Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Round 2 Game 7: Pens v Caps (W 6-2)

This is it, folks.

Do or die.

Win or go home.

Will our Boys of Winter be hitting the rinks or the links next week? Only time will tell.

I have faith. They've staged numerous epic comebacks before; I have no doubt they can do it again. It's redundant to say they've got elite talent, finesse, skill, and leadership in Siddo and Geno because we all know that. But it bears repeating that they've got guys like Talbot and Fedotenko who have a special knack of being absolutely clutch at exactly the right times. We've quietly found a solid defensive answer for A-hOle™ in Scuderi. Bylsma's coaching has been smart, saavy, and (most importantly) successful. Fleury is the kind of goalie that can shut the door on a team completely. Satan picked the best possible time to blossom, and Eaton's performance in this playoff series has been nothing short of spectacular.


The Pens are the kind of team that, when they go out there and lay it all out on the line and leave everything on the ice, there's absolutely no stopping them. Make no mistake - we're at our Captain's first playoff Game 7 because of one man: Simeon Varlamov. But last year's championship loss has given our team the experience they need to know what it takes to end this series with a win.

I believe in Sidney Crosby. I believe in our Penguins. I absolutely believe that we are the better team.

Even so, I cannot deny that you can cut the tension in this house with a dull plastic butterknife. Such is the stress of a Game 7 because tonight someone's season ends...

First Period
I gotta start this with a non-game related statement that simply must be said: Jeff Jimerson > Bob McDonald. No question.

We had been hearing rumblings that it might happen, but when we saw it, it was the most welcome sight. Gonch was in the lineup. His right leg was wrapped to more than double the size, but he was back. The tension on the ice for the first half of the period was as tight as the knot in my stomach. A scrum broke out in front of Flower in the first minutes, and shortly thereafter, Tank hit the post at the other end of the rink. People have been saying that Flower has been good but not great in this series. He answered the call with an stunning save on A-hOle,™ who had cheated up ice behind Scudsi. A-hOle™ was able to rifle a shot off because he was just out of the reach of Scudsi's backcheck, but Flower robbed him blind. It set the tone for the remainder of the game.

Adams nearly got his first playoff goal, but Varlamov scrambled back in time to keep it out. Scuds blocked a shot with his ankle, left the ice, went down the runway to walk it off, and, like the warrior he has been, returned for his next shift. Steelers owner Dan Rooney was shown enjoying the game from Mario's box. We were told that A-hOle™ tried to reserve a box when they won Game 6 only to be told there weren't any available. Geno, Tank, and Superstar had an epic shift but no goal. Then Morrisonn was nailed for slashing. On the ensuing power play, Gonch fired a shot from one leg. It went right to Siddo, who collected the puck from his skate to his stick and put it into the net. [Pens 1, Caps 0]

EIGHT SECONDS LATER, the Pens won the faceoff and went 3-on-2. Adams would simply not be denied his first playoff goal twice. [Pens 2, Caps 0] This isn't the Pens' record - it was 7 seconds between Stackhouse's goal and Kehoe's goal on 04-13-80.

A few minutes after that, the Pens got another odd man rush when Superstar went 2-on-1 with and passed the puck to Satan. He fired a shot that Varlamov denied. Federov crosschecked Brooksie in the small of the back in the Pens' zone. He was called instead for interference. Satan had another fantastic look at the net, but it seems like he just can't buy a goal right now. The Pens didn't score on their advantage. Just before the period ended, Green fanned (hard) on a centering pass to keep the Caps scoreless going into the second.

Second Period
If a 2 goal lead didn't take that knot out of my gut, the first 2+ minutes of the second period did. It took only 28 seconds for Guerin to get the puck to Siddo, who carried the puck in and passed it back to the trailing Guerin for a wicked 1-timer into the net. [Pens 3, Caps 0]

One minute and 46 seconds after that, no one - not even Bibster, who sees everything - realized it until the puck went missing that it was Legame who had sent the puck into hiding with an authoritative shot that ended up getting stuck between the net and the back support bar. [Pens 4, Caps 0] With that, Varlamov was pulled and Theodore was put in between the pipes.

Theodore was tested early when Sid made a sweet centering pass to Satan. The resulting shot looked nice, but didn't get the Pens anything. Frustrated Caps fans began booing their own team, specifically Green. Things got even better for us. Satan stole the puck from A-hOle™ in the Caps' zone. A-hOle™ once again refused to play defense and as he coasted listlessly (← that's not even an exaggeration) towards the blueline, he watched Satan throw it in front of Theodore to the ready and waiting Staalsy for the goal. [Pens 5, Caps 0]

Brooksie was victimized by a highstick from Laich. There was no call as the Pens iced the puck. Bleeding a steady stream from his nose, he could have went to the bench with his injury, but Beastly Brooks stayed out on the ice - after he confronted an official, who shrugged as if to say, "Oh well. I didn't see it." (What a d-bag.)

Then what should have been the hit of the game happened. A-hOle™ took a full-on run at Geno. Unfortunately for Backstrom, Geno has an uncanny knack of seeing A-Ole™ heading straight for him. So Geno ducked out of the way at exactly the right time, and A-hOle™ instead plowed shoulder-to-face into Backstrom. The center had to go to the bench to recover. Eaton prevented A-hOle™ from getting a shot on an open net.

With just under 2 minutes left in the period, A-hOle™ capitalized on a terrible play by Flower behind the net. A-hOle™ stole it and used the illegal curve of his stick to guide the puck into the empty net. [Pens 5, Caps 1] As the period ended, the puck nailed a ref in the head, so that classy (← definite sarcasm) crowd responded with a gleeful cheer.

Third Period
Early in the 3rd, Laich AGAIN highsticked a Penguin, AGAIN there was blood, but this time, the victim was our Captain and the infraction was seen. On the resulting 4 minute power play, the Caps had control in their own zone. Green went to go to A-hOle™ but Siddo was there to take the puck away and go for a breakaway. He had miles of open ice and made a slick little move to go 5-hole on Theodore. [Pens 6, Caps 1] The still had a 2 minute power play to work with, and the crowd responded with a "CROSBY SUCKS!!" chant. (Again, I think you mean "CROSBY SCORES!!")

The Caps didn't give up, I'll say that for them. Flower kept the puck out of the net, and when he wasn't available, it seemed like Eaton was right there. They struck again when Fleischmann shot the puck, Gill blocked the initial shot by going down, and Laich pushed the rebound into the net. [Pens 6, Caps 2]

Before the halfway mark, Bibs and Steigy openly mocked Semin for the "What's so special about Crosby?" quote. It was glorious. THIS is what's so special about him. He moves on to third round while you're moving onto the third hole. Errey and Steigy kept it up for a while. :) Cooker drilled A-hOle™ while Siddo played D like it was his job. And while I've had more than my share of differences with Caps fans, I admired them for standing, applauding, and chanting "LET'S GO CAPS!!" at the 2 minute mark. Their gesture almost makes up for booing their own team.

Superstar was shown hugging Flower just seconds before the 0:00 mark. The entire Penguins team was named the FSN / McDonald's Players of the game. Mario was shown celebrating his team's win with a kiss from his wife, Nathalie. The Pens and the Caps were civil, even classy (← no sarcasm meant this time) at times during the final handshake, but no amount of hugging and joking will erase the "what's so special" comments, the "he talks too much" jabs, and the knee-on-knee B.S. Look for this rivalry to only intensify next season following this commanding and decisive Game 7 domination.

We've got to wait a day to find out who we'll be facing in Round 3 - and where the puck will drop. Take a break and get rested. We're going back in.


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

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