Tuesday, November 24, 2015

NHL Quest for 30: Pittsburgh

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter
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It’s been awhile since I last wrote. I had planned on writing more this year but then life came along and decided that wouldn’t be the case. Hopefully, over the next few weeks I can get back on track. 


Long time readers with good memories may remember how two seasons ago, I  started a descent into hockey fandom after a friend proposed the idea of going to all 30 NHL arenas.  If you need to refresh your memory or missed it the first time, you can catch up here.  After a season of traveling coast to coast getting baptized into the church of hockey, I tried to determine which team I should pledge my fandom. The team I was leaning towards due to having been an unofficial fan already was the Pittsburgh Penguins. Much to their credit, the Pens twitter operator responded and encouraged me to make my fandom official.  

It didn’t take much twisting of my arm for me to go with the Penguins, though I still consider myself a fan of hockey in general and simply want to see a good game no matter which arena I happen to be visiting. The second season of the QUEST FOR 30 saw trips to Dallas, Florida, Tampa Bay, Edmonton and Chicago. With the 2015/16 NHL season a little over six weeks old, there’s already been a trip to Vancouver that would rank in the Top 5 experiences so far. But this week is the moment I’ve been looking forward to since I fully immersed myself in the idea of the Quest. I finally get to step foot into Consol Energy Center and watch the Penguins battle the St. Louis Blues. Then two days later, it’s a trip to the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio to see the Penguins tussle with the Blue Jackets. 

While I’m excited to make my second trip to Pittsburgh, the first was back in 1998  when I really could have used a GPS unit to navigate all the one way streets, I have some concerns about the game against the Blues. Over the past two seasons, I have seen the Blues play three games. In those three games the Blues are undefeated. Not only have they not lost, in the first game against the Minnesota Wild, I witnessed TJ Oshie record his first hat trick. In the second game against the Dallas Stars, Vladimir Tarasneko scored thrice to get a hat trick of his own.  A month ago in Vancouver, there were no hat tricks just a solid win for the Blues. On one hand, I am rooting for a Penguins home win. On the other, if the Blues remain unbeaten in my presence,  this could boost my negotiating role when I offer my services to attend all Blues games during the Playoffs. 

The Penguins haven’t gotten off to a great start this season. However there is still plenty of season left. Nevertheless, being in the home arena surrounded by Black and Gold will make the game exciting enough. Add in a quest to get a photo with Iceburgh to keep the streak of mascot photos alive and you’ve got the 
makings for a good night. 

I have heard only good things about the Blue Jackets arena so I’m looking forward to seeing if it lives up to the hype. Whatever the scoreboard says after the games, I’m just hoping my expectations aren’t too high and both experiences will rank high on the list when I get around to compiling my “Best” lists when 
recapping the Quest. Now, where’s Iceburgh?

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