This took forever today because I was having too much fun. It’s time! Time for turtles and Minnesota accents and the true, though somewhat unsung, love of Penguins fans everywhere. Unless you are me, Lindsay or Alison, then there is a lot of singing.
Foxy Friday: Matt Niskanen
Most of you met Nisky that time he fought Sidney Crosby.
My screams still echo somewhere in the depths of outer space.
Four months later, Matt and someone else you know (sing it: Gingerbeeeeeeard!) got traded to the Penguins. Niskanen and Sid joke about the fight.
Where is that video, hey? This may be the one time Sam Kasan let us down.
Did I mention Matt is from Minnesota? If not, you heard it in that interview.
2013-2014 has been the Year of Niskanen in Pittsburgh. He had 46 regular season points, including 10G. He leads the Penguins and all NHL defensemen with a +33. He had 6 GWG – tied with OEL for best among League d-men and second-most on the Penguins. That’s right, Matt Niskanen had more GWGs than Sidney Crosby.
What else? Oh, he plays defense. Actual, consistent defense on a team whose blueline rode the strugglebus all season. There were monumental lapses in ability among the Penguins top 4 D, added to serious injuries like Letang’s stroke, Paul Martin’s broken hand and Orpik’s concussion. Niskanen played 81 games. There was a stretch in December when Nisky was the only Pens’ defenseman old enough to drive (slight exaggeration). He held it down, guided Olli Maatta in a ROTY consideration-worthy year and kept me, personally, from losing my damned mind. And these guys too: Hockey Writers, Rant Sports, everyone.
In the last year of a 2-year deal, making just $2.3 million, Nisky looked like trade bait at the beginning of the season. Now he looks like:
The Penguins haven’t talked contract yet. Read this Puck Daddy piece on factors important in a potential deal for Matty. We can only hope Swami Shero makes this a long-term relationship because:
He’s also said: “I’ve fallen in love with this organization….” [video]
WE LOVE YOU TOO, MATT! And not just “we” as in me and Lindsay, because we fall in love with everybody, but other people whose standards are much higher. Like Alison. She does not suffer fools on her blueline.
What else is great about Matt? This time he fought Brad Marchand. His middle name is NORMAN. He says “darn” and “heckuva.” The way he slicks his hair back but cannot ever defeat this center-part cowlick:
This terrible, terrible tie/shirt combo:
What do you expect from a guy with an unabashed love of sweatpants?
In his free time, Matt enjoys wearing light-colored jeans.
Having his car “pimped” before selling it for charity:
Learning his lesson the hard way about losing that shootout.
And holding a turtle.
Okay, it’s not a turtle – it’s a rock. But when I first saw this picture [link] I was convinced Matt was rescuing a turtle in this forest, probably from some slow-moving distress, because that’s just the kind of nice guy he is. He’s turtle-esque. I laugh about this daily and it inspired one of my favorite WUYS memes of the year: Matt Niskanen Goal Turtle Celebrations.
And for those of you who see why this is hilarious, I thank you.
There is so much more, I could go on for days (or at least until the Pens game starts tomorrow night). For now enjoy the adorable American-ness that is Matt Niskanen and his puppy:
Because Saturday night it’s back to work.
*Please pardon the fact we cannot center any images today. It’s being address by someone who knows what HTML stands for. All we can do is lean left a bit and everything seems fine.Tags: matt niskanen, Pittsburgh Penguins