The Daily Bongo

December 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 -- Late Evening

Tonight was not a good night at Mellon Arena. The Pens looked good in the first period. But the Boston Bruins aren't the best team in the Eastern Conference for nothing. Even though they were down 1-0, they came back and won the game with a 5-2 score. It's not that the Pens didn't have chances. They did, but the puck just refused to go into the net. It was as if Tim Thomas had a force field around him. The refs made some questionable calls in the favor of the Bruins, but it was more than that. The Pens just weren't gelling well together as a team. Evgeni Malkin didn't get a point, but Petr Sykora, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Pascal Dupuis did. When I got home from the game, I heard that the players had a team only meeting to discuss their performance. We'll have to see if that makes a difference in Thursday's game when they meet up with the Bruins in a return match in Boston. Again in this game, I had camera problems. I thought I had my battery problem resolved, but the batteries gave out again at the start of the second period. Check out my pictures of the game.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 -- Afternoon

For weeks now, people have been talking about Bill Cowher returning to coaching next season. The biggest competitor for his skills have been the Cleveland Browns. Well, early this morning, the owner for the Browns said that Cowher wasn't interested in going to Cleveland. And with that news there was a great whooping and hollaring in the 'Burgh because we really hate Cleveland and we like Cowher. It would have felt like a stab in the back if Cowher went to Cleveland. Then within the hour, there were rumors that he was going to coach the New York Jets. Cowher turned them down flat saying that he would want to have a general manager of his choosing. Now that made people wonder if the Jets would put their current general manager in a new role. However, I think that they are all missing the point that Cowher likes his current job as an analyst on CBS. After all, the hours are easy, and the pay is good. Cowher says he won't be coaching next year. Let's see if he sticks to that as the offers heat up.

The Pens are playing the Boston Bruins this evening at Mellon Arena. Hal Gill is expected to be in the lineup this evening. Gill has missed the past 10 games with a shoulder injury. Jordan Staal will also be playing his 200th game tonight. Staal will be the youngest person, at 20 years and 111 days, to ever play 200 games. Obviously, the Pens will be doing something this evening to honor Staal's accomplishment.

Sunday, December 28, 2008 -- Afternoon

The Steelers played the Cleveland Browns in the last game of the regular season. There was some question since the last game whether starters would play in the game, and Mike Tomlin said that they wanted to finish the season on a win. Things were going well. Willie Parker had a touchdown, and it looked liked the Steelers had run an interception in for a second touchdown. The refs thought it was an incomplete pass, but replay showed that it was complete. However, Tomlin didn't challenge the call so it was for naught. Then Ben Roethlisberger took a hit. He didn't get up from the ground, and the training team ewnt out to check on him. The announcers weren't sure what the problem was, although it looked like Ben whacked the back of his head off the ground. Ben wasn't moved for 13 minutes. Finally, they brought in a stretcher and took him off the field. I know that I was getting concerned because Ben didn't raise his hand for a thumbs up. Just as they neared the tunnel, Ben finally raised his hand for a thumbs up, and the whole stadium roared. During half-time, the CBS announcers said that Ben had a concussion and was being taken to the hospital for further analysis. Fortunately, the Steelers were playing the Browns, who were unable to put up much offense or defense. The Steelers won with a final score of 31-0.

Saturday, December 27, 2008 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the Montreal Canadiens this evening at Mellon Arena. For the past two months, the Pens have had trouble getting two wins in a row, and today was no different. The only difference is that the Pens did make more of an effort to get a win. It just didn't happen. The Pens lost with a final score of 2-3. Check out my pictures of the game.

Friday, December 26, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens played the New Jersey Devils this evening. The team started out the same as usual without shooting at the fricking net. The announcers, Bob Errey and Paul Steigerwald, commented that the Pens are twenty ninth in the league on shots on gaol. The Pens really need to address the problem, because they have to know that they spend alot of time tossing the puck back and forth without putting it on the net. The Pens were able to score first when the Devils started to cover Evgeni Malkin and Petr Sykora as all three went to the net. Then in the final minutes of the second period, there was a close call. The puck had gone past Marc-Andre Fleury, who was pulled from the net by Brian Gionta. Fortunately, Mark Eaton was on the ice behind Fleury, and Eaton used his skate to keep the puck from fully crossing the line. There was a review, but since the puck didn't totally cross the line with white on all sides, the goal was not allowed. Fleury was great in goal and would not let any pucks pass him. He got his 12th shutout of his career. Final score was Pens 1 - Devils 0.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 -- Late Evening

What a depressing and disappointing night at the Mellon Arena. The Pens played the worst team in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The team has only won one game in the last 10. Well, tonight, the Pens had a butt whopping from the LIghtning, who shut out the Pens in a 2-0 win. It was so bad the whole arena was booing the Pens for their lack of shots on goal in the third period; they only wound up getting 3 in the whole period. It was one of the worst played games, and the thing that is so bad about the level of play tonight is that I expected it. The Pens haven't been able to string together two wins in a row in over a month. Of course, the Lightning have been in town, resting, for the past two days, and the Pens did play yesterday. However, there is a problem with the team. The offense just doesn't seem to be able to generate anything, and they wind up just making passes instead of shots on goal. The Pens made so many bad passes and turnovers in the game that the fans were audibly groaning and complaining about the action. All in all a miserable effort. Hopefully, the Pens will play better on Friday and in their next home game on Saturday. After the game, Michel Therrien expressed his disappointment in the team's work ethic and attitude. As he said, all the team wants to do is complain on the bench about their other team mates, and they have to work together. Therrien said, yes, there are injuries, yes, they have played alot of games, but their concentration isn't there. Therrien seems to be really upset with the team's complaints and lack of ability to work together and to work hard. It's obvious in the way they play. Check out my pictures of the game.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 -- Afternoon

I watched WALL-E this afternoon. I didn't watch it when it was in the theaters because for some reason, I had the impression that it might be lame, and I might not like it. Well, I decided that since it was on DVD, I might as well give it a try and see if I liked it. I have to admit that the beginning was a tad slow and bleak. The action takes place on Earth, destroyed and deserted, with only a robot, WALL-E, to clean up an Earth that has been polluted and destroyed by the humans that inhabited it. The only live form that survives is the cockroach, one is WALL-E's pet. Things start to pick up when an alien probe, EVE, is left on the planet to search for biological life. The film turns into an action flick when WALL-E follows EVE onto the spaceship, Axiom, from which she came. The people on Axion have become so fat and lazy that they are unable to stand or do things for themselves. They have become totally dependent on the robots that take care of every human need. A pitched battle takes place between good, WALL-E, EVE, and the Axiom's captain, and evil, Auto, the Axiom's autopilot. it's obvious that the makers of WALL-E were fans of 2001: Space Odyssey, and they practically copied the battle between HAL and Dave in WALL-E. By the end of the movie, I was totally engrossed and bawling my eyes out. The folks at Pixar did a great job with the animation. I highly recommend the movie, not only for the story, but also for the beautiful animation.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 -- Morning

Good news from the Pens front office this morning. Unlike the other sports team in town, the Pens will not be charging a seat license in the new arena. Both the Steelers and the Pirates charge a license for seats. This is separate from the ticket price. So in order to buy season tickets to the games, you have to first buy a seat. In my opinion, it is a scam so they could charge twice for the same thing. Granted, the license fee is supposed to be a one time deal, but please! Let's be serious about it. I want to buy season tickets, and I might want to change my seat after the first year because I don't like the section or the view. That would mean having to buy another seat license. David Morehouse, the Pens President, said that both Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, the owners, were against the seat license, especially in the current economic times. A letter was sent to all season ticket holders yesterday. I just didn't get mine because I didn't stop at the post office to collect my mail.

You can now buy Tim Tams, the Australian cookie known for the Tim Tam Explosion, for a limited time from your local Target here in the US. Pepperidge Farm will be distributing the Tim Tam from November until March 2009, and they can only be purchased at Target. If you haven't had a Tim Tam, rush out to a Target and get some. Bring it home. Make some hot drink: tea or coffee. Pour out a cup. Then take your Tim Tam. Take a bite out of one corner. Then take a bite from the diagonal corner. Put one of the bitten ends into the hot drink, and quickly suck from the other end. As soon as you feel the liquid in your mouth, put the Tim Tam into your mouth for the Tim Tam Explosion. It's a taste sensation you don't want to miss. So hurry and stock up on Tim Tams while they last.

Monday, December 22, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens played the Buffalo Sabres this evening. Marc-Andre Fleury was back in goal for the Pens, and he was hoping for a better game this time than last. As he told the announcers on Versus, he did not want to have another six goal game against the Pens. Unfortunately, a puck slithered past Fleury in the first 60 seconds of the game. It looked as if it were redirected off of a Pen, which sucks. Fleury can't get a lucky bounce! It wasn't looking good early in the second period when the Sabres went up 2 -0. But the Pens came back to tie things up. Poor Fleury. In the last minutes of the second period, the Sabres had a power play, and no one was helping Fleury in front of the net to clear a rebound, and the Sabres were able to score again. The Pens were able to tie things up and go into overtime. Then 43 seconds into overtime, it looked like Evgeni Malkin scored the winning goal. The refs wanted to talk about it because it looked like it might have gone off of Crosby's stick which was around the height of the crossbar. Well, it did, and Crosby, being Crosby, was able to keep the stick no higher than the crossbar. After the review, it was declared a goal. The Pens win in overtime with a final score of 4-3.

Sidney Crosby is leading all forwards/centers in the NHL All-Star balloting with over 1 million votes, followed closely by Evgeni Malkin. In fact, yesterday, Crosby set the record for number of votes cast for a player in the All-Star balloting, surpassing the record set by votes for Jaromir Jagr in 2000 of 1,020,736 votes. Malkin is also expected to surpass the Jagr record in the next few days. You can vote for your favorite player until January 2. The All-Star game will be held in Montreal on January 25.

Sunday, December 21, 2008 -- Late Afernoon

The Steelers played the Tennessee Titans this afternoon. There was a great deal of hype about the game because the winner would get home field advantage in the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Steelers have been playing quite a few emotionally and physically draining games, and they weren't able to perform up to snuff. The Steeler defense did not allow a single 300 yard game in the entire season, until today. Ben Roethisberger threw two interceptions, and almost threw one to a couple of Titan defensemen (with no Steeler receiver in sight.) It was not a good game to watch, and the Steelers lost with a final score of 13 - 31. The Titans get home field advantage in the playoffs, and they were kicking the Terrible Towel into the ground today. We'll have to see what happens in the playoffs, but we really don't have a running game, and Roethlisberger is inconsistent.

Saturday, December 20, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens played the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening. I didn't go to the game because I sold the tickets to a friend. It seems that I miss every home game this season when the Pens wear their blue uniform, which is the third uniform. It's hard to see who is on which team because the Maple Leafs are wearing white, and the blue uniforms don't show up well with the white, at least on television. Marc-Andre Fleury was in goal with a new helmet which had an orange coloring. Unfortunately, the Leafs were the first to score with a goal by former Pen, Dominic Moore. But Evgeni Malkin tied things up shortly afterward. The Leafs came back themselves to take the lead again. I think that new helmets are a jinx for the Pens. Dany Sabourin wore a new helmet in a loss to the Islanders on November 26 and never wore the helmet again. The Leafs got a third goal in the first with a screen in front of Fleury, blocking his view of the puck. The Leafs were playing with a vengance. Unfortunately for the Pens, the Leafs were using Fleury as a shooting gallery. They were constantly shooting the puck at the net, and had over 30 shots on goal in the first two periods. Dany Sabourin startd the third period to take the pressure off of Fleury. So I think that the new helmet is in the trash. The game was a huge disappointment, and the Pens really couldn't generate much offense or defense. The game was a wipeout with a final score of 7-3.

Thursday, December 18, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens were in Atlanta this evening playing the Thrashers. Marc-Andre Fleury was back in goal for the Pens, and he made some really nice saves in the game. The Pens were on a scoring frenzy for the first period and a half. Then the Thrashers pulled Ondrej Pavelec and put in Johan Hedberg. The Pens managed to keep the lead even though there was some sloppy play on the parts of some of the players during the third period. The team needs to understand that they need to continue to play and not turn over the puck in their own zone. But the Pens won with a final score of 6-3.

I have been busily working on the Daily Bongo redesign. Over the next few weeks, you may notice the look change. Unfortunately, the change will be gradual. So you may notice that some pages look different than others. As I said, I hope to be finished in the next week or so. I have noticed as I go through that pages that my writing was not very good. I think that learning and practice are improving my skills. Since I have more free time on my hands, I hope to devote time to improving the look of the site and adding content.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 -- Evening

I went to the Carngie Museum of Natural History this afternoon to check out Dinosaur Hall. I went last year at this time, but the T. Rex display wasn't ready. It was ready today (and has been for several months.) The display was quite impressive. You get a real feel for how it would feel if Jurassic Park were real life and you met a T-Rex on the street. It's not that it's so large, although it is. It's that the head is so large and terrifying! Check out my pictures.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 -- Late Afternoon

Personal news! I have graduated from the MAPW program at Carnegie Mellon University. So I now have my Master's in Professional Writing and am looking for a technical writing job. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh is not a very good job market, and with the economy tanking, I am having some difficulty finding a position. So while I have some free time on my hands, I'm going to devote myself to upgrading my pages to CSS. In the past, I only used the simple html that I knew from years ago. When I thought of updating my pages and making them more visually appealing to boot, I hestitated because of the time commitment. However, I have time now so in the next few weeks, I should have my pages updated.

Consol Energy made a 21 year deal with the Pens yesterday for naming rights for the new arena. The arena will be called the Consol Energy Center. In other Pens news, Petr Sykora was named the number two NHL star of the week. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are leading the NHL ballot for the All-Star game. They are both one and two, respectively. Crosby has 793,995 votes, and Malkin has 715,663.

Sunday, December 14, 2008 -- Evening

The Steelers played the Baltimore Ravens in a late afternoon game. It was pretty much a battle of the defenses. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense was doing a crappy job, but the defense was stellar as usual. The Ravens pretty much lead most of the game, but the controversy came about because of a touchdown catch by Santonio Holmes in the final minute of the game. Most thought that he wasn't in the end zone, and on review, the officials overthrew the call on the field and said that it was a touchdown. i think alot of touchdown calls are crap. "Did the ball break the plane?" Sometimes the ball barely touches the line on the field, and the person's body is outside of the endzone, and it's a touchdown. Holmes' body was in the endzone, and he pulled the ball into him. I don't know. Anyway, the Steelers clinched the division with the 13-9 win.

Saturday, December 13, 2008 -- Early Evening

Marc-Andre Fleury was dressed for today's Pens game against the Philadelphia Flyers. However, you have to wonder if he should have been in goal. Dany Sabourin did a mediocre job in the Pens 6-3 loss to the Flyers. It looked like deja vue in the wrong direction when the Flyers started scoring as if there was an empty net. The Pens are going to have a break until Thursday. I think they need a rest because they have been playing quite a few back to back games.

Friday, December 12, 2008 -- Late Afternoon

Finally, Marc-Andre Fleury will be back in the Pens lineup tomorrow. There is no word whether he would play or just back up Dany Sabourin. This is a change from the reports that I was hearing yesterday that Fleury would be back at the earliest as next week. It will be good to get Fleury back in goal.

Thursday, December 11, 2008 -- Late Evening

What a night for hockey here in Pittsburgh! The Pens played the losers of the Atlantic Division this evening, the New York Islanders. John Curry was in goal for the Pens. Marc-Andre Fleury has been practicing with team as he recovers from his groin injury, but Michel Therrien said that Fleury will not be playing this weekend, so that means at the earliest, Fleury will be back next week. The Pens didn't need him this evening though. They went on a scoring spree, with both Petr Sykora and Pascal Dupuis get their first hat tricks in the NHL. Sykora has had 42 games where he got the two goals but no hat trick. At first, it didn't look like Sykora was going to do it, because he had a goal called off because the whistle was blown. But Sykora came right back and scored on a power play to get the hat trick. Fortunately for those of us at the Arena, it was a Big Mac power play so everyone in attendance gets a free Big Mac by showing their ticket at McDonald's. Everyone was really excited and hats flew as soon as the puck went into the net. The players were rubbing Sykora's face, and it was great to see the team celebrate. Then in the last few minutes of the third period, Dupuis got his hat trick. Great game! The Pens scored 9 goals and only gave up 2 to the Islanders. Unfortunately, again, I had problems with my camera. The batteries drained at the beginning of the first period. I'm going to have check out the camera too to see if the problem lies with the quality of the batteries or elsewhere. Final score: Pens 9 - Islanders 2.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens were in New Jersey playing the Devils this evening. Dany Sabourin was still in goal tonight. As is typical of New Jersey games, it was incredibly boring. Neither side was generating offense. The first goal that the Devils got in the waning seconds of the second period was a fluky goal. Sabourin was playing it from behind the net, and almost put it in the net himself. In the end, he just left an open net for Tim Zajac to get the goal. I don't think that Sabourin was on the top of his game. In fact, he seemed out of it in my opinion. The Pens just couldn't do anything and lost the game with a final score of 4-1.

Monday, December 8, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens played the Buffalo Sabres this evening. I wasn't able to go to the game because I had a class this evening. Dany Sabourin was in goal again this evening, but Marc-Andre Fleury did practice with the team today. The Pens got an early lead, but couldn't hold on to it. The Sabres had the lead in the third period, and things weren't looking good for the Pens. Unfortunately, the Pens weren't able to get anything going, even though they put a big push on the Sabres in the waning seconds that resulted in a scrum as the final whistle blew. Sabres win, with a score of 4-3.

Sunday, December 7, 2008 -- Evening

The Steelers played the Dallas Cowboys here in Pittsburgh. People were thinking that the Steelers would have an advantage because the weather had a wintery turn yesterday. There was probably an inch or two of snow on the ground and the temperatures with wind chill in the single digits. Although the Steelers scored first, it really wasn't looking good for them the entire game. Both defenses were playing well, and the wind was wrecking havoc with the ball. Things turned around in the last few minutes of the game. First the Steelers got a touchdown to tie things up. Then with less than two minutes left in the game, Deshea Townsend intercepted the ball and ran it in for a touchdown. The Cowboys weren't able to answer the score, and the Steelers won with a final score of 20-13.

Saturday, December 6, 2008 -- Late Afternoon

The Pens played the Ottawa Senators this afternoon. Dany Sabourin was in goal. News about Tyler Kennedy was that he had a sprained knee and would be out for four to six weeks. In this game, there weren't any goals in the first period, but in the second, Jason Spezza got a natural hat trick, scoring three in a row. The third of the goals came in the final minute of the second period, and just right after it looked as if the Pens were getting a momentum shift from a goal by Jordan Staal. What sucked about the third goal was that Spezza was behind the net, and the puck basically went off of Kris Letang into the goal. Evgeni Malkin added to the goals in the third period with a short-handed effort assisted by Jordan Staal, but the Pens weren't able to get more and lost to the Senators with a final score of 3-2.

Thursday, December 4, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens played for the second night in a row. This time, they played the Carolina Hurricanes. Dany Sabourin was in goal, but Marc-Andre Fleury was practising on the ice this morning. MIke Zigomanis and Tyler Kennedy were injured in yesterday's game, and were scratches for the Hurricanes game. The Pens went on a scoring frenzy with four goals before the middle of the second period. Actually Sidney Crosby had a scoring frenzy. He had assists on the first four goals. The Pens won with a final score of 5-2. Petr Sykora had two goals in the game.

So Sean Avery of the Dallas Stars made the news yesterday. Now, everyone who knows hockey knows that Avery has a reputation for being jerk, both to players on other teams and his own. He's probably one of the most hated players out there, just for his personality. Well, on Tuesday evening, before the Stars played the Calgary Flames, Avery went up to the news guys and made a comment about how other players seem to want to go out with his ex-girlfriends. Being the juvenile type that he is, he used the term "sloppy seconds." Well, everyone was in an uproar over that because it was derogatory towards women. Actually I think he meant it more for Dion Phaneuf of the Flames, who is dating Avery's ex, Elisha Cuthbert. Yeah, what Avery said was tasteless, but I believe in freedom of speech. Avery should be allowed to make a fool of himself. What got me was that Gary Bettman suspended Avery indefinitely, and made Avery go to New York to meet with Bettmwn. Okay! Perfectly fine for Ryan Hollweg to be a thug and board people. Fine for Todd Bertuzzi to try to kill Steve Moore on the ice. But you have to draw the line at using the words "sloppy seconds" because then you should be banned for line. Maybe Bettman is over reacting to the comment because there are so many women hockey fans that he doesn't want to alienate. All I know is that I'm female, and I'm more offended at senseless brutality on the ice.

I missed yesterday's Pens and New York Rangers game yesterday because I was in class. However, the Pens did something that they have done quite a few times in the past. They had a 2-0 lead that they blew. The Rangers tied things up, and the game went into overtime and then a shootout. Unfortunately, Dany Sabourin wasn't able to stop a single shot during the shootout. The Rangers got all three and won the game with a final score of 3-2.

Monday, December 1, 2008 -- Evening

Sidney Crosby was named NHL Player of the Week for last week. Crosby really stepped up his play last week and well deserves the award.