Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pens v Devils (L 4-5)


I think I can say without bias that last night's game was full of some of the worst officiating I have ever seen in the 10+ years I've been watching professional hockey. It was simply unbelievable. Phantom calls were made. Penalties were called against the Pens for violations but were not called against the Devils when they committed the same offenses. The referees were consistently inconsistent.

The first period had the Penguins being taken to school by the Devils. They out-skated and out-played the Pens for the first 10 minutes or so, scoring twice while they were at it. Suddenly, our man Sid kicked his transmission into 5th gear and completely went nuts! He was shooting and passing the puck all over the place. It seemed like that display changed the pace of the Pens' game. Crosby ended his shift and was replaced by Maxime Talbot, who promptly spotted a Devils defenseman sans his stick. He was able to coolly redirect a shot right passed Martin Brodeur. After a bit, the Pens went on the power play. The second unit was on the ice when Gary Roberts decided it was time to even things up. The first period ended at an even 2-2, with no real reffing issues.

Not so fast, boys! You might want to hold off on the celebrations...

Then came the second period. It was the proverbial nightmare. The refs must have used the first intermission to smoke something. This was when it all went horribly downhill. At first, it wasn't yet apparent that things were about to blow up. Sidney made a beautiful pass to Sergei Gonchar, who got it in with a one timer. The Pens tried to pull even further ahead by stuffing the puck in the net, but Brodeur used his big pads to hide the puck. The War Room in Toronto was called, but from the overhead replay, it was obvious that it would be impossible to know where that puck ended up.

After that, it just kept getting worse. The Devils capitalized on a penalty to even things up at 3. After killing yet another penalty, Brooks Orpik fired off a pretty pass to Jordan Staal, who passed it over to Evgeni "Geno" Malkin, who absolutely drills it past Brodeur with a one timer. The fans in the Mellon went nuts. I went nuts. Oh but NOT SO FAST. Pens are called for too many men on the ice; THE GOAL DOESN'T COUNT. Remember Sid's favorite word? Last night, it was mine, too. Apparently, Sidney getting into a scrap with Zach Parise as they were BOTH on the way to their respective benches was the catalyst. But if that was the case, why weren't the Devils given the same penalty? Awful.

Hang on Sid, it's going to be a loooooooong night.

All told, the Penguins were assessed six penalties in 9 minutes during this fiasco. (I wonder if that's a record?) But it kept getting even worse. Marc-Andre Fleury got pinned inside the net by a Devil. The linesman CLEARLY lost sight of the puck. There was no penalty; the play was not stopped. The Devils (of course) scored. MAF was not happy about this particular goal. He expressed his displeasure by forcibly removing the net from its moorings. (In other words, he threw a hissy fit.) Ordinarily, this would have been a penalty, but it appeared that even the refs realized that they had made some serious mistakes and chose to let this one slide.

Then the Devils were assessed a series of even-up penalties. [Definition courtesy of Even-up penalty (n.) -- A call that is made when you know you've severely jobbed the other team.] The Pens even had a 5 on 3 opportunity. Finally, Crosby passed to Malkin who fired it in. The game was even at 4. Near the end of this atrocity of a period, Ryan Malone was assessed a penalty. Instead of taking it like a man, he threw a fit and received an additional 2 minutes in the box. The Pens would begin the third period shorthanded.

Sidney tries for another point while on his rear.

The Devils scored again in the third. It would turn out to be the game winner, and it was scored by Arron Asham. Following that, Sidney was able to pull off some stunning moves, but he was not able to score. That lack of scoring from Sid didn't matter to the Devils probably because when Sidney starts playing like that, opposing teams get scared and like to take liberties with him. This time it was Asham who decided that he wanted to be the one to abuse Sid. BIG MISTAKE. Milliseconds after punching the young captain in the face, Asham was on the receiving end of the Gary Roberts Brand™ of justice. Two minutes of four on four hockey was the result. A few minutes later, FSN Pittsburgh cut to a shot of Mario Lemieux sitting high above the chaos with a scowl on his face.

In the last desperate minutes of the game as the Penguins pulled MAF in favor of adding the extra attacker, Sid and Geno were flying towards Brodeur in an effort that would be thwarted by a RIDICULOUS call offsides call which that same ref then waived off. EXCUSE ME?! You're going to blow the whistle and stop the play but then immediately waive the offside call off? UNREAL. The game was over. Devils won.

When it was all said and done, the Saint registered 2 assists. I don't know what to tell you except that we knew this wouldn't be easy. It's only game 5. Stay tuned, folks, because we face this team seven more times this season. After this debacle, I can only imagine what is going to happen on November 5 when next we meet the Devils. This time, revenge will be particularly delicious.


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