And then our pets’ heads fell off.

Yesterday during the first period of the Pens game, I went to Walmart with my family to shop for food as we were having the whole extended family over for Mexican dinner, as is usual for us on Sundays.

What is NOT usual is us doing the shopping during game three of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Was it because we were fair-weather fans who gave up on the team and walked away from them? No.

Was it because NOT watching the game was the only thing we hadn’t tried yet to will the karma and juju and mojo of the universe to give us a win? Yes.

Hey, we said, let’s try NOT watching the game and see what happens. Maybe when we check the score, we’ll be up six goals and come on, even the Pens can protect a six-goal lead. So we marched through Walmart, which was pretty deserted, and we bought our stuff.  We didn’t know the score and we wouldn’t check the score.

As we exited the store, it was probably about five minutes into the second period, and a guy in his thirties, sporting a Sidney Crosby jersey, was also exiting the store with a buggy full of stuff and he was pushing that buggy like it was full of angry rabid squirrels that he planned to go dump in the Mon. His eyes were narrowed. His brow furrowed. His jaw set. His step hard. He had clearly shopped angry, and if he’s anything like me, shopping angry means you leave the store with three kinds of pies, four boxes of Pop-Tarts, and a small kitchen appliance you don’t need and will never use.

I said, “Uh-oh. Check the score, honey.”


“Oh, God. Not again.”

“But this time it’s the Flyers [patooie] who are up.”

So we headed home to cook and flicked on the television and set it to the game as our families started pouring in with their children.  NOT watching hadn’t made any difference, so we might as well watch, was our reasoning.

And from there, it got worse and worse until it felt like we were sitting at rock bottom looking at each other all, “What was that?! What just happened?! WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE?!”

I HATE the Flyers. You know this. But yesterday afternoon, I felt things about the Penguins that I hadn’t ever felt before. I was embarrassed for them, not because of their play, but because of their behavior. Granted, the Flyers’ thuggery and general state of existing is enough to drive anyone to the brink, but the Penguins went to the brink, looked around, and swan-dived.

I heard my sister, PENS FAN, say at one point, “We’re a bunch of thugs.” And I almost dropped my tequila.

I didn’t go that far, but I was sad. At one point, as chaos reigned on the ice for what seemed like an eternity, I thought to myself, “They should ban fighting in hockey.”

I wasn’t angry at Fleury; I’m sure he’s doing a good enough job at being angry at himself. But watching that game felt like watching someone you love and respect do things you never thought they’d ever do. It was like a favorite celebrity being caught on camera kicking kittens for pleasure. It was foreign to see that incredible loss of composure and maturity by our boys — and yes, they are still our boys and always will be our boys because our boys are HUMAN BEINGS and they had a human set of moments that came together to form one big cluster of WTF.

So my sister and I were kind of disgusted by our own team, while my husband was like, “Pssh. Flyers [patooie] deserve it.”

And my brother-in-law Muchacho said, “Last year Hartnell BIT LETANG AND HE’S WHINING ABOUT GETTING HIS HAIR PULLED?! The Flyers are getting everything they deserve.”

My father was kind of just generally disgusted with the whole situation, both teams, the sport, the universe, Barack Obama, etc.

Then as the din died down, I saw the Flyers smiling their evil smiles of satisfaction that they had gotten to the Penguins — that they had reduced us to that, and I saw their evil glee and I took my disgust for my own team and I balled it up and I shoved it deep down into that cavity in my heart where I keep my hate and I tripled my loathing of the Philadelphia Flyers to beyond-biblical proportions. Max Talbot included [patooie].

Today, in the light of day, that game still has left a bad taste in my mouth, but I still love my team and as I said after the game yesterday, I still believe they can win it in seven — to which Muchacho asked me how much drugs I had done.

Unfortunately, none at all.

Drugs would have made that game — that SPECTACLE of descent into madness — much more bearable.

I don’t know who is leading in that locker room, but it’s time for someone to step up and show the men the way to play this team without losing themselves, because it’s one thing to lose in the first round of the Stanley Cup to the Flyers [patooie], but it’s another thing altogether to lose a portion of your dignity to them.

Let’s go, Pens!


  1. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    April 16, 2012 9:46 am

    I still believe they can win four straight. It will be difficult, but it can be done. The Pens are my boys — same as the Pirates, Steelers and any team that represents Pittsburgh (even when they do not represent it well).

    So, come Wednesday, I will be sitting proudly wearing my Lemieux black away jersey with Pittsburgh on the diagonal in Section 119 at the Wells Fargo Center (the end where the Pens shoot twice), surrounded by a sea of orange douche-baggery. Instead of going all choke-a-bitch on any Flyers fans who will undoubtedly give me crap, I will just smile and laugh. Let’s go Pens!

  2. Lauren
    April 16, 2012 10:06 am

    Thank you for this. You could not have described my feelings any better! And I, too, tried NOT watching the game for awhile to see if that would work.

  3. Cassie
    April 16, 2012 10:07 am

    At one point I do believe I said, “Stop, please stop. Please?”

    That about sums it up for me.

    They will come back, but I’m so sad that they let the effing Flyers get to them.

    Hartnell. GAH.

  4. empirechick
    April 16, 2012 10:19 am

    That game was just sad all around. And what a joke for Crosby to say afterward that the Flyers didn’t get to them, this is just playoff hockey. BS – they completely got to us, and we fell for the bait, looking completely ridiculous in the process.

    I have no other tricks left in my superstion bag – I am forced to wear the one item of Pens clothing that I swore I would never don again: my black Pens #25 Talbot t-shirt. Gotta do something to break the funk.

  5. PA Girl in VA
    April 16, 2012 10:48 am

    I said several times, “Boy the Flyers sure don’t like it when another team plays like they traditionally do.” The Pens are better than that but they let the pressure get to them yesterday and it was disappointing. I was OK with Sid getting into a muscle-tussle – he was stepping up as the captain. But the mess that followed can’t be explained rationally.

    The thing that bothered me most, however, is that Adams didn’t deck the living shit out of Hartnell when he had the chance. Hartnell stood there grinning like the Cheshire cat. He had no helmet on. Adams should have knocked his teeth down his throat and pummelled him so hard that his flaming locks turned gray. But did he? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. What did he do instead? HE PULLED HIS FREAKIN’ HAIR!!!!!!! WTF?

    • empirechick
      April 16, 2012 11:30 am

      What I REALLY wanted Adams to do was ‘accidentally’ slug Pierre McGuirre. That would have made the rest of that nonsense bearable.

      • Cassie
        April 16, 2012 12:32 pm

        Agreed. I mean, he tried to explain high stick to us. Really? I never knew.

      • PA Girl in VA
        April 16, 2012 2:33 pm

        Yeah, but he couldn’t do that if he were pulling Hartnell’s hair. Perhaps Adams should have demonstrated for all us idiots out there the high stick point that McGuire was trying to make. I didn’t even hear him talking about that. I guess I’ve learned to tune him out better than I thought.

    • unsatisfied
      April 16, 2012 3:49 pm

      you know what would have been better?

      us scoring more goals than them.

  6. bucdaddy
    April 16, 2012 12:01 pm

    On my way out of the bar I stopped at the TV to check the score. This was with about five minutes to go in the third. I waited maybe five minutes and never saw the score. I did watch about five minutes of WWF on skates and was reminded that, while I think Stanley Cup is the greatest sports tournament of them all, I can’t watch much hockey because the goonery and thuggery and overall “boys will be boys who interrupt a sporting contest to beat the shit out of each other”y is just stupid insanity, though of course the NHL fears and knows that without the fights, nobody would watch hockey. Much like if there wasn’t the chance a driver might get incinerated in a fiery ball of exploding gas and oil and they all treated races like a Sunday drive, nobody would watch NASCAR either.

    Waaaaay back in the day I saw one of the better Canadiens team whip the Penguins up and down the ice, 7-0, without drawing a single penalty all game. I thought, wow, this is a beautiful game when there’s not a rugby scrum on the ice every 30 seconds.

    • Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
      April 16, 2012 12:06 pm

      I’d still watch it without the fighting Bucdaddy. Everytime there’s a fight I say they need to get rid of it. They can play great hockey in college without fighting.

      • bucdaddy
        April 16, 2012 12:17 pm

        I did watch some of the Phoenix/Chicago game Saturday night, because I was in the bar and that’s what was on the TV. In that game, if you didn’t see it, one of the Blackhawks decided to try to decapitate the Phoenix goalie while he was defenseless behind the net, trying to clear. It looked like the offender maybe got tossed out of the game, but really: He should have been thrown out of the playoffs and all of next season too.

        There’s a lot of hand-wringing about head injuries lately, and there have been some after-the-fact measures taken as James Harrison can loudly attest, but there sure doesn’t seem to be a lot of effort going into preventing head hits in the first place. Though I can’t say I’m smart enough to suggest ways to do that, other than:

        Big. Puffy. Helmets.

        • Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
          April 16, 2012 12:26 pm

          Sort of like what Olympic boxers wear, but bigger and puffier.

          • bucdaddy
            April 16, 2012 12:47 pm

            Yeah, that.

            I want to like hockey, I really really do. I grew up loving hockey and went to dozens of Pens games when I was in college, during the Pronovost, Larouche, Burrows era. Then the game just turned me off with the mindless hooliganism. Like football turned me off when it became more about chest-thumping and “Look at meeeee!” and trash talking and who had the biggest mouth and that idiocy than playing the damn game.

            Thanks, television, as always I blame you for everything.

            • MattDC
              April 16, 2012 4:20 pm

              Actually, I give TV some credit on this one, by showing the closeups of the referees yawning and looking at their watches while the designated goons go through the kabuki dance of pretending to fight. It’s so ritualistic and staged, it’s hard to see how anyone takes this nonsense seriously, least of all the fans whom the league is ostensibly serving by allowing it to continue.

        • PA Girl in VA
          April 16, 2012 2:36 pm

          Listen, if Weber isn’t going to get tossed out of a game for literally taking Zetterberg’s head in his hands and slamming it against the boards, then I’m surprised that (almost) decapitating a goalie even got a whistle.

      • empirechick
        April 16, 2012 12:31 pm

        I’d still watch, too. The only fight I really enjoyed was Brent Johnson breaking Rick DiPietro’s jaw last year, but that was mostly for of the novelty of a goalie fight.

        When there is a fight, I want our guy to win, but I don’t agree with the idea that somehow fighting keeps the game in check. A game misconduct and/or suspension (ala Matt Cooke last year) would just as easily take care of any cheap shotting.

  7. Butcher's Dog
    April 16, 2012 12:14 pm

    Sorry, but I’m off the bandwagon on this one. Watched them blow a 3-0 lead on TV, watched them blow a 3-1 lead (among others) live, then watched the debacle on TV again yesterday. I think I’d actually prefer a mercy kill followed by Philly getting the shit beat out of them in the second round. I’m privately rooting for their plane to crash, but I suspect I’ll spend a couple eternities in hell for that one.

    • Cassie
      April 16, 2012 12:34 pm

      I think we’d share that time together, since I totally half wished the same thing. So. Split eternity?

    • redram1
      April 16, 2012 5:06 pm

      Butcher’s Dog,
      The plane crash thing is always my go to hex. Never works though. The karma boomerang will probably come back on my ass though!

      Goin’ to hell?…I’ll save you a seat on the bus.

  8. red pen mama
    April 16, 2012 12:56 pm

    I am still rooting for our Pens and will until they are either hoisting the Cup or eliminated, but I can’t watch any longer. It’s too stressful, and I have enough stress. I check Twitter for the occasional updates. Yesterday, I listened to the second period, until it was 6-4, and then I just couldn’t. It was painful from every angle.

    • Beth
      April 16, 2012 1:06 pm

      I’m with you, RPM. It’s not that I’m a bandwagon fan, and that I don’t care about them when they aren’t winning, it’s that I care too much when they’re losing.

    • Pensgirl
      April 16, 2012 4:56 pm

      I agree with you. We fans don’t owe our sports teams anything. I don’t know why so many people these days act like we have to torture ourselves or we “aren’t real fans.” For awhile and stopping last year thankfully, I had horrible stress to the point of having (non-life-threatening but certainly no fun) health problems. If there’s anything I’ve learned from that experience, it’s that letting unecessary stress into your life is plain stupid. I’ll be damned if I let anyone else control what I do with the precious little “me” time I get in a week. I can’t spend it angry or upset. You know what else was on TV yesterday afternoon? Old Veronica Mars episodes! Much better accompaniment to my Sunday cooking.

  9. SteelCityMagnolia
    April 16, 2012 1:05 pm

    Typically, I am not allowed to watch playoff hockey, because when I do, the Pens lose. So in an act of desperation, I watched yesterday. I was actually BEGGED to watch by some of my more fanatical Pens-fan friends, hoping that my watching would somehow change karma.

    My dad has never really watched hockey a day in his life, but he did walk in the room in time to see that huge trainwreck in the third period. And he summed it up like this:

    “That guy plays hockey for a living and he’s crying because someone pulled his hair??? EFFING PANSIE!!!!”

  10. Julie
    April 16, 2012 2:02 pm

    I actually shaved MY playoff beard in hopes of stopping the madness, but alas, it didn’t help…….

  11. Old North Sider
    April 16, 2012 2:45 pm

    Stopped in the Giant Eagle today and saw a huge display of Fluery Flakes. I thought it was pretty telling as I laughed to myself as I mistakenly used flakes as a verb rather then a noun. Then I immediately began to hope that I would see Malkin & his parents at this Giant Eagle (as I often do) getting the ingredients for his lucky borsct — he’s the one whose mojo/karma needs a kick in the pants.

  12. KKinLA
    April 16, 2012 3:50 pm

    I’m laughing as always reading these comments because I share so many of the same crazy emotions! I switched to the Laker game for a while yesterday in a vain attempt to ensure that the Pens would score and win while I wasn’t watching. While the fights were juvenile – I did secretly enjoy watching Sexhair beat the $h!t out of that lame douche. C’mon boys! Rally! I need 4 more games of stress!

  13. Pensgirl
    April 16, 2012 3:55 pm

    Yep, totally agree Ginny. I’m trying not to rant, but I have a lot swirling around in my head. This is about as succinct as I can get it:

    1. We, the Pittsburghers, deserve better than the “representation” we’ve received over the last five days. Traditionally, my favorite part of being a Pens fan is that overall I felt the team was largely representative of us – tough and gritty, won’t take shit, but big on doing right. 2. You have to be pretty $%@ dumb when you know from the outset the other guy’s M.O. is to goad you (especially the stars) and you (particularly your stars) take the bait a little, let alone nearly every time.** 3. But, letting yourself be goaded into WWE behavior is the lesser problem when your idea of team defense is to allow 46 pucks to get behind your skaters in Game 1 alone (heard that stat from Phil Bourque before Friday’s game) and allow FOUR MOTHERFUCKING SHORTHANDED GOALS IN THREE GAMES. 4. I heard that Mario looked pretty disgusted yesterday. I have no doubt that’s true, and he has every right to be.

    Right now, the Pens are being outcoached, outmaneuvered, outsmarted, and plain outplayed, and as of this moment they deserve to be swept.

    **I won’t get into the part where it’s ridiculous that the league allows any of its teams to deploy the “cheap shot and talk $!%# (to the other team’s stars in particular) so often that the refs can’t possibly call it all and eventually get the other team to melt down” strategy. The best way to make them stop doing it is for their opponents not to fall for it. League intervention shouldn’t be necessary. That said, God help the NHL if the Flyers actually win it all this year, which they could very well do.

    • Butcher's Dog
      April 16, 2012 4:44 pm

      Well, I don’t see the Flyers winning it all. First, they’ve been luckier than a pig in shit the whole series, starting with the blown offsides call in game 1. Second, one fine morning their young guys are going to wake up and remember that they’re young guys who have no business being there. Third, their goaltending sucks; the only reason they’re up 3-0 is that ours sucks worse. I fully expect them to go out in the next round, especially if they have to play Boston or New York.

      Not that I want to see either of those two get in, either. Still, when searching for someone to avenge the wrongs done to you, any port in a storm.

      • Pensgirl
        April 16, 2012 5:32 pm

        I don’t want to put the cart (this converation) before the horse (this round ending), but they could. They are legitimately playing hockey very well (as well as we are poorly), and the goading strategy is to compensate for the crap goaltending. What has happened with us so far is a combination of being frustrated by how well they’re clicking and by their cheap shit. They could be stopped either by a wall of a goaltender or by a team that exercises proper discipline (including by us if everybody just gets their collective shit together right now), but if the goading were to keep working, they’d likely keep winning. And that’s what concerns me.

      • Sam's Dog
        April 16, 2012 6:14 pm

        Agreed, Butcher’s. If the Pens were playing anything resembling defense, this series would be competitive. Yeah, our goalie picked a particularly bad time to take a sabbatical, but at least we didn’t acquire him for 7 mil per year, hoping for a savior. The Flyers are enjoying this, but we’ll get to enjoy somebody else sending them to the golf course in a later round.

  14. AngryMongo
    April 16, 2012 5:45 pm

    This just says it all.

    Even Hitler is disgusted with the Pens.

  15. bluzdude
    April 16, 2012 6:31 pm

    “I don’t know who is leading in that locker room, but it’s time for someone to step up and show the men the way to play this team without losing themselves, because it’s one thing to lose in the first round of the Stanley Cup to the Flyers [patooie], but it’s another thing altogether to lose a portion of your dignity to them.”

    Is it too late to re-sign Billy Guerin?

    • LisaB
      April 16, 2012 10:56 pm

      Billy still works for the Pens, so maybe he needs to show up in that locker room and bitch-slap some sense (and defense) into those boys.

  16. all5boys
    April 16, 2012 9:00 pm

    But the Pirates were on at the same time and they won!

    • LisaB
      April 16, 2012 10:58 pm

      Yeah, what a crazy year THIS is…the Steelers blew their playoff game to the likes of Tim Tebow, the Pens look like Cup winners until they actually have to contend, as which point they turn into a bunch of D-less zombies…and the Buccos are actually Non-Suckitude (so far). Whoda thunk it?!?

  17. tw
    April 17, 2012 12:00 pm

    Ginny… I am convinced that I am the jinx not you. The whole year I haven’t been able to watch the Pens b/c I live in Philly country and the few times I did watch them they were playing the Flyers and lost. Needless to say I’ve seen every playoff game so far… I have to be the jinx. I will not be watching the game on Wednesday… cross fingers. They will need every superstitious trick to help them out of this hole.

  18. JennyMoon
    April 17, 2012 12:40 pm

    I wasn’t watching but at least now I know that someone got their hair pulled. I heard my husband yelling…”if you’re gonna grow your hair that long then you deserve to get it pulled!!” Cracked me right up!

  19. AngryMongo
    April 17, 2012 3:10 pm

    Has anyone noticed a lack of playoff beards being grown on the Penguins’ faces?

    Maybe it’s just me… but that seems like an instant jinx.

  20. LisaB
    April 18, 2012 10:33 pm

    Well, they just totally humiliated the Flyers in their own house, 10-3. (gloating).

    So maybe, just maybe, there’s a shred of hope that they can win the next three games.

    Considering that the Pens are better on the road, and the next game is at home – and the Flyers are better on the road – aaaarrrrggghhhh, my head is going to explode

  21. tw
    April 19, 2012 8:34 am

    hmmm… they lose when i watch and win when I don’t.. I’m getting a complex. : /