I have no idea what took me so long, but in all the years coming here for hockey (and much more) I never thought about touring the Consol Energy Center except for now. Just before the trip I thought that I would REALLY like to have that look behind the scenes and so I booked the tour for one of my game days to make it a real "All Penguins Day".
Before you fellow Pens fans get too excited ... the tour does not include the locker room. Especially on game days you go with our guide not even near that area, but it is still very worth doing it.
On the tour you learn a lot about the building, a lot about the Pens and the history of the club and you indeed go into areas where you usually would not go if you do not have very fancy tickets for VIP seats in the club area.
The most striking part for me was in the end not even going through usually (for me) closed doors, but when our tour guide pointed on specialities and remarkable details left and right. I SHOULD have seen all this alredy dozen of times - especially the stuff around my section 120, but I did not. I am also so on adrenalin when I arrive for a game that the world could blow up left and right while my brain goes all: "ICE, ICE, ICE .... I need to go down to the ICE." Oh well .... but at least now I have seen all those things.
Here are a couple of pictures:
|As much James Neal as I will get this time :(|
|The signs in the arena Pittsburgh style: |
steel plates, 3 stripes for 3 rivers, glass symbolizing the ice.
|Giant hockey stick|
|Mario Lemieux charity mosaic made of fan photos including mine|
|More James Neal|
|Geno - my favorite mural!|
|Under the roof|
|Pittsburgh seen from CEC|
|Giant goalie mask|
|Selfie - Me messing with the fan cam|
|Club 66 - best seats in the house!|
|Home sweet hockey home|
The Pens lost this game 0:1 against the Colorado Avalanche ... one if not THE hottest team in the NHL now (I would see the Sharks on a similar level though). And apperantly the Pens Twitter community had a nervous breakdown about it and announced the end of the world. Well ... it is was nothing like this.
What happened was that the goalie of the Avs played the game of his life. The Avs' defense stood tight and we did not score while they did although the Penguins dominated this game (twice as many shots on goal - just to name one piece of stats). Fleury delivered another great performance. It was only ONE unlucky goal. They did not drown or something.
But STILL this Pens have issues and they are all injury related. We are missing James Neal, Beau Bennett, Kris Letang. This basically means that we are playing on 1.5 scoring lines. Sid's line is mind blowingly awesome but if you have no work with the 3rd or 4th line a but can concentrade on Sid and his 2 boys and a bit on Geno and Jussi, you can focus as opponent easily your defensive approach on those few guys.
Geno plays really well (he is underrated at the moment I would say) and while it works well with Jussi, he at least needs Beau back if he cannot have his mindmelt-best-buddy-better-half winger, James Neal. Chuck Kobasew cannot do this job. He is almost never really where Geno needs him although he tries. Kobasew will make us happy on the 3rd or 4th but he looks nothing like lost on the 2nd.
If you go down it now it is thinning out rapidly. While Vitale and Sutter offer solid work but a line consisting additionally of Chris Connor and Tanner Glass is as terrible as you would think it is. Once Beau and Jimmy are back and Letang will bring also some scoring power and we can move some people like Kobasew down again to improve our 3rd and 4th line we will be all good. More than good actually.
Less of a concern is the defense also it is still sometimes sloppy. Scuderi is worth every Cent, Bortuzzo plays some real good hockey (better than I thought he would) and Olli Maatta is a hockey dream for defense fans like me. It is not said that he stays up. The decision is pretty complex based on the influence that has on his contract and how it is impacting the cap situation. So we will see which way the Pens go, but we look at a man with a bright, bright future here. May the hockey gods be with young Olli as much as we fans are.
Some headaches I have about the goalie situation. Zatkoff played only one game yet and I am not sure if he really is good enough to allow Flower having the breaks he needs. We will need to wait and see, I guess.
Time to move on now and ... BRING ON THE ISLES!
|Pregame - Geno stretching|
|Pregame - Jussi|
|Pregame skate - I love this!|
|Pregame - Flower|
|Pregame - My man Joey V.|
|Pregame - The Captain|
|Countdown - This makes me SO HAPPY|
|Flower - always without helmet during the anthem|
|During the anthem|
|Let's go Pens!|
|Pens on the bench|