As every good Yinzer knows, it’s a special time of year in Pittsburgh, and that special time is Playoff Hockey Time.
Yes, we love our ‘Guins through thick and thin in the regular season, but there is a special electricity in the air once we secure our playoff spot and begin the long quest for Lord Stanley. Suddenly, it’s not just getting together to watch the game, it’s superstitiously planning out where it’s safe to watch the game. It’s no longer what you’re eating for dinner and which jersey will you wear, it’s what did you eat and whose number did you wear during the most recent win of the series?
And if you’ve been following the Pens so far, you know that yesterday afternoon (whyyyy afternoon hockey games, for the record? why?), we gave up the chance to seal the first round of the playoffs by losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning with an astounding final score of 8-2. (Ironically, our loveable loser Buccos won with almost the exact opposite score.)
So we figured, what better opportunity to begin our own Stanley Cup Playoffs… OF AIR HOCKEY!
Michael brought up the fact last night that we have apparently never faced each other in air hockey. While I initially found it hard to believe that in five years of our relationship, I had never challenged him to a duel of the mallets (I’m not making it up, that’s what those Sorry-piece-shaped things are called), I realized that I couldn’t remember a single occasion of putting the flat plastic biscuit in the basket.
However, this allowed me to use my Secret Weapon without anyone being the wiser, muahahaha!
Err. Ahem. I’m getting ahead of myself.
The setup of *real* Stanley Cup Playoff hockey is as follows: three rounds in your conference (Eastern or Western), and then the finals played between the finalists of each. The series are all a best-of-seven, meaning that whoever makes it to four wins first takes the round. Unlike the NFL, where you can get a bye-week if you’ve played well enough all season and skip one of the playoff games, any team that makes it to the Stanley Cup Finals will have played at least four games in each of the three previous rounds.
Since we aren’t quite so fancy, and we’re just playing air hockey after all, we’ve modified our gameplan a bit. For our Stanley Cup Playoffs of Air Hockey, we have decided to have four games in different air hockey locations around the city. Each game will be won by the player to reach 7 goals first (our own version of ‘best-of-seven’).
Since there are only two of us playing, in order to keep things interesting and force actual eliminations of somebody, we will be wearing my vast collection of hockey jerseys and representing different players. Whoever wins the round will wear the same jersey in the next round, with the loser taking the next jersey in line. It’s not perfect (theoretically whoever wears the losing jersey for the first time in the Eastern Conference Finals could go on to win the Cup, with only having played a single prior series), but for the purposes of our extremely anal-retentive and overly-complicated Achievement, it will work.
So without further ado, please allow me to slip into my very best Mike Lange voice…. (Phil Bourque voice will be brought to you in italics, so that you may keep the color commentary straight 😉
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a hockey night in Harmarville! Round one of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs of Air Hockey begins tonight at the FunFest entertainment complex just across the Allegheny River, nestled betwixt a former Eat n Park and a current Ponderosa.
Wearing his white jersey, allow me to introduce your home team, Mario Lemieux. As you can see, Lemieux has already grown a fierce playoff beard to help bolster his shooting skills in this exciting matchup.
And our visiting team, from all the way in… oh, wherever the hell she’s playing these days, the original Mario Jr. herself (move over, Sid the Kid!), it’s Jaromir Jagr, on the scene with a with a score to settle and a freshly trimmed mullet.
Hockey fans, let’s not forget that Lemieux has suffered an injury to his forearm earlier in a digging accident in the new driveway he’s building in the backyard. Because of this, Jagr has agreed to take a handicap of playing left-handed in the first and third periods.
It’s going to be an interesting matchup between these two. Rumors are flying, but it seems that neither one of them has so much as glanced longingly at an air hockey table since the early mid-2000s, so well over five years ago!
The puck has dropped at center ice, and Jagr wins the faceoff. She’ll take it from deep in her own zone, but oh wait, what’s that, picked up instantly by Lemieux and HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE SHOOTS AND SCORES!
Oh, that’s got to sting for Jagr. First time setting foot back in the US, let alone Harmarville, and she’s given up a goal on Lemieux’s first shot. That’s a tough goal to take, let’s see how she picks it up.
#68 isn’t happy with that start to the game. She’s not going to settle for giving up such a soft goal, playing left-handed or no. It’s only a matter of time before OHHHHHHH SHE WANTS TO SELLLLL MY MONKEYYYYYYY, JAGR ANSWERS THE GOAL ONLY THIRTY SECONDS LATER!
At the end of two periods, Jagr has taken the lead, making it a 3-2 game. This has just been point-for-point, a tough-fought game so far from both players. We’re going to bust out those odd human-bowling things, let the Zambonis have a moment, and then we’ll see how this plays out.
Our final question in tonight’s “Crash the Net” comes from a Miss Lucy Red in Squirrel Hill. She writes, “When are Mommy and Daddy going to come home and give me some ice cream, instead of playing fake hockey all night?” Well little Lucy, it’s hard to tell. In a matchup this intense, we could see a game go into multiple overtimes. Walk in a few circles and cuddle up on your blanket Lucy, this game could go quite late.
Oh, this third period could just not get any more exciting. Each time Jagr scores, and you just think she’s going to finally take the game, Lemieux comes back and ties it up! This excitement is almost too much!
You know, I just received some insider information about where Jagr’s getting all of that masterful wrist action from. It seems that way back in the early 1990s, she and her cousin went on vacation to Myrtle Beach, and a few days before they left for the trip, her cousin broke her air hockey arm. To even things up, Jagr played left-handed the whole vacation, and it seems she’s played left-handed ever since! That was some quick thinking on her part, coming into this game against the injured Lemieux. She always was a crafty fox, that Jaromir Jagr!
Oh, you said it, Bourquey. Let’s see how this nailbiter ends!
Oh, SCRATCH MY BACK WITH A HACKSAW! Jaromir Jagr has done it, ladies and gentlemen. She has come back to the city she once loved, and she has just dominated in this third period. Since we only have two players, and one of them lost, we’re going to have to make her all three stars of the game!
That’s right, she may be #68 in your program, but tonight, she’s #1 in your hearts (and also #2 and #3, because even in the Stanley Cup Playoffs of Air Hockey, we have to have three stars). I can’t wait to see what she’s going to bring to the semi-finals against Alexei Kovalev!
You’re right, Bourquey. The Stanley Cup Playoffs of Air Hockey will continue shortly at the Wildwood Highlands Arena in North Park. I can’t wait to see what these teams will bring to the ice!
(And I hope against hope that Mike Lange does not have a way to read this and subsequently give me crap the next time we run into him at Denny’s 🙂