The Penguins have business to attend to this afternoon at the Prudential Center in New Jersey, where they’ll face the Devils for a 1 p.m. matinee.
But once the final buzzer sounds and the game is over, many of the players will be turning their attention to the biggest sporting event in the United States – Super Bowl XLVI, where the New England Patriots and the New York Giants will be facing off for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff.
And there’s no one more anxious for this game than defenseman Ben Lovejoy
, a native of Canaan, New Hampshire and a diehard Patriots fan.
What’s adding to the tension is the memory that’s still fresh in Lovejoy’s mind of what happened the last time these two teams met in the Super Bowl back in 2008.
That year, the Giants robbed the Patriots of a perfect 19-0 season when quarterback Eli Manning found Plaxico Burress in the corner of the end zone to give New York a 17-14 victory.
“I’m incredibly nervous,” Lovejoy said. “I am a big Patriots fan, but obviously the last time we were in the Super Bowl and the last time we played the Giants it did not go well.
“I’m terrified of the Giants. Their defense scares me. Eli Manning’s been hot. I’m very much cheering for the Patriots but I have no idea how it’s going to go.”
The Penguins will fly straight to Montreal from New Jersey on Sunday, and once they arrive many of the guys will likely get together for the big game.
Lovejoy won’t be one of them.
“I don’t think I’m going to attend. I think I’m going to sit in my room and just watch the game quietly,” he said. “Not get anybody yelling at me or making fun of me. I’m very nervous. I’m way more nervous for this game than any hockey game that I’ve played in in a while. So I’m very excited.”
Defenseman Paul Martin
likely won’t tell Lovejoy that if he had to choose, he’d go with the Giants because of the years he spent in the New York/New Jersey area as a member of the Devils organization.
But Martin, who was a star wide receiver at Elk River High School in Minnesota in addition to playing hockey, said he really just plans to enjoy watching what's sure to be a stellar display of heart, soul and intensity.
“The toughness and the athletic ability those guys have, it’s just fun to watch and you appreciate it also being in a professional sport,” he said. “You definitely appreciate what they do. Me personally, I like watching the quarterbacks. It’s a lot of pressure. So how they handle it. It’s amazing how much stuff they have to know and the responsibility that they have.”