Penguins. Hurricanes. Eastern Conference Finals. Tonight. If your leg wasn’t impatiently shaking under your desk at work today like it was fourth grade Science class all over again, you truly have no soul.
We don’t need to break down this series. It all comes down to three words. Marc. Andre. Fleury. He will be facing off against Cam Ward, the league’s hottest goalie, not to mention a proven playoff performer and Most Valuable Player of the 2006 Stanley Cup. The Penguins have more scoring depth, better defensemen, and two superstars instead of just one (Eric Staal), so Fleury has to be only solid.
If he is anything less than solid, this series will go six or seven games. If the Penguins are patient and motivated, the Hurricanes – an admittedly gritty bunch whose second best line consists of three players jettisoned from other clubs and left for dead – don’t stand much of a chance.
So without further ado, let’s get to the motivation.
Take a knee, boys. It’s pep talk time.
Marc Andre Fleury – I have strategically placed a proximity mine behind your net. Are you sure you want to attempt to handle pucks back there? Proceed at your own risk, buddy.
Chris Kunitz – You haven’t scored since your wife gave birth. Have you tried ambien? Bose noise-canceling headphones? Maybe you should just try having another kid.
This is an impassioned plea to all gas station clerks around the Pittsburgh area: if you see Mr. Kunitz, just tell him you’re out of Trojans.
Sergei Gonchar – Keep shooting off of one leg. I like it.
Jordan Staal – You seem to like your brother a little too much. Remember that time he ate the last Nestle Drumstick? Good Lord, man, those things cost like $14.99 for a 4-pack! Mama Staal would only let you get them once a month.
This truck is carrying $4.5 million worth of merchandise. Someone call the U.S. government. The Somali pirates can’t be far behind.
Or remember that time he got greedy and opened your pack of Dunkaroos, siphoned out the all the magnificent, rainbow-infused vanilla icing, and then resealed the package with Elmer’s Glue, leaving you with nothing but a stack of glorified graham crackers that tasted like calcified dust?
“Gosh darn it, Eric, the Drunkaroo engineers wouldn’t just forget to put the icing in,” you cried.
But big bro just kept chomping away, deaf to your sobbing.
That’s right, now you remember. Now go out there and get retribution for all those years of torment in Thunder Bay.
Evgeni Malkin – Let me level with you here, Geno. I saw you on television at the Pirates game last week with all the other Penguins. You were the only one going stag. Have you seen the tail that Ovechkin is pulling?
Your goofy smile, easy disposition, and all this “I love my dad” stuff is going to get you a one-way ticket into every Friend Zone in Allegheny County. Girls like a guy with some edge. Let me see you get mean. I want to see Angry Geno. Before the opening faceoff, I want you to lean down, get about two inches away from Eric Staal’s face, and ominously mutter, “I must break you,” like Ivan Drago.
Repeat after me, Geno: “You. Vill. Lose.”
Sidney Crosby – Listen, Sid, I hate to break it to you, but those Versus and NBC announcers that you so graciously give interviews to? Those guys hate on your team behind your back.
Before your interview with NBC on Sunday, Mike Milbury lamented the fact that the Penguins-Capitals series was turned on a “silly little” slashing call early in Game 7.
Stop being so nice to these guys, Sid. It’s time for you to complete your metamorphasis into a heel. You always seem way too tame before you go into battle.
Again, let me suggest former WWF wrestler The Ultimate Warrior as your mentor for pre- and post-game interviews. Click here to see how it’s done.
“Eric Staal. Look into my eyes, Eric Staal. Feel the power of the Crosby, Eric Staal. I will dee-stroy you.”
Pascal Dupuis – You’re not just being paranoid. Your friends really don’t want to hang out with you anymore. It’s better off this way, Dups. But hey, I hear Sykora is looking for something to do tonight. You guys should catch that new Star Trek. I heard great things!
Miroslav Satan – Miro, baby. I didn’t mean all those nasty things I said before. I had like, ten I.C. Lights, and it was garbage night, and traffic on the parkway was murder…Look, I was just in a bad mood. Come on, who loves ‘ya, baby?
Craig Adams – You smart, Harvard-educated son of a gun. You waited until the perfect moment – Game 7 of the Capitals series, to drive a stake directly into the hearts of Washington fans. For the next five-to-ten years, every time anyone in the District of Columbia gets drunk and surly, they will refer to you as “Craig ‘Effing Adams.”
Even the pandas in D.C. are still bummed out.
With that final cheap shot on Washington, we’re out of here, but Pulling No Punches will return on Friday for reaction to Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.