Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pens Double Up on Bruins

Erik Christensen scored two goals and Crosby added three assist to extend his points lead as the Pens beat the Bruins 4-2.

Things did not start off well as the Bruins scored 45 seconds into the game. But everytime the Bruins scored the Pens answered back. The Pens displayed another strong game against the Bruins, cycling the puck and keeping it in their posession much of the time. Strong game by the team all around.

Phill Kessel did have a nice goal batting his own rebound out of the air. Armstrong, who scored the Pens second goal, caught a high stick to the face and came back in the second period with a visor and swollen eye, but didnt seem worse for wear. Nils Ekman also played well, seeing action on the 4th line. It was nice to see him get a chance again, though I wouldnt hold out hope he replaced Ouellet anytime soon. The PEns also didnt seem to miss a beat with Roberts out with a swollen knee.

And sadly, no Laraque Chara fight, but that was to be expected.

Bobb Errey was as awful as normal. He continues with his lame jokes, repetitive comments (he said Therrien was steaming about five times and fuming about 3 times within a ten second period). Please, for the love of god, get rid of Errey after this year! He makes every broadcast torturous.

Three Stars:
1) Christensen
2) Kessel
3) Crosby

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pens Beat Caps 4-3

(Sorry for the length of time bewteen posts, I forgot to mention I was going to be on hiatus.)

The Pens pulled out another victory tonight, solidifying their trip to the playoffs (at the time of this writing neither the Devils nor Senators games have finished so the Penguins current spot is unknown).

After falling behind 2-0 int he first ten minutes, Therrien called a timeout and got his squad back together. They responded three minutes later with a powerplay goal and changed the momentum of the game.

Crosby finished the game with a goal and an assist, Malkin two assists and Ryan Whitney had a productive game with two goals.

Of special note is that it sounded like a home game. Washington is always a big draw for Pens fans and tonight was no exception. Penguins chants constantly over powered Capitals cahnts, which I'm sure had to irk Ted Leonsis everytime.

The anticipated fight between Laraque and Brashear took place, with Laraque taking the victory. While a short fight, Laraque managed more punches and the take down. It was interesting watching these two stare down each other as they dropped the gloves. Neither seemed to notice a goal was scored, and Laraque even got an assist (had he gotten a goal he would have gad the Gordie Howe hat trick).

Gary Roberts, who took a punding in front of the net, left the game after taking a shot off the knee and it is not known his condition at this time.

Fleury played a solid game, no soft goals again. The first goal was blown coverage and amazingly it wasnt Melichar who missed his man (and yes he was on the ice).

Three Stars:
1) Whitney
2) Malkin
3) Crosby

Monday, March 19, 2007

Scuderi's late goal lifts Rangers over Pens 2-1

When you need a clutch guy, he is your man. That is why Ranger's coach Tom Renney had him out there with less than a minute to play in the game.

"We really needed that second point" Renney said. "When you're fighting for a playoff spot, every point counts. We didnt want the game to go to a shootout because they (the Pens) have been very good there recently."

"He's great to have on the ice" captain Jaromir Jagr said. "He's so good at deflecting it into the net you only need to get it onto his stick. I saw him in front of the net and knew it was as good as in."

But if this man isnt Jagr, who is it? Nylander? Straka? Even Sean Avery? Nope. It is Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi, who registered his sixth goal of the season on his own team to give the Rangers the go ahead goal with 33 seconds left.

Scuderi, who provides little offense or defense, is only rated third among Penguins defenseman for points behind Gonchar and Whitney. However, when it comes to points for the other team, he holds a commanding lead with six goals and eleven assists.

"We couldn't have done it without him" Jed Ortmeyer said. "When that guy is on the ice, you know something good for us is going to happen."

The sentiment was echoed around the Rangers locker room, all saying that Scuderi was the MVP of the game for them.

"Without him, we walk out with maybe one point." Marek Malik said. "But the way he played the whole game, I dont think we would have come out with any."

Three Stars
1) Rob Scuderi
2) Jocelyn Thibault
3) Henrik Lundqvist

Ok, so enough of the rant. But that is how things should be played in public though they wont be. Seriously, this is what, the sixth, seventh time Scuderi has scored on his own net? It is ridiculous this guy keeps getting playing time. The fact we have both him and Melichar on our blueline just screams to me the Pens are going to be out of the playoffs sooner rather than later.

All in all the Pens looked pretty frenzied out there, with nothing seeming to work. While few really played bad, there was no rythme to their game and no one could connect. It was an off night for everyone not named Thibault, who had a stellar game.

The Pens almost got a point out of it with a nice tap in from Ouellet (see, I can give credit where it's due, and had blogger not erased my other post you would have seen me give credit to him for the good game against Jersey). But Scuderi had to make sure they neither secured a point to go ahead of Ottawa or tie New Jersey by sending the puck past Thibault. Sadly, Thibault's good play is over shadowed by Scuderi's ineptness.

The whole loss isn't his fault, as I said the Pens did not have a good game, but if not for him they would have at least a point.

Also, I keep hearing talk of moving Malone off Crosby's line. To be honest I would move Recchi first. He has been invisible since the long winning streak ended. I think Therrien needs to mix up that first line because Crosby is the only one producing.

The real three stars:
1) Jagr
2) Lundqvist
3) Thibault

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pens defeat Sens 4-3 in the shoot out

Enough of the shoot outs already!!! Seriously, this is just ridiculous now.

The Pens gained another point on the Sens tonight in their fight for fourth place with a win in the shootout. Jarkko Ruutu was the only person to score in the shootout, with both Crosby and Christensen failing on their attempts.

Crosby had a goal and an assist to gain more ground on the scoring race, especially since LeCavalier registered no points today. Ryan Whitney and Maxim talbot also added goals. Talbots came on a set of three nice passes between him, Gonchar and Armstrong right after a penalty had expired. Whitney also had ana ssist, Gonchar two and Malkin one.

It was quite annoying that after the first two goals the Sens scored within a thirty second period to compltely shift the momentum. That should never happen to you, let alone twice in a game. The third goal was inevitable with the penalties and shoddy defensive play. The Pens should be glad they got a point, not the otehr way around.

Fleury had a good game, making a lot of close saves in front of the net as Josef Melichar continued to stand and watch as the Sens stood in the crease and hammer at rebounds. Make no mistake, this guy will cost us in the playoffs.

For the past few days, there has been a lot of rumblings about how Ouellet isnt as bad as people make him out to be. This comes after Ouellet has had one decent, and one good game. Understand this: two decent games does NOT make up for 60 bad games! People say he is a good forchekcer, he is decent at best, and you never see him putting pressure towards teh net on teh forcheck. They say his speed has improved, if it has that is sad because he is still outskated by Laraque on a regular basis. They say he can add some goals here and there, well Talbot has 11 goals with not powerplay or top line time. 3 less goals in a defensive role. PAthetic on Ouellets part.

I'm sorry, but the Ouellet apologists need to stop. This guy does not have the skills for the top line, and his game is not suited for the bottom lines. And yet Therrien shows unrelenting favoritism towards him. Every other player who has not played well finds themselves scratched or demoted, but not Ouellet. Do you honestly not see something wrong here?

With luck SHero will do the right thing and let both Ouellet and Melichar walk, as I can say with all honestly: Therrien should not win Jack Adams if for no other reason than constantly playing his two worst players in every situation when there are better options. Great coaches do not do that.

Three Stars:
1) Crosby
2) Whitney
3) Gonchar

Friday, March 16, 2007

I would like to take this time to thank blogger for completly @&*%ing up a well written post by getting an error message. I felt it was a relly good game review, but due to incompetence from blogger, it was completly lost and I am just way too pissed at them to redo the post. Unbelievable.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pens Shut Out Devils

The roles were reversed as the Pens shut out the Devils 3-0. Ruutu, Christensen and Staal all scored for the Pens, the lattter two nice goals while Ruutu's was a freak delfection off a defenseman's stick.

The game started out like many New Jersey games: boring. The first period was as devoid of action as the arena was devoid of fans. Thibault had another good game, and I think Pens fans are finally starting to give the guy credit for his play. Yes, he was bad last year (as was much of the team) but a lot of people had already written him off. But now he has become a reliable backup, and while not a starter, is good enough that you wont feel totally paranoid should Fleury go down in the playoffs.

I'm also sad to report that Ouellet managed an assist last night meaning he will remain in the lineup at least five more games. Honestly, if anyone askes why Therrien should not get the Jack Adams award there are two very good reasons: 1) Ouellet 2) Melichar.

Game Notes:

-Why are people still surprised at the small attendences at the Devils game? What possible incentive do people have to go to see a boring team at an out of the way Arena and spend a lot of money doing it?

-Can Thibault get some respect? He's played about five good games in a row now.

-I'm surprised Rupp dropped the gloves. He normally tries to act tough during games but usually fails.

-Some people have said Jay Pandolfo should be considered for the Selke. Are you kidding me? If not for the Devils system, this guy would be a career minor leaguer. If he was truly that important, dont you think the Devils would pay him more than 850k for a 33 year old? Please, this guy just rides Madden's coat tails. He's to Madden what Warren Young was to Mario.

-Another solid game from pretty much the whole team (you knwo which two arent included in that).

-Staal had another nice goal, pulling the puck away from brodeur's poke check and putting it into an empty net.

-Christensen has the most wicked wrist shot of a Pens player since Kovalev.

-Ruutu continues his good play and I think it is in no small part due to Petrovicky. The two have very good chemistryand were on fire during the winning streak. Nothing against Laraque, but I just dont think him and Ruutu pair well.

-Despite taking only three penalties, the Pens played short handed for just under 22 minutes. How does that work?

  • Ruutu 2 minutes for roughing
  • Roberts 2 minutes for roughing (fighting major equalized by Rupps)
  • Too many men on the ice 2 minutes
  • Michel Ouellet 15:58 of ice time
That's right. I am officially counting all Michel Ouellet ice time as short handed for the Pens, because they sure as hell play like that when he's on the ice.

All in all the game didnt have a whole lot worth mentioning, but that's the Devils for you.

And Kudos to Eric who called in to XM Radio this morning with this lovely quote (or something pretty close):
"This is going to annoy John (annoying Devils fan that always calls in) in that all the people involved in the Penguins getting a new arena thanked the fans and said it was because of them; and that is never going to happen with New Jersey."

How very true.

Three Stars:
1) Thibault
2) Ruutu
3) Christensen

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pens Defeat Slugs 5-4 in the Shootout

The atmosphere was nothign short of electric last night after the arena announcement (I will get to that post later this week due to back to back games) and the Penguins didnt dissapoint defeating the top team in the east 5-4.

There were a lot of Buffalo fans at the game, some were nice (the three in front of me kept to themselves cheering only when Buffalo scored), some were annoying (like the 14 year old girl three rows back yelling "shoot the puck" everytime Buffalo had it, and that including being in the defensive and neutral zone), and I've heard some where outright ignorant and violent (my friend sat in another section with very rude fans and at least two fights broke out).

Versus couldnt have asked for a better game for national tv. Up and down, lots of chances, a comeback and a shoot out win. And when Mario amde his announcement he was barely able to get a word in over the raucous crowd. It was the first time in a long time you saw a smile on his face, and both he and the fans were incredibly happy.

It is a bit disconcerting that the Pens again blew a two goal lead, but again they managed to get two points. Despite Ryan Miller coming ten feet out fo the ent to stop Christensen, he still pulled his patented move and scored. Crosby did the same, but quicker and with less room, and I'm not really sure how he got the puck in. Fleury was once again money, but oddly stopped the two hard shots and let in a regular wrist shot.

Game Notes:

  • Melicrap was horrid, being on the ice for all four Buffalo goals, two of which were a result of him either taking the wrong man or standing in front watching the Sabres take shots on Fleury. If not for Melichar, the Sabres would not have even salvaged a point. Of course Therrien will continue to reward this horrid play with more ice time. I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep him scratched. It was no coincidence that the Pens winning streak occured when melichar was not playing.
  • Melichar aside, nearly everyone had a good game. Orpik was the best defenseman on the ice, playing sound defensively, making some good offensive plays and hitting everything.
  • Despite racking up three points, Whitney did not look that good.
  • Ouellet still sucks
  • Crosby finally got back to his multiple point games (how funny is it that's something we complain about?) getting three points.
  • Ruutu and Petro work very well together. Ruutu had played terrible for about 6 games prior, and once Petro was on his line: isntant success. Petro needs to play more, and we know whose expense it should be at.
  • Fleury had a very good game. None of the goals were his fault, and he made more than a few really good saves (ask Zubrus)
  • Even the refs called a pretty good game
  • Despite there being very good defense on boht sides, with lots of clutter on the blue lines and blocked shots, the game was still excited, each team being very good in their own end.
  • The Penguins first penalty kill was quite possibly the single best penalty kill I have ever seen. They gave Buffalo nothing and had more scoring chances.
I've decided to drop the thumbs up/ thumbs down section as it just feels too reduntant with the game notes.

Three Stars:
1) Crosby
2) Whitney
3) Briere

Monday, March 12, 2007

Deal Done?

Both KDKA and WTAE have reported that a new is in place and the Pens will be staying in Pittburgh. It is supposed to be formally announced at 5:00 tomorrow.

Online at KDKA:

Link to the Post Gazette Article

Let us hope the reports are not premature.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Pens Win 3-2 in Overtime

Yes, another overtime. Good god. While I dont mind the guaranteed point, this is getting a bit ridiculous.

The first two periods were terrible. The Pens just werent into the game, and it was looking like a 4-0 loss going into the 3rd period. Luckily, the Pens once again kicked it up a notch and managed to tie the game thanks to a Sidney Crosby goal where one the side of the goal, he grabbed a Malkin shot with his hand, threw the puck to the ground and put it into a wide open net. Malkin had scored the first goal, and once again came alive afterwards.

In overtime, both Crosby and Malkin went off teh ice for equipment problems and didnt make it back in time. Having my seats across from the Pens entrance, I could see Crosby run up and try to come on, but just missed as the puck was dropped. He yelled something, and while I couldnt here it, i can tell you this: it was one syllable and most likely four letters. But alas we did not need the dynamic duo as Armstrong shot the puck and it deflected of Marek malik and into the net. This goal was a perfect example of why you shoot the puck: things will happen.

Game Notes:
  • What the hell has happened to Ruutu? He's become invisible, not hitting or agitating.
  • Ouellet actually played a decent game and hit a few people (though he got nailed himself). I think this is the first game where he didnt blow offensive chance after chance.
  • Did Colton Orr throw a punch? I was too busy watching the ones Laraque was landing to notice. Big Georges finally fought, and it was worth the wait. Orr got his ass kicked.
  • As an add on, I am surprised at how much the crowd has already embraced Laraque. I like him and liked that we dealt for him, but the crowd went nuts not only when he fought, but also on a shfit where he almost scored. He practically got a standing ovation for that. It must make him feel really good that in just six short games he is that well liked.
  • Gonchar once again half-assed it back into his zone on a pp and had to take a penalty on Sean Avery to avoid him breaking in and negated the Pens pp. Sergei, please, for the love of god, stop half assing it back! You've cost us quite a few pp's because of that.
  • Speaking of Avery, I dont know if he just plays well against the Pens, but the two games he has I have been pretty impressed. I knew he was a decent checker, and that his mouth over shadowed his play, but in the last two games he has been one of the most noticible players on the ice.
  • Pens fans booing Jagr everytime he touches the puck is ridiculous. This guy gave you ten great years and two cups and all you can do is boo him? Yes, he's a whiner, but you know what? He's whined everywhere he's been. He did it in Washington, and now New York. Is is a whiner who is not a happy person in general, so get over it.
  • Congrats to Sid on reaching the centennial mark in his first two seasons. Hell of an accomplishment.

Thumbs Up:
-Armstrong for just shooting the puck.
-Avery for showing off more than his mouth.
-The kids for being so excited when Sid scored his goal. You'd thought they won a playoff series on it.
-Hollweg for returning after being cross checked in the face.

Thumbs Down:
-Hollweg for continuing to hit people from behind.
-Fleury for letting in another soft goal.
-For Savard or Therrien (whoever chose the lineup) for keeping Ouellet in and taking out Kwiatkowski. That and keeping Rob Scuderi, the worst puck handling dman on the team, on the second pp.
-The idiots behind me who kept trying to get terrible chants going.
-Everyone who booed Jagr.

Three Stars:
1) Malkin
2) Crosby
3) Gonchar

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Pens fall to the Bores 4-3

The Pens once again came back in the third (though granted much less dramatic), but this time fell in the shootout after seven straight wins. Patrick Elias got the only SO goal, and frankly the Pens attempts were rather weak.

Crosby, Malkin and Recchi all broke out of their points slumps tonight (on the same goal nonetheless) which is very good. It should definitely give them a mental boost. After the goal, Malkin was flying all over the ice and managed to get an assist on Ouellet's goal to tie the game late in the third period.

Game Notes:
  • Despite the goal, Ouellet is still utterly lost out there. To be honest, I am surprised he even hit the net, let alone scored.
  • Brylin scored a goal while sliding on his stomach, and who was the "defenseman" who was supposed to cover him? That's right, Josef Melichar. It was a good play by Brylin, but Melichar showed that he cant even cover a forward who is sliding on the ice. He is pitiful and to be honest I dont even see him being in the NHL next year.
  • Kwiatkowski looked decent. His puck handling is definitely better than everyone but Gonchar and Whitney, so finally we can take Scuderi off the second powerplay. With luck when Eaton and Nazzy both return Scuderi and Melichar will ride the bench the rest of the year.
  • Bob Errey is the Michel Ouellet of the announcing booth. He has no idea what he is doing. At one point Steigy said "yeah, only Bob can catch things like those." No, everyone else catches it, but Bob, needing to make himself look remotely intelligent, needs to try and make a big deal out of nothing, and continues on for the next five minutes about how great he is to catch it. Seriously, shut up. I really hope he is removed from the booth next year.
  • Crosby is still trying to do too much and looking to set up the play and not shoot. He really needs to start shooting.
  • I've given up on the Laraque fight watch. When it happens, it happens.
  • But at least we didnt have to see Cam Janssen (and yes, I did think he should be suspended for his hit).
  • Who would ever think to pair "Gonchar" and "scores a short handed goal" in the same sentence? That also says how bad our defense is that Gonchar is out there killing penalties.
  • The First goal was Ryan Whitney's fault. Errey in his infinite "wisdom" tried to blame Fleury for attempting to clear Rupp from the net, and that would be fine had Whitney not been standing there neglecting his job. He was the one who should have been clearing Rupp out, but his aversion to physical play showed its face once again, and FLeury never saw the puck because of it.

Trying something knew here with a Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Section.

Thumbs up to Crosby, Recchi and Malkin for ending their slumps.

Thumbs down to the refs for not calling multiple penalties on both side, but I will give them half a thumbs up for at least calling it the same for both teams.

Thumbs down to Therrien for putting Ouellet back into the lineup. Goal or not, he still shouldnt be there.

Thumbs down to Errey, who made more stupid comments and gave himself more pats on the back than there were shots in the game.

Thumbs down to Jim Dowd and Jay Pandolfo. Neither should be in the league but the Devils stringent defensive style has given them a place in the NHL. If not for the Devils, they would not be in this league.

Thumbs down to Lou Lam for making such a boring damn team

Thumbs up to Fleury for rebounding from his terrible game two nights ago.

Lastly, our thoughts go out to Therrien for the passing of his father. Past articles made him sound like a very kind and supportive man, so we give out condolances to the Therrien family.

Three Stars
1) Brylin
2) Malkin
3) Elias

Add On:
Negotiations between the Pens and Politicians are still going more than three hours after they started. That seems like a good sign.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Pens Win (Another) Shoot Out

For the third time in 4 games, the Penguins won on a shootout on a Sidney Crosby shot. After falling behind 3-1 at the end of the first, and 4-1 soon in the second the Pens were able to rally from a Jordan Staal short handed goal and won 5-4.

The game looked miserable after the Sens first goal, and especially after Fleury let in a terrible short handed goal which totally deflated the team. I thought for sure they were done, but they proved me (and I'm sure many others) wrong. Though in Fleury's defense the first two goals were not his fault.

Crosby, Malkin and Recchi were unable to manage points as their slumps continue. It's amazing Crosby still maintains a 9 point lead on the scoring race, and Malkin remains the rookie with most points despite these slumps.

And the unthinkable happened. That which us loyal Pens fans thought would never happen: Michel Ouellet was scratched. Even through the message boards you could see the looks of joy on peoples faces.

Some game notes:
  • Still no Georges Laraque fight, but he did get an assist
  • Roberts continues to add secondary scoring even though grit and leadership were the reasons he was brought in
  • Rob Scuderi may have said in the offseason he wanted to improve his offensive skills. If he did he has kept good on that promise. Unfortunately, the fact you are supposed to help your team score and not the opponent still elludes him. Right now, I believe he has five goals and ten assists on the year for the other team.
  • After replacing Fleury, Tbo played a solid game. He was also good in the shootout stopping 2 of 3 which I didnt expect after looking terrible in his last shootout apperance.
  • The defense looked pitiful most of the game. I really wish Therrien would give Kwiatkowski a shot already.
  • Erik Christensen continues to show he has a place on the top lines, and continued his dominance in the shootout.

And Finally: good things happen when Michel Ouellet is not playing. I have no doubt in my mind that had he played, the Pens would have gotten no points this game.

Three Stars:
1) Jordan Staal
2) Chris Kelly
3) Ryan malone

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Sweet Sweep

The Pens completed the season sweep of the Flyers by winning in the shootout 4-3. Christensen got two goals and the winning shootout goal, while Gary Roberts got his first goal as a Penguin and added two more assists.

Some game thoughts:

  • Orpik had a brutal game, the first goal being completely his fault. It seemed everytime he touched the puck it went to the Flyers
  • What the hell was Fleury doing on that second goal? Horrible.
  • But he was damn good on the shootout
  • Crosby's slump continues, but at least he is doing well in the shootout and drawing penalties. It is also a good sign the Pens are winning without him producing.
  • Christensen continues to show why he should be on the top lines.
  • Ouellet needs to be taken off the team still. Unfortunately due to his assist Therrien will keep him on the 2nd line for at least two more weeks.
  • Roberts continues to bring a physical game the Pens have been sorely needing for a long time
  • Laraque continues to impress me with his play, though I was hoping he would have fought someone by now. But people are definitely taking less liberties with the players.
  • The refs were terrible. Bad call after bad call. Good god.

Three Stars:
1) Gary Roberts
2) Erik Christensen
3) Geoff Sanderson.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Pens Win in Shootout

The Penguins got two much needed points tonight to keep pace in the playoff race. All three goals came on the special teams, with Staal and Armstrong getting short handed goals and Gonchar getting a powerplay goal. The first and second lines were both held scoreless.

Some game thoughts:

  • Hopefully Mark Eaton is not seriously hurt as the Pens cannot afford to lose him
  • Scuderi finally scored. Unfortunately, it was into his own net. (seriously though, just an unlucky bounce)
  • Melichar needs to go, and there is no reason he should be played ahead of Naz. He once again stares and does nothing when the oppposition is in front of the net
  • Roberts hit almost anything that moved and did not look 40 years old
  • Laraque played well, and I was impressed how well he played in the offensive zone. I knew he played better than other tough guys, but outside of some speed, he has teh skills of a 3rd liner. I like this pickup even more.
  • Oullet continues to be detrimental to the team
  • Just as every Pens fans predeicted, the lines were a complete bust. The lower lines look discombobulated ( despite how it sounds, yes it is a real word). Staal was compltely mismatched with Talbot and Armstrong, and Malone is definitely not good with Malkin. There is just no chemistry there, and it shouldnt be given time. Staal needs to be immediately moved back to the second line, Malone to the third, and Melichar and Oullet to the AHL.
  • Scratch that. I dont want any players development stunted by those two. Keep them scratched in case of injuries and dump both in the summer.
  • Crosby needs to shoot more. You cant get out of your goal drought if you keep passing.
  • Fleury still looks shaky at times
  • Christensen hit the post, but his move always seem to work in the shootout.