Now that was some old-time hockey!
I had a feeling things were going to be interesting tonight when I noticed the large number of Ontario license plates in my usual parking garage. I said to myself, "Self, them hosers are making a weekend of this." Looked in the window of Christos: Blue and white jerseys everywhere. Olive Or Twist: More Leafs fans. Six Penn Kitchen… not so much. (Guess the symphony crowd had all of the reservations.)
Needless to say, things were loud and rowdy in the Igloo tonight. Favorite sign:
Next indication that things were gonna be interesting: five guys dressed in superhero costumes in B27. Superman, The Hulk, The Flash, Spider-man, and Wolverine. I don't mean to dis on Toronto fans, but in five years of being a Penguins season ticket holder, I've never seen anybody in a superhero costume at a game before, so I'm guessing They Are Canadian.
Next hint: Jarkko Ruutu scored a goal! On a penalty shot, no less. Not a cheap one, either. Faked Andrew Raycroft onto Bigelow Boulevard with a forehand move, then tucked it in backhand. Friday morning, Tim Benz was talking to post-game radio host Bob Grove. Bob said that a caller after Thursday night's shootout loss in Boston found an interesting statistic: Ruutu was 2-for-4 on shootout attempts last year with Vancouver. (Michel Therrien sent Sergei Gonchar over the boards again Thursday night. WTF?)
For the first two periods, it was just a lot of up-and-down action, with the Pens converting on far more of their opportunities. Jeff O'Neill scored an early power play goal, then Jordan Staal tipped in a pass from Evgeni Malkin to even it up less than two minutes later.
Then Toronto's penalty problems started again. First came Ruutu's penalty shot goal, about halfway through the first. To finish the first, Mark Recchi redirected a Ryan Whitney shot for a power play goal.
The second period was the Crosby & Recchi Power Play Revue. First, Crosby takes a pass from Gonchar at the top of the right circle, skates a big arc across both points, casts an area-of-effect mesmerize spell on the Leafs' penalty killers, reaches the left half-boards, and feeds a perfect one-timer pass to Recchi, who is criminally undefended in the slot. Three minutes later, that same combo does it again, tic-tac-toe style. Recchi gets a natural hat trick, putting him just two goals away from 500 for his NHL career.
Then, in the third, the wheels fell off Toronto's cart, starting with Jean-Sebastien Aubin replacing Raycroft.
Travis Green got whistled for hooking, and Jeff O'Neill must have said something awful about a referee's mother, because he got 2 and 10 for unsportsmanlike conduct. Crosby scored on the ensuing 5-on-3, turning a rout into a laugher, and the Leafs completely lost their cool. Here's a breakdown of the rest of the third:
- 5:22 — Bryan McCabe and Chris Thorburn, 5 each for fighting (Very few punches thrown before Thorburn wrestled McCabe to the ice)
- 6:04 — Maxime Talbot, 2 for hooking
- 6:42 — Nik Antropov, 2 for hooking
- 6:55 — Michel Ouellet, 2 for hooking
- 10:52 — Hal Gill, 2 for roughing (where "roughing" == "bending Ruutu over the boards at the Pens bench and demanding that he smell Colby Armstrong's skates")
- 11:08 — Power play goal by Ouellet
- 12:15 — Gill and Thorburn, 5 each for fighting (Thorburn wins another wrestling match)
- 12:51 — Ouellet, 2 for hooking
- 13:44 — Power play goal by Brendan Bell (really an own goal, deflected in by Whitney)
- 14:36 — Goal by Ryan Malone
- 15:08 — Antropov, 2 for interference; McCabe, 2 for roughing and 10; Brooks Orpik, 4 for roughing and 10 (really for skating in from somewhere around Harmarville to hit McCabe during the scrum after Antropov's call)
- 15:11 (yes, three seconds after the ensuing faceoff) — Maxime Talbot and Green, 5 for fighting (Green must have caught a glimpse of Mad Max's eyes, and turtled); Wade Belak, 5 and a game for spearing somebody away from the fight. (I didn't see who, and I haven't found a box score that lists a victim)
- 18:57 — Ruutu, 2 for hooking (as the Pens were trying to not run up the score by, among other things, putting Jarkko Ruutu on a power play unit. I kid, I kid! Ruutu was flying tonight.)
Meanwhile, I think I saw the cops in the stands more often than the Pens Patrol, as frustrated, drunken Leafs fans clashed with gloating, drunken Pens fans throughout the third.
Some of the more humorous things yelled in my earshot:
Crosby, you're a traitor! Go back to Russia!
Toronto fans: KAN-sas CI-ty! KAN-sas CI-ty! Kan-sas… feh.
Pens fan: Wow, I didn't know there were that many Royals fans in Canada!
Anybody want to bet on the guy in the Flash costume being the slowest runner?
So, to sum up, we had a penalty shot, a natural hat trick, three fights, multiple altercations in the crowd, two failed attempts to start a "KAN-sas CI-ty" chant, two successful "SIX-ty SEV-en" chants, no waves, five guys in superhero costumes, and Evgeni Malkin racking up five assists about as quietly as one can have a five-point night in the National Hockey League.
God, I love this game!
Final Score, Penguins 8, Maple Leafs 2, time of the first F-bomb from one of the louder Leafs fans behind me: 16:22 of the third. (Admirable restraint, I must say.)
- Mark Recchi (3G, 1A)
- Evgeni Malkin (5A)
- Sidney Crosby (1G, 2A)
Postscript: This morning at church, Rev. Ramsey opened the service with an apology and a huge smile: "If my voice sounds a bit low and hoarse, I apologize. I was at the hockey game last night…"
In which fictional world/universe/land/city would you most like to live?
Submitted by glenn is the new chuck.
Paragon City, the setting of City Of Heroes. It would be cool to live in a world parallel to ours, but with real superheroes. I could see me finding a nice condo in Founders' Falls, watching heroes fight giant robots from my balcony. Of course, I run the risk of a stray missile or energy blast destroying that balcony. But if things get too rough, and if Portal Corp. has the right multi-dimensional coordinates, I can move on to my second choice: Rivendell.
These 7:00pm starts mess with everybody. Normally, the opening faceoff for Penguins home games is at 7:30, but tonight started at 7:00. Which means the crowd was slow to arrive (aided and abetted by a road-closing accident at 7th and Grant), and both teams were slow to get up to speed. Much of the first period was rough, but things picked up as the night went on.
This was the sixth of our eight games with the Isles this year, so we're deep into "familiarity breeds contempt" territory here. That was evident early, when Brendan Witt flipped Sidney Crosby with a hip check, and got many knuckle sandwiches from Ryan Malone for his effort. Lots of post-whistle scrums. Lots of extra shoves at the end of checks. I rather enjoyed watching Dominic Moore love-tap Sean Hill in the back four or five times on the way to their respective benches. Hill was giving Moore the "What was that, a mosquito?" treatment, but it was still a nice indicator of how pesky everybody was feeling.
The Penguins goals were almost all rebounds. The Islanders goals were all defensive lapses.
- Erik Christensen pots a rebound early in the first. 1-0 Pens.
- Early in the second. Richard Park, playing out high on a 5-on-3 penalty kill, clears the puck to the boards in the neutral zone, and breaks up ice, seeing that the Pens point man was leaning the wrong way. A favorable bounce off the penalty box door, and Park is alone behind the defense on the right wing. The wrist shot was perfectly placed, high to the far post, to tie the game at 1-1.
- Later in the second, the Pens get a face-off to Mike Dunham's right with a man advantage. Five seconds after the puck dropped, Michel Ouellet collected a rebound, and poked it under Dunham. 2-1 Pens.
- Late in the second, the Pens lost track of Aaron Asham who was all alone in the slot for a chip-in. Tied at 2-2.
- Crosby gets an easy rebound on the power play, with Dunham down and out of his crease. 3-2 Pens.
- Christensen gains the blue line, flings an innocent looking wrister on net, and burns Dunham to a crisp. 4-2 Pens.
- Crosby gets another rebound on a 2-on-1 break. 5-2 Pens.
And then things got ugly. With less than a minute to go, and the Pens cycling in the Islanders' zone, Jason Blake raised his stick as if to hook Sid, then gave Crosby a blade-first spear to the ribs instead. Sid dropped to the ice, popped back up, grabbed Blake by the collar, gave him a shove, and was promptly escorted to the penalty box by the linesman. The score sheet says "unsportsmanlike conduct", but Sid really got two minutes for defending himself from a blatantly obvious spear that the referees didn't call! Crosby gave the refs a little verbal abuse after the horn, but played it cool in the locker room. Coach Michel Therrien was a little less gracious, calling for the league to punish Blake.
Final Score: Penguins 5, Islanders 2, consecutive sellouts: 7.
- Erik Christensen (2G, 1A)
- Sidney Crosby (2G, 1A, 1 subplot for the next trip to Uniondale)
- Michel Ouellet (1G, 1A)
Now that Vox is allowing us to upload custom banners, I can finally put a proper design on this page. Now if I could just get yellow links instead of blue, it would be perfect.
The photo was taken by Mike Muder, who was cool enough to let me use it. Thanks, Mike!
Apple has announced the iPhone.
I want one. And "want" is a poor expression of the unbridled, shamelessly materialistic lust I feel for this device. Damn.
WDVE, what game were you watching?
This morning, the DVE morning show was raving about how good last night's game was, even though the good guys lost in a shootout.
OK, so Sidney Crosby had one amazing goal. And Marc-Andre Fleury had two great sequences of saves. But that was about it for the good hockey action.
The rest of the game was slop.
Mark Recchi got his 1300th point in the NHL, on a pass from Crosby that pinballed from Recchi's skate to Corey Sarich's skate, and into the net.
The only other entertaining part was the amount of booing directed at Andre Roy. He started this season with the Pens, getting ice time in drips and drabs and sitting in the penalty box, when he wasn't a healthy scratch. Eventually, the front office tired of his occupation of a roster spot, and placed him on waivers, where he was picked up by Tampa. Last night was his first game back in Pittsburgh, and he spent most of the night trying to start something with someone, anyone in a black sweater. There were no takers. Roy and Josef Melichar were jawing a bit in the first, and I imagine the exchange went something like this:
Roy: [French-Canadian accent] You wanna go?
Melichar: [Czech accent] No, I wanna trap you in the zone and force you offside.
Linesman: [whistle] Offside!
Melichar: Ha-ha! [skates to bench]
For punctuation, Roy gave a fan the middle finger as he left the ice for a coincidental minor at the end of the first. Welcome back, Andre!
Final Score: Lightning 3, Penguins 2 (Lightning win shootout 1-0), number of times I thought the woman sitting next to Man-Child was going to elbow him in the mouth: 6.
- Martin St. Louis (1 shootout goal, 1A)
- Mark Recchi (1G, 1A, 1300 career points!)
- Sidney Crosby (1 OMFG G, 1A)
This was an easy one to break down. The Pens out-hustled Carolina whistle to whistle. Out-shot them, too, 37-31. And aggressive penalty killing led to a number of short-handed breaks (but no short-handed goals). Simple, right?
Carolina managed to get through the game with no more significant injury than a shiner to Rod Brind'Amour. After the Cole and Letowski incidents, I think everybody's happy that both teams got through unscathed.
Final Score: Penguins 3, Hurricanes 0, number of people around me who expressed relief at Man-Child's absence: 4.
- Sidney Crosby (2G, 1A, reached 61 points a month ahead of last season's pace.)
- Marc-Andre Fleury (31-save shutout)
- Maxime Talbot (No points, but skated like his ass was on fire all night.)