Saturday, April 26, 2008

Round 2 Game 1: Pens v Rangers (W 5-4)

If you look up the word "comeback" in the dictionary, you will find this:

This photo is also found in the definition of the word "clutch."

Many wondered if, after a stunning sweep of the Senators left them with a nine-day break between games, the Penguins would be "rested or rusted." The Pens answered that question by digging themselves out of a 3-goal deficit for the win in a spectacular display. The Pens came back for the win in what was Jaromir Jagr's first playoff game in the Mellon Arena sitting on the visitors' bench.

What a photo.

The Pens get ready for the game. (Photo courtesy of Ali W.)

The National Anthem (Photo courtesy of Ali W.)

I have to start by giving kudos to the fans in attendance. The Pens called for a whiteout, and they definitely were not disappointed:

Nothing but white as far as the eye can see!

That's AMAZING. (Photo courtesy of Ali W.)

The big screen TV set up outside of Gate 3 isn't going to waste:

I wish I lived closer to Pittsburgh!!!

Speaking of Jagr, the persnickety captain took the night's first penalty less than 30 seconds into the game after he blatantly cross checked Sergei Gonchar. The Pens didn't capitalize on their advantage. This series pits Staal brother against Staal brother. Marc Staal made it known pretty early that, on the ice, the two youngsters are not brothers but opponents as he put a big hit on Jordan. The Pens dominated the game with at least a half dozen scoring chances in the first half of the game, but Henrik Lundqvist brought his A-game to the Mellon and blocked them all.

Our man Sid showed that he's not afraid to get physical with a decent hit on big Colton Orr. Jarrko Ruutu, Tyler Kennedy, and Jordan worked hard and drew a penalty on Christian Backman for interference. On the ensuing Pens power play, the Rangers' penalty killing was quite solid. In fact, they had a crazy shorthanded chance as the puck trickled through the blue paint. Either way, the game remained scoreless as Backman's penalty expired.

I need to say something here. The announcers on Versus for this game were awful. They were almost unbearable. Normally, if it's that bad, I'll mute the TV and retrieve my XM Radio unit from my car. But since I was not watching this game live, I was stuck with these two clowns. The worst part of their schtick was that they kept comparing Ruutu and Sean Avery. They referred to them both as "pests." HOLD ON. Ruutu is a pest, for sure. But Avery is nothing more than a spoiled attention whore who cares more about personal headlines than wins for his team.

No my name ain't Avery. It's Jarrko - Mr. Ruutu, if you're nasty.

Flashback to September 6, 2007: Sidney delivered season tickets to longtime STH Alice Kilgore. She, in turn, was ballsy enough to tell Sidney right to his face that she did not believe that the Pens would win the Stanley Cup this year. Skip ahead about a month and a half to October 24, 2007: At a regular season Rangers game, Versus interviewed Kilgore again. She again said the Pens wouldn't win it. Back to last night: Versus again interviewed Kilgore, and she again said they probably won't win, but conceded that "nobody would be happier" than she would be if the Pens did win the cup. She then added, "I'll be glad to eat crow if Sidney wants to deliver it!" Sorry, Alice. Sid will be too busy hanging out with the Cup in Nova Scotia. WOOOOO!!!

Ryan Whitney, whose playoff beard seriously makes him look like he jumped out of a Marvel comic, took the Pens' first penalty for high sticking. Just 29 seconds into it, the Rangers made him pay when Martin Straka banked a shot of Gonchar's skate. [Pens 0, Rangers 1]

Immediately off the next faceoff, Asshat Avery scraped up the length of our captain's face with the blade of his stick. And it occurred to me that this is yet another reason why SID >>>>> snoop. If Avery had done that to me, I most likely would have gotten up and taken a stupid penalty for decking the jerk, but the Saint smartly didn't let Avery get into his head. Instead, he and Marian Hossa got to work making an unreal play, but it was all for naught. Lundqvist made a really stunning save to keep the Rangers' lead. With 2:30 left in the period, Petr Sykora took a hooking penalty. With 54 seconds left in the Rangers' power play, Brendan Shanahan got busted for interference. Neither team scored on the 4-on-4, and the Pens didn't score on their abbreviated power play.

The second period started with Shanahan in the box for a remaining 35 seconds, but despite a sick opening rush by Hossa, the Pens didn't score on their advantage. Avery was trying to start something in front of Marc-Andre Fleury, but the refs rushed in and quickly escorted him to his bench. Then, Marc Staal fired a shot from the point. Chris Drury deflected the puck into the net with a high stick as MAF made a strange leaping motion and missed the save. The refs called the War Room in Toronto for review. I think everyone in Pens Nation - and if they were honest with themselves, probably most knowledgeable Rangers fans - expected that to be disallowed. But the ref came to the ice and signaled that the goal stood. WHAT?!?! Seriously, WHAT?!?! Coach Therrien nearly stroked out as he screamed at the refs in disbelief. A few minutes later, we learned that the goal only stood because the War Room had ruled that the replay footage was "inconclusive." (Um, yeah - perhaps it was inconclusive to someone like Mr. Magoo, but to anyone with the gift of sight, that was a high stick.)

Things only got worse. Gonch stole the puck from Avery in the Rangers' zone. His shot was blocked by Lundqvist. Meanwhile, Avery ended up with the puck - but no Penguin was there in Gonchar's place. Avery took the puck the other way and coolly put it into the net. [Pens 0, Rangers 3] Before you knew what hit you, we were at a 0-3 game less than 25 minutes into a 60 minute game.


And what happened then? Pittsburgh they say, that the Penguins' desire grew three sizes that day! Jordan made a nice little move to get around a Ranger. He then sent the puck over to Ruutu as Kennedy drove hard to the net. Ruutu sent a pass that he had no doubt intended to meet the blade of Kennedy's stick. The puck instead met the blade of Michal Rozsival's skate and into the net. [Pens 1, Rangers 3]

Pens fans at the Mellon were just preparing to sit back down when, a mere 14 seconds later, Sidney protected the puck like a beast against Backman behind the net. He made a quick pass to Pascal Dupuis, who was in front of the net and blasted it home with a one-timer. [Pens 2, Rangers 3]

Insanity ensued both on the ice and in the stands as the Pens went nuts and the fans loved every second of it. When things finally calmed a bit, Versus showed a replay of what happened just before the faceoff that led to Ruutu's goal. Ruutu had the blade of his stick up and in Roszival's line of sight blocking his view of the faceoff. The refs, no doubt recalling Avery's ridiculous display of "I'm not touching you!" antics in front of Devils goalie Martin Brodeur in round 1, quickly put the kibosh to it. Make no mistake - that was more of a warning to Avery than it was to Ruutu. The refs saw this as a golden opportunity to make an example of Ruutu to show Avery that very little line crossing would be tolerated.

Brooks Orpik took a penalty for slashing. Flower made an UNREAL save on Backman to keep his team in the game and our hopes alive. The Rangers were unable to get anything past MAF on their advantage. Brandon Dubinsky was called for tripping Sidney. The Rangers cried foul on the call, but on the replay it was clear that Dubinski intended to trip. It didn't matter, though, because the Pens didn't score on their advantage. Just as the penalty expired, Syko fired a shot that hit the frickin' crossbar! UGH!!!

He was rattled (which I'm convinced led to Avery's goal) but was able to recover nicely.

Versus then told us that Syko and Jagr are really good friends. So much so that Syko rents Jagr's home in Pittsburgh. WAIT. Jags still has a house in Pittsburgh?! Anyways, the home apparently has a problem with ants right now. I have no idea why that matters, but since they mentioned it and followed it with a series of incredibly stupid jokes about Avery and Ruutu being pests that bug you, I thought I'd tell you. The second period ended with the Pens down by a single goal.

The third period began with a shot of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin signing a couple playoff towels. He seems like an awesome guy. He's been coming out and supporting the Pens since his arrival in Pittsburgh. I love it when stars from the Steelers and the Pirates come out in support of their city-mates. There's something really cool about the fact that our football, baseball, and hockey teams all support each other so much. Sid made a similar show of support a few years back:

Back on the ice, Dupuis found himself with several seconds alone in front of Lundqvist. Sid passed him the puck, but he just couldn't get control of it. After the play was whistled down, Dupuis looked up at the jumbotron to watch the replay of himself fumbling the puck. He looked really upset with himself.

Chaos developed in front of Lundqvist. It seemed like every man on the ice had crowded in a 10' square in front of the goalie. This created a screen that worked in the Pens' favor as Hossa was able to stealthily bank a shot off Scott Gomez's boot and into the net. [Pens 3, Rangers 3]

Who dares to say this guy doesn't perform in the playoffs?!

Now, at this point, I'm in the process of screaming "AND IT'S A BRAND NEW HOCKEY GAME!" when Syko rocked the entire New York City island by sending another one home after a nice little game of tic (Ryan Malone) tac (Evgeni Malkin) toe (Syko). [Pens 4, Rangers 3] With these two goals coming just 20 seconds apart, the crowd was so intense that I really thought the roof of the Mellon might explode.

Bugsy reacts to Syko's goal.

Life got even better when Rob Scuderi put a big hit on Avery and smeared him along the wall (← just so we're clear for anyone who didn't see it, it did not resemble anything close to boarding). But life has a way of tossing curve balls at you. One came with just under 10 minutes left in the game in the form of a goal from Gomez. [Pens 4, Rangers 4]

Lundqvist then made another STUNNING save on Sidney to prevent him from getting the goal right back. Then with four minutes left, the Mellon Arena started playing that song with the bells (← if anyone knows what that song is, you must tell me!!!). The song's beat and the sound of those bells perfectly fit the sense of urgency we're feeling at that moment. With 3:20 left to go in the game, Straka gave the Penguins a gift. He was called for interference. The intro to the Scorpions' Hurricane 2000, which is usually reserved for the start of the 3rd period, began to play. I swear to God, my heart felt like it was coming out of my chest. The Pens' got to work on the power play. After some sweet puck possession, Sidney fired a one-timer cannon at Lundqvist while Geno was in front of the net. IT. GOES. IN!!!!! HOLD ON, THOUGH - the refs decided they had to make the most unnecessary phone call since the invention of the telephone. While we wait, the replay shows the puck bouncing off Geno's leg and into the net. I suppose they were looking for a "kicking motion," but Geno's feet were pointing towards the wall, not the goaltender. OF COURSE IT STANDS!!!!!!! [Pens 5, Rangers 4]

The next 1:41 were a blur. Lundqvist came out of the net in favor of the extra attacker at about the 1:00 mark. With less than 20 seconds left in the game, Jags hit the crossbar (sometimes that works out in your favor!). The Pens did get the puck and might have been able to go for the empty netter, but the ultimate goal of winning the game took precedence (as it should!) and instead they chose to clear the puck. Time ticked down to the only game this season that the Pens have been able to win after trailing by 3!!!

(Photo courtesy of Ali W.)

And speaking of attention whores, "journalist" (and I use that term lightly) Arthur Staple is at it again. He still thinks that we care that he thinks that Sid's a diver. Here's the link to his article that whines about the Rangers' loss amid, of course, claims that Sidney embellished two calls.
Sid the Kid also dived, or embellished, as Brendan Shanahan said, two plays that were both whistled penalties, one each by referees Don Koharski and Kelly Sutherland.


Marty Straka... was so incensed he got a game misconduct after time expired in the game. He didn't want to discuss anything afterward.


Sutherland's call on Straka was flagrantly bad. The Pens had a chance to break through the neutral zone, but Marc Staal had already poked the puck away from danger when Straka lifted his stick parallel to the ice and Crosby began to stumble as if his force field had been broken. The play was going elsewhere when Sutherland raised his hand.
Okay, Staple. If telling yourself that the Rangers lost the game because of Sid's alleged diving and not because of their own mistakes, by all means - have at it. No matter how many tears you cry, it doesn't change the fact that we're still up in this series, so BITE US.

You know, I think the worst thing about this joke is that he seems to relish the attention Pens Nation gave his last article. I can tell you that after the Brennan thing and now this guy, I'm so over incompetent, desperate, untalented sports writers that I'm not even going to waste my time on Staple anymore. (Though I do appreciate the link, which came from Friend of The Show Paula C.)

LATE EDIT: Seth "The Freakin' Man" Rorabaugh of Empty Netters found a CLEAR video of Straka's interference on Sid. Look for it the 1:52 mark. Yes, it is interference. And yes, Staple 1.) knows nothing about hockey, and 2.) shoots his mouth off without knowing the facts. (Also check out Sid's reaction to the tic-tac-toe goal by Syko at the 1:44 mark. It's priceless!)

And a big, BIG thanks goes out to Friend of The Show Ali W. for the sweet game pictures. :) And more big thanks to Friend of The Show Michelle B., who defined the word "Saint" on You will see the "Saint" button at the bottom of the blogroll on the right. :) I offer my apologies for bringing this recap to you so late. Until tomorrow,

GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Labels: ,

Creative Commons License
The Sidney Crosby Show
is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
(Based on all work at