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Max Talbot Blog: On the Winter Classic, HBO's 24/7 and the Penguins' Build Up to the Playoffs

PITTSBURGH PA - DECEMBER 31:  Maxime Talbot #25 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates during the 2011 NHL Winter Classic Practice on December 31 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH PA - DECEMBER 31: Maxime Talbot #25 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates during the 2011 NHL Winter Classic Practice on December 31 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Our favorite blogger is at it again following the Winter Classic, as Max Talbot provides an update on about his experience in the Winter Classic, HBO's 24/7 and the Penguins' build up to the playoffs. As usual, the post is entirely in French, but we have the courtesy of our residential, hawk-eye translator Becky to provide us with an update (even if Leafer87 brags about being able to read it in French).

As usual, many thanks to Becky for providing the translation. Take the jump to see what Max has to say about the past month of the Penguins' Winter Classic hype and finale.

It was an unforgettable experience

The surrounding part of the January1st encounter with the Washington Capitals was an unforgettable experience. Only the result of the game was disappointing.

Playing in the rain was not ideal, but the rest was great. Everything around the event was extraordinary. The day before, we took part in a practice on the rink at Heinz Field (after) attending the legends’ game with Mario Lemieux, among others. Our families had the chance to skate with us afterwards in the brilliant sunshine.

I was in Buffalo a few years ago for the outdoor game against the Sabres, but I didn’t take part in the game because I was injured, as was Marc-André Fleury. I am very happy to have had another opportunity to compete in a game outdoors.

It was special to play in front of more than 68,000 of our fans. There were also a lot of Capitals fans, but I consider it an exceptional event for us and for the city of Pittsburgh. Besides, people (clearly) appreciated the event, since that game was the most watched regular season game on American television in 36 years.

It (also) allowed me to spend New Year’s with six members of my family—my mother, my father, my two brothers and their girlfriends. They returned to Montreal on Sunday. We enjoyed our time together, mostly playing cards and eating fondue. During the game against the Capitals, there was a special tent for family members. The Penguins always know how to treat the families, and I am very happy to be able to let them experience all this.

The game was initially supposed to take place in the afternoon, but it was postponed until the evening due to the weather conditions. I think that the NHL made the right decision to resist moving the game to Sunday. It was better in general to play the match on Saturday. Since our safety was not in danger, there wasn’t really any risk, otherwise the NHL would have made another decision.

It was strange playing in the rain, but it was worth it. Plus, since I am a Steelers fan, I found it a lot of fun to put on my uniform in their locker room. The entrance onto the rink was just as awesome.

One didn’t take in that there were so many people. It was more the fact of playing in a different environment that was bizarre. To play under the lights, at night, outside was different and I think that that showed during the first period. The condition of the ice was average, but that was true for both teams. Under the circumstances, you’ve got to keep things simple, and I think that the Capitals managed to keep things simpler than we did.

I think that the NHL should continue these outdoor games, because it’s special and it’s good for hockey.

The HBO reality show

It didn’t bother me to have a camera pointed at me for many days, as was the case during the filming of the HBO show to promote the match against the Capitals. Honestly, I am not going to miss the cameras, but the show was well made and it’s good for attracting more hockey fans in the United States.

I think that, in general, the experience was enriching for everyone. At the beginning of shooting, we were a bit nervous, but after having seen the first episode, we understood that HBO was there for the good of hockey. Everyone was more relaxed after that, when we realized that the broadcaster wasn’t there to do us harm. Besides, we had fun with the HBO crew, who in time became fans of our team. At a certain point, we no longer saw the cameras.

What I did find bizarre was to see the television crew descend upon my house. I had the impression I was in "Occupation Double."* At one point, the camera followed me in the street. That wasn’t my favorite moment, since it attracted attention, but at the arena it didn’t bother me at all.

Viewers notably witnessed, during one episode, the anger of Bruce Boudreau, the Capitals coach. I must say that that team was going through a bad period when the scene was shot. That sort of situation arises sometimes during the course of a season. It always depends on a lot of things, including the character of the coach. Within the Penguins, things are done differently. Of course, we were winning during the show’s filming, so it was easier. Regarding the anger of coaches, we’ve seen it here, too, just as it might happen in the office of any employer. When the boss isn’t satisfied, he finds a way to show it.

On the road to the playoffs

We had a team meeting on Monday, and the coaches showed us the statistics from the first half of the season. The numbers are very good, and the coaches encouraged us to work just as hard from now until the end of the campaign to prepare ourselves for the big dance. We must find a way to improve, despite having had a 12-game winning streak. We’ve got to try to be dominant in every facet of the game.

In hockey, you can win the President’s Cup and get bounced in the first round. That is not how we want to finish things. We must reach the playoffs in the best position possible.

We’ll see you Thursday at the Centre Bell for the game against the Canadiens.

*A Quebecois reality show set in a house.

Read the original on (en Francais)