face made it on the JumboTron at the game.

 

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Speaking of the ape, the early part of the second period was the Ovechkin show.  
He got maybe 4 great looks at MAF.  And MAF was stoning each one.
Ovechkin still can't find ways to show up in big games.

Then out of nowhere, Malkin was all alone.  

Didn't have room to make a move, which was good, 'cause he sniped one.  
 
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1-0.  Great celebration.

Soon after, Brooks Laich goes off for goalie interference.  

He probably spent his time in the box changing a tire or something dumb.

Talbot takes a bizarre penalty on Ovechkin.
Caps score a trash goal, and they get some life.  1-1.  Mike Knuble yet again.  Biggest Penguin killer going.
And basically the Caps never let go of that life.

 
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Looked great on the replay.
 
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MAF started getting into some trouble.
Orpik has to bail him out when a Cap has a wide-open net on a wraparound.

Then MAF goes behind the net to embarrass himself.  
Eric Fehr scores and points at his wife.  2-1.
 
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Apparently something excited happened and Pat Sajak noticed.
If you were near him and didn't get a stunned pic after the Malkin goal, we have nothing to say to you.

Soon after the goal, Talbot draws a hooking penalty.  Pens PP.
No dice.

 
Late in the second, the Pens thought they had tied it, but it was signaled no-goal.
 
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At the end of the second period, Crosby was apparently blindsided by Dave Steckel behind the play.  As we all frantically searched for a better replay of the hit, it was obviously the CBC that had the best shot of it:
 
 
Looks like incidental contact every time we watch it.
Crosby wasn't watching where he was skating.
Steckel was trying to go up ice.  There was a referee right there.
If Steckel intended to hit him, he did a great job of disguising it.
And since Steckel hasn't done anything good in his NHL career, it was most likely unintentional.
 
Regardless, this incident won't be forgotten by anyone on the Pens' bench.
 
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So, then came the third period, and media members on Twitter immediately begin throwing in their 2 cents about why the NHL is close to delaying or suspending the game due the water buildup on the ice.  From what we were looking at, there was never a threat to player safety.  No one fell when making their usual cuts, and no one was coming off the ice limp or tweaking leg muscles.  It was all a big joke.  Of course the weather affected the game, but it affected both teams, so it's moot.
 
Perhaps the biggest joke, though, was Jim Cantore, who was wrong the entire night on every forecast he gave. 
Big-time choke job.
 
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sucks
 
Big Kudos to WPXI weatherman Scott Harbaugh. He was all business on NHL Network all day. Heroic effort.
 
The Pens were all over the Caps zone to start the third.  They had a powerplay when Mike Knuble shot the puck over the glass, but they couldn't score.  The result was that the entirety of the Pens' defensive zone was blanketed with a layer of rain since there was no action down at that end.
 
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At the 10-minute mark, the teams switched ends, and we had visions of the Capitals getting screwed by the direction change and the Pens scoring a couple goals.
 
Meanwhile, Donald the Eric Fehr had visions of scoring big goals.  A rare mistake by the Pens' shutdown pairing of Martin and Michalek sprung Fehr on a little breakaway.  No clue why Martin came over to that side of the ice.  3-1.
 
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Fehr got the hard hat in the locker room after the game while the Caps listened to Swedish techno music.  The hard hat goes to the hardest-working player for the Caps in a particular game.  Working hard in this game meant taking advantage of Pens' mistakes.  Fehr's wife was probably getting double-teamed by Franco and The Bus during this pic.
 
For the rest of the game, the Pens D-man pairings got juggled for the first time in a long time.
Was Bylsma sending some type of message?  Who knows.  Did someone get injured late?
 
Later, Ovechkin thinks he scores a goal after holding MAF behind the net.
He even does his patented D-Lo Brown/albatross thing he does after a goal.
 
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He should've known it wasn't gonna count.  Embarrassing moment.
 
The rest of the game was an upstream battle for the Pens.
And they couldn't put anything home.
 
The clock was nearing all zeroes, and the Pens were gonna lose.
 
With maybe 10 seconds left, Ovechkin starts celebrating on the ice. 
He was close to throwing his gloves and stick into the air like he had accomplished something.
So with 0.6 left, Bylsma sends Engelland onto the ice.
Kunitz goes after Ovechkin.  Great times.
 
And then we got dealt another handshake conspiracy.
 
 
Anyone complaining about no-handshake obviously didn't watch the last 0.6 seconds and all the shit that came from it.  At the end of a playoff series, you'll never see the losing team starting shit like this, so that's why the handshake works.  With a game like this, there was the potential of a massive brawl in the conga line.   Take a look at the Penguins after they do the stick-raise salute to the fans.  They didn't even look at center ice.  Did the on-ice officials decide there would be no handshake?  Or was every Penguin on the same page about not going into a handshake line?  Anyone hear something about this?
 
 
We're talking about handshakes?  Some things never change. Game.
 
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http://lh3.ggpht.com/_fw7iF68JR8k/TMI97E1YkZI/AAAAAAABbec/5D_Z2gq6DN4/bluedot.jpgBilled as the Oveckin-Crosby show, neither did anything.
 
http://lh3.ggpht.com/_fw7iF68JR8k/TMI97E1YkZI/AAAAAAABbec/5D_Z2gq6DN4/bluedot.jpgCannot say it enough: Jordan Staal and Malkin together.
Just so pumped. Everything is in place now for the Pens.  41 games left.
 
 
http://lh3.ggpht.com/_fw7iF68JR8k/TMI97E1YkZI/AAAAAAABbec/5D_Z2gq6DN4/bluedot.jpgThis sums up Tyler Kennedy:
 
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