Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bruins 5, Penguins 2

If you had to pick an adjective for the overall performance of the team tonight, what would it be? Mine would be "listless".

They had decent hop through the first two periods. They played with the Bruins and were only down one goal going into the third. Then they allowed a short-handed goal, and the team just seemed to quit. You still had a few good individual efforts, but no one really seemed to be into it.

Tim Wallace showed that he still cared. He fought Lucic, giving up three inches in height and almost 15 pounds. He acquitted himself well, I thought.

Therrien must not have been happy - when the Pens got a power play chance with just 3 minutes left in the game, they could still have made it interesting. A quick goal on the PP, followed by pulling the goalie, and you never know what might happen. Instead, HCMT sent out Dustin Jeffrey, Ruslan Fedotenko and Petr Sykora. Nothing against those guys, but you'd expect to see Sid and Geno on the ice. They had come off the ice recently, but they weren't on it for the fight or the aftermath. They were certainly available. Little statement by HCMT perhaps?

Right now the Pens are taking the punches from the opposition and have been unable to counter. They'll need to figure this out, and do it soon. It's a long season.

Congratulations to Dustin Jeffrey on his first point in the NHL.

Next up: A chance for redemption against the Bruins on New Years Day.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Canadiens 3, Penguins 2

Quick writeup today:

The Pens put forth a good effort. They had the better of the shots, scoring chances, faceoffs and hits. They were better by every measure, except the one that matters.

We also have a new name to go with the list of relative nobody players that burn the Pens: Andrei Kostitsyn. He's a bit more accomplished than some of the previous players on the list (hello Mike Rupp), but still...

All three goals by the Habs were preventable. The first two were scored because no one tied up the stick of Kostitsyn when the puck came out from behind Fleury. The last one was a bad goal allowed by Flower.

The team did everything possible to tie the score. They managed 17 shots in the third and had several golden chances. They just couldn't beat Price, and they didn't hit the net in a few critical spots (Malkin late, specifically).

If this effort continues, this team will be fine.

Next up: Home and home with the Bruins, starting on Tuesday.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Penguins 1, Devils 0

Can you feel it?

The wind is starting to shift, just ever so slightly.

The dark malaise that crept over the Pittsburgh hockey landscape has begun to pull back.

There is more daylight with each passing week.

The Pens were on the beneficial side of a few bounces for once, and they used those bounces to earn a 1-0 victory over the Devils.

Fleury was great, but his blue line teammates were even better, with Mark Eaton especially noted for kicking a puck out of the net at the last possible second before it crossed the goal line.

Whoever hexed Langenbrunner also did a great job.

The Devils badly out shot the Pens, and also had the far better chances, but when it mattered most, Mighty Mouse turned into Goofy. The Devils were the beneficiaries of Ryan Whitney not realizing his stick was broken and playing the puck with it, earning a penalty with just 1:04 remaining (as a side note, you almost never see Playing with a Broken Stick called). That put them up to a 6 on 4 advantage, with a great shot to tie the game. Gionta (Mighty Mouse / Goofy) turned momentarily STUPID and used a completely obvious two handed whack down on Orpik's stick with the puck nowhere nearby. It was unneeded, unnecessary, and completely awesome. My favorite moment of the game, no doubt.

This was a surprisingly exciting game. See what happens when the Devils don't get the first goal? You get exciting and intense hockey. New mandate from Commish Bettman - the Devils start every game with a 1-0 defecit.

So the Pens were able to earn a few bounces, get a timely goal on a great pass from Malkin to Fedotenko, and steal two points in Jersey.

Things are looking up.

Next up: Off to Montreal, where the fans may be leaping from the upper deck if their beloved Habs aren't able to win the game. Start time tomorrow night is 7:00.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Hope everyone has a very joyous Christmas!

What are you doing on the internet? Go spend time with your family and friends!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lightning 2, Penguins 0


Is there anything else we can say right now?

Remember that this team went through bad stretches in each of the past two years. This is not the end of the world. We're just used to seeing the bad stretch at the beginning of the season. They waited a little longer to crap out this year.

Hope the team has a nice Christmas break. They're going to need it.

Next up: The Devils on Friday, followed by the Habs on Saturday. Oh yeah - then a home and home with the Bruins next week. Sheesh!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Penguins 4, Sabres 3 (OT)

This was not one of the better games played by the Pens. It was good enough.

The credit for this win should go to one place - the penalty kill for the Pens. The Sabres had six chances on the power play and the Pens killed them all. That's a great effort for a group that has allowed eight goals in the last three games.

The Versus broadcast was poor, to say the least. They never did put the first penalty up on the screen, so we had no idea how much time was left. They also had horrible camera work on three of the four second period goals. We didn't get to see the lead-up to the goal, as they were either busy with a close up, or lost track of the puck.

Fleury didn't have his best game, but he did enough to keep the team in the game. He was having a hard time with rebound control, but the defense was there to help him out most of the time and he was able to shut the door on his own for the rest.

The team was out shot 35 - 22 and still was able to tie the game on their only power play of the night to earn a point. They earned their second point when Crosby deflected a Malkin knuckle-puck past Ryan Miller. Sid's stick may have been above the crossbar when he deflected it, but the War Room in Toronto didn't see enough evidence of that.

This was the kind of win the Pens badly needed. They didn't have their best night and yet found a way to earn two points.

Next up: Build on success when Pittsburgh South (Tampa) comes to town. Welcome back to Ryan Malone, among others.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Maple Leafs 7, Penguins 3

Maybe the Pens can stop playing on Saturday. This is the third Saturday in a row where they lost the game.

Forty shots allowed to the Leafs. Fleury allowed several goals from at least 20 feet out, most of them softies. He certainly struggled, but his team didn't help him out much either.

Low water mark? Can they sink further? How long until a blood vessel bursts in the cranium of HCMT?


Friday, December 19, 2008

Penguins 6, Thrashers 3

One of these days, I'll get to watch an entire game again. Last night was the wife's Christmas party, so while I was enjoying the middling food of the Spaghetti Warehouse and seeing just who won that pet-themed gift basket, the Pens were doing something really exciting and putting up 5 through the first two period on the Thrashers.

Just for the record - there's nothing wrong with a somewhat cheesy Christmas party.

Anyway, the most I saw of the first two periods was Errey and Steigy showing me what I missed before the third.
  • I saw some sick saves by Fleury, who looked great in his return to the net.
  • I saw another fantastic move by Satan to undress Hedberg. Miro seems to find these great moves every once in awhile and then goes back to being invisible for a few games. You have to think if he became more physical and more assertive in the offensive zone, he could have some really nice results. He has the size to do it.

During the third, I saw the Pens do enough to keep HCMT's head spinning. The play in their own end was frequently sloppy. Against a better team, they would have been in real trouble in the third. Pucks didn't always get deep like they needed to, and turnovers occurred at bad places on the ice (say Thank You, Colby Armstrong, for that wonderful pass from Miro Satan)

The important thing is the Pens beat a team they were supposed to beat and got an encouraging performance from Fleury in his first game back.

Next up: Maple Leafs on Saturday night

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Flyers 6, Penguins 3

Yeah, totally missed this one. After I saw the score, I can't say I went looking for any highlights.

Just someone tell me - did Godard at least get in a few good shots on Hartnell during their fight in the third? That might have some redeeming value.

Friday, December 12, 2008


What better way to get ready for a Flyers game than a brilliantly edited compilation of inspirational scenes and speeches from the movies?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Penguins 9, Islanders 2

Days like today don't come around very often. The Pens last scored 9 goals in 2001 against the Flyers. Their all-time record in a single game is 12 (twice). It was nice to see.

Both Sykora and Dupuis had the hat trick. Sykora's was the best, only because he's never had one and he's scored two goals in one game 44 times prior to tonight. It's great to see him get one.

Dupuis needs to play with the same ferocity all the time that he displayed while trying to get the third goal. He was great. The fact that the Islanders had stopped playing hockey and were just taking potshots at the Pens probably made things a bit easier. If you allow Matt Cooke to feather the cross ice pass on the two-on-one, you're probably not trying as hard as you could (not that there's anything wrong with Cooke - he's just not someone you'd expect to make a brilliant pass).

This game was over when the Isles scored to make it 2-1, and the Pens scored 11 seconds later to make it 3-1. MacDonald was done after he allowed Boucher's goal near the end of the first. He didn't return to the pipes for the second.

Not much else to say about this except that you should watch the highlights if you haven't already.

Next up: Keep that happy feeling - those clowns from Philly are up next, in Philly on Saturday afternoon. Hartnell had the hat trick tonight. He'll be insufferable.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Devils 4, Penguins 1

The Pens are in a bit of a funk right now, there's no doubt about it. The hockey they're playing doesn't seem bad, but they're just missing things by a hair.

There were chances early on tonight for the Pens to get the first goal. They hit the post or crossbar three times, with the biggest chance missed by Sid early in the second period. None of those went in and the Devils got the first goal on a fluke bounce off of the end boards.

The Zebras, who truly were clueless tonight, missed the Devils being offside by at least a foot when they scored their second goal, and missed a pretty blatant tripping call when they scored their third (which was on a nice redirect by Parise - he's surpassed all expectations).

You can't hang this one on Sabu. You'd like him to make some of those saves to keep the game closer, but I'm not sure I blame him on any of those.

The other thing at play here is the Pens have dipped pretty far into their farm system to get some replacement parts for injuries. Playing in the game tonight were:
  • Lovejoy
  • Minard
  • Taffe
  • Wallace
It's a lot to ask these guys to come in and play at a high level. You need the Sykoras and Satans to step up and play better hockey, and that didn't happen tonight. Sid and Geno can only get you so far sometimes.

This game was surprisingly exciting for a game against New Jersey. Too bad there wasn't anyone in their arena to see it. Seriously - how do they keep the franchise operating out there? Their attendence always seems to be horrid.

Jersey was especially annoying tonight, for the following reasons:
  • That goal horn may have taken over the top spot as the league's most annoying (from Florida).
  • Bobby Holik is a um... (family blog here... ) big mean jerk. Bringing the one-hander down on Letang when he was already on the ice was especially cheap. I hope to see someone catch him cold one day soon.
  • They just have that smug attitude after they score. You'd just love to see the Pens wipe those grins off of their faces.
Ah well... just one more game in a bad streak for the Pens. Can't win them all, right?

Next up: Right back at it tomorrow night at the Igloo against the Isles.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

No! You're the Poopy-head!

I know this will come as a huge shock, but an NHL referee was accused of using profanity in a comment to Ryan Miller in the second period of the game at the Igloo on Monday.

I'm not sure why this even matters, but it's weird enough that it's worth mentioning.  Besides, it's pretty entertaining.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Sabres 4, Penguins 3

Tonight was all about missed opportunities. The Pens had some great scoring chances, but Miller was able to make the saves when it mattered. These are tough losses to stomach lately.

First period:

Goligoski wakes everyone up early in the first by ringing the puck off of the crossbar.

Malkin setup two Fedotenko goals with some absolutely ridiculous moves and passes. If you didn't see them, make sure you watch the highlights.

The Sabres got on the board when a bad (really bad) Orpik pass was picked off by Derek Roy, who went the other way on a two-on-one. Roy blasted the puck past Sabu.

Pretty exciting period with end-to-end action and lots of chances.

Second period:

The Pens had an extended 5-on-3 power play as soon as the period started when Goligoski was tripped. Letang made them pay, scoring on a one-timer off of a pass from Crosby. Nice play, and great to see Letang finally get that goal. 3-1 Pens.

The Sabres got their second goal on another bad turnover in their own zone. You could feel the steam coming out of Therrien's ears through the television. 3-2 Pens.

Vanek takes an offensive zone interference call and someone on the Sabres bench allowed their tears to dribble on the ice too much, getting an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. the Pens had a two minute 5-on-3.

The Pens had some great chances on the two man advantage. They did everything except score. You had to hope that wasn't a turning point of the game for the Sabres, because you know the Zebras were going to even things up as the game went on.

A bad neutral zone turnover by Miro Satan led to the tying goal by the Sabres. Watching it, you had to wonder how the heck they were still in this game. 3-3 tie.

Things got a bit chippy after that, with Geno getting involved and helping defend Lovejoy. Somehow, the Pens got the extra minor. Not sure that happened, but if you happened to be mumbling "Even Up Call", you wouldn't be far off.

The Pens spent the last 1:38 in their own zone defending on the penalty kill. Somehow, they kept the Sabres out of the net. It was a great effort.

Third period:

The Sabres nearly cashed in at the beginning of the third just after their power play expired.

Satan answered the pressure when he almost scored on the other end. Great chance for Miro - better save by Miller.

The Sabres scored the go-ahead goal when the Pens screwed up in their own zone... again. This time, it was Sid, Max and Brooks turning up ice when they assumed they had the puck. They were sadly mistaken and left Letang to defend a two-on-one. Needless to say, it didn't go well. 4-3 Sabres.

Faster than you can say "even-up again", the Sabres are put back on the power play on what really looked like incidental contact. It didn't matter as the Pens killed off the penalty.

The Pens used the momentum and went on the power play themselves. Didn't help when the Sabres killed it off.

The Pens received yet another chance on the power play on an obvious high stick. Nothing doing for the first minute, so Therrien calls timeout. Given that there are just over 5:00 left in the game, it's clear that Therrien thinks this may be the game. You had to hope it wasn't, because the Pens didn't score.

The Pens applied the pressure in a furious finish, but they couldn't get the game tying goal.

  • Is Fedotenko still underachieving? He's now on pace for 23 goals, which would be about all anyone could have expected, I think.
  • Letang is going to be a #1 defenseman one of these days.
  • Vanek sure did take some dumb penalties tonight, didn't he?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Senators 3, Penguins 2

Can you feel the hatred of the Sens rising? It'll take a bit before they reach the level of the Flyers (and I don't know that anyone can), but they might be #2 on the most reviled list by now. This game only reinforced that.

Not much confusion about how they Pens lost this one. Jason Spezza did them in all on his own. Sabu probably wants the wrap-around back, because he didn't need to follow Spezza so far out of his crease. Other than that, the game winner was a lucky bounce off of Letang that somehow found it's way past Sabourin.

The Pens were not able to generate anything resembling consistent offensive pressure. When they did get the puck in the zone, they couldn't get much towards Auld (they only managed 19 shots for the game).

The three stars for the game were Heatley, Alfredsson and Spezza. That's a joke. That line played well, but Malkin and Crosby did too. I know it means nothing, but it does make it easier to dislike Ottawa.

The Pens are really missing Ziggo, Kennedy and Boucher. They miss Fleury too, but Sabu is not the reason for losing two of the past three games. Lack of consistent offense did the trick today.

Next up: Four games in six days, starting Monday at home against the Sabres. I may even get around to writing previews again.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Penguins 5, Hurricanes 2

This was a fun game to watch. The Pens handed it to the Canes tonight with some opportunistic scoring and good goaltending.

The three keys to the victory tonight were:
  1. Great play by Dany Sabourin, making several ridiculous saves and all of the routine ones.
  2. The Pens took advantage of two bad turnovers by the Canes in their own end, quickly converting them into scores.
  3. The power play came up HUGE with two goals, punishing the Canes for taking dumb penalties (I'm looking at you, Ruutu).
The Canes had the better of the chances, and certainly out shot the Pens, but there was no need to press when the chances were being handed to the Pens.

It also helped that Leighton didn't have his best game, to say the least.

Nice road win for the Pens.

Next up: Off to Ottawa for a Saturday afternoon game.

Rangers 3, Penguins 2 (OT - SO - 3-1)

Completely missed this one. Only saw the highlights online, but I can't say I'm upset at missing it - it would have been frustrating.

Good to see Eaton put one in the net, but not good to see Sabu give up goals to all three guys in the SO. I went back to look for the last time all three guys scored on the shoot out in a Pens game. It wasn't recent.

No rest for the Pens either - they play in Carolina tonight.