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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Pittsburgh Penguins

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Marc-André Fleury still giving high fives to his injured buddy

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 19/04/2017 04:08:48
Updated by Joel Dixon at 19/04/2017 04:11:38

There's so much to love about the 2016 Stanley Cup Champion Penguins, not least of which is our goaltender Marc-André Fleury - by all reports an awesome dude.

I noticed he is still doing his high five routine - even with Letang out injured.

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Monday, April 03, 2017

Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 1 (Registration and Penguins Stadium Series)

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 03/04/2017 09:45:29
Updated by Joel Dixon at 08/04/2017 05:11:37

Three years ago, while listening to a Pens game on the radio, I heard a tantalising ad - come and watch Mario Lemieux play hockey at the CONSOL Energy Center - scheduled for my birthday no less! I was lucky enough to see a few of Mario's final games way back in 2005, but that was a long time ago. Having another chance to watch 66 flying around the ice had me momentarily consider taking a week off work and take a quick trip to Pittsburgh.

It didn't take too long to realise that a week-long trip to Pittsburgh to watch a few exhibition games wasn't the most financially prudent decision I could make, even if it offers a chance to watch my all-time hockey hero playing again. As my disappointment gradually dissipated I looked into the event that brought Lemieux out from seclusion and back on the ice, perhaps it would happen again next year so I could plan a proper hockey holiday. When I discovered it was part of a yearly Mario Lemieux Fantasy Hockey Camp I was struck with an unbelievable possibility. As I'm sure is the case for most Australians, the sum of my fantasy camp knowledge comes from a particularly memorable Seinfeld episode, but as I understood it, this camp could allow me to play hockey with Mario Lemieux (but, you know, not punch him). I looked into it further, the Mario Lemieux Foundation was actually offering regular people the chance to experience the life of an NHL player while meeting a bunch of ex-NHL stars. While I had only started playing ice hockey a few months prior, I put my name down on the waiting list and dreamt about the camp a few nights each week. The invite took longer than I had expected, but once I finally received that magical acceptance email - Pao and I immediately started planning our trip!

Day 1 of camp started with registration and gear distribution. I knew that I was going to receive a playing uniform with my name and number on it (based on the vintage 1986 All-Star game designs) including a helmet and gloves - but that was just the start! I was given a large hockey bag (with my name and number on it - I'll never get sick of that) and we were whisked through 4 rooms as the bag was filled with Lemieux Camp-themed sports attire. Tracksuit, puffy jacket, hats, skate guards and jumpers were all piled into my bag - and as a camp guest Pao also received all of the non-uniform items as well. At the end of the experience we headed up to the hotel room to catch our breath and evaluate all the awesome swag that I will now wear until the last thread fades.

On The Gear
It's hard to pick a favourite, but I absolutely love the "Lemieux Camp Hockey" authentic-style logo on the sweatshirt

We didn't have much time to appreciate our goodies, as Pao and I had signed up to participate in a tour of Pittsburgh's UPMC Children's Hospital - to understand exactly what our donations go towards. I'm glad that we decided to squeeze in the hospital visit, it gave us a great feeling knowing that we were contributing towards such an amazing program. Going through serious health issues during his NHL career (chronic back pain, bone infection and Hodgkin's lymphoma) Mario Lemieux created his foundation to help in the fight against cancer. In 1996 Mario's son Austin was born profoundly premature requiring months of intensive care. Mario and his wife Nathalie wanted to spend as much time as possible in hospital with their newborn - but there was nothing to keep their other two toddlers occupied. In 2000 Nathalie started a program to build Austin's Playrooms - providing families a chance to get away from everything medical while still being able to visit their sick loved ones. Pao and I were able to tour the playrooms and are happy to be part of such an important project.

Staff Announcement
I'm going to have to check out our own Children's Hospital at some point and see how it measures up

We came back to the hotel after the tour and sat around waiting for the welcome dinner to start. It was at this time that Paul Coffey, one of the NHL's 100 greatest players and a personal favourite, arrived and sat down at the table I was sitting at. I was more than a little starstruck but like all the pros at the camp, as I would later find out, he was more than happy to chat and was even interested in why an Australian would learn to love hockey. Being the first camp participant from outside of North America was a great way to meet people (not just the Hockey Hall of Fame members) as most people seemed interested in why an Aussie would follow hockey. I also used that opportunity to explain to everyone why I would be so much worse on skates than they are!

As luck would have it, the year I was selected to join the camp coincided with the Penguins being selected to host the NHL Stadium Series, playing a game against our bitter rivals the Philadelphia Flyers outdoors at Heinz Field. So on the first night of camp we all went to watch the game as a group, with Mario Lemieux joining us on the bus. As further luck would have it - I sat across from Mario on the bus and had a quick discussion with him (again, about hockey in Australia) to which he seemed interested (and I probably seemed like a huge fanboy). Someone ended up sitting between us which gave me a chance to realise that there was a police car with sirens blazing and our bus wasn't getting out of the way. A few minutes after that I realised that we were actually enjoying a police escort - which certainly cut down on travel time to the stadium.

While the view of a hockey game from a football stadium wasn't the best - the outdoor game was pretty awesome with all was considered. There were real-life penguins on a side rink playing around with Iceburgh (the first real penguins at a game for quite some time now), the 67,000-strong crowd was thunderous and in the second period snow started to fall. The picturesque environment, and the fact that this was my first live hockey game in over 10 years, meant I was glued to my seat even though there was a warm bar area available to us.

It was pretty cool to see the players have a chance to play in an outdoor game - cooler still that I would be doing the same in a few days!

Penguins In Water
One of the penguins kicked a puck, I nearly died!

Le Tits Now
Let down by my lack of photography skill as usual, but I hope this photo can almost convey the awesome spectacle

Crosby scored (always happy to see that), Malkin was dominating and the good guys won - I was never in danger of complaining! We took the bus home (no escort this time) and went to bed. Day one at camp was amazing - but I was pretty sure that day two was going to be even better!

This is the 2nd in the Joel Goes To Camp series
Game 1 - Pittsburgh Arrival - Border Security Magic, 2017Game 2 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 1 (Registration and Penguins Stadium Series)Game 3 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 2 (Contract Signing, Training and Game)Game 4 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 3 (Outdoor Game, Injury, Dinner and Drinks)Game 5 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 4 and 5 (Final Games)Game 6 - Chicago - Blackhawks, Bulls and a bean, 2017
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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pittsburgh Penguins - 2016 Stanley Cup Champions!

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 24/07/2016 04:32:38
Updated by Joel Dixon at 25/07/2016 01:14:16

It has taken me far too long to write the blog post, but the Pittsburgh Penguins have won the cup again!

Pens Cup 16
Is anyone happier in this photo than super Duper?

Just like last time we had a pretty ordinary first-half to the season, followed by a coaching change and return to form.

While in the early part of the season it seemed to Phil Kessel never met an easy tap-in goal he couldn't stuff up, there wasn't a better, more consistent player in the playoffs (especially amazing when you consider the iron man was playing hurt). Watching The Phil streaking down the wing and firing a wicked wrister at net was as amazing as advertised, but it was his incredible passing abilities (especially on the PP) that really impressed me. Along with Hags and Bonino Bonino Bonino!, the HBK like provided us a third line that no team could cover.

Clutch Crosby performed as he always does, scoring goals and setting up the play at the opportune moments. Matt Murray also played like a veteran of the game, his focus and maturity on display all through his first NHL playoff series. I feel bad for Fleury, he kept us in playoff contention when we sucked in the first half of the season, only to get two concussions and having to turn the reins over to Murray. Geno Malkin also dominated some early games when Crosby was MIA, but a shoulder injury towards the end of the regular season seemed to affect his playoff performance significantly.

I remember thinking back in '09 that the Penguins could win the Cup year after year, but a 7 year gap just shows how hard the NHL is. Still, I wouldn't be betting against the Pens in 2017! Speaking of betting, I could see the team responding well to Coach Sullivan's no-nonsense approach early in the year, so I put $100 on them making the Stanley Cup Final. The $700 I won helped me afford all the usual goodies - championship hat, shirt and puck, locker room towel and bobble-head. I also had to pick a player jersey to remember this playoff series (I bought a Talbot last time after his game 7 heroics). Early on I thought it might be Sheary or Rust getting the nod, with Bonino and Letang having an outside chance. By the end - it was hard to argue against Kessel, so I picked up this beauty:

I am yet to eat cookies while wearing this jersey, maybe I shall when I watch the first game of next season

This also marks the first season that I watched every single game of the regular and playoff seasons, thanks to NHL.TV. After every single playoff game that we watched, Pao and I listed to the following song. I'm pretty sure this helped the Pens as much as anything else this season.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

NHL '91 - Game 6

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 16/08/2009 08:40:57

This is awesome! Somebody took the audio commentary from the Pittsburgh Penguin's first Stanley Cup win in 1991 and mixed it with a modified version of NHL '94 to recreate game 6. It's hard to describe - so watch the video:

The synchronization is very well done - this must have taken ages. I love the part where they talk about Mario's then-girlfriend Nathalie waving in the stands.

Just watch it!

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pittsburgh Penguins - 2009 Stanley Cup Champions!

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 13/06/2009 14:18:39

Pens Win Cup
2009 Stanley Cup Champions!

The Detroit Red Wings were 11-1 at home this playoff year. In 3 games at The Joe the Penguins were beaten by a combined score of 11 goals to 2, including Detroit's 5-0 win in game 5. No team in NHL history had been able to rally from 2-0 series deficients twice in the same playoff year. Of the 45 teams that have been up 2 games to 0 in the Stanley Cup final, 41 were able to go on to win the Cup.

But none of that mattered. Game 7 is a whole different story to the first 6, and the Penguins overcame adversity to win their 3rd Stanley Cup in franchise history. And boy do I feel good!

Currently (I hope) being shipped from the US to me is the following:

Cup Bundle

The Stanley Cup Championship Locker Room Bundle: This was the first Pittsburgh Stanley Cup I was able to watch live - and watching the Pens putting on their Cup Championship hats made me want one! Also the DVD will be a keeper.

Crosby Bobble

Sidney Crosby Cup Holding Bobble-Head: Even though he was injured early in the second period, Sidney Crosby is the team captain, and the first player to hoist the cup on our team. This bobble-head is going to stay at work for the offseason!


Road Talbot Jersey with Stanley Cup Final Patch: Last playoffs the Penguins were down against Detroit 1 game to 3. Game 5 was played in Detroit, with the Red Wings having the chance to finish off the Pens in 5 games. Detroit were up 3 goals to 2 with a minute left in regulation. The officials had the Stanley Cup removed from it's box, and started polishing it up ready for the presentation.

With 35 seconds left in the game Maxime Talbot scored on a wrist shot to send the game into overtime (which the Pens won in the 3rd overtime period). Right after Talbot scored that goal, I immediately said "I'm buying a Talbot jersey". When we eventually lost the series in game 6, I sulked for a month and never ended up buying the jersey - even though Talbot's been one of my favourite players for a long time.

In game 3 of this year's series against Detroit, Talbot scored the first goal of the game to set the tempo, and ensure we didn't go down an unassailable 3-0 games against the Wings. After he scored that goal I also said to myself "I'm going to buy a Talbot jersey".

To take any doubt out of my mind, Talbot scored the only two Penguins goals in this year's game 7, and ensured the Cup comes back to Pittsburgh. I have finally bought the jersey I promised I'd do so many times. I don't currently own a road jersey - so as we won the Cup on the road I figured now's a good time to get one.

Malkin Smythe
Pittsburgh Assistant Captain, Gino "The Scoring Machino" Malkin, after winning the Conn Smythe trophy

Evgeni Malkin was an absolute force in the Penguins' Playoff run scoring 36 points, the first player to score more than 30 points since Joe Sakic in 1996 (Crosby also broke 30 points with 31). In some of the games, especially against Carolina, you can just tell when Malkin decided to step up and own the game (resulting in some damn pretty goals). With Malkin and Crosby on this team for many years to come, I'm thinking the Penguins collection of 13 Art Ross Trophys will be added to more than a few times.

Hossa Lost

Crosby Cup

About two years ago (before Pittsburgh lost to Detroit the first time) I told my little brother that the Penguins were going to win 2 of the next 5 Stanley Cups. This is the first - I'll be cheering next year for the second!

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stanley Cup Final, Game 7

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 11/06/2009 21:32:40

Pittsburgh has done a good job at pushing the Detroit Red Wings to a winner-takes-all game 7 in this year's Stanley Cup final.

Last year Detroit beat the Penguins in 6 games, but I think we've got a better chance this year. Last season, we had Scary Gary Roberts providing us with the crazy eyes:

Gary Roberts - what would he do?

When Roberts left via free agency to Tampa Bay, the Penguins needed to look towards Brooks Orpik for their crazy eye needs, and he certainly has stepped up. Here he is getting pretty serious about hydration:

When making big hits, a common expression is that Brooks Orpik is handing out free candy.

I'm hoping Orpik's crazy eyes are enough to help the Pens over the line, to win their first cup since 1992.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Amazing Malkin Goal

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 23/05/2009 14:51:13

Pittsburgh has gone up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Final against Carolina. Sidney Crosby has been a force in the playoffs - scoring the first goal of the game on 6 occasions equaling a record by Chicago / Winnipeg legend Bobby Hull and Edmonton's Fernando Pisani. But in Game 2 of the Carolina series - Malkin was a force in a game. Scoring his first playoff hat trick, Malkin's third goal - an insurance marker that relieved some of the threat of a Hurricane comeback - was truly something to behold:

Malkin Hat Trick
Respect to AlexPKeaton from Lets Go Pens for creating the animated gif

What a goal! He called the shot to teammate Talbot beforehand and just went out there and got it done. Amazing no-look, backhand roofer to put the game away.

It's fun to have two of the best three players in the NHL in your team every game!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Penguins Make Playoffs - 4th Seed

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 14/04/2009 10:56:07

This is just a post so that April has a blog against it - but anyway, the Pittsburgh Penguins have qualified for the playoffs again:

Penguins make Playoffs

Bring it Philadelphia!

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Cardiac Kids

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 13/03/2009 12:58:21

I'm currently on two weeks leave from work - I think I might be returning to work more wound up than when I left.

Being home I get to listen to all of the Penguin's games live via Game Center. The last three games I've listened to have ended in a shootout. Two days ago they came back from two goals down to beat Florida in a shootout. Today after being down 3-0 in the third period, we scored three goals in 3.5 minutes to push the game into another shootout - which we lost.

I don't know how much more I can take. I guess if we keep getting the points I'll be happy. Any heart attacks will be considered the price of victory.

Let's Go Pens!

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Penguins fire Michel Therrien

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 16/02/2009 22:27:18

The Pittsburgh Penguins have fired head coach Michel Therrien. Wow!

Admittedly it's not that much of a surprise, the Pens were two games away from drinking out of Lord Stanley's Cup last season - but now are five points removed from the final playoff spot. It's tough being an NHL coach. Even though the Penguins had a lot of adversity this season (a short summer, key injuries and offseason exits), Therrien is the easy scapegoat. Can't say I blame Penguin's GM Ray Shero though - this team needed something to wake them up. Unfortunately it's the coach that pays the price.

In his place, the Penguin's interim coach is Dan Bylsma, who was putting together a pretty impressive season as head coach of the "baby Pens". It all sounds a little familiar to me, Therrien was having a pretty impressive season coaching the baby Pens when he was brought in to replace a recently fired Ed Olczyk.

It's looking like the Pens aren't going to make the playoffs this season - but who knows. If the new coach sparks a similar reaction to the Senators, Gonchar and Whitney find their feet again and Crosby goes on a tear - Pittsburgh might get the double this year. I'm holding out hope

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Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 3 (Outdoor Game, Injury, Dinner and Drinks)
Marc-André Fleury still giving high fives to his injured buddy
Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 2 (Contract Signing, Training and Game)
Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 1 (Registration and Penguins Stadium Series)
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