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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Guerin Pittsburgh Bound?

According to a plethora of sites tonight, New York Islanders captain Bill Guerin was pulled off the ice prior to their game against the Sabres.

This clearly tells me that a deal has been reached. The question now is where is Billy-G heading?

It was long believed that Boston and Montreal were the clear-cut leaders in this deal, but Spector believes otherwise.

According to Spector's blog on, he believes the Penguins, Panthers and Hurricanes are the current leaders.

Here is his explanation of how he came to that conclusion:

"Flyers? They're very deep up front and appear to be seeking depth on the blueline. Montreal? Their need appears to be for a scoring center. Rangers? Would the Isles actually peddle Guerin to their rival despite being out of the playoff race? Sabres? They're already deep at right wing.

Florida and Carolina could use more depth at right wing, while the Penguins - despite their recent acquisition of Chris Kunitz - might want a more seasoned right winger for Sidney Crosby's line."

For his full take, click here.

Now as for my take on this potential trade, I'm not sure how I feel about it.

If we gave up a roster player for him and it's not named Hal Gill, I don't like the deal. Maybe Miroslav Satan or Ruslan Fedotenko, but outside of those three I won't be a happy Pens fan.

Spector seems to think that the deal in place is Guerin for an early round pick. Perhaps a second rounder? If it's a first rounder, that's way to high of a price for a rental player the Pens most likely won't be able to re-sign. Let's also keep in mind this is assuming the Penguins make it into the playoffs.

If it's for a third-rounder, I'd live with it.

I do think he Pens are missing some valuable veteran presence in the locker room. They also lack a grit and feisty attitude they had from guys like Jarkko Ruutu, Georges Laraque and Gary "Chuck Norris" Roberts last season.

From that perspective, Guerin is a guy I would most certainly want. Is he the goal scorer that should be on Sidney Crosby's line? I don't tend to think so.

I'm still holding out for a "Holy @#%!" moment from the trade deadline where we land someone like Milan Hejduk for a bag of pucks, but that's probably not happening either. He is less money than Guerin and has clearly proven that he can put the puck in the net. Send the Avs a second-rounder for Hejduk, see if I care. I'll be jumping for joy like the annoying kid you never liked when he gets a date with amazingly attractive woman. The rest of you understand why he's jumping up and down and want to hurt him for it.

I was that guy last year when we got Judas.

Give me another moment like that this season Shero, just don't clean house to pull it off.

I don't know that a top line of Kunitz - Crosby - Guerrin is the answer to the Pens problems, though it is an improvement over what they have rotated around Sid all season. In that respect, it's an upgrade.

From what I saw of last night's game against Chicago, which will be broken down a little more in depth tomorrow along with the game against Dallas, Kunitz and Jordan Staal seemed to click pretty well right off the bat. So maybe Dan Bylsma will put a line of Kunitz - Crosby - Staal together? I say try it, doesn't seem to me like it takes Sid long to figure out his winger's tendencies and gel with them accordingly.

In any event, the world should know the fate of Guerin in the coming hours. Who knows, maybe Spector is wrong and the his hometown Bruins bring him in after all.

Stay tuned.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fun With Eklund, Bruins "Rumors"

Came across two gems from our good friend Eklund today.

Eklund's "rumors" will be in quotations...

"Phil Kessel on the move?

There are also rumors that the Bruins are possibly considering moving Phil Kessel in a deal. Perhaps to free up cap space to bring in a defenseman or bigger power forward..."

Seriously? So the Bruins are going to trade away their leading goal scorer for a bigger power forward?

I wonder if it has any correlation with the next rumor here...

"As I wrote earlier tonight...I was checking in on some rumors that Erik Cole could be headed to the NJ Devils....It does have some legs and I will be calling it an e2 for now...but don't count out Boston for Cole AT ALL..."

Erik Cole (15 goals, 10 assists) for Phil Kessel (25 goals, 20 assists)? Sounds fair...

It's been said to death, but Eklund should not be allowed to report on anything about hockey, ever.

I've also read on ESPN Insider that Cole for Sobotka and Lashoff could be a possibility.

I've got to think that B's GM Peter Chiarelli is smart enough to know not to mess with the chemistry the team has. I can see them adding in a player to supplement what they currently have, but it'd be rubbish and nonsense to completely change the shape of the Bruins.

Cole isn't the kind of player the B's need. Sure he's physical, but he's not a goal scorer. Kessel has as many goals as Cole has points, so what would be the point of trading Kessel to bring in that "big power forward?" While enhancing the physicality, it handicaps the offense.

I don't see Erik Cole being a Bruin by March 4th.


Major laugh here, as this blog was originally posted around 7:30 (opened at 7:13), Eklund had an update around 7:57 that I just picked up on.

"No doubt whatsoever in my mind at this point that Boston is leading the way for Erik Cole. Working on more of what could be heading back but I feel very confident that Cole will be a Bruin this time next week.."

I feel that between Eklund and I, one of us will be right. It will be me.

2/27 - Habs vs Flyers

This will be an important segway game for the Flyers. If they can get this going into a three game streak, there will be less pressure on them Sunday in New Jersey. If they lose to Montreal, the Rock is going to be hellish.

Last I heard Timonen still has the flu, Vaananen was claimed by the Canucks, Kukkonen has to dress, Ross was called up from the Phantoms, and Briere isn't going to be able to play because of the cap. We'll find out shortly.

Also - Metro taken by the Habs? Did he make it in time to dress for this game? That'd be a shame. I enjoyed having Metro on the team and I wish him the best.. but not on Montreal.

Due to technical difficulties I'm not able to watch the game yet. Waiting on you NHL Center Ice. I see on the box score though that Metro is playing for the habs and Lupul has scored 28 seconds in. Huzza.

Technical difficulties render this live blog unbloggable!

I'll be back with post-game thoughts.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rangers by the Numbers

I QUIT. I've shown patience over the past 14 games, but I can't take it anymore. The Rangers lost 2-1 to Florida tonight on a game where they outplayed Florida for literally 59 of the 60 minutes of the game. They scored 17 seconds into the game only to have it taken off of the board because the puck was "touched by a high stick." The replay showed otherwise but they never reviewed it. This was a sign of things to come.

The Rangers were quicker to the puck. They were more active shooting it. They played much better fundamental hockey. And from the 11:50 mark through the 12:50 mark in the 3rd, the Rangers allowed 2 extremely weak goals on a Booth backhander, on the entire team deciding not to guard Nathan Horton in the slot. That was the entire Rangers lapse in the game. I can't stand to relive the last 3 hours of my life any more and would rather relive the last 5 months of hockey in a Rangers by the numbers. Here are the game highlights for those interested.

Here are the Rangers by the Numbers: Feel free to play "Somebody Kill Me Please" off of the Wedding Singer Soundtrack
$2,000,000- Pay per Wade Redden goal
3- Goals the Rangers could have had tonight if they were able to lift the puck over the pads of Craig Andersen
  • Gomez breakaway
  • Callahan breakaway
  • Rozsival in the right circle with half the net open

12- Number of games in the last 14 that the Rangers have not scored over two goals

0- Number of those games they have won

9- Home games left

6- Number of those games against current playoff teams

10-Road games left

4- Number of those games against current playoff teams

0- Rangers with over 20 goals

1- Rangers with a plus rating (+2 Nikolai Zherdev)

17- Rangers losses where they have scored 1 goal or less.

19,800- Fans that were chanting "FIRE SATHER" tonight at the game
8- Consecutive minutes that the chant went on
$28.8- Millions of dollars invested in Gomez, Drury, Redden, and Rozsival this year
3- Years after this that all of those rosters will still be counting against the cap unless Sather trades one of them.
4- PPG over the last 14 games
44- PP opportunities over that span
9.1%- You do the math.
38- Days until Opening Day Baseball

Ducks v. Bruins LIVE!

Okay, so shoot me for completely missing the Bruins/Panthers encounter. I dropped the ball, got a little busy, but things happen. Besides, Bruins fans should see it as a blessing. They haven't had that kind of offensive explosion since I started writing about them. Silver lining perhaps.

Byron Bitz
had the fans chanting "We Want Bitz" during the 6-1 thrashing of the Panthers. Yes, he's been solid since coming up and maybe he'll keep his spot when everybody gets healthy, at least I think he should. However, Bitz needs to play at a high level of physical play each and every night out. He's got the body, there's no reason why he can't dominate battles along the boards and behind the net.

Also, nice to see Mr. Ryder back.

Looking at Mike Millbury's pregame plan. Physical play is number one on his list. Shocking. I remember mentioning that about 50,000 times over the past two weeks.

No Aaron Ward, out with an injury. Matt Hunwick has been recalled from Providence. Probably for the better all around.

Let's see if Milan Lucic's physicality cna spur the team on like it did against Florida. Once he started hitting people, everyone else quickly followed suit.

I'm also hoping Bergeron is not on the power play point with Zdeno Chara. Lost hope is good.

Why does Jack Edwards always have to make a reference to "buzzing around" when he mentions the B's? They're Bruins, Jack. They don't buzz. They maul, rip and maim.

I had to add this in, NESN has a Jack Edwards bingo game. You get a spot when he uses some of his oft-uses spaces. I may have to play along with the live blogs. Just for the fun of it.

To prove I'm not joking...

I'm not sure I know what to say with things like He Bangs Him, Blows a Tire and Cocks and Fires on here, but Jack will be Jack. (Not to mention Reaches Around...)

First Period
And we're underway...

18:50 -
Savard breaks into the zone with Kessel, 2 on 0, couple of slick passes between them, but Bret Hedican recovers well to break up a pontential shot.

16:20 - Getzlaf makes a brilliant pass ahead to Perry who's wrister from the right is saved by Timmy Thomas. Good flow so far, Bruins dominating the neutral zone and generally looking livelier.

13:36 - Things moving fast but not really a lot to comment on. Thomas makes a nice save and there will be a face off to his right.

13:11 - Bruins Seventh Player voting for fans is back. How can Tim Thomas not win this award?

11:56 - Lucic has Selanne lined up for a hit and whiffs into the Ducks bench. Good stuff. However, Lucic is looking to hit people here and he has caused a couple of turnovers.

10:50 - Mark Stuart's slapper, headed for J.S. Giguere, careens off Bitz's skate. Tough luck shot there for the B's.

10:12 - Delayed call on the Ducks, Yelle has a tough angle shot and rings through the post! Penalty call is slashing on Sheldon Brookbank.

Video Highlights Courtesy Of

9:30 - You'd swear the Ducks are on the power play here...

8:20 - Bruins have a couple of chances, Wideman drifted into the slot and had the puck on the tape. Giguere saved the slap shot high off his forearm. Krejci then can't handle a cross-seam pass and the Ducks kill the penalty.

6:45 - Savard sets up in... Gretzky's Office. Ugh.

5:00 - High stick on David Krejci as he crushes Perry in the glass. Maybe not a penalty, hard to tell if the stick made contact. Bruins boo birds are out on the call. Rightly so lads.

2:28 - Bruins kill the penalty, Stephane Yelle made a ballsy move to block the puck off his hip early on in it.

2:06 GOAL! 1-0 Bruins - And it's Matt Hunwick! Recalled from Providence and he makes it happen! Krejci forces a turnover in the neutral zone, passes it to Ryder, kicks it off his skate to himself, backhands it across the seam, Wheeler has a good screen on and Hunwick is to follow it through to goal.

0:00 - Yelle down in the wall throws the puck in front and it just gets by an outstretched Bitz. Giguere's glove side was wiiiiiiiiiide open if Bitz had gotten a stick on it.

To quote Jack Edwards, after the first period, the B's are buzzing. Bzzzz.

A lot of scoring chances for the Bruins, against a lesser goalie they'd probably have a couple in the back of the net at the first intermission.

Second Period

18:33 -
Bruins layering extremely well at the defensive end. They denied Selanne on a wrap around chance and ended with their own scoring chance at the other end.

18:01 GOAL 2-0 Bruins - Michael Ryder with this one! Hnidy waits it out in the back, gets it to Wheeler who finds Krejci, skates into the zone, finds Ryder in stride on the tape, drags a snapper and the Ducks look to be sitting. (Har.)

16:38 - Gotta love the effort Shawn Thornton puts in night in night out. It's too bad his talent doesn't match his effort.

16:17 GOAL 3-0 Bruins - Chuck Kobasew and birthday boy PJ Axelsson have a 2 on 1. Kobasew smartly keeps it himself and rips a snap shot past Giguere.

JS Giguere has been pulled from the game, Jonas Hiller will take his place.

Bruins have three goals on just eight shots.

14:20 - Bruins smell blood. Wheeler is called for tripping and the Ducks need to score a goal here.

11:40 - Shawn Thornton and George Parros! Two heavyweights banging lefts and rights. Parros has Thornton manhandled, but Thornton fights and fights and gets the takedown! Score one for Shawn Thornton! It started when Parros laid a huge hit into Marc Savard, it was clean, but Thornton felt the need to stick up for his teammate.

10:00 - I feel like I'm watching a completely different hockey team from the one I saw on the road trip.

6:05 - It's been a dull four minutes, though I have been amusing myself with Jack Edwards bingo. So far I've got Off Glass, In Gretzky's Office, D to D, Wing to Wing and Mid-Air Fungo Job. Nothing close to giving me the ole Jack Bingo though.

5:38 - Huge save from Thomas as he stops Parros and squeezes the puck between his legs. A near melee ensues before the ref points to the dot for a face off.

Parros has an epic mustache/soul patch combination. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

5:11 - Mike Brown sucker punches Milan Lucic and that is the end of his world. Lucic unleashes right handed barrels on Brown, knocks him to the ice and continues to wail on him.

Sheldon Brookbank has been ejected for going after Lucic had taken care of business.

Lucic has some bloody knuckles. Well worth the effort I'm inclined to think.

Jack is speculating that Lucic meant to go after Brookbank, but Brown happened to be in the wrong place and the right time.

And there's a Bruins power play after an instigating call. I guess it worked out pretty well for all involved.

4:27 - Savard and Scott Neidermayer jousting for position along the blue line. Savard takes exception, off comes the gloves and Neidermayer plants him to the ice. Say hello to Milan for me, Marc.

3:35 - Montador called for a leg trip on David Krejci. Things are getting extremely chippy here toward the end of the second. Bruins have a 5 on 3 for... well they screwed up on the scoreboard, so nobody is quite sure of how long.

1:59 GOAL 4-0 Bruins - It's a power play goal for Phil Kessel! Thomas turns it cross eyes, gets Ryder onside, drags it across the left circle and the shot bounces off Kessel's skate! Timmy Thomas pitching a shut out and adds an assist to his sheet.

:52.7 - George Parros is angry as he's called for a hold on Chara. No reason to be upset, it's very obvious. Parros jaws with the ref and is lucky it's only a two minute penalty.

:15.6 GOAL 5-0 Bruins - It's a power play goal for Chuck Kobasew! Chuck's second goal comes from the umbrella, Wideman gets it over to Kobasew who slots it past Hiller on the short side. The Bruins are on a feeding frenzy.

At the end of two and the Bruins have scored four goals, have gotten into a couple of scraps and are firing on absolutely every single cylinder. With the Ducks having little to play for in the third I could see some fisticuffs as things get tenser than they were in this period.

All I know is that I'm excited for it. I'm also sick of hearing Zombie Nation, so the B's can stop scoring any time.

Third Period

19:20 -
I think Chara has put Corey Perry on the ice about 15 times tonight.

15:37 - Thomas robs Bobby Ryan! What a save.

Bruins have 19 players who have registered a point between tonight and the Florida game.

13:15 - Mark Stuart to the box for cross-checking. Can the Ducks claw their way back!?

11:33 - And Bitz "Pounds it down the river." Mark it off on your bingo scorecards, kids.

The Bruins are 3/3 killing the penalty tonight.

10:12 - Kessel skates through and glides across the zone, takes a nice shot that's covered by Hiller.

Won't it be pathetic when we're looking at Bingo cards and hoping Jack says one of his ridiculous phrases? Oh NESN! You've sucked us in!

6:19 GOAL 6-0 Bruins - It's Byron Bitz! Ference makes a long pass to Bitz, uses his strength to beat the skater, Neidermayer's poke check is avoided and he wrists it past Hiller.

3:40 - Jack just made a good point. Chara will be in studio for an interview with Shoe-Bangin' Millbury after the game and Jack goes "the man who traded Chara from the Isles." Wonder if that's why Mike's got a cushy NESN job these days.

And in 62 games this year the Bruins have won 42 games. They won 41 all of last season.

The B's were confident, intense, physical, everything you could have wanted from them tonight. They executed the game plan, the defense stepped up huge in the offensive aspect of the game.

Michael Ryder has 5 points in his first two games back, you've got to think that is huge for the Bruins who will need all the confidence they can get with the Capitals coming to town on Saturday afternoon.

Twelve goals and two games, let's see if the tempo remains on Saturday...

Pens Send Whitney To Anaheim For Kunitz

I just saw the news that the Penguins have traded Ryan Whitney to the Anaheim Ducks for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi.

Part of me feels that this is a good trade because it clears some cap space, and by some I mean $250K. The good news is that Kunitz is signed through 2010-2011.

So far this season Kunitz has 16 goals and 19 assists, which makes me wonder why he's being paid $3.75 million when his career high in points is only 60.

What Kunitz gives the Pens is a more reliable wing for Sidney Crosby. I still think the Pens could have gotten a better winger, but something tells me Ray Shero isn't done and that something big is going to go down in the next week.

Perhaps Jordan Staal is heading out of town as has been discussed in a variety of places.

As for Tangradi at 6-4 221, this could be a stud in the making, He's second in the OHL in scoring with 87 points in 52 games. Only highly touted John Tavares is ahead of him.

This kid has the makings of a true power forward and that excites me.

By getting rid of Whitney, the Penguins have eased the logjam on defense and it will allow Kris Letang to get back into the lineup. Letang is rounding into a very solid offensive defenseman, but still needs work in his own end.

The top 6 defensemen are:

Sergei Gonchar - Brooks Orpik
Rob Scuderi - Hal Gill
Kris Letang - Mark Eaton

The Penguins also have Alex Goligoski waiting in the wings, but there are some rumors out there that he could be dealt as well. If that's the case, we better get a lot back.

Now as for new line combos up front let's shake things up a bit. I've suggested before moving Staal to a wing to better utilize his scoring ability. With that said, here's my suggested lines:

Kunitz - Crosby - Dupuis
Sykora - Malkin - Staal
Satan - Talbot - Fedotenko
Cooke - Kennedy - Godard

If the Penguins still want to keep Staal as a center, move him to the 2nd line center and move Evgeni Malkin out to a wing. It's not like he hasn't proven that he can play wing or anything.

Ideally, the Penguins can find a way to move Miroslav Satan to free up his $3.5 million contract heading into the offseason. Ruslan Fedotenko probably won't be back either at $2.5 million, so that already would free up six million in cap space by either dealing those two or letting them walk.

It's also pretty safe to assume that Philippe Boucher won't be back. Yes, he's still on the roster and making $2.5 million. He had foot surgery in January is is out indefinitely. He's also a UFA after the season, so he can walk too.

There's $8.5 million you free up just from letting those three guys walk. That should be more than enough to go out and get a couple of solid wingers to help out the depth up front, but that's also assuming Shero is fully happy with the now current roster.

Something tells me he's not.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pens Get 1-0 Win Over Islanders Sans Crosby, Whitney

For whatever reason, the New York Islanders always seem to give the Penguins fits. Tonight was just another example of this as the Pens squeaked by the Islanders 1-0.

Before I go any further, can I just say that I'm sick of the powder blue jerseys? They were cool in the Outdoor Classic last year and maybe as a rare throwback jersey, but 20+ times this season? Come on. The team was garbage when they wore those jerseys back in the late '60s and I think it's showing up in their play this season.

Anyway, the Pens had plenty of glorious opportunities in this game. On a few occasions they had the puck behind Isles goaltender Yann Danis, but were unable to slam it home or settle the puck.

Finally, Petr Sykora was the recipient of a fortunate bounce out front on a pass from Sergei Gonchar and buried the puck behind Danis for the game's lone goal. he nearly killed himself while celebrating the goal, but hey when you score a potentially season saving goal, you're allowed.

Video Highlights Courtesy Of

Sidney Crosby and Ryan Whitney missed tonight's game for a couple different reasons. Crosby pulled himself out of practice with a sore groin he suffered Sunday against Washington.

Whitney missed the game due to personal reasons and is expected to re-join the team Friday in Chicago.

Updated Hal Gill Quotient Standings:

Marc-Andre Fleury - 3.58 - 7 GP
Ryan Whitney - 3.5 - 6 GP
Kris Letang - 2.84 - 4 Games Played
Hal Gill - 2.34 - 6 GP
Mark Eaton - 2.33 - 7 GP
Sergei Gonchar - 1.75 - 6 GP
Brooks Orpik - 1.75 - 7 GP
Jordan Staal - 1.75 - 7 GP
Rob Scuderi - 1.25 - 7 GP
Matt Cooke - 1.0 - 7 GP
Pascal Dupuis - .83 - 7 GP
Referee Paul Devorski - 0.5 - 1 Game Reffed
Bill Thomas - .33 - 5 GP

As a result of the shutout, the Hall Gill Quotient remains unchanged from the last game and in place of dissecting goals against, let's take a look at some "rumors."

Alexander Frolov To Pittsburgh e4

First off, I like the possibility of having a guy like Frolov on Sidney Crosby's wing. A lot. However, given that Eklund is only correct 2.9% of the time according to, this isn't happening. He is also rumored to head to Colorado or Buffalo.

Let's just assume that Eklund is onto something here. What would we give up to get Frolov?

It's widely thought that Ryan Whitney will be shipped out of Pittsburgh by the deadline. I'm willing to take a guy like Frolov and a draft pick for Whitney. The upside to this kind of a deal is that Frolov is signed through the end of next season at $2.9 million, meaning we save about $1.1 million in cap space by dumping Whitney's salary.

Erik Cole To Pitt e4

Eklund seems to think that the Pens will trade Whitney to Edmonton straight up for Cole.


Does anyone out there seriously think that this would be an equal trade or that the Pens would actually be the victors in this deal? Come on.

Not to mention, Cole's going to be a UFA after this season. Where's the logic here Eklund?

Scott Niedermayer To Pittsburgh

Dear God, why? There's not even an "E" rating on this because there isn't a quantitative negative value for utterly laughable. It doesn't exist.

Moving on.

Ryan Smyth To Pitt

Gimmie gimmie gimmie. Seriously, I'd love this guy in Pittsburgh. The only problem here is his $6.25 million contract. Upside is that he's signed through 2011-2012.

With 20 goals and 30 assists on the season, Smyth could be the perfect fit on the top line with Crosby. Throw Pascal Dupuis on the other wing to wreak havoc and win one-on-one battles in the corners and you have yourself a formidable top line.

Smyth isn't Judas, but it's an improvement over (insert player here not named Sykora or Evgeni Malkin.)

Now onto some other rumors I've read on other sites:

Nik Antropov To Pitt

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I do not see what the big deal is with Antropov. Leaf fans affectionately refer to him as Antropuff.

Here's what I think of Antropov:

He's a good guy to have out in front to set up screens and he does score a bunch of garbage goals. That's fine and dandy. However, he's what Hal Gill would be if Gill was a forward.

At 6'6" 230, he should be feared in the corners. He's not. He's also not going to be able to keep up with Crosby on the rush.

If we send the Leafs Alex Goligoski and a 1st-round pick for him, I'm driving to Pittsburgh to demand a meeting with Ray Shero. Simple as that. Even if we send Whitney up there for him, I'm not happy.

I would much rather a guy like Frolov or Milan Hejduk than Gill's younger brother.

Stay tuned for more as we are now getting ever closer to the deadline and there's bound to be more rumors soon.

Rangers: Some things change, others stay the same

First things first. Despite the Ranger 2-1 OT loss tonight in Toronto, the Rangers did creep out of Canada with one point. While one would hope that back to back games vs Toronto should net at least one win, I am a glass half full kind of guy. We did get 2 points from two OT losses and I am just going to pretend that we won one and lost one in regulation.

Secondly, John Tortorella is not a miracle worker. A complete 180 degree turnaround from the Tom Renney era in only two days was highly improbable. The team has played with the same sense of urgency for the last five seasons, especially during the 12 previous games. This mentality will take a couple more games to break. Coming to acceptance with that fact will be key to Rangers fans out there. The light swtich cannot just be flipped on. This is not going to be done overnight.

With that said, let's take a look at all of the differences I noticed tonight while watching the game.

- The Rangers took 32 shots on goal. It's not necessarily the amount of shots that was different, but rather the types of shots. The Rangers were blasting from the point, something rarely seen in the Renney era. This lead to a bunch of longer rebounds and opportunities had the Rangers been crashing the net.

- WADE REDDEN SCORED! I forgot he was a Ranger. More importantly, IT WAS ON THE POWER PLAY. Once again this was blasted from the point, and there was traffic in front. It looked like an actual power play strategy was behind the play. Which leads us too...

- The Rangers actually looked like they had a power play strategy. Typically on the man advantage, the Rangers dump, chase, don't get to the puck in time, and 3 seconds later, Hank is stopping it behind the net and the Rangers are retreating. Today there was a distinct rhythm to the PP. Instead of over passing, and getting an unfortunate deflection like usual, there was a conscious effort to put the puck on net and see what happened.

- Lastly, Markus Naslund was in a fight! A) Who knew?!? B) I think this was a direct sign to Tortorella that he was willing to do things he isn't used to doing in order to win. I hope the rest of the team picks up on it. For those who are trying to recall the last Markus Naslund fight, it was back when he was a Penguin. Here is the YouTube video proof. Enjoy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pens Lose To Caps, No One's Surprised

There's not much to be said about the Pens 5-2 loss to the Caps yesterday. I'm not surprised one bit that they lost to the Capitals in such a convincing fashion, especially with how intense Saturday's game against the Flyers was.

Now, this would have been an enormously huge win for the Pens, but it just wasn't in the cards. Let's take a look at the goals against and assign some Hal Gill Quotient points to the deserving players.

Goal #1 - Alex Ovechkin scores on the powerplay - Sergei Fedorov has the puck in the corner and feeds Nicklas Backstrom at the bottom of the right faceoff circle. Shockingly enough, Hal Gill was the man Fedorov beat with the short pass.

Backstrom then sends the puck over to Ovechkin, who's streaking down the weakside with a wide open net. Ovie fires the one-timer and it's 1-0 Caps. Rob Scuderi attempted to block Backstrom's pass, but missed.

Points assigned: Gill - 0.5, Scuderi 0.5

Video Highlights Courtesy Of

Goal #2 - Alexander Semin scores on the powerplay - For some reason, all four Penguins were along the near side boards trying to get the puck out of the zone. The four Penguins on the ice were: Sidney Crosby, Matt Cooke, Brooks Orpik and Mark Eaton.

Sid, Orpik, and Cooke were pursuing Backstrom along the wall. Eaton then slides over to mark Ovechkin, leaving Semin wide open in front of Marc-Andre Fleury. Backstrom chips the puck past all three Pens into the vicinity of Semin, who handles the puck and dekes Fleury to the ice for a 2-1 lead.

Points assigned - Orpik 0.5 for being out of position, Eaton 0.5 for cheating to Ovechkin.

Goal #3 - Fedorov blows one through Fleury - Jordan Staal turns the puck over while trying to return a pass to Ryan Whitney along the nearside at the blueline. Semin picked off the pass and found Fedorov entering the zone. Fedorov tees it up from the slot and blows it through the legs of Fleury for a 3-1 lead.

Points assigned - .75 to Staal for the turnover, .25 to Fleury for not getting the pads down quick enough despite the wide open slapper from 15 feet.

Goal #4 - Shaone Morrison scores on rebound blast from tough angle - Ovechkin dances around Tyler Kennedy at the top of the right faceoff circle and dances his way to the nearside to get a shot on net. Fleury makes the save and deflects the rebound aside. Morrison skates down past the hashmarks along the wall and rips the puck right back at Fleury who misplayed the angle and its now 4-2 Caps.

Points assigned - Pascal Dupuis 0.5 for not picking up his pointman (Morrison) streaking to the puck. Fleury 0.5 for not stopping a shot from that bad of an angle.

Goal #5 - Fleury goes behind the net to play the puck to Gill, but the pass gets broken up by Semin. An attempted pass into the slot by Semin goes awry, but the puck finds its way back to Tom Poti at the point. Poti unloads and misses the net by about a foot to Fleury's right. Brooks Laich pounces on the loose puck and just throws it on net. The puck must have had eyes as it found a small opening Fleury must have left and just barely crosses the line. 5-2 Caps.

Points assigned - Fleury 0.5 for not blocking off the post and allowing a very weak goal, Gill 0.25 for not calling Fleury off on the pass or assisting in that aspect of the play in any way, Scuderi 0.25 for not picking up Laich after Poti's shot.

Updated Hal Gill Quotient Standings:

Marc-Andre Fleury - 3.58 - 6 GP
Ryan Whitney - 3.5 - 6 GP
Kris Letang - 2.84 - 3 Games Played
Hal Gill - 2.34 - 5 GP
Mark Eaton - 2.33 - 6 GP
Sergei Gonchar - 1.75 - 5 GP
Brooks Orpik - 1.75 - 6 GP
Jordan Staal - 1.75 - 6 GP
Rob Scuderi - 1.25 - 6 GP
Matt Cooke - 1.0 - 6 GP
Pascal Dupuis - .83 - 6 GP
Referee Paul Devorski - 0.5 - 1 Game Reffed
Bill Thomas - .33 - 4 GP

Bruins Need Spark Plug

I'm sure in countless hockey rinks, football fields, and baseball diamonds across the country, parents tell their children that it doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's whether or not you put in the effort and have fun. Play your best, your hardest, but it's okay if you don't win. Because you did your best, your threw it all out there.

For the past three games of this road trip, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien has seemingly practiced this methodology. Unfortunately for Claude and his Bruins, this method need not apply to the National Hockey League. Yes, there was the December to Remember. However, it is now late February, heading closer and closer to the playoffs and nobody remembers December. They remember a 1-3-1 road trip on the back of back-to-back home losses. 1-4-2 in their last seven.

Play hard boys, but it's okay if you don't win.

The 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay certainly wasn't for lack of effort. The Bruins relentlessly peppered Karri Ramo with shot after shot, 43 (paired with 41 aganst Florida) of them in all and were rewarded with three goals for those efforts. However, some untimely turnovers, poor defending and Manny Fernandez-quality goaltending, he gave up the 4 goals on just 18 shots, ouch.

Yes, the Bruins showed passion and intensity along with terrific energy. Shawn Thornton and Mark Stuart were both involved in fisticuffs with a pair of thrilling duels that energized the team. When PhiKessel netted his early goal things looked great, but then Tampa scored two in fifteen seconds and the energy changed. The Bruins fought back from behind twice, but still fell.

Now, 43 shots on goal are fantastic, but how many of those were bonafide chances? Along with the shots, the intensity of play seemed to wane until after Tampa had gone ahead with 1:33 to play.

Where has Boston's complacency come from? Jumping out to a huge lead in the Eastern Conference? Taking bottom of the conference teams like Tampa for granted?

Maybe it's the coach settling for effort and not results.

Patrice Bergeron
still finds himself on the point on the top power play line. He looks timid and uncomfortable along the blue line and rightly so. He's a winger. Put him there already, please. Chara and Ward at the point on the top line did well, they were rewarded with it. Bergeron excelled on the second unit playing along the wall and putting his body in front of the net. Patrice's confidence wasn't raised as highly as Julien may have thought with that erm... empty net goal.

How badly do the B's need a sniper? I brought up the fact that the B's won't be where they need to be unless they find a sniper, and a friend responded; "Our sniper is injured." I laughed. Michael Ryder, as nice a goal scoring option as he is, does not a sniper make. The Bruins need someone who can score 35-40 goals in a season. Kessel is nice, Ryder is nice, having five guys who can net 20+ goals and a dozen who can net 10+ is nice, but you need someone that strikes fear into opposition goalies. Chara can do that, sure, but where's that full time offensive presence? The Sykora, Kovalchuk, Kovalev winger who can score from anywhere inside the zone?

No, the Bruins probably aren't able to get a player of their calibre. Especially with names like Keith Tkachuk and Erik Cole being bandied about. To think I know a couple of people excited about the prospect of Cole being a Bruin, but he's a fraud of a goalscorer. Not nearly the player he was in Carolina and not likely to ever be. Tkachuk? While it'd be nice to see the Massachusetts native play for the B's, he's basically washed up and wouldn't add enough to the team. In the end the fact is that they need a proven out and out scorer. The Bruins have players who can score goals, but they're very, very streaky. Consistency would do wonders for this team.

With the Caps inching ever closer to the B's, they could lose grip on the East's top spot. The Bruins are in a precarious position right now, despite what many may think.

It's already been proven that effort alone isn't enough to do the job.

Renney Out as Rangers Coach: Tortorella In

The New York Rangers today did what many expected would happen after losing 10 of their last 12 games and dropping all the way down to the bottom of the playoff picture and fired Tom Renney today. Renney's laissez faire attitude lead to a listless team over the past two months, the the managment decided that a change needed to be made while the Rangers we still in striking position of the playoffs. Renney's record as a Rangers coach over 4+ seasons was an admirable 164-121-42. Perry Pearn, Renney's right hand man, was also let go today showing that the Rangers will be going with a totally different coaching mentality.

While the last 12 games can be pinned on Renney, all of the fault cannot be placed on him. Some must be directed upstairs to GM Glen Sather who used up tons of cap space on Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, and Wade Redden, all of whom have underachieved this season. Sather can also be blamed for not having a proven scorer or two on the roster. (I can't believe how much we miss Jagr and Shanny) Hopefully he doesn't do anything too drastic in trading away all of the Rangers youth as a quick panacea to much bigger problems than just a proven scorer.

With all of that said, lets look at possible replacements for Rangers head coach.

Mike Pellino: Current Rangers assistant, but not much pedigree. If Sather is looking for a smooth transition, Pellino would be the choice. Seeing how this team needs a kick in the pants, some turbulence may be necessary. Odds 40-1
Jim Schoenfeld: Current Rangers assistant GM and former coach of the Wolfpack. Schoenfeld has a feel for the Rangers talent and brings a little toughness to the Rangers bench. Odds 7-1.
John Tortorella: Former Rangers assistant coach and former Tampa Bay Lightning head coach. Lead the Lightning to a Stanley Cup Victory back in 2004. Likes to yell and uses intimidation passion to get the most out of his teams, which is what the Rangers need. Odds 3-1.

In all honesty, Tortorella is not my ideal coach because I believe coaches need to have a balance of coddling and yelling. Tortorella is on pace for a heart attack any day now with his antics, but he is the best of what is currently out there in the middle of the season. More updates as the story breaks.


It is now official that the Rangers have hired John Tortorella for a kick in the pants to fire this team up. If Tortorella and his passionate coaching cannot turn this team around, then the entire blame can be put on the players and the front office. Time will tell.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rangers: Not for the weak of heart or stomach

We have all seen it in the bar. You are in the hanging with your friends, consuming some adult beverages, and off in the distance, you see "That guy." Not the jerk who thinks he's the coolest guy in the bar, but rather the one who has a snowball's chance in hell at landing the hot chick in the mini skirt. The music is too loud to talk and you don't dance, so what else is there to do but watch this guy? Why not get a good laugh out of it?
So first he goes over and starts a conversation with her. She doesn't turn him away. Who knows, maybe she is just being polite. Next he buys her a drink. She takes it, but who is really going to turn down a free drink? He then gestures and asks her to dance. She goes out there and starts off with a good foot of open space between them. Five songs and two drinks later, and you couldn't slip a piece of paper between them. You start to get your hopes up for this guy. You root for him to pull this off, for all of the average guys out there who have been in that position. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. (Thank you Andy Dufresne) Then there is flirtatious touching and grabbing and groping and you think this is gonna be it. This is gonna be the guy's triumph of the night. And then tragedy strikes and she walks away. What do this guy and the New York Rangers have in common? THEY CAN'T FREAKING SCORE.
Each game you watch and they have multiple scoring chances. Each game you hop out of your seat thinking that the puck had to find twine and yet no red light goes on. The last two nights, Ryan Miller and Vesa Toskala have been sprawling, diving, and using the Force to stop the puck from getting into the net. For those with the weak of heart, do not watch this team until they get off the schneid, because multiple heart attacks in a two and a half hour period cannot be good for one's health. For those with the weak stomach, do not bother eating anytime before the game, because there is not enough carpet cleaner out there to get the puke stains out.
The Rangers have dropped the last two 4-2 and 3-2. During the Sabres game, they thought there was a 8:00 start time rather than 7:00 and didn't show up until the 2nd period, which is a common occurrence and a sign of bad coaching. During the Leafs game tonight, they outplayed Toronto for a good 50 of 62 minutes. Alas, stupid penalties and lucky bounces lead to the demise of the Broadway Blueshirts.
The first goal allowed was on a failed deflection attempt by John Mitchell. Instead of deflecting a Pavel Kubina low slapper, Mitchell accidentally trapped it. Hank played the puck and was ready for the deflection. When the puck was stopped dead, half of the net was left open. A quick backhand and the first goal was on the board.
The second Leafs goal came during a 4-4 about 30 seconds after Gomez tied it up on a nice backhander through Toskala's wickets. In any 4-4 situation, the basic defense is forwards on d-men and d-men on forwards. Drury took a gamble on a Kubina cross ice pass and the puck snuck under his stick. This allowed Ian White to walk into the slot uncontested and rip one by Hank. Not one Ranger moved towards White in what was either a lack of effort or a collective defensive lapse. Either way the Leafs took the lead 2-1.
A period and a half later and the Rangers have an empty net. Zherdev gains the zone and throws it cross ice to a cutting Dubinsky. Dubinsky puts it on net but is blocked. The puck deflects off of Callahan and back to Rozsival who throws it on net and deflects it off of a Leaf in front and sneaks it by Vesa to tie things at 2-2. This would be the reason the game was salvaged because the Rangers earned the automatic 1 point in OT.
Doomed seemed imminent 2 minutes into overtime when the Rangers best penalty killer, Blair Betts, came off the bench and hooked Kubina skating through the neutral zone. This lead to the dreaded 4-3 power play, also known in the Garden tonight as the Pavel Kubina firing squad. Kubina blasted 2-3 shots from the point, all which bounced off of the boards and right back to a Leaf forward and then back to Kubina. After a couple deja vus, Kubina put one on net that Hagman deflected in.
Despite the loss, things are turning around for the Rangers. Their passing was crisp, their defense solid, and they ended up putting 41 shots on net. There is hope looking into the future and if they can put out this effort nightly, things will turn around. Until then, they will just be "That Guy" in the bar watching the hot girl walk away.

Bruins vs. Lightning: LIVE!

We're live with Andy, Jack and Naoko in Tampa Bay as the Bruins look to rebound from last night's 2-0 loss to the very physical Panthers. The Bruins have taken points in three of their last six, but closer inspection shows that they've lost five of those six.

It appears as if Jack and Andy called each other this morning to coordinate their suits and ties. Good job, boys.

Ooh, Manny Fernandez is in net tonight. Things could get adventurous.

First Period

18:22 GOAL! 1-0 Bruins - Bruins on a quick break after Aaron Ward blocks a shot. Quick movement, Savard gets it to Phil Kessel who beats Ramo blocker side. The start the Bruins were looking for tonight.

16:31 - They finally make the goal announcement. A lot of cheers, a lot of Bruins fans. Probably the same people who are Sox fans that overtake Tampa Bay Rays home games.

15:16 GOAL! 1-1 - A little triangle offense in front of the net, Jeff Halpern finds the seam in the slot, Pettinger finds him there, a quick little forehand wrister and it's evened up.

15:01 GOAL! 2-1 Lightning - WOW! Tampa chips it down into the corner off the face off, Adam Hall gets behind the net, wraps it around and under Manny's pad. Things have gone sour for the Bruins fast.

First commercial break... without the commercials. Looks at the benches, an overlay for a segment being tested. Good stuff. The Bruins started out with a lot of energy and they've been dampened quickly by those first quick goals. The Bruins need to find some physicality. They're holding the puck fairly well, but they need to hit some people and truly take over. They're not out. Nothing to worry about yet.

Video Highlights Courtesy Of

10:32 - FIGHT! And Shawn Thornton is rocked. David Koci gets him down onto the ice after a few good rights and it's a quick end to the battle. It's the Bruins first fighting major in seven games now. There's the physical play I was looking for. Good job Shawn.

7:53 - It's amazing to watch this team night in and night out and see them dominating in shots almost every time out. 8-4 at this point, and they're generally far and away creating more opportunities to score than their opponents, they just can't seem to capitalize.

6:01 - Andrew Ference rings the post and Wideman just misses it... wide, man. Ference is sent off for a trip. Getting dicey is Tampa can convert on this power play. Savard had nicely won the faceoff, Lucic cycled it through to Ference who had the lane, just centimeters away from a goal, really.

4:50 - Bruins effectively kill the penalty when Fernandez is sent head over heels and an interference is called. We'll see a brief Bruins power play shortly. The 0/1 certainly won't help the statistics.

3:18 GOAL! 2-2 Did I say 0/1? Andrew Ference has his first goal of the year! Beautiful rotational passing from the B's, cross-seam pass for Ference, right onto the tape and it beats Ramo through the five. Bruins kill the penalty strongly and make the most of their short power play!

2:53 - FIGHT! Gary Roberts and Mark Stuart! Haymakers from both men! Stuart missing over the top, Roberts swinging furiously and falls down on top of Stuart! What action! The old man showing he can still bring it!

:29.7 - Tampa Bay on a powerplay after Shawn Thornton received a double minor in the aftermath of the fight between Stuart and Roberts. David Krejci breaks down the left side drags it in close on Ramo who makes a terrific glove save.

End of the first period, the Bolts will have 2:37 left on a power play with a clean sheet of ice. Up and down through the first, looking on the up. Good physical play like they needed, creating some good shorthanded chances at the end of the first and generally looking excited and energized in this game.

Second Period

18:18 -
The 'Ning miss a wonderful chance, Halpern alone in front, gets a weak wrister off of Fernandez's pad and cleared away from goal by Wideman. The Bruins effectively kill the double minor, conceding just two shots.

16:08 - Bruins powerplay as Malik gets set to the box for interference on Milan Lucic.

14:34 - Bruins struggling to keep the puck in Tampa Bay's zone. Martin St. Louis tries to clear, right onto the tap of PJ Axelsson, slaps it at Ramo, but a glove save. First real chance on the power play with :26 remaining on it.

12:33 - Ah, highlights of Zdeno Chara's October 2007 mauling of David Koci. Good stuff. I bet Koci isn't ready to see his face look like that anytime soon.

10:00 GOAL! 3-2 Lightning - It's another old-timer, Mark Recchi! The puck squirts by Chara, but he's able to recover, the wings never track back to help out, Josef Melichar takes a nice wirster and Recchi is able to beautifully redirect it in for the goal. Good chances at both ends, but the 'Ning are making 'em count.

8:24 - Artyukhin is sent to the box for tripping, oddly it seemed to occur moments after an offside whistle was blown. However, I'm sure the B's will take it.

6:24 - Tampa Bay kills the penalty. Why doesn't Claude Julien notice how much the B's top power play line struggles with Patrice Bergeron at the point? They struggle to create chances, Bergeron had a shot blocked. He works much better on the wing, not on the point. Wake up, Claude!

4:43 GOAL! 3-3 - Chuck Kobasew rushes up the right wing, crosses it into the slot for Zdeno Chara who beats Ramo with a wrister! The captain with an uncharacteristic goal to even the game and you can imagine the Bruins will play with more fire from here on out.

3:09 - David Krejci creates himself two or three chances in front of the net. Jack Edwards calls it "classic" David Krejci as if he's been playing in the league for fifteen years. Jack is blushing with a man crush.

2:08 - Chara has a word with Koci after Koci goes after Stephane Yelle. Perhaps Koci would like another broken face.

:18 - Phil Kessel rings the post as the Bruins are cycling the puck through the zone creating opportunities. The period ends with the Bruins looking stronger as the did after tying it near the end of the first. The physical tempo continues to increase for the Bruins and it can only mean good things. I can't emphasize this enough for the Bruins. If they're physical and intense, they'll win.

Bruins lead shots 28-14, still 2:1. They need to stay physical, tighten up the defense and good things will happen.

Third Period

17:21 -
Stephane Yelle is going to the box after Artyukhin takes a stick to the face. No blood, it's a high stick, two minutes only. Lightning have been more likely to score early on in the third and the Bruins certainly don't want to go down a goal again.

17:16 - Ryan Malone kills the penalty for the Bruins, two minutes for hooking Chara. Tampa Bay is now 0/4 on the power play tonight.

16:17 - An offside call. Been a quiet night for Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos, eh?

14:23 - Shane Hnidy gets hard after an icing call, everybody congregates behind the net. Boarding call on Artyukhin for his not so intelligent play. Bruins are now on the power play. Let's see them capitalize. They know they need a win and they can win this game.

7:27 - The Bruins are certainly trying to make something happen offensively, but they just aren't. The puck is bouncing around a lot, making it difficult to get a stick on it, not to mention a few Bruins players have had to return to the locker room because of skate issues.

There hasn't been much going on in the third since the Lightning killed the Bruins power play. I sense overtime right now, but anything could happen.

5:01 - Ramo makes a pair of incredible saves on Phil Kessel. Savard skates into Tampa's zone and flicks to Kessel on the right, Kessel wrists it, Ramo saves, Kessel snaps the rebound and Tampa clears into the stands. Boston has been controlling the puck, showing they want it more at the moment. Ramo certainly standing tall.

Shots are 42-17 for the Bruins, 14-3 in the third. Continuing to put up huge swaths of shots on goal.

4:45 - Krejci lays Gary Roberts out and gets called for interference. He certainly got his two minutes worth with that hit.

The 'Ning are 0/4 on the power play with 6 shots tonight.

2:50 - Oh noes! Delay of game on Andrew Ference after he clears it out into the stands. Tampa will be two men up for five seconds and on the power play until just under a minute left. Very important span of time coming here.

1:33 GOAL! 4-3 Lightning - It's Vinny Prospal on the power play! Halpern spins nicely to give himself space to make a pass over to Prospal. Beating Fernandez high and glove side.

This is the third time tonight the Bruins have fallen behind tonight. Could it be too much to surmount with so little time to go?

1:04 - Fernandez is pulled and Tampa ices it. Bruins need to win this face off cleanly.

Thirteenth place Tampa Bay has beaten the Bruins 4-3 here in Tampa. The Bruins have now lost 6 of their last 7 and 4 of 5 on this road trip. They return home for Tuesday night to host the Panthers.

The physical play was nice, the compete-level was nice, the Bruins wanted this game, they should've taken something out of it and just weren't able to. Karri Ramo made 40 saves and a number of them were spectacular, saves that should have been Boston goals. The Lightning are hugely outshot by the Bruins yet come away with the win.

You've got the make the most of your chances. Tampa Bay did that, Boston did not.

Panthers Bite Bruins

I'll admit I saw the majority of the game, however there were a couple of people over, making things slightly hazy the morning after. The Bruins and Panthers both played extremely hard, there was no lack of effort or hustle from either team.

Tomas Vokoun and the Panthers' penalty kill was beyond outstanding, he deserved his shutout just as well as Boston deserved to score four or five goals. Radek Dvorak had the game winner with a great shorthanded goal, going in on Thomas alone and lifting the puck high over the glove.

Why was Patrice Bergeron back on the point on the top powerplay unit? There had been great success see he had been moved to the wing of the second unit and now we're back up at the point. Does it coincide with the B's struggles last night? No, but I'd like to assume it did, considering I kvetched about him being there at length a little more than a week ago.

It has now been eight games since a Bruins player received a major for fighting. Where's the spirit boys? Drop those gloves.

That's all for now, this afternoon's contest in Tampa Bay will be blogged live starting around 5:00pm. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Paging Paul Holmgren

I didn't get to see the game today, though it sounds like it was a fun affair. That's not the point of this.

Make a move, Paul. This is a quality team with a real chance at something if they have some stability in goal. If it's simply the case that they can't find a place to unload Biron, I more than understand .. but if the trade fairies are out there somewhere, make a call for me, would ya?

Perhaps they're going to wait it out and let both Biron and Niitty go to UFA - and try to find a bonafide #1 in the process. They've screwed this up a number of times - that's some valuable experience.. put it to work and make a move that this team needs and has needed for a decade.

Biron's Gaffe Gives Pens Much Needed Win

I'm still shaking as I type this. What an incredible hockey game in Philadelphia today. It's a shame it ended the way it did though.


Here's what happened late in the third period with the score tied 4-4:

Biron comes way out to beat Pascal Dupuis to the puck. Biron ends up sliding on his face/side to the top of the right circle with the puck in his glove. Now for those of you not up on hockey rules, he cannot cover the puck out that high without getting a delay of game penalty. With what happened next, the two minute penalty may have been the better option.

Biron turns his back to Dupuis and gets to his knees. He attempts to flip the puck away from danger with his glove, but the puck gets caught in the webbing and goes straight up in the air, hits him in the back and rolls down to the now assembled crowd around him.

Somehow, Dupuis gets his stick on the puck and throws it toward the net. Sidney Crosby beats his man with a pool-cue shot to the empty cage for the eventual game-winning goal.

Video Highlights Courtesy Of

Complete insanity would best describe the goal and the rest of the third period.

The Pens led 3-1 after two and everything was going their way. They were dictating the pace and play for the majority of the first 40 minutes. Then Mike Richards scored his seventh shorthanded goal of the season to cut the lead to 3-2.

Ryan Whitney had the puck at the point on the far side and attempted a pass to Sergei Gonchar along the blueline that Richards read beautifully. Richards was in clean from his own blueline and made a nifty move on Marc-Andre Fleury to slip it between the pads for the goal.

That goal gave the Flyers a new found life and left me sick to my stomach.

Exactly three minutes and thirty seconds later, Hal Gill breaks his stick in the defensive zone with Philly applying good pressure. Petr Sykora slides down to hand him his stick.

Naturally, the puck comes back to the point to Matt Carle who easily gets away from Sykora and finds Braydon Coburn across the blueline. Coburn unloads on a one-timer and Penguins' defenseman Rob Scuderi failed to block the shot. In fact, Scuderi got a petty impressive tip-in goal to tie the game at 3-3.

The Pens would not be outdone however, as they re-gained the lead just over three minutes later on a great effort by Dupuis.

Gonchar moved into the neutral zone and attempted a pass to Dupuis that missed. It was now a race for the puck to beat out an icing call for Dupuis, who did just that.

Dupuis easily beats his man to the puck and chips it to Crosby at the bottom of the nearside faceoff circle from his knees. Crosby threads he needle through three Flyers to Ruslan Fedotenko, who was wide open in the slot. Fedotenko made no mistake and buries it behind Biron for his second goal of the game.

I'm now breathing a little easier because the Pens didn't fold again. They kept skating despite blowing another two-goal lead in the third period. This stat made me feel a little better too. The Pens were 20-1 this season when scoring four goals in a game, according to FSN Pittsburgh. Make that 21-1 now.

Five minutes later, the Flyers struck back again to tie it at 4-4. Fleury made an impressive rebound save on Simon Gagne forcing a faceoff to his right. The Penguins win the draw and the puck comes to Gonchar, who has his stick fail him miserably.

Gagne steals the puck and passes it to Richards amid the confusion of Max Talbot handing his stick to Gonchar. Richards finds Mike Knuble streaking to the back post and Brooks Orpik was very late to pick him up. Knuble has an empty net to hit and he doesn't miss.

A few minutes later, Biron decides he doesn't like winning and hands the Pens two points. Thanks again Marty!

I can't take this. It's February and I'm already teetering on that line of having an ulcer or a heart attack. Take your pick.

As for what happened earlier in the game, Joffrey Lupul put the Flyers up 1-0 after the first period on a rebound goal. Scott Hartnell threw one on net up high on Fleury, who left a rebound at the feet of Orpik who whiffed on the clearing attempt. Lupul pounced and beat Fleury. In Orpik's defense, the puck was bouncing but you still have to make a play on it.

Here's another daunting stat for you. Before the game the Flyers were 21-2 when leading after the first period. Make that 21-3 now.

Despite the early deficit, the Pens were getting their chances and Dan Bylsma changed up the lines for the start of the second period by putting Crosby with Evgeni Malkin.

That duo made Bylsma look like a genius.

Just 21 seconds into the frame, Malkin picks off a pass and leads the rush up ice. As they enter the zone he feeds Fedotenko who immediately drops the puck back to Crosby.

Sid the Kid unleashes a wicked wrister from long range that catches iron and goes in to tie the game at 1-1.

I have to say from personal experience, there's nothing worse in net than hearing iron ringing behind you and having the red light come on. Those posts are supposed to be your friend and when they get angry at you, you could be in for a long night.

Just about seven minutes later, the Penguins take the lead on the powerplay. I know! A powerplay goal from a team that has been struggling of late with the man-advantage.

Crosby had the puck on the far-side half-boards and lays a nice pass cross-ice through the box to Ryan Whitney.

Whitney feeds the trigger man Gonchar, who tees it up and bombs one on net that Malkin tips home. The FSN crew showed a super slow-mo replay of it and the puck actually deflected twice just feet from Biron.

Gonchar's shot hit Sykora in the skate and then Malkin's stick. Easiest assist of Sykora's career I'm sure, but the Pens weren't done lighting the lamp in the period.

Five minutes later some controversy occurs.

Crosby and Dupuis lead the rush up the ice. Sid flips a pass to Dupuis just before they hit the blueline, but it appeared as if Dupuis was in the zone ahead of the puck.

The rule states that if you have control of the puck, your body can enter the zone ahead of the puck.

Upon further review, Dupuis did have control of the puck so the linesman made the correct call. Dupuis sees and finds Fedotenko screaming into the zone for a one-timer off the crossbar and in.

At the end of the period, the Pens were forced to kill a four-minute double minor to Malkin. The Pens applied fantastic pressure and held the Flyers to only two shots.

Unfortunately, the Pens don't have much time to celebrate this big win over their cross-state rivals. They travel to Washington to take on the Caps in NBC's Game of the Week.

These two wins are huge, but a win tomorrow puts us on a streak.

Here's the updated Hal Gill Quotient:

Ryan Whitney - 3.5 - 5 GP
Kris Letang - 2.84 - 3 Games Played
Marc-Andre Fleury - 2.33 - 5 GP
Sergei Gonchar - 1.75 - 4 GP
Hal Gill - 1.59 - 4 GP
Mark Eaton - 1.83 - 5 GP
Brooks Orpik - 1.25
Matt Cooke - 1.0 - 5 GP
Jordan Staal - 1.0 - 5 GP
Rob Scuderi - 0.5
Referee Paul Devorski - 0.5 - 1 Game Reffed
Bill Thomas - .33 - 4 GP
Pascal Dupuis - .33 - 5 GP

Friday, February 20, 2009

Pens Get Critical Win Over Habs

I'm just going to come out and say it now. I haven't felt like this during or after a game since Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals last year.

Speaking of last year's team. Everyone's favorite traitor, Judas, got into his first fight in two years last night. Someone might want to remind him to keep his jersey on next time, but I'd say he gets the slight edge for flailing around and landing a couple punches on Ryan Suter, who got the take down. See video of it here.

I had playoff jitters watching this game. There I said it. Yes, I know we're in 10th in the Eastern Conference right now, but if we have any chance of getting in we need to start putting some wins on the board. Especially against teams who are ahead of us in the standings.

Onto the game:

The Pens came out flying and with a lot more jump than I've been accustomed to seeing of late. Shockingly enough, the Pens shut the Habs down entirely in the first period. As a result, the Pens got on the board first on a rebound goal by Petr Sykora. Canadiens' goalie Carey Price made a good save on Bill Thomas' initial shot, but left a fat rebound for Sykora to chip into the cage.

The pace of play in the first period was rather slow, which surprised me a little bit considering that both these teams have fantastic speed and transition games. The Pens outshot the Habs 8-3 in the first period. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Pens hold an opponent to under 10 shots in a period for once. Holding them to three just doesn't happen.

The slow pace continue for only a couple minutes in the second period before both sides switched it into overdrive. Each side only registered eight shots, but the scoring chances were plentiful.

Montreal tied it up after Andrei Kostitsyn picked off an errant Matt Cooke pass to lead the Habs on a 3-on-2 the other way. Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec played keep away with some nifty passing up the ice. The passing forced Sergei Gonchar to attack the puck carrying Kostitsyn, who dropped it back to Plekanec, who beat Marc-Andre Fleury between the wickets to tie it up at 1-1.

Highlights Courtesy Of

Normally, this would have been the point in the game when the Pens would have folded and given up, but tonight was very different.

Just over one minute later, Ryan Whitney received a pass across the blueline from Mark Eaton and got every bit of the shot. Somehow Miroslav Satan got a stick on it to deflect it past Price to put the Pens back on top 2-1.

If you thought the see-saw action was done there, boy are you wrong. We're just getting started.

Now, here's where I about lost it tonight for the first time. Sykora takes an obvious hooking penalty to essentially save a good scoring chance from turning the red light on. I'm fine with that. On the ensuing powerplay, the puck goes behind the net. Rob Scuderi goes to play it and gets clipped with a stick in the face. The whistle blows, but there's no penalty called somehow.

Literally 15 seconds later, Max Talbot gets called for slashing which even had the CBC broadcast crew wondering why it was called. Thanks Paul Devorski.

Of course, the puck gets worked back to the point and Mathieu Schneider lets one fly and finds twine to knot the game at 2-2. Devorski with the assist and a half point in the Hal Gill Quotient. Jordan Staal set up a pretty nice screen for Fleury, so he gets the other half.

As the second period comes to a close, I can't help but wonder if the third period is going to be another nightmare or if Dan Bylsma whipped the boys into shape.

Turns out, the boys were ready to play and wasted no time in re-taking the lead. It only took 29 seconds for the following to transpire:

Ruslan Fedotenko gains the blueline and drops the puck back to Sidney Crosby who lead Evgeni Malkin a little too far, but it's no problem for Geno. Instead of peeling off and retrieving the puck on the half-wall, he lays out and fires a rocket of a one-timer past Price while diving. Poor Carey Price having two spectacular goals scored by the two top Russian players in the league. If you haven't seen Alex Ovechkin's goal last night, CLICK HERE.

Two and a half minutes later, the Penguins work the puck deep behind the net. A scramble ensues and somehow Talbot finds the loose puck and buries it behind Price to put the home team up 4-2.

I start thinking to myself, "where has this team been all season? They can clearly score goals at will as long as they put forth the effort."

Of course those were the words of almost certain death, as 13 seconds after Talbot's goal, Kostitsyn strikes back to cut the lead in half to 4-3. Right off the ensuing draw after Talbot's goal, Kostitsyn breaks into the Pens zone and fires a wrister to the shelf over Fleury who would love to have that one back.

Ok fine, we're still up 4-3. I can live with that. As long as they don't deflate, we can still pull this out.

Again I spoke too soon.

Just over three minutes after Kostitsyn's goal, Plekanec lets a slapper go from the left faceoff circle and beats Fleury over the glove to tie the game at 4-4. Eaton didn't do a great job of getting out of Fleury's line of sight, but even if he had I'm not so sure he would have stopped it. Hats off to Plekanec for picking a corner for sure.

Now that we're tied 4-4, I'm about to lose it again. I had all sorts of rants I was testing out in my head for this post until Gonchar silenced the angry voices in my head.

The Pens gained control of the puck in the Habs end and were able to move the puck around pretty well. Eventually, Fedotenko settles the puck and lays a soft pass over to Gonchar, who showed no ill-effects from the shoulder surgery that kept him out of the lineup all season.

Gonchar moved into the slot and uncorked a slapper through traffic to light the lamp and give the Pens a 5-4 lead. No chance for Price at all.

The goal marks five goals in just over six minutes of play. Are you kidding me? My blood pressure medication isn't refillable until April and runs out in June. I may have to invest in some Tums to get me through the rest of this season.

Minutes later, Fleury came up with a big save on a 2-on-1 to preserve the lead and the Pens bench seemed to feed off they should.

The rest of the period was played with end to end rushes and chances galore, but no more goals. Pens hold on to win 5-4. Welcome back Gonchar, you've been sorely missed.

This team showed me a couple things tonight though:

First, the new aggressive forechecking scheme that Bylsma put in place looks like it could be something other teams will lose sleep over. It took a little to see it in action and it's not quite perfect yet, but the Pens were attacking the puck with two guys at all times rather than pulling back and clogging the neutral zone hoping for turnovers.

Second, and more importantly, they showed a desperation tonight that should have kicked in three weeks ago at minimum. They have a team that can win hockey games. There's no business losing to teams like the Leafs and Islanders with the roster they have. Is the current roster a Stanley Cup contender? Not even close. Are they a playoff team? Absolutely.

Crosby was interviewed after the game and said that it felt good to be rewarded for the effort they put in tonight. Read that again. He said effort. I swear the team is reading these posts at times. No effort results in no success. Put the effort in and look what happens. It shouldn't be a difficult concept to grasp.

Hopefully the momentum they gained from this see-saw tilt will carry over into this weekend's big games against the Flyers on Saturday and Capitals on Sunday.

Here's the updated Hal Gill Quotient with how many games each has played since I started testing this hypothesis. I'm working out a few kinks and will have a better method to fully show these results in the coming weeks:

Kris Letang - 2.84 - 3 Games Played
Ryan Whitney - 2.5 - 4 GP
Mark Eaton - 1.83 - 4 GP
Marc-Andre Fleury - 1.83 -4 GP
Sergei Gonchar - 1.50 - 3GP
Hal Gill - 1.34 - 3 GP
Matt Cooke - 1.0 - 4 GP
Jordan Staal - 1.0 - 4 GP
Referee Paul Devorski - 0.5 - 1 Game Reffed
Bill Thomas - .33 - 4 GP
Pascal Dupuis - .33 - 4 GP

Thursday, February 19, 2009

2/19 - Live Sabres v Flyers

Tonight's game promises to be an interesting one as the Flyers aim to complete the true NY sweep after beating the Rangers and the Isles this weekend. This is an important stretch for Philly - 9 of their next 12 at home.

Biron gets the start against his old team, not a surprise. Let's see if he can build some confidence off those victories.


Early action is end to end, ending with an Upshall break down the wing and a slapper that is gloved by a sprawling Ryan Miller.

18:40 - First penalty of the evening, Paille goes to the box on a hook.

Not a very threatening man advantage, couple of near chances but the puck spent too much time in the wrong end. 1 shot.

12:06 - We reach our first media timeout. Terrific chances for both teams, but the Sabres have picked up their aggression since the penalty. Their D-men are pinching often and giving the Flyers breaks - one team is going to capitalize eventually.

11:26 - Gagne is robbed on the back post after a terrific feed from Richards - great save by Miller.

8:37 - Wow. Giroux just laid a beautiful drop pass for Timonen on the 2 on 1 but Miller forces Kimmo out wide and Giroux can't slam the puck in as its laying near the crease. This was all after the Sabres had tremendous pressure, but their pinching gave up yet another odd man rush.

7:18 - GOAL! 1-0 PHI - Flyers take the lead! Richards grabs it off the boards, fires it to the net and Metro is there to tip it by Miller, who was in solid position.

2:18 - Biron stands tall in net and breaks up a chance for the Sabres after a poor giveaway by Asham. Stuck his glove right in front of Gaustad's stick. Good play, Marty.

:42 - Things are heating up as Hartnell and Hecht almost get into it in the corner. Two strong opportunities for Buffalo and now they'll go on the powerplay as Hartnell goes to the box for roughing.


Video Highlights Courtesy Of

Interesting period we had here in Philadelphia. Reminded me of some of the recent Sabres/Flyers playoff series .. back and forth action, odd-man breaks, speed up and down the lineup. Difference is that this time the Flyers have the speed to match. Upshall/Giroux/Powe are flying around, they really look like they enjoy playing together.

This game can go either way - Sabres will return with 1:18 of powerplay time on fresh ice, and we'll take it from there.


18:40 - PP over, couple of chances for the Sabres but nothing too troublesome.

16:44 - GOAL - 1-1 - Spacek scores from the slot on a shot that trickle through Biron's pads. A chance that the Flyers shouldn't have allowed - but a goal that Biron should have had.

11:03 - GOAL!! 2-1 PHI - WOW. What incredible forechecking! If you want a sense, the Sabres announcer just said - "the longest spell in your own end of the rink this season for Buffalo". The Richards line just kept plugging away and just when it looked like the Sabres would clear, Gagne stopped it - found Richards, who found Coburn, who put a beauty by Miller.

9:47 - Powe takes a hooking penalty. No complaints, he earned it.

GOAL 2-2 - Spacek scores on a ripped shot on a delayed penalty - so the Sabres tie it and they get another powerplay to boot. Alberts to the box. Ouch.

5:57 - GOAL! 3-2 PHI - You better believe Richards has done it again. Flyers take a 3 on 1 up the ice, turns into a 3 on 2 and Richards takes an excellent pass from Timonen and slips it by Miller for the lead!

Savvy play by Timonen to put that puck on the net. I figured he'd drop it back to the uncovered man but he threaded it to Richards and Miller was caught off guard. The score is starting to reflect the back and forth nature of this game - though the Flyers need to stop taking bad penalties.

1:18 - Richards line generates another great chance but Mike takes the penalty for goaltender interference at the end of their shift. Rivet gave him a nice shove in the head, fans don't like it. Sabres get another late powerplay.

:31 - GOAL 3-3 - Roy finds a loose puck in the crease and shoves it under Biron. Another soft goal, and a huge one in the late stages of this period. Flyers are going to be upset going to the locker room after being able to take back the energy from those penalties.


Nothing has changed so far in the first five minutes of the third. Chances for both teams - Flyers forechecking very well, Sabres using speed to break wide and get opportunities. Two dubious no-calls on Sabres have the Wachovia Center in arms.

9:00 - The Upshall line gets a huge chance! They are really continuing to be noticeable in every game that they play together. No goal comes of it but they may be able to turn the play in the Flyers direction, as Buffalo has been controlling of late.

7:18 - Flyers get a powerplay chance after Miller makes a couple of key saves. Lydman to the box. Hooking.

6:09 - GOAL!! 4-3 PHI - Gagne picks up a loose puck behind the net, finds Knuble in the crease, and he slams it home for the lead! Such a steady influence on the PP this year, Knuble.

Flyers keep up the pressure - that powerplay really woke them up.. thank you Lydman.

4:11 - And now the Flyers have used their timeout. They'd just iced the puck - so Stevens must have wanted to rest the guys stuck out there.

Paille had a terrific shot from the slot that Biron was able to shrug aside - Philly maintains the slim lead with another icing.

Furious action! Sabres had a pileup in front of the net but the whistle never blew as the puck trickled across the crease - then the Flyers come the other way with a 2 on 1 but the pass is just out of reach, and play settles down as we approach the 2 minute mark.

1:09 - Miller has gone to the bench, puck finds its way to Biron's glove. Ryan will stay on the bench and we've got 6 on 5 action to finish this up. It's fitting that the game comes down to this - both teams have played well and it's been a pleasure to watch.

And Buffalo takes their timeout so Lindy Ruff can draw up a play.

:42 - GOAL! 5-3 PHI - Richards takes the puck away at the point, slips to center ice and fires the puck into the empty kitchen. That's points on all five goals for Richards, 2+3. Hell of a game.

:9 - GOAL! 6-3 PHI - Miller stays on the bench, Powe steals a puck at the point, streaks up the left boards with his Princeton speed and deposits the puck.


Well, the final score doesn't tell you how close this game was, but that's merely the result of two empty netters. Can't blame Buffalo for giving it a shot. They ended up outshooting the Flyers 42-38, but can't overcome a late penalty by Lydman and the ensuing PP goal by the Flyers.

Biron let in a couple of soft goals, but he did make 39 saves to his credit. He looked worried at times, but wins will build his confidence, and he certainly wasn't awful.

Powe robbed Richards the chance of being involved on all of Philly's goals - but a five point night is still very impressive.

The NY sweep is complete! Next up: Pittsburgh comes to town on Saturday, fresh off a win over the struggling Canadiens.