Interestingly, they were giving Leighton (our back-up goalie) quite a bit of practice. Obviously, I'm making no assumptions here but Coach Mo did let it slip that Cam may be nursing an injury. That would certainly explain some of the softies that got around him in the last two games.
After practice, we headed around back to try and get a few autographs. It was a pretty successful mission!
I loved that Brindy was carrying his skates and his jersey out with him. Perhaps to put some home-grown mojo on them? Who knows...
Eric Staal looks tall on the ice but you don't realize just how big he is till he's standing over you, basically dwarfing everyone.
Chad LaRose signing Jason's jersey...
Jussi was so cute - he said "Velcome" to every fan who thanked him for the autograph.
Tuomo Ruutu was just about the sweetest thing I have ever seen. The Finns in general (Rutuu, Jokinen and Pitkanen) have reportedly been in awe of the fan support here in Carolina and you could see it written all over Rutuu's face. He seemed so happy and grateful that there were so many fans there.
When all was said and done, we got Seidenberg, Staal, Whitney, Samsonov, Ruutu, Brind'Amour, Walker, Pitkanen, Cole, Jokinen, Leighton, Eaves, LaRose, Ward, Cullen, Wallin and Bayda. Not a bad showing for 40-ish minutes of hanging out near the exit.
Now, all we can do is wait the few hours till puck drop. And tonight it's do or die. Statistics are not in our favor. Only two teams in NHL history have ever come back from an 0-3 deficit - the 1942 Leafs and the 1976 Islanders (who, by the way, happened to be going up against the Pens in that series). I don't know where the guys' spark has gone. Maybe they're exhausted. They're certainly injured. The Pens have only had to face the real 'Canes in game 1 of this series. The players on the ice in games 2 and 3 were shells of their former selves.
I got a pretty hilarious comment over the weekend (which I chose not to publish because I typically try to keep my interactions with the public limited to those who at least have the mental capacity of an orangutan and this commenter clearly did not make the cut) which said "Wow the Canes really suck" (amongst other pearls of wisdom). Ahhhh, yes. They "suck" so bad that they're in the Eastern Conference Finals. They "suck" so bad that they've won a Stanley Cup in the past 3 years (with a large portion of the same squad that's playing now). When was the last time the Pens won the Cup? Oh, right...I think it was around the same time that my bedroom walls were plastered in New Kids on the Block posters and I was spending my Friday nights playing Girl Talk and watching Full House and Family Matters.
Here's what I know: This Carolina Hurricanes team plays their best hockey when their backs are up against a wall. This Carolina Hurricanes team has worked a few miracles so far in this post season. This Carolina Hurricanes team has beaten, arguably, the best goalie in the world in Marty Brodeur. This Carolina Hurricanes team, ranked number 6, has beaten the number 1 ranked Bruins. This Carolina Hurricanes team has more heart than I've ever seen in any other sports organization, period.
So, while the odds are most definitely stacked against us, I know they can do this if they can just get their game back. One shift at a time, one period at a time, one game at a time. Just win tonight. That's all they have to do. Just win. No handshakes tonight.