The Daily Bongo
Friday, February 27, 2009 -- EveningThe Pens started their 11 day road trip in Chicago, playing the Blackhawks. Sidney Crosby sat out the game tonight with his groin injury. In the lineup was Chris Kunitz. First to score less than four minutes into the game was Jordan Staal. Before the halfway point of the first period, Kunitz, on the same line as Staal and Kennedy, scored his first goal for the Pens. The Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews got one of the goals back before the period ended. The first period was a good one for the Pens, and Staal had a hand in both points. The second period was an interesting one. Toews got a second goal to tie things up, and then it looked like he got a third for his first career hat trick. Howeer, the refs called it off because of a high stick on the puck. That was sad because the fans had thrown their give-away hard hats on to the ice for the hat trick. Then Miroslav Satan and Max Talbot both got goals to give the Pens a 4-2 lead going into the third period. Less than two minutes into the third period, Toews got his hat trick when he scored his third goal. Surprisingly, there were still people with hats to fling onto the ice. Dave Bolland scored the tying goal for the Blackhawks at the 15 minute mark. The Pens weren't able to score again in regulation, and the game went into overtime. Evgeni Malkin was bound and determined to score and do so in OT to give the Pens the win. The game was an interesting one to watch. There were moments of brillant play by the Pens and moments of pure crap. In the third period, the Pens only had four shots on goal in comparison to the Blackhawks 20. The team did seem happier on the bench, and maybe that is a good thing because there were scores from everyone. Although I noticed that happens more when Crosby doesn't play. I think that when plays the puck centers mostly around him, with players tossing him the puck all the time. In a way, I wonder if the reliance on Crosby isn't a part of the Pens problem because Crosby isn't consistent and isn't always in the best spot for the shot on goal. Anyway, a win for the Pens with a final score of Pens 5 - Blackhawks 4. The Pens are still one point back in 10th place, but only two points separate 10th from 6th place.
Thursday, February 26, 2009 -- EveningSurprise, surprise! The Pens traded Ryan Whitney to the Anaheim Ducks for left winger Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi, who is in the Junior Majors. So the question is how good of a deal is this? I don't see what it really brings to the Pens because the costs of both players are the same, so it isn't a salary dump. And Kunitz seems to have the same point average as Whitney, 35 points in 62 games compared to Whitney's 13 points in 28 games. Granted, Kunitz has more goals. Also Kunitz isn't a skirt-wearing, purse carrier. Yep, that means he's not afraid to hit somebody. I guess we will have to see how this works out over the span of away games that the Pens have over the next two weeks. The big question is whether Ray Shero will make any other trades before the deadline on Wednesday, March 4.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 -- EveningThe Pens played New York Islanders here in Pittsburgh this evening. I didn't go to the game because I sold the tickets. The temperatures were warmer here today, up near 50 degrees, and it affected the ice at Mellon Arena. The announcers were talking about how the ice was wet and in bad shape. This was one of the most boring games I have seen in a long time. The announcers even commented that the goal horn woke up the audience when it went off for a puck that went off the crossbar and wasn't a goal. The only goal of the game came from Petr Sykora with only 2:28 left in the game. Final score Pens 1 - Islanders 0.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 -- AfternoonSidney Crosby is going to be sitting out tonight's Pens vs. Islanders game with a groin injury. Kris Letang will be back on the ice after being a healthy scratch for the past three games. Everyone has been talking about how McFly has been having a young, energetic player like Letang sitting on the sidelines while crappy Ryan Whitney plays. I think that Letang is getting his chance tonight because Whitney won't be playing due to family issues.
Sunday, February 22, 2009 -- EveningThe Pens were in action again this afternoon against the Washington Capitals. For some strange reason, Dan Bylsma, aka George McFly, had a problem with Mathieu Garon and didn't want to start him. So Marc-Andre Fleury had to start two games in a row. Unfortunately, Fleury needed a rest, and it showed in his performance. After the fifth Capital goal in the second period, McFly pulled Fleury and put Garon in goal. The Capitals scored first and dominated throughout the game. Max Talbot and Sergei Gonchar both scored goals for the Pens. Alex Ovechkin put salt in Sidney Crosby's frustrations over the game by doing some shoving, and that really did get under Crosby's skin. I don't think the two recent wins really showed that there was much change in the Pens. Unfortunately, the Pens are still firmly in 10th place. Final score for today's game: Pens 2 - Capitals 5.
Saturday, February 21, 2009 -- EveningThe Pens played the Philadelphia Flyers in an afternoon game that was pretty much a duplicate in style and energy of Thursday night's game. Even the outcome and score were the same. The Pens had a 3-1 lead going into the third period and let the Flyers tie things up. Then both teams exchanged goals before the Pens finally took and kept the lead. Ruslan Fedotenko had two goals and an assist, quickly returning to the form he showed before he broke his hand. Sidney Crosby had two goals and two assists, and Evgeni Malkin had one goal and one assist. The Pens are still in tenth place, but who knows what will happen since the Montreal Canadiens seem intent on self-destructing. Finals score for today's game: Pens 5 - Flyers 4.
Friday, February 20, 2009 -- AfternoonThe Pens played the slumping Montreal Canadiens last night, and although it was a win, it wasn't a very pretty game. The Pens played with little energy through the first two periods. They came out abit more energized in the third period and scored two quick goals. Looking good you say? Think again, when they let the Canadiens score two more back to tie things up. Finally, Sergei Gonchar scored the winning goal, and the Pens managed to keep the Canadiens from scoring an answering goal. It was a disappointing game because the Canadiens have been slumping lately and lost in a shootout against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night. So that was the best the rested Pens could do against a team playing for the second night. I was very underimpressed. Of course, I didn't think Dan Bylsma, aka George McFly, could do much in less than a week. The problem isn't coaching but the players themselves. We'll have to see how they do agains the Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers this weekend. At least the Pens got two points to put them within four points of eighth place. There was a "fight" in the game: a rather lackluster affair between Georges Laraque and Eric Godard. I don't think a single punch was thrown. The Pens win with a final score of 5-4.
Thursday, February 19, 2009 -- Late EveningPictures, video, and game recap from tonight's Pens vs. Montreal Canadiens game will be posted Friday afternoon. Check the game recaps page for information on this season's home and away games.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009 -- MorningFans still have issues understanding Ray Shero's firing of Michel Therrien. While I was watching one of the local sports shows, one commentator said that it would have made more sense to try for a trade first. It's obvious to most that the problem wasn't Therrien, but the motley collection of players that Shero threw together. I understand that Shero couldn't fire himself for his incompetence, but why not try a trade first? The thing that struck me the most was Shero's comment about Therrien: "He was very loyal to me. When we got together three years ago, I don't think a lot of people thought that was possible." How does Shero repay loyalty? By a blindside firing. All I have to say is that if you are associated with Shero, you probably shouldn't turn your back on him or you might find a knive between your shoulder blades.
Monday, February 16, 2009 -- AfternoonMichel Therrien is a class act. While he was cleaning out his office this morning, he said that he thought there were good things ahead for the Pens and that he was sure that they would make the playoffs. I'm not as positive because I think that the problem wasn't Therrien but the group of players that Ray Shero threw together. Sidney Crosby also said that he was surprised at the firing. However, as everyone will admit, the team isn't performing up to expectations, and Shero isn't about to fire himself. An informal analysis of comments made on fan sites and local call-in shows, show that 90% of the fans don't think that Therrien was the problem. I'm really not sure about this Dan Bylsma. He looks like someone straight out of the 1950s, and when you are 38 and look that way, there's something wrong with you. He doesn't look like he has a great deal of backbone, sort of like Marty McFly's dad in Back to the Future. I guess that it matters how good a coach he is, but since he's 38 and has little experience in the NHL, I don't have alot of hope. So can you tell which is George McFly or Dan Bylsma?
The Pens played the New York Islanders this afternoon. The Islanders were the first to score, but Evgeni Malkin tied things up before the first period ended. The Islanders scored again in the second period to take the lead again. Marc-Andre Fleury thought he had the puck, but he didn't, and the Islanders easily knocked it in. Fortunately, Ryan Whitney managed to score one to tie things again. What was disappointing is that the Islanders are a really bad team. The Pens weren't playing that well against them. Just good enough to keep the game tied. Unfortunately, the Pens were the usual selves in this game, and the game went into overtime. When you go into overtime with one of the worst teams in the NHL, you know you have a problem. The game went into a shootout. The Islanders scored on the first try, and so did Petr Sykora. Then Jeff Tambelini scored for the Islanders. Malkin was next for the Pens, and he didn't score. Kyle Okposo was next for the Islanders, and Fleury stopped him. Then it was Sidney Crosby's turn, and he wasn't able to score. The worst team in the NHL beat the Pens. Pitiful display, although the local announcers were claiming it was a solid effort. A loss against a crappy team. Final score: Pens 2 - Islanders 3.
Sunday, February 15, 2009 -- EveningShocking news released by the Pens just a few minutes ago at 8:40 p.m. Michel Therrien has been fired as head coach! I knew that something was probably going to happen and yesterday's abysmal loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs last night was the final straw. Unfortunately, I don't think that Therrien is the problem. Since he has been coach, the team has been over-performing, at least until this season. I think the biggest problem with this season are the loser deals that Ray Shero made that left the team with a bunch of under producing losers, like Miroslav Satan. The Pens are bringing up Dan Bylsma from the Baby Pens. That's where they got Therrien from a few years ago. Andre Savard is being moved elsewhere within the organization, but Michel Yeo and Gilles Meloche will remain in their current positions.
Saturday, February 14, 2009 -- Late EveningNot only was Sergei Gonchar back in the lineup, but Ruslan Fedotenko was back for the Pens' game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Pens started out well getting two goals in the first nine miinutes of the game. Things went down hill from there with the Maple Leafs scoring five of six goals in the third period. This was a depressing game, and afterwards, the local station showed Evgeni Malkin sitting depressed in the locker room. It's easy to say that goaltending is a problem. Yes, Marc-Andre Fleury does have a problem with consistency, but you can't blame him for all of the problems. I mean, the Leafs had 41 shots on goal. How can your goalie expect to survive when he's in a shooting gallery? Of course, Sidney Crosby wasn't much of a scoring factor. Matt Cooke and Bill Thomas had goals, and Malkin, Kris Letang, and Jordan Staal had assists. How can the problem with the Pens be fixed? I'm not sure. I don't think that Michel Therrien or Ray Shero have an idea either. Final score: Pens 2 - Maple Leafs 6.
Saturday, February 14, 2009 -- Late AfternoonSergei Gonchar has been cleared to play for the Pens and may play in tonight's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. There has been some controversy over the situation because Gonchar appears to be reluctance to play. Although he is physically able to play, Gonchar doesn't think that he is where he wants to be to contribute at a high level. Also there are huge expectations on his shoulders. Everyone seems to think that with Gonchar back, the Pens will go on a winning streak and make the playoffs. That's alot of pressure on Gonchar's 34 year-old injured shoulder. It's easy to understand his reluctance. The Pens are currently in 10th place, tied at 59 points with the Florida Panthers who are in 9th. 8th place Buffalo Sabres has 64 points.
Thursday, February 12, 2009 -- AfternoonThe Pens played San Jose Sharks last night here in PIttsburgh. The Sharks had played on Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins. The Sharks won in the third period, so they were on the tired side tonight. Also, Evgeni Nabokov sat out the game, and backup goalie, Brian Boucher was in goal. Marc-Andre Fleury was in goal for the Pens, and he did a stellar job in this game, earning the number one star of the game. The Pens weren't able to generate much offense, but then neither were the Sharks. Bill Thomas got his first NHL goal in the second period to give the Pens the early lead, but the Sharks scored in the third to tie things up. The game went into overtime, and even though the Pens got a power play opportunity in the overtime, they weren't able to take avantage of it. As everyone was screaming in the arena, "shoot the puck." But they appear to look for the perfect opportunity rather than tossing the puck to the net and making an opportunity. The game went into a shootout, and Fleury stopped all three of the Shark shooters. Fortunately, Sidney Crosby scored as the third shooter for the Pens to win the game. Final score: Pens 2 - Sharks 1. Check out my pictures of the game.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009 -- Late EveningPictures, video, and game recap from tonight's Pens vs. San Jose Sharks game will be posted Thursday afternoon. Check the game recaps page for information on this season's home and away games.
Monday, February 9, 2009 -- Late AfternoonBen Roethlisberger told Sports Illustrated that he played with broken ribs in the Super Bowl. I'm not sure what it is about Roethlisberger, but he seems to revile in proclaiming AFTER the game that he played the game with some sort of injury. The Steelers are saying that they know nothing about it. Roethlisberger claims that the x-rays were okay before the game, but an MRI after the game showed that he had two broken ribs. I really wonder about Roethlisberger. I'm not sure if he is a guy who soldiers through injury or if he makes up injuries to make it seem like he's even better than he is.
Sunday, February 8, 2009 -- Late AfternoonIt was a hockey afternoon in PIttsburgh today. Mellon Arena was filled with season ticket holders (who did not sell off their tickets to this game) to see the Pens play the Detroit Red Wings. Everyone booed Marian Hossa whenever he was on the ice or touched the puck. There is alot of hatred towards Hossa because he chose the "sure" Stanley Cup team over the "possible" Stanley Cup team. It seems that he made the right choice based on the level of play of the Pens this past season. The Pens played like a team without chemistry and without the knowledge of how to score points. Ty Conklin was in goal for the Red Wings and earned a shut out in today's game. It was really a disapointing game, and some of the people around me were commenting on how Ray Shero better made a good trade soon. The thing is that I don't think a trade will help. This team just really lacks basic teamwork. Final score: Red Wings 3 - Pens 0. Check out my pictures of the game.
Friday, February 6, 2009 -- EveningI have been under the weather with a very bad cold which just keeps getting worse instead of better. Because of this, I didn't go to the Pens and Columbus Blue Jackets game. I don't even know if I have ever seen the Blue Jackets play in Pittsburgh. There was no score in the first period, but Kris Letang and Petr Sykora scored in the second. In fact, Letang got two goals in the second. Marc-Andre Fleury was doing a great job in goal, but he wasn't able to stop a Fedor Tyutin goal half way through the third period. The Pens weren't to be denied, and they went on to win the game with a final score of Pens 4 - Blue Jackets 1. On Sunday afternoon, the Pens will play the Detroit Red Wings.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009 -- EveningThe Pens played the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening. Jeff Reed was there to drop the puck with Sidney Crosby, and former PIttsburgher, Ryan Malone, taking the face-off. Reed has been to quite a few Pens game, and he had on an old Mario Lemieux jersey. When Reed came out, so did the Terrible Towels. People have been bringing in their towels for weeks now. Later in the first period, we got to see Ben Roethlisberger in the box with Mario. Meanwhile, Jeff Reed was in a seat with the general public. This was also the 1000th game that Miroslav Satan played in. There was some concern that Satan might be a healthy scratch this evening because he has really been an under-performer this season. But they put him in the game and honored him for the 1000th game. Ryan Malone got the first goal of the game. Even though Tampa Bay has not had a great season, they still seem to have the Pens number. By the beginning of the third period, the Lightning had a 3-0 lead. The Pens went on a scoring frenzy, especially Evgeni Malkin, and the game was tied and went into overtime. Evgeni Malkin took advantage of one of the Lightning defensemen losing his stick to score the winning goal in overtime. Final score: Pens 4 - Lightning 3.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009 -- AfternoonI wasn't feeling well last night and missed watching the Pens game last night. They played the Montreal Canadiens. The Pens had called up Luca Caputi from the minors. In his first shirt in the NHL, Caputi scored a goal. Not bad at all for a young kid. Unfortunately, the rest of the Pens weren't playing as well. There were both offensive and defensive lapses that did us in. At one point, Marc-Andre Fleury misplayed a puck behind the net, and the Canadiens got it in for a goal. (I believe that was the first goal for them.) There were also poor turnovers in the Pens' end and at mid-ice. All in all, not a great game, and I didn't miss much by not seeing it. The final score: Canadiens 4 - Pens 2.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009 -- Early EveningI went to the Steelers' parade today. The parade started at noon in downtown Pittsburgh, and i got there on a very packed bus around 11:15. It was cold outside, but no one seemed to care as they crowded around the parade route. I did my best to get some pictures of the event. It was really exciting. Even though I was sick with a cold and freezing in the cold, I wouldn't have missed it for anything.
Tyler Kennedy was suspended for one game because of his fight the other night when the Pens played the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was suspended because he came off the bench to engage in the fight. Other news for the Pens is that Sergei Gonchar did some contact practice. So he should be coming back sooner rather than later. Also, Ruslan Fedotenko might be back by next week.