Monday, March 31, 2008

Pens v Rangers (L 1-2 OT)

I want to give my sincerest thanks to everyone who left comments or wrote me an email with condolences for my Bentley's passing. You will never know how much it meant to me. Thank you all so much.

The first period of this game can pretty much be summed up in a few sentences. The first real action came when Uber-jerk Sean Avery and Ryan Malone came to blows. They both dropped their gloves and whipped off their helmets. I don't know if it was planned, but they both drifted to center ice before starting the man-dance. Avery struck first with a few weak hits. Malone landed a good punch on Avery, but Avery came back with a wicked shot to Bugsy's jaw that was so forceful, they both went down. Later, Jaromir Jagr sent a lead pass to Martin Straka, who split the Pens' defensemen, but he shot the puck waaaay to wide. The Pens' only shot for the whole period came from a sweet backhander from Sidney, though Henrik Lundqvist made the save with his pads. Evgeni Malkin was tripped up by Scott Gomez. The Pens didn't do anything on their power play. Just after Gomez came out of the box, Big Georges Laraque drilled Paul Mara with a late hit, which earned him a boarding penalty. The Rangers didn't capitalize on their advantage, either. Just like that, the period was over.

MAF and Max discuss strategies (or maybe another prank?) just before the warmup.

The second period was really not much better than the 1st. Sid split the Rangers defense but went down on the play. He thought he was tripped and wanted a penalty, but none was assessed. Marc-Andre Fleury made the save of a lifetime when Nigel Dawes streaked down the ice on a breakaway. Then Sid made an unreal play dragging the puck around Brendan Shanahan's legs. Absolute insanity broke out in front of the Flower. In the midst of it all, poor Daryl Sydor was pulled down to the ice by his head by a Ranger. He landed on top of the puck and lost his helmet. To make matters worse, Fredrik Sjostrom fell on him as he lay on the ice. Then, professional asshat Ryan Hollweg started hitting Sydor in the back while he was still down on his stomach. I'm not sure how that wasn't a penalty, but whatever.

The Rangers got a little Karmic payback on the next play as Ryan Callahan fired a shot that rang off the crossbar. The rebound went right to Dawes, who promptly blasted the puck and rang it off the post. (WOW.) More chaos breaks out in front of MAF. He tries to freeze the puck, but somehow it manages to go into the net. The goal light came on but the horn didn't blow as the refs vehemently waived the goal off. I'm not sure what happened because there wasn't a replay, but when Versus came back from commercial, both Ryan Whitney (playing his usual defensive position tonight) and Jeff Taffe were in the box for roughing and hooking, respectively. This gave the Rangers a full 2 minutes with a 2-man advantage. (You know what's coming, right?)

Bugsy was a total beast on the 5-on-3 penalty kill. He gave himself a pair of shorthanded chances, but the Rangers got the puck and took it back down towards Flower. After Jagr fired a shot, the puck popped up into the air in front of MAF. Rob Scuderi was attempting to glove the puck down and clear it as Gomez was attempting to swat the puck in with his stick. The puck went into the net. Gomez's stick, however, was a high stick, so the call was made to the War Room in Toronto... After a good 3 or 4 minutes, the goal was rightfully deemed to be a keeper since the puck never touched Gomez's stick. [Pens 0, Rangers 1]

The Rangers still had some time with one Pen in the box, but they didn't score on their power play. Sydor then almost pulled a Nicklas Backstrom and bounced the puck off the bottom of the goal just inches from the post. Later, Sid and Dan Girardi fought for the puck behind Lundqvist. Sid won the battle and set Hossa up for a shot. Then the Saint poked at the loose puck, earning Girardi's ire. They exchanged shoves and were promptly separated by the refs. Geno then set Sidney up, but Sid couldn't do anything with it because Paul Mara was holding his stick. Mara went to the box for his offense, but the Pens didn't score on their advantage.

With a minute left in the second period, the Pens suddenly woke up. Laraque had an amazing shift. He protected the puck, took shots, and set up his teammates, but it was all for naught. The Rangers had a one-goal lead to end the period.

Bugsy went to work early in the third period. Right off the first faceoff, he took a shot and then poked away at it. The pace of the game clearly intensified at this point. Sid was in the crease as Geno took a shot, but Lundqvist blocked the attempt at a redirect. Jarrko Ruutu took a penalty for high sticking. He acted as if he didn't know why he took that penalty, but on the replay, it was clearly seen that he whacked a Ranger in the throat with his stick. On the ensuing Rangers' power play, Jagr burst through everyone, but he fanned on the shot because of some nice backchecking by the Pens. With 13 seconds left in the penalty to Ruutu, Michal Rozsival took a penalty for interference. Neither team scored on their respective power plays.

FINALLY, after Brooks Orpik put a big hit on Brandon Dubinsky, Laraque made a nice backhand pass to Malone. Dubinsky stayed behind to have words with Orpik because the hit was almost knee-on-knee, but in doing so, he took himself out of the play. This left Malone and Mad Max Talbot the ability to go 2-on-1. Bugsy sent a backhand pass to Max. Max then easily put the puck into the net. [Pens 1, Rangers 1]

A word about the Versus broadcast: I don't understand why they used graphics that covered more than a third of the ice at the bottom of the screen. I don't care if Professional Bull Riding is on tomorrow night, and I don't care that Bud Light sponsored tonight's game. THAT IS WHAT COMMERCIAL BREAKS ARE FOR.

Geno and Hossa went nuts, but Lundqvist made and amazing if lucky save. Avery went to the box for high-sticking Sidney, but the Pens couldn't score on their advantage. With less than a minute left in the game, Sid tried to split the Rangers defense, but Rozsival wouldn't let him. Then Bugsy got the puck off the faceoff and beat TYUTIN to the net, but Lundqvist wouldn't budge. The game ended at a 1-1 draw.

Just before the overtime period began, VS. showed Max getting funky on the bench. (He must have really liked the song!) Less than 30 seconds into OT, Jagr had a near breakaway. He was stopped only because Sergei Gonchar was holding him. BAD, BAD penalty, Gonch!!! It ended up costing the Pens the game as Chris Drury was able to use one Ranger and 2 Penguins as a screen to get past a very UNHAPPY Flower. [Pens 1, Rangers 2] (I'd be mad, too, if I had to listen to "Sweet Caroline" being blasted over the loudspeakers.)

All I can say is that at the very least the Pens got a point out of tonight's game. I scored a free ticket to tomorrow night's Three Days Grace / Breaking Benjamin concert at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, and then Wednesday I will be taking TSCS on the road to watch the Pens face the Flyers at the Mellon. I will take as many pictures as I can at the game. I may even be able to get a video clip or two, since I just got a new camera that records video - with sound and everything! (My old camera only recorded a silent 60 second clip at a time, so the new camera is a pretty big deal for me!) GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pens v Rangers (W 3-1)

This is a hockey blog; specifically, it is a Sidney Crosby blog. Normally I like to keep all the things I write here related to Sid or his team, but I thought I should start today's recap out with an explanation of why I may seem out of sorts or slow to respond to my emails or just generally not quite myself for the last recaps of this season: This past Friday, after a normal night at my house with my husband and our four dogs, our nearly 13-year-old Chocolate Lab, Bentley, suddenly went into respiratory failure at around 9:00pm. We had him at the local vet literally less than 15 minutes after the episode started only to be told that he had a mass in his chest. It could only be one of 2 things - a tumor or a problem with his esophagus. If it was a tumor, there was nothing that could be done. If it was the esophagus thing, there was a slim chance that he could be "saved," but he would have lived the rest of his days in a kennel at the vet's office with a feeding tube and getting oxygen treatments. He was quite obviously in pain, and his prognosis in either scenario was grim. After careful consideration, we made the awful decision to bring him peace. I know he was an Old Man, but he was a good dog and will be sorely missed.

My beautiful Bentley
07/31/1995 - 03/28/2008

Today's game was the NBC Game of the Week. Pierre McGuire interviewed Sid to start the game. The Saint basically said that he's not worried about developing chemistry with Marian Hossa because Hossa is so easy to play with. Early on, Sean Avery and Scott Gomez had a little give and go play that resulted in Hal Gill taking a holding penalty. On the ensuing Rangers power play, Evgeni Malkin refused to let Jaromir Jagr have the puck. He and Hossa went sailing down the ice 2-on-3. Geno passed the puck to Hossa, who had a fantastic scoring chance, but Henrik Lundqvist made a great save to prevent it. Then, Brandon Dubinsky went hard to the net as Jagr fired a shot from the blue line. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped Jagr's shot, but Dubinsky was there to capitalize on the rebound for the power play goal. [Pens 0, Rangers 1]

Then Hossa made an unreal move - the only way I could come close to describing it was that it was kind of like a drop pass to himself. What a player! Big Georges Laraque drilled a guy into the boards in a clear demonstration that the game was about to get more physical. Tyler Kennedy followed suit and drilled another Ranger shortly thereafter. Geno was all over Jagr like white on rice (← where does that expression even come from?!). Then Sid set up an amazing play. From the far corner, he centered a pass that was intended for Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis was unable to get a shot on it as he was surrounded by Rangers, but the puck hit his skate and went right to Hossa, who streaked in from behind. Hossa sniped the puck right past Lundqvist. [Pens 1, Rangers 1]

On the very next play, Petr Prucha took a penalty for roughing, but the Pens couldn't capitalize on their advantage. Later, we could actually hear Sid tweaking after an icing call because it was more than clear that Sid had touched the puck first. After a couple of Rangers near misses, they turned the puck over to Geno, who headmanned the puck to Ryan Malone. As he rushed the goal, Bugsy was hooked by Fedor Tyutin. On the ensuin Pens power play, Sid made a sweet pass to Hossa, but Lundqvist shut the door on Hossa's shot. Then Sid powered his way through all four Rangers only to be slashed by Fredrik Sjostrom in the process. This gave the Pens more than 30 seconds with a 2-man advantage. Geno fired shot after shot after shot. It seemed like he was setting up each of the Pens on the ice with him with awesome scoring chances that they couldn't get past Lundqvist, which included a redirect attempt from Sid on one knee. Finally, Geno took matters into his own hands and blasted a shot that popped Lundqvist's waterbottle up in the air. [Pens 2, Rangers 1] Sid earned a second assist from this goal because he sent the puck to Sergei Gonchar, who then passed the puck to Geno for the powerful shot.

The goal came with just a few seconds left on the 5-on-3, so the Pens had almost 90 seconds left on their power play, but they didn't score another goal. With only :04.3 seconds left, Flower made a key save to keep the Pens in the lead as they went to the second period.

Forty seconds into the second period, Hossa was given a penalty for hooking. Bugsy and Jordan Staal were beasts on the penalty kill, and the Rangers were unable to score. The Pens' 4th line (Laraque, Jarrko Ruutu, and Mad Max Talbot) along with defenders Kris Letang and Daryl Sydor had an amazing shift. They were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone for several minutes. The crowd was so impressed that they gave the men a standing ovation. As he went to the bench, Ruutu was involved in a little physicality with Dan Girardi that resulted in a broken nose, but he's so tough that he didn't miss any ice time because of it.

Just a note - those Verizon "Hockey Fans Aren't Like Other Fans" commercials are pretty funny. The last one showed a new dad beating on the nursery glass and yelling that his baby was the best baby in the hospital. The new one had a woman in a French maid costume sprinkling white rose petals on a bed. She calls her husband and tells him to come into the room. He bursts in dressed as a Flyers goalie, and she looks at him like he's nuts. He says, "What? You said fantasy! Let's do this!"

The Pens got a ton of chances, but the Rangers made a ton of blocks. Jordan got away with a hit from behind on Gomez. Then something frightening happened to Geno. He and Dubinsky got tied up in the corner. Geno went down, and Dubinsky kept playing and in the process, kicked Geno in the back of the head then dragged his skate over Geno's neck and face. Unbelievably, play was not stopped as Geno writhed around. He got up and ripped off his helmet and made his way over to the bench. The trainers took him to the locker room for medical assistance. Meanwhile, seeing their superstar super-scorer getting injured did not sit well with the rest of the Pens. The Pens' physicality amped up. After being hit hard by Christian Backman, Sidney gave Backman three hard cross checks. The Pens ended up drawing a penalty not on Backman but on Jagr for hooking. Predictably, as the play was whistled down, a fight broke out between the teams. Backman said something to Sid, and Sid crosschecked him again. Backman went after Sid. Letang rushed in to defend his captain from the onslaught of other Rangers. It ended up that Letang and Marc Staal were involved in the worst fight, with Letang taking his former Team Canada World Juniors teammate Staal down pretty easily.

After the dust settled, the Pens ended up with a power play, but they were unable to even get a shot during their advantage. More nastiness from both sides came. Our man Sid gave Martin Straka a crosscheck, and the Rangers' bench went wild. With less than 2 minutes left in the period, Jordan drew an interference penalty on Michal Rozsival. During the Pens' advantage, Ryan Whitney (playing left wing again) had a little issue with Brendan Shanahan. Whit hit Shanahan, who went down. As he was down in the corner, Shanahan held onto Whit's arm - out of view of the refs. Whit found a way to get out of it, though, when he pushed on Shanahan's head and knocked his helmet off. The period ended with the same score as the end of the first period.

The third period began with Geno coming back to the ice after receiving 10 stitches. (WHEW!!!) Dubinsky was seen chatting with Geno and tapping Geno with his stick. Hopefully it was an apology. Rozival was still in the box for about 10 seconds. The Pens were again held shotless on their power play. A little after he got back on the ice, Rozival just missed a wide open net as the puck slid through the blue paint while MAF was down. Jagr was prevented from getting to the puck to push it over the goal line by the Pens' defensemen. We were told that Sid was mic'd up again today. They played a few clips of him repeatedly yelling, "Hey, hey, hey!" to his teammates. The best clip was of Sid telling the linesman, "I like my job better, for sure!" after the erroneous icing call.

Hossa passed the puck to Sid, who was highsticked by Gomez on the rush. McGuire (who was broadcasting from between the benches), Mike "Doc" Emrick, and Eddie Olczyk all quickly came to the conclusion that Sid had faked it and sold the refs on it. Dubinsky yelled from the bench to Sid, "Faker!" to which Sidney just laughed in response. The Pens didn't score (or get even a single shot) on their allegedly ill-gotten advantage.

As NBC returned from the next commercial break, McGuire had to eat a big plate of crow as he told us that Sid made his way down the bench and asked him point blank, "Did you say I embellished that?" McGuire said it on live national television, so it wasn't as if he could deny it. He owned up and said yes only to be shown the black marks on Sid's mouthguard that came from the tape on the blade of Gomez's stick as it clipped him in the teeth. SUCK ON THAT!!! It's too bad for Sidney. It seems like everyone - even the "unbiased" journalists - buys into that "diver" crap.

The Pens 4th line had another amazing shift, but Lundqvist just wouldn't let them score. Jordan drew yet another penalty, this time it was on Straka for tripping. The Pens finally started getting pucks on net for this power play, but Lundqvist made a series of great saves to keep his team in the game. At right about the 6:00 mark, insanity ensued. A break in the action came only when Letang took a crosschecking penalty. This time, the Pens kept the Rangers shotless on this Rangers power play.

With :46 seconds left in the game, Lundqvist was focussed solely on getting back to the bench so the Rangers could add an extra attacker. He was apparently too focussed on that because he missed catching the puck but moved his feet to play the puck and escape as though he had. I don't know if he realized that he didn't have the puck because he suddenly froze. Max swooped in and poked the loose puck into the back of the net for the insurance goal. [Pens 3, Rangers 1]

Paul Mara took a holding penalty in the last 20 seconds of the game, but the Rangers had already lost the game. With this win, the Pens are perched atop the entire Eastern Conference! These teams go at it again tomorrow night in Madison Square Garden at 7:00pm. GO PENS!!!

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Friday, March 28, 2008

snoop is Going to Game 1!!!


My husband, his best friend, and I will be reuniting the Central PA Winter Classic tour for one more stop this year!!! :) I just got 3 tickets to Playoff Game 1. We'll be sitting in section E31, and here's what our view will be like:

Strictly on a personal note, anyone that knows my husband better tell him to nominate me for wife of the year!!! (Hahaha, just kidding!) If you got tickets, leave a comment and tell us what game and what section you'll be in!


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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pens v Islanders (W 3-1)
Sidney Returns (again)

The Saint was back to his old self again. We finally got a chance to see Sid paired up with Marian Hossa, though the Islanders did everything in their power to break the two up (they eventually succeeded). Just after the opening faceoff, Ryan Malone crashed the net. Josef Vasicek interfered with Bugsy on his way in, which sent him crashing into Wade Dubielewicz. Brooks Orpik contributed early with a sweet diving block on Bill Guerin to keep the game scoreless. Our man Sid drew the first penalty of the night after Richard Park tripped him. On the ensuing power play, Marc-Andre Fleury took a piece of an Islander, but luckily for us, no call was made. The Pens did not capitalize on their advantage. A little later, Evgeni Malkin was blatantly tripped. Amazingly, even though it was so obvious that my Gram probably would have seen it, no call was made. Geno doesn't get mad, though. He gets even: He picked himself back up and just seconds later, he scored a goal (with a little help from Georges Laraque, who muscled an Islander out of the way to make room for Geno's shot). [Pens 1, Isles 0]

On the next play, the Isles tried to buy a penalty after Freddy Meyer lifted Ryan Whitney's stick up and over Dubielewicz's face. (Whit, by the way, was on the left wing again tonight.) A slight scrum ensued, but no penalties were handed out. Geno took the brunt of a hard shot from Bugsy. The puck hit him in the left leg, and he left visibly in pain. He wasn't seriously hurt (thank God) as he returned to the ice for his next shift as usual. Sidney nearly had a breakaway chance, but he was speeding on his skates so fast that he overskated the puck. Whit nearly scored, but Dubie blocked the attempt.

We were told again that Mr. and Mrs. Pascal Dupuis welcomed a baby girl they named Zoe on Monday. Another Penguin couple, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Eaton, also had a baby this week. The Eatons' daughter Adrianna was born this Tuesday. Mazel tav to all the new parents! Then we're told another tidbit of Sid info: despite having missed more than a quarter of this season, he's still tied for 34th place in NHL scoring. Stop for a second and think about how different the Art Ross race would be if Sid had never gotten hurt...

With about 3:30 left in the period, Vasicek sneaked a backhand shot past Flower. [Pens 1, Isles 1] On the next play, Sid was backchecked all the way into the net by Trent Hunter. Then Mad Max Talbot lined up Tim Jackman and absolutely drilled the much larger Jackman into the boards. Dupuis fanned on a chance in the high slot with less than a minute to go in the 1st. In the last 20 seconds of the period, we were given a gift when Guerin fired a shot that hit the post. Then the rebound went right to Sean Bergenheim, who was wide open, but MAF anticipated and gloved his shot nicely. The period ended with the teams tied at one.

At the start of the second, FSN Pittsburgh gave us the following stats: In all the games Sid has been able to play in this season, he's earned 1.37 points per game. Geno has earned 1.32 points per game in all the games he played in this season. Again - stop for a second and think about how different the Art Ross race would be if Sid had never gotten hurt... (>_<) Or don't... It might make your head hurt.

Hossa took a penalty for hitting Radek Martinek in the head. He was assessed a roughing penalty for the infraction. Jordan Staal had a sweet shorthanded chance, but Dubie wouldn't let the puck go past the goal line. The Isles didn't score on their advantage. After Hossa came out of the box, he sped down the ice like a mad man. Martinek backchecked Hossa nicely to prevent him from getting a shot off, but then Geno swooped in from out of nowhere and almost scored, but he just couldn't get it past Dubie.

Then something happened to let us know that Sid was back - I mean really back - this time. He was flying down the ice. The puck was up on its edge and, to get around the Isles' defenders, Sid used the blade of his stick to flip the puck up over Meyer. Then Sid skated around Meyer and regained control of the puck. He just couldn't get a shot on goal, or that would have been one of those highlight reel goals. It was stunning!!!

Jarrko Ruutu took a dumb penalty in the offensive zone for roughing. Luckily, the Isles didn't score on their advantage. After a series of insane chances by Hossa and Geno, Hossa was hip checked low in the legs (it was also a late hit) by Rob Davison. Hossa had a scoring chance after the hit but was unable to fully take advantage of it. After the play was whistled down, the teams went nuts. It was, as they say, a yard sale on the ice. There were gloves and sticks everywhere as Geno went after Hunter and Petr Sykora went after Miroslav Satan. Syko and Satan were in a full on fight, and when the dust finally settled, Syko and Geno went to the box for the Pens, while Satan, Hunter, and Jeff Tambellini were penalized for the Isles. Meanwhile, Hossa left the ice and went down the runway...

On the Pens' power play, Max's stick was held, but no call was made. The Pens didn't score on their advantage. FSN went to commercial, and as they came back, we were shown that Hossa returned to the bench. We were told that he's been wearing a brace on his knee and that it may have needed to be adjusted.

The Pens got another power play after Aaron Johnson took MAF out by plowing into him. Dubie made a great diving stick save on Geno. Hunter lost his stick, and Sid used that to his advantage, but the Pens did not score on this power play. Then, the ref made an awful too many men call on the Pens. Whit served the penalty. Even though it certainly looked like an erroneous call, it ended up working to the Pens' advantage. Ruutu was able to catch the Isles off guard as he chased down an errant pass and went streaking down towards Dubie. Ruutu faked Dubie out and froze him. He was able to go around the back of the cage, come out the other side, go from his backhand to his forehand, and score a beautiful shorthanded goal!!! [Pens 2, Isles 1] The Isles, by the way, were unable to score on their power play.

Jackman slashed Geno. It got by the refs but not by Daryl Sydor. Sydor went after Jackman. The fight was pretty evenly matched, but the edge should go to Jackman, since he landed a few good punches on Sydor and knocked Sydor's helmet off his head. Somehow, Geno also was penalized after the dust settled. He was called for roughing, so the Isles had the power play. Ruutu almost got his second shorthanded goal of the night, but his shot hit the goal post. The Isles didn't score on this power play, either.

With less than 2 minutes left in the period, Davison went after Ruutu and hit him hard. Ruutu called attention to the refs as Davison hit him in the face with his forearm. Ruutu, in turn, was given a penalty for holding while Davison went to the box for roughing. On the ensuing 4-on-4, Sid got 2 early chances, but Dubie stopped them both. Hossa made a beautiful centering pass to Staal, but he couldn't get a shot off. The period ended with the Pens up by a goal.

The third period began with shots of the Dreamworks movie cameras in the Mellon Arena. They were there to shoot the movie “She’s Out of My League.” Producer Jimmie Miller (brother of comic Dennis) used to work at the Mellon back when it was known as the Civic Arena.

There were :42 seconds left in the 4-on-4. Sid passed the puck right to the tape of Martinek, but thankfully, MAF was on his toes and ready to make the save on Martinek's shot. Neither team scored. Hossa must be one of the most unluckiest people in the NHL right now. After taking the blow to his previously injured knee without complication, he was hit in the back of the head from behind by Bergenheim. Hossa went flying and landed hard. As he lay on the ice motionless and trainers rushed to his aid, Orpik went after Bergenheim and Sid went after another Islander (I didn't see who that was). It was another mess, and after the refs regained control, Orpik, Guerin, and Bergenheim went to their respective sin bins. Bergenheim then came out and left the ice due to a cut on his hand. The Pens didn't take advantage of this power play.

Hal Gill set up the play that lead to the insurance goal. He poke checked the puck ahead to Ruutu, who then stretched way out to pass the puck to Laraque for the breakaway. Whether it was intentional or not, Laraque dribbled the puck on the blade of his stick then popped it up and went top shelf to score the goal. [Pens 3, Isles 1] Immediately after the puck went into the net, Dubie jumped up and covered his face (well, his mask anyways) with his hands in disbelief. Laraque's goal celebration was hilarious! He excitedly threw himself into the boards and smashed Martinek in the process.

We were told that Hossa would not be returning because he had sustained an "upper body injury" - whatever that means! (Could they be any more vague?!) Laraque was given a penalty for hooking, but the Isles didn't score on their advantage. Mad Max took one for the team when he sprawled out on the ice to block a shot. The Pens got another power play when Ruutu was tripped by Johnson, but the Pens didn't score on their advantage. Dubie was pulled with 1:10 left in the period. MAF decided to take a chance at scoring a goal, but his shot from behind his own cage hit the back of Orpik, who was defending the front of his own open net. Fortunately, Sergei Gonchar was there to make sure it didn't cross the goal line. Geno missed the empty net on a loooong range shot, and after a few last ditch efforts from the Isles, the game ended with a Penguin victory!!!

Ruutu was the star of the game for sure. He had a career high 3 point game. Sid, meanwhile, was held scoreless. He had 3 shots in 20 shifts. He clocked 20:25 minutes of ice time. He and others later would complain that both teams were struggling because of bad ice. Incidentally, this win puts the Pens atop the Eastern Conference! The Pens face the Isles again on Sunday afternoon. GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's Official! He's Coming Back

No, it's not deja vu, Sid's coming back - again! From the Pens' website:
Sidney Crosby is back again.

The Penguins captain will return to the lineup Thursday night when the New York Islanders visit Mellon Arena.

“I am playing,” he said. “My ankle feels great and my conditioning is as good as it can get, really, without playing. It always takes a few games, but I feel good.”

Suit up, Kid! You're going in.

Crosby has missed 28 games this season because of a high ankle sprain, including the past seven after coming back for a three-game stretch. Crosby feels much better in this comeback attempt than he did earlier in the month and thinks there is less chance of aggravating the injury again.

“I feel confident. I think it’s one of those things that will come down to luck, but I feel strong,” he said. “I feel a lot better than I did coming back the first time. I am more confident and that’s big.”


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One Step Closer

Sid's looking at rejoining the Pens' lineup as early as tomorrow! From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dave Molinari:
Sidney Crosby seems optimistic that he will be back in the Penguins' lineup when the New York Islanders visit Mellon Arena tomorrow night.

"That's definitely a possibility," he said yesterday. "I'd definitely like to play that game."

Crosby, who is nursing a high ankle sprain, participated in the Penguins' game-day skate at the Prudential Center, then stayed on the ice for extra work with assistant coach Mike Yeo.

When he returned to the locker room, Crosby was sweating profusely, with no indication the flow of perspiration was going to slow anytime soon. [snoop: QUICK! Someone get him some Axe body spray...]

We're THISCLOSE to seeing this again...

"This is a lot harder than playing, when you have to deal with this every day," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting back. It's just conditioning, to make sure I'm in shape. I feel pretty strong, as far as the ankle goes."
This is most welcome news for two reasons. First and foremost, it's a good move now that the Pens have clinched their playoff berth to give the Saint some time with his new linemate, Marian Hossa. It's necessary to give them a few games to get a rhythm going before the playoffs begin. You don't want to see it take them 3 or 4 games to get acclimated to one another when they're playing in a best of seven series, that's for sure!

Secondly, this bodes well for me for purely selfish reasons, as my husband and I will be attending the last home game of the season. :) So if for some reason I'm not lucky enough to get my hands on playoff tickets, it will be the last time this season that we'll get to see Sid in action.

Thanks go out to good Friend of The Show Bill in NS for alerting me to this development.

Today's photo comes courtesy of good Friend of The Show Pensgirl. She took it at the Mellon on November 17, 2007 when the Rangers came to town.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pens v Devils (W 2-0)

Hello again, everyone! First - I want to thank you all so much for the good luck wishes. I really appreciate all the kind words!!! :) You guys are the BEST!!! I think it went really well, but I won't know for sure until the end of the week...

Last night's game was terrible. I think Ryan Malone's intermission interview pretty much summed up the entire game. (For those that didn't see it, he was almost at a loss for words when asked what the Isles were doing to keep the Pens down: "I don't even know what we're doing out there. It's not good." Agreed. It was awful.) The Pens didn't look like they even cared whether they won or lost that game.

Tonight saw a completely different Penguins team, though the Devils were no slackers, either. Marc-Andre Fleury was the netminder, while Ryan Whitney was bumped over to play left wing. Right out of the gate, the so-called "Steel City Line" of Malone, Evgeni Malkin, and Petr Sykora - so named because Bugsy is from the Steel City of Pittsburgh while Geno and Syko played in Russia's Steel City Magnitogorsk - went to work. Daryl Sydor sent a long lead pass to Malone for a breakaway chance, but Martin Brodeur shut the 5-hole door. Patrik Elias earned the night's first penalty. He was called for interference. On the ensuing power play, Malone had another near miss after Brodeur got a stick down. Bugsy wouldn't miss again when he moved from the front of the net to the high slot to capitalize on a nice pass from Whit from the corner. [Pens 1, Devils 0]

Really, from this point until the last four minutes of the game both teams were pretty evenly matched. They moved the puck up and down the ice, but neither team could get a goal. Tensions were running high as tempers flaired. The first such incident occurred after Dainius Zubrus clipped Flower in the chin as he crashed the net. A scrum developed between the two teams. FSN Pittsburgh told us that Sidney participated in this morning's optional skate with his teammates. He looks good but still has no set return date. Hopefully it will be soon, but not too soon.

Jordan Staal used his leg to block a shot from Elias. He left the ice wincing in pain but returned for his next shift as usual. Somehow, Brodeur was able to make a beautiful save on Mad Max Talbot after Jarrko Ruutu crashed the net and took a piece of Brodeur on the way. Brodeur was down and out of position, but he prevented Max from getting the puck up and over him into the wide open net. With 2 minutes left in the period, Max was called for high sticking. The Devils did not score on their advantage. The period ended with a huge scrum, and the Pens still ahead by a goal.

During the intermission, there was a nice piece about Georges Laraque. It detailed the various charity work he does throughout the year. He works with kids doing hockey clinics, as well as giving his money and his time to various charities. He's been nominated for the NHL Foundation Player Award several times (he is again this year), but he has yet to win it. (Maybe this is his year!!!) Laraque said that he was inspired to start working in his community after watching the Kevin Spacey film Pay It Forward.

When the second period started, we learned that Brooks Orpik and Zubrus both taking cross-checking penalties in the aftermath of that period ending scrum. Neither team scored on the 4-on-4. Later, Kris Letang lost his stick. While trying to defend the net, Letang lightly pushed Arron Asham, who went flying into Flower, knocking the goalie down. Sheldon Brookbank, meanwhile, got the puck in front and easily put it into the back of the open net. The Devils and their fans began to celebrate as MAF slammed his stick to the ice in frustration. But wait! The referee was feverishly waiving his arms to signal NO GOAL. What a gift!!! :) Devils coach Brent Sutter, of course, didn't see it that way. He looked as though he might have an aneurysm as he grabbed the stick of the nearest player and began beating it feverishly against the boards in an effort to get ref's attention to object.

Things got nasty again when David Clarkson and Marian Hossa had a foot race to get to the loose puck in the corner by MAF. Hossa won and cleared the puck. He and Clarkson both headed down the ice towards Brodeur. When shown on the replay in slow motion, it was revealed that Clarkson shortened up on his stick and took a cheap shot at Hossa's head with the butt of his stick. What an ass.

Malone took a penalty on a weak tripping call. The Pens were able to prevent the Devils from registering a single shot on goal during the Devils' power play. The second period ended with yet another scrum as the Pens clung to their one goal lead.

During the third period, the Pens played a more defensive game. They did have a scoring chance early when Hossa knocked the puck out of midair and almost got it past Brodeur. Laraque was then called for tripping. During the Devils' 1-man advantage, Flower made an amazing save on Jamie Langenbrunner. The Devils didn't score on their advantage. Just a few minutes later, the Devils were called for having too many men on the ice. Ruutu was shown laughing and saying "Wooooo!!! I passed it to you on purpose!" to Sergei Brylin, who was the one-man-too-many. (Admit it - if Ruutu wore any other sweater, we'd hate him with a passion! Man, I love that guy!!) Asham served the penalty for the Devils. Even though they were the shorthanded team, the Devils had the best scoring chances on the Pens' power play. Neither team scored while Asham was in the box.

It was right about the 4 minute mark when things started getting insane. The Devils threw everything they had at the Pens, but to no avail. With 1:06 left in the game, Brodeur was pulled in favor of the extra attacker. A Devil (I think it was Brian Gionta) ran over MAF but no call was made. That was a blessing in disguise, though, because the Pens got the puck and went sailing down the ice 2-on-1 towards the empty net. Hossa, who you'll recall missed out on the empty netter when time ran out when the Pens faced the Lightning, had plenty of time to get this one! [Pens 2, Devils 0] The remaining 41.7 seconds ticked down to give Flower his 11th career shutout! (It was his 4th this season!) It was also MAF's 5th consecutive win. Thank God for FLOWER POWER!!! :)

The Pens now have a 4 point lead over the Devils for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. The have now also clinched a playoff berth, as well! Incidentally, playoff tickets go on sale this Friday at 10:00am. This Thursday, the Pens come home to face the Islanders. GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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