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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Flyers coming in for a harsh landing

I'm upset. Very upset.

The Flyers' recent form has been nothing short of embarassing. They aren't trying anymore. Sure, some players are putting forth performances, but the team seems to have given up. Why? Last year they played like hell down the stretch. This year, when they sort of have a playoff spot locked up, they wilt. Wonderful.

Sure, the Devils are in a freefall. But who cares? They have the division locked up. They gave the Flyers three chances over the past week to catch up and the Flyers keep pissing them away. Now I'm just hoping to secure the 4 seed, which is looking less and less likely. Philly has an incredibly easy schedule down the stretch, but if they are going to be losing to teams like Toronto, I wouldn't be surprised with lower half finish.

I don't know what to think about Briere. At times he seems to rejuvenate the offense, especially on the powerplay. At other times he competely screws the lines. Because of his massive contract and acknowledged skill, it's clear he shouldn't really be getting 3rd or 4th line time. But when he's messing with chemistry, its trouble. It seems like he's near full strength as far as his skating goes, but the Flyers haven't exactly been better with him. The PP looked great for a couple of games and now everything is going down.

The good news? There's time left to turn this around. And an easy schedule. John Stevens needs to lay off his hands off approach and get in their faces. Immediately.

The Flyers have the talent and work ethic to match any team in the East, and at least give the Sharks/Red Wings a run for their money. They have a powerful offensive team that can respond to anyone. But if they aren't getting effort from all four lines (and right now I'm looking at you, top two lines) - they aren't going to come close to winning.

Prove me wrong Flyers, please.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pens Go 1-1 Over Weekend

Things have been rather hectic for myself over the last few days so this will be relatively short as well.

I'm happy with the weekend's results for the most part.

The 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings was what I expected in that game. The Kings are not a team the Penguins should lose to. They showed up and competed and got the valuable two points in the standings.

The lone goal given up by the Pens can't really be blamed on anyone on the ice. It was a 5-on-3 powerplay goal on a bomb by Drew Doughty that was tipped by Michal Handzus.

Video Highlights Courtesy Of

The blame here will go on the two guys in the penalty box. In this case, Mark Eaton and Jordan Staal took minor penalties 20 seconds apart that eventually set up this goal.

All around I was happy with the performance in this game and even Sunday's 3-1 loss to the hated Flyers.

The Penguins once again wore the ugly powder blue jerseys and paid for it as a result. Can we please stop this experiment already?

For the most part, the Pens dominated the game and forced Martin Biron to win the game for Philadelphia.

The Pens got a few pucks behind Biron, but just not over the goal-line. On several occasions a Flyers player was there to clear the puck out of danger, or Biron somehow found the puck just in time.

The first Flyers goal is entirely Rob Scuderi's fault.

With the Flyers on a powerplay in the first period, Mike Knuble fired a shot on Marc-Andre Fleury who made the save, but left a rebound. Scuderi attempted to clear the puck up the middle of the ice on his backhand while staring Fleury in the face and completely whiffed on it.

The attempted clear became a direct pass to Simon Gagne who buried the puck behind Fleury for the early 1-0 lead.

Video Highlights Courtesy Of

The second goal was another penalty killing mishap in the second period. With the Flyers breaking into the zone and driving to the net, Brooks Orpik made a play on his man as he should have.

Mark Eaton was visibly confused and somehow didn't notice Scott Hartnell racing to the backpost looking for the easy tap-in goal. Jeff Carter saw Hartnell and attempted a pass to him that ended up hitting Hartnell in the skate and going in. The goal was reviewed and deemed legit.

Eaton takes the full point on this one for not blocking the pass and not picking up the backside player.

The Flyers third goal was an empty netter and I will not assign points for empty net goals, unless a Penguin puts it in their own net.

The effort was there, but the bounces went Philadelphia's way. Simple as that. No need to dwell on it. The Penguins just need to focus on continuing to play with high energy and effort and things will work out in the end.

Up next are the recently vastly improved Calgary Flames in what should be a good measuring stick for the Penguins. The Flames come to town on Wednesday.

Updated Hal Gill Quotient Standings:

Kris Letang - 6.34 - 15 GP
Marc-Andre Fleury - 5.08 - 17 GP
Sergei Gonchar - 5.08 - 16 GP
Hal Gill - 5.34 - 17 GP
Mark Eaton - 6.33 - 18 GP
Brooks Orpik - 5.09 - 18 GP
Rob Scuderi - 4.50 - 18 GP
Ryan Whitney - 3.5 - 6 GP - TRADED
Jordan Staal - 2.88 - 18 GP
Evgeni Malkin - 2.0 - 18 GP
Matt Cooke - 1.0 - 18 GP
Ruslan Fedotenko - 1.0 18 GP
Tyler Kennedy - 1.0 - 18 GP
Pascal Dupuis - .83 - 18 GP
Max Talbot - 1.0 - 18 GP
Sidney Crosby - 0.5 - 4 GP
Referee Paul Devorski - 0.5 - 1 Game Reffed
Bill Thomas - .33 - 5 GP - WAIVED

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pens Destroy Thrashers 6-2

BallHype: hype it up!
Well, it's about time the Pens won a game and didn't force me to down a bottle of Tums.

This one was over before it started as the Thrashers were without several players, but most notably Ilya Kovalchuk.

The 6-2 win tonight ties the Pens with the Flyers for 4th in the Eastern Conference, but the Flyers have three games in hand.

There were some anxious moments early when Bryan Little banged home his own rebound just 34 seconds into the game.

The only reason this puck ended up in the net is because of Hal Gill who practically handed the lead to Atlanta.

Gill received a pass behind the net from Rob Scuderi and attempted a pass up the boards to Evgeni Malkin. The problem here is that Gill can't handle a puck to save his life and as such, the pass went awry.

Viktor Kozlov picked off the pass and one-touched it on to Little. After a give-and-go with Todd White, Little was wide open at the top of the left faceoff circle. Marc-Andre Fleury made a great first save, but his momentum took him out of the crease and Little slammed the rebound home.

Little should not have been as open as he was. The only reason he was that open was because Gill got confused as to where he was supposed to be and slid over to White was already being marked by Scuderi.

Gill is taking the full point in the standings on this one.

Highlights Courtesy Of

Lucky for him, this was Malkin's night to shine as he gathered five points to put him over 100 on the season.

Midway through the first period, the Penguins went on a 5-on-3 powerplay and completely controlled the play. They would have scored had Johan Hedberg not done the splits and robbed Bill Guerin on the backpost.

Right after the two-man advantage ended Malkin fed Guerin who found Sergei Gonchar at the point. Gonchar teed it up and found the twine around a screen set up by Chris Kunitz to tie the game at 1-1.

With under a minute to play in the period, the Penguins went back on the powerplay and Kunitz found the back of the net on a rebound shot by Sidney Crosby. Kunitz has been unconscious since coming to Pittsburgh and is showing no signs of waking up any time soon. Malkin got the secondary assist for his second point of the night.

With the Penguins up 3-1, Malkin decided it was time to put on a show for the fans. Both sides were short a man and a short 4-on-4 play took place. Malkin won the draw back to Kris Letang who made a quick pass to Gonchar. Again, Gonchar wasted no time in letting one fly and Malkin was there to deposit the rebound into the empty net for his third point.

Just 43 seconds later Malkin connected again on a one-timer from the farside halfboards that beat Hedberg clean.

Malkin capped his evening when he took a big hit, but sprung Gonchar and Mark Eaton for a 2-on-1 on Hedberg. Gonchar waited out the defenseman and slid a slick pass to Eaton, who had a wide open net to make the score 6-2.

The Mellon Arena starting chanting "Geno! Geno!" for a majority of the third period hoping that he would get the hat trick and he had a golden opportunity to do so.

With about three minutes to play, Malkin was hauled down on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. As he closed in on Hedberg, he threw a bunch of head and shoulder fakes to try and confuse the goaltender, but it did not work. Hedberg stuck with him and forced Malkin to shoot wide.

The game turned nasty and tensions finally boiled over late in the third period. A melee ensued behind Fleury's net that saw Eric Godard and Boris Valabik engage in a very short fight. Valabik threw one haymaker and immediately dropped to the ice favoring his shoulder. He skated directly to the gate and did not return.

Earlier, Matt Cooke went to put a hit on Zach Bogosian, but ended up colliding with the young defenseman's knee. Bogosian tried to stay in the game, but eventually left and did not return.

Jordan Staal scored his 20th goal of the season on the lone goal that Malkin didn't figure in on in the game. Staal has taken his game to a new level since Dan Bylsma became coach. Something tells me he likes the aggressive forecheck and wide open playstyle that the Pens have shown of late.

As for the second Thrashers goal:

Chris Thorburn moves out of the corner with the puck and Max Talbot draped all over him. Brooks Orpik slides over to him leaving Eric Boulton open with space five feet away from Fleury.

Boulton attempts a pass through Eaton, but the puck hits a stick and pops up and appears to hit Eaton in the face or upper chest and bounce behind Fleury to cut the lead to 5-2.

Talbot will receive 0.5 for allowing his man to beat him in the corner and Orpik gets the other 0.5 for not staying with his man when Thorburn had nothing to shoot at and would have had to make an incredible shot with Talbot in hot pursuit.

Updated Hal Gill Quotient Standings:

Kris Letang - 6.34 - 13 GP
Marc-Andre Fleury - 5.08 - 15 GP
Sergei Gonchar - 5.08 - 14 GP
Hal Gill - 5.34 - 15 GP
Mark Eaton - 4.83 - 16 GP
Brooks Orpik - 5.09 - 16 GP
Rob Scuderi - 3.50 - 16 GP
Ryan Whitney - 3.5 - 6 GP - TRADED
Jordan Staal - 2.38 - 16 GP
Evgeni Malkin - 2.0 - 16 GP
Matt Cooke - 1.0 - 16 GP
Ruslan Fedotenko - 1.0 16 GP
Tyler Kennedy - 1.0 - 16 GP
Pascal Dupuis - .83 - 16 GP
Max Talbot - 1.0 - 16 GP
Sidney Crosby - 0.5 - 12 GP
Referee Paul Devorski - 0.5 - 1 Game Reffed
Bill Thomas - .33 - 5 GP - WAIVED

Up next for the Penguins are the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night at the Igloo.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pens Score 4 In 3rd, Win 6-4

BallHype: hype it up!

If there was any doubt that the Penguins are trying to kill me before this weekend, it has officially been erased.

Why would a team willingly do this to its fan base? I have no answers, but I'm convinced that's what's going on here.

With a two-goal lead in the third against Ottawa, they blow it and later lose in the shootout to Ottawa.

Sunday against Boston, just more of the same.

With the Pens trailing 3-2 heading to the third period against the Bruins, I was hoping and begging for a win. They've made a season out of third period comebacks and blown leads, so why not one more for good measure?

I'm already in my paranoid playoff antics mode where apparently if I put my pants on wrong, the team is doomed.

Prime example?

I hadn't shaved during the recent seven-game win streak. Then, before the Columbus game on Thursday I had to shave out of necessity for work. The result? 4-3 loss in a shootout. The hockey gods then punished me some more with yesterday's 4-3 shootout loss against Ottawa. I'm so screwed and it's only March.

Moving onto today's third period where the question was, "could the Pens do it again?"

Yep. Sure enough the Pens delivered in a big way.

Blake Wheeler had a holding penalty called on him just 28 seconds into the final frame and the Pens pounced on the opportunity.

Sergei Gonchar
fired a wrist shot through traffic from the point that bounced off something in front and dropped dramatically to the ice and behind Tim Thomas to tie the game at 3-3.

The initial call was that Chris Kunitz had deflected it, but it was later deemed that he did not. Why is this important? This was his second goal of the game. Still not important right? Read on.

Sixteen seconds later, Bill Guerin blocked a shot and the puck ricocheted to Kunitz who had a breakaway from his own blueline. With a little shoulder fake he got Thomas to open the pads and Kunitz slipped it through the opening for what appeared to be his third goal of the game and second career hat trick.

Thankfully, I was not in attendance and throwing my hat. If I had been, I'd want my hat back for sure.

In typical Penguin fashion, Petr Sykora takes a hooking call about a minute after Kunitz's go-ahead goal. As a result, Michael Ryder picks off a clearing attempt by Brooks Orpik and roofs it over the glove of Mathieu Garon to tie the game at 4-4.

Orpik will take the full 1.0 in this for an absolutely awful clearing attempt up the middle of the ice. Use the boards big guy or make sure you have a clear lane to get rid of the puck.

Just under seven minutes later, Jordan Staal protects the puck in the corner to the right of Thomas and finds Sykora in his sweet spot in the high slot. Sykora rifles a one-timer past Thomas to send the Mellon Arena into a frenzy with a 5-4 lead.

The Bruins upped the pressure and had some very good chances late to tie the game, but Garon and the Pens were up to the task.

The Pens iced the game when Staal picked off a pass from Zdeno Chara and deposited the puck into the empty cage with 57 seconds to play.

Video Highlights Courtesy Of

I can't even begin to put into words the magnitude of this win. Huge does not do it justice. Normally, the Pens fold on the second day of back to back games. I was fully expecting the team to come out flat after yesterday's physical game with the Senators, but such wasn't the case.

This team has a new attitude about them. They want it now. They know they are feared and are preying on that fear in the opponent. The new aggressive forecheck is a nightmare to play against because you never know when it's coming.

Dan Bylsma has a system that fits this team like a glove and it's working. 10-1-3 under him is proof enough. Imagine where this team could be had Shero and Co. pulled the trigger on Michel Therrien a month sooner when it should have happened.

The Penguins have 11 games remaining in the regular season and currently sit 5th in the Eastern Conference with 82 points. Most teams they are battling with for playoff positioning have a game or two in hand, so it's time to start hoping for some losses from those teams to even things out.

Here's the other three goals against to update the Hal Gill Quotient:

Goal #1 - Mark Recchi Tips In A Mark Stuart Blast

The puck gets dumped into the far corner and Kris Letang is forced to retrieve it because Mark Eaton was slow to react. Letang attemps a pass to Staal in the faceoff circle, but the puck bonces away from Staal and right to Stuart who unloads a bomb. Letang and Eaton are both standing next to each other and Recchi is untouched in the slot and deflects the puck past Garon to tie the game at 1-1.

Points assigned: Letang gets 0.5 for the bad pass to Staal and Eaton gets the other 0.5 for not moving over and covering Recchi in the slot.

Goal #2 - Phil Kessel Tap In On Backdoor

Chara fires a wrist shot on goal through a crowd from the point. Wheeler beats Sidney Crosby to the rebound and passes through the slot to a streaking Kessel who buries it into the empty net behind Garon for the 2-1 lead.

Points assigned: Crosby gets 0.5 for being late to the rebound and allowing Wheeler to get the pass off. Eaton gets the other 0.5 goes to Eaton for looking lost and not blocking the pass to Kessel. Can we break up the pairing of Eaton and Letang please?

Goal #3 - Wheeler Shorthanded One-Timer From 3 Feet

This was the point in the game I thought would be the back breaker, but the Pens rebounded nicely as noted above.

Anyway, Wheeler leads the shorthanded rush up the ice and fires a puck off the side of the net. Evgeni Malkin comes back into the zone hard and drills Wheeler in the corner to free up the puck. Gonchar whiffs on it and David Krejci steals it away and feeds Wheeler out front for the easy goal.

Points assigned: Malkin gets 0.5 for a weak attempt at getting Gonchar the puck after the big hit. Gonchar gets the other 0.5 for his half of the mishap in the corner that resulted in the goal.

Updated Hal Gill Quotient Standings:

Kris Letang - 6.34 - 12 GP
Marc-Andre Fleury - 5.08 - 14 GP
Sergei Gonchar - 5.08 - 13 GP
Hal Gill - 4.34 - 14 GP
Mark Eaton - 4.83 - 15 GP
Brooks Orpik - 4.59 - 15 GP
Rob Scuderi - 3.50 - 15 GP
Ryan Whitney - 3.5 - 6 GP - TRADED
Jordan Staal - 2.38 - 15 GP
Evgeni Malkin - 2.0 - 15 GP
Matt Cooke - 1.0 - 15 GP
Ruslan Fedotenko - 1.0 15 GP
Tyler Kennedy - 1.0 - 15 GP
Pascal Dupuis - .83 - 15 GP
Max Talbot - 0.5 - 15 GP
Sidney Crosby - 0.5 - 11 GP
Referee Paul Devorski - 0.5 - 1 Game Reffed
Bill Thomas - .33 - 5 GP - WAIVED

Up next for the Penguins are the Atlanta Thrashers in the third game of an eight-game homestand on Tuesday night.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pens Vs. Sens LIVE!

BallHype: hype it up!

I haven't been able to do one of these in a while, but this should be fun.

The Cardiac Kids are back at it today opening up a franchise record eight-game homestand. A solid homestand here should solidify the Pens place in the playoffs and it all starts today against the hated Senators.

The Pens are coming into this game off a 4-3 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

The reason there wasn't a post about that game is because of the massive chest pains and stomach pains that game caused me.

Down 3-0 after an early goal in the third period, the Pens storm back to tie the game with three goals in 3:08 to tie it.

In overtime, Chris Kunitz cleanly beats Steve Mason, but catches iron. Seconds later, Ruslan Fedotenko channeled Sidney Crosby's hands and deked two defenders out of their skates. Mason came out to challenge and Fedotenko slides a nice pass to Kris Letang who was streaking in from the point. Letang fires a one-timer only to be flat out robbed by Mason's blocker.

In the shootout, Kristian Huselius scored the lone goal in the third round for the win.

During the intermissions today, I'll break down the three goals against in the Columbus game to update the Hal Gill Quotient.

Video Highlights Courtesy Of

Some things to keep in mind today:

- Lead after two periods and your odds of winning are very good as Ottawa is just 1-25-2 when trailing after two periods.

- Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to be the starting goaltender today with Mathieu Garon getting the call tomorrow against Boston.

- Petr Sykora is still listed as day-to-day, but could play this weekend. When he plays is the question.

- The Sentors lead the season series 2-1.

- Kunitz has caught fire since coming to Pittsburgh and has eight points in his last nine games. Thank you Ray Shero!

- The Pens are 9-1-2 under Dan Bylsma.

- Brian Elliot in net for the Senators

First Period

20:00 - Pens wearing the ugly powder blue jerseys.......

19:00 - Looks as if Sykora is in the lineup according to the Hockey Night In Canada crew. PP coming for the Pens. Mike Fisher for roughing.

18:17 - Couple solid chances down low for Bill Guerin, but Elliot is up to the task early

17:00 - Penalty killed, but some very good puck movement by the boys in blue and some solid saves by Elliot.

15:20 - Daniel Alfredsson rings a wrister off the iron behind Fleury, but it stays out.

14:07 - Senators get a ton of pressure thanks to two horrible pass attempts and turnovers by Hal Gill.

13:55 - SCORE! 1-0 PENGUINS - Eric Godard with an amazing individual effort. Who knew the big fella could skate like that?! Godard flew up the far boards to chase down a puck, beating the defenseman no less. He hauls in the puck along the wall by the hashmarks and makes a power move to the net looking for a teammate in the slot, but the pass goes off a Senator skate and behind Elliot.

13:30 - Fleury stones Mike Comrie on a breakaway. Nice save Flower.

11:24 - 1-1 Tie Chris Campoli fires a wrister from the point off a face-off. The puck had eyes and hit something in front of the net to deflect past Fleury. Malkin takes the blame on this one for losing the draw cleanly and then losing his man off the draw who set the screen. Full point for Geno.

5:34 - There hasn't been a whistle in a long time until Kunitz takes a tripping call. Sens head to the powerplay. Just as an observation, Gill has looked awful so far in this game. Every time he gets the puck on his stick, his hands turn to stone and he panics. Breathe Baby Huey Breathe!

4:27 - Pascal Dupuis runs over Nick Foligno for no reason. 53 seconds of 5-on-3 coming...

1:59 - Penalties killed, but the Sens rang two more posts on consecutive shots. Fleury getting help from his best friends.

End of period one and we're toed at 1-1. Pens lead 9-7 in shots, but most of those came early in the period.

Not a bad period, but the Penguins need to work on their in-zone play right now. Sens are getting to many good looks off turnovers and bad breakout passing.

In the offensive zone, the Pens need to stop looking for the pretty play and just fire it on net. Look what happened when Godard threw it on net. I rest my case.

Now let's go back to Thursday's game and breakdown the first goal:

Fedor Tyutin leads Huselius into the zone with a pass through a couple of Pens, but Kris Letang got caught flat-footed and a little out of position and ended up chasing Huselius instead of being in his face. Huselies protects the puck an moves to the top of the left faceoff circle. He fires a shot, but Letang recovered slightly to get a stick on Huselius' stick, but it wasn't enough to stop the shot. Instead, the puck comes off the stick as a changeup and beats Fleury through the 5-hole.

Points assigned - Letang 0.5 for being out of position, Fleury 0.5 for overreacting to the changeup and getting beat between the legs.

Second Period

17:43 - Elliot makes a nice save on a Sykora one-timer from the high slot. Pens are picking up the physical play early in the period.

16:14 - Dupuis takes his second penalty of the game on a trip on Brian Lee. Nice acting job by Lee.

14:04 - SCORE!!! 2-1 Pens! - SIDNEY CROSBY WITH A TAP IN ON A BEAUTIFUL TIC TAC GOAL FROM JORDAN STAAL AND MARK EATON. The goal comes just after the penalty to Dupuis had expired. Eaton brought the puck up ice and hit Sid in stride. After a weak clearing attempt, Staal sends the puck down low to Eaton who finds Crosby wide-open on the backpost for the tap in goal.

12:58 - Fedotenko takes a high-sticking penalty after failing to lift Jason Spezza's stick and catching him in the face instead.

10:05 - Comrie throws an elbow into Brooks Orpik's face while trying to get around him. PP Pens.

8:37 - Chris Phillips is not happy with a by Kunitz on Chris Neil and a melee ensues. Phillips goes after Kunitz, Crosby goes after Phillips, Neil joins the fracas and everyone on the ice pairs off in the scrum. Phillips is physically manhandled by a linesman while trying to kill someone. Nice job zebra.

5:57 - Pens can't find the back of the net on a couple solid chances by Tyler Kennedy and Staal. Pens are starting to find some open ice to move into now though. Looks like the goal woke them up a little.

5:20 - Trademark glove save by Fleury. Nothing less than what we've come to expect out of the young goaltender. Still looks impressive every time though.

4:12 - Jesse Winchester holds Staal. PP Pens. Time to make the Sens pay for taking these penalties.

1:34 - SCORE!!! 3-1 PENS! - Kennedy buries a wrister on a 2-on-1 from Matt Cooke after Cooke stole the puck from Campoli at the Pens' blueline. Prety play again.

End of period two and the Pens have a 3-1 lead. Remember that stat about the Sens and their record after two periods when trailing that's noted above.

The other 2 goals from the Columbus game will be broken down after the game.

Third Period

19:36 - Sens head to the powerplay after a hold by Sergei Gonchar, who has played a solid game so far.

16:59 - Penalty over. Fleury covers up the puck and takes a bump from Neil. Fleury punches Neil in the back of the leg with the blocker and another scrum ensues. Way to protect your paint Fleury, but he takes the penalty for slashing. Odd call, but in any event, the Sens have another PP.

15:59 - Dany Heatley drills Gonchar in the teeth with the stick while trying to lift his stick and draws blood. No word yet on how many missing teeth Gonchar might have now, but it's a four-minute penalty to Heatley.

13:50 - Anton Volchenkov has a "lower body injury" and will not return to this game.

11:13 - Kennedy has been something else lately. He's been flying around making plays and taking good shots. He's definitely been one of the best players on the ice today.

12-00 - 3-2 Pens - Foligno rips a wrister to the shortside twine through a sea of blue bodies. Fleury never saw it as Orpik, Staal and Gonchar were all screening him.

7:08 - Malkin gets wide open in the slot and takes a hard wrister, but Elliot is up to the task and leaves no rebound.

6:06- 3-3 Tie - Phillips ties it on a horrible turnover by Scuderi who attempted a breakoutpass/clearing attept. Heatley fires it off Fleury's shoulder and the puck rolls down him into the pain and Phillips pounds it home. This is all on Scuderi.

3:09 - I cant take this. Another two goal lead blown in the third period. Staring OT in the face for a 4th straight game.

2:02 - After a brilliant skate save by Fleury, Malkin kills the logo on Elliot's jersey again.

:5.8 - Gonchar battling with Heatley and somehow the refs call a tripping penalty on Gonchar. Complete and utter diver by Heatley.

End of period 3 and we go to overtime for the fourth straight game.


4:36 - Huge save by Fleury on a cross-crease pass from Spezza to Heatley. Keeps us alive for now.

4:25 - Another save by Fleury on a slapper by Heatley.

3:58 - Fleury eats one in the chest on a bomb by Filip Kuba.

3:45 - Fleury makes two big saves on Alfredsson and Spezza off a rebound. Pens losing every draw so far.

1:48 - Fleury is standing on his head to keep the Pens alive in this game. Fans are on their feet chanting "Fleury! Fleury! Fleury!"

End of overtime and we head to a shootout for the fourth straight game. Unofficial NHL record has been set by the Pens for most consecutive shootouts.

Pens got a couple chances including a 2-on-1 with Crosby and Malkin, but Elliot got the shoulder on a rising shot by Geno.

If the Pens win this shootout, everyone owes this win to Fleury for his spectacular play tonight especially in overtime.


Pens will shoot first.

Letang the first shooter - Letang bails on his usual move and Elliot makes the save.

Alfredsson - Dekes around the sprawling Fleury and the Sens lead 1-0.

Sykora - Stoned by Elliot on the backhand.

Spezza - Fleury makes a nice save on a backhander by Spezza to keep the Pens alive.

Crosby the last hope - SCORES!

Ruutu - Fleury makes the save and we're going to extras.

Malkin - Elects to shoot and not make a move and Elliot saves it with the glove.

Fisher - Fleury slams the door on the 5-hole and we play on.

Kunitz - Dekes Elliot out of hi jock, but goes over the net.

Comrie - Slides the pucks under the outstretched pad of Fleury and the Sens win the shootout 2-1 and the game 4-3.

Here's the remaining two goals:

Goal #2: Jackets dump the puck into the zone and Fleury comes out to play it. There's a big miscommunication between Letang and Fleury, which allows Antoine Vermette to steal the puck and fire an aerial pass out front from his knees. The pass connects with Jason Williams who fires a backhander from the slot to the shelf over Fleury's glove.

Points assigned: Letang and Fleury get 0.5 each for their little mishap behind the net that led to the goal.

Goal #3: Gonchar has the puck in the corner and coughs it up to Williams who finds Vermette out near the blueline in the high slot. Vermette tees one up and blasts it by Fleury for the 3-0 lead.

Points assigned: Gonchar takes full blame on this one as Fleury had no chance to stop that rocket.

Updated Hal Gill Quotient Standings:

Kris Letang - 5.84 - 11 GP
Marc-Andre Fleury - 5.08 - 14 GP
Sergei Gonchar - 4.58 - 12 GP
Hal Gill - 4.34 - 13 GP
Mark Eaton - 3.83 - 14 GP
Brooks Orpik - 3.59 - 14 GP
Rob Scuderi - 3.50 - 14 GP
Ryan Whitney - 3.5 - 6 GP - TRADED
Jordan Staal - 2.38 - 14 GP
Evgeni Malkin - 1.5 - 14 GP
Matt Cooke - 1.0 - 14 GP
Ruslan Fedotenko - 1.0 14 GP
Tyler Kennedy - 1.0 - 14 GP
Pascal Dupuis - .83 - 14 GP
Max Talbot - 0.5 - 14 GP
Referee Paul Devorski - 0.5 - 1 Game Reffed
Bill Thomas - .33 - 5 GP - WAIVED

Pens don't have long to think about this one that got away as the Bruins come to town tomorrow. Hopefully, this will teach them a lesson about those awful powder blue jerseys. For the love of God, STOP WEARING THEM! Show me a powder blue penguin in nature and I'll drop my argument. Until then, my point stands.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pens Storm Back In 3rd, Win 4-3 In Shootout For 7th Straight Win

BallHype: hype it up!

Is this really happening? The Penguins really are on a seven-game winning streak after a 4-3 shootout win over the Panthers tonight?


This isn't a joke?

Part of me feels like I'm in a coma and the abnormal delusional part of my brain is creating a false reality, in which the Penguins mysteriously show their true colors as a dominant team in the NHL, after treading along for most of the season in utter mediocrity.

If this really is true, where was this team all season?!

Granted the Pens didn't have the help that Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin have provided since coming over, but come on. The addition of those two guys is the sole reason this team woke up?

The dramatic change in play tells me that Michel Therrien lost this team months ago and that Ray Shero wasted too much time in replacing him.

The Penguins are now 9-1-1 since Dan Bylsma took over. Yeah, 9-1-1. Pretty nuts isn't it? It's like when the Pens called up a kid by the name of Patrick Lalime to lead them down the stretch and then into the playoffs. Hopefully history doesn't repeat itself with Bylsma compared to Lalime, who became about as useful as an orange pylon in the cage.

The Penguins absolutely dominated the majority of this game and were rewarded for their efforts. They outshot the Panthers 50-21 for the game. Tomas Vokoun played a phenomenal game between the pipes, but was no match for Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin in the shootout. Seriously, look at the move Geno pulled on Vokoun to win the game. Vokoun had no idea what hit him.

Video Highlights Courtesy Of - Watch to see Hal Gill actually hit someone!

The game wasn't a cakewalk though. The Pens had a 1-0 lead after the first period and were dictating the pace of the game. Matt Cooke and Brooks Orpik were hitting anything that moved like this was a playoff game.

The second period saw the Panthers take back some control and thanks to some fortunate bounces and breaks, a 3-1 lead heading into the final frame.

The Therrien Pens would have packed it in and gotten down on themselves and lost this game by five. Thankfully, those days are long gone. The Bylsma Penguins are starting to believe in themselves once again and showed it again tonight.

They scored two goals in just over 3:30 of play to tie the game at 3-3 with over 14 minutes to play thanks to Jordan Staal and Sidney Crosby. This quick rally put the Panthers on their heels and the Pens were just unable to bury another one in regulation or overtime.

Vokoun flat out robbed Staal shortly after Crosby tied the game. Staal was moving toward the backpost in the slot and fired a one-timer off a rebound to the gaping net, but Vokoun dove over out of nowhere to smother the puck and preserve his team's chances.

Quick note about Crosby's goal. Guerin notched career assist #400 on the play. This makes two career milestones since coming to Pittsburgh. Welcome home Bill!

Malkin scored his 30th goal of the season on a nasty backhanded from just outside the crease with his back to Vokoun and a defenseman draped all over him. Rather than trying to make a move, Geno just rips the puck behind him without even looking. Vokoun looked around after the puck got by him searching for answers about how Malkin got that puck by him.

As for the Panthers, let's break down the three goals:

Goal #1 - Nick Boynton Wrister From The Point

Malkin tried chipping a puck up the boards from the corner, but got nothing on it. Keith Ballard held it in and passed it to the slot to David Booth who immediately passed it back to Boynton at the near side point.

Boynton let a wrist shot go through a screen masterfully set up by Brooks Orpik. Marc-Andre Fleury never saw the puck go over his right shoulder.

Points assigned: Malkin gets 0.5 for a bad pass up the boards, Orpik gets 0.5 for stepping in front of Fleury and not blocking the shot.

Goal #2 - Kamil Kreps Bangs Home Rebound

Boynton fires a low shot on Fleury and Kreps was in the right place at the right time with no one on him to hammer home the rebound past Fleury.

Points assigned: Mark Eaton takes the full 1.0 for being entirely out of position. Letang forced his man around the net, at which point Eaton should have slid over to cover Letang's position. Instead, Eaton followed his man out past the hash marks and never realized he blew the coverage until the red light was on.

Goal #3 - Ballard Deflects Home Rebound In Mid-Air Behind Fleury

The coverage in the defensive zone was pretty good except that no one picked up Ballard streaking to the backpost. Ville Peltonen threw a shot on net from a bad angle, but the resulting rebound went right to Ballard. Fleury made the right move in trying to deflect the puck to the boards, but just got unlucky with it.

Points assigned: Tyler Kennedy takes the full 1.0. Ballard was his man and he didn't do anything to prevent him from getting to the net.

Updated Hal Gill Quotient Standings:

Kris Letang - 4.84 - 10 GP
Hal Gill - 4.34 - 12 GP
Marc-Andre Fleury - 4.08 - 13 GP
Mark Eaton - 3.83 - 13 GP
Ryan Whitney - 3.5 - 6 GP - TRADED
Sergei Gonchar - 3.25 - 11 GP
Brooks Orpik - 3.25 - 13 GP
Jordan Staal - 2.25 - 13 GP
Rob Scuderi - 1.50 - 13 GP
Matt Cooke - 1.0 - 13 GP
Ruslan Fedotenko - 1.0 13 GP
Tyler Kennedy - 1.0 - 13 GP
Pascal Dupuis - .83 - 13 GP
Max Talbot - 0.5 - 13 GP
Evgeni Malkin - 0.5 - 13 GP
Referee Paul Devorski - 0.5 - 1 Game Reffed
Bill Thomas - .33 - 5 GP - WAIVED

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bruins at Blue Jackets LIVE!

BallHype: hype it up!

So I admittedly slacked off a bit this weekend and we saw two distinctly average performances from the Bruins. They were lucky to secure the win against Chicago and certainly deserved the loss they put up on the board against the Rangers on Sunday.

Manny Fernandez has proven he should not be the Bruins backup goalie and he'll likely be gone one way or another next season. After every save Manny makes, he's quickly looking behind himself to make sure the puck didn't squirt through. It's an obvious sign of a goalie lacking all confidence in his ability. Considering his GAA and how above his potential he played before the back injury, it's not a surprise to see him regress, but maybe a surprise to see him regress so far. It's time for Tuukka Rask to be the understudy for Tim Thomas, because Rask is the future number one netminder for the Bruins.

Stephane Yelle is out for the second straight game, Byron Bitz will replace him in the lineup as he did on Sunday.

Video Highlights Courtesy Of

First Period
It appears as if I have missed the first 6 1/2 minutes of the game and the score is 0-0 so I will assume absolutely nothing occurred while I was gone...

9:58 -
Bruins get lucky on a turn over when Klesla blasts it wide. One of the B's biggest problems these past three weeks has been sloppy passing and bad play inside their own end. Wideman has been sent off for holding at 9:46.

7:51 - Five seconds left on the power play and I can confidently say the Bruins look very good on the penalty kill tonight. Ference blocked a shot, won the battle to the puck and got it up to Wheeler who held it for Krejci. A little bit of inventiveness from the two forwards after Ference created the play. Encouraging sign.

6:09 - Mark Stuart is bleeding out of the face and there's only a 2 minute high stick called for it.

4:09 - The Bruins power play is a fail. The Blue Jackets are the best first period team in the NHL and they are showing us why.

1:57 - Malhotra with one helluva shot block on Wideman. Looks like he's feelin' it a little bit on the bench.

:51 - Chara going off for a hook. Columbus held for about 45 seconds before Boston could touch it.

End of one period and the Blue Jackets are looking like the stronger off the two teams. They lead in shots 12-5 and have seemed livelier to the puck. Bruins seem to be working hard, but they're being plagued by the usual issues. Bad passing, shaky power play, lack of physicality.

Bring the energy and the intensity for 60 minutes and then I'll be happy.

Second Period
Bruins on the penalty kill for another 1:09 as we enter the period.

18:35 - Bruins kill the penalty, Krejci goes to the bench hurt after blocking a shot and Kessel is stoned by Mason on a breakaway.

18:01 - This is what we like to see. Kessel rings the post. He, Lucic and Savard are looking good to start the period.

15:49 - Bruins called for offside. They are looking to attack every time they touch the puck, whether it be from out of their zone or not. I like what I'm watching early on here.

12:37 - Huselius called for slashing and the Bruins will go on the power play, their hard work is paying off and they've completely dominated so far. They're banging on the door and the power play must be the time to punch it past Steve Mason.

10:52 - B's creating chances left and right. Mason making a number of terrific saves. Nash gives Savard a bit too much of a push, Savard takes offense and Nash kicks his ass without ever dropping the gloves. They both get two minutes for roughing. Jackets kill the penalty to Huselius as well.

6:24 - Kessel skates off the ice holding his face. Think he took a stick, he got rocked pretty hard into the half-wall as well.

5:32 - Stuart and Boll going at it! The big bruisers land some punches before the referees separate them. Boll with his NHL leading 21st fighting major of the season.

4:47 - Getting chippy in the Boston end. Loose puck, Thomas makes the stop, it trickles around, Jackets try a little too hard on Thomas after it's tied up and the Bruins ready to defend their goalie.

1:38 - Bruins doing a nice job of keeping the pressure up even while rotating through lines. It's certainly disappointing that they've yet to capitalize on anything, but Steve Mason should be commended for his job in this second period.

:03 - Montador fakes a slapper and gets Torres to go down, makes the shot, saved by Mason. Bruins upping the ante as we go along here.

An excellent period from the Bruins. They've upped the energy, intensity, physicality, everything that I called for after the first came into fruition here in the second. They're showing they're not afraid to fight back. They moved deeper into the Jacket's zone and should be able to break the door down in the third.

Hats off to Steve Mason and Tim Thomas though, some stellar goaltending tonight.

Let's laugh at Mike Millbury a moment, shall we?

"These two goaltenders are 1-2 in the NHL in most stats. Mason is a bit surprising, but Thomas is not."

You knew Tim Thomas would have a career year?

Third Period

19:04 -
Oooh nasty glove save from Mason on Kessel's quick release.

18:52 - Commodore to the box for holding. Bruins 0/2, 2 shots on the power play tonight. Anemic.

16:52 - Back to full strength, Bruins were sloppy at first but really pulled it together and got sharp toward the end. Mason makes a couple of nice saves and the B's are now 0/3 on the man advantage.

16:04 - Stoppage in play after Thomas collides incidentally with a Blue Jacket, causing his helmet to fly off. Timmy's helmet is now being worked out, the Jackets fans are growing impatient, letting everybody hear it.

15:49 -
Timmy is wearing Manny's helmet. This does not bode well.

15:05 -
Chara to the box for a high stick.

13:10 PP GOAL 1-0 Blue Jackets -
Raffi Torres! Along the half-wall on Thomas' blocker side and beats him with a strong wrister.

It's the curse of Manny's mask.

9:52 -
Timmy has his helmet back. Sixteen minutes of repair time. If he doesn't allow a single goal, I give the loss to Manny Fernandez via mask.

8:58 -
More bad passing from Savard.

4:50 - The third period Bruins are looking more like I'm used to seeing
. They've completely lost any edge they had from the second period. They seem complacent again... not good.

2:53 -
Can't beat Steve Mason. Looking for his league leading ninth shutout of the year.

1:17 - Thomas is on the bench. Extra attacker on. Urgency!

:26 EN GOAL 2-0 Blue Jackets - Rick Nash seals it! 150 foot shot to just clear the zone has just enough on it to get into the net.

The Bruins lose again and I'm out of energy on what to say at the moment.

Jason Spezza Busted For Illegal Stick

BallHype: hype it up!

When I first read about Toronto coach Ron Wilson challenging Jason Spezza's stick, I had to really think about why he would do such a thing so late in a game.

Upon further review it makes perfect sense. You're down by one goal late in the game, why not try and get a cheap power play by challenging the legality of a stick?

Ultimately, it worked out as the Leafs were successful in their challenge but that's not the real story in this tale.

The real story is what Spezza did to try and hide the fact that he had an illegal stick.

Spezza is waiting to take a draw and overhears that the Leafs want to challenge his stick. In an absolute admission of guilt, Spezza snaps his stick in two and tries to exchange it out for a legal one without the refs noticing.

A valiant effort indeed, but it didn't work. The refs saw the whole thing and properly measured the appropriate stick in question and found out that it was illegal.

Spezza was assessed a two-minute penalty and the Leafs failed to score to tie the game and eventually lost 2-1. Pretty anti-climatic ending to a great move by Wilson.

Gary "Chuck Norris" Roberts Hangs Up The Skates

According to, Gary Roberts has retired from the NHL for the second time.

He was placed on waivers by Tampa Bay last week prior to the trade deadline and no one claimed him.

I for one, am sad to see him go. I loved him when he was in Pittsburgh. He played with such a reckless abandon, despite his many injuries in his career. His playing style earned him the nickname of Chuck Norris around Pittsburgh and there was actually merchandise with "WWGRD?" (What Would Gary Roberts Do?" printed. Good times.

Nothing phased him at all. Opposing defensemen always looked over their shoulders when they went into the corners to fetch a puck that had been dumped in. You always knew Roberts was going to be flying in behind that poor d-man to put him through the boards and win that puck.

Roberts never took a shift off. He gave 110% every shift and his teammates fed of that. He made the team better with his gritty, take no prisoners style and he will be sorely missed.

For his career, Roberts played 1,224 games, registered 438 goals, 471 assists and 2,560 penalty minutes.

Is he a Hall of Famer? I'd tend to say yes with over 900 points in his career. Not too shabby if you ask me. He also has his name on the Stanley Cup from the 1989 champion Flames.

It's too bad a contending team didn't take a flier on Roberts for the playoffs. Part of me was hoping the Pens would claim him, but it wasn't in the cards.

Congratulations on a great career Gary. Thanks for the memories.

I'm especially a fan of this fight. (Sorry Derek.)


I was poking around on YouTube some more and came across this gem as well. Enjoy!

Canadiens Fire Carbonneau In Surprise Move

BallHype: hype it up!

According to, the Montreal Canadiens have fired head coach Guy Carbonneau with just 16 games remaining in the regular season.

General manager Bob Gainey will take over the coaching duties for the remainder of the season, much like he did in 2005-06. That year, he fired Claude Julien in a late season move. Look how that one turned out in history. Julien has the Bruins in a virtual lock for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this year, while the Habs are now in a battle for their playoff lives.

Currently, the Habs are tied with the Hurricanes for 5th in the East with 77 points. However, the Penguins, Panthers and Rangers are all one point back with 76. Buffalo is 10th with 73 points and fading fast without Ryan Miller.

The Habs started out the season well, but since the All-Star game that was held in their own rink, they just have not looked the same.

Carey Price has been awful in net, which forced Carbonneau to throw Jaroslav Halak in net to stop the bleeding.

According to Stats, Price was 3-10-1 since returning from an ankle injury on Jan. 20 before earning a 3-1 win against Dallas on Sunday. The win was Price's first since Feb. 3. That's the kind of stellar goaltending that gets coaches fired.

The remainder of the season should prove quite interesting with some of the teams chasing the Habs catching fire. I still think they get into the playoffs, but if this coaching change doesn't work it could be a very long summer in Montreal.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pens Win Thriller In Washington For 6th Straight Win

BallHype: hype it up!

This is borderline insane and I'm not sure I fully believe it.

Somebody pinch me.....please.

The Penguins have won six games in a row now after knocking off the Capitals 4-3 in a shootout Sunday. Should the game have gone to a shootout? Absolutely not.

The Penguins came out flatter than a day old open beer in the third period with a 3-1 lead and the Caps pounced scoring two goals in 49 seconds to tie the game. I was at Caps/Pens game at the Igloo on Oct. 16 and the same thing happened. The Pens had a 3-1 lead and gave up in the third period and lost 4-3. Thankfully they learned from that mistake this time around.

The shock from those two goals was rather apparent, seeing as how the team looked scared to be on the ice for most of the period after that. If not for a couple of powerplays, they may not have pulled this one out.

There was one scary moment late in the third period thanks to good pal Hal Gill. I have never been more proud of his poor puckhandling skills.

With under five seconds to play, Gill attempts to clear a bouncing puck out of danger in the slot. The key word there is "attempts." Gill fires the puck to the endboards behind Marc-Andre Fleury and barely misses turning the red light on for the Capitals. Had he done that I would have needed a new television.

Video Highlights Courtesy Of

Here's some notes from the game:

- Bill Guerin had three points (1G 2A) in the game today. The top line of Sidney Crosby - Chris Kunitz - Guerin is working rather well so far.

- The top powerplay unit is still a shade off from regaining the lethal form it once had. Guerin parking his wide frame in front of the net resulted in one goal tonight on a bomb from Sergei Gonchar. That's a good sign if you ask me.

- Fleury had a roughly .950 save percentage before today's game in March, which is a league high. He played spectacularly again today and came up huge in the shootout stopping Alex Ovechkin to win the game.

- Petr Sykora did not dress for this game due to "an upper body injury," according to the Pitsburgh Tribune-Review. He is listed as day-to-day.

- The Penguins finish this pivitol five-game roadtrip with a perfect 5-0 record. That is a franchise best mark.

- The Bylsma Penguins are now 8-1-1. Not a bad start for the new coach.

- The win prevents a season series sweep by the Caps for the first time in history as well. The Caps have come close to sweeping the Pens a couple of times, but that record lives on for another year now.

The Penguins are making me do some extra work today in breaking down three goals against, but a couple of these are rather simple.

Goal #1 - Alexander Semin dekes around Fleury down low

Kris Letang is set up behind the net and attempts a long outlet pass intended for Evgeni Malkin. The pass fails miserably as he hits Nicklas Backstrom, who was applying pressure. Backstrom picks up the loose puck in the corner and hits Semin rushing into the slot to tie the game at 1-1.

Points assigned: Letang gets the full point for the awful outlet pass.

Goal #2 - Ovechkin Powerplay Goal

Mark Eaton blocks a shot in the slot. Brooks Laich picks up the loose puck and passes it back to Mike Green at the point. Green goes point-to-point to Ovechkin who takes a couple steps toward the net and fires a wrister behind Fleury. The puck appears to have gone off Gonchar, who was battling with Laich behind Fleury at the side of the net.

Points assigned: Max Talbot gets 0.5 for being too far away from his pointman (Ovechkin) and allowing him to get a higher percentage shot. Gonchar gets the other .5 for not getting body position on Laich and as a result of the battle, the puck hits Gonchar and goes in.

Goal #3 - Laich Breakway Off Bad Line Change

David Steckel
catches the Pens in a horrific line change on defense and connects with Laich on the home-run pass. Laich walks in on Fleury and almost loses the handle on the puck, but puts on a nice move and roofs it behind Fleury to tie the game at 3-3.

Points assigned: 0.5 each to Letang and Eaton for the horrible line change. It was poorly executed and Washington made them pay as a result.

Updated Hal Gill Quotient Standings:

Kris Letang - 4.84 - 9 GP
Hal Gill - 4.34 - 11 GP
Marc-Andre Fleury - 4.08 - 12 GP
Ryan Whitney - 3.5 - 6 GP - TRADED
Sergei Gonchar - 3.25 - 10 GP
Mark Eaton - 2.83 - 12 GP
Brooks Orpik - 2.75 - 12 GP
Jordan Staal - 2.25 - 12 GP
Rob Scuderi - 1.50 - 12 GP
Matt Cooke - 1.0 - 12 GP
Ruslan Fedotenko - 1.0 12 GP
Pascal Dupuis - .83 - 12 GP
Max Talbot - 0.5 - 12 GP
Referee Paul Devorski - 0.5 - 1 Game Reffed
Bill Thomas - .33 - 5 GP - WAIVED

Friday, March 6, 2009

Pens Pull Away In 3rd For 5th Straight Win

BallHype: hype it up!

Am I really sitting here writing about a five-game winning streak for the Penguins?

If the Penguins do go on to make the playoffs, they will be the best prepared team in the conference. Why? They have been playing playoff type hockey since the middle of February. They are approaching every game with a life or death mentality and it's paying off.

Tonights 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers (the 6-seed in the Eastern Conference), was huge. The Rangers also won again tonight, so now there is a three-way tie for the 6-seed.

The Penguins are now one point out of 5th and four points out of fourth thanks to the Flames beating up on the Flyers tonight.

Dan Bylsma is making a serious push to drop the "interim" off his title if you ask me. The team is now 7-1-1 since he took over. Let's also remember that the Pens have not been stellar on the road this season, and they now have won four straight on this five-game road trip. The trip concludes Sunday in Washington.

Some observations tonight:

- The top line of Bill Guerin - Sidney Crosby - Chris Kunitz will be a force. Their timing is just a hair off right now, but that's to be expected. Give them a couple games and practices and things will start to flow much better. A sign of things to come would be Crosby's goal tonight. Guerin hit him in stride and Sid does the rest by splitting the flat-footed defense.

- Some people will claim that the Pens got all the breaks in this game. I could see that to some degree. I don't have the exact number of posts the Panthers hit tonight, but needless to say if a couple of those go in, who knows how the game turns out.

Video Highlights Courtesy Of

- Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant when he needed to be. The lone goal against was kind of flukey. More on that later.

- Tyler Kennedy needs to shoot the puck more. I was unaware that he had as big a cannon as he does. Watch the highlights provided here to see the bomb he dropped on Tomas Vokoun in the third period. His second goal on the one-timer tap-in from Evgeni Malkin was just plain pretty.

- I'm very excited to see Sergei Gonchar quarterbacking the power play with Malkin, Crosby, Petr Sykora and Guerin camping out in front of the net. Guerin might want to invest in a full cage for his helmet though. I love Gonchar's shoot at will mindset, but his accuracy isn't exactly perfect.

- The Panthers' color guy (Denis Potvin I believe) needs an education. Kris Letang got drilled from behind in the second period and Cory Stillman received a penalty for charging. Keep in mind, the hit was FROM BEHIND. Is it a charging call? Debatable, but if you look up penalties in the rule book, you'll see an infraction for "HITTING FROM BEHIND!"

Hockey Penalties: Hitting From Behind -- powered by

He redeemed himself later by saying he hated the Penguins powder blue third jerseys. I concur. I don't support this team any less because of the ugly third jerseys, but you won't catch me wearing one.

- Hal Gill was actually effective tonight. At various points in the game he actually dropped to the ice to block a shot and succeeded. At another point the Panthers' announcer claimed Gill hit someone in the corner. I still need video proof, but I like the effort. There was a play in the third period though, where he dropped to a knee and his man spun right around him and drilled the post. To quote Meatloaf "two outta three ain't bad."

Speaking of Hal Gill, it's time to update the Hal Gill Quotient after tonight's game. It's normally a good day when I only have to break down one goal.

Goal #1 - Radek Dvorak fires puck off the bottom of the post, puck flutters into the air off Fleury and barely drops in over the line.

The Panthers dump the puck into the zone and Fleury comes out to play it and is forced to throw it to the near corner. Brooks Orpik is a coasting back into the zone and gets beat to the puck. Crosby chases his man around the net who feeds Dvorak who gets the fortunate bounce.

Points assigned - Orpik gets 0.5 for not hustling back to the puck. Letang gets 0.5 for letting Dvorak get complete body position on him and free to take the shot.

Updated Hal Gill Quotient Standings:

Hal Gill - 4.34 - 10 GP
Marc-Andre Fleury - 4.08 - 11 GP
Ryan Whitney - 3.5 - 6 GP - TRADED
Kris Letang - 3.34 - 8 GP
Sergei Gonchar - 2.75 - 9 GP
Brooks Orpik - 2.75 - 11 GP
Mark Eaton - 2.33 - 11 GP
Jordan Staal - 2.25 - 11 GP
Rob Scuderi - 1.50 - 11 GP
Matt Cooke - 1.0 - 11 GP
Ruslan Fedotenko - 1.0 11 GP
Pascal Dupuis - .83 - 11 GP
Referee Paul Devorski - 0.5 - 1 Game Reffed
Bill Thomas - .33 - 5 GP - WAIVED

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rangers vs Isles tonight in the Colisseum: LIVE

BallHype: hype it up!

"We won our last game. If we win again today, that's 2 in a row. If we win again tomorrow, that's what they call a winning streak..... It has happened before."
- Lou Brown, Major League II

I think this was the pregame pep talk Tort gave they boys.

1st Period
Rangers goal- Rangers dump the puck deep into the Isles zone, and both Gomez and Naslund forecheck from opposite sides. The Isle's defender makes a panic pass behind him up the boards right to Nikolai Zherdev. Zherdev coasts in and fires one by Danis through a Gomez screen.

2 guys forechecking= increased pressure = Tortorella goal.

- There is a clear energy in the crowd and on the ice whenever Avery is out there. The pace is much faster and the inexperienced Isles are visibly scared. Apparently Bruno Gervais never got the memo that Avery was in the lineup tonight. YOU DON'T SKATE WITH YOUR HEAD DOWN BRUNO. Avery gave him a powerful reminder.

- The Rangers now have 3 good defensive pairings. 3 lefties and 3 righties. 3 Offensive d-men paired with 3 defensive D-men. Mara and Rozsival never have to be on the ice together. This pleases me.

- The team has Avery's back. Blake Comeau gives a couple cheap shots to Avery and the other 4 Rangers jump in and start a scrum. Great way to make the vagabond winger feel like he has a home.

- End of the first. 1-0 Rangers

2nd Period

Isle's Goal: McAmmond gets the puck in his own end and moves it through the neutral zone. Both Rangers defensemen collapse on McAmmond and he hits Blake Comeau streaking down the left wing. Comeau gets behind the D and slips one through Hank. Game tied at 1-1.

-Antropov with a golden opportunity to answer quickly and retake the lead and he demostrates great patience by waiting and gets Danis to the ground. He then procedes to hit the crossbar. I think this is a microcosm of Antropov's skill set. Shows some promise but in the end frustrating.

Ranger's POWER PLAY Goal: With the Rangers on the power play because of a Trent Hunter trip, the Rangers capitalize. Tortorella has a power play philosophy called weak side shooting. Basically its hold the puck on one side and once the defense shifts, get it quickly to the other and blast away before the D can get back into position. After a couple weak side rockets on net, Antropov gets the puck on the wing and gives it the Drury at the point. Drury rockets one through a Dubinsky and Redden screen and Danis never had a chance. Rangers now have 5 power play goals over their last 7 games.

Forward and defenseman screening in front of the net = Tortorella goal. Two thus far on the night.

- Callahan, Dubinksy, and Korpikoski are all very much Tortorella type players. Lost of hustle, lots of crashing the net, lots of solid passing. I wouldn't be surprised if Tortorella told Sather that those three weren't allowed to be moved yesterday.

- I've never seen Hank use his stick so much in a game to chip pucks away. He's cleared like 5-6 pucks already that were trickling out front.

-The Rangers have been sacrificing their bodies a ton this game. Tons of shot blocking and diving to get into the passing lanes.

End of 2 and Rangers up 2-1

3rd Period
Rangers Goal: Andy Hilbert collides with Dean McAmmond in the offensive end and both fall down. Zherdev picks up the puck and streaks down ice with Gomez next to him and Naslund trailing. Zherdev peaks back over his shoulder to Naslund and Martinek takes the bait. Zherdev hits Gomez in stride and flicks it into the back of the net.

Isle's collision (Freaking Hilarious) + 3 on 1 = No Tort goal. 3-1 Rangers.

- On the power play I don't want my 6'6" 230 forward on the wing. I want him camped out in front on the net screening like a sumo wrestler. Tort needs to tell Antropov to get himself out front.

Isle's Goal: Jack Hillen and Blake Comeau play give and go up and down the ice. Hillen uses his speed to cut to the net and sneaks one through Hank's pads for his first NHL goal. 3-2 Rangers.

- Blake Comeau looks like he wants to claim that C on his chest that Guerin left behind. He has been vocal all game and has stepped his game up. And remember this, in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

- Every time Rozsival gets the puck at the point, he takes longer than Russ Tyler in the Mighty Ducks shooting the knuckle puck to get a shot off. BLAST AWAY MICHAL.

- The Rangers are not playing scared hockey like they did over the last month and sitting on the 1 goal lead. It's refreshing to see them still attacking the net and not taking the proverbial knee.

- Is there anything more nerve racking than the puck staying in your zone for more than 1 minute? It felt like the Rangers couldn't clear the zone forever and I was ready for a goal against or a stupid penalty. Luckily we averted disaster.

Ranger's POWER PLAY Goal: Thank you Radek Martinek. Isle's turn it over behind the net and Drury gets the puck out to Naslund. Naslund winds up to fire and breaks his stick. Radek Martinek goes to deflect it to the side and instead deflects it over the shoulder of Danis. I'll take it. To be fair, Duby was in the front screening and Danis had no chance to react to a soft deflection.

Power play + broken stick + dumb luck+ a screen out front: These things never happened under Renney, hence: Tort goal. 4-2 Rangers. 3 Tort goals on the night.

- Kyle Okposo is going to be that pain in the ass player that always seems to be around the puck in the years to come. Experience will help him get to the right place at the right time. Right now he's just about half a step away from being potent.

- I'm willing to bet Tort has some sort of rule that each defenseman needs to wind up and let one fire at least once a game. Tons of shooting from the point from the Rangers blueliners.

- Hank with 28 saves in a very solid effort
- 1st Rangers road win since January 16th at Chicago
- Rangers record with Avery in the lineup: 51-23-13
- Rangers 10 goals over the last 2 games... Woohoo

Tort Goal Update Total
Tort Goals -7
Non Tort Goals- 3

And to take this full circle... If we win on Sunday, that's what they call a winning streak... It has happened before.

Bruins vs. Coyotes LIVE!

BallHype: hype it up!

Back in Boston for the fifth of a six game homestand where the B's (42-13-9) will look to avenge their 4-2 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday night. The Coyotes (27-31-5) and the Bruins both will look different than they did 24 hours ago, with the Bruins adding Mark Recchi and Steve Montador and the Coyotes clearing house and apparently starting over.

Gone from Phoenix are Derek Morris and Olli Jokinen. Jokinen was signed just a summer ago to be Phoenix's star center, but not being in the thick of the playoff race will make a GM do crazy things and blowing up the team is one of those things.

Good news for the Bruins tonight, Milan Lucic returns after a two game absence with a "body injury." We all know it was his hand. This is excellent news for the club, you've got to believe the Bruins will rediscover some of that physicality they were missing over the last 2/3 of the Flyers game.

Recchi and Montador are suited up and skating around pregame. Brick muses that Recchi will likely be on the left with Savard and Kessel. He's not sure where Montador will fit in, and as I said after the trade happened, I'm not quite sure either.

Even the Boston Globe's Bruins blog isn't sure, they're best guess is that Byron Bitz sits so PJ Axelsson can move to the checking line.

Remember, it's another night of Jack Bingo! Hopefully less frustrating that Tuesday night's version.

I find it terribly satisfying that the Coyotes have yet to make the playoffs in Gretzky's three seasons as coach.

Bruins lines in warm-ups..

Mark Recchi-Marc Savard-Phil Kessel
P.J. Axelsson-Patrice Bergeron-Chuck Kobasew
Blake Wheeler-David Krejci-Michael Ryder
Milan Lucic-Stephane Yelle-Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara-Aaron Ward
Andrew Ference-Dennis Wideman
Mark Stuart-Steve Montador

Tim Thomas

Looks as if Bitz, Hunwick and Hnidy are gonna sit tonight. Has to be disappointing for them. I'm disappointed to see Hunwick sit, but let's see if Montador can help Lucic make this team the physical beast it can be.

First Period

Ilya Bryzgalov starting for the Coyotes tonight. My guess is he could have a long game.

17:50 -
"D to D." Mark an X for me Jack, we're off to a good start. Early two minutes haven't been too exciting, teams feeling each other out. The Krejci line looked to have the best movement, but it's way too early to make any calls on things of that nature.

15:25 -
One too many passes. Kessel breaks in with Recchi two on one, passes over to Recchi, back to Savard, back to Recchi and it skips to the wall. Gotta pull the trigger boys.

13:49 - Bruins defending extremely well. Coyotes can't keep position in the Bruins end. Also, I don't think I've seen Shawn Thornton put a shot on net yet, they always go wide.

12:51 GOAL 1-0 Bruins - Chuck Kobasew! Perfect pass from Bergeron along the halfwall to find Kobasew in the slot, who beats Bryzgalov with the shot. Now that the Bruins have the lead, let's see the intensity and energy remain constant and not drop off as it did on Tuesday.

11:58 - PING! Recchi re-directs Wideman's slap shot off the crossbar and out of play. Recchi's had two clear-cut scoring chances in three shifts on the ice. You can tell he's definitely excited and energized to be on this team.

10:32 - Brick talking about Wheeler facing his old team, despite never suiting up for the Coyotes and how there's "money on the board" for him to do well and score. Brick sounds serious about this. Gambling? Sounds sketchy.

10:00 - "Wing to wing." Mark it.

Ooh tempers flaring as Chara crushes Prucha into the boards. Looked like a completely clean hit. Appears to be a penalty, as Jack says "because he's 6'9"." Well it's called interference. Chara pretty much steamrolls through him. It's a bit of a wishy-washy call. Julien certainly does not agree.

7:59 PPG 1-1 - Scottie Upshall loves playing the Bruins! Wideman turns it over at the halfwall, it's flipped into the slot by Lindstrom and Upshall backhands it past Timmy Thomas.

It was Upshall who tied the game at one on Tuesday night as well...

6:04 - Shane Doan going in for hooking. Bruins have responded to the Coyotes goal favorably. Let's see if that can continue here. Brick thinks the B's will run the overload toward Savard.

5:31 - Recchi misses another chance right at the post, Ryder comes from behind and whiffs on it. I think Rex has a goal in him tonight.

4:04 - Coyotes kill the penalty.

1:40 - Wideman with a dangerous turnover that immediately got a pass to Prucha in front of the net, he couldn't put it over Thomas though. Not surprisingly, the Coyotes coming on a bit stronger after they tied it up and the Bruins seem to let them in it.

Need to play smarter.

After one, the Bruins certainly came out as the better of the clubs, but seem to fall into a comfort zone and get complacent once they achieve the lead. Phoenix clawed back with the power play goal and from then on the Bruins seem to look flat and they lacked some luster.

Let's hope Claude gets them hyped back up in the dressing room.

It's obvious that the Bruins have a clear advantage of Phoenix's youthful defencemen and they need to capitalize on the chances they're given in the offensive zone. Pull the trigger and shoot the puck. If you pepper Bryzgalov enough good things will happen.

Barry says the B's are the best 5-on-5 team in the NHL. Detroit or San Jose anyone? And by the way Calgary is ripping apart the Flyers (4-0 after one) they may have something to say as well.

Interesting. Aaron Ward and Blake Wheeler were both drafted #5 overall by the WIN/PHO organization, but neither actually played for them at the NHL level.

Second Period

19:36 -
Phoenix has 5 power play shots and 1 full strength shot. Ouch.

17:15 - Upshall "spoons it" into the corner. X it.

15:23 - Bruins have done an excellent job stalling Phoenix at the blue line and causing a good number of offside calls.

14:08 - Some of the passes Savard has made lately are concerning. Luckily there was no one near it, but Savard shoveled one back for Montador and was a good 5 or 6 feet off on his aim.

12:08 GOAL 2-1 Coyotes - Steve Reinprecht! Nigel Dawes skates in down the right side, feeds it across the zone to Reinprecht who tips it up and over Thomas.

Shades of the Flyers game here...

11:50 - Thomas "fungos" it out of the air. Mark an X.

8:52 - Tempers flare. Thornton and Montador along with Klee all shoving each other around a bit.

7:46 - Chara pushing Lindstrom down. Getting chippy here.

Where's the crisp passing from the Bruins? Everything's skipping or long, or intercepted in the neutral zone. Not taking care of the puck particularly well at all.

7:00 - B's 30 seconds into a power play, Klee was called for interference.

6:42 - Savard all alone can't pick the corner, shoots it wide.

5:55 - Bruins moving the puck quickly, but a lot of wide shots from the point in a disappointing effort.

5:29 - Ference trips Klee out of the box and it's another 'Yotes power play. Five shots on the first.

4:16 - Coyotes moving the puck really well, Thomas is able to pounce on the puck beside the net for a cover.

3:28 - Two pucks slid just past the post on that power play. Bruins are fortunate to kill it off. Where's the energy, where's the intensity? For the second straight game the Bruins are failing to follow their usual game plan and now a younger, less experienced club is taking advantage.

1:00 - Showing a bit more fire in these last couple of minutes. Can it carry over?

:10 - Bruins almost level it before the end of the period. Montador takes a terrific rip from the point that goes wide. Wideman gets it and takes a huge rip, Savard gets it and takes an impossible angle shot that flies toward the blue line.

Bruins down a goal after two. Lucic is hitting well, but he's not being hugely productive on the checking line. There's been a lot of sloppy passing, too many turnovers, not playing well on the forecheck and the tempo isn't high enough.

The Bruins need to pull a 180 to get back in this.

Barry thinks that Ference looks "a lot more confident" at the point on the power play than Bergeron does. Does it have anything to do with Andy being a defencemen? Seriously. What kind of commentary is that?

And now I listen to Barry tell me everything I just typed into the post five minutes ago. Yawn.

An unrelated exchange through AIM...

Justin: take him off the ice!

Looking at Jack Bingo on NESN, I have missed Juicy Rebound, He Bangs Him, Save By Thomas and Stick a Fork in It... I am X'ing those off.

Third Period

18:58 -
Bruins 2nd in the NHL with 76 third period goals. Also have the best 3rd period defense.

18:15 - Lucic is with Savard and Kessel. Someone heard me.

15:00 - It's getting tough to watch the Bruins miss pass after pass after pass.

12:32 - Not a whole lot.. brewin right now. B's got an icing, but couldn't win the face off.

11:00 - Here's the pressure and energy we've been looking for. Kessel walks in and snaps it wide. Bruins skating a lot harder. Lucic sends Michalek down like a... sack of flour? Thank you, Jack.

8:39 - Boston finally dominating physically here. Throwing bodies around with reckless abandon. Bryzgalov is getting a lot of work but he's holding the fort down. Terrific energy from the B's, but they need a result from this.

6:51 - Lucic comes in on Bryzgalov 2 on 1 and can't control the puck. Oh woe is the Bruins.

6:11 - Krejci has certainly been one of the best Bruins on the ice tonight. Seems to be playing his heart out, trying to make things happen. Give the kid a little help, please.

3:35 - Urgent, urgent... emergency. Yes. Foreigner completely sums up the Bruins style of play right now.

3:11 - Bryzgalov is huge again! Slid across from Lucic to Ryder who tries to force it by Ilya, but the 'Yotes goalie makes another fantastic save. The desperate Bruins can feel this one slipping away.

1:38 - Tikhonov throws a big elbow into Montador's head. Bruins on the power play for the rest of this game. Surprisingly Thomas is still in net... for now.

:35.4 - A scrum in front of the net at the beginning of the power play, but nothing doing. Ference is on for Thomas, Chara moves to the front of the net. Fantastic game from Ilya Bryzgalov tonight.

And the Phoenix Coyotes have beaten the Brins 2-1. With a ton of new faces and an incredible performance from, Bryzgalov the Coyotes deserved their win. However, the Bruins once against came out complacent and stayed that way for 40 minutes. The urgency shown in the third period is something they need to come out with from the start and stick with for 60 minutes.

After scoring 12 goals in the first two games of this homestand, the Bruins have now scored 6 in the last three, all losses.

I've said it once and I'll say it again, the Bruins won't make it out of the first round of the playoffs if they continue to give this sort of effort.

Jack Bingo fails to deliver once again tonight, but Jack put forth a strong effort to get us closer...

So with the Blackhawks on tap, Claude and company are going to have to once again look to motivate these Bruins for a full sixty minutes. I'm starting to wonder if they're running out of steam after such a torrid start to the season. The opponents that come from here on out are odds on to be better teams than the Coyotes, so hopefully this game can snap the Bruins back out of it.