Yes, I realize that the Mellon Arena (which I’ll always think of as the Civic Arena or the Igloo) will be around for more than another full NHL season. However, tonight’s Penguins game was probably the last game I’ll see there in person. Sure, I’ll see tons of games on Center Ice, but it’s never the same as being there.
Though the Penguins didn’t win tonight, all Penguins fans should be happy with the way the Penguins played. They outshot the Canadiens 34-19. Though the Penguins’ power play definitely looked like what it is at the moment (a power play most teams have no need to fear that’s only ranked at about the middle of the NHL), they shot the puck. As most Penguins fans know, the Penguins are ranked last in shots on goal (with an average of only 26.8 shots per game going into tonight’s game against the Habs). Shooting the puck more is definitely a good place to start. The Penguins haven’t won two games in a row since Fleury got injured (they won 6 in a row from 11/1 – 11/15 and then hit a very rough patch.
Fleury has been playing very well since his return. If the Penguins can play like they did tonight in front of him consistently they’re bound to string together a bunch of wins sometime soon.
It was hardly a high point as a Penguins fan, Andrei Kostitsyn scored his first NHL hat trick tonight at the Igloo. I always like seeing a player score their first hat trick, even if it does mean that ‘my team’ ends up losing. It’s always sad to see a player get their first hat trick that away from home, though. Even the fairly large group of Canadiens (on his side of the ice when he scored his 3rd goal) didn’t throw any hats onto the ice.
Since I’ll always be a Penguins fan at heart, it’s been frustrating for me to hear Therrien talk about how his team isn’t prepared. Correct me if I’m wrong, but getting them prepared is the most important part of his job. He has such a talented group of players. If he can’t get them motivated, perhaps he’s not the right guy for the job.
I wish I could travel back to see the team that first made me fall in love with hockey more often, but travel is a bit too expensive for that at the moment. I’m really glad I got to see a couple more games in the Igloo before the new arena (which we recently earned will be the Consol Energy Center for its first 15 years) opens. The Penguins lost both of those games (and played horribly against the Lightning just before Christmas), but they played really in the last game I’ll see them play in the arena. I even got to see them wear their third jerseys in person. I may not be a huge fan of the baby blue jerseys, but at least they’re a colorful glimpse of the Penguins’ past.
On a bright note, the last two games I saw in the Igloo were accompanied by my other favorite team (the Los Angeles Kings) shutting out their opponents on the road (Jonathan Quick got both of them and had not gotten a shutout in the NHL until December 23rd. What a way for him to end the calendar year. At least one of my teams won each night.