Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pens v Caps (W 2-1)

CORRECTION: Friend of The Show Maureen G. noticed that I messed up my facts on a previous post. She writes, "I just read your blog and just wanted to notify you of a correction to the information that you posted. Sid's 40 question interview will appear next month in The Sporting News, not USA Hockey magazine." Thanks for setting me straight, Maureen!! :)

I'm going to start this post off with something I don't usually do. I'm going to take a page from Sidney's book and use his favorite phrase (for anyone who doesn't already know, it's "F*ck you") and aim it directly at the blood thirsty Capitals fans who cheered heartily tonight when Sid tripped over the goal cage and took a nasty spill in the second period. (Fortunately, Sid was merely shaken up a bit and was not injured.) I'm not generalizing all Caps fans in this group, just as I wanted the world to know that I was NOT one of the small percentage of idiots at the Mellon Arena who booed the Canadian National Anthem when the Pens faced the Sens on April 15, 2007. These Caps fans of whom I speak know exactly who they are.

I'll admit that when Jaromir Jagr comes to town, I am one of the people that boos him whenever he touches the puck. (I'm still pretty bitter about the "dying alive" thing.) But I certainly do not want him to get hurt. Let me repeat that: I don't want any player to get hurt. Aside from the fact that cheering another man's injury is just sick, these haters do their own star, Alexander Ovechkin, a disservice by cheering when Sid gets battered. Through their cheers, they are basically saying that the only way Ovechkin can beat Sid is if Sid is taken out by an injury. Personally, even though I dislike the guy myself, I am well aware that Ovechkin is extremely talented, and it is a shame that this particular group of his "fans" shortchange him like that. I'm all for a good rivalry, but there's no need for these kinds of displays. Booing Sid when he gets possession of the puck is one thing; gleefully hoping for him to be injured is entirely another.

Just for the record, real Caps fans are always welcome here at TSCS, as are fans of all teams. I just have a problem with the fanatics and the idiots that plague EVERY team's fanbase. Now I have a game to recap.

WHAT A WIN! Two in a row! Of course we can't have a Penguins/Capitals game without talking about the Crosby/Ovechkin "rivalry." Going into this game, the two superstars had met 8 times prior. Sidney, with 5G-9A-14PTS was beating Ovechkin's 3G-6A-9PTS. We'll revisit this for an update at the end of the post. The Penguins wore their black home jerseys at this away game so the Capital fans could attempt to have a whiteout in the stands.

Less than two minutes into the first period, the Pens got what should have been a big break when Michael Nylander took a penalty for goaltender interference after he plowed into Marc-Andre Fleury. Alas, the Pens did not capitalize on this chance. Later, Jordan Staal missed a chance on an open net, no doubt fueling his own frustrations at not yet scoring 6 games into this new season. The Capitals then got a chance with a one man advantage, but Colby Armstrong, who must have eaten his Wheaties today, went nuts and tried desperately to score shorthanded. He did a great job of keeping the puck in the Caps' own end to kill some of the penalty, from which the Caps did not get a score. Fleury made a number of beautiful saves tonight, particularly when the shots came from Ovie.

The Caps went on the power play again. An awkward moment then came when announcer Bob Errey was telling the audience that Capitals head coach Glen Hanlon had a talk with left winger Matt Pettinger. Errey said that Hanlon said to Pettinger, and I quote, "I want your butt right on his [Fleury's] nose." ??? RIGHT. What he meant was that Hanlon wanted his players to create a screen in front of Fleury to open up some scoring chances. Pettinger must have been listening to Hanlon because just after Errey finished telling us about that, and just after the penalty expired, Brian Pothier was able to score an even strength goal while Pettinger was screening Fleury. The last few minutes of the first were a frenzied display that had very few whistles. At one point, there were 2 sticks and a helmet ("A yard sale on the ice" according to Errey) were on the ice because no whistles had been blown so they could not be picked up. Finally, an icing call ended the madness. The first period ended with the Caps ahead, 0-1.

Sidney tries and fails to score.

The second period began pretty much like the first. Forty seconds in, Jarrko Ruutu drew a penalty. Soon after, Shaone Morrisonn got busted boarding Gary Roberts and the Penguins found themselves with 51 seconds of 5 on 3. The Pens failed to score. Shortly after Morrisonn's penalty expired, Jordan Staal FINALLY made a mark on the board. He got a full strength goal to tie the game at 1. (An interesting note: Morrisonn showed very poor sportsmanship when he hit Staal with a cheap shot in the chin well after Staal scored his goal. Had the refs seen it, it would have been a penalty. For his part, Staal laughed it off, so it must not have hurt.) It was shortly after this goal that Sid was flying around the back of the Capitals' net when he tripped. He spun around and fell backwards, but fortunately was not hurt. Then, Armstrong got the puck and exploded into the Caps' zone for a chance to score, but Ovie decided he'd rather spend some time in the box. Ovechkin was assessed a penalty for slashing Armstrong.

It's worth mentioning that MAF did a fantastic job of helping his teammates during their power plays. He came way out of the blue paint to corral the puck and get it to his teammates up closer to center ice in order to hurry the play along. No score was earned on this power play. Rob Scuderi then was penalized, but the Caps could not score either. Later, a heartstopping moment when the Caps were literally millimeters away from scoring, but thankfully, Mark Eaton (who played like an All Star tonight) was able to knock it away from the line. The Caps are penalized yet again when faux-hawk sporting Mike Green high sticked Sidney in the face. (Yes, there was more cheering from the idiots who were hoping Sidney would get hurt.) Thankfully, he again was not hurt. During this power play, he made a beautiful diving poke to keep the puck in the Caps' zone. A few seconds later, Ryan Whitney earned his 100th career point by slapping the puck into the net on a nice pass from Sidney. Immediately following, Roberts attempted a wrap around, but Brent Johnson was able to deny him. The second period ended with the Pens leading the Caps 2-1.

The third period was chock full of some of the most intense hockey I've seen in a while. It started with a series of great scoring chances that were set up by the Saint, but Johnson stopped each one. Then, seismologists around the world saw activity on their Richter scales when Big Georges Laraque and Donald Brashear decided to face off for the third time in their careers. Laraque owned Brashear for most of the fight, but Brashear was able to connect on a few punches to the head of BGL. There was a lot of spirited play, and emotions began to run high. So high, in fact, that Staal got into his very first NHL fight with Pettinger. They were pretty evenly matched, but it appeared that Staal's inexperience allowed Pettinger to best him - not by much, though. I don't think I breathed at all during the last seven minutes of the game. It was a desperate attempt by both teams, from the Pens to preserve the win and from the Caps to force overtime. Finally, the clock ticked down and it became official: PENS WIN IT!!!!

The big titans fight!

Staal's first NHL fight.


I said we'd revisit the Sid/Alex stats race, but I forgot... Following this game, they've now met 9 times and Sidney, with 5G-10A-15PTS, is still beating Ovechkin's 3G-6A-9PTS. :)


All together, the Pens and the Caps have faced one another 9 times since Ovie and Sid began their careers. The Pens have been victorious on 8 of those occasions. :)

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