Listen, jags, I'm sure yinz are all getting prepped for the big wild card game today against the Denver Broncos, readying your instruments of blasphemy directed at Tim Tebow and his suffocating love of God, not to mention the irony that the world's holiest athlete plays a game that tacitly consents excessive violence and profanity for millions of dollars while both Christian and non-Christian children are starving around the world -- not that he really cares for the latter.
Accordingly, my thoughts, words, and general equilibrium are already on a crash course with booze-induced chaos, a disaster that has proven the undoing of men much mightier than I. Nevertheless, I voyage courageously onward in my slaying of Iron, disregard for my own well-being, and marathons of unabated rage due to goings-on in Pittsburgh sports. So, before I have veered so hopelessly off course that I am forced to abandon my consciousness for a tidy spot on a tiled floor, let us discuss, as I have at great length recently, about the Penguins.
Let's start with this: what the flying fuck. My expression punctuated, by choice, with a period because it no longer suffices to pose questions. I want some fucking answers, and for want of these answers, I'll instead start taking heads.
To begin, though, I never wade into the murky, delusional waters of conspiracy in professional sports. Do they or have they existed? Of course. More often than not, however, they are feeble-minded rationalizations of losses. That said, I am led to think that whatever floats around in the sky or governs our existence has a distinct dislike for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Perhaps Tim Tebow knows something?
Whatever the case, the Penguins locker room has once again become a hockey infirmary, in which anyone wearing the Penguins (figurative) fatigues has somehow been mortally wounded. It's actually fucking ridiculous at this point. Here is the most comprehensive list of current Penguins injuries:
1. Sidney Crosby -- Concussion-like symptoms; out indefinitely
2. Kris Letang -- Concussion; out indefinitely
3. Zybanek Michalek -- Requires surgery to replace gravel in skull with actual human brain; mentally out indefinitely
4. James Neal -- Broken foot; out indefinitely
5. Jordan Staal -- Knee injury; out 4-6 weeks
6. Marc-Andre Fleury -- Head stuck up ass; out until the prune juice does its thing
7. Robert Bortuzzo -- Concussion; out indefinitely
8. Dustin Jeffrey -- Still returning from ACL surgery; close to returning
9. Paul Martin -- Sore ass from getting fucked in it so hard by opposing forwards; out until sex reassignment surgery
So that's the list of wounded hockey players -- a term liberally used for the likes of Michalek and Martin -- and explains in part the Penguins shit shows of late.
As I apparently have an affinity for making lists, probably because counting is one of the basest human functions that I'm still capable of, let's now review the observable reasons, beyond injuries, that are dismantling the Penguins.
They Put Up Less of a Fight than Roethlisberger's Victims
Rey Shero once built Penguin teams, and the coach obliged, under one simple principle: be "hard to play against." The current rendition of the Penguins contradicts this maxim in every way possible, it would seem.
Hardly anybody inhabits the "dirty" parts of ice where the vast majority of goals in the NHL are scored -- in front of the goal, in the slot, getting cross-checked, slashed, beat the fuck up, just to score that goal. Chris Kunitz is one of the few remaining players on the roster who shows even a hint of being willing to go fuck somebody up around the net and have it reciprocated in the process. Of course, it doesn't make much of a fucking difference when your "scoring threats" are taking shots from the half wall 78 times a game.
Matt Cooke has been turned into a poster boy for the NHL's punishment movement and, though he is in fact a skilled player, he is limited by the fact that even a strange look will get him suspended for eternity and chastised by local and national media as a ruthless hockey megalomaniac with no equal.
You know what, since we are careening down this road anyhow, fuck the media, too, for painting him as some supervillain with a soul made of pure evil. After his hit against the Rangers that led to his lengthy suspension, some media pundits, columnists, cocksuckers, whatever called him out, saying that he needs to "learn his lesson," "change his ways," and brought up his wife who was sick at the time.
Are you fucking serious? Yinz act like he tells his kids to stab their peers to get ahead, that mercilessly beating somebody is ethically sound, or that him getting suspended was somehow an affront against his wife. The most irresponsible, haphazard disgrace of "journalism" I have ever seen.
Anyway, back to the pussy play of the Pens, you remember guys in years past stirring up shit to the team's advantage -- Jarkko Ruutu, Mike Rupp, hell even Hal Gill. Now, everyone is taking the Georges Laraque method and trying to play well beyond their abilities. Hit some fuckers and get to the fucking net.
Paul Martin and Zybanek Michalek Are Too Busy Mutually Pleasuring One Another
Two summers ago, the Pens continued to build a team that thrived on fluid puck movement and defensive involvement in the attack. Well, two players signed from that free agency, Michalek and Martin, are certainly getting offensive, by which I mean, of course, that their play has been so painfully objectionable this season that I -- I, of all people -- take it as a gesture of extreme disrespect.
While these two defensive no-shows aimlessly pass the puck to the other team and play some tough defense that includes such tactics as letting players stand alone in the slot and discussing intriguing bedside literature with opposing forwards until they score another goal, the Penguins are drowning in their overall defensive ineptitude. Yes, looking at the box score, you can say the goalie came up big and that we are outshooting teams, but the truth is this: other teams are getting 20 shots right in front of our fucking net and, half the time, Fleury isn't in the net because he passed it to them.
These two perpetual minuses are sucking each other off, as the Penguins are eating their combined $9 million in salary. You know who the Penguins could get for that money -- fucking anybody in the NHL except Ovechkin whom I don't fucking want anyhow. At this point, they might as well have paid Rob fucking Scuderi that kinda cash because at least he has an inkling of how the hell to play some goddamn defense, even if he can't shoot a hockey puck to save his life.
So, what do the Pens do? Not the slightest of a clue. You don't want to overreact. Even if you did, you can't afford to buy them out; the team would carry significant dead weight counting against the salary cap. Nobody would want them in trade for anything beyond a bag of pucks -- you know, those things the other teams win and put in our net while Martin and Michalek are shooting hardcore guy-on-guy porn at center ice.
At this point, I'd sit one of them each night in the press box until they realize that their sexual endeavors should be kept off the ice -- or not during a game, at least -- and may actually do what they are paid for. Whom would I call up? Simon Despres is the first player that may run through fans' minds, but I would say no. No need to rush him to salvage what is quickly digressing into a clusterfuck of a season. Instead, I would let Despres keep getting top minutes and pull up a player like Brian Strait.
I really do like Strait, so I mean no disrespect when I say that his ceiling is not particularly high. He will never light up the scoreboard, rile fear in the hearts of opponents with crushing hits, or even eat up top minutes. But, just like Rob "The Piece" Scuderi -- who, funny enough, is often used as a way to describe Strait's style of play -- he can play some fucking defense. He can be useful on the penalty kill, keep the play simple, and get it out of the zone.
Do you remember Scuderi for a great breakout pass that won the cup? No. But you should remember him putting his body on the line and blocking a Johan Franzen shot, amongst others, to maintain a Penguins lead in Game 6 of the 2009 Finals. The last time I remember Michalek with his body down on the ice -- beside, of course, his falling over after the opening faceoff against Winnipeg, leading to the opening goal -- was against Tampa Bay in the playoffs when the puck still magically went into the net. For the love of Karstens, somebody figure something out.
Fleury Is Too Busy Taping It
Defensive shortcomings, whether caused by incompetent coverage or your defensemen being preoccupied with their bareback gay porn shoot, can be overcome if your goaltender is capable of picking up the slack. Marc-Andre Fleury, however, has instead chosen to pitch in on the set of Martin and Michalek's homosexual fetish film -- named something to the effect of, "Penetrating Deep in My Defensive Zone," I imagine.
I can only assume that, while directing, producing, or casting the picture, he saw a series of terrible things that cannot be 'unseen,' thus compelling him to throw the puck in any direction other than his defenders for fear of where they might stick it on or in their sexual partner.
Long-winded tirade about pornography aside, Fleury has fallen back into his obligatory (at least) one extended lull where he is prone to absurd mental gaffes and stupid plays that even my feeble great grandmother could intercept. Simply put, if your goalie can't step up when your team is down, then it's just more bad news.
The Team N... Oh for fuck sake, really?! A throw?! In overtime?! God fucking dammit. There goes the case of Iron. And now to open the Imperial.
Alright, jags. Fuck this. Get ripped after that one.