Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

It’s a whole new season

For yours truly, watching on Sunday as the Pittsburgh Penguins fell to the Philadelphia Flyers was like watching the end of the world as we know it. I forgot for about 24 hours that other teams were still playing in their drive towards the Cup and that in fact, the WHL and NHL post seasons were in full swing. After hearing that Florida and New Jersey were in a heated battle and Phoenix was on the brink of eliminating Chicago, I came back to life. There is still much hockey to be played, and even though the Pens’ post-season ended far too soon, it was still worth watching. The only question now is whose bandwagon do I get on for the next month and a half?

Hockey is always worth it. The Penguins’ long, strange trip to the playoffs this year was a ride that stopped along the way for Sidney Crosby’s temporary but brilliant return in December, a stellar year for Evgeni Malkin and the chance for James Neal’s star to shine ever brighter. Rarely playing with a full, healthy roster, they surged, battled back, went down and then battled back again. It was a lot like life; sometimes painful, tedious at times, thrilling at others and in the end, always worth watching. You can pick your team, your player or your moment. When it comes to hockey, it’s all worth it. But still, the end comes way too quickly, even when your team is hoisting the cup. I think it might have something to do with this:

The regular hockey season is never long enough. It’s a lot like life; you can live out loud, in your face and without apology right to the buzzer, and it’s still far too short. Part of the appeal of playoffs is that they are like a whole new season, one where we can start over and keep living. Even though we know the end is coming, playoffs keep us in the game for just a little longer. Of course, if your team is toast, that means getting on board with a different team during playoffs, which I’m fine with. Speaking of which:

It’s time to jump on a new bandwagon. I’m getting on board with the Florida Panthers, my favorite little team that could. The minute Sean Bergenheim defected from the Tampa Bay Lightning, I was in. Because clearly he’s going places, even if that place is a four hour drive away from the last one. Or maybe it’s just because I’m from Arizona, and I cannot help but get behind a team that comes from a sunshine state where winter just means you wear socks with your sandals and everyone thinks hockey would never survive. But it has, and it’s thriving. So I say Go Panthers Go! Feel free to join me.

Their seasons have ended, but the world is their oyster. I was pleased to hear that Evgeni Malkin has announced his intention to play in the World Championships for Russia. And even happier to hear that Nino Niederreiter has already returned home to Switzerland in anticipation of joining his teammates at the tournament. It’s nice to know that even though my favorite team’s world has stopped turning for a little bit, the international hockey world goes on, with some of my favorite players in tow. It may not be the Stanley Cup, but here’s hoping one of them walks away with something shiny in tow.

There’s always Twitter. Pens fans are free to join us to partake of the Portland Winterhawks post season, where future Penguin Joe Morrow and the Hawks are knee deep in the WHL playoffs. They are currently gearing up for Games 3 and 4 in defense of the Western Conference title. Or you can just follow him on Twitter. Joe recently Tweeted that he’d like more followers so he can pretend to be cool in the social media world.  Pens fans who are already following him know that he is cool in the social media world, and reality.  Follow along @JMorrow7 and you’ll see what I mean. Or if you’ve got nothing better to do on Wednesday and Thursday at 10 p.m. Eastern, feel free to tune in to Games 3 and 4 at http://www.winterhawks.com

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About Above the Glass

Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.

I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com