Yes, I know I posted this picture of myself already in the last Pens post, but I SO have to repost it, because of ... JAMES F***KIN' NEAL!
But ... let's start with the beginning. Two weeks in Pittsburgh means more than one Pens game to go to and that means this German blogger is in HEAVEN!
Saturday was the day of game 2 for me and the last regular season game for the Pens versus the Carolina Hurricanes - the new club of former Penguin Jordan Staal. He returned to Pittsburgh the first time after the trade and received long, long standing ovations. These fans are world class and Mr. J. Staal looked like he woud start crying any moment. And honestly if I would be him - I would cry as well because the Canes had not much to laugh about that night, but good lord - I had!
It started already when I was picking up my ticket and instead of the small piece of paper they handed me over a huge envelop. I opened it and in addition to my ticket for the night I found already THIS:
SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE - my first playoff tickets EVER!!!!! I SO CANNOT WAIT! BRING ON THE ISLANDERS AND EAT THEM ALIVE (yes, hockey makes me a little violent)!!!
We have only tickes for game 1 although we will be in town for game 2 also, but I won't complain. This is already super awesome!
The game on Saturday was also a highlight for me personally because one of my abosulte favorite players - James Neal - would return after a concussion sporting a really badass tinted visor. It looked like that:
And what an amazing comeback it was! After missing each other through several injuries FINALLY Geno and Jimmy were together again and you could watch their brains melt to one big hockey brain right there on the ice. It looked like nothing bad ever happened. They passed to each other without even looking - behind the back, through legs, over long distance, from sick angles and produced alone four goals. One for Geno with James Neal assisting and THREE - a full blown hat trick - for James - The Real Deal - Neal!!!
I was sitting in my corner with Flower (Section 114, row C - defense twice, down at the ice - my favorite place to be) watching the magic unfold on the ice and it was just gorgeous ... and Sid did not even return yet. What the heck this team will be able to do when it is complete again? I guess the goalie of the Canes does not even want to know - he for sure had enough for the season once this game was over, but let's tell the story in pictures:
The Consol Energy Center dressed up for the playoffs:
Watching the warm up is always a lot of fun. Some of the guys skate without helmets, they throw pucks over the boards to the fans or shoot pucks against the glass making the kids scream. And there were LOTS of kids and puckbunnys - one of the downsides of Neal's return. That man has more girl fans than Kris Letang and that's really not easily to achieve.
In this picture we got Brandon Sutter stretching.
The first of many James Neal shots. Here he still looks a bit sceptical.
It's not me visiting a Pens game without a nice picture of Kris Letang.
Iggy & Duper - two real fan favorites!
James Neal getting ready to do gorgeous things.
The sign of my lovely friend, the Pens Knitting Lady and her husband, who's blog no Pens fan should miss - he has the BEST pictures.
The young man between Pascale Dupuis and Kris Letang is Duper's little son, who is daddy's spitting image and already a great skater.
Jeff Jimerson singing the National anthem. I love this so much!
New daddy Marc-André Fleury without helmet during the anthem. Welcome, Estelle - the newborn baby daughter of Flower & his wife Veronique!
Now shit got serious and this is the line the hockey world shoud better be scared of - Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Chris Kunitz!
A pretty awesome shot of shoulders / back of my future husband - Mr. Douglas Murray. Yes, I have a huge big boy crush ;)
My favorite game shot:
Flower: "Hi Jordy! How are you doin', buddy? Long time no see."
Jordan Staal: "Hi Flower, congrats to you and your wife. How I am doin'? Well ..."
Flower: "Nice to talk to you, but could you get up? You are in my way to the playoffs."
I guess it was something just like that.
The Hurriances bench.
Rookie of the year - Simon Depres
Iggy & Duper hanging out while the ice crew was out.
Here you can perfectly see how awesome my seat was - and you can see Iggy and that is also always a good thing.
The ice fresh and beautiful right before the glorious third period.
Flower watching the other guys getting some work done.
Mr. Future Husband with the No. 3 really focussed on the puck.
Sadly the boys moved a little too fast for the camera but I kept the picture anyway - Mr. Neal & Mr. Malkin - may they never ever get seperated on the ice again.
Nothing special - just hanging out with Iceburgh a little bit.
The final result - Pens 8 (!!!) : Canes 3
The first star and the one with the happiest smile of the night:
The Real Deal - James Neal!!!
PS: All pictures enlarge to be even more fun, when you click on them.