Sunday, April 06, 2008

Pens v Flyers (L 0-2)

Okay. That wasn't pretty. The Pens didn't seem to come to this game with the desire they needed to win the Eastern Conference title. As a result, the Flyers got themselves a shutout win.

I need to mention this first: This weekend, Sid added another honor to his growing list. He became only the second person to be made an honorary firefighter for the city of Pittsburgh. They gave him a helmet with the number 87 on it to commemorate the occasion. (Evidently, Sid would have pursued a career in firefighting if he hadn't been blessed with all that talent.) You can watch the video here. Thanks for the link go out to an anonymous commenter, good Friend of The Show Cassie C., and an unlikely source - my own Mom!

Back to the game. Sidney was scratched today, most likely because of the abuse he suffered the last time the Pens met the Flyers. Keeping the captain safe and uninjured is paramount for the playoff run. Apparently the Flyers felt the same way because they, too, scratched their captain, Jason Smith. Danny Briere was out nursing his knee after the collision with Jarkko Ruutu on Wednesday night. Kris Beech and GARY ROBERTS were back in the Penguins' lineup to get their feet wet before the playoffs.

Early on, Evgeni Malkin had the puck. I wasn't sure if I was hearing correctly, but it seemed like the Flyer fans were booing him. Who do you think got the game's first penalty? Gary Roberts! He wanted to have at it with Steve Downie, but Downie wouldn't have anything to do with it. Roberts was assessed a roughing penalty, but the Flyers didn't capitalize on their advantage. Later, Jim Dowd gave the puck away at the Flyers' blue line to Petr Sykora. Syko blasted a shot at Martin Biron, who was clearly the shining star of today's game. The shot was blocked, and Syko went after his own rebound. Then Biron high sticked Syko behind the cage. Downie served the penalty for his goalie. Geno was out for the power play, and it became clear to me that, yes - the Flyers fans were booing him. (Jealous much?!) Ryan Whitney fanned on a pass which ended up giving R.J. Umberger a chance to go shorthanded on Marc-Andre Fleury. Fortunately that didn't work out for Umberger, but the Pens didn't score on their advantage.

As Downie came out of the box, he leveled Kris Letang. The Flyers then were able to go 3-on-1 on goal. Mike Richards went hard to the net, and ended up knocking Flower, who was clearly the second shining star of today's game, down to the ice. He was given the old interference on goalkeeper penalty. Jordan Staal managed to hit the bar behind Biron, but the Pens didn't score on this power play, either. Just after the end of the power play, Ruutu had a great chance on the doorstop, but Biron shut the door on him to keep the game scoreless.

Richards took a whack at MAF after he had frozen the puck. Hal Gill did not appreciate it and used his physical presence to let Richards know he'd crossed a line. A few minutes later, Scottie Upshall took a run at Gill's head but missed, and in return, Gill took a shot at Upshall. For his actions, Gill was given a roughing penalty, but the Flyers didn't score on their power play. With about a minute left until the end of the period, Sergei Gonchar put a hit on Joffrey Lupul as he was playing the puck against the boards in front of the benches. It appeared to be a clean hit that Lupul just wasn't prepared for, but Lupul went into the boards awkwardly. Inexplicably, Gonch was given an interference penalty, but luckily for us, the Flyers took a penalty for having too many men on the ice. Neither team scored on the abbreviated 4-on-4.

The second period began with about 1 minute left on the 4-on-4. MAF made a great save on Jeff Carter, who then immediately following, hooked Letang. Apparently the Flyers don't understand what a hooking call is because they actually played the theme to that old show Unsolved Mysteries. (It took me forever to figure out what that song was. I knew I recognized it, but then when I did finally figure out where it came from, I was like "Seriously, WTF.") Anyhoo, the Pens ended up with the power play, so for a few seconds, there was 4-on-3 action. Staal had another great chance that Biron somehow blocked. Then it went to 5-on-4 action, but the Pens didn't score with a man advantage.

Mike Knuble put a cross-check on Ruutu. The Pens could do nothing with the ensuing power play. Later, Knuble's name came up again when he had a chance on a W-I-D-E open net. Unbelievably (and fortunately for us) he missed the net. Letang made a big play when he intercepted a lead pass that was intended for Patrick Thoresen, which would have resulted in a breakaway. A little later, Thoresen shot the puck wide. It bounced off the glass and landed on top of the back of the net behind Flower. MAF stood up and quickly placed his hand over the puck to freeze it, but Downie refused to give up and continued to try to work the puck loose. The play was whistled down, and Gill and Downie had a few words (and shoves) behind the net. It ended with Downie going to the box for roughing as Gill smiled and laughed in his face. (It was awesome! It reminded me of something Ruutu does.) The Flyers were able to find themselves with a 3-on-1 during the Pens' power play, but Carter's shot hit the outside of the post to keep the game scoreless. The Pens did not score during their power play.

Scott Hartnell drilled Roberts after Roberts agitated him a bit. As a result, Hartnell found himself in the box for interference. On the ensuing PENGUINS power play, Richards got a shorthanded breakaway chance. MAF calmly made an unreal poke check on Richards to stop him in his tracks. Then, Biron made an unreal glove save after Whit fired the puck through traffic. The Pens didn't score on their advantage - again.

Then, with exactly 38 ½ minutes of hockey, the Flyers put the first mark on the board. It ended up being the game winning goal, but I'm getting ahead of myself... Right off a faceoff, Carter fired a hard shot at Fleury. The rebound popped out and the Flyers got it. Upshall was all by himself on the far side, while MAF was in the corner on the near side. Upshall easily put the puck in the open net. [Pens 0, Flyers 1]

It was about this time that our good friends over at got a mention during the broadcast from Paul Steigerwald. The plug came after Steigy adopted tPB's nickname for Gill ("USS Gill" - because of his enormous size). Unfortunately, Steigy completely messed up the website address for the site. (In case you didn't know, it is simply Congratulations on the on-air shout out, guys!!! :)

As the second period came to an end, Ruutu was assessed a penalty for interference. He spent the first two minutes of the third period serving the time. The Pens kept the Flyers from scoring on their advantage. Just 31 seconds out of the box, Ruutu was given another penalty. This time it was for elbowing. During the Flyers power play, Hartnell got the bouncing puck in front of the net. He shot it wide of the wide open net, as MAF was still in the other corner of the net. The Flyers didn't score on their power play. As Ruutu came out of the box, he got the puck and went sailing towards Biron. He attempted to repeat the wraparound goal he scored against Lundqvist recently, but he lost the puck behind the cage.

Lasse Kukkonen took a cross-checking penalty, but it didn't matter. The Pens didn't score on their 6 previous power plays, and they didn't score on this one. Later, Biron came all the way out of the crease (almost to the blue line!) to prevent Adam Hall from getting the puck. He failed because Hall ended up with it anyways. Hall fired a shot at the now empty net, but as Biron was hauling himself back to the crease in reverse, he used his giant pads to block Hall's shot, despite the fact that he was still at least seven feet out of the crease.

Ryan Malone drew a holding penalty on Kimmo Timonen as he made a run for the net. Just after the Pens' power play got under way, a Flyer attempted to clear the puck and ended up drilling the shot into one of the linesmen's knee. He dropped like a stone as the classy Flyers fans actually cheered. Fortunately, the man wasn't injured. Back to the Pens' power play: Carter and Knuble had a shorthanded 2-on-1, but Gonch sacrificed his body to break up the play. The Pens didn't score on their advantage, and the Flyers didn't score shorthanded.

The last four minutes of the game descended into chaos. Geno was tripped, but no call was made. Braydon Coburn interfered with Geno a few seconds later, causing Geno to fall down. In one of the worst calls I've seen in weeks, Geno was called for diving. It was the 2 minute mark, so the Penguins had to play the remainder of the game with their best scorer in the box. The Pens finally appeared to realize that they needed to step up, but it was too little, too late. With 1:05 to go, MAF was pulled in favor of the extra attacker. The Flyers got the puck. Carter fired a shot at the empty net but missed. Knuble was streaking down the ice with Whit hot on his trail. Knuble got the rebound (is it called a rebound if there's no goalie?) and tried to get it in the empty net, but Whit nicely blocked him. Knuble got his own rebound off Whit and put it into the empty net a mere 13 seconds after Flower was pulled. [Pens 0, Flyers 2]

With this loss, the Pens missed out on the Eastern Conference title. They finished the season with 47 wins, 27 losses, and 8 losses in overtime. They earned an impressive 102 points to give them the Atlantic Division title. They sit firmly in second place in the Eastern Conference, and will be facing last year's Stanley Cup finals losers, the Ottawa Senators. The Senators, remember, eliminated the Penguins last year in 5 games. This season, however, the Senators are a weakened team while the Pens, through injuries, were forced to come together and dig down deep. It's not going to be an easy series by any stretch of the imagination, but I can guarantee you it will NOT be a repeat of the last Pens/Sens playoff series. The playoff schedule is due to be released tomorrow on the Pens' website. I'm going to game one, so expect my recap of that game to be similar to the recap from the Pens/Flyers game from 04-02-08. After that, however, I will continue to recap all playoff games in the same manner that I've been recapping regular season games.

Also tomorrow - new T-Shirt colors (powder blue and black/gold) go on sale on the Mario Lemieux Foundation website. PICK ONE (or more!) UP and give others a chance to win by helping fund cancer and neonatal research projects!!!

The newest colors

The classic colors

And as always...





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