Thursday, October 30, 2008

But It's a Dry Heat:


The Pens, (for all of you staying up into the wee hours) take on the Arizona Desert Dogs tonight. Marc-Andre Fleury is slated to guard the net, but from there? To quote the song, it's a long and winding road. Therrien is shuffling lines like a Vegas black jack dealer, in the hope that someone (or more than one someone) will actually score a goal.
The lines, in no particular order:
Crosby-Feds-Kennedy,
Malkin-Cooke-Sykora,
Staal-Satan-Minard,
and Talbot-Ziggy-Goddard.
Defense--
Orpik-Scuds
Eaton-Le-tank
Sydor-Go-Go
Also in the same article, Pascal Dupuis was hurt, and left practice after being hit by a puck, so we're still waiting for updates on that. Mad Max is still out, and they're still not telling us why. Chris Minard was just called-up from the Baby-Pens, so that may tell us something about Maximus right there. Or it just may say something about an embarrassing 11 shots on goal tues. night. (I think the less said about that, the better)
Later Edit: Seth at Empty Netters and PP.com are reporting that Gill, the human sequoia, and Mad Maximum are playing, but Dupuis is out. Also Chris Minard is wasting no time jumping into the Sanbox.. PP.com is saying that he'll play, and that Biz will sit. Of course that's just their guess. I guess Therrien has added juggling to his shuffling..... sheesh.
I was told that some 'Burgh station somewhere was forwarding the rumor that Jordan Staal (did you know he has brothers?) was on the block to be traded to the Thrashers for Ilya Kovalchuk. This is rumor crammed together with speculation. While it is true that there are rumors that the Thrashers are looking to trade Ilya and speculation that the Pens won't be able to cover a 4-5 mil offer sheet if Staal goes RFA, no one has stuck these two together other than this one radio station that shall remain nameless. (but I think it rhymes with 105.9 The Tex).
Forbes-ish news: More than half of the teams in the League are worth more than that Flightless Arctic Bird team you hear so much about. The Pens came in 18th in projected worth. But it's had the highest percentage increase in value, 26% increase over last year.
Other League News: Daniel Alfredsson, hero of stage, screen, song and ... Sweden, will be staying in Ottowa for the next few years after signing a four year extension today. I only mention this because TFS is strong in the Swedish polls... or meatballs, I get those confused.
If you're in the mood for Irish sounding hockey players, Brendan Shanahan is now on the market to whichever team will pony up the dough. After waiting for 3 months for the Rags to get off their butts, Shanny has had enough, and has told his agent to solicit offers from other teams.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Leisurely Trip Out West...


Sabu's in net tonight against the Sharks. I am betting MAF wishes he could get back out on the ice to get the taste of the Rangers game out of his mouth, but there is no point in burning him out this early in the season. This will also give us another chance to see if Sabu is for real this season.

Side note: Yahoo will be streaming the game online for all out-of-towners (like me!). Late start tonight too so you might want to stop and pick up an extra Dew on your way home.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Brains, Zombies, and Halloween:


On off days, you sometimes find some strange things, on off days this close to Halloween you generally find some really strange things. Like the fact that zombies have evidently taken over the Monroeville Mall. And most of the Penguins would rather not donate their brains to science although they seem to have no problem coming up with body parts of team mates they'd like to donate.
The Sports Legacy Institute is looking for sports players to donate their brains so the cumulative effects of concussive injuries can be studied. The guys had mixed reactions:
Marc Andre Fleury doesn't want to donate his brain because he thinks they might pull the plug on him too soon just to dig into his melon. But he wouldn't mind donating Ryan Whitney's calves because they're freakishly skinny. El Sid, said he would 'think about it', but in the spirit of 'skinny calves for science' he suggested they study Pascal Dupuis, although Max-imum thinks they should study PD's eyebrows instead. Mark Eaton doesn't think his brain could show anyone anything, but that Tyler Kennedy wouldn't even realize they'd taken his. Both he and Whitney seem to think Le-tank asks too many questions, Eaton thinks KL's tongue should just be removed (I'm not sure there's a scientific purpose behind that), but in the true spirit of scientific investigation Whitney wants the Institute to scoop out Le-tank's brain and find out how and why he comes up with so many questions. Scuds would just like some scientist to figure out how Crosby's butt got so big. (Some sort of genetic mutant hockey experiment probably, that kind of thing happens a lot in Canadia).
Not too weird, but interesting: Kim St-Pierre (is the hyphen a letter in Canadia?) winner of two Olympic gold medals for the Canadian Women's Hockey Team, was asked the other day if she would sit in on a Canadien's practice, subbing for starting goaltender Carey Price who has been out with the flu. She was dressing for a practice with her own squad, the Montreal Stars of the CWHL, and took about 2 seconds to say 'Oh yeah'. I doubt they're going to offer a contract, but the guys had nothing but good things to say about her.

FPL Report: Dan Molinari of PPG doesn't think we should break out the Defensive Panic Buttons quite yet. Although the Pens are paying a combined $9 mil. to the boo-booed duo, the defense as a whole is doing a damn fine job, and I agree. Speculations and 'what if's are going to plague every mistake and loss, but it's about time to admit that what we've got is pretty good, (if not the same) and learn how to win with it. Rather than trying to win with last years formula and this years players. (the offense could stand to listen to this hint too).
Speaking of formulae, Seth, over at Empty Netters, had someone send in some sort of mathematical table to explain who actually is the best player in the NHL. I'm not sure who actually won according to his math (I hate math) but it looks really well thought out.
Kris Le-Tank is going back to shoot-out school. Ok, really he's just working on new moves for his shots.

Other Stuff: Jerome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla was named #1 NHL star of the week. I'm not sure anyone cares, I've just been looking for an excuse to write his entire name on a blog. I'm easily amused.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Give the Flower One Point Again:


Let's see if we all know this song: Penguins take a lead into the third period, get out shot 1,863 to 2 and end up losing the game 3-2. Marc-Andre Fleury looked awesome at times fighting off a Dubinski shot through a screen, a highlight reel diving stick save during a 5on3 penalty kill on Chris (watch him, he's sneaky) Drury and an SCF style double save on some Ranger I forgot to write down.(probably Drury again, I told you he was sneaky) The Tower of Flower Power was 'standing tall' for the shut-out until 5 minutes into the third when the Pens (well on there way to California by this time), started acting like Henrik Lundqvist (who was a beast in goal, damn it) was the carrier of some kind of embarrassing social disease, and refused to go near him for most of the period. Fleury even seemed to get into the absent minded hockey act for a while, and took a 'I shouldn'ta oughten to have done that' penalty by touching the puck in the 'no-fly goalie' zone, but bailed himself out by playing tough in the penalty kill.
Zherdev put in the heartbreaker with 8 seconds left in the game with a wicked shot. The 4on4 overtime was exciting, but unproductive with both goalies making solid saves. The shoot-out? Sucked. There's no other word that fits as well. All three skaters for the Pens were sluggish and Lundqvist didn't break a sweat, making Letank, Syko, and El Sid look like they should go for a shoot-out refresher course. Someone gave the Raggers some bad scouting information when they told them they should go low stick-side on the Flower, the first two shots were in exactly the same spot, with the exact same result... denial. Sjonstrom tries the other side with a flubbed backhand and slid it under the outstretched pad of MAF. Total Suckage: 2-3 OTL.
Flower report: Couldn't ask much more from the Floral one, stopped 42 out of 44 and went 2 for 3 in the shoot-out. Just at the wrong end of the 20 minute penalty kill that was the third period. And somehow I missed MAF talking Friday about the shot he tried in Thursday's game, and the 'what Flower did last summer report:
Personally, I thought that second question had been covered several times already.

FPL Report
: Scuds was virtually a backup goalie on the ice again swatting away anything that MAF didn't gobble up, and just a pass and shot blocking beast during the 5-3 pk. Brooks Orpik, was throwing out the hits including one run were he put a Rag on his butt, turned around beat another one to the puck and flipped a nice pass out of the zone. Darryl Sydor (gotta come up with a name for him) played a solid game and should stop off in Vegas on his way out west, because that was one of the luckiest goals I've ever seen: bouncing off two different NY defensemen and past Lundqvist. Le-tank played about as solid a game as he has so far this season, throwing the body, starting the rush, joining the rush and was as close as anyone to matching the Energizer Bunny that is Kennedy. Eaton even showed a couple of flashes of why the Pens keep waiting for him to heal up, blocking a couple of shots and playing some solid defense. Go-Go wasn't quite up to his usual form, but still wristing the shots on the PP, and using the angles in the Pens zone to make up for his lack of size. Hal Gill was back out on the ice today during the conditioning portion of the morning skate, and expects to play sometime during the road-trip
FSN Report: Is there some reason it seems like I'm watching every game in Steggo's basement? Too many times the Stegmeister and Error have been so wrapped up in their stories, that they forget to watch or comment about the game. And here I thought that was what they were getting paid for. I wish we were all watching the game in Steggie's basement, then we could send them out for more beer and pizza just like you do to the terminally annoying at any sports watching party. I'm tired of saying 'Shut up Bob' when he makes some superstition breaking comment, or saying 'Shut up Steggy, we know the Staals are brothers', or just 'Shut up!' at the TV like a psychotic bag lady talking to people that aren't really there.
Final Mouthing Off: There was considerable game-watching going on at times on the 'Burgh side, by players on the ice. Sid didn't seem to have his usual 'this is my game' energy and at the end of the periods was to be found hanging on the boards by the bench, seemingly wiped out. The rest of the offense take their cues from El Capitan and he was just out of gas by the 3/4 mark of each period. Someone needs to smack these guys in the back of the head (watching too much NCIS) when they 'go into a shell' when leading in the third. 40 minutes of hockey just ain't gonna cut it, and it's a bad habit to get into. Getting out shot 44-29 is a bad habit you don't get to the play-offs with.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Post Game Flower Power:

Marc-Andre Fleury was at times spectacular in last nights 4-1 win against the Carolina Tropical Storms last night. Stopping 24 out of 25, to give him #6 in save percentage #1 in saves (ouch), and #8 in save percentage in the league. In fact he was one Brooks Orpik brainfart away from a shutout. Just short of 3/4 of the way through a first period full of choppy, back and forth play, there was a 4on4. Why did E Staal and El Sid go to the bin? We don't know, because Error and Steggo were rambling about... something. But during the penalty phase, Brooks was betrayed by his stick when he whiffed on a cross-ice pass and hockey legacy Brandon Sutter picks up the gift and backhands a shot past the Flower. Brooks snaps the stick in half on the top of the goal, so it will never betray him again. Whalers: 1-0. Steggo (obviously frustrated at only being able to work 7 'Staal brother' mentions in the game so far) used this as a perfect opportunity to go into a long, rambling discourse on the history of the 9 Sutter brothers, the second generation now playing, where they all are now, what their cats are doing and something about... something. He was actually sounding like the adults in a Peanuts cartoon after a while, but the story took the rest of the period (and three shots of the 14 Sutter Brothers) to complete. (I know there were only 6, but it got a bit old after a while)
Leighton played a pretty solid game for the 'Canes and got some help from the Zebra Crew who seemed to have forgotten their whistles in the dressing room for the entire first period. The second was a much livelier period with The Tower of Flower Power making some impressive saves, getting help from Le-Tank on one Staal-Samsonov give and go play, stopping a one-timer through traffic, and making an incredible recovery, dropping his stick to stretch across the net and stopping a Samsinov wrap-around chance. What did we learn from FSN's on-ice reporter? Well we learned that Coach MT has opinions about officials not making the hooking call on El Sid's breakaway chance: "We always get an explanation, we just don't always agree with it." But what we mainly learned from the FSN crew was that Bob Errey thinks that Brooks Orpik is tougher than the boards. I like the 'folksy touch' in announcing hockey games, but sometimes this crew takes it a bit far. Where is Mike Lange when you need him? Oh yeah, he's on the TV without picture station.... I think it's time to scale back the 'Dumb down for the new fans' policy just a touch.
The third period? Crosby tips a Malkin slapper in, and keeps his mouth shut about it in case it was a high stick, Feds wrists a Staal pass into the net, Maximum 5-holes a defender and a goalie in the same rush from a Le-tank pass, and Malkin scores on an empty net off a Siddo pass. Oh yeah, and a certain Floral goalie takes a 184 foot wrist shot that bounces off line to miss the net by about 3 feet, driving the 17,000+ fans insane and nearly causing me to lose the toe my girlfriend stepped on while watching the shot. (medical report: Just a little redness, I think the toe will live)
Flower on the postgame:

Other Stuff: Mad Maximum thinks that the Igloo gives the Pens an unfair advantage, but he's cool with that. And last night saw the return of the 'French-Man-Chu' facial hair. Max probably stopped shaving at 3:00, by Saturday's game he'll look like one of the ZZ Top guys. Max also has a new car commercial. It's not quite as good as the Colby commercial, but when I find it, I'll post.
Seth, over at Empty Netters, has pics of the Student Rush line circling the arena and his usual comprehensive live blog thing going.
You can go to Cane's Country for the opposing perspective.
Milan Lucic can hit! Watching this vid of Lucic smashing Mike Van Ryn through the glass will help you understand what Maximum went through when Lucic was tee-ing off on him on Monday.

(Ed. Note: I will have something special in store for loyal readers when (not if) MAF scores his first goal. It WILL happen! -Chris)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Warm up

Begin preparing yourself for 1,347 repeats of Bob Error telling us all that the two guys on the ice with the same last name are actually brothers. Then here's a lead in to tonight's match. First a little FSN love for the Flower:


According to several rumors, Marc Andre Fleury will be back in the blue paint tonight as the Pens face the Carolina Sprinkles tonight at the Igloo. Dany Sabourin played as well as could be hoped last game, and seems to understand his role and hopes of ice time and contracts. Personal note. I like Sabu, I like him a lot. He's one of, if not the best back-up goaltender around. I like him so much, that I have to agree that there's no way (knock on wood) that he's going to become a #1 goalie playing behind the Tower of Flower Power, and agree reluctantly with his assessment of his chances of being back next season. So enjoy him while we've got him folks.


Futility Report: If you happen to have been sitting in front of the Igloo since 6:00 last night, or are willing to mow down the 800 or so people that will be in line ahead of you, tonight is one of the Student Rush Nights. 600 tickets will be sold to College and High School students at some ridiculously low price. (I'd tell you, but it's waaaay to late for it to do you any good.


FPL report: Hal Gill will not be playing, due to some unspecified leaf-miner injuries sustained in Monday's game against the Beanie-Bears the Sequoia won't play. The FPL lines projected for tonight are.. (drum roll please) Brooks Orpik-Rob Scuderi, Kris Letang-Mark Eaton, and Alex Goligoski-Daryl Sydor. PPG.com has some nice things to say about FPL member Alex Go-Goligoski and honorary member Mike Zigomanis (Ziggy). Hey, if your defensive zone PP faceoffs were this good, yoiu'd be a member too.
Wishful thinking report: Chip Alexander over at The News and Observer in Raleigh (an obvious enemy propaganda rag) is suffering from an almost terminal case of wishful thinking. He's pinning his hopes on yesterday's after practice video as an assessment of El Sid's health. Got bad news for you there, Chip, you should have checked out today's vid:



He's also surprised that the Flower doesn't look at Carolina's stats, noting the 0-13 record on recent Rainsquall power plays. Hey Chipper, the guy doesn't even look at his own stats. I personally would rather have him over prepared, thank you. The Cookie Monster will also be out of tonight's match, but at least he practiced today with his bruised ribs. The projected lines for tonight via PP.com: Dupuis-Crosby-Malkin, Fedotenko-Staal-Sykora, Kennedy-Talbot-Satan, Bissonnette-Zigomanis-Godard.
One last note: Did you know that the Staals are brothers? PP.com is leading the pack with another intevitable heart-rending brother story. Sorry Bobbo, but you weren't the first, maybe next time...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Off Day


The age old question: What do you do if you write about the 'Pittsburgh Penguins Star Goalie Marc Andre Fleury' and the team's not doing anything? A: You desperately cruise the net looking for.... stuff about hockey. Q: What do you do as an avid hockey fan when your team's not doing anything? A: Well, if you're Canadian, evidently you build a hockey rink. If you've got a lot of room, or an understanding neighbor you build one like this:


or
maybe something like this:
But let's say you don't have a big yard, or an understanding neighbor, but you do live in Canadia and you have to have a hockey rink. (I think it's a law, or something) So you look around your house and you suddenlyrealize you've got all these 6" Todd McFarlane hockey figures and a nearly empty room in your basement. You could, if you want (and who wouldn't?) build yourself what is probably the greatest table hockey game of all time.

This monster is 70"x45", or about the size of a large dining-room table, it has both custom and production McFarlane figures of the Toronto Maple Leafs battling eternally with our very own Pittsburgh Penguins (including a custom Flower in the net), curved and slotted custom paddles, a working jumbotron with speakers, logos, timers and the very clever use of an electronic picture frame for pictures on one side, and its own series of Youtube videos (Check out vid 5 where he sets up a shot that dinks the water bottle into the air) Then you go to Spawn.com and make all the posers there jealous as hell. (Count me as a poser, I sooo want to break into this dude's house and cart that thing home) The lines for the Pens? Forwards:Malkin, Crosby, Staal. Defense: Gonchar, Letang and our favorite Flower between the pipes. The lines for the Laffs? Who cares? I'm pretty sure I saw Sundin in there somewhere and Belfour in net, after that I couldn't tell you. Well, gotta go, I just realized that I have 12 McFarlane figures including two goalies and the Hanson Brothers..... Wonder if I can move some stuff out of the basement....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sabu-tage and the power of Satan:



I'll update this throughout today as more interviews are posted. I guess everyone at PP.com decided just to get the hell out of Beantown as quickly as humanly possible. (and who could blame them?)
Sabu was a beast in goal tonight, allowing Marc Andre Fleury a bit of a rest before the big road trip starting this weekend, stopping 35 out of 36 and allowing only 1 out of 5 in the shootout for the 2-1 overtime win. He looked absolutely awesome at times stopping breakaways and smothering rebounds.
The Pens once again took a series of penalties, culminating with Satan taking one for hooking near the end of the first period. Crosby and Malkin streaked down the ice at the end of the kill, Malkin drew a penalty on his breakaway and back hand shot, when the Master of the Infernal Realm snuck out of the box and top-shelfed the rebound. Which gives him the lead in most goals for the team. (Marion who?)
Just a bit earlier there was a 'fight' between Goddard and Shawn Thorton, and the FSN boys made a bit out of Thorton's last fight being against BGL, but from what I saw of both fights Thorton seems to just want to get into a man-clutch with tough guys.

Also in the first period, Mad Max seemed to have taken the target off Malkin's back and put it on his own as he was really whacked a couple of times by Boston players obviously jealous of his superstar status.
Second period was a back and forth duel with Sabu getting lucky with a couple of missed nets, but making some solid saves when pressed until Staal, obviously anticipating tackling his brother in another NHL commercial, took a stupid penalty and Boston proved its policy of 'Let's just buy big guys so they can get in the way occasionally' really paid off as Lucic was lurking around in front screening Phil Kessel's shot. 1-1. Later in the period El Sid got the tip of a stick in the face and, being a bit grumpy with the cold and all, decided to take it out on Andre Savard, pinning him to the ice and roughing him up a bit. I don't know if that was supposed to fire up the Pens, but it worked on Pascal Dupuis who got away with launching himself at Dennis Wideman behind his own net. I've never seen Dupuis so charged up to hit someone.
Third period was exciting to watch, but boring to write about. Except for a couple of excellent saves by Sabu and when the linesman got hit with a puck and then sandwiched between Biz and Hnidy.
Overtime was more of the same back and forth hard grinding hockey until I guess Staal was feeling guilty for drawing a penalty on a break away with Malkin, or thinking about smacking his brother on Thursday, and took a much embellished slash penalty to negate the 4 on 3. The 3on3 was a further case of, 'Just shoot the puck' as the Pens seemed to be putting on a passing exhibition to wind the game up.
Shootout: Le-tank: poke checked and shut down. Syko: flipped the short-side backhand into the net, Crosby: suffering from NyQuil hangover, denied, Satan: saving his power for the next game, denied, Malkin: Swings wide, stuns Thomas with his hip-wiggle-kick move and flips one into the net. Overtime Victory. If you didn't get to see it, here you go:
Speaking of Malkin, and speaking of speaking, the other day I reported that Malkin gave a Potash interview (update on Potash watch, no hits yet) and that if I found it, I would post it. Well..... here it is, it's tv to camera, the sound in the beginning is inaudible, but you get to hear the Incredible Malk speak.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Flowers and 'B's

Although there are rumors flying around that Marc-Andre Fleury will sit out tonight's game against the Boston Teddy Bears, PP.com is saying that he's in the line-up. (Ed. note: goaliepost.com also has MAF listed as the probable starter via the Post-Gazette.)
PENGUINS PROJECTED LINES

Forwards:
Dupuis-Crosby-Malkin
Fedotenko-Staal-Sykora
Kennedy-Talbot-Satan
Cooke-Zigomanis-Godard
Defense:
Orpik-Letang
Gill-Scuderi
Eaton-Goligoski
Goalkeeper:
Fleury
Update: Danny Sabourin will start tonight, giving MAF a rest and Paul Biznasty will sub in for Matt Cooke on Ziggy's line. On the B-town side: According to the Boston Herald Blog, PJ Axelson is out, and Tim Thomas is the likely starting goalie.


Both teams sit at 2-1-1 but Beantown and their version of Lurch (Chara) are going to by psyched to be playing the Pens in their home opener. Lurch and company have two sharp scoring lines, so there's going to have to be some hefty support from the FPL (Flower Protection League, for the newbies) and the 3rd and 4th lines to help squash the B's. PJ Axelson may or may not play tonight. By a strange coincidence I have a sister named PJ, and she can't play hockey at all. Don't know if that means anything.
Back in the homeland, The Tower of Flower Power looks at the stats about as often as Bob Smizik has an original thought: "I don't pay attention to them too much," Fleury said a few weeks ago. "I know when I'm playing good. I know when I'm not so good. The stats, it's not that they lie, but sometimes you can't tell that from them." Flower, who has seen the most ice time of any goalie in the league so far (371:43) seems to have a good handle on why he's getting so much time in the crease: "I want to play a lot," Fleury said. "You only play a lot if you are playing good. Before, when I haven't played good, I haven't played. So that's the number I look at, the one that says how much I play." There doesn't seem to be much doubt how the other Pens think about the amount of time MAF spends in front of the twine. "He's been our best player so far," center Jordan Staal said Friday, a day before Fleury stopped 26 shots to wrap a four-game homestand in which he allowed nine goals on 136 shots. "He looks so confident out there. He's made, probably, two or three saves every game to keep us in it."
Defenseman Brooks Orpik said recently that Fleury looks "a lot like he did in the playoffs."
"Maybe better," defenseman Rob Scuderi added.
Even HCMT has positive things to say about Flower, which wasn't always the case last season: "He's just kept playing the same way he did when he came back from the injury last year," Therrien said. "He's the guy we have a lot of confidence in."

Other Stuff: Sidney Crosby's 100th goal and Evgeni Malkin's 200th point were both made with the same puck, so they're going to saw it in half. Time for Dana Heinze to get the DeWalt out and get to work.

Mentioning the unmentionables: I know a lot has been made since February about 'Shero's big trade', but the guy seldom mentioned (except to mention how infrequently he's mentioned) is Pascal Dupuis. I've liked everything this guy has done since he got here. He works hard at both ends, shows up in the right spot, kills penalties, gives great support for whatever line he's on, and he called Potash 'Danny boy' in the intermission interview during the Toronto game. (No, I can't find that vid either. Damn FSN and their non-multimedia ways!) Shelly Anderson at PPG, seems to think along similar lines. Shelly also had a live-chat about the Pens today, and posted the transcript.

Other, other stuff: For those of us watching the games on FSN I'm declaring an unofficial Potash watch, to see who is the first Penguin (other than that one in the FSN promos) who kisses Darling Dan on the face this year. The Prize? The look on his face when it happens is just hilarious.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Leaf Us Alone!:

Flower takes one in the throat to make the save

Pens win 4-1 against the Laffs, now with a score like that you wouldn't expect much of a nail biter, but there were some times in the first period where at least I was saying 'Oh God, here we go again'. Marc Andre Fleury looked kind of shaky at times in the first, pucks bounding in weird directions, one coming a whisker away from flubbing in when it bounced high off Flower's shoulder and then off the top of the cross bar. But, for some reason, the guy thinks it was fun.

There were times in that period I had to be restrained from declaring 'Zebra Season', as the Pens were hit with 4 penalties in a row, and from the sound of the arena I'd have had trouble getting there before the refs were all gone. Antropov scored the first goal of the game, bashing one through the 5 hole on a rebound, and later in the game (obviously suffering from dain bramage) he seemed to forget he was playing hockey and not soccer when he tried to kick one in that was disallowed on review.

For once this season, shots remained pretty even. Despite the 4-1 tilt of Toronto power plays in the first, shots were P25-T27. Which is holding the Leafs to fewer shots for the whole game than they allowed in the 3rd period of two out of the last three games. Jordan Staal was nearly absent tonight, playing center on the second line doesn't seem to agree with him any more than playing wing on that line. Miro Satan and Petr Sykora scored on nearly identical passes from El Sid in two different periods, Dupuis scored on a cross-crease pass, and Sid scored (what can I say? The guy was everywhere) from behind the goal line off a defenseman, and hey, if there just happens to be one in the net, why not use him?

Evgeni Malkin had an on-camera, one on one interview during an intermission and didn't seem at all intimidated. Of course a Dan Potash interview is like riding with training wheels but I think it still counts as a first.


Good Job Awards: Sidney Crosby, for scoring his 300th point, 200th assist, and 100th goal all in the same game, as well as figuring on every goal the Pens scored. Evgeni Malkin, for scoring his 200th point (83g, 117a), assisting or scoring on every goal tonight, and for just being a general all around beast on the ice, and for knocking Colaiacovo's helmet off on a blue line check. Kris Letang, for forgetting he doesn't have the name Orpik on the back of his jersey and throwing some heavy checks. And Bill Thomas, for basically not screwing up completely during his first game in his hometown. Finally to the Goal Posts and Crossbar, for helping MAF out.

Special Nostalgia Good Job Award: To Frank Petrangelo for making 'the save' in game 6 against the Debbles in 92 and showing up at the game tonight. And here's the tribute:




FPL report: I'm liking Go-Go on the power play. It's either talent or rookie enthusiasm, but he's pinching when needed, shooting when he's open, passing well, and holding the puck in the zone. Kris Letang still looks a bit tentative, each night he's showcasing one aspect of his talent, and ignoring all the others. When he jams them all together we'll talk again. Hal (USS) Gill showed us two things, he can take a slap shot occasionally, and Dupuis can fold in half when he thinks his life is in danger of being hit with a Sequoia shot from the blue line. PK looks good but had some wobbles, allowing shots the posts had to stop, but none went in, so they don't count.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Don't Panic, Rinse and Repeat:




Instructions: 1) Connect to computer

2) Wait for next Penguin game

3) Repeat step 2 as necessary




Well, some things I know: (sort of) Marc Andre Fleury played a solid game, and it should have been enough for the win, HC Therrien is 'miffed', (if they'd have let that interview go for two more questions MT would have bitten through his lip or had to pay for some expensive media equipment), HCMT is shuffling lines, as well. Bob Smizic is driving the 'Boo-bird Wagon', (notice how he waits until the end before he says 'but I'm not one of those people'. Voice of reason there, Bobbo). Alexander Ovechkin has homicidal tendencies when apposing Malkin: Malkin, who recorded three points, had no clue why the Penguins played a "bad system" in the third period last night. He was equally dumbfounded as to why fellow Russian and Washington left wing Alexander Ovechkin appeared intent on cutting his promising NHL career short. And finally, I know that Elvis Presley aliens invaded the locker room in the second intermission and switched the entire team with look-alikes to allow the Crapitals to win 4-3. (Ok, maybe just average, ordinary, everyday aliens then)

What worked: Mike Yeo's recent incarnation of the power play, the energy and puck movement in the first two periods, the Penalty Kill, and Paul Biznasty is a guy I really don't want to anger.

What didn't: Nearly everything after the second intermission.

Editor's Note: From the "Call It Like It Is" Department... the third Capitals goal was completely Sidney Crosby's fault. He took his time getting back to the Pens' bench which allowed the Caps to have a 3 on 2, which resulted in a goal. Crosby needs to dig in there and either backcheck on the play or at least skate hard back to the bench so that his replacement can catch up to the play. His lack of effort on that play made that goal happen. I was amazed that MAF got as much of it as he did. I love Sid and he is the hardest working guy on the ice 99% of the time, but he really blew it on that one. -Chris

In order to make up for this egregious error, El Sid has purchased a suite in the Igloo for the different charities he supports. Make a wish, Big Brothers & Sisters, and other kid oriented charities will get the opportunity to watch games from the 'Magnifique' level of the arena.-- Rat

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fighting Goalies and Dueling Russians


I know you've probably all seen Marc Andre Fleury, and MadMax 'duke it out' pre-game, but what you might not know is that MAF has a wicked right. I ran onto some footage that shows once again that the Tower of Flower Power is just that. And not just between the pipes. When he was the goalie for the Cape Breton Fighting Eagles it seems he lived up to the 'Fighting' part anyway. Check about :33 and 3:32 into this to see what I mean.


That gangly, smiling, soft spoken young man can throw a mean punch. And that was before he'd met Big Georges! Imagine what he can do now that he's had a bit of instruction.

Blogger Busted: Ok, MAF actually played for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, I was trying to play a little fast and loose because I'd found a vid of Screaming Eagles fighting and I thought it sounded cooler. Apologies will be made, kowtowing will ensue, hara-kiri will be committed. Props to reader Ultra Chrome for... well basically busting me.... lol

Upcoming game notes: When most writers and fans talk about tonight's Pens-Crapitals game, the obvious focus is on Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. Examples? Dan Rosen, over at NHL.com does it, Tarek El-Bashir at the Washington Post does it, innumerable Bloggers like Washington's own The Hockey Mom, do it, but I'm taking a different look down memory lane. To a certain game in Jan of last season when former room-mates, Ovy and The Incredible Malk, each acted like the other had stuck him with the room check.



Those two were gunning for each other all night. So, the statistics may watch Sid/ Ovie, but I'm keeping my beady little eyes on the personal rivalry that seems to have grown from the Cold War between the Russians.

Of Flowers and Scoring Frenchmen:

Marc Andre Fleury stopped 28 of 30 (current .929 sp, 2.37 ga), allowing only 1 redirection and 1 weird bounce off the Sequoia (hey, if that dude in Mystery Alaska was a 'Tree' Gill is a Sequoia), in the second. The Pens didn't let the goals get to them as they kept up the tempo they somehow found in the second period. The first period was a horrific repeat of the last 5 periods of play by the Flightless, but Ziggy scoring off Cooke's pass and FPL member Orpik's goals were a direct result of the team finding their energy and playing Penguin's hockey. Glad to finally see some.
Penguins win in overtime on a loooong Orpik pass and a Pascal Dupuis rocket from the top of the right circle. Cue the Highlight Reel:


FPL Report: It's all Brooksie, baby. 1 assist, 1 goal and 1 interview. Brooks is not taking the whole scoring thing too seriously, but likes the lift in team attitude from what it's been the last couple of days. I think the fan attitude has improved a bit as well. The sound is a bit soft in the beginning, but it gets better so be careful turning it up in the beginning.


PPG has a different edit of the Brooksie interview with a few comments by El Sid.
Oh, Empty Netters is running another of their, 'Jersey pictures of players you barely remember' series along with their running highlight blog.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cherepanov Update:


I ran across this story at CBC.ca and almost passed it by, thinking it was just some Russian politician blowing a publicity horn. Then I read it, and the more detailed version at TSN, and the thing that disturbed me was the possibility of Cherepanov having a known heart condition.
Russian investigators said Cherepanov suffered from chronic ischemia, a medical condition in which not enough blood gets to the heart or other organs.
Moscow regional investigator Yulia Zhukova said officials would look into why Cherepanov was playing with ischemia, and said officials could open a criminal investigation.
The defibrillator controversy, the EMT controversy, these are all serious things, but need to be addressed in Russia. But if he had this heart condition (Iscemia) it becomes a question of who knew, how much they knew, and why didn't the NHL know about it when they allowed him to be considered for the draft? For the truly morbidly curious there's a Youtube vid of the team hustling Alexei off the bench and into the training room.
Late Edit: Sergei Gonchar's reaction to fellow Russian's death.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Marc-Andre Fleury and Some Intermission Feel Good:

Once again, scouring the Interwaves. Bringing you the best.... random crap I can come up with. Semi-seriously though, in this time between games, when contemplating the last loss and looking forward to (hopefully) the next win, you just need some 'feel good' to get the old hockey juices flowing. So, like a shotgun of goodwill, here's my attempt to make the 'off day' a little more 'on'.
First up is a vid of MAF's version of 'How to get your team-mate to never trust their hockey bag again':

I love the look on Armstrong's face when he realizes that there's a Flower growing out of his bag.

Or, if you're into the more traditional 'feel good' PP.com is running a story on one-time Penguin coach, Herb Brooks and his legacy with the current inductees to the American Hockey Hall of Fame. And whoever even thinks his name and doesn't think about this?


But really, there are only two ways to truly feel good on an off day, 1) Hear something good said about one of the FPL, like the Trib's Rob Rossi has to say about League Member Kris Le-Tank. I know he's had some stumbles so far, but remember, Letang is a second year defenseman trying to take the place of a 14 year defensive beast. When he stops trying to fill Sarge's shoes and starts filling his own, things will smooth out.
2) The second way to truly feel good during an intermission is to hear about highly paid morons doing stupid things and getting busted for it. (and let's face it, that's truly the most entertaining) Kind of gives you a warm glow all over to hear about Sean 'the A-hole' Avery is starting his season right were he left off last year. In the Stars home opener, and second game of the year, IFHSA (to borrow from snoop) has already earned 2 game misconducts. And, as the saying goes, three strikes and you're out, buddy. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
On an ever stranger note: On to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and no, the strange thing isn't that Columbus has a team, CBJ center Michael Peca was suspended indefinitely for 'bumping an official' during Friday's game with the (wait for it) Dallas Stars! (I think SA is contagious) I've seen the vid, (around the 1:17 mark) and it doesn't look like the Pecster actually bumped the guy, but rather grabbed his arm to protest a goal. As Alternate captain, you can yell, scream, cry, or mutter under your breath, but in keeping with the strict 'No Touchie the Stripey' policy the NHL has, Peca will be out basically until they decide what to do with him.
Late Edit: Truly bad news, Rangers '07 draft pick Alexei Cherepanov colapsed and died on the bench at the Omsk game today, details are sketchy or non-existent, but he was reported to be a protoge' of Jagr. No reason has been given for his death at this time. TSN

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Give One Point to Fleury

Sorry this is so late, but I've got painters scurrying all over my house today, (why do they have to show up on Sunday, anyway?)


The Tower of Flower Power was just that, he was absolutely stunning in goal, stopping a regular season carreer high 47 of 49, in a gallant, but losing effort against the New Jersey Debbles. You couldn't ask more of a goaltender than to keep you in a game where you were outshot 49-15. It wasn't the defense's fault, there was just too damned much of it, you couldn't really ask more of a defense that seemed to spend the last 2/3 of the game in their own end. And what happens when you let that kind of thing go on long enough? Someone (Patrick Elias) throws a pass across the middle and it boinks off Gill, the human sequoia, and slips in the goal.

Satan scored on the first power play of the game, which should say nice things about both Satan's ability to score, and the power play, but after that the offense got a bit..... well... non-existant isn't too strong a word. The Pens seemed to be trying to out-Devil the Devils, but there was only one problem. This years incarnation of the infernal dwellers just isn't the same as in days of yore. In years past, you could nurse a one goal lead against NJ and be reasonably assured of a win, but this year's type seems to know how to shoot, and they like doing it. The only reason the score wasn't 30-something to 1 was MAF's stellar performance between the pipes. Just ask Sid: Without Marc, we don't even get a point," center Sidney Crosby said."We didn't deserve it. It's funny how it works that way. We didn't do what it takes to win that game."
or HC Therrien: "We didn't work," coach Michel Therrien said. "It's pretty simple."
Or the Cookie Monster: "He played unbelievable," Cooke said. "Made some huge saves. It's just unfortunate that we couldn't get the job done."
Pascal Dupuis: "If he's not there, it would [have been] a horrible game," winger Pascal Dupuis said. "They played a way better game than we did. You get beat, one on one all over the ice, you're not going to win many games."
Or even 'Uncle Daddy' Martin Brodeur: "It was like one of those games when I first came into the league, not a lot of shots and not a lot of goals," Brodeur said. "We got a lucky bounce, but we deserved it. He (Fleury) played well, it's too bad for him, but we'll definitely take this win."
All these nice comments aside, the Flower would have rather just chalked up a win: "It doesn't matter what I do, the main thing is to win the game," Fleury said. "We got a point tonight but two would have been better.
All in all it was a Playoff-worthy effort for a pre-season ready team...

I've said before, I'm not a play-by-play kind of guy, if you'd like a recap or just mentions of how well Flower played last night, this next part's for you. I've scoured the interwaves for articles on MAF, and here they are:
Articles: PPG, Trib-Review, PP.com, TSN, CBC, For absolutely, totally and world endingly complete coverage of the pre-game, game, outside the game, anywhere around the game, or just whatever he happens to think of, I recomend Seth &co. over at Empty Netters. Just about every kind of picture you'd ever want to see, including a rash of former player jerseys. I can only say, 'wow'.
I was going to add a Devil's blog in there, just to be fair, but the dude couldn't even get the GWG right. Imagine, a paid blogger on a night when your team won the game and he confuses the only two goals his team got.... I've never had a very high opinion of people in NJ, and this just shows ya'all why.

MAF's Postgame Interview For 10/11/08

Flower stood on his head tonight stopping 47 of 49 shots against in the Pens' home opener against the Devils. The boys in black ended up dropping the game 2-1 in OT, but our boy MAF set a career regular season best with his 47 saves and was named the first star of the game despite the loss.

Here is Marc-Andre's postgame reaction:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pics, Flicks, and Sticks:


My friend Jodie, over at The Sidney Crosby Show, sent me this pic of the Flower at the practice Wed, so I immediately rushed to my keyboard to post it up.
EJ Hradek, of ESPN the Magazine fame (ESPN/hockey=me confused) has a ranking of 10 'people to watch' in the 08-09 season, and no. 2 on the list is the Tower of Flower Power. Now I find EJ about as annoying as everyone else does, but when the guy's right, he's right.
Marc-Andre Fleury, G, PenguinsRecent hockey history tells us clubs that lose in the Stanley Cup finals don't fare so well the following season. Wayne Gretzky's 1984 Oilers were the last team to turn the trick. If the Penguins want to break the trend, their newly minted stopper ($35M, seven years) must build off his strong, albeit injury-shortened, season. Fleury's task will be tougher because of significant injuries to key defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney. Can the 23-year-old handle the added pressure? We think he can.
We think he can too. BTW, EJ thinks you should also watch Hose-a, but isn't too clear as to why you should. (see what I mean about him being annoying?) also seems to think the Redrags will ditch the Hose after this year. One more note: EJ, Jenny Craig or something man, damn!. Looks like you've found all the weight that LeGreka lost.
Malkin no Rudulov: In a fairly eye opening post, David Staples, blogger for The Edminton Sun, writes about how Gino did have an 11 mil. offer from Mettalurg, and basically told them to stuff it, he liked it here. Also goes on to talk about the 'A' on his chest, and getting his own place so he can have his parents visit occasionally, and (possibly more importantly), bring his girlfriend over for a visit. Quote for the ages: (or at least this season) When asked about his goals for this year, Malkin said, "To make the last step we stumbled upon when we got there last season ... Detroit's good, but so are we ..." I don't know about you, but I think his English is Fine......
One to watch, Future: Check the new Promo-vid, and say it with me, 'It's a Great Day For Hockey!'

One to watch, Past: In anticipation of the North American portion of the season, I dug out this vid of MAF's game-saving goal in the SCF last year. (I know I encouraged you to ditch your Youtube gm5 vids, but I didn't think anyone would actually do it)


One to watch, Present: Keep your eyes on this 'kid' John Curry. He led the WBS Pens through the play-offs last year, and I've seen him in the practice scrimmages. He's sharp, and if Sabu needs to jump the fence to find somewhere he can be a no 1, then look to see Curry step in, and step up to play big league hockey. After being sent back to the Baby Pens he told the local paper that working with the team has made him hungry for more.

Flower Protection League Report: Orpik on Therrien, to paraphrase Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge, "Just because you let me play, doesn't mean we're going to be taking long walks in the moonlight together". (yeah, I could have used the 'swapping spit in the shower' line, but waaaaaaay too many bad images). According to Ron Cook over at PPG, Brooks and MT aren't exactly 'warm and fuzzy', but Orpik is surprised and glad to be playing in da 'Burgh. And we're suprised and happy having him here dishing out the Free (still not going to say it) Hits.

Other Hockey Stuff: Vancouver smothered the Flames 6-0, Roberto looking snazzy with his 'C' on the chin of his mask. Before the game they had a very cool tribute to Kris Letang's friend and 'Canuck Forever' Luc Bordoun. Or you can watch the whole thing here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Movie Heaven and old Goalies:

The big screens and the kielbasa will be blazing at the Igloo for the first 4 home games. The Trib is sponsoring the 'Face-off Festival' and there will be 'various food vendors' until the beginning of the third period, I guess to allow the heavy beer drinkers 1 hour to sober up before heading home. The Trib seems to want to be in the forefront of the part-time fan crying contest by saying that the next 10 games will be 'less than perfect' for the Pens. Call me crazy, but what 10 games ever are? Are the Penguins the only team 'doomed' by the trip to Europe?

Stephanie, over at The Steel City Sports Fan, has some pleasant musings over the incessant cheerfulness of The Flower. All I know is this: Every time I see that goofy grin, I just gotta smile.

It seems that the old Federal League has reared its head once again. They're putting on the foil in Syracuse NY to raise Reg Dunlop's no.7 to the rafters of the War Memorial arena. Parts of the movie were filmed there, and the team is the AHL affiliate of the Johnstown Chiefs on whom the movie was based. No one from the movie is actually going to be there, but they've got their own 'Hanson brothers'; two brothers and a sister who've been playing Hanson dress up since '94. So where's Ogie Oglethorp? Where's Dr Hook McCracken, where's the Steven Spielberg look-alike playing the organ in a helmet? Couldn't any of those guys show up?


Speaking of thugs playing sub-par hockey in old arenas, the Philthy Phlyers were soundly defeated in their last game at the old Speculum... uh Spectrum Arena. The newsy part of that is goaltender Niittymaki, who helped the Phantoms beat the Phlyers 4-2, has recovered from his surgery and will be the Flyers (see? I do know their name) backup for the season.


And where's the love for the 'Bulin Wall? After trying to dump him for the last week the CBC announced that Khabibulin would be on the roster this season for the Blackhawks. Kind of like the last kid picked in a football game, don't ya think? "Ok we'll take the asthmatic kid with crutches and you guys take Nikky." "Aww man!"


Good news. Martin Brodeur will not be breaking any of the 3 records he's going for this year at the Igloo Saturday. With some classy stats stolen (uhh I mean borrowed) from the Ottawa Sun, 'Uncle Daddy' needs 14 wins to get past Roy's 551, 3028 played minutes (B averages over 4k a year) to pass St Patrick's 60,235, and 8 shutouts to down Sawchuck's 103. That's a lot of number's for a guy that's been playing in the NHL since he was 12. There's little doubt, unless someone chops off one or both of his arms (hmmmm...) at least two of those three are going into Marty's pocket this year.



Release the whining Canadian hounds: Someone who will remain nameless over at the Vancouver Sun has begun the, now traditional, whining about Canadia not winning a Cup for the last 15 years. This has gotten pathetic to the point that even the Canadian reporters won't put their name to the story. Yes, Canadia, we get it, Hockey was invented there, but it's now a North American game, get over it.


Later News: Off the PPG wire. Taffe on waivers, Curry and Pesonen back to the Baby Pens, and Chris Beech is still pissed about being sent to WBS. If he doesn't show up soon, it's Life's a Beech and then your Fired. Speculations are that he's looking for a job over the pond.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Take a deep breath...



It seems like everyone (including me) has just about taken Monday off. Oh, there were some actual paid performers out there cranking some stories out, ya know, gotta pay the bills and all that, but most of the Net-fanatical were seemingly snoozing at their keyboards. It's like when you've just started to dig a long ditch, and you stop and look up, think 'Damn, this is going to take a while', and then take a deep breath and get back to work. (wow, did that sound blue-collar zen, or what?). Well, I've looked up, seen a long season, taken a deep breath and decided I can only hold my incessant babbling in so long.


It seems that our revered (?) Hockey-fuhrer, Bettman, is not a big fan of spanning the globe to bring the NHL to the Olympic world beyond 2010. Unless, of course the North American Hockey-money paying public can get into the action. I'm of two minds about this. Yes, it puts a big hole in the middle of the season, but it's only once every 4 years, and who wouldn't want to represent their country in the Olympics? Am I crass and selfish enough to deny that to someone just so I can watch uninterrupted hockey every year? (yeah, I know, that's a tough one) Buried at the bottom of that article is MAF's take: Freeing its players to participate in the Olympics is completely necessary, said Penguins' goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
"We have to go," Fleury said. "This trip shows how big hockey is everywhere. The Olympics is the biggest (stage), wherever (the games) are. I think any player wants to go."
Ok, the Flower should not be denied. Go, play hockey, win medals, you have our blessing. BTW: Two of the Pens seriously considered for the Canadian team at the Vancouver games are Flower and The Kid, and that's still a ways down the road.
Found a podcast interview Flower gave at 105.9 The X where he seems to be warning Ryan Malone that he'd better bring a cup with his camping gear if he intends on setting up shop in front of any net that Fleury's in charge of.

Say what you will about Ruuuuutuuuu (I know, I keep doing that), I know he went from 'honored agitator' to 'cheapshot artist' in less time than it takes for a 50 dollar bill to disappear at a homeless convention, but he has some really nice things to say about Da Burgh in the middle of a different article about Bettman not liking the whole international competition thing.
One more thing about Dur Hockey Fuhrer, he seems to have developed an almost stalker-like fascination with El Sid. And plans on continuing to ride him like a money making horse for the foreseable future, foresaking all others.


Michael Dell over at LCS hockey has some nasty things to say about Marian Hossa at the bottom of a list of the coolest underrated players in the league. Hint: Hoss didn't make the list. I used to think that this kind of thing would get old pretty quick, but it hasn't happened yet.

Add on: This is just a sick, sick save that Carey Price made against the Redrags during this year's pre-season game on 8/30


All in all a fairly off-topic day, but I'll continue randomly inserting even more random things. I've looked up, seen how long the season is, and now I'm ready to go.