As I said on Twitter, I always enjoy the jubilant men in beards more when they’re MY jubilant men in beards, and between the Kings and the Penguins I’ve been very lucky in that regard. (Not so much with my Calgary Flames.) (What can I say, we have a lot of geographic loyalties in this house.) The Pens have won five Stanley Cups in history, and NONE of them at home. Further, until this, a repeat hasn’t happened since the late ’90s Detroit Red Wings; the last chance at a repeat was in 2009, when the Red Wings’ double was thwarted by, yes, the Penguins. It was right before the beans were born. The Steelers won the Super Bowl when I was 10-11 weeks pregnant and then the Pens took the Stanley Cup shortly before I went into labor. The dudes were VERY GOOD LUCK in utero.
Anyway, I’ve tried to rank the beards from most to least robust. Oh, and here are last year’s Jubilant Penguins if you want to compare facial hair.
Anyway, onto some particulars, which you can skip if all you want is the facial hair: There was some phenomenal hockey during the playoffs. Really breathless stuff. There is something deeply sad about the Penguins and the Capitals never being able to play for the Cup because they’re in the same division, as that series was especially terrific. But THIS series was a bit of a thud. It had a massive goal differential, thanks to several blowouts. Nashville may have played more consistently well in this set of games and possibly in the playoffs overall, but I think Pittsburgh is generally the better, tougher team, and got mad lucky when and where it counted — including Hornquist’s fluke of a game-winner off Pekka Rinne’s back, and the controversial no-goal where the ref lost sight of the puck and accordingly blew the whistle right before the Preds poked it in for a score. They were TECHNICALLY correct to wave off the goal — the whistle did blow — but unfortunately, that ref should not have blown the whistle in the first place because the puck was in plain sight. (Oh, and for the record, no, I don’t think Sidney Crosby threw the water bottle on the ice on purpose in Game 5 — I just don’t think Sid is that stupid, even when emotional — but I do think the refs should’ve given him another two minutes for those punches to PK Subban behind the net.) I wish the series had ended more elegantly, because there have been some gorgeous goals overall, but it was an (at times exhilaratingly) messy and scrappy Game 6 and so accordingly it was a messy and scrappy result. Part of the charm of playoff hockey is the frenzy, anyway. There’s nothing like it.
It stinks for the Predators that they lost this way, but particularly in games 3 and 4 Rinne reminded me of Jonathan Quick in 2012 — like he had destiny on his side — and the team’s been compared to the 2008 Penguins team that came right back and won it the next year. They’ll be back. I do believe it. That’s cold comfort today, but the good news is, every last one of these fools will be back on the ice before we know it. For REVENGE.