The Daily Bongo

April 2007

Monday, April 30, 2007 -- Evening

The Pens are being recognized for their great season. The Hockey News, in this week's issue, Sidney Crosby was the named the NHL's Best Player, MVP, and first team All-Star center. Evgeni Malkin was named the Best First Year Player and was placed on the all-rookie team. Jordan Staal was in the top five for first year players and penalty killing. The one that I love the most is that Michel Therrien was named the best coach of the year. As for the NHL awards, the Hart finalists are to be named tomorrow, and Crosby is expected to be a finalist. We'll also find out if Therrien is a finalist for best coach of the year. The awards ceremony will be on June 14 in Toronto.

Sunday, April 29, 2007 -- Late Afternoon

Today would have been Barbaro's fourth birthday, and in honor of the occasion, there are several celebrations planned at racetracks across the county. One ot the things that NBC wanted to do was to air the documntary, Barbaro, a Nation's Horse. The show should have been on at 5 p.m. EDT, but was delayed by a rather exciting New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres semi-final playoff game. The game is tied now with a score of 1-1, and is in the first overtime. Until someone scores, the game continues. Because the game has continued into the second overtime, the Barbaro documentary is rescheduled for 9 p.m. on Friday, May 4, repeating at midnight, on CNBC.

The Sabres vs. Rangers game is really an exciting one, and there have been several close calls throughout the game. Both Ryan Miller and Henrik Lundqvist have made some nice saves. The game finally ended with only abit over three minutes left in the second overtime when Michal Rozsival scored for the Rangers. The Rangers played a hard game, and it would have really been a shame if they lost in the overtime because they would have been down in the series 3-0.

Saturday, April 28, 2007 -- Morning

I can't believe that the Steelers have committed the lame move of getting a mascot. The rationale in making the move is that it is to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Steelers. There is a contest to name the mascot, a steelworker who carries around a "steel" beam. I think that it's a lame move, and I wonder why the team did it. In the past, they have prided themselves on not having a mascot or cheerleaders. I would say that it they were going to do something so lame, they should have gone for the cheerleaders. They would have provided some spice and drama to the sidelines. Supposedly the selection of a mascot was done to appeal to the kids and to use for visits to charitable organizations. All I know is that it is lame. Although I watch the Steelers during their season, I think that I am becoming less of a fan of the team.

Friday, April 27, 2007 -- Early Evening

Ryan Whitney had wrist surgery yesterday. His rehab is supposed to take six to eight weeks. I haven't found anything that explains what the injury was or what surgery was performed.

The American Idol folks raised $60 million this week for their charity program. It was really a sly way to get money from having people watch the show and vote. I guess that since they raised the money for relief programs for Africa and America (how about South America and Asia?) I suppose I should complain too much. All I know is that I thought the two hour show was a waste, and that it was quite a scam to get people to vote--when it really didn't result in someone being voted off.

Thursday, April 26, 2007 -- Afternoon

Sidney Crosby is in the running for the Top 100 Most Influential People of the Year on a Time magazine poll. Right now, Crosby is in the number four spot. Vote for Sidney, and vote often!

Thursday, April 26, 2007 -- Late Morning

American Idol was disappointing yesterday. The show was two hours long, and was basically a fund raising for the American Idol charity causes. I recorded the show and fast forwarded through it because I was really only interested in who would be leaving. Was I ever disappointed to find out that no one was being kicked off! The plan is to tally the results from this week and next week. Then two contestants will be booted off next week.

Interesting news: the city of Pittsburgh was selected as the Most Livable city for the second time. The first time was in 1985. The rating was based on nine catagories: housing (or cost of living), transportation, jobs, education, climate, crime, health care, recreation, and ambience (museums, arts, restaurants, history). I have to raise my eyebrows at this one because the city sucks at transportation. PAT bus is a corrupt black hole for public funds that gives buses that are overly packed and late. I love how the PAT bus geniuses will schedule all three buses on a particular route to be at the same intersection at roughly the same time. I know, you are thinking it's not scheduled, just a fluke. Nope. Look at the schedules printed by PAT for the 61A, 61B and 61C. They are supposed to be in the same place at the same time. As for housing, I'm not so sure that it is reasonable. House prices have been grossly inflated in the past few years in Allegheny County because of the stupid real estate assessment program that overpriced houses. The climate is crappy--not enough sunny days, and the ambience is what you can make of it. Yeah, we have the museums, but the big art/history tours usually pass us by and go to Cleveland. I guess that in general, I would say that in order to have Pittsburgh selected as "most livable" someone must have had their pockets lined with money--or else the selection process is screwed up!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007 -- Evening

Evgeni Malkin has gone to Russia to visit with family and friends and to play for the Russian national team in the upcoming World Championships. Malkin hasn't been in Russia since his dramatic escape from Metallurg Magnitogorsk last August. Also playing in the World Championship is Colby Armstrong for Team Canada.

Big news in astronomy today was the discovery of an Earth-like planet in orbit around a red drawf star, Gliese 581, which is 20.5 light years from Earth. So what does Earth-like mean? It basically means a planet that is not a gaseous giant. The planet is a smaller planet that could in theory be rocky. How do the two planets measure up? The planet that orbits Gliese 581 is five times more massive than Earth with a diamater of 12,000 miles. Earth's diameter is 8,000 miles. The planet is also very close to Gliese 581 and has an orbit of 13 Earth days. What has excited the astronomers the most is that the temperature is assumed to be between 0 and 40 degrees Celcius. That means that there is a possibility of liquid water on the planet. Behind biased towards the type of environment that we have here, the astronomers think that makes for conditions conducive to life. Whether liviing beings are on the planet is just a matter of complete conjecture.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 -- Evening

Tonight was the night that American Idol was giving back to those who were disadvantaged. There were plenty of clips throughout the show about groups that needed assistance through hard times. News Corp is giving money to the various charities based on the call-in votes. To take advantage of the opportunity, the viewers can call for four hours to vote. The theme was songs that are inspirational. Blake Lewis really sucked while singing John Lennon's Imagine. Imagine is hard song to sing especially if you are blah in personality. Paula loved it though--as one would imagine. I was also very under-impressed with Lakisha Jones choice of I Believe. The song started out very weak, and was just so-so. I think that Lakisha and Blake are on the bubble this week. Phil Stacey is being supported by Vote for the Worst. Unfortunately, I think that Lakisha is probably more in need of the web site's services. Jordin and Melinda as usual were really good. As the show was wrapping up, I saw Chris Richardson, and was reminded that I didn't think so much of his performance either. We'll have to see tomorrow who gets voted out.

Ray Shero was talking yesterday about changes that the Pens might make for the next season. Michel Therrien should be back next season. Some of the local sportscasters are saying that Therrien should be coach of the year for the work that he has done in improving the performance of the Pens over the past season. So what changes will be made? Well, as Shero said, he would love it if everyone came back because the team did have chemistry. However, that said, he would still like to beef up the defense and get a solid scoring winger to play with Sidney Crosby. I hope that they can find someone that fits the role and the budget.

I know that I have been suffering Pens let down. After spending the entire season with my life revolving around the team, attending all the home games, and doing all of my work with the pictures from the game, I just feel like I have nothing to do. I have been trying to come up with some ideas for the Daily Bongo to keep myself busy, and have a few ideas boiling in my brain. Of course, I should spend more time on writing stories. I just have to see where the muse takes me.

Monday, April 23,2007 -- Morning

I don't who died and put Sheryl Crow in charge of life, but she obviously thinks that she should be telling us all how to live life. She and some other looney liberal accosted Karl Rove at a dinner this weekend to tell him that the government had better do something about global warming. When he wasn't giving the itchy bs the appropriate amount of adulation and agreement that they felt was their due, they got nasty. Rove didn't want to listen to them, and when Crow grabbed Rove's arm, he told her not to touch him. As Crow said later in her blog, she couldn't understand his rudeness. Okay, he doesn't want to listen to a want-to-be celebrity, Laurie David, and a singer, Crow, lecture him about global warming. How rude of him to not want to listen to their babble, and then not want them to grab hold of his arm. Hmm. Seems to me that the rude shoe fits on Crow's and David's feet. But they are liberals who's agenda is more holier than thou and worthy than anyone else--so whatever they would do is sanctioned by a higher God. Crow tried to tell Rove that he had to listen to her because Rove works for her. Rove replied that he didn't--he worked for the American people. So now Crow wants to get into my bathroom and dicate to me how many squares of toilet paper I should be using!! According to Crow, I should use no more than one square per bathroom visit. Unless it is one of those "pesky occasions where two to three could be required". Excuse me? Now that I know that Crow supposedly only uses one square, I wouldn't want her touching my arm either! Gosh knows what contaminates are on her hands! I think that Crow should stick to singing, and leave the bathroom to my discretion.

Sunday, April 22, 2007 -- Late Afternoon

The New Jersey Devils beat the Tampa Bay Lightning to move on to the semi-final round in the Eastern Conference. All four teams are set for the Eastern Conference, and we just have to wait for the final two teams in the Western Conference. New Jersey will play the Ottawa Senators in the next round. The announcers during today's New Jersey game seemed to think that Ottawa might be able to get past New Jersey because Ottawa has a better defensive union. The other Eastern semi-final matchup will be the New York Rangers against the Buffalo Sabres.

Saturday, April 21, 2007 -- Late Afternoon

Sidney Crosby announced today that he will not be playing for Team Canada in the upcoming World Championship because he has a broken foot. It seems that Crosby broke the foot on March 16 when the Pens were playing the Montreal Canadiens. Crosby blocked a shot with the foot, and everyone at the time marvelled at the fact that he didn't get hurt. Well, he did. Since then, Crosby has been playing through the pain. Now he just wants to take some time off and let the bone heal. Crosby also plans to work with the Pens this off season to come up with a long term deal so he won't become a restricted free agent in 2008. That good for the Pens fans.

Saturday, April 21, 2007 -- Late Morning

Interesting story from yesterday. Sean Hill of the New York Islanders was suspended for 20 games for taking a performance enhancing drug. There wasn't any word on what the drug was, but this was the first time that an NHL player has been suspended with the new program that the NHL has put into place. It seems that there is this Montreal lawyer, Dick Pound, who says that 30 percent of NHL players take some sort of performance enhancing drug. When I first mentioned this to my boyfriend, his first thought was steroids. The thing is though that what hockey players need is stamina. It seems that the drug of choice is a stimulant--like ephedrine, which is the base for decongenstants (at least the decongestants that actually reduce nasal sweling). Hill is going to have to serve most of his penalty at the beginning of next season because the Islanders were eliminated from the playoffs by the Buffalo Sabres last night. Hill didn't travel with the team or play in the game yesterday.

Thursday, April 19, 2007 -- Evening

It was doo or die for the Pens this evening. It seemed that the Ottawa Senators wanted to help the Pens by giving away three penalties in the first five minutes of the game. The Pens aren't able to capitalize, and the first period winds up being a scoreless one for both sides. Two players who did see action in the first period were Georges Laraque and Erik Christensen, both scratches in the last game. The Senators are the first to score with a shot by Dany Heatley in the first minute of the second as the Pens tried to kill a stupid Brooks Oprik penalty. A few minutes later, as the Pens were ending a power play opportunity, Antoine Vermette stole a bad pass from the Pens, and rammed the puck and himself into Marc-Andre Fleury and the net. The Senators have a 2-0 lead. In the waning seconds of the second period, Chris Kelly scores another goal for the Senators, and they end the second period with a 3-0 lead. It definitely doesn't look very good for the Pens coming back home on Sunday. The third period went by quickly with the Pens making a valiant attempt to at least score a goal. However, it was all for naught. Fleury did a great job in the game, and the second and third goals were problems where the defense gave up the puck. There will be no more hockey this season in Pittsburgh, but the Pens did give the fans plenty to cheer. Final score: 3-0.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 -- Evening

It finally had to happen. In a flood of his own tears and Simon Cowell's huge smile, Sanjaya was voted off of American Idol. The shocker to some was that Lakisha and Blake were in the bottom three. I wasn't very shocked as you can see from the comments I made earlier today. The only two that I thought were good were Melinda and Jordin. I think that Jordin should win in the end because I think she would be hugely marketable. In the meantime, let's shed a tear for Sanjaya. I'll miss his fun presence on the show.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 -- Early Afternoon

As I was creating my photo pages last night, I watched the American Idol competition. Last night was country night with Martina McBride doing the coaching. Sanjaya was his usual poor performing self. Last night, he had this bandana over his hair that really made him look weird. Simon really ripped into him, and said that it was all fine and dandy that folks were laughing and having a good time, but that it was a singing compeition. I disagree. They call it "American IDOL" which doesn't imply singing--it implies having personality or looks that makes young girls want to buy your music. Sanjaya appears to fit that bill. The only two who really sounded good out of the seven were Jordin Sparks and Melinda Doolittle. Blake Lewis was bad--but got kudos from the judges anyway because they worship Blake for some reason. Lakisha is just loud, and she moves her mouth in weird ways that really bothers me. Chris Richardson also sucks while trying to claim that he was intentionally sounding nasally to sound country. Phil Stacey wasn't so bad. I would put Chris, Blake, and Lakisha in the bottom three, but I doubt that will happen.

As for hockey, the New York Rangers really whooped the butts of the Atlanta Thrashers. The final score was 7-0. I think that the problem with the seeding for the conference playoffs is that the division leaders get the top three spots. Unfortunately, Atlanta was the top of their division which gave them the number three spot. They didn't deserve it though because they were that good. Now Atlanta is on the brink of elimination as they go down three games to none in the series.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 -- Late Evening

The game this evening between the Pens and the Ottawa Senators had a totally different energy. The Pens played very well, even though in the end, they wound up losing the game. They knew they had to come out to win, and the energy didn't dissipate during the second period as it usually does. They are showing post game interviews, and Ryan Whitney just seemed totally crushed and defeated. It was such a difference between him and Mark Recchi. Recchi admitted their problems, but focused on the fact that the problems were things that could be fixed. All they need to do is work on the power play and getting shots on goal, and they could win. The next game is Thursday. If the Pens win, they are back in town on Sunday. If the Pens lose, the series is over. Let's hope for a win. The final score this evening was 2-1--a very low scoring, close, hard played game. The atmosphere in the stands was different too. The crowd stayed energized throughout the game. There was no booing during the Canadian national anthem either. I took advantage of the party atmosphere this time, and had a Pens logo and the number 29 painted on my cheeks. Check out my pictures of the game.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 -- Late Morning

Bad news for the New Jersey Devils last night. They lost yesterday by one point. Martin Brodeur tried his best, but he let in three goals. The Devils were only able to score two. This is one team that is totally reliant on the goalie to win, and if he lets in more than one goal, they are screwed. I know that the Pens were worried about playing Tampa Bay because they seemed to have the Pens' number. Obviously they have the Devils' number too. Of course, everyone has to wonder if Lou Lamoriello was an egotistical idiot when he fired Claude Julien as coach. In a way, I'd love to see the Devils lose the series just to have Lamoriello with egg on his face.

Monday, April 16, 2007 -- Afternoon

The goalies are going to be the story in the playoff games tonight. Rick DiPietro overcame his post-concussion syndrome to make an appearance at the New York Islanders win on Saturday. He should be back in goal tonight. I think that the Islanders are really pinning their hopes on DiPietro. It's the goalie who can really make the difference between a win and a loss. We can also see that in the New Jersey Devils game on Saturday too. They lost on Saturday, and Martin Brodeur has been encouraging the players to forget about it so they can get up the steam to win tonight's game. The Devils are definitely a team that is very dependent on the well being of its goalie.

The other surprising thing about the Islanders win on Saturday is that Alexei Yashin was, for all intents and purposes, benched during the game. It's not often that the captain of the team receives such treatment during the playoffs, but coach Ted Nolan had Yashin playing on the fourth line. Unfortunately, you have to say something worked since the Islanders did win.

I forgot to mention the ugly moment from yesterday's Pens game. As is usual when a Canadian team plays, the Canadian National Anthem was played, and some people actually started to boo the anthem. I thought that was a very crass thing to do. After all, we have Canadians are our team too. We can boo the Ottawa team or individual players, but it's a low point to boo the anthem of a close ally. When the Canadian teams come to Pittsburgh, I always sing along with the anthem to show respect, and it really disturbed me that some of my fellow fans would want to stoop so low.

Blood Horse magazine is posting the complete race video from recent graded stakes (meaning stakes races with a purse larger than $75,000 and around for more than two years under the same conditions as examples). The races should be available in their entirety within 20 minutes after the race has been completed.

Sunday, April 15, 2007 -- Late Evening

The third game of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators quarterfinal series did not go well for the Pens. There were definite problems for the team in the second and third period, with the key problem being lack of shots on goal. Sometimes the players need to realize that it's not necessary to wait for the pretty goal or the sure shot. The only good things about the game were the first period--when the Pens were playing like they wanted to win, and Sidney Crosby who got his third goal of the series (a goal a game). The Pens go down in the series 2-1 with a final score of 4-2. After the game, Michel Therrien was very critical of some of the players. As he said, some people aren't showing up in the highlght reels and are taking stupid penalties. It seems that the defense men and Evgeni Malkin might have been some of the targets there. We can never hear the questions in the news conferences. Malkin had three of the eight penalties in the game today. It will be interesting to see what changes are made in Tuesday's game. I did get alot of pictures of the game.

Sunday, April 15, 2007 -- Late Morning

Yesterday afternoon was the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race course in Kentucky. It has long been one of the favorite precursors to the Kentucky Derby. Street Sense was the favorite to win the race, and the finish was quite challenging. Four horses, including Street Sense made the surge to the wire, and Dominican was the one to get his nose in front. Street Sense was a nose behind in second wih Zanjero a head behind in third, and the early leader, Teuflesberg, another head behind in fourth place. The 1 1/8th mile race was run in 1:51 1/5. There was talk when Street Sense won the Tampa Bay Derby that he might have ruined his chances at the Kentucky Derby because of his hard run. That has yet to be seen, of course. In the other big race yesterday, Curlin won the Arkansas Derby by 10 1/2 lengths, runing the 1 1/8th mile race in 1:50.09. Second was Storm in May with Deadly Dealer in third. Curlin is undefeated in three races and has placed himself in the nice position as possible favorite for the Kentucky Derby.

Saturday, April 14, 2007 -- Late Afternoon

The Pens played an afternoon game today against the Ottawa Senators for the second game of the series. The first period was drastically different from the last game. The Senators didn't seem to come out fighting as hard--or maybe it's just that the Pens were a tad more aggressive. Marc-Andre Fleury started the game and held off the Senator's shots. Ryan Whitney drew first blood and gave the Pens a 1-0 lead. Halfway through the second period, the Senators tie things up with a goal by Jason Spezza. Tempers are flaring between the teams and there was a group scrum around Fleury that carried of for around a minute. By the end of the second period, the Senators had a powerplay. They ganged up on the net (as most teams other than the Pens do), and Daniel Alfredsson scored to give the Senators a lead. The Senators have really changed their tactics in the second period with the Senators have double the amount of shots on the net as the Pens. The Pens also have more than double the penalties. The Pens are basically shooting themselves in the foot in the second period. Colby Armstrong dropped the gloves with Mike Comrie at the start of the third illustrate the change in Pens' attitude. Ottawa took a second penalty which gave the Pens the advantage they needed. Gary Roberts did what any good player would do and planted himself in front of the net, and sank a rebound into the net to tie the game. The Pens almost scored again when the puck almost went across the line, but after review, the puck didn't cross the line. The Senators kept up the fight though, and ran after the Pens killed a penalty and were doing a line change, Chris Kelly scored to give the Senators the lead again. Roberts has been a great addition to the team. He and Michel Ouellet setup a beautiful goal by Jordan Staal. Tied score again. Eight minutes left in the period, and Evgeni Malkin takes advantage of an Ottawa player breaking his stick, passes to Mark Recchi who passes to Sidney Crosby who is positioned right in front of the net. Crosby scores. The Pens have the lead and have to hold on to the end of the game. Malkin makes it easier for them by getting a penalty. Ottawa took a time out part way though the penalty to give their players a rest. Fleury is making some very nice saves to keep the lead. Fleury was great in the last two minutes of the game, and made some really great saves. He is a clutch player. The Pens win, and the series is tied now 1-1. Final score: 4-3!

Thursday, April 12, 2007 -- Evening

The local sports folks have been analyzing the Pens loss yesterday. Some were blaming Marc-Andre Fleury, but I thought he did a great job considering that he was in the midst of a firing range. The biggest problem was that the Ottawa Senators came out to play playoff hockey. They upped their level of aggresssive play, and the Pens didn't have an answering return of aggression. The Pens' players were getting knocked on their asses left and right, and basically being pushed around. The Pens answer in the most part was to act like little girls being bulled in the playground by the boys. They didn't do much of anything. The sad part was that our "enforcer", who is supposed to intimidate others so they won't take unfair advantage pretty much was on the roster for the game, but didn't show up. Yep, Georges Laraque was on the ice, but his game was somewhere else. Michel Therrien was asked in a news conference if he expected the Pens to play more aggressively. He said yes. He was then asked why Laraque wasn't more aggressive in yesterday's game, and Therrien said that the reporters would have to ask Laraque. Laraque had no answer, but he better pick up the level of his game. I mean we have Laraque so our players aren't being used for punching bags, and so far, the opinion that I have developed of Laraque is that he is a huge wuss! As Michel Therrien said, "The positive thing is that the first game is under their belts. I didn't think our team was tight, but I guess they were. We can't do worse than that. That's probably one of the worst performances we had this year." Here's hoping for a better game on Saturday.

Thursday, April 12, 2007 -- Morning

I didn't see this game, but it sounds like the Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks game was a doozy last night. The game went into FOUR overtimes, and was finally won by Vancouver with 1:54 left in the fourth overtime period. Final score was 5-4. Roberto Luongo made 72 saves in the game which is second after Kelly Hrudley's record in the playoffs. I can just imagine how the fans must feel if they stayed for the game: happy, but tired--they must still be sleeping. The Pens game was the only one last night that wasn't a close one.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 -- Evening

The Pens played the Ottawa Senators in the first game of the Eastern conference quarterfinal this evening. The first period was quite disheartening for the Pens fan to a degree. The Senators came out fighting, and they were skating very aggressively. There was alot of shoving, crowding, and checking. Within the first seven minutes of the period, the Senators were up by two goals. It would have been alot more if Marc-Andre Fleury hadn't practically stood on his head to stop the shots. Within 16 minutes of play, the Senators already had 14 shots on goal to the Pens measley four. As one of the local announcers called it, it was a shooting gallery. How Fleury managed it with the amount of goaltender interference I don't know! The most notable thing is that the Pens just didn't seem to be ready for the level of physicality. The other thing I have noted is that my nerves and blood pressure aren't ready for the tensions that this game is bringing out. The Pens are their own worst enemy in this game with the Pens having to fight off two five on three penalty kills in the first period (within minutes of each other). The first period ended with the Senators only leading by two goals. In the second period, the Pens killed themselves with stupid penalties. In the last six minutes of the game, as the Pens were trying to kill off a penalt (that originally was a power play for them), ended in a goal by the Senators. Very disheartening! Finally! The Pens manage a score with a goal by Jordan Staal. End of the second period and the Senators have 29 shots on goal to the Pens 12. As the players came out onto the ice, Dany Heatly got a goal for the Senators. Seconds later, Sidney Crosby looked like he got the puck into the net. The play was reviewed by Toronto, and it was disallowed because they said that Crosby kicked the puck in. The question is how does one kick the puck when he is lying on his side, flying into the goalie? The local sports guys just don't see the kicking motion at all. Ryan Whitney was brought down to the ice with a slew foot. Whitney dragged himself to the bench, but no calls were made against the Senators. The Senators seem to be great at dirty contact and plays during this game. Chris Neil gets a breakaway, and with two on one, Neil gets the puck past Fleury. Score is 5-1. The game is a total loss with Fleury making two rebounds, to just have the Senators get the third past him. Score is 6-1, and it looks like this is going to be the first time this season that the Pens have been blown out. Michel Therrien pulled Fleury with less than ten minutes left in the game. Fleury faced 36 shots. Then Whitney got a high stick to the face, and a scrum broke out on the ice. As the announcers are saying, this is Brian Murray (coach of the Senators) hockey--humiliation of the team they are beating. Finally the Pens get a powerplay goal from Sergei Gonchar off a pass by Evgeni Malkin. With only a few minutes left in the game, Brooks Oprik gets a high stick to the face that gets a four minute penalty against the Senators. The Pens pulled Thibault from the net with 3:22 left in the game to see if they can get a goal. Crosby scored with 49 seconds of the game to make the score 6-3. The Pens have another chance on Saturday afternoon, and hopefully, they will play better then.

It was elimination night on American Idol. Phil Stacey, Haley Scarnato, and Chris Richardson are in the final three. I wasn't surprised at the selection. Chris was the first one sent back to his seat, bringing it down to Phil and Haley. Jennifer Lopez sang her song Como Ama Una Mujer. It was a very nice song. Finally, after an hour of dragging it out, we find that after over 35 million votes (the biggest vote of the season), Haley was sent home.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007 -- Evening

I just finished watching American Idol. It was Jennifer Lopez night, which meant that the contestants had to sing Latino music. It was really hard for most of them because to really get Latino music as J. Lo said, you have to have emotion and passion. J. Lo had her hands full because for the most part this crowd lacks in personality and fire. In my opinion, the best performance of the evening was....Sanjaya! Yep, you read right. His performance was full of emotion. Sanjaya had to win over the Latinos who watched the performance because he sang in Spanish with alot of feeling. Great job! I even made sure to put in a few calls for Sanjaya because it would really suck if he was voted out on his best night. Also, I didn't realize that Jennifer Lopez had such a vibrant personality. Of course, I should have guessed it, but I only saw pictures of her without hearing her talk. Unfortunately, she failed in getting the contestants to have fun with the music. I can't wait for tomorrow when J. Lo will perform.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007 -- Afternoon

I thought this would happen. The Dapper Dan dinner is being postponed. It was originally scheduled for this coming Sunday evening. However, the man of the year, Sidney Crosby is going to be playing in the third game of the Ottawa series. The dinner is now scheduled for the next Sunday, April 22. It will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center with the doors opening at 5:30 p.m., and the festivities starting at 6 p.m. If the Pens need a game 6, it will be held that same day at 1 p.m. here in Pittsburgh, so there will be no conflict--unless the game goes into multiple overtimes.

Monday, April 9, 2007 -- Early Evening

There is going to be a rally for the Pens on Wednesday at noon. Dan Onarto, the Allegheny County Chief Executive, and Mayor Luke Ravinstahl will be the hosts of the event. The rally will be held at the Allegheny County Courthouse Courtyard, 436 Grant Street. There is going to be free food and music at the event, and I'm sure alot of fun.

Monday, April 9, 2007 -- Late Morning

The NHL has released the schedule for the Pens playoff games against the Ottawa Senators. Here's the schedule:
Best of Seven Series
Game Date Matchup/Result
1 Wednesday, April 11, 7pm et Pittsburgh Penguins @ Ottawa Senators
2 Saturday, April 14, 3pm et Pittsburgh Penguins @ Ottawa Senators
3 Sunday, April 15, 6pm et Ottawa Senators @ Pittsburgh Penguins
4 Tuesday, April 17, 7pm et Ottawa Senators @ Pittsburgh Penguins
5 Thursday, April 19, 7pm et Pittsburgh Penguins @ Ottawa Senators
6 Sunday, April 22, 1pm et Ottawa Senators @ Pittsburgh Penguins
7 Tuesday, April 24, 7pm et Pittsburgh Penguins @ Ottawa Senators
This back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday are going to suck because of the travel time. Also, Sidney Crosby was supposed to attend the Dapper Dan dinner on Sunday evening where Crosby was going to be honored as Pittsburgh sportsman of the year. I guess that they will have to have someone stand in for him for that.

Sunday, April 8, 2007 -- Late Afternoon

There were a couple of Kentucky Derby prep races yesterday. First up was the Wood Memorial. The favorite in the race was Nobiz Like Shobiz, and he did not disappoint, holding on to win the race by a half a length in 1:49.26. Sightseeing was second and Any Given Saturday was third. For this race, Nobiz Like Shobiz wore blinkers and had cotton stuffed in his ears. The hope was that these accessories would help keep him concentrated on the race, and the move did indeed work. The other race of note was the Santa Anita Derby. This one was an upset with the half brother of 2005 Kentucky Derby winner, Giacomo, winning the race. Tiago was not the longest shot in the race, but the second longest. Tiago came from behind, and thanks to the fast early pace, won his first race by a half a length. HIs only other "win" in January was a win by disqualification of the horse who finished first. Tiago ran the mile and 1/8th in 1:49.51. King of the Roxy was second and Sam P. was third. The last prep race run yesterday was the Illinois Derby. That was won by Cowtown Cat by 2 1/2 lengths over Reporting for Duty. Bold Start was third. The favorite of the race, Cobalt Blue, the California horse owned by Merv Griffin, finished seventh, never really being a challenger. The time for this mile and 1/8th race was 1:51.21.

Sunday, April 8, 2007 -- Early Afternoon

My pictures are finally ready. It took awhile because I wound up with five pages instead of the usual two. My seats were very nice, but didn't give me a good view of the other end of the ice--at least for photographic opportunities. The glass distorted the camera view more than normal eyesight. I had alot of fun at the game, and enjoyed all the ceremonies--awards and "Shirts Off Their Backs." Sidney Crosby locked up the scoring championship for the season. He's the youngest player to achieve the honor.

Saturday, April 7, 2007 -- Late Evening

The Pens played their final regular season game against the New York Rangers. During the game, we all found out that Ottawa Senators beat the Boston Bruins so this final Pens' game didn't mean much. Ottawa gets the home ice advantage when the playoff series starts next week--probably on Wednesday. The Pens played to win though, and they did in the end. The final score was 2-1, and there was alot of tension between the teams, culminating in Jarkko Ruutu throwing down the gloves against Sean Avery who didn't thrown down the gloves. George Laraque talked to the refs, and Ruutu just got a two minute unsportsmanlike penalty. Before the game, various player awards were distributed. After the game, it was "shirt off our backs" with the players taking the shirts off their backs for the fans. After the players took off their shirts, they threw t-shirts into the stands. I was standing in a section by myself--taking photos--when Michel Ouellet threw a t-shirt right at me. It was one seat off, and someone tried to run down to get it, but I was right there and grabbed it up. I have more than double my usual number of pictures. It may take me until later Sunday morning to get them all processed so keep your eyes on the multimedia page.
For the awards:
The Good Guy Award: the entire Pens team
Masterton Award: Alain Nasreddine
Booster Club Award: Sidney Crosby
Edward J. Debartolo Award: Mark Recchi
Rookie of the Year: Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal
Player's Player Award: Mark Recchi
Most Valuable Player Award: Sidney Crosby

Saturday, April 7, 2007 -- Morning

I am very excited about the final regular season Pens game tonight. I have tickets in the Igloo section. That's the section in the middle of the rink that should give me a good view of both goals. I believe that I am closer to the south end goal (where the Pens shoot twice), but I'm still excited. The last time I was there in December, I chowed down on a Reuben sandwich and had an excellent view of all the players. I'm hoping to get some good pictures this evening, and should have them posted sometime in the early morning hours. News on the Pens front includes information that the season ticket prices are rising for the first time since 2001. My seats will be raising from $30 for a full season to $45. That's a 50% increase. I suppose they want to get people used to the fact that the tickets are going to be a heck of a lot more expensive in the new arena.

Some folks in the Hill District area of the city, the location of the current and new arena, are pulling what is in my opinion an extortion bid at getting money. The group who is proposing the plan has nine points, such as wanting $10 million up front and a yearly stipend, and reguirements on minority hiring for all positions at the arena. Why do I call it extortion? Because the group went public, and they have made threatening comments about future action if their demands aren't met. What I don't understand is what makes them think they have a right to anything? Jobs will be created in the area with concessions in the arena, and the promise of additional eating facilities. Remember, these are the same people who tried their darndest earlier to prevent the Pens' and Isle of Capri's casino bid. The Hill District group campaigned heavily to prevent development in the area. Now when it is going to happen, they want a piece of the pie. I think that they should stick with representation from their elected official, Tonya Payne, who seems like a level headed person wanting the best for her district. It seems that she realizes that going into bargaining with threats isn't the way to get what you want.

Friday, April 6, 2007 -- Afternoon

I just finished reading a very timely book. It is The Code: the Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL by Ross Bernstein. As the title states, the book looks at fighting in the NHL, and the rules that players follow before, during, and after the fight. Some would have you believe that fighting means that the NHL is out of control, but the players themselves view fighting as the way to police the game. The enforcer's role on the team is to give the skill players room to play the game. Read my review of the book, and then go out and read the book yourself.

Thursday, April 5, 2007 -- Evening

The Pens played the Ottawa Senators this evening in Ottawa. George Laraque was a scratch in the game. Marc-Andre Fleury was in goal for the Pens. Jason Spezza scores the first goal for the Senators on the power play when Fleury was able to make a beautiful save on the first shot, but couldn't get to the rebound. Unfortunately, none of our other guys were crowding the net as the Senators were. A mini fight breaks out with the Senators taking full advantage to play rough with Sidney Crosby and Colby Armstrong after Armstrong perpetrated some goaltender interference. Three Pens wound up in the penalty box (Armstrong, Ryan Whitney, and Gary Roberts). With around five minutes left in the period, both Michel Ouellet and Roberts score within seconds of each other on a major penalty to Spezza for roughing to give the Pens a 2-1 lead. The Senators tied things up at the start of the second period with a goal by Dany Heatley. The third period was not as rough, but it was very hard fought. Both sides wanted to win. Crosby drew a penalty with less than two minutes left in the game when Evgeni Malkin taking a penalty for retaliating against the Senators for a play against Roberts. That penalty really sucked because it put the Pens at a disadvantage with the tied score at the end of the game. With only 9.8 seconds left in the game, looking like an overtime game, Maxime Talbot scored! The Senators pulled Ray Emery was pulled to give the Senators an advantage, but it was too late. The Pens won in a surprise with a final score of 3-2! Fleury got the number one star of the game because hse stopped 35 of 37 shots. The two that went in on him were not soft goals, and were problems with rebounds during the Senators' power plays. Talbot got the second star.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007 -- Evening

David Morehouse has been named President of the Pens today. His role will be to oversee the redevelopment of the existing Mellon Arena area and government and corporate relations. Morehouse has experience with government by being a senior consultant with John Kerry during his presidential run in 2004. After the election loss, Morehouse, a native Pittsburgher, came to the Pens in December of 2004. His acquaintance with Ron Burkle (friend of Bill Clinton) is what got him the job. Before today, Ken Sawyer played a dual role as CEO and President. Sawyer will now concentrate on the building of the new arena.

The Pens have been big news in town lately because of their playoff entry. Since the players are so young, a local TV station, KDKA's Bob Pompeani and his crew did some photoshopping to put beards on the younger guys. After looking at the pictures, I think the only one that looks good and realistic is the beard on Jordan Staal. The beards on Marc-Andre Fleury, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin looked identical. In fact, Crosby called them on it when he saw the beards. The problem is that they make the beards too full. Guys who are growing a beard for the first time have bald spots and usually don't have alot of hair under the lower lip. The hair follows more along the jawline then filling up the area up to the lip.

For all local Pittsburghers planning on attending the Pens game on Saturday, several fan sites are encouraging everyone to dress in black and to bring their white rally towels. I'll be there with my black Pens t-shirt and rally towel. I think it might be a great site, sure to inspire the Pens. I hope to have pictures for my multimedia page.

We got to find out who was eliminated on American Idol this evening. Sanjaya was in the middle three with Brad Lewis and Chris Richardson. Melinda Doolittle, Lakisha Jones, and Jordin Sparks were in the top three. Yep, that meant that Phil, Gina, and Haley were in the bottom three. After 33 million people voted, Gina Glocksen was sent home. There were pleny of tears between Haley and Gina who were in the bottom two.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007 -- Late Morning

I forgot to mention last night that Ryan Whitney was a scratch yesterday because of a sore groin. It was the first game of the season that Whitney missed. As Therrien said, if this were a playoff game, Whitney would have played, but at this point, it is important to rest him so Whitney is in primo shape for the playoffs next week.

The Vote for the Worst folks just crack me up. The emails that they get from people who are barely able to use the English language who threaten to get "my lawyer" on the case of closing the web site are so hilarious. Come on, do these folks really expect anyone to believe they have their own personal lawyers? Whatever happened to freedom or speech or voting for the person you want to win instead of Sanjaya. The funniest part is that these whiners believe that Sanjaya spells the end to American Idol. The only thing I have to say is that if Taylor Hicks didn't spell the end to the show, I don't think that Sanjaya will. Perhaps in future, Simon, Paula, and Randy will make sure to put only the 24 people who could in theory be winners of the show in the viewer vote-in portion. Last night was Tony Bennett night on the show, and most of the performers I think are expendable. The only two that I think have really talent and are capable of "Idol" status are Melinda Doolittle and Jordan Sparks. I happen to agree with Mr. Bennett who said that Sanjaya is a nice kid who can sing. He may not be the best singer, but Sanjaya is an entertainer. He is just as capable of handling Idol status as Ruben Stoddard, Taylor Hicks, or Leif Garrett. Who do I think will leave tonight? Any of the six who aren't Melinda, Jordan, or Sanjaya have an equal chance in my opinion because they equally lack in personality and have similar singing abilities. I think that Brad Lewis and Lakisha Jones are two of the most overrated contestants who for some reason inspire Simon, Paula, and Randy to swoon over their insipid singing.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the Buffalo Sabres this evening at Mellon Arena in front of yet another standing room only crowd of 17,132. Surprisingly, there were empty seats all around though, so I guess that people had the tickets and just didn't come. The Pens were disappointing this evening, and really didn't play well at all. It was disappointing because they needed the win to take first place in the Atlantic Division. The New Jersey Devils didn't disappoint in their game, and won the game to seal up the Atlantic Division. Everyone in the crowd seemed to think that the Pens should win every game. However, that's not how life is. The team wasn't jelling tonight, but hopefully things will be better when the playoffs start next week. The Sabres were just great at clearing the puck when they were short handed, and in attacking the net. I just heard some of the local sports guys saying that the circus which is being held in Mellon Arena and the warm temperatures here in Pittsburgh may have made the ice less that desireable, but it didn't affect the Sabres. The final score was Sabres 4, Pens 1. Check out my pictures of the game.
As an aside, one thing that I noticed is that more people are coming to the games who have obviously never been to a hockey game. In a way, it is good, but in another it is bad because they are not aware of good etiquette. They don't seem to know that while play is going on, you don't just randomly stand up and remain standing. The people directly in front of me were making quite a few people yell at them to sit down. I can understand excitement, but the rest of us want to see and enjoy the game too. The woman was a really weirdo, and kept on waving at the players on the jumbotron and waving an invisible rally towel. I don't think it will be any better at the playoffs.

Monday, April 2, 2007 -- Afternoon

Tonight is the eve of the first day of Passover or Pesach as it is called in Hebrew. This is the night of the first huge family seder. A smaller one is usually held on the second night of Passover. I have my Passover dinner ready complete with a small lamb shank bone. This is the first year that I was able to find one. I don't remember seeing the Ten Commandments on TV this past weekend. The story is a nice fable, but has no bearing on fact. There is no evidence in the Egyptian historical record that there was a mass exodux of Jews from Egypt or of the 10 plagues. The exodus might have been ignored, but the plagues would have been a big deal.

Shocking news from the New Jersey Devils! Head coach, Claude Julien was fired with less than a week left in the regular season. General Manager, Lou Lamoriello, is stepping in as head coach for now. I haven't seen anything in any of the news articles that explains why the Devils management might have done this. However, this is the second time in recent history that the Devils have pulled this type of move. The last time was in the 1999/2000 season when the Devils fired their coach, Robbie Ftorek, on March 23 and went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Devils have been trading the first place postion in the Atlantic division and second place in the Eastern Conference back and forth with the Pens over the past week.

My NCAA bracket dream came to a crashing halt this weekend when Georgetown lost to Ohio State on Saturday. I had Georgetown going all the way in my bracket. I did pick Florida to make it to the final two, but my run is over. My boyfriend picked Ohio State to make it to the final game and picked them as a winner. I will be cheering against thim tonight.

Sunday, April 1, 2007 -- Late Morning

There's an interesting article in the local newspaper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It seems that the Pens are committed to providing a better viewing experience for their fans. The seats are going to have more leg room which will be sweet. I'm only 5 feet 4 inches, and my knees are right up against the seat in front of me. Usually taller people have their knees overlapping into the row ahead. Also, those obstructed viewing seats will be things of the past. Everyone will be able to see the jumbotron, and there will be no more swiveling around a pole to see one goal and then the other. I remember going to a game years ago where the person next to me had such a seat and it really sucked. Of course with all these improvements, there will be a price, and that means higher ticket prices. I know that I'm anticipating higher prices and a PSL (personal seat license). I cna only hope that I'll be able to afford to go to the games. The Pens are planning other activities for the arena, like NCAA tournament matches, US figure skating championships, NHL All-Star games, NHL draft, Presidential conventions, concerts, and other events or conferences. What has always annoyed me was the idea that the arena would only be used by the Pens. There are so many other opportunities for a venue that will seat 18,500. The problem is that tax dollars went into PNC Park and Heinz Field against the wishes of the taxpayer, and those locations are not utilized to their full benefit. PNC Park can only be used by the Pirates, and Pitt football and the Steerers are pretty much the only users of Heinz Field. There are some other events at Heinz Field, but not that many.