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Monday, February 16, 2009

Pens Continue To Lose To The NHL's Worst

I was able to get the day off today to sit home and torture myself with some more Penguins hockey.

The Penguins fired Michel Therrien last night and new interim head coach Dan Bylsma will be behind the bench today. Bylsma gets the call up from Wilkes-Barre Scranton. If the Penguins don't come out flying, I don't know what will motivate them.

As for today's opponent, we cannot lose this game. The Islanders are clearly the worst team in the league with a 16-36-6 record for 38 points and are currently on a five-game losing streak.

The Penguins (27-25-5) absolutely cannot lose this game today. I know the Islanders give us fits at times, but if we have any chance of making the playoffs, this is a must win.

1st Period

19:12 - Hal Gill is back in the lineup tonight. Wonder who the odd man out is.

18:59: The red light is on behind Marc-Andre Fleury for no reason. Bad wiring I guess, but still not a good sign.

18:14 - And we now have our first post hit on Fleury. Not a good start.

15:28 - Pens still look sluggish. Passes aren't crisp, they're trying to skate through all five Isles to get to the net instead of chipping it deep.

15:20 - Looks like Mark Eaton is the odd man out tonight on defense. Could it be because of his 1.33 accumulation in the Hal Gill Quotient on Saturday?

14:33 - Isles announcers just said "Gill was a healthy scratch in Toronto on Saturday night in a move that flummoxed a bunch of guys on the team."

Could it be that he's been one of the worst defensemen on the team this season? I say it's about time he got benched. Might wake the sleeping giant for once.

12:41 - Pens get a couple shots on net from odd angles. Maybe Bylsma re-educated them about the old adage "When in doubt, throw it on net?"

10:58 - I'm a bit perplexed why Eric Godard and Miroslav Satan are playing on the top line with Sidney Crosby today so far. Can we please try Jordan Staal, Pascal Dupuis and Crosby at center? Please?

10:30 - Tyler Kennedy dances into the zone on a 2-on-1 with Staal. Staal has an open net and hits Radek Martinek in the skate in the crease and the puck goes over the net and wide. Sigh.

9:26 - 1-0 Islanders - Backdoor pass from Sean Bergenheim to Chris Campoli goes off his skate and in. Kris Letang has the puck go off his skate on a failed pass break-up attempt and the resulting carom hits Campoli and goes in. Goal is under review. After about 20 seconds of review, the goal counts.

7:30 - Announcers are finally noticing that the Pens still look flat. To me they're just s flat as they were in Toronto, so this could be a long afternoon.

6:01 - Penalty call on Tim Jackman for holding. Let's send out the newly revamped PP unit with Sergei Gonchar. Pens haven't scored on nine straight PP chances.

1:54 - Evgeni Malkin blows one by Joey MacDonald on a great individual effort to get 1-on-1 with Jack Hillen. Malkin puts a little toe drag move on Hillen and rips in low short-side to record his 25th goal of the season. Malkin poked the puck free at the point in our own end and blazed into the neutral zone to pick up the puck and score. Good stuff.

End of period and the Isles announcers are talking about rumors they're hearing about Ray Shero wanting to bring Colby Armstrong back to the Burgh. I'd gladly take him back as I was rather sad to see him go in the first place. He won't be the guy to score a ton of goals, but his reckless abandon and will to win is sorely missed on this team right now.

Islanders lead in shots 12-10 and it looked like maybe the Malkin goal got the Pens legs moving a little bit more. Time will tell of course, but at least it's tied after one.

Video Highlights Courtesy Of

Getting back to my proposed Staal-Sid-Dupuis line for a sec. Dupuis wins the puck in the corners at an alarming rate and finds Sid on the wall. Sid then passes to the other wing or to the point.

That was the formula last season when Judas was the other wing and it worked quite well. That's the scheme when Malkin gets bumped to the top line. We know Staal can score, so why not try it?

Second Period

Somehow I missed that Tom Fitzgerald is now an assistant coach for the Pens. I like this move very much because he was a penalty killing machine during his NHL days and maybe he'll get our PK unit to become respectable again.

16:40 - New line for Crosby. Ruslan Fedotenko - Sid - Dupuis. Come on Bylsma you're two-thirds of the way to the magic combo.

11:59 - Pace to the period has picked up considerably from what it was in the first. Crosby attempts a wraparound on MacDonald, but he's up to the task.

11:40 - Pens trail shots 14-12 for the game. Both teams with two shots in the period, but it feels like there's been more chances for the Penguins to this point.

9:16 - Bill Thomas just misses Kennedy on a backdoor pass for an easy goal, Gonchar steps up to hold the puck in the zone and misses leading to a 3-on-1 the other way. Somehow Brooks Orpik breaks it up on a nice defensive effort.

8:19 - Orpik was just out with Ryan Whitney. Not sure if this is going to be a permanent thing or not, but the combo of Whitney/Letang has been awful for the last two games so if it is, hats off to Bylsma. The Pens could also be going with five defensemen and just leaving Gill on the bench. Either way, good call.

7:40 - Scratch the whole Whitney not playing with Letang. First shift after the tv timeout, those two are back together.

6:44 - 2-1 Islanders - Frans Nielsen slams home a rebound on a shot from Andy Hilbert. Looks like Letang is the man to blame for not clearing his man out. Whitney was nowhere to be found either so this will need further review by me to see what exactly went wrong. Either way, this soft defense in front of the net must stop ASAP.

After review, Whitney was also to blame for being a little out of position down low. Both get half of a point's blame.

4:01 - Pens going on the PP after Petr Sykora got mauled by Mark Streit while trying to get to a fat rebound by MacDonald.

2:53 - 2-2 Tie - Wow, what a pass by Crosby who finds Whitney creeping into the slot on the weak-side who rips it to the shelf over MacDonald, who had zero chance to stop it. Looks like he's trying to make up for the awful defense he's played of late.

Side note, Gonchar gets his first point on the season on the powerplay goal.

1:42 - Pens going back on the powerplay again after Kyle Okposo tugs on Letang's jersey in the offensive end. I'll take it. Another late goal for us would be huge.

:09 - Major scrum in front of the net leads to some pushing and shoving and punches thrown. MacDonald is being restrained by Gonchar and Fleury is standing inches from the blueline in anticipation of heading down to the other end to even things up. The refs get control of the situation and Malkin gets a roughing penalty as a result.

We end the second period tied at 2. The Islanders will have a shortened powerplay early in the third due to Malkin's minor penalty. Penguins lead shots 20-19, not a bad turnaround from the first. Let's hope they come out and continue to put the puck on net.

I think the scrum is what this team needed. All five guys on the ice were in there standing up for one another with Fleury set to make a break for it as well. That's the type of team-first mentality that has been missing of late.

Just had this exchange with Gopher:

"You realize you have to beat the isles to move up in the standings right?"

"Yes, but it's more than that. We have to beat them to keep any shred of self respect we have left."

Third Period

18:20 - Pens get a couple decent chances while shorthanded to basically kill of the penalty to Malkin.

16:16 - Gonchar loses his stick and Fleury makes a solid pad save. John Sim crashes right through him and knocks the net off. Another scrum ensues. Things are starting to get very heated on the ice.

14:10 - The Pens forecheck looks 100x better than it has all game long. There's two guys on the puck at all times and as a result, they're creating scoring chances. This is just one of those little things they haven't been doing.

11:34 - Staal just singlehandedly broke up three huge chances for the Isles down low with some stellar backchecking and effort. Take notes boys, that's how it's supposed to be done.

BREAKING NEWS: MATHIEU SCHNEIDER TRADED TO MONTREAL FOR 2ND AND 3RD ROUND DRAFT PICKS This means Eklund got one right for once! Check out for more.

8:46 - Nielsen blows on Gill in the corner and sends the big man down. Nothing happens as a result, but it's worth noting.

3:50 - Pens are getting a ton of chances down low followed by one stellar chance by Hilbert that just misses. These teams don't appear to be playing for overtime at all.

1:33 - The line of Kennedy - Staal - Matt Cooke has been dominating the Islanders in the third. Getting chances left and right and Staal has played a fantastic game today. He's probably the best player on the ice in this game.

End Of The Third Period

We are heading to overtime with the worst team in the league. On the positive side, we get a much needed point in the standings, but that crucial second point is what we really need.

4:14 - Whitney stoned on a 2-on-1 with Fedotenko. we play on.

:48 - What a pace to this overtime! End to end action, but the Pens have had the best chances so far. Dupuis was inches from ending this on a feed from Crosby. Later, Crosby gets 1-on-1 and rifles one off MacDonald's shoulder.

We are heading to a shootout and I need to catch my breath.

Islanders will shoot first.

Nielsen makes a very nice move and flips it over Fleury. 1-0 Islanders

Sykora goes wide at a very slow pace and uncorks a slapper from the hashmarks and buries it, 1-1.

Jeff Tambellini rips one from beyond the hashmarks over the glove. The shot seemed to catch Fleury off-guard. 2-1 Islanders.

Malkin loses control of the puck and doesn't get a shot off. Still 2-1.

Okposo loses the handle as well meaning it's all on Crosby to keep us alive.

Crosby dekes MacDonald into the ice, but can't get the puck up over the outstretched pad. Pens lose to the worst team in the league and I need a drink.

Up next are the Montreal Canadiens where we put our two-game losing streak against some of the worst teams in the league on the line. Maybe we can get Blysma his first win against a playoff team.

Here's the latest standings in the Hall Gill Quotient:

Kris Letang - 2.84
Ryan Whitney - 2.5
Hal Gill - 1.34
Mark Eaton - 1.33
Sergei Gonchar - 1.0
Marc-Andre Fleury - .83
Jordan Staal - .5
Bill Thomas - .33
Pascal Dupuis - .33

1 comment:

DerekF said...

You're gonna end up selling the Hal Gill Quotient rights to the Pens to save their season.