Today is the saddest day of the year for Thrashers fans, the final game of the season. In an added kick in the groin, we play the Pittsburgh Penguins. I happen to love the Penguins, but this is bad for Blueland for two reasons:
1. Our building will be at least half-filled with Pens fans.
2. We hadn't beaten the Pens since January 30, 2008. Chances weren't looking good for us doing it again this season. It's always nice to WIN the fan appreciation night game.
Thrashers fans headed down to Phillips Arena for a final chance to watch their team. I went down early and had dinner with some friends. It was awesome!
Johan "Moose" Hedberg's contract is up this year. I made a sign showing my support.
This is also Slava's last game as a Thrasher. Slava and Coach Anderson seem to see things differently and Slava has been scratched a lot. Slava has been a good Thrasher and he will be missed.
I might have gone a TINY bit overboard with the Moose signs...okay, no I didn't! There wasn't room for the Slava fan, I had to put it on the other side of the Moose signs, you can't see it. It is there though!
Of course the Pens had tons of fans. They knew they probably had this one in the bag. The Pens have clinched a play off spot, but are still trying to beat Jersey for the Division. The fans were feeling good and looking good.
I was really sad I couldn't go take pics of the Pens. I always make Flower a sign and he always taps the glass at me. I had to be with my guys for the season end though!
On the other end...I see you Super Star!
Army playing with some of the young fans.
Colby is also a UFA this year and everyone you talk to is convinced he is out of here.
Artyukhin chilling by the bench.
I know Army! I too am saddened at the thought of no Colby Armstrong on the roster.
Called up from the Chicago Wolves for the game, hot shit AHL Dman, Arturs Kulda.
Zach putting one on the net.
Another shot of Arty, mainly because Johnny is in the background.
Max getting ready to fire some shots. We could lose Max over the summer, too. According to the AJC though, he has expressed an interest in staying. That would be fantastic!
So, you will look at my Moose signs, but NOT the ones I bring for you?
Bergy jumping out of the way of the puck.
The guys have Pavelec swimming while they swarm the goalie.
I had the hook up for the last game! My friends Kerry and Randy had seats in the club level!
Randy and Kerry were late because they were selling raffle tickets for the 50/50 raffle. I'm glad they finally made it, the douche bag section needs some livening up. I think I'm reaching for the cow bell. Section One-Oh-Douche definitely needs more cow bell!
At the last game of the season every year, the Atlanta Thrashers Award the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy. Dan's family comes and presents the award. For those that don't know, Dan Snyder was the player who was in the accident with Dany Heatley. I always tear up a little when they show the video montage of Dan and see his family. The award is given to the Thrashers player who best embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his teammates might succeed. This year's winner was Jim Slater. I can't think of someone who deserves it more. Congratulations, Jim!
We had fantastic seats! They weren't the best for pictures though. I couldn't see the other side of the ice at all, but had a good shot here, though the pole is frequently the star of the picture.
Some one give the puck to TK, he's calling for it! I love the look on Tyler Kennedy's face.
NOT good news. Slater was down a long time. He finally got up and gingerly finished off his shift.
The guy in the Canadiens jersey must know Pavs, he kept leaning over and talking to him. Sometimes Pavs talked back.
A little pushing and shoving.
Peverley and Dupuis keep each other in check.
Pops and Eaton are having at little tete-a-tete.
Evander Kane is looking at Guerin like "Old man, can I help you?!?!"
Looks like Tanger has been growing out his hair again.
Don't chew with your mouth open, Staalsie.
Colby looks deep in thought.
The Pens are taking it to our net.
Hainsey and Johnny trying to help out Moose.
I don't know what happened to the ice, but there was a large chunk of it gone. Cooke, you are about to get up close and personal with the ice.
Tyler "TK" Kennedy is very stretchy. Any time there is a stoppage of play or a break, he was stretching.
Come on assholes, you are on the SECOND ROW. You don't need to stand up.
Some discussions going on behind the net. Captain Canada's big head is still in the way.
Moose skating around.
The first period was kind of quiet except for a few penalties. We were outshot 9 to 4 and we went into the second period with no score.
Yay! Flower is on my end now! Sorry I don't have a sign, Flower.
Then all hell broke lose. It started when Evander Kane hit Sidney Crosby. It was a clean hit, Sid had the puck, no penalties were called, one would assume no-harm no-foul. Godard and Rupp (I love Rupp btw) started hunting for Kane, our 18 year old rookie. There was some physical contact with Kane, for which Godard and Rupp got penalties. A few minutes into the second period, Penguins super pest Matt Cooke started in on Kane. According to Evander:
“He challenged me, and I wasn’t going to back down from that,” said Kane, who, remember, was named after former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield. “It’s part of the game. He came up to me and asked me to fight, and I wasn’t going to back down. Something like that is part of hockey.
Behold the wonder that IS Evander Kane
"It was unfortunate that he got hurt on the play. You never want to see someone get hurt. It’s part of the game.”
Of course I wasn't in a good spot to get pics. I got this of Evander going to the box.
Cooke on the ice wondering what his name is.
The doctor is probably mad he had to leave his seats up in 114 (where we usually sit). They are bringing out the stretcher. Fortunately for Matt, Kane had his jersey so Matt's head didn't smack the ice.
Ref: You knocked him the FUCK out!
Matt sitting up. Fortunately, Matt was able to skate off under his own power. I love that he got rocked, but don't want to see anyone seriously injured. The people on the Boston web boards were pissed we cheered when he got up.
Now for a WONDER in photography. I knew Mr. Fred was good, but damn. I give you...THE PUNCH!
A close up and some lolz I added.
Hainsey and Guerin talk to the ref. Sidney isn't impressed.
Ref: Damn, that kid knocked him the fuck out.
I'm not sure what was going on, but Colby and his old buddy Sid were having some words. I don't think it was friendly based on the look on the refs face as well as the teammates. (click on the pic to enlarge)
Flower takes a drink while waiting for his net to be maintained.
A little piece of Swedish heaven, Moose, Johnny and Toby.
Ref: Flower, come here, I need to tell you a secret.
Ref: Kane knocked Cooke the fuck out!
Kane's fight, if you can call it that, ended with one punch. Godard and Boulton's fight was the exact opposite. I didn't think it would ever end!
These are two equally matched guys. *ding* *ding* *ding*
In this corner we have Eric Boulton: 33 years old, 6'1'' and 225lbs
In this corner we have Eric Godard: 30 years old, 6'4'' and 214lbs
Godard has a few inches on Boulton, but man Boulton can take a punch.
You could have gone out to the concession stands for some nachos, came back and this fight would have still been going on.
Actually, I think this fight is STILL going on in another diminsion.
Battle of the Erics.
Boultsie raring back.
And Boultsie knows, when you are going down...take him with you. If you look between Godards legs, you can actually see Boulton's face. That didn't sound right, but you know what I mean.
For the love of God, sit down.
Excuse me, Mr. Boulton.
Aside from the monster fights in the 2nd period, Bryan Little put us on the scoreboard! Despite being out shot 11 to 9, we went into the third period up 1-0.
Out in the stands and 4 seats down from Michelle was Penguins Dman Jay McKee. I guess no one told him how good the chicken nachos in the club section were. People were getting autographs and getting their picture with him.
Brooksie! I found out later that Free Candy got cut in the game, but apparently it wasn't bad. He got stitched up and sat out the game on Sunday, but is expected to be fine.
I don't have a problem with Sidney like many people do. I think he's an attractive guy. I cannot however for the life of me take a good picture of him.
Geno getting ready for the face off.
Geno and Thorburn battle for the puck.
It looks like there are like 200 people in front of Moose.
Tanger: I wanna play! I wanna play!
Super star! I love you Max, but you gotta get off of my Moose!
Talbott and Kulda in front of the net.
Super Stars know how to find the camera, don't they??
Awwwww. What are you laughing at, pumpkin? Maybe he just thought of that Kane vs Cooke match.
Someone give me a gun.
We had a tremendous crowd. I would say at least 1/4 of them were Pens fans, but a full arena is good! We actually had about 500 more people for the season ending game than we did the season opener. The attendance for this game was 18,959.
Pens milling around waiting for a TV time out to be over.
Holy Crap! Not only do we win....Moose shuts his old team out!!!! WOO HOO!!!!!
Now it's time for some fan appreciation. First of all we award the Team MVP for the season. Although I thought it should be Moose, I am pleased when they announce it is Nik Antropov. Nik didn't play during the game because of some nagging injuries he is going to have addressed in the off season.
The next award is for the 7th Man Award. I am beside myself with joy when they announce the award is being given to T.R. and Maria Benning, better known as "The Kiss Cam Couple." I know that is who I voted for! I love seeing there smiling faces at every game.
They got their pictures with MVP, Nik Antropov and then selected Zach Bogosian to give them the jersey off of his back.
Next lucky season ticket holders were selected to receive jerseys off of the backs of other players.
Are they gonna kiss?
Pops! I hope to see him next season, too.
The guys waiting for their chance to strip.
Moose going to give away his jersey. I had much better seats for this last season.
Nice! Kerry said he looked like a rodeo clown.
It cracks me up, Moose and Thrash always seem to be having serious conversations.
I didn't get too many good shots myself, but I have friends that did! Slava and Moose share a fist bump.
Slava and Hainsey discussing something. Maybe they are talking about the interview Slava is going to give the AJC ripping Coach Anderson.
Watcha lookin' for Zach?
The guys waiting to start their summer vacation.
Boultsie skating around probably sad he can't beat the shit out of something for another 6 months.
The players saluting their fans. I love you guys!
Then, the craziest thing happens. Last season Kerry and Randy were in the same spot. Kerry had a sign saying he was a Hainsey fan and asking for a stick. He gave him one. He's seen him a few times throughout the season and spoken to him. Last night Ron looks over and waived at Kerry. Kerry motioned him over. He actually came over!
Kerry asked Ron to take a picture with him and he did. YES!
On our way out of the seats, we saw the Snyders. I took a picture of them with Kerry and Randy. I was honored to meet them. I think so much of this family and what they've been through and how they've turned tragedy into opportunity for good. Hopefully I didn't say anything too stupid. Also, check out how much that baby looks like his Uncle Dan!
Well that's it. Another season done. What a way to go out!!! Matt Cooke, the 2nd most hated guy in hockey, gets knocked out with a punch from our 18 year old rookie. Moose shuts his old team out and their are player stripping. It doesn't get much better. I'm so sad it's over. :( Can't wait for October!