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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.


Rory said...

I really like the way you lay out your blog and detail the goals scored. Sidney Crosby is going to have to step it up soon. Guerin looks nice though

CShea said...

Thank you very much. I try to break the goals down so the readers can get a different perspective of the game. Maybe then, when they watch the games they can pick up on some of the blown coverages and place the proper blame on who screwed up.

As for Crosby, he seems to be turning it around of late. Gotta give him, Guerin and Kunitz time to get to know each other's tendencies on the ice. There has been considerable improvement with that line's timing since the deadline though and I only expect it to get better with every day.