Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pens v Blues (W 6-3)

Evidently no one took photos at this game. My apologies for the lack of good pictures. I could only find these few...We were told that practice this morning was light hearted, and Head Coach Michel Therrien used a hockey stick to "knight" Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi as November's alternates.FIRST PERIODThe Blues let the Pens know it was going to be a physical game pretty much right at the first drop of the puck. Keith Tkachuk nailed Matt Cooke as he went to the net causing Cooke to fly into goaltender Chris Mason and knocking the net off its moorings. Eric Godard and notorious hard hitter Cam Janssen had words. Bob Errey lamented the Pens' lack of physical presence in the new season saying, "You can't play this game walking around in daisies!" It soon became clear that Barret Jackman was given the task of staying on the possibly injured Sidney Crosby when Jackman toed the line with a couple of hard, late hits on Sid on a play that saw the Blues' captain, Eric Brewer, getting nailed with a hooking penalty. The Pens did not score due largely in part because of a handful of spectacular saves made by Mason.Sidney was looking pretty good at both ends of the ice despite the "undisclosed injury." Petr Sykora was in rare form tonight. He hit a Blues player after Marc-Andre Fleury made a save. But then Jackman fired a shot through traffic that Flower never even saw until it bounced all the way out of the tightly woven net. [Pens 0, Blues 1]It only got worse when Brooks Orpik was wrongly penalized for tripping (it was a beautiful, LEGAL hip check). Mad Max Talbot and Mike Zigomanis made a great shorthanded try that Mason stopped with his stick. Errey mentions that he believes Mad Max is playing with extra heart tonight because he's excited to be on Siddo's line. The Blues didn't score on their ill-gotten advantage. Errey then went on to explain that Sid and Max have a unique chemistry because of their friendship and the fact that they share many things in common (for instance, they both speak French). Errey added that it would be nice to see them paired up more often because of Max's insane energy and because his willingness to throw down when necessary shows that he wouldn't be afraid to protect his captain.Jay McKee was called for interference on Geno Malkin. FSN Pittsburgh showed this shot of Janne Pesonen in the Finnish Elite League sporting the top scorer's golden helmet. (With all the ads on his uniform, he looked like a Nascar racecar!)Jay McClement got a shorthanded chance but Flower stood tall. The Pens didn't score on their power play. Kris Letang sent a beautiful tape-to-tape lead pass to Saint Siddo, who sent a one touch pass to Miro Satan. Satan then tried to pass the puck back to Sid, but the puck bounced off a Blues defender's skate and right back to himself. He then promptly scored. [Pens 1, Blues 1]Seventeen seconds later, T.J. Oshie got it right back. [Pens 1, Blues 2] The period ended with the Blues enjoying the lead.FIRST INTERMISSIONPenguins equipment manager Dana Heinze took us deeper into the Pens' equipment vault. Today he showed us the Pens' team issued track suits and Reebok team shoes (complete with Pens logos on the tongue!), the pucks they store in the freezer, an old skate sharpener from the 1970's that remarkably still works, and one of Mario's old Nike skates. I would give up my first born child for 10 minutes alone in that basement. FSN Pittsburgh reporter Dan Potash told us that there's one more room that Heinze will show us in an upcoming game. I can't even imagine what other goodies he's got stashed down there!SECOND PERIODScuds made a spectacular diving poke check on David Perron at the start of the second period. Mad Max had an amazing shift - first, he set up Siddo for a backwards backhanded chance that went wide. Max got the puck back and set up Satan, whose shot was blocked by Mason. Max got to the puck first once more to set up Siddo again, but Mason shut the door on that chance again, too. Suddenly, we saw a visibly upset and hurt Letang making his way to the bench, yelling all the way. On the replay it was revealed that David Backes got away with a heavy slash on Letang's wrists. He received medical attention on the bench as Syko's stick broke on a slapshot attempt. Alex Goligoski finessed his way through several Blues players to the front of the net. He faked to the left and scored a beautiful tying goal. [Pens 2, Blues 2]Seconds later, the Blues appeared to get this one right back, too. However, the goal was immediately waved off because Tkachuk passed the puck with a high stick (which automatically kills the play) before the Blues player swept it in behind MAF. For some reason, the appeared to go to the War Room for review, which was confusing because the play was on a pass so it shouldn't have been eligible for review. After a brief wait, the ref skated out and pointed to center ice to set up the next faceoff, but the crowd misconstrued the signal as the "GOAL" signal and erupted in cheers. Their cheers soon turned to boos as they realized what was happening. We later found out that the play did NOT go to the War Room, and no one really knows what the delay was all about...Letang rejoined his teammates a short time later in time for Siddo to draw a penalty on Brewer for holding. Literally just as I was writing the words, "Is this a Penguins power play???" in my notes, Geno swooped in at the blue line and blasted a shot through McKee's legs and into the back of the net. [Pens 3, Blues 2]At this point, Errey and Paul Steigerwald had the following exchange:Errey: Only one player has more points [than Geno] and that's Marion Hossa.Steigy: Who?Errey: I don't know.And that was the end of it! No laughing, no other comments. They just changed the subject right back to the game. Nice! :D Only 37 seconds after Geno took the lead, Tyler Kennedy doggedly stayed with the puck and stuffed it in from the side. [Pens 4, Blues 2] Steigy wondered out loud if Washington Capital Alexander Semin would watch the highlights of Sid's amazing pass after having the day's "unbelievably stupid quote". The quote to which Steigy referred came from an interview with Dmitry Chesnokov of Sovetsky Sport during which Semin let the green monster of jealousy run loose:What's so special about [Crosby]? I don't see anything special there. Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, good pass. But there's nothing else.He's special because he plays this game better than EVERYONE....I think that if you take any player, even if he is "dead wood," and start promoting him, you'll get a star. Especially if he scores 100 points. No one is going to care about anyone else. No one is going to care whether he possesses great skill. Let's say you put someone in front of the net and let him deflect pucks in, and he scored 50 goals; everyone will say "Wow!" and then hand him a $10 million per year contract. That's what they like here.What an idiot. This doesn't even deserve a response because it is clearly a ploy to insert himself into the same stratosphere as Siddo, Geno, and Alex Ovechkin to gain greater fame. Need proof? The question that Semin was answering was, "Many people believe the Crosby/Malkin/Ovechkin rivalry is now the Crosby/Malkin/Ovechkin/Semin rivalry. Do you believe you're on that level of hockey stardom at this point in your career?" Pathetic. By the way, the Caps were destroyed by the Sabres tonight. They suffered a shutout loss in a game where the Sabres made 5 marks on the board.Anyhoo, Tkachuk hit a goalpost. Mad Max was penalized for hooking. Tkachuk took a page out of Backes's book and got away with a hard slash on Scudsi's wrists. He, too, had to receive medical attention on the bench. But he, too, was able to come back a few minutes later. Then, Mason was THISCLOSE to putting the puck into his own net as he swept the puck blindly behind himself. The Blues didn't score on their advantage.The Blues made a shady play by sending a player to the bench following an icing call against them, prompting Errey and Steigy to say that doing that should be a delay of game penalty. With only seconds left in the period, the Saint was whacking away at a loose puck when Alex Pietrangelo went after him. Siddo gave it right back to Pietrangelo, and that's when Backes went in to take Sid on. Syko rushed over to defend his captain. He even dropped his gloves and stripped off his helmet! Backes and Syko were given coincidental roughing penalties for the exchange.THIRD PERIODNeither team scored on the 4-on-4. Steigy and Errey must have invoked the Karma gods because Tkachuk was slapped with a delay of game penalty for taking too much time on the bench before the faceoff. On the ensuing Penguins power play, the Blues' backup goalie, Chris Holt, had to make a save from on the bench as a hard shot went over the boards and headed for the crowd. The Pens didn't capitalize on their advantage. Jordan Staal, who has been struggling as of late, fired a few shots wide tonight. At this point, though, he made a pass to TK that Steigy didn't appreciate. He said that he'd like to see Gronk try to take more shots and then compared Staal to Lemieux. Errey's response? He laughed in Steigy's face. (No offense to Staal, but that comparison really was laughable. Staal's a great player - there's no doubt about that - but he is BY FAR no Lemieux.)Under pressure, Gill lobbed the puck up and over the glass. He was given a delay of game penalty for his mistake. Less than a minute later, Tkachuk was called for hooking. He yapped all the way to the box. Neither team scored on the 4-on-4 nor on their abbreviated power plays. Patrik Berglund then fired a shot that Flower was able to block but not cover. The rebound went right back to Berglund, who promptly scored. [Pens 4, Blues 3]About 50 seconds later, Brooksie pitched in and helped his goalie by clearing the puck out of the crease. This led directly to Satan getting the puck and going with Max to the net. Satan left a drop pass for Max, who scored. [Pens 5, Blues 3]With a full 2:40 left in the game, the Blues took a gamble and pulled Mason in favor of the extra attacker. There wasn't a stoppage in play until :34.3 left in the game. Then, Geno did something completely selfless: he got the puck and had the lane to go to the empty net but instead dished it to his struggling teammate, Staal, so he could shake that damn monkey off his back! His first goal in 19 games may have been an empty netter, but he celebrated it just the same. [Pens 6, Blues 3] A few seconds later, Berglund rang a shot off the crossbar, but it didn't matter. The Pens got the well deserved WIN!GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Source

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