The Daily Bongo

December 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 -- Evening

Crosby and Fleury: Olympians
The Canadian Olympic hockey team members were named today, and both Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury made the cut. The Vancouver Olympics will be from February 12 through February 28. Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luengo are the other goalies who will be on the team. Crosby will be an alternate capital. Scott Niedermayer is the captain, and Chris Pronger and Jarome Iginla are the other alternates.
Pens versus Devils
The Pens were in New Jersey to play the Devils this evening. Brent Johnson was in goal to give Fleury a rest. Unfortunately, the Devils were the first to score with a quick goal in the first two minutes of the game. The Pens picked up their game a smidge in the second period, but the team as a whole just seemed to be lackluster. In general, any games between the Pens and the Devils is incredibly boring, and this game was no exception. The Pens weren't able to get one past Martin Brodeur. The Devils scored an empty net goal when Johnson was pulled in the final minute of the game. The Pens were shutout. Final score: Devils 2 - Pens 0.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Sabres
The Pens drove up to Buffalo yesterday to play the Sabres. Unfortunately, there was a snow storm, and the Pens bus got stuck. Dan Potash mentioned in the pre-game show that Dan Byslma had to get out with some of the other staff to push the bus. Marc-Andre Fleury was in goal for the Pens. The Pens were the first to score with a goal by Jordan Staal. Then Bill Guerin scored another at the end of the first to give the Pens a 2-0 lead. The Sabres have been having problems in several of their first periods lately, and Ryan Miller hasn't been as hot then, which is weird because he leads the NHL in goals against and save percentage. The second period started with Chris Kunitz scoring (with an assist by Sidney Crosby) at 1:28 into the second period. Lindy Ruff pulled Ryan Miller at that point, and put in Patrick Lalime. Miller was really pissed and threw his gloves when he got to the bench. The Sabres were attacking the net, and Fleury was out out of the net. Jay McKee through himself on the puck, and the call from the refs (and Toronto) was no goal, but the Sabres were awarded a penalty shot. Drew Stafford was able to score against Fleury to give the Sabres a goal. A few minutes later, a more relaxed Stafford scored another goal for the Sabres to make the score 3-2. In the third period, Thomas Vanek was knocked into Fleury. Fleury had been knocked to the ice, and Vanek just came right down and bounced his butt off of Fleury's chest. It took a few minutes for Fleury to get his wind back. The Sabres got the lead with a power play goal in the middle of the third period. It came down to a frenzied shooting fest on the part of the Pens in the final minute of the game, but it was too little too late. The Pens weren't able to score against Lalime. The Sabres win with a final score of 4-3.

Sunday, December 27, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Maple Leafs
The Pens returned from the Christmas break to play the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Pens have three games over the next four days. Marc-Andre Fleury was in goal tonight, and unfortunately, let in a goal less than three minutes into the first period. Good news for the Pens when a few minutes later, Matt Cooke took the puck down the ice with a two on one, and powered the puck past Vesa Toskala to tie the game. Jordan Staal was on the ice without his full mask. He work only a plastic half-shield. The Leafs got another goal in the first period to take the lead. I know that I started to think that the Pens were playing poorly because they were wearing the dreaded blue jerseys. For some reason, they seem to lose games when they wear blue at home. The Pens only had four shots on goal in the first period. Sidney Crosby tied things again in the second for his 23rd goal of the year. It was a back and forth game though, and the period ended with the Leafs again in the lead. Mike Rupp scored with only minutes left in the game to tie things, but the Leafs got the lead right back seconds later. Final score: Pens 3 - Maple Leafs 4.

Sunday, December 27, 2009 -- Late Afternoon

Steelers versus Ravens
The Steelers played their final home game of the season against the Baltimore Ravens. I wouldn't say that the Steelers won the game so much as the Ravens shot themselves in the foot with penalties. Of course, I think that the Steelers really needed to thank the refs for calling ticky-tacky penalties against the Ravens while ignoring calls against the Steelers. As a Steeler fan, I would say that the Steelers should really thank the refs for the calls. In one play in particular, Joe Flacco, the Ravens' quarterback, threw the ball to a receiver in the end zone. But there was a pass interference that wasn't called. As Mike Tomlin said after the game, "we need a break, because we've had our share of the opposite." The only thing is that I don't think that they will get in the playoffs with this sort of play, AND if they do manage to make it, I can't see them getting very far. After all, even in this game, the Steelers had great difficulty in getting the ball into the end zone. Final score: Steelers 23 - Ravens 20.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Senators
The Pens played the Ottawa Senators this evening. Jordan Staal was back on the ice. It seems that he didn't break his nose after all. He had five stitches to close up the horseshoe cut over his nose, and the rest of it was glued. The cut goes from one nostril, up the side of the nose, over the bridge, and then down the side to the other nostril. The game was a shooting match for the Senators had 24 shots on goal in the first period! Daniel Alfreddson also got a really hard hit in the first period that took him out of the game. It seems he may have hurt his shoulder in the hit. While it was a shooting match for the Senators, it was a scoring match for the Pens. Evgeni Malkin finally got out of his scoring slump, that was mentioned in the local papers this morning. By the end of the second period, Marc-Andre Fleury had stopped 38 of 39 shots, and the Pens had scored six goals (five in the second). Chris Kunitz had four points (goal and three assists) in the second. Pascal LeClaire was pulled when the Senators started the third period, but the scoring didn't stop. Malkin got his third goal for his fourth career hat trick. The Senators got one more goal with less than two minutes left in the game, but the Pens won with a final score of Pens 8 - Senators 2.

Monday, December 21, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Devils
The New Jersey Devils were in town tonight to play the Pens. The Devils really seem to have the Pens number, and they have won both of the games against the Pens this season, and both were at Mellon Arena. That's not a good record. The Devils scored a goal in the first period, and then a power play goal early in the second period. As is normal for a Devils game, the play was rather boring. Poor Jordan Staal was going after the puck behind Martin Brodeur when the puck flew up and whacked Staal in the nose. Blood started pouring out, and Matt Cooke and the trainer had to help Staal off the ice. In fact, by the time Staal got to the door to the leave the ice, it didn't look as if he could pick up his feet. It did not look good. After that, things went down hill. The Devils got two more goals in the second period, and Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled. Bob Errey was making a joke that in the past eight games, Fleury hasn't let in a goal in the third period, and that he wouldn't let one in in this game. Because Fleury was pulled. Funny, but cruel. As the horrible second period was ending, Max Talbot, Dean McAmmond, and Peter Elias got into a fight. Talbot and McAmmond got 10 minute misconducts in addition to a roughing. Elias just got a roughing. In the scrum, the ref got whacked in the nose and had to stuff a tampon in his nose to staunch the bleeding. Brodeur was trying to break Terry Sawchuck's record of 103 shutouts in this game. Staal came back at the start of the third with a full face mask on. His nose was so swollen and cut up. It's amazing that Staal can even breath. Boy, talk about hockey chutzpah. In the last minute of the game, the Pens put on a rush to try to score to not give Brodeur a shutout, but Brodeur make a great glove save on Evgeni Malkin. But nothing could stop Brodeur who got the 104th career shutout for a new NHL record. The Devils win with a final score of 4-0.

Sunday, December 20, 2009 -- Evening

Steelers versus Packers
Somehow the Steelers managed to eke out a win against the Green Bay Packers. I would love to say that the Steelers played well, but they didn't. The only thing that they did was get less penalties that the Packers. In fact, the game was so tight, that the Steelers only won because Ben Rothelisberger managed to contact with Mike Wallace in the end zone with 0 seconds left on the clock to tie the game. Then Jeff Reed kicked the extra point to win the game. Final score was Steelers 37 - Packers 36.

Saturday, December 19, 2009 -- Late Evening

Let it Snow
We finally had a fairly decent snow fall today. The snow started last night and continued through most of the day. I think that in total, we had around five or six inches of snow. We were very lucky because in areas south of Pittsburgh, like Washington, DC, they had over 18 inches of snow. Although I would like to have a nice good snow fall, and be snow bound.
Pens versus Sabres
I missed the game, but the Pens were able to win tonight's game in a shootout. It seems that Marc-Andre Fleury did a great job in goal, and so did Patrick Lalime, former Pens' goalie. The final score: Pens 2 - Sabres 1.

Thursday, December 17, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Flyers
The rematch between the Pens and the Philadelphia Flyers took place in Philadelphia this evening. The Flyers were the first to score, getting a goal in just a little over a minute into the game. But the Billy Guerin quickly tied thins up for the Pens. Sidney Crosby got his 22nd goal in the second period. Again, it was an answering goal for one the Flyers made earlier in the second period. Both sides were playing well, and both goalies, Marc-Andre Fleury and Brian Boucher were making good saves. The game remained tied through regulation, and went into overtime. Brooks Orpik and Dan Carcillo both got called for slashing penalties on each other, which lead to an interesting three on three situation. Unfortunately, neither side seemed able to score during the overtime, and the game went into a shootout. The Flyers went first with Daniel Briere, and Fleury stopped him. Then it was time for Kris Letang. He shot a rocket past Boucher. Then it was Claude Giroux, but Fleury poke-checked him to stop the goal. Next up was Crosby, and he also got a good shot that flew past Boucher. Who's the star here? Letang or Crosby who scored, or Fleury who stopped two shooters? Final score: Pens 3 - Flyers 2.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Flyers
The Pens played the Broadstreet Bullies, the Philadelphia Flyers, this evening at Mellon Arena. There were three fights shortly after the five minute mark of the first period. Time between the first fight and the third? 16 seconds. The first fight, at 5:17, was between Mike Rupp and Arron Asham. Fight number two, at 5:23, was between Eric Godard and Riley Cote. The third fight, at 5:33, was between was between Craig Adams and Dan Carcillo. Adams really isn't a fighter, and Carcillo got the best of him. By the end of the first period, the Pens had goals from Sidney Crosby, Billy Guerin, and Jordan Staal, while the Flyers had one from Carcillo. The Flyers sort of died after the first period. Staal got a second goal in the second period, and Ruslan Fedotenko and Evgeni Malkin both got goals in the third period. Final score was Pwns 6 - Flyers 1. The teams meet up again on Thursday, maybe without Guerin or Staal who suffered injuries late in the game. The Pens now have the best record in the NHL after tonight's win.

Saturday, December 12, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Panthers
The Pens were back in action against the Florida Panthers this evening. Brent Johnson was in goal for the Pens to give Marc-Andre Fleury a much needed rest. The Panthers were the first to score, but Pascal Dupuis is on a streak, and he got a goal shortly afterwards. At 16:51, the Panthers Mike Duco got cross-checking for knocking Jay McKee into Johnson. McKee's head hit Johnson, who landed back in the goal. They called a trainer out for Johnson, but it seems he was okay. In the second period, Ruslan Fedotenko got his first goal in 14 games. He got himself right in front of the net, and was able to get a pass from Evgeni Malkin into the net. The Panthers tied things in the third, and the game went into overtime. In overtime, Jordan Staal got dragged down, and the Pens had a power play. Within seconds, Malkin finally got a goal to win the game for the Pens. Ironically, Malkin had said in an interview yesterday that he would score today, because he hasn't had a goal in the past several games. Final score: Pens 3 - Panthers 2.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Canadiens
It was a busy sports night in the 'Burgh. Well, a busy TV night for sports, since both teams were playing out of town. First up was the Pens, who were playing the Montreal Canadiens. The team wanted a win after the poor showing in the past two games. The Pens came out wanting to win, and they got the first goal from Sergie Gonchar who got the puck in the net after a nice pass from Billy Guerin. In the second period, the Canadiens got two fairly quick goals. But the Pens never let things like that get under their skin. Matt Cooke got the tying goal in the waning minutes of the second. Pascal Dupuis was the hometown hero with his go-ahead goal in the third period to give the Pens the win. There was a ton of extremely loud booing when a goal was called off for the Canadiens because the refs blew the whistle right before the puck went into the net. The booing went on for the final three minutes of the game. But the Pens managed to hold off the attack to win. Final score: Pens 3 - Canadiens 2.
Steelers versus Browns
The Steelers were in Cleveland tonight to play the Browns. Mike Tomlin has said in his press conference that he was going thinking of bench some starters because of poor performance. BTW, Hines Ward, who said that he would lie and play hurt, was playing with a supposed sore knee. The Steelers were playing very poorly in the first half. Yes, it was cold and windy. Yes, they were playing into the wind for one of the quarters in the first half, but that doesn't explain how the Browns' defense sacks Ben Roethlisberger five times in less than two quarters. The Browns scored first with a field goal, then they got another field goal, and a touchdown. With a 13-0 lead, the Steelers got the ball, and managed to use their three time outs to get the ball down the field in a minute. Unfortunately, they ran out of time, and had to set for a field goal. The Steelers went into the locker room at half time down 10 points. The Steelers played like losers throughout the second half, and guess what? They lost. Yep, the Cleveland Browns now have two wins for the season, and the Steelers have to admit that they are imploding. Not much chance for a playoff wildcard bid if the Steelers continue to play like crap. Final score: Steelers 6 - Browns 13.

Monday, December 7, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Hurricanes
Boy, it seems as if the Pens are playing every day this season. Tonight they were playing the Carolina Hurricanes. That's what happens with the Olympic break coming this February. For some reason, the Pens didn't seem to be on top of their game. The first period was bad, and the Hurricanes took advantage, getting two goals. Then the second period started with another goal by the Hurricanes. But the Pens were done, within 49 seconds of each other, the Pens scored two goals: one by Sidney Crosby and another by Mike Rupp. Things quieted down for both sides. The Hurricanes were trying to shut down the Pens, and it worked until the end of the third period when the Pens, especially Crosby, tried really hard to get a win, but the Hurricanes were due. They got their first road win, and beat the Pens with a final score of 3-2.

Sunday, December 6, 2009 -- Evening

Steelers versus Raiders
The Steelers were playing the Oakland Raiders here in Pittsburgh today, and it was a very frustrating game to watch. I have to admit that I joined Steeler Nation in thinking that the Steelers should definitely win this game. After all, if they didn't, it would be the fourth loss in a row. Plus, the Raiders came in to the game with three wins and eight losses. Of course, something was telling me to pick the Raiders in my Beat Bob pool, and I should have. The Steelers were definitely lackluster. In fact, they had a four point lead that in the fourth quarter that they gave up with nine seconds left in the game. The defense was practically non-existent, and there were bad plays by several of the players that undid any of the good plays by others. The Steelers have probably waved good-bye to their playoff dreams for this season, since their only hope would be to get a wildcard. Now next week, the Steelers should be the Cleveland Browns. If they don't, they should just hang their heads in shame.

Saturday, December 5, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks were in town today to play the Pens, and we all know what that means: an audience full of Marian Hossa haters. Sidney Crosby didn't play in this evening's game because of a sore groin problem. That's a problem that Crosby has been plagued with for a few years now. The first five minutes of the game went by without a single shot on goal by either team. When the first shot went to Marc-Andre Fleury, it almost went in because of the lack of action, I'm sure. Unfortunately, the first person to score was Hossa. That elicited boos from the crowd, and gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead. The game was an extremely boring one. Antti Niemi did a great job in goal for the Blackhawks, stealing a few goals from the Pens. It was looking dire for the Pens. The Pens called a time out with less than two minutes left in the game. Fleury got on the bench, and Jordan Staal, who had been begging to stay on the ice, was on, all the way near the Blackhawks' bench during the face off. Well, Staal went casually to the net, and got a rebound from Evgeni Malkin to tie things up. The game went to into overtime. The reason the game seemed so boring is that there was a ton of skating and passing in the neutral zone, and little shooting, and the overtime wasn't much different. The Blackhawks took advantage, and did some scrumming in front of Fleury to get the puck into the net. That's what happens when you have someone in front of the net, and others shooting at the net. The Pens were lucky to get a point in the game because Niemi was hot in goal. Final score: Pens 1 - Blackhawks 2.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche were in town to play the Pens this evening. The Avalanche had played yesterday, and it showed in the way they were playing today. They seemed to be tired and a few steps behind the Pens. The Avalanche were able to come on late in last night's game, but the Pens dominated. Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal both got empty net goals in the final minute of the game (18 seconds apart). In fact, the Avs only had one shot on goal in the third period, with a total of 16 shots. Final score: Pens 4 - Avs 1.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 -- Early Morning

What Goes Around, Comes Around
While strains of Alanis Morissette's Isn't It Ironic wafted through my brain, I watched the video of Alexander Ovechkin initiating a knee on knee with the Carolina Hurricanes Tim Gleason. Unfortunately for poor Ovechkin, he's the one who writhed around on the ice with an injured knee, not Gleason. I feel no sympathy at all for Ovechkin. In fact, I'm glad that he injured himself. After all, Ovechkin has pulled this move before. Remember Sergei Gonchar in the playoffs? Ovechkin got away with it because he is one of hockey's elite. Well, in yesterday's game, Ovechkin got much deserved five minute penalty and game misconduct for kneeing. Hmmm! He hasn't gotten this penalty before even though we all know he has performed the same move. The only thing I can thing is that Ovechkin got the penalty because he injured an elite player with his stupid kneeing move: himself. All I know is that I was quite happy to see Ovechkin being helped off the ice because he couldn't use his leg. Better him than Gleason.