The Daily Bongo
Friday, April 30, 2010 -- Evening
The Eastern Conference Semifinal started here in Pittsburgh this evening with the Pens playing the surprise winners of the Caps and Montreal Canadiens series. Alexander Ovechkin has been getting mocked for being a choker, even though he can't be blamed for all the woes the Capitals experienced in the post-season. The Canadiens got the first goal, but the Pens had three straight power play goals (Sergei Gonchar, Jordan Staal, and Kris Letang). The Pens suffered a few injuries too. Sideny Crosby got whacked in the chin by Dominic Moore's (former Pen) stick. It looked like a purposeful thing, but the refs didn't call it. Jordan Staal also was tripped up, and wound up dragging his leg onto the bench and leaving the game to not return. Hopefully, he's not seriously injured and will be back in the next game. In the third period, when Jaroslav Halak gave up a fourth power play goal, he was pulled from the game, and Carey Price went in. It was really surprising because Halak stood on his head in the last three games against the Capitals, stopping 132 of 135 shots in games five through seven. The Canadiens stopped the Caps in all but one of the 33 power-plays the Caps had. As the Versus guys were saying, Halak is a person who needs a rest, and bringing him back so quickly, was a bad move on the Canadiens part. The Canadiens were really not up to par to battle the Pens, and the Pens won with a final score of 6-3. The next game is on Sunday afternoon.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 -- Evening
Laughed 'Til He Died
Carolyn Hart recently released her latest book in the Death on Demand series, Laughed 'Til He Died. The book is the twentieth book in the series, and although I thought that the series might have taken a turn for the mundane, this book was quite enjoyable. It may not be as good as the earlier books, but it was an improvement on Dare to Die. Annie Darling, sleuth and mystery bookstore owner, and her confidential inquiries husband, Max, get involved in the mystery this time when Jean Hughes, director at the local youth center, comes to Max for help. Booth Wagner, retired business tycoon, was threatening to get Jean removed from the position that he gave to her a year earlier. Why? Jean had outlived her usefulness in irritating the other board members of the youth center. Booth was one of those people who was just asking to be killed with his obnoxious behavior. His former wife wants to kill him for renewing her life. His current wife wants to leave him, but still needs money to pay for her son's surgeries. Booth's stepson wants revenge for the injuries Booth caused by forcing the 13 year old to drive too fast in an ATV. A former partner wants to kill Booth for selling him a fake stamp. Who would have thought that one man could inspire such hate? Booth's death is preceded by the death of a computer whiz, who may have unwittingly had a hand in Booth's death. Even though the clues and puzzle seemed to scatter in many directions, I guessed whodunit rather early in the book. It seemed pretty obvious, but I read some other reviews were people were perplexed by the puzzle. All in all, it was a quick, enjoyable, confection of a mystery, definitely matching the quality of others in the series.
Monday, April 26, 2010 -- Evening
When Boarding Isn't Boarding
The lesson that we all learned this weekend is that a boarding call has less meaning during the playoffs. This goes along with the "hits to the head are bad...unless it's the playoffs." We learned that one when Andy Sutton elbowed Jordan Leopold in the head, sending Leopold in a heap to the ice. Blows to the head are bad, but this one was okay. Why? It's the playoffs. We received another lesson in that twisted logic this weekend. Marian Hossa, who chose the Stanley Cup over the Pens, only to lose the Stanley Cup to the Pens, shoved Dan Hamhuis of the Nashville Predators from behind, sending Hamhuis crashing into the boards. Hossa got a five minute major, but didn't get thrown out of the game. Hossa came back into the game right after the penalty to score the overtime winning goal for the Chicago Blackhawks. When Colin Campbell reviewed the play, that is the identical in every way to the boarding call against Alexander Ovechkin that resulted in his two game suspension, Campbell said no suspension. Why? Because Hamhuis wasn't injured, and Hossa wasn't a repeat offender. Doesn't that seem wrong? Of course, it does! It doesn't matter that Ovechkin is a repeat offender and that he broke Brian Campbell's collar bone. It should only matter that the act of boarding carries a specific penalty. This is why all penalties and suspensions that the NHL and Colin Campbell hand out are mocked. Will it take having someone seriously injured before the NHL takes dangerous acts serious? Well, considering that some have been seriously injured, I think that the NHL just doesn't care. There is no motivation to change the system. It angers me and leaves me shaking my head in disgust.
Saturday, April 24, 2010 -- Evening
Pens Move on to Next Round!
The Pens were back in Ottawa for game six against the Senators. The Senators were the first to score with a goal in the first five minutes of the game. Towards the end of the first period, there was a review of a possible goal by the Pens' Mike Rupp, but the guys in Toronto couldn't conclusively determine if the puck went over the line, even though it looked like it from the angle that we saw on television. Bob Errey commented though, that it might have looked as if it went over the line because the puck was in the air, but it definitely looked like the puck crossed the line with white over it. The Pens managed to get a goal in the second period, but the Senators were definitely playing like wanted to move into the next round. It was incredibly hard to watch the second period because the Pens were looking so bad in the game. Finally in the third period, Billy Guerin got a goal to get the Pens within one of the Senators. Matt Cooke, who got the first goal for the Pens, got the tying goal in the third period. The game finished regulation in a tie and went into overtime. I was extremely tense during the overtime period, and finally, halfway through the overtime period, Pascal Dupuis put me out of my agony by scoring the winning goal. It was such a relief to know that the Pens would move on to the next round. Final score: Pens 4 - Senators 3.
Thursday, April 22, 2010 -- Evening
Tonight was the fifth game in the Pens and Senators matchup. Things were not looking good when the Senators got two quick goals in the middle of the first period. Fortunately, Kris Letang got a power play goal towards the end of the first period, and then Chris Kunitz knocked the puck into the net in the second period to tie things up. The Kunitz goal was reviewed by Toronto because the ref had called no goal because he had blown the whistle when the Senators' net was coming up off the ice. However, the net wasn't dislodged, and the puck had already crossed the line at that point, so Toronto called it a goal. After the first period, the Senators were obviously tired and frustrated, with only five shots on goal in the second period, and no goals going to Marc-Andre Fleury for the almost the whole first half of the third period. Right after the Senators got their first shot on goal in the third period, the Pens took the puck down the ice, and Sidney Crosby got the puck into the net while falling on his butt. Unfortunately, the Senators chose that moment to get a goal. You can't blame Fleury that much because he was mostly waiting for the action to happen. Neither could score another goal in regulation, and the game went into overtime. The first two overtime periods were scoreless, and almost halfway through the third overtime, the Senators scored. It was a heart breaker, and I wonder if it is a turning of the tide against the Pens. It's back to Ottawa, and hopefully, the Pens will end it there. Final score: Senators 4 - Pens 3.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 -- Evening
How High Can You Go?
This was not the game that i expected after the first game in the Pens and Senators matchup. The Pens took the lead with a goal in the first period. Then all heck broke loose in the second period with the Pens scoring five goals and the Senators scoring three. After the fourth Pens goal, Ottawa pulled goalie, Brian Elliot. That seemed to give the Senators a boost, and they got a few goals in answer, but the Pens just kept on pulling away, started by a short handed goal by Max Talbot. Sidney Crosby got two goals and two assists. Whenever it seemed that the Senators might gain momentum, the Pens responded. Final score: Pens 7 - Senators 4. The Pens go up on the Senators 3-1 in the series. Now let's hope that the Pens finish off the Senators on Thursday.
Sunday, April 18, 2010 -- Evening
The Pens were in Ottawa this evening to play the Senators. The Pens were the first to score with a goal by Alexei Ponikarovsky. Some of the local reporters were commenting on how little Ponikarovsky had brought to the Pens since the trade. Well, Ponikarovsky finally started paying the bill. Ponikarovsky scored at 1:17 in the first period, and the rest of the period went by without any goals. With only 40 seconds left on the clock in the first, it looked like the Senators had tied the game, but they got the puck into the net with a kicking motion, so the goal was called off. Unfortunately, Jordan Staal was called for a slashing penalty at the very end of the period, and the Senators got their goal with eight seconds left on the Staal penalty. The Pens put on a fight right after that, and Evgeni Malkin tossed the puck into the net. With less than a minute left in the second period, Sidney Crosby got a goal to give the Pens a 3-1 lead. In the third period, Marc-Andre Fleury was making some great saves. He was really aided by the others scoring, like Billy Guerin in the third period. Even though the Senators did get another goal in the third, the Pens held on to win with a final score of 4-2.
Friday, April 16, 2010 -- Evening
The Pens were under pressure to perform better in tonight's game against the Ottawa Senators. Boy, did things look bad when the Senators scored in the first 18 seconds of the game. Sidney Crosby was bound and determined to get a win though, and he scored a goal in the first period, and then in the third, kept the puck away from Jason Spezza for several seconds before passing it to Kris Letang for another goal. The Pens got a win, and the series is tied. Unfortunately, Jordan Leopold was knocked out by Andy Sutton, who came off his feet to apply an elbow to Leopold's head. No call was made at the time, but it was quite obvious that Sutton left his feet. At least, they were a few inches off the ice from what I could see. Leopold was flat on the ice for several minutes before he finally managed to make his way to the locker room. Leopold did not come back into the game. Tensions were high in the game, and I doubt that it will lessen over time. Final score: Pens 2 - Senators 1.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 -- Evening
The Pens and the Ottawa Senators met up for the first game of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. I've been listening to the commentary from various hockey analysts on numerous sports podcasts, and everyone seemed to think that the Pens would have an easy time of it in this matchup against the Senators. I was starting to think that my analysis that the Pens would probably not make it past the first round was flawed. So they haven't been playing well, and the team, in general, seems tired and not very interested in winning. We are talking the Senators, after all. The Pens do have their number, don't they? The Pens handed out white shirts to get everyone into the "whiteout" mood, and the game started with lots of energy. Things started well, Evgeni Malkin scored, and the crowd went wild. Unfortunately, the Senators didn't get the memo that they were supposed to lay down for the Pens. They came on to score three goals, taking a lead that they would never relinquish. The fans, for the most part, were out of the game. Only showing short bounds of cheering when the Pens would get around to scoring a goal. Malkin got two goals, Craig Adams, one, and Alex Goligoski one. The Senators shut down Sidney Crosby, who was having trouble getting the puck to the net. However, Crosby did have three assists. Chalk up one loss for the Pens. Senators win with a final score of 5-4. The next game is this coming Friday.
Monday, April 12, 2010 -- Afternoon
Crosby: NHL Star of the Week
Sidney Crosby was named the NHL's first star of the week for the last regular season game. Eric Staal was the second star, and Nikolas Backstrom was the third star. Over the past week, Crosby scored 12 points in the last four regular season games to win up in second place, tied with Alexander Ovechkin, in the points race.
First Round of the NHL Playoff
The Pens start the first round of the playoffs against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. The first two games will be played in Pittsburgh on Wednesday and Friday at 7:00 p.m. From listening to the sports analysts, it seems that everyone thinks that the Pens should win the series, but that the games should be interesting and deliver some entertainment bang for your buck.
News about those rascally Steelers. Santonio Holmes and Ben Roethlisberger have been headline news items because of their juvenile behavior. Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault a few weeks ago when he was plying girls with free drinks in the VIP section of a college town bar in Georgia. Yes, it was near his home, and yes, Roethlisberger was celebrating his birthday. However, you would think that Roethlisberger after one sexual assault civil lawsuit would be a smidge more careful with his behavior. Nope. When you feel that you are entitled to your celebrity, and that means having access to as much young, nubile girls as possible, you make stupid choices. Today, the DA in the town said that was not going to press charges because the girl declined to press charges. Also, there wasn't conclusive evidence of a rape. So Roethlisberger is off the hook with the police, but he should not be off the hook for destructive behavior. When a 28 year old man hangs out at college bars, liquoring up girl under the age of 21, and gropes said girls in the bar bathroom, he has a problem. Then Santonio Holmes got into trouble for throwing a glass at a girl in a bar. There has been controversy on who threw the glass, but Holmes has a history of problems with beating his girlfriend and being caught with marijuana. Reports circulated at the end of last week that Holmes was going to have a four game suspension in the coming season because of a substance abuse violation. No word on that from the NFL yet, and no one has any idea if it is for failing a drug test or not showing up for one. The Steelers got rid of Holmes last night, packing him off to the New York Jets for a fifth round draft pick. The big question: is this the end of the Steelers' woes with misbehaving players?
Sunday, April 11, 2010 -- Evening
Pens versus Islanders
The Pens played their last game of the regular season against the New York Islanders late this afternoon. Brent Johnson was in goal for the game, and he did a good job. Sidney Crosby was in the goals and points race, and the Pens' players spent most of the game feeding him the puck. Crosby got to 51 goals, but then was tied by Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In fact, when the Islanders scored two quick goals in the third period to bring the game to Pens 5, Islanders 4, Bob Errey commented that it was because the team was too busy trying to make sure that Crosby would score points. Unfortunately, the Pens gave up a huge lead, 4-1 in the second period, to let the Islanders tie the game and take it into overtime. The Pens finally won in overtime with a goal by Jordan Leopold. The Pens won the last game of the season with a final score of 6-5. Next up for the Pens will be the Ottawa Senators. Crosby will share the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals with Stamkos.
Saturday, April 10, 2010 -- Evening
Pens versus Thrashers
The Pens only had two more games left in the regular season, and you would think that they would be interested in solidifying a bid for the number two seed in the Eastern Conference. Tonight when the Pens played the Atlanta Thrashers, they didn't play as if they wanted to win. Things have not been boding well for the playoffs. In one of the most boring games that I have seen in a long time, the Pens lost to the Thrashers in a shutout with a final score of Thrashers 1 - Pens 0. Matt Cooke was knocked out when he was hit with a punch during a fight with Evander Kane. Kane connected with Cooke's jaw on Cooke's way to the ice and knocked Cooke out. Cooke lay on the ice for a while while he was checked out, but he was able to skate off the ice on his own. Only one more game left in the Pens' regular season.
Thursday, April 8, 2010 -- Evening
Pens' Last Regular Season Game at Mellon Arena
Today was the last regular season game that the Pens were going to play in Mellon Arena. The Pens organization had players, coaches, and others who had an association with the Pens over the years come out on the ice before the game. Unfortunately, Jaromir Jagr and Tom Barraso couldn't make it, but Bob Erry, Jay Caufield, Phil Borque, Craig Patrick, Eddie Olczyk, and tons of other players. Of course, Mario Lemieux was the last person to come on the ice. They then got the current players to gather around the former Pens and took a team photo. The game was a great one. The Pens scored first, and after scoring four goals in the first period, the New York Islanders pulled Martin Biron from the goal and put in Dwayne Roloson. Sidney Crosby had a goal (his 49th), and everyone thought that he had his 50th, but Crosby insisted that it deflected off of Billy Guerin. The official scorer finally gave the goal to Guerin. It was a fun game, with Crosby getting four points, and Evgeni Malkin, back on the ice, scoring an unassisted goal. The final score was Pens 7, Islanders 3. After the game, the Pens gave the shirts off their backs to the fans. All in all, it was a great end to Mellon Arena. Now there are only playoff games left to be played on Mellon Arena ice.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010 -- Evening
Pens versus Capitals
The Pens met up with the Washington Capitals this evening. The match was much anticipated because the Caps have been playing well all season, and have beaten the Pens in each of this season's meetings to date. The hope was that the Pens would win, and end the sweep by the Caps. Well, the Pens had trouble with that from the beginning. Marc-Andre Fleury couldn't seem to see the puck, and after he let in three goals, George McFly pulled him. Then Brent Johnson has issues seeing the puck. The Capitals and Alexander Ovechkin had their way with the Pens and went on to win with a final score of 6-3. The Pens really hasn't been playing up to snuff, and I think that even though they will make the playoffs, they will have issues getting much beyond the first round.
Saturday, April 3, 2010 -- Evening
Pens versus Thrashers
The Pens played the Atlanta Thrashers in an early afternoon game today. Both Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar were in the line up today, and they both played as if they had not been out for several games due to injury. It looked at first as if the Thrashers were going to win the game. It was one of those back and forth games with the Thrashers scoring first and coming back each time to retake the lead. Johan Hedberg did a great job in goal for the Thrashers, and the Pens were lucky to get a Gonchar goal in the last minute and a half of regulation to tie the game. It took half of the overtime period for the Pens to get the win. The final score was Pens 4 - Thrashers 3. The Pens only have four more games before the playoffs start. I'm not very confident about the Pens chances in the playoffs because they really have not been playing well for awhile now. It seems that they have a lack of dedication to the game. Of course, I never thought George Bylsma was a good coach, and I think his real test comes when times get bad.