Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quick Hit and Run:

My computer was attacked by Godzilla (no, really, I swear!) the other day, so now I'm stealing time on a lap-top, and I'm not having much fun with it. But mere discomfort isn't enough to keep me from babbling incessantly (Neither is a court order). So, as a prelude to tonight's action against the Beantown Bears I have this post for your reading and viewing pleasure.
Marc Andre Fleury is once again slated to start in net tonight for the Pens. And the Human Sequoia, Hal Gill is going to hit the ice (I hope not literally).
Ali asked me the other day who I thought would be scratched from tonight's game to make room for the Sequoia. I assumed that Eaton would sit and Gill would play, but nagging somewhere in the back of what passes for my mind was the memory of the Pens dressing 7 defensemen and playing Whitney as a sometime-forward. I should have listened to that particular dark corner of my mind (in my defense, it's not the only dark corner in there) , because the Penguins fooled all the guessers and actually are dressing 7 defensemen, and possibly running Whits at the forward spot, although Go-Go Gadget Goal is shown in the line-up as a forward and a defenseman. ( that's just a guess, Therrien's too sneaky for me) I also remember the beat-down Whits gave Wayne Redden last year when he was put back on the blue-line. It was like he was saying with every punch I...AM.... NOT... PLAYING.... FORWARD.... AGAIN!!.

Milestones and Other Rocks: Sidney Crosby will be playing in his 250th game and Jordan Staal will be playing in his 200th tonight. That's a lot of hockey in the short amount of time they've been playing. Staal will be the youngest player ever to reach the 200 mark and if El Capitan scores two points tonight he'll be 5th on the list for reaching his 250th game.
Paul Biz-nasty was sent back to WBS yet again, probably to make room for the Defense-shuffle.

Concussions are up and some players are blaming the 'safety' equipment the players are wearing. Evidently the new pads and the fact that today's players are bigger, stronger, faster (Where did that weird sound effect from the 6 Million Dollar Man go?) they're especially geared up for melon-squashing. Most players say some of the responsibility is on the player being hit to watch his squash whenever possible, knowing that it's going to take a beating. I'm not sure the guy doing the hitting is always going to warn you when he's coming... but what do I know?

Well, that's all for now, I'll try to sneak the laptop into the closet later and post some more.....

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hot and Cold Running Penguins:

Mostly in December the Pens have tended toward the cold sign.
Marc Andre Fleury, the Tower of Flower Power is not especially pleased with the performance of the entire team, himself included. The unusual thing is, that he's actually talking to the media about it. (or at least Rob Rossi at the Trib) "The past month has been pretty tough," Flower said after the Hab's game," We've usually been pretty constant. That's what got us to the Stanley Cup Final. That's what we need to do every game."
"We have to start with the group of guys we have. We have to go out and play hard." I don't think he'll find much argument there. No one is looking to the absent members of the team as an excuse for the lack of effort. (which beats my job, whoever's not there ALWAYS gets the blame) Some comment is made that they Pens are actually better in the standings than they were this time last year. Guys, you can't count on last year... it never happened, last year is dead and gone, last game is dead and gone. FIDO people (F%$k It, Drive On) We can't play this season with last season's stats. Even if the Pens had won the Cup, it wouldn't help them win this one.
On to Other Things: The Yo-Yo that plays hockey like a man, Jeff Taffe has been named the AHL Player of the Week. Mostly because everyone else already had it. No, really Taffe is sitting third in AHL scoring and last week (38 points) and he scored 2 goals and 7 assists in only 3 games last week. Whatever level you're playing at that's good shootin' Tex.
The Return of Lemieux: Ok don't get too excited. Les Manifique isn't dusting off his skates and donning the Fighting Penguin. The 'original' pest is slowly clawing his way back into the NHL. Claude Lemieux has inched ever so much closer to actually taking his walker (he's 43) out onto the ice with a new 2-way contract with the San Jose' Sharks. If you've never seen this guy play, just think of a combination of Yaarko Ruutu and (strangely enough) Sean Avery but without the off-ice crap. He's won 4 Stanley Cups, with 3 different teams and really seemed to shine in the play-offs, he won the Conn Smythe with the Debbils, but that was 13 years ago.
Ok gonna cut this one short (using stolen equipment) but I'll be back around...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Good Work is Good to Find:

Diving save for a weird bounce:

There are things about the Canadiens game (they're from Canadia, remember?) that bother me. The effort and the heart of the team are not among them. Despite the 3-2 loss (my wall schedule is using entirely too much purple ink) and the fact that the Pens simply cannot win either two games in a row, or any game on a Saturday (check it yourself) there were very few times during the game where I was thinking 'What the hell are you guys doing?'. Such has not been the case in losses past. Shots were taken, most of the power plays you could see actual effort, there were some breakdowns but the defense looked like it was coming together, and despite allowing three goals Marc Andre Fleury looked pretty solid in the net. And how did Flower look at the loss? "It was not good, but I think we could see that tonight (sat) was different. We definitely played better than the last couple (of home games). We're close. We're close." I think he's right, but it's still going to drive me crazy until 'We're there. We're there'

So, what bothers me about the game, you might ask? Our stalwart FSN reporters are roaming ever so much further from the game actually being played on the ice every time they show up in my living room. Error seems to develop a new man-crush every game or so. Saturday Whitney was the target of his man-lust, describing his body as 'thick' before rambling into a series of unintelligible grunting sounds that I assume were complimentary. He also seems to be something of a man-slut as he hasn't yet given up his crush on Tim Wallace, of the polar bear eating the baby moose fame, mentioning him, his hockey-body and polar bear story several times during one period. Stogie gets my 'Class-less Son Award'.(trademark pending) While I understand his pride in having a mother who both didn't drown him at birth, and has reached a truly honorable age, it's kind of tacky to admit the extent of your mother's time on the planet to the entire viewing public while admiting she told you not to. (I hope she beats him with her cane). Hasn't this woman suffered enough just living with the shame of being Mama Stogie?

On a side-note, Tim Wallace should just never unpack when he's sent back to WBS. He's just getting there when he's called back to da'Burgh because of Godard's bruised leg, or Maximum's hurt tootsies, or Therrien's hangnail or something. Ok, enough of my ranting, let's get on to some news-type stuff.

News Type Stuff: Hal Gill, the human Sequoia, is projecting his return to the line-up for Tues. night's game against the Beantown Bears. I'm not sure as I can believe this, as none of the current line-up as come down with an 'undisclosed' or the Black Plague, or anything. Isn't there some rule this year that there can't be an extra blue liner on the bench?

Scoring Race: El Capitan hasn't quite surrendered the scoring title to Geno yet (after all there are 46 games left in the season) but I don't think it would bother him much if Malkin did beat him out for the title. When asked about The Malk's chances to win Crosby chuckled and said, "They're looking pretty good right now." I would just like someone with a Skating Bird on his chest to win. Selfish of me, I know, but.... so what?

Snow Game?: While I agree that last year's Winter Classic was an absolutely wonderful game, I find myself wondering why someone (Joe Starkey of the Trib) is starting speculation that a Pittsburgh Winter Classic is even a possibility this soon. Don't get me wrong, it's a cool idea. And if the Hockey Gods would smile with the correct weather (cold, but not too cold, and a bit of snow, but never in the eyes), it would be a game to make for Pensaddict stories for ages to come. The NHL (Bettman) hasn't finished riding the wave of last year's WC. It seems highly unlikely that they would even consider giving another outdoor game to Pittsburgh with 26 other teams still looking for their first sniff of the action. But it's still a cool idea, right?

Just Shut Up: Hopefully soon to be mute Cheap Wallpaper Poster-child, Don Cherry, who knows so much about what it takes to win hockey games that he can't get a job actually coaching a team, once again has the perfect answer to any hockey question. The 'Walking Tacky Couch' has deemed that the only thing Sidney Crosby needs to get out of his scoring slump is to quit doing anything else. Evidently he should just give up all his media and fan commitments and that will fix everything. I'm sure Bettman wanted to reach through the screen and strangle him. I know he must be right, because just after he finished speaking El Sid scored a goal and an assist and racked up shot after shot against the Canadiens. I think all that bad dye is going to his brain.
Until next time....

Friday, December 26, 2008

Shut-Outs and Flower-Plays:

37 saves, 12th career shutout, 1 tripping penalty, First Star of the Night for all his sick saves, what else can you say? Marc Andre Fleury was definitely the Tower of Flower Power tonight in against the Jersey Debbils. "I'm feeling better, timing wise." Flower said. "It's the foot movement. I'm in the right place at the right time now." (this is true) "It's pretty cool. I want to do my part to help out. I tried to make the saves to keep the game close." (this is also true) The only highlights online at the moment are at NHL.com. Also I've got to give an Honorary Goalie Award to FPL member Mark Eaton, for kicking out the scramble puck 1/16th of an inch before it became a Debbils goal. Jamie Langenbrunner couldn't buy a goal tonight with a Brinks truck in his back pocket. Fed's goal in the second period was all the Pens got, but it was all they needed. (and with only 18 shots on goal they're lucky they got that) The face-off wins seemed a bit better this game although I don't have stats at my fingertips. (I don't really like stats anyway) No highlights are currently available, but I'll probably stir some up for y'all sooner or later.

The Pens take on the Canadiens (they're from Canadia) Sat. night and that's going to be another tough game. Is it just me, or does anyone else think the Pens should have asked Santa for a better Christmas schedule? One Thrashed game in the middle doesn't make make the other 4 games (NJ, Montreal, and Boston twice) any easier. One good thing about playing the Canadiens (did I tell you they're from Canadia?) is that Alexei Kovalev has been gone from the Penguins long enough that Stogie and Error will only mention him being an ex-Penguin 486 times.

Other Stuff: In case you missed them on the ice, Dustin Jeffery and Paul Biz-nasty were called up from WBS for tonight's game. Jeffrey was up for most of the pre-season and I saw him on the ice during a scrimmage; He's fast, generally good with the puck, and he can win face-offs. Tonight he was two out of three so his ice time was cut a bit when he had trouble winning face-offs. Biz-nasty was pretty memorable with the Pens in the beginning of the season, but didn't get much of a chance to nasty anyone up tonight, playing on the fourth line with Jeffrey and Goddard.

No Work-Out Woes: Petr Sykora substituted the lack of scheduled work-out with running around after his son for two days during the Holiday break. He figured that and mental preparation were all he would need to make up for the ice time he missed over Christmas. "It doesn't really bother me." Syko said," I can prepare for every game without skating. If you can prepare yourself mentally and going into the game without thinking,'Oh God, I didn't skate for two days, what's going to happen?', You just have to mentally prepare yourself." Flower has a different take on the situation: "I don't like having two days off, without skating, and then playing right away" Flower said, "I have to break a sweat somehow, probably a run." Whatever MAF did on his break must have worked, because he got a shut-out. I think Syko's work out was more strenuous though, I've tried chasing kids. They're quick and low to the ground, so they corner well and they're hard to catch.

Red Cross Award: Hal Gill gave a couple of his Pens-buddies a call and toured the Pittsburgh Children's Hospital earlier this month. It evidently wasn't difficult to persuade El Capitan, Sarge, Maximum, Flower and the rest to cruise the hospital and give gifts and cheer to the kids trapped there over the Holiday. (I think Max agreed just so he could play with the toys) The Flightless Troupe ponied up more than 6 grand worth of toys and their time at the drop of a hat. Gill wasn't surprised they would do that, and frankly neither am I. Even the most cynical among us (I think I'm in the top 10%, or was that top 10? I can't remember) have to admit that the players give a lot to the community, and, being just a bunch of big kids themselves, they go out of their way to do things for kids. Still, it's got to make you feel all warm and un-Scrooge-like, especially when you consider this wasn't a team event. Just the Sequoia phoning up some hockey-buddies to cheer up some kids. Marc Andre is setting up some long-term charities in Sorel-Tracy, Montreal and Pittsburgh after his long-term deal with the Pens was signed. "My job as a player is to help the Penguins win hockey games," Fleury said, "but I think our job as people is to help each other through these times. Hockey players have a lot to give, not just money. We should. Look at what's happening to people everywhere, and it's Christmas--this is when we should give back." Good job guys.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Starving Penguins and Holiday Cheer:

Penguins starved for a goal:

We all know what the holidays are about.... getting presents and stuffing ourselves full of heavy food. Or, maybe that's just my family. Most people use this time of year to reconnect with their families and review the year for things to be thankful that they have. (kind of a 'it could be worse' review) After losing to the TB Sparks the only 2 things Pensaddicts have to be thankful for are that Marc Andre Fleury had a good game and continues to improve, and no one else got hurt. That's about it. The only reason I'm not ranting about the bad officiating in the last couple of games is because the PP isn't all that effective anyway. Even the ever ebullient Tower of Flower Power was really down after the game:
Oh well, holidays are supposed to be a happy time, so let's move on to other things.
Other Things: The Pens have posted on PP.com a new Holiday Greeting with Sid, Geno, MAF, Maximum, Sarge, and others. Other than the 'Happy Holidays from the Penguins' interruptions between each player, it's kind of nice. ( time to tone down the cynicism, a little too much 'Bah! Humbug! in this post) Vid spoiler: Malkin is his adorably goofy self, Maximus tries to be serious but grins at the end of his spot, and Flower gently mangles the English language (it's not actually his language, so he can do that) about 1:43 in.

There, that should get some Holiday Cheer going.
Ex Penguin Stuff: I know that Ryan Malone was a big deal for this team, and this town last year. (no cynicism here) First Burgh born Penguin, home town boy makes good kind of a thing. I know it must be weird for him to play as an opponent in the Arena that he basically grew up watching his dad and Mario and Jags play in. But I think like the absent-minded farmer we've plowed this field before. It should be no surprise that feelings about his return would be mixed, they were. Of course they got a little less mixed when he got into a shoving match with Geno. Two different papers thought we wanted to know more about it (and hey, what do I know? Maybe we do) The Trib, and PPG.com both have stories about Bugsy's return to the Igloo. Tocchet must feel old, hardly anyone mentioned his being a former Penguin at all during the game.
Scrooge News: In the spirit of Christmas giving (cynicism again) Jeff Taffe and Tim Wallace were given plane tickets back to WBS. Unless this is a Waiver avoidance thing, I'm not sure I understand. Wallace has been playing well, and Taffe, while not spectacular, has been filling in some 4th line time adequately. Well, if Ray Scrooge... uh Shero, has any explination he hasn't let it out of his Christmas bag.
Personal Note: I hope everyone has a Happy Holiday, and that includes: Stuffing yourselves, getting good presents and not getting too annoyed by family members you won't see again until next year. Take Care Yinz Guys.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rusty Flowers and Putting on the Foil:

Sometimes it's easy to forget that Marc Andre Fleury is not your usual run of the mill type of goaltender. When MAF came back from his most recent 'undisclosed' injury he was playing like about 70% of the goalies out there. Playing decent hockey. The mind wants to think 'Ah, everything's ok, Flower's back on his game." Then Saturday comes along and you wonder 'What the hell is going on? 5 goals in two periods?' What to nearly any other player would be game shape is actually rust on the Flower. (Steel cities can have steel Flowers, right?) The Tower of Flower Power started showing the shine under the rust last night in Sluggalo. I know he was scored on three times, (two of which I've got to blame on the FPL, sorry guys but you can't leave scorers unchallenged at the top of the crease even on the power play) but quite a few of the saves were vintage Flower Power. Quick lateral movement and a blindingly fast glove. (The follow-up save on Ellis blazes to mind) Don't let the Thrasher's game fool you into thinking that Flower's on his game, he's still raising his play level to its former mind-wobbling height. Flower will be in net tonight against the Tampa Bay Sparks and we'll get to see if he 'gives Malone a shot to the knees or the nuts' , like he said he would in a pre-season interview he did on 105.9 the X, in September. (third one from the bottom on the page, about 35 seconds in)

Other Pens Stuff: Yet another in a series of 'undisclosed' has struck the FPL (Flower Protection League) Kris Le-tank has succumbed to the dreaded 'undisclosed' after stopping a shot in Monday nights game. The only bright spot in this is we don't have to guess who'll be scratched to allow Ryan Whitney to play in tonight's game against the Sparklers. Yes, that's right folks, Whits is playing tonight for the first time this season. This morning's skate was optional so there's no way to say who he'll partner up with but he'll be out there with tens of thousands of Pensaddicts wanting to see if it was worth the wait. (no pressure Rye, just play your game)

Speaking of this morning's skate, the Human Sequoia, Hal Gill was skating for the first time since injuring his shoulder (too many people saw it, they couldn't 'undisclose' it afterwards). In an interview Hal said that he felt better, but would know more when he actually had someone on the ice to bump into. He then proceeded to ask for volunteers from the media, but there were no takers. That would be kind of like skating against your dad when you were 10, I'm not surprised no one took him up on it.

Aw Mom, Can't I Play Inside?: Something I stumbled across (no comment) that might be found interesting (in a land of complete boredom, maybe?) If he plays on New Years, Ty Conklin, former season saver for the Pens, will be in his third outdoor game in a row. That's right, folks, there have only been three and if he plays next Thursday Ty Conklin will have played in them all. "Either I follow it around, or it follows me. I don't know which is which." Ty said. It evidently didn't occur to him when he went to the Red Rags that they were playing in the Winter Classic this year. He does say (and I agree) that the equipment guys are going to have the roughest time at the game, not knowing what the conditions are going to be like, or if they'll change suddenly.

Old Time Hockey: The movie even hockey fans can understand, Slap Shot, is back out in a new 35 mm print being shown Jan 1-4 at Pittsburgh Filmmaker's Regent Square Theater. Also in the same article is a mention of Dave Hanson's recent book Slapshot Original: The Man, the Foil, the Legend. It not only talks about some behind the scenes stuff, making the movie, but also has stories in it about the actors and players involved. I guess the Statute of Limitations is up on most of the stuff they did back then. ( I wish I could say the same, but my attorney won't let me comment)

As usual on game-days more to come as the random numbers sort themselves out in my head.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Falling Flowers and Spicy Indian Cuisine

This is as good as Flower looked all night.

Ok, my period of mourning for the most goals the Toronto Maple Syrups have scored on an opponent all year is over. (besides I had some Christmas shopping to do) So, on with the Stuff.

Marc, I think it's time to ditch the new hat. I know it was made special for the Winter Classic last year, but remember why you didn't play in the WC? I think the new melon-protector may have some bad mojo. (I like the old one better anyway) They say that hockey goalies are some of the most superstitious sports people, and I have to agree. Which may mean we won't be seeing the yellow squash protector for a while.
UPDATE: I keep seeing stories that MAF has passed Carey Price to start in the All Star Game, but every time I go check(also to put in a vote for the Flower) he's 6000 or so votes behind. This see-saw voting is worse than Florida on a Presidential election. C'mon already folks! Start snipping wires for Canadian Internet, or something.... lol Also, The Tower of Flower Power is set to start in net for the Pens, he'll have to play tonight and 3 more games before Jan 2 to qualify for the ASG.

Monday, the team is going to play the Buffaslugs in Slug-a-lo having taken a bus to get there on Sunday. Evidently it's quite a blast from the past, since most of the players butts haven't hit Greyhound vinyl since their Junior Hockey days. They should be grateful they don't actually have to ride the Grey-dog. You can meet some interesting people on a bus. (Didn't I see you last month on Cops? Or was it America's Most Wanted?) "With the charters, it's pretty nice going from point A to point B in no time at all." Rob Scuderi said, "We're pretty spoiled. I don't think it's that big a deal for us to suck it up for one trip." Yeah Scuds, I feel your pain, man.

MORE UPDATING: Pascal Dupuis will play tonight according to Empty Netters. Perhaps tonight the Pens will understand that just because MAF is in net they can't just relax. This is the NHL which stands for: Next Huge Loss, if you're not working your butts off no matter who's in net.

Ryan Whitney is targeting Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning as his return to the line up. "I don't think I'm ready to play a lot of minutes." Whitney said, "I haven't played for six months. I've got to get back into game shape." Whits had an assist on Janni Pesonen's goal (Somewhere Vince is having a tender moment with himself) Saturday against the River Rats in WBS's 4-3 win. He said he was having some trouble getting through the first period, but after that it got easier. Especially when he got to the point he forgot about his foot and just played the game. "As the game went on it was a relief. It was good to know that once I stopped worrying about it, I played better and we won."

With two weeks left to go Sidney Crosby has passed Jaromir Jagr's record in All Star fan voting, and Evgeni Malkin was only 19,000 short of the 1,020,736 (yeah that's 1 million) needed to pass Jags by noon Sunday. There seem to be a couple of Pensaddicts out there voting for anyone with a Flightless Fighting bird on his shirt, because Whitney and Gonchar are close to starting defense in the game and they don't even qualify. (you have to have played at least 20 games by Jan. 2)

John Curry is one of the subjects of the PP.com's 'Confidential Prospect Report' (I almost felt like an 'insider' until I realized that anyone can see the damn thing.) He's also the subject of Molinari's Pens Q&A at PPG.com. The question is basically, 'Does having Curry make Sabourin expendable?' Molinari gives a neutral answer that leaves you wondering why anyone asks his opinion (c'mon Dave, answer like you don't care what they think!). If I'm translating correctly it goes something like this: Curry played well, but Sabu doesn't cost that much at the moment. Yes he could fill the role (maybe), but I don't want to put any pressure on Shero by saying that's what they should do. Ok Dave, I don't want to bring you down, but somewhere in this pile of Posts, I've quoted you saying that very thing. Something to the tune of, 'Someone will offer Sabu too much money, and it doesn't matter because Curry could slip right in to his role.' Verdict? Reporter busted.

I'll post more before the game Monday, but I wanted to make one final comment tonight on the fine officials the League chose for the Toronto game:

YET MORE UPDATING: El Capitan is evidently suffering through a cold and also a bit of depression because he hasn't scored a goal in a record (for him) 9 games. If it were anyone else this wouldn't even be a mention during a game, let alone a headline story.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Strip Hockey and Flower Pads:

New pads at practice

When you're an NHL goalie and Reebok sends you new pads and they're the wrong color, you don't get mad because:

A) They were free anyway.

B)You're only going to wear them a few times.

C) You're going to auction them off at the end of the season for charity.

D) All of the above.

Marc Andre Fleury and Dany Sabourin received new pads from Reebok they were hoping were going to look like tanned leather, reminiscent of 'old time hockey' pads. What they got looks more like someone spilled the Grey Poupon Honey Dijon on them and forgot to wipe it off before it dried. PP.com says not to worry, (toward the bottom) the pads will only be worn with the Powder Blues and then auctioned off for a charity to be named later.

The Bleacher Report, seems to think it's kind of a big deal that Fleury's coming back to play tonight. Then they scratch their heads for a bit and wonder why, since the numbers don't seem to add up to much. Here's a clue, they play better and score more when they don't have to wonder about the goalie. The Tower of Flower Power's numbers are better than they were last season at this time of the year, and it's the time of year that his roll started (minus the boo-boo and missing all those games. Wait, he already did that part!) Oh and btw, if you'd like to see MAF's new pads in action check this out. The beginning is Flower in practice Monday with the new pads.

Speaking of nude... uh, I mean new things on the ice. The Pens had a rousing game of 'Strip Hockey' (I didn't even know that was possible outside of that scene in 'Mystery Alaska' where the guy slides into the snowbank in his jock). Evidently it's kind of a shootout game where if you don't score you remove something and if you do score you can put something back on, clothing-wise. Chris Le-Tank evidently needs to work on his shoot-outs because at the end of the game he was down to one skate and his hockey pants. (sorry, this is a PG Shop, so only partial nudity is allowed.) If past shoot-outs are any indication of how this game could go, then the whole team could look like this:

Wouldn't that be horrible? lol LGP has some pictures of the actual event about halfway down the page. OK, enough of that on to more serious hockey stuff.

More Serious Hockey Stuff: Ruslan Fedotenko (Feds) expects to return to the line-up tonight, evidently his 'undisclosed' is no longer ailing him. Also the Pens are adding three Promotional Nights and items to the schedule: A 'Vintage Rally Towel Night' (whatever the hell that is), on Jan. 3, A Consol Energy 'Knit Cap Night' (at least I know what a hat is) Jan 28, and 'Vintage Pennant Night' on Feb 6. (that one I can figure out)

Jeff Taffe and Ryan Stone have been called up from WBS and are projected to play tonight. I liked Stone last year, but haven't been too impressed with Laffy-Taffy this season, though I admit his opportunities haven't been all that good.

Former Penguin News: The man that haunted the nightmares of Pens opponents (and bad songwriters) last year, Scary Gary Roberts has announced his retirement from hockey at the end of the season. " I don't think there's much doubt I'm gone after this season." Robert's said, "I'm going to retire. I'd like to finish on a good note. I'd like to come back and prove that I can play and hopefully stay healthy enough to finish the season and finish playing a stretch of games and at least have some success. I'd like to finish on a high note." Roberts is currently on IR with a 'lower body injury' and has spent much of this season the way he did the last: rehabilitating injuries. Faceoff Factor has an article about it.

If game-good, more posting will follow. If game-bad, there will be too much crying and I can't get my keyboard wet. They won't replace it again....

UPDATE: Here I am so.... you guessed it.... game-good! The Tower of Flower Power didn't look rusty at all in his return to the net for the Pens. Fellow Pensaddicts we have a superior goalie. When it's posted I'll get vid of the tremendous save that Flower mad off of Scud's blocked pass and then the rebound. Vintage Flower Power. The Pens scoring went down like this: Cookie and Geno each with a goal in the first. Staal (originally given to Malkin) Satan, and Boucher in the second. The Moose was loose in Atlanta. Johan Hedberg was thrown in after what's-his-name was run out of the net in the first. The cool thing is, that Thrashed fans say Mooooose! just like Pens fans did a couple of years ago. The Third started to look like another Pens semi-meltdown as they tried to play conservitively and immediately started screwing up. I blame Armie's (Yes, I know you miss Colby) goal directly on the bad pass by Satan. But the Flower stood strong in the goal and made some tremendous saves to keep the Thrashed down. El Capitan slid Geno the puck in the final minute of the game and the Incredible Malk slid it directly into the empty net to make the final score 6-3.

FSN Rant: All right, I don't know what kind of happy pills Bob Error is on, but he needs to ease up on the dosage! Right in the middle of the first period he starts rambling about how he was talking to Tim Wallace and Tim told him about the time he was on the golf course in Alaska and saw a bear eating a baby moose. Tim walked up on the bear, and then rethought the whole situation and decided to split, thinking that walking up on a bear eating a moose might not be the smartest thing he's ever done in his life.(Ya think?) I mean, Error just can't shut up. The whole time he's babbling this story on prime-time my jaw just kept dropping lower and lower. He reminded me of that middle aged Uncle most families have. You know the one, he gets slightly tipsy and then tells embarrassing or inappropriate stories in front of the whole family until his wife finally gets him to shut up. Then halfway through the second he brings it up again! Later, when telling everyone his favorite Tom Glavin story, which somehow we hear every time the Pens play the Thrashed, he repeats that 'anyone can throw a baseball'. Ok, the ones that know Tom was drafted by the Kings have heard it before and the rest don't care! We're all glad Bob, that you feel so comfortable in our living rooms, but I missed two penalty calls and 4 saves because Stogie won't interrupt your babbling with what's actually happening on the ice. Sheesh!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Return of the Flower:

We've all waited patiently (more or less) and the day will soon come that Marc Andre Fleury, The Tower of Flower Power, will return to the fans, the team and the goal that has missed him so much. PPG is reporting that MAF will return to the ice Thursday against the Thrashed. "The thing for me will be to just do my job," Fleury said, "Like I can. And like I should do. If I do, I'm confident the team should do well." The team seems to agree with him: "He's one of the leaders on the team." Brooks Orpik said, "When he's in there it gives everyone a lot of confidence." (including the Pensaddicts, Brooks)

Rob Scuderi also chimed in, "You know a guy like him could possibly make a big difference in a game, could really steal a game."

No one is downplaying the role that Sabu and Curry have played in Flower's absence, but they all pretty much agree that Fleury is the man. (Well....... yeah) Flower injected a note of reality to the situation regarding his return. "I can't score goals, and I 'm not going to fight. (uh... I've seen the footage, he can fight) We're a team. We're going to win as a team, and we're going to lose as a team."
The Face-Off Factor has an interesting take on the 'Sabu situation'. They seem to think that Sabourin is doomed to be a back-up, but if someone offers him the right money, and a chance he'll be gone like he was shot out of a cannon. I agree with the second, but doubt the first.

Mad Maximum has a 'slight chance' of playing in Thursday's game according to HCMT, but the're 'aren't many' of the Pens injured going to return for that game. (the list is long and I can't bear to look at it any more)

Petr Sykora was named #2 Star of the Week, today. Having a first career HT and 9 points in 4 games can do that for ya. (I wonder if Syko would like my plans for a Hat Trick hat cannon?)

If you've been wondering how Pen's prospects Caputi, Sneep, Jeffery, and Strait have been shaping up, PP.com has an article for you. Personally I'd like to see Caputi get some Baby Pens action next year and maybe some Pen-ice time too.

Other Stuff: Well folks, it's semi-more than official Sean (IFSA) Avery is persona non grata in the Stars' organization, and has been given advice that he should basically, continue with counselling and possibly find himself a day-job.

Chris Osgood, in my humble, yet all knowing opinion, is the quintessential All-Star backup goalie. He plays harder than whomever he's backing up to prove that he should be #1, and then when he gets the job, he's less than spectacular.(read minor-league material) Says a lot for his competitive nature, but should also say something about making him a starting goaltender. This year is no different: his save% is 8.75 (last in the League) and his GAA is 3.20 (bottom 10 or so). If he weren't playing for a powerhouse like the Red-rags he'd be sent to the minors so fast he'd leave a vapor trail. CBC sports has a rather ambiguous article about the 'star-goalie', you can read for yourself. (but I don't know why you'd bother.

Ali, you've been with the Shop since before I started I think. And when I randomly come across something appropriate (in my opinion, which rules, btw) I just have to post it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Put Me In Coach! :

The Tower of Flower Power was interviewed for ESPN.com's Peirre LeBrun's blog. It's a small interview, and MAF basically says being injured is frustrating and he's glad to be back in his goalie-suit and the Team's goal: "We came close last season. We got a taste of it. Our goal this year is to finish it." I like the way this guy thinks....
Well, we all know that Marc Andre Fleury didn't play against the Philthy Phlyers on Saturday. Strangely enough quite a few of the Pens that did skate didn't much play either. Let's face it, when Eric Godard is part of your offensive juggernaut you've got some problems. No smackdown on God-ish, that's just not what he does. He's out there to mash apposing players into teeny-tiny little bits, if he scores the occasional goal, all to the good. But let's not dwell on the past (unless it's a win) On with the Shop.
Jeff Taffe and Connor James have been Yo-Yo'ed back to the Baby Pens. (James was only up for two whole days, talk about yo-yo) That says good things about Ziggy and Maximus and leaves Tim Wallace as the lone WBS representative on the offensive front.
Geno remains the League leader in points (49) and is on pace to put up Lemieux-like numbers by the end of the season. El Capitan is right behind his sometimes linemate (44) but still leads him in the All Star Game standings.
Other Penguin Stuff: The Cookie Monster has been embarrassingly nailed by NHL.com and forced to answer silly questions from Dan Rosen on their 'Chillin With.... ' segment. The most interesting things? His favorite movie is The Shawshank Redemption and he loves to cook, like from scratch. (so do I) The side-bar story has some recycled comments about how he's one of three players to have played with Crosby and Ovechkin.
Put Me In Coach: I'm sure you've seen the goofy movie reference. There's a guy up in the stands, or selling popcorn, or whatever. A player goes down, and the coach points to him and says, " Suit up." Hokey Hollywood reference? Strange Seinfeld excerpt? No. Brett Leonhardt, website producer for the Washington Crapitals, signed a try-out contract to back up Brent Johnson when Jose' Theodor went down with a hip-flexor injury. Simeon Varlamov was called up from Hershey but since the Bears were on the road, and the plane wouldn't land until game-time, they used Brett as an emergency back-up. (Psst, Therrien! I've got my goalie-gear in my bag if you guys ever need a hand. At the very least I'd have a good seat for the game.) In another strange note: At 6'7" (Sequoia height) if Leonhardt had played he would have tied for the tallest goalie ever to play in the NHL.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Return of The Tower of Flower Power:

Ok sports fans and Flower Fanatics! The Tower of Flower Power is officially available for playing Saturday. (and there was much rejoicing) PP.com, The Trib, and PPG all carrying the story that we've been waiting so long to hear. Due to some FSN babble last night the supposition is now that Marc Andre Fleury's 'undisclosed' is in fact a groin injury. (I could guess at the type, but wouldn't want to offend any groins out there) Mad Maximus's 'undisclosed' is hurting now (Jeeze, will it never end?) Curry, who's done a fine job backing up Sabu, and Chris Minard, who showed some flash at times, have been dealt back to the Baby Pens. But break out the Fleur Des Li's, and the French Fries (I was stuck for something French that was good) because MAF is back in the lineup. HT Michel Therrien is doing a line up version on 'undisclosed' so there is no word as to whether or not The Flower will play Sat., but at least he'll dress up in his goalie suit.

In case you've been living under a rock (and if you have, get the hell out of there) two Penguins who've never scored a hat trick did so during the Isles game on Thursday, Petr Sykora (Syko), who's had 44, 2 goal games but never an HT and Pascal Dupuis, (YM&D) each scored three goals in a nearly embarassing 9-2 win. (that kind of embarrassment I can live with.) Phillipe Boucher also had a first that night, scoring his first goal as a Pen. I'm not only glad it happened for them, but it's better that it happened at home, where they get the hats thrown. According to Stogie, the hats collected from Syko's HT were collected as usual, but placed in Syko's locker so he could take them home, I guess. I'd set up a hat-cannon/air gun, that way any time I was down or in a slump I could hit a switch and hats would rain down, this would make me feel the opposite of shame. (I know, it's strange, but so am I) I don't know about anyone else, but I was amazed when the second period ended, because I thought the game was over. There was so much scoring in the first two periods that I couldn't imagine what else could happen. (but I kept watching anyway)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mad Maximus and His Entourage:

Mad Maximus has a new jumbotron sponsor video. My favorite part is where he almost takes Senator Chris Neil's head off for disrespecting the Flower. (0:48 in) Call me vindictive if you want.
There's only three things I want to say about Monday's game, FPL member Kris Le-Tank scored his first goal in 36 games, Geno got hacked-off at MacArthur last night and smacked him with a right cross, and I can't remember the third thing. Doesn't happen too often but Malkin is a big guy and, if pushed, he's got a temper. .
General Penguin Type Stuff: Marc Andre Fleury practiced with the team again today, but Therrien says he won't be playing this week. Boucher is still listed as week-to-week, Ziggy is still day-to-day and Janne the Yo-yo (up and down, up and down) was sent back to WBS again. Hal Gill's injury is nearly 'disclosed'! The Sequoia will be out for 2 weeks with a shoulder injury that's not a bruise. (hey it's still better than 'undisclosed') At the bottom of that article is a tiny snippet that says, and I quote: "Whitney is hopeful to play next week for the first time this season." The Trib does not say who is hopeful. The Trib? The Penguins? Ryan Whitney? the Cotton Candy Guy? anyway, someone is hoping that Ryan plays sometime (undisclosed?) next week.
Ben Lovejoy (how about McLovin for a nickname or Benlovin? The mind wobbles!) is glad to have his first NHL game out of the way, and I have to tell ya, other than a couple of bobbles during a time when the whole team seemed to be doing the same thing, I was fairly impressed. He showed more poise in his first game than Go-Go did, and look how good Goligoski is doing now.
Also, this just in: 8100 midgets invade the Igloo! Well ok, it was kids day at the Mellon they showed up from 63 schools on 250 buses to watch practice. The under-height stampede evidently had a blast and the players got a kick out of it too. Whitney said," It was fun. You could tell that the kids enjoyed it, and it's something I wish I could have done when I was a kid." (What's he talking about? He's just a big kid and he gets to it every day.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Great Day for Flowers:

The Tower of Flower Power (aka Marc Andre Fleury) started skating with the team in practices today. So that definitely makes it a Great Day for Hockey! HC Michel Therrien said, "He's getting closer, and closer. That's good. Hopefully pretty soon, he'll get back." Yeah coach, hopefully you're right. I've posted his interview, but I'll save you some suspense, he's got to check with the trainers and see what they have to say. I think the reporters asked that question about 4 different times in different ways, as if by speaking the secret combination Flower would suddenly be able to tell them what they (and we) wanted to know.

In further FPL news, the human sequoia, Hal Gill is out with his 'undisclosed' hurting. (I STILL hate that) Evidently he injured his 'undisclosed' on his last shift against the Sens. I don't know when that was, so I don't know if his 'undisclosed' is the reason it became his last shift, or not, but he's going to see the doctor about it sometime today. Ben Lovejoy will be protecting Sabu-tage against the Buffaslugs tonight. Ben's 6'2"-215, and has been playing in WB for a while now. But the only thing I know about him is that he's big, he's right handed, and he's got a cool last name. Ben and Go-Go will be paired up and it's Therrien's advice that Ben, "keep it simple, he's got some poise with the puck. For him, the challenge is to play really solid defensively." Ben is just hoping he's here long enough that Go-Go can give him a tour of Pittsburgh.
Other Pensaddict Stuff: El Capitan, Sidney Crosby is at the top of the voting for the All-Star Game. Evidently some people really like this guy. Geno is also climbing up the charts for a starting position in the game (I guess people think he can kinda play this game too).
Nutrition seems to be important to NHL athletes (ya think?), but difficult to maintain on the road. I know when I was on the road (non sports or felony related, I have to say) it was so easy to hit McD's drive through and get the food thing over with quickly. The problem is, when you do that you can't figure out later why you're tired, cranky or buzzing like a bee on meth. I could deal with a bit of inconsistency, these guys can't. (If you need a hint about me being on the road, check out the nickname, it'll come to ya)
Other Stuff: It seems that IFSA is going to find out if he just put his foot in his mouth, or the entire skate. Tom Hicks, the Stars owner is meeting with the rest of the brass to figure out what to do with the worm. Not only did Hicks fully support the League's suspension, but he's left the door open to sweeping Avery completely out Dallas's door. He's taking serious consideration to Dave Tippet's recommendation. Dave recommends that Avery hit the bricks. "I'm trying to build a team where the players care about each other, that has continuity." Tippet said. "I find it hard to believe that Sean could come back in the room and we would have that continuity. My job is to build the best team possible. I don't know if we can build the best team possible with Sean in the room." Translation: Sean, pack up your barbies and hit the road, your fashion show in Dallas is over.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sad Penguins and Schedule Notes:

In a (sometimes) valiant effort the Pens fall to the Sens 3-2. not even a shorthanded goal by the current points leader, Geno, could fuel another famous comeback on this one. This is where we learn the value of having TK and Ziggy on the ice. Noting against Pesonen or Minard, who are both doing what they can do, but you've got to miss TK's energy on that third line and Ziggy's face off percentage. Sabu looked pretty good, even in the loss with Spezza getting some world class chances alone in front of the net and burying the HT, but the Penguins spent waaay too much time in their own zone and seemed to have beginning of the season problems getting through the neutural zone. Staal and Malkin each had a goal and an assist with El Sid getting the other Pen's point in the game. The final two minutes were edge-of-your-seat stuff with the Pens buzzing around in the offensive zone and showing a lot of energy. Malkin got a little scrappy on a good chance at the goal, so I never saw what Staal and Phillips did to send them to the box with 13 seconds to go. Go-go seems to be finding his feet a bit more in the Big League, having his role defined a bit more probably helps a bunch. Sooner or later the Flightless Ones will have to learn how to deal with Spezza and his bunch even though they'll only meet them one more time in the regular season and that isn't until March 14.
Monday the Buffaslugs come to town, and that means another chance to trot out some demeaning cartoons I have laying around. So I have that to look forward to, at least.
Fellow Pensaddicts beware: Is it just me, or is the schedule really weird for the next month or so? A series of back-to-backs, with long empty spaces in between. I'm sure the scheduler's system (state of the art colored darts and a big calender) is no longer working in the Penguin's favor. With few exceptions there are back-to-back games every week until the beginning of February. Lace up your boots, it's going to be a long winter.

Unused goal waiting for Fleury:

No further word on Marc Andre Fleury's condition, unless I missed something during the game while raiding the fridge. (which sometimes happens during afternoon games. Hey, I need a snack!)

Tyler Kennedy's injury is actually 'disclosed'! (I don't know, for some reason this makes me nervous) TK will be out 4-6 weeks with a sprained knee. Chris Minard is projected on the third line and Janne Pesonen on the fourth, with Sabu-tage in net.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Updated, Thanks Spanks and Le-tanks:

I just want to thank Chris for giving me the keys to The Shop. There aren't enough words to express the gratitude. That being said in complete sincerity I can only add: It's MINE! Mine I Tell You!! Muahahahahaha!! (ok psychotic break over, back to work!)

At the top of every one's list today is Sean Avery's comments and 'indefinite' suspension, so let's deal with that and then move on. As you may have noticed by the pic to the left I'm something less than a fan of IFSA as Jodie puts it, (I F----n Hate Sean Avery. You can substitute your own favorite F word). He said some crude things about a couple of ex-girlfriends and their current relationships with hockey players, and in usual worm-like fashion he sought out a reporter in the locker room to make his comments. In swoops Gary Bettman who will ignore SA's bigoted and demeaning public comments about fellow players, but won't stand for him besmirching anyone with a publicity agent in their pocket. Final score? Say anything you want 'in house' but don't bite the hand that feeds the League. Public opinion means more to Bettman than disgruntled employees(or possibly even his left arm). Chalk another 'not too flipping smart' award to Avery, nuff said. Also translate 'indefinite suspension' to 'you'll play when I feel like letting you play' and it's not so much a punishment as a way to get SA (stupid a--) out of the way until Gary can see which way the PR wind is blowing.

Pens Stuff: Ok, on to things that actually matter. Marc Andre Fleury is only one of three Pens that practiced today, conditioning and he took some shots from Ryan Whitney. He's classifying his 'undisclosed' as back to 'day-to-day' rather than 'week-to-week'. Just out of my own head (after all what would want to stay in there?) it could be a Black, Gold and White Christmas this year as we all hope to get MAF and Whitney and now Boucher and Kennedy (who's undisclosed is also hurting) before the Big Guy with the reindeer gets here. (please, SC, don't check that list even once, just gimme!) Janne Pesonen and Chris Minard were called up because of Ziggy and TK getting 'undiscloseds' last night. Mike Zigomanis is listed as probable for the game though. Sabu is probable to start in net tonight.

Evgeni Malkin bought a house in Pittsburgh, but the guys at NHL.com think it's more wonderful that he's answering questions in English. (I gotta admit, that is pretty cool) It's gotta help communication on the ice, having Geno actually talking to his guys rather than Sarge translating for him when they get back to the bench. Of course he's still cursing in Russian, so Sarge probably still has some things to translate for the guys.

The PPG Q&A is asking some goalie type questions again. Basically the reader wanted to know why the Pens can't keep both Sabu and Flower. Molinari trotted out the bankbook logic stating that since Sabu is playing so well chances are that he'll get an offer that the Pens won't likely wish to match. This is true, Sabu is playing very well this year and it's quite likely there'll be a team that wants that kind of talent in front of their net and they'll offer him several large-ish bags of money to do so. The thing that Dave kinda missed was the fact that Dany wants to be a no.1 goalie, and with The Tower of Flower Power planted in front of the cage that's not likely to happen for him here.

Goofy Things You Never Thought You'd See: The latest in a series of slightly strange Jumbotron vids is this gem. Playing on Le-tank's name and stealing a 30 year old Tang commercial is kind of hokey, but it's harmless hokey I guess.

Tonight the Pens collide with the Hurricanes, and strangely enough I'm kind of hoping they're trailing going into the third period. Be prepared for 6798 Staal brother references. I know that's why there were only 258 last night, Stogie and Error were saving them up.
After Game Stuff: Syko went...... well, psycho tonight scoring two goals and coming within a whisker of the HT when Geno slipped him the puck on a 2 on 1 but Leighton put a stop to it. El Capitan had a 4 point night creeping ever closer (39) to Geno (41) On a further El Sid note, Sidney Crosby is now leading the Eastern Conference All Star Team voting. The Tower of Flower Power has taken a huge jump in the polls recently as well. The Pens actually scored 2 POWER PLAY GOALS. (somebody pinch me!) Satan scored, Fedotenko scored (now I know I'm hallucinating) I couldn't tell you how many times the Flightless Ones stole the puck in the 'Canes zone. Sabu looked very good in net making some amazing saves while making the other Staal look silly while doing it. Someone must have had words with Stogie and Error about the gratuitous Staal brother references because they're way down, although they did manage to work in Jared Staal in case it was just the Major Leaguers you were getting tired of hearing about.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

Hey all. I am just popping in to say that I am officially stepping away from The Flower Shop and turning things completely over to Stagerat. He has been doing all the heavy lifting around here for quite some time anyway so I doubt any of you will even notice a change except to the layout. Going forward I will simply be a fan of the blog and a reader just like the rest of you. If you want more details on what is going on with me check out TOFTT in the next day or two for an update.

Thanks to each of you and a big thanks to Stagerat (I don't know how secret he wants his real identity) for taking my humble little blog and running with it. I am just happy to say I was a part of it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Flower Rants and Chants:

Caution: I don't normally use this forum to rant and rave, but this is an extreme event. Thanks must go out to Raine for nixing the language I intended to use.

There's a list I keep in my head of people that deserve bad things happening to them. It's called the Quick Karma list, and once you're on it, Bad Karma naturally and inevitably comes your way. This is a bad list to be on. But there's another list that's even worse, it's called the Instant Karma list. Once on this list people just don't last too long. You may ask yourself, "Ratt, why did I need to know this? Am I a member of one of these lists?" No, but there's a tweaker that wrote into Dave Molinari that just jumped to the top of the IK listings. Molinari is the PPG reporter that runs Pens Q&A. Some moron, who shall remain nameless (John from Pittsburgh) not only called Marc Andre Fleury a "middle of the pack goalie" who "gets hurt a lot" and " is a 1st round pick, he should be a difference maker", but also says the Pens " should trade him now before everyone else figures it out". I don't know what late-90's Craig Patrick ruled, trade the good player, alternate universe you slipped in from but, John, seriously, did you bring enough of whatever you're on that the rest of us can trip out too? Because you've obviously either imbibed some heavy pharmaceuticals, are a time-traveller from a not too distant past, or you've been in a coma for the last year. (run to the '08 SCF and best save% in the playoffs themselves ringing any bells?) I'm not going to knock Sabu and the wonderful job he's been doing in the absence of MAF, but there's no way that "Sabourin is the better goalie". I don't have the time or patience to teach a hockey challenged band-wagon fan who obviously jumped on that wagon so recently the reality of the situation. (and quite frankly, my keyboard can't take much more punishment.) I'll give Molinari props, he immediately recognized the other-worldly nature of this bozo (John from Pittsburgh) and had some very intelligent things to say about the situation. Unlike John, who will soon learn that there's only one way off the Instant Karma List, and that involves notification of next-of-kin.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Just a quick jump-in to note that El Capitan, Sidney Patrick Crosby has been named NHL 1st star of the week. I like the NHL.com article mostly because it jabs at Semin (isn't that a body fluid?) and I like the fact that they said this: "And anyone who thinks that he's (Crosby) not so special--well, maybe they should think again." Hmm, ya think?
PP.com has a kind of tribute vid of El Sid with Lighthouse's, Hanging by a Moment playing heroically in the background....

I'm sending this stuff to TSCS! Snoop'll love it!.