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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pens Lead 2-0, I Should Go Away More Often

Ok, the title bears a little explanation I know. This past weekend I was sunning it up in Cancun, Mexico. Jealous? I am and I was just there. As a result of the trip I missed all of Game 1 and most of Game 2. I returned home in time to see Evgeni Malkin make a terrible pass that got picked off by Mike Richards who then scored shorthanded.

My timing is impeccable.

Before you start saying "Oh poor baby. Missed two hockey games because he was in paradise," think about this. There was no way for me to even know the score of Game 1. None. We got ESPN in the room, but it was ESPN Latin America or something. I watched 90 minutes of SportsCenter in Spanish for nothing. Even the bottom line failed to show anything about the NHL, but I saw enough NBA highlights to think I was still in the States.

Anyway, I got the score of Game 1 from the girlfriend's brother who was able to check it on his phone. Gotta love technology.

I didn't think this whole thing through either. In my head when we planned this trip I was all pumped to go. Then I realized that it would be playoff time and the further the Penguins advanced the more I realized I screwed myself. If you go back and look at a recent post about how you know you love your team too much, you'll see why I was amped up and fidgety this entire weekend.

I must say, if you've never been to Cancun...GET ON A PLANE AND GO RIGHT NOW. You won't get many travel tips from me, but this was an amazing trip and I can't wait to go back someday.

Now back to hockey.

I can't really say much about Game 1 other than that I'm happy we won. All I saw of it were the highlights and I was laughing hysterically at Malkin's shorthanded breakaway goal. He pulled his best Zdeno Chara penalty shot impression and put the game away.

As for Game 2. There was some controversy in the first period when a shot by Gonchar deflected off a bunch of things and appeared to cross the goal-line with Sid hacking away on the doorstep. Video replay was inconclusive and the Pens remained up 1-0. In my humble opinion and since I played goalie for some time, that puck was in the net. No question. I'm just glad this didn't come back and bite us later in the game.

I was not impressed at all with how they played in this game. They were real sloppy and at times lacked focus, yet somehow we found a way to win with of all people but Max Talbot.

Here's what I'm hoping for. The Penguins need to lock Talbot up for a few years and I'll have a new jersey. We named our cat Max because of Talbot. (The girlfriend refuses to admit this, but while she was suggesting names for the cat I waited for her to pick one that had a Pens player's name. As soon as she called out Max, I pounced.) He's by far one of my favorite guys on the team because of his work ethic and the energy he brings to the lineup.

Let's not forget that this whole thing was set up because of a Philly turnover at their own blueline and somehow they couldn't get the puck away from Georges Laraque who dumped it down to Gary Roberts in the corner. Roberts then makes a brilliant no-look pass to a wide open Talbot in the slot who made me jump out of my chair and scare my own little Max.

From that moment on, the Pens looked like the team that has gotten to this point. They absolutely shut the Flyers down for the last 10 minutes of the game and only surrendered one good chance. This new weapon in their arsenal is something I haven't seen out of this team forever. The discipline this team has at this age is what frustrates the daylights out of me when I see stupid penalties being taken. We have the guys to shut a game down like we did in Game 2 and that alone has been a huge factor in their success to this point.

Marc-Andre Fleury was great once again, as was Martin Biron. I was thinking about this earlier today. Biron hasn't played poorly in this series. Did anyone see the sprawling save he made on Crosby after a failed clearing attempt left him in no-man's land? I was half out of my chair dancing around when my jaw hit the floor to see Biron's glove snag that puck.

What has hurt Philly to this point is their turnovers. You can't turn the puck over against a team like Pittsburgh and expect to get away with it. The elite players the Pens have will kill you if you just cough it up to them. Look at Detroit for another example of this.

In any event, we head back to Philly up 2-0 with Game 3 tonight. Of course I'd love to sweep them out of the playoffs, who wouldn't? Again, I don't think we sweep this. All I'm really looking for out of these next two games is another split like we got against the Rangers in the last round. If we head back to Pittsburgh up 3-1 for Game 5 I'll feel pretty good about our chances.

1 comment:

Apryl DeLancey said...

A good vacation is the only acceptable excuse for missing sporting events of this magnitude.