Sunday, April 27, 2008

Round 2 Game 2: Pens v Rangers (W 2-0)

From an email from Pensgirl that was sent to me at 1:08pm today:
I really think [Friday's] game showed the kind of corner Fleury has turned. ...I'm hoping he just stones them today, just a huge "Eff Ewe."
NICE!!!!!! :)

Before I recap the game, I'm going to address those "Sidney's a diver" allegations. Calling Sid a diver is the singular thing that gets him rattled. Of course other teams see this and pounce on it. The Rangers are no different. But I have to say it's kind of sad that they think it's the only tool they've got against the best player on the planet. That doesn't say much about their level of confidence in themselves to get the job done. It's even sadder because they've definitely got some elite talent in Jaromir Jagr, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, and Henrik Lundqvist, but evidently they believe that's not enough to beat our boys in black and gold. Oh well, we've only got to win two more games and we're done with these tools. WOOOOOO!!!!!! :)

The game began with a close up of Jagr's face. That playoff beard-patch thing is creepy. Every time I see it, all I can think of is that skeevy paparazzi guy Britney Spears was dating. Check it out:

In addition to booing Jagr, the fans at the Mellon today were booing Straka, no doubt in response to the fit he threw at Friday's game after getting penalized for interfering with Sid then calling Sid a diver. Speaking of that, Sean Leahy of Going Five Hole has taken the video of the incident and broken it down frame by frame to give CONCLUSIVE PROOF not only that Straka did in fact interfere with Sidney, but that Sid didn't even see him coming to plan for an embellishment. Remember that Sid just fell down briefly and popped back up to his feet. He had planned on continuing the play. (Credit goes to Empty Netters for the find.)

The day's first penalty went to Ryan Whitney. Evidently the refs saw Wolverine trip Gomez, but I think Gomez was embellishing. ;) On the ensuing Rangers power play, Jordan Staal nearly stunned the arena with a shorthanded chance right off the faceoff, but Lundqvist shut the door on him. Fans began a taunting chant aimed at Jagr. Then just as Brooks Orpik lined Gomez up for a big hit, Gomez put on the brakes to avoid it. Gomez wrapped his free arm around Orpik in the process and, as a result, was called for holding. Neither team scored on the 4-on-4, and despite some unbelievable chances by Marian Hossa, the Saint, and Evgeni Malkin, the Pens didn't score on their power play.

Jarrko Ruutu took a penalty later for hooking, but the Rangers didn't capitalize on their advantage. Just as Ruutu came out of the box, Mad Max Talbot sent the puck to him for a one timer that went just wide of the goal. Kris Letang took a shot after the whistle blew a little while later. A scrum exploded between the teams. After the dust settled, Letang and Paul Mara went to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct and roughing, respectively. About 20 seconds into the 4-on-4, Sid was flying down the ice when Fedor Tyutin grabbed Sid's jersey and shoved him down to the ice. He was immediately assessed a penalty for holding, to which the Rangers bench erupted in cries of "SID EMBELLISHED IT!!!" Embellished? Nay nay, nixxydoodle! We got the proof that the call was a good call because NBC felt the need to replay the incident no less than 5 times in a row. It was a clear cut hold. Jagr and Ryan Malone had words from their respective benches as the crowd began another taunting "JA-gr! JA-gr! JA-gr!!" chant. The Pens didn't score on the 4-on-3, nor did they score on the 5-on-4 after Letang and Mara emerged.

Near the end of the period, Ruutu was called for high sticking. Giant Hal Gill, who's long been a thorn in Jagr's side, ran over Jaromir during the Rangers' power play. I don't know, to me Jagr's fall looked a bit embellished. ;) The Rangers didn't score on their power play, and the period ended. Then we were shown in a slow motion replay that Sean Avery (who will henceforth be known simply as IFHSA because I can't even stand typing his name) slashed Sid across his hand right after the last faceoff. Of course, he got away with that one, too.

A Getty photo catches IFHSA, um, "taking in the scenery" at the Mellon before the game.

Before the second period started, we see Ruutu getting in Jagr's face and having what I'm assuming was a friendly discussion of what each was doing for dinner tonight. Well, okay. I suppose it could have been about something else, haha! Rangers coach Tom Renney, who is leading the "Sid's a diver" charge these days, threw a fit when no penalty was given to Gronk for playing Jagr while still clutching his broken stick. No word if Renney threw a fit and demanded that IFHSA get penalized for the aforementioned slash.

Then Ruutu, Gronk, Letang, Tyler Kennedy, and Rob Scuderi had an absolutely AMAZING shift. They dominated the Rangers for several minutes and fired shot after shot after shot on Lundqvist, but the goalie stood his ground. After the Rangers finally went on the offensive again, Jagr fired a quick shot on goal. Marc-Andre Fleury made the blocker save and then had the presence of mind to leap out and cover the puck to shut the door on any attempts on the rebound. WOW.

Big Georges Laraque did the entire world a favor and drilled IFHSA into the boards. Drury was called for hooking. On the ensuing Penguins power play, Bugsy missed two glorious chances. Sid missed a great chance. Finally, nearly 35 minutes into the game and a minute and a half into this power play, Geno got the puck to Gronk, who was at the front of the net. Gronk went from his backhand to his forehand and popped Lundqvist's waterbottle up. [Pens 1, Rangers 0] It was a beautiful goal by the hardest working, most important, most underrated, lowest scoring guy in hockey right now. It's good to see him get rewarded for all that he does for this team. His face was priceless!!

Following the goal, both teams turned it up. The Pens were running off the momentum of the goal, while the Rangers were desperate to get the tying marker. In the frenzy, Hossa ended up taking a penalty for holding. This was an insane Rangers power play. There was ANARCHY in front of MAF - so much so that the refs had to blow the whistle because there were bodies piled up in the blue paint, and the puck was MIA. Scuderi had lost his helmet in the mess. But was the puck really missing? NO! Flower somehow found that puck in the madness and covered it up. It really was incredible that he was able to keep up with the location of the puck through all of that action in front of him. The Rangers were unable to score on their advantage. The period came to a close with Gronk's goal giving the Pens the lead.

The third period began with Dan Girardi taking a delay of game penalty for hitting the puck up and over the glass. Hossa got a fantastic chance right off the faceoff on the Pens' power play, but the Pens didn't score on their advantage. A scary moment happened during the power play: Petr Sykora plowed feet first into the boards ala Sidney Crosby circa 01-18-08. My husband and I both gasped. But, while Syko did seem stunned, he recovered after returning to the bench and returned for his next shift.

Both players were asked by reporters about this confrontation. Both players had little to say about it. When asked what Jagr was said, Sid replied, "Just ask him. I wasn't the one talking." Jagr claimed that he simply said, "Just play hockey." Somehow, I think it was a little more than that. It doesn't matter what Double J said. Sid got the last laugh with the win - again. WOOOOO!!!!!!

Kennedy played like the Energizer Bunny. (Then again, he always does.) He drew a penalty when he got a great scoring chance but was slashed by Blair Betts. Oh, but the Rangers dominated this Penguins power play. If not for Flower, we'd be talking about a shorthanded Rangers goal right here. The Pens (nor the Rangers) did not score on the Betts penalty. The Rangers continued to dominate puck possession for several minutes after Betts came out of the box.

Later, Gomez held Hossa for several seconds, but no call was made. A delayed offsides call didn't sit well with Geno, who slammed his stick on the ice in frustration. After returning from a commercial break, NBC showed Ruutu on the ice having a, um, "conversation" with (I think) Drury as he was on the bench. Ruutu was smirking and having a good time getting under (I think) Drury's skin.

Then this happened: You want to talk about embellishment, you need to talk about Girardi's head snap following a supposed high stick from Syko. Admittedly we only got to see this happen from one angle, but even if Syko's stick connected with Girardi's helmet, he snapped his head back like he'd been shot. I'm not saying it didn't hurt, and I'm not even saying whether it's right or wrong - he got the power play for his team - but what I am saying is that if you're going to whine and bitch and moan about the other team doing something, DON'T BE A HYPOCRITE AND DO IT YOURSELF THEN. Karma has a way of dealing with things like this, and it did this time, too. The ref behind MAF lost sight of the puck and blew the whistle. Look at where the puck was as the whistle blew:

It continued sliding over the goal line, and the Rangers thought they'd had the tying goal. The refs, however, felt differently about it. NO GOAL. The Rangers didn't score on their advantage. With only 2:20 left in a one-goal game, Gill was called for cross checking. With 1:12 left in the game, Lundqvist was pulled in favor of the extra attacker. The Rangers couldn't squeak one past MAF on the 6-on-4. Just as Gill came emerged from the box, Adam Hall was in the process of clearing the puck. He sent it high off the glass up and over Michal Rozsival's head. Gill was chasing after the puck to take it to the empty net, but it soon became clear that the angle of the shot was enough for the puck to make it to the net without further intervention. It rolled over the line giving the Pens the insurance marker with just 16.7 left in the game!!! [Pens 2, Rangers 0]

The Rangers were unable to break Flower's groove. He got his second shutout of the post-season!!! :) But it wasn't all celebrations at the end. IFHSA was whacking MAF's legs with his stick during the last ditch effort from the Rangers. MAF finally had enough and took a page from Marty Brodeur's book and used his goalie stick to tap IFHSA to get him to knock it off. IFHSA then made what could have been his last decision on this earth and charged MAF. The Pens' two towering heavyweights were right there to defend their goaltender. Gill dropped his gloves (he was closest) and took IFHSA to the corner. BGL wasn't far behind. If the refs hadn't shown up as fast as they had, we'd be talking about the plans for IFHSA's upcoming funeral. The only reason he did it was to get attention and get his name in the papers. That guy is an embarrassment to the NHL.

The teams take a break tomorrow. They meet again on Tuesday at 7:00pm Eastern at Madison Square Garden. No doubt Sid will be greeted by the crowd with chants of "DIV-er! DIV-er! DIV-er!!!" But that might actually work out in our favor... We all know what happens when Sid gets mad. He gets even - in points. :) :) :)

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

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