Archive for the ‘Penguins’ Category

Pens Go Out With a Whimper, Not a Bang

May 13, 2010

Damn was that a pathetic outing in Game 7.  I can understand losing, but for the first half of that game it seemed that the Pens just didn’t give a damn.  It was an incredibly lame penalty call against Crosby, but the usually listless penalty kill was even more listless than usual and it was 1-0.  From there the Pens blah’ed their way along.  Orpik wastes his time grinding a guy into the back of the net, then wanders aimlessly in front just in time to screen Fleury; 2-0.  Defense backpedals and blithely watches the Habs pass it around until Cammileri is wide  open for the zillionth time in the series; 3-0.  Turnover while on the power play, Gonchar  waves at the guy on his way to the net; 4-0 and Fleury is benched.  Then they wake up and if they could’ve beaten Halak on the power play early in the 3rd they may’ve actually perpetrated a fraud on the sporting world and won the game.  But of course they didn’t.

The inevitable next morning postmortems focus in a few directions:

1) It would help if the Pens had defensive-minded defensemen.  The problem wasn’t that Hal Gill was marking Crosby.  The problem is Hal Gill wasn’t playing for the Penguins.  And neither was Rob Scuderi.  The only good defenseman the Pens had left was Brooks Orpik.  Gonchar, Letang, and Goligoski are all better on offense, Eaton and Leopold are solid but unremarkable.  That meant every defense pairing had only one guy that was decent at playing defense.

2) Sid & Geno were non-factors.  Personally, I credit the Habs for that.

3) Fatigue.  Earlier in this playoffs the Pens hit the 300 games the past 3 seasons mark.  Additionally, several players participated in the Olympics this past February.

4) Fleury was inconsistent.  Personally I don’t put much stock in that.  They won when he played outstanding, but you can’t expect outstanding every night.

5) The Habs beat them.  More to the point, Halak beat them.

6) Stubborness.  Specifically, the Pens thought if they just kept playing “their game” everything would be fine they would overcome Montreal.  As such they never game-planned for the Canadiens.  If they had put resources into frustrating Cammilerri and Gionta the Habs would’ve scored like twice the whole series and the Pens could’ve won 2-0 type games instead of losing 3-2 type games.

The pity for Montreal fans is they don’t have anything to do now.  They just rioted after winning a conference semifinal.  What do they do if they win the Conference?  Shove the entire city into the St. Lawrence River?  Also, the ungrateful ignats won’t have Sidney Crosby, ie their national Savior, to heckle anymore.  If I had to watch one more game at the Bell Center w/ those absurd “Crosby sux” chants I would’ve driven up there and personally throttled 20,000 people one at a time with my bare hands.  What a bunch of dipshits.  The dude saved all your asses just 2.5 months ago.  You don’t have to applaud him every time he gets the puck.  But polite applause at player intros and then a non-reaction during the game would’ve indicated a level of intelligence above that of your typical potted plant.

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Pens Claim Game 1

April 30, 2010

6-3 over the Montreal Canadiens.  A solid win, but there are some concerns moving forward for the Penguins:

1) They can’t count on getting 4 power play goals every game, obviously.

2) They can’t count on Halat playing that shaky every night, especially given how he played against Washington.  And if the Habs go with Price he can certainly play well too.

3) The health of Jordan Staal.  Of course Montreal has a health worry of their own too with Markhov.  Staal’s injury appeared to be ankle.  If its just a bad bruise he might be okay if he can get the skate boot on, but if he can’t go it presents real problems.  Would likely have to rotate Talbott off of Malkin’s line so he could center the 3rd line and make it pretty much impossible to put Malkin and Crosby on the same line which Bylesma likes to do at times when the offense needs jump-starting.

Of course, the Pens did win the game and did score 6 goals so maybe I shouldn’t panic too much 🙂

Pens Advance to 2nd Round

April 25, 2010

It proved harder that it seemed it would after an easy Game 4 gave the Penguins a 3-1 lead, but they were finally able to get past a pesky Senators squad in 6 games on Pascal Dupuis’ overtime goal.  You have to give Ottawa a lot of credit for the way they battled in this series despite being the team with a talent deficit.  They blocked a ton of shots and got great series from guys like Regin and Neal and Volchenkov.  But you also have to give the Pens credit after losing Game 5 in 3OT and being down 3-0 in Game 6 the fought it back to overtime and was able to sneak a goal in to win.

Of course, the stories the next day are focusing on how the game would’ve been different if the Ottawa goal that went in after the net was dislodged had been allowed to make it 4-1, while completely ignoring that Toronto didn’t allow the Pens to have the goal they clearly scored to tie the game at 1 in the 1st period and how that could’ve turned the game also.  Oh well.

So now the Pens sit back and wait to see who they play in the conference semifinals.  Assuming Washington does eventually get past Montreal the Pens would play the winner of the Boston/Buffalo series.  But if the Canadiens do pull the comeback upset its more complicated.  A Boston win in their series would mean the Pens play Montreal.  A Buffalo win in their series would mean the Pens play Philadelphia.  If the results work out to where the Pens are playing Montreal, Philadelphia, or Boston they would have home ice advantage.  But if its Buffalo the Sabres have home ice.  Also, if Boston and Montreal both win that would actually give the 4th seeded Pens home ice advantage through the conference finals.  Not that it really matters much in the Stanley Cup Playoffs; the 6 games in the Sens/Pens series was won by the home team exactly once.

Pens Even Series

April 16, 2010

With the Ottawa Senators by winning tonight’s Game 2 at Mellon Arena 2-1.  The obvious story was Sidney Crosby, who scored the first goal, made a diving play to clear a puck off the goal line early in the 3rd period, and made a Bobby Orr-like play skating around behind the net before passing to Letang for the winning goal with about 3:30 remaining.  But it wouldn’t take Barry Melrose to analyze the difference between this game and Game 1 that Ottawa won.  Tonight the Pens showed they cared, they played with passion, energy, and intensity.  They found the on switch.  If they play like that consistently they will wear down this Ottawa team and win in about 6 games.  If they don’t they will be vulnerable to the early exit.

Winter Classic Coming to Pittsburgh?

March 28, 2010

All indications are the New Year’s Day 2011 version of the NHL Winter Classic will be Washington vs Pittsburgh at Heinz Field:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10087/1046280-61.stm

If all of this is correct that would be a tight turnaround to build the rink in 8 days after the Steelers play at home on 12/23.  Also, will they be able to do this and leave the field in good shape for a potential home playoff game?  If the Steelers were to land the 3rd or 4th seed that would be wildcard weekend on January 8th or 9th which leaves them a week to tear the rink down and get the field in playoff football condition.  PNC Park would be easier logistically but as the article says its a smaller place with a lower seating capacity, and I think the NHL rightly believes the demand for tickets would be there to fill Heinz Field.

Also, what the article fails to address is weather.  Pittsburgh is a northern climate in this country but its not Buffalo or Chicago.  Sunny and 50 degrees is not beyond the pale by any stretch if the weather flow that day is zonal or a ridge of high pressure in the east with winds out of the southwest.  Heck I have certainly seen temps in the 60s in January before though that is rare.  If it is that warm keeping the ice firm will be a challenge, especially on a temporary cooling system.  Still, if this does come to fruition it’ll be a lot of fun.  I’m sure NBC likes the thought of Ovechkin v Crosby on this stage.

Could Super Mario Save a 2nd Pittsburgh Franchise

January 30, 2010

Though no one is willing to confirm it, and Bob Nutting is flat denying it, Mario Lemieux and Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle apparently made an offer to buy into the Pirates:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10030/1032299-63.stm

Maybe Lemieux, if not an owner, could at least be brought into some sort of consulting role with the Pirates.  He could teach them how to win, or at the very least how to make the appearance of trying to win.

Anything Goes in Pens/Flyers Rivalry

January 12, 2010

Including, it seems, FSN Pittsburgh deep-sixing damning videos until after the official review in Toronto is concluded:

http://awfulannouncing.blogspot.com/2010/01/fsn-pittsburgh-hides-goal-from.html

Of course FSN Pittsburgh can simply claim they didn’t discover the footage from that camera angle until it was too late.  I wouldn’t give good odds to anyone in Philadelphia believing that explanation, but its probably what their cover story will be.  Wow.

***UPDATE*** I should have read the Pittsburgh Post Gazette before blogging.  Seems that FSN Pittsburgh has taken another tack; blame a fall guy:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10012/1027693-100.stm

Philly Flyers Still Cheap Shot Artists

October 8, 2009

I realize that is probably not a newsflash to people familiar with the NHL, but the Flyers sunk to a new low at the end of tonight’s loss to the Penguins. With 1.5 seconds left they took a gratuitous run at Marc Andre Fleury and in the ensuing scrum Hartnell decided to bite Kris Letang in the hand and Chris Pronger put someone in a choke hold. Its not really surprising that the Flyers would fight like nancy boys, but I would’ve thought they would be used to losing to the Penguins by now. Props to to the Philly crowd for chanting “Crosby sucks” at the end of a game that their team had just lost. You would think the fans might want to direct that ire at their own team for having not won a damn thing since Gerald Ford was President. Then again the words “think” and “Philly fan” are not used in the same sentence often.

Elvis Has Left

September 19, 2009

A must read for Pittsburgh sports fans, or sports fans in general:

http://elvishasleft.wordpress.com/

Witty, a bit acerbic, insightful, and usually on the money. Buckeyenewshawk gives it 4 stars.

NFL Goes to SCOTUS With Sherman Exemption Request

July 21, 2009

If successful, writes Lester Munson, they could radically re-wire the landscape of major American professional sports:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?columnist=munson_lester&id=4336261

I am no legal expert to be sure, but I think on a logical level one can make a substantial argument that the leagues are single entities.  I think its a bad thing if SCOTUS rules that way; players and fans alike will likely get the fuzzy end of the lollipop in a number of ways.  But, technically speaking, I think the NFL has a case.