Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pens v Rangers (W 1-0)

Honestly, I'm not sure how a win could be more boring. There were two must see moments (the Pens' goal and the last 6 minutes of the game when the two teams finally realized that they were playing a hockey game). The rest of it was basically just filler. But here is the recap, nonetheless.

First, you can't talk about a Pens/Rangers game without mentioning double J himself, Jaromir Jagr. For older fans, the very mention of this man's name in Pittsburgh inevitably sparks some pretty heated bar conversations. For new fans, here's why in a nutshell: towards the end of his tenure as a Penguin, Jagr made it very clear to anyone with two working ears that he was no longer happy in Pittsburgh. He asked several times to be traded. "I feel like I'm dying alive." Wow. What a kick in the gut to all of his loyal fans. It also must have been a blow to Mario, who was supposed to be Jagr's friend. JJ finally got his wish when he was traded to the Capitals, and ever since then, there are more than just a few Pens fans who boo Jagr whenever he has control of the puck at the Mellon.

Jaromir Jagr hits the ice at the Mellon Arena.

I have already admitted that I boo Jagr - heartily. Yes, the man is one of the top 3 players ever to play for the Penguins franchise. (Currently he's number 2, but he'll end up at number 3 after Sid wears the black and gold sweater for a few more seasons, mark my words.) Jagr is still playing some of the best hockey in the league. There is no doubt that I will always respect him for that. But his poor attitude and constant whining in those last months really soured a lot of people's opinions of him, including my own.

UGH! Enough of that, back to last night's game. The first period began with no real excitement. The Penguins were awarded the first power play of the night when Michal Rozival was charged with interference. No score was earned from the advantage. Later Brooks Orpik was penalized for delay of game after he flipped the puck over the glass, but the Rangers failed to capitalize because of some pretty saves made by Marc-Andre Fleury. On-ice punk Ryan Hollweg attempted to rough up the Saint, but Sid stood his ground and even returned the favor a bit.

There were some good scoring chances, but no pucks in any nets. Evgeni Malkin was flying around like a man possessed all night. At one point, he drew a holding penalty on Ryan Callahan by playing the puck like a violin in front of the stickless Callahan. Unfortunately, the Penguins could not score on this power play, either. During the power play, Versus network's Christine Simpson conducted a short interview with Alice Kilgore, one of the season ticket holders that got a special delivery from Sid, during which she reiterated her belief that the Pens would not win the Stanley Cup this year. She also said that having Sid stop by her house was like winning the lottery, only "money can't play hockey like Sidney Crosby." (You make your own conclusions.)

Sid and Geno celebrate the only goal of the game.

Petr Sykora was penalized for an unintentional high stick (yes, it's maddening, but it's still a penalty - intent has nothing to do with it), and on the ensuing Rangers power play, Ryan Whitney almost gave Jagr an assist, but MAF makes another perfect pad save to shut the door on the goal. With seconds left in the first, Ryan Malone made an effort to get to the goal, but was taken down along the way by a trip courtesy of Callahan.

The Penguins would start the second period with 1:58 left in the resulting power play. Malkin, still playing like a beast, scored on this power play, on a pass from Whitney, who was given the puck by Crosby. Just after that, when the regular 5 on 5 play resumed, Jordan Staal was on a breakaway towards the goal when Fedor Tyutin decided the only option he had was to throw his stick at the puck to prevent Staal from scoring. Staal was awarded a penalty shot, during which he showed us why he is not picked for shootouts.

The rest of the period was just as uneventful as the first period, with Malkin drawing yet another holding penalty, this time on Marek Malik, and Sykora earning yet another penalty, this time for holding. On the latter Rangers power play, Rob Scuderi lost his stick, essentially giving the Rangers a 5 on 3, but they still failed to score.

Another shot of the celebration following the only goal of the game.

The third period began with the Pens still holding onto their 1 goal lead. Marcel Hossa was assessed for goaltender interference on MAF, and during this Pens power play, the Saint took an elbow to his face, but no penalty was called on it. This period was the most boring period until there were about 6 minutes left in the game. Suddenly, both teams were all over the place. Malik blasted a shot from the point that MAF swallowed up in his glove. Crosby and Mark Recchi had a two on one chance, but to no avail.

TONS of scoring chances were missed by both teams. Finally, with just over 3 minutes to go, the Penguins were penalized for having too many men on the ice. Malkin served the penalty, most likely so he could have a chance at springing from the box and taking control of the puck for a breakaway. It wouldn't matter. Despite both teams best efforts, MAF and
Henrik Lundqvist kept the puck out of their respective nets, but only MAF would emerge victorious with the shut out. Pens win! :)


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