Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pens v Devils (L 1-2)

It's not been a great night so far for the Penguins. Actually, neither team has been playing a particularly great game of hockey tonight. There have been several neutral ice turnovers, but not much else has been happening. The two teams have identical 8-10-2 records and are tied for 12th in the Eastern conference. It's currently the end of the first period, and as I'm roasting my first Thanksgiving turkey, the Devils have taken a one goal lead on the Pens.

Sid does his thing.

Colby Armstrong is finally back in the lineup tonight making his first appearance since the loss to the Flyers on 11-10-07. The tension between the Pens and the Devils was evident immediately following the drop of the puck when David Clarkson and Ryan Malone decided to drop the gloves and go at it. For the most part, the play in the first period was relatively uneventful at both ends of the ice. During the game, FSN Pittsburgh showed a clip of yesterday's practice at the Mellon Arena, where Sidney donned Marc-Andre Fleury's gear and minded the net for a few minutes. It makes sense, though: His father Troy was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1984 as a goaltender, and it is the position Sid's little sister Taylor plays. In his junior league days, Sid's roommate gifted him with a set of goalie pads, and he has played the position in the offseason ever since. The fun was cut short when "Robs" (Rob Scuderi perhaps? Sid didn't give a last name in the interview) came over and said, "You know, that's a good way to get hurt." That's a valid point - the LAST thing anyone wants is Sid to get hurt.

MAF has been making some big, big saves. He had a good one in particular when he absorbed a hard shot from Dainius Zubrus. Later, Clarkson was still feeling feisty when he confronted Gary Roberts behind the cage behind MAF, but the refs put a quick stop to it before any real punches were thrown. Then, Army took a shot on Martin Brodeur. The puck bounced off Brodeur's pads and right to Evgeni Malkin, but somehow Brodeur stopped Geno's shot from going in. Immediately following, Erik Christensen took a penalty for holding. MAF made a series of absolutely incredible saves to keep the game scoreless, but 1:02 into Crusher's penalty, Adam Hall took a penalty for holding. Crusher's penalty ended, but as he emerged onto the ice from the box, Zach Parise scored on MAF's left side to give the Devils the one goal lead.

Sergei Gonchar lends a hand to MAF.

During the intermission, FSN showed a short piece that followed Roberts as he took Mark Recchi to an organic grocery store. Roberts was giving advice to Recchi (and to us) about how to eat well and stay healthy. He said it is the secret why, at 41 years old, he is able to keep playing in the NHL. He said taking vitamins, eating organic vegetables, and taking flax seed oil are the keys to staying fit enough to compete at that level. During the shopping trip, the two veterans ran into teammate and fellow organic foodie Daryl Sydor as he was shopping for his own healthy groceries.

The second period started with a strong backhand shot by the Saint that Brodeur was able to stop. Then, the Pens got a 3 on 2 chance, but the linesman got in the way of Jarrko Ruutu, so he couldn't take a shot. John Oduya later took a penalty for holding, but the Pens did not capitalize on the power play. After a bit, the Devils had another chance when Brian Gionta faked a shot then passed it to Jay Pandolfo, who most likely would have scored had he not fanned on the pass. Army was called for hooking. On the ensuing Devils power play, Sid had a breakaway chance at a shorthanded goal, but Brodeur stopped Sid's shot.

For the second period, the injured Mad Max Talbot joined Bob Errey and Paul Steigerwald in the press box. If he wasn't so good on the ice, I'd start a petition to get him in the box with those two permanently. In the course of his visit, he talked about Sid ("Sid's backhand is more powerful than my forehand wristshot!"), commented about the ref getting in Ruutu's way ("That is so frustrating. The referee should give himself a penalty for obstruction!"), discussed agitators with Errey (Errey: "Sid always talks about what a pain in the ass [John] Madden is, ha ha!" Max: "...yeah, we always try to slash guys and piss them off, ha ha ha!"), his personal style (Errey: "You smell good! That's a snappy suit who designed it?" Max: "Giovanni."), and the Pens' equipment manager ("What a good looking guy! I love him.").

What a save!

At one point, a slow motion replay was shown from the last time the Pens met the Devils at the Mellon Arena on 11-12-07. In the clip, Mad Max used his elbow to "greet" the Devils on the bench as he skated back to his own bench following his goal. Think of it as the opposite of what happens when the Pens players touch gloves after someone scores. He touched his elbow to a couple of Devils' faces. It was as entertaining as you think it was. :)

The second period ended with Petr Sykora in the box for a hooking penalty that he took with 25 seconds left in the period. The Devils had what appeared to be too many men on the ice, but it was not called. The Devils ended the period ahead, 0-1.

The Pens killed the penalty at the start of the third period, but then we saw shades of Sid circa 2005. First, he took a penalty for tripping that he didn't think he deserved. He skated to the box spouting off more than a few choice words. Parise made him pay for the mistake by scoring another power play goal for the Devils. Then, Sid made his way back to the Penguins bench, but he must have still been chirping about the call. It rubbed the ref the wrong way, and Sid was promptly escorted back to the box for another 2 minutes. During this second Devils power play, Mark Eaton (who is always a defensive beast) tried to clear the puck with a slapshot behind the cage, but instead was hit hard in the face by the shoulder of Patrik Elias. Ever the warrior, Eaton continued to soldier through the pain until the puck was grabbed out the air in a great save by MAF. Eaton received care from a trainer and later returned to the ice. The Devils did not score on this power play.

Letang tried to score, but it just didn't happen.

Malkin took a pretty hard hit in the corner that fans thought should have resulted in a Devils penalty, but it wasn't called and play continued. This ended up being a really good thing, though, because Malkin scored after Oduya turned the puck over in his own zone. Just after, Sheldon Brookbank took a penalty for interference. Sid threw the puck through the paint at one point, but the Pens didn't capitalize on the advantage. Just after that penalty, Georges Laraque drew penalty on Oduya. With 29 seconds to go in the Pens power play, Sid got hauled down when he was tripped by Vitaly Vishnevski. The Pens didn't score on the 5 on 3 or the rest of the second power play. Kris Letang had a great 1 on 1 shot against Brodeur, but Brodeur made a beautiful glove save to deny the Penguins the tie. The Pens pulled MAF for the last minute of the game, but it would not matter. The Devils won the game, 1-2.

Incidentally, this game ended Sid's point streak. He had a point in 19 straight games, which was a career high for him. Geno's point streak is still alive at 14 games and counting. The Penguins travel to Ottawa to face the Senators for a Thanksgiving Day matchup. Have a happy and safe holiday!!!


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