Saturday, December 31, 2005

Penguins 4, Rangers 3 (OT)

So the Pens win their second game in a row. It was a hard fought contest, and every time the Pens seemed to be poised to put the game away, the Rangers had an answer on the power play. Of course, when you get to OT, there is no time to answer a goal, so the Pens put it away, despite the amazing efforts of Henrik Lundqvist.

I do want to say that this game was the biggest example of "good 'ol Canadien" refereeing that I've seen so far this season. There were flagrant examples of "even it up" calls. For instance:
  • The Pens score (Ouellet's goal) and Kasper comes in and punches Leclair. A small fracas ensues (as you might expect). Somehow, Recchi ends up with the double minor (?!?!?!?) and Kasper gets just two minutes for roughing. You can't tell me that wasn't because the Pens were just coming off of a power play.
  • Shortly after that, Jagr blatantly hooks Tarnstrom in open ice and nothing is called. I'd like to propose a rule change - if a player is skating towards the offensive zone, and an opposing player (usually a forward) that is behind him touches him with the stick, it's an automatic two minutes. That would stop all the horsecrap we see with reaching out from behind to whack at the player carrying the puck. It's not needed, and it slows down the game. Have the trailing player bust his butt to get back into the play instead of just reaching out with the stick.
  • The tripping call on Surovy that allowed the Rangers to score late was even more horsecrap. Surovy was tangled up with another Ranger and as they were both going down, he reached out to play the puck. It was another even-up call by the wonderful refs.
  • Kasper put on an Oscar worthy performance in flopping on a hit from Crosby. Crosby somehow got called for boarding, even though Kasper was no more than six inches from the boards. Of course, this one is the least surprising, since we've seen this from Kasper (and loved in, in fairness) when he was here in Pittsburgh.
Anyway, I don't want to spoil the win with whining about the refs (too late, eh?)

The Pens won the battle at even strength overwhelmingly. They couldn't stop taking the silly penalties, and that's why the game was close at all. They also had several amazing chances that were stopped entirely by Lundqvist.

Defensively, after outshooting the Rangers 12-11 in the first, the Pens put the clamps down and allowed only six shots the rest of the game. The goals the Rangers did score were excellent shots (on two of the three goals for sure), pinpointed high in the corner of the net.

Surovy and Crosby continue to click (Palffy helps too, of course). Surovy had two goals and Crosby had the game winner (on the power play). The Pens also netted three power play goals, which is the first time they've done that in just about forever - the Pens had more than two PP goals only one other time this year, against Atlanta.

The biggest thing the team needs to work on is staying out of the sin bin, and if they do get an unfortuate penalty, they need to be able to come up with the big kill.

The last two games have been really encouraging, as the team has pretty well dominated two decent opponents (yes, I think they dominated the Rangers, except for the penalties). It bodes well for this team. If they can get two wins in the next three games on the road (in Toronto, Montreal and Atlanta), they could be well on their way to ressurecting their season... either that, or I'm waaayyy too much of a homer.

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