The Daily Bongo

January 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens played the Atlanta Thrashers in the first of a seven back to back games that the Pens have between now and the end of the season. In fact, in February, there are two weeks with games on both Saturday and Sunday. Ty Conklin started tonight's game too, and that might have been a bad decision. The Thrashers proceeded to just score away on the Pens. The first goal was indicative of the evening, when the puck went off of Conklin's skate and into the net. Jarkko Ruutu was given a game misconduct for a check that resulted in a knee on knee hit with Ilya Kovalchuk. Poor Ruutu also got a penalty for fighting in addition to the game misconduct when Steve McCarthy started hitting Ruutu for the check. I hate to see any player get hurt, so it wasn't a good thing when Kovalchuk left the game and didn't come back after the check. Finally after two and a half periods of no goals, Ryan Whitney finally got one for the Pens.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens came back from the All-Star break to play the New Jersey Devils this evening. Kris Beech was not playing tonight because he has visa problems and was stuck in Canada. Since the Pens were short on offensive power, Brooks Orpik was called into action as a forward. It didn't look like it was going to be a good game for the Pens in the first period when the Devils took the early lead. However, the Pens came back to tie things up with a goal by Jordan Staal. The Devils pulled ahead again (with Mike Rupp scoring both Devils' goals.) The Pens were not to be detered, and they came on again to tie things up. Then Ryan Malone scored two more to give the Pens a 4-2 lead. Once the Pens had a two point lead, they started playing the neutral zone trap, the trick that the Devils play when they have the lead. The Pens managed to hold off the Devils to win! Final score is Pens 4 - Devils 2.

One year after Barbaro was euthanized, his owners, the Jacksons, have announced that his ashes and a bronze statue will be placed at the entrance of Churchill Downs. As Roy Jackson said, his favorite memory of Barbaro is his win at the Kentucky Derby. Barbaro is the first Derby winner to be buried on the grounds at Churchill Downs.

Sunday, January 27, 2008 -- Late Morning

The Pens claimed Kris Beech off of waivers from the Washington Capitals yesterday. They have a shortage of centers with Sidney Crosby out for an extended period. It's funny that Beech is back because he used to be with the Pens in the 2003/2004 season. Beech was a tad of a disappointment, but times are deperate for the Pens.

The NHL Skills competition was yesterday, and the All-Star game is tonight at 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, January 24, 2008 -- Evening

There is news on the Pens front over the past two days. First is that Tyler Kennedy will be out indefinitely with mononucleosis. It seems that the Pens just can't win this season. Either someone is getting injuried, or they are suffering from infection (as was the case with Ryan Malone) or illness. The only thing that we can hope si that things settle down over the next few months, and that the Pens are playing at full force later in the season, especially if the Pens get into the playoffs.

Other news is that the Pens will be starting the 2008-2009 season in Europe. The NHL will announce during the All-Star week that the Pens and the Ottawa Senators will start the season in Stockholm, Sweden. The games should be on the weekend of October 4 and 5, and games will be played on both days.

The Pens played the Philadelphia Flyers this evening. There has been alot of bad blood between the two teams, and it has intensified over the past season. Georges Laraque and Riley Cote engaged is some fisticuffs two minutes into the game. Evgeni Malkin scored again in this game. He has really been on a hot streak over the past few weeks. Both sides traded goals through the first two periods to be tied at two goals. Then with three second left in the second period, Laraque made a stupid decision by shoving Steve Downie, who went into the boards headfirst. That resulted in a five minute penalty which carried into the third period. It also resulted in a game misconduct and will probably lead to Laraque being suspended for a game. The Pens weren't able to pull out a win and lost to the Flyers with a final score of 3-4.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens played the Washington Capitals last night, and it was a high scoring game. Unfortunately, Dany Sabourin was letting the Capitals score, and he was pulled seven minutes into the second period. Ty Conklin did a good job of stopping the bleeding, but it was too late. The game ended in a tie during regulation. Even though the Pens had a power play in overtime, and at one point had a five on three advantage (and continued to play five people even after the penalty--and there should only be four players during overtime), they could only get one shot on goal. Yes, they did score some goals, but with only 15 shots on goal, they really weren't putting on the attack as they should. The fans were screaming in frustration for the team to shoot the darned puck! Evgeni Malkin has picked up his game and had two more goals in the game. Unfortunately, the Pens lost in the shootout, but at least, they did get a point. Check out my pictures of the game.

The Pens released information about Sidney Crosby this afternoon. He has a high ankle sprain and will be out for six to eight weeks. That should mean that Crosby will be back in time for the playoffs. The news was considered worthy of a text alert from the Pens and a press conference. Because of the injury, Crosby will not be going to the NHL All-Star game next week, but in some good news, Evgeni Malkin was named as his replacement.

Monday, January 21, 2008 -- Early Afternoon

Pictures and game recap from tonight's Pens vs. Washington Capitals game will be posted Tuesday evening. Check the game recaps page for information on this season's home and away games.

Saturday, January 19, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens played the Montreal Canadiens this evening. It was their first game with out Sidney Crosby, and the team played together really well. You have to commend Michel Therrien for managing the depleted lines when Colby Armstrong left the game because of a hit that caused Arsmstrong to slide into the boards where he bruised his right hip. Petr Sykora got a shutout in the game, and Evgeni Malkin and Petr Sykora were playing very well together. Final score in the game was Pens 2 - Canadiens 0.

There were no further updates on Sidney Crosby today. They are going to reevaluate him earlier next week. It seems that the swelling is preventing them from giving an accurate prognosis. What they want to do is reduce the swelling and then give further information on the situation.

Friday, January 18, 2008 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening, and it wasn't a pretty sight. The most distressing part of the game was that Sidney Crosby left the ice only eight minutes or so into the first period when he crashed into the boards with his right leg and hurt his ankle. They announced later in the game on the jumbotron that Crosby had a high ankle sprain. That means that optimistically, Crosby will be back in four to six weeks. Crosby is going to be evaluated in more detail tomorrow. The Pens just went downhill in the game, and they lost in a shutout. The final score was 3-0. There is alot of concern among people in the audience and on the news shows about what this means for the Pens. Check out my pictures of the game.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 -- Evening

I have finally finished my pictures from last night's Pens' page.

The Pens announced that two of their rookies will be participating in the YoungStars game. Those two are Tyler Kennedy and Kris Letang. Both players have been playing really well and deserve the honor.

Monday, January 14, 2008 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the New York Rangers this evening, and it was some game. I thought that a fight might break out, and Georges Laraque did not disappoint. He and Colton Orr got into a fight in the first seven seconds of the game. The Pens went on a scoring streak in the first period with Evgeni Malkin scoring two goals. The team slumped in the second period, only putting two shots on goal in the whole 20 minutes. Ty Conklin gave a superb performance, stopping 43 of 44 shots. There were alot of tensions between the team, and things were getting pretty rough in the game with shoving, hits, and scrumming. Sidney Crosby getting held to the ice for a few seconds by one of the Rangers. Malkin got a hat trick by scoring and empty netter in the final seconds. With only two seconds left in the game, the fourth line started a general fight that finally resulted in Adam Hall and Marc Staal. Final score of the game was 4-1 with the Pens winning another. Check out my videos of the Laraque and Orr and Hall and Staal fights. My pictures from the game will be posted tomorrow evening.

Monday, January 14, 2008 -- Afternoon

Pictures and game recap from tonight's Pens vs. New York Rangers game will be posted Tuesday evening. Check the game recaps page for information on this season's home and away games.

Saturday, January 12, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens played the Thrashers this evening. This is the first time that the Pens have played against Mark Recchi since he went to Atlanta. Sidney Crosby scored first for the Pens 5:23 into the game. Unfortunately, Ilya Kovalchuk tied things up for the Thrashers. In the second period, Crosby was getting banged around by the Thrashers, and he fought back the best way he scoring another goal to give the Pens the lead again. At the beginning of the third period during a four minutes power play on a penalty against Petr Sykora for high sticking (and causing bleeding), the Thrashers scored during a scrum at the net. Ty Conklin didn't have a chance. The game ended in regulation in a tie and went into overtime. Although both teams had chances in overtime, neither scored, and it went to a shoot out. 13, 18, 17. The Thrashers went first, but Conklin stopped Vyacheslav Kozlov. Then came Petr Sykora who was stopped. Then Conklin made a great save off of Marian Hossa. Conklin just pulled the puck back from the line before it crossed. Kris Letang was stopped. Now it was down to Kovalchuk who was stopped by Conklin. The third shooter for the Pens was Crosby, and he missed the net! Fourth for the Thrashers was Mark Recchi, who scored! Damn him! Then it was down to Evgeni Malkin who just couldn't get the puck up to score. The Thrashers won in the shoot out. At least we got a point out of it. Final score was Pens 2 - Thrashers 3.

Saturday, January 12, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens played the Thrashers this evening. This is the first time that the Pens have played against Mark Recchi since he went to Atlanta. Sidney Crosby scored first for the Pens 5:23 into the game. Unfortunately, Ilya Kovalchuk tied things up for the Thrashers. In the second period, Crosby was getting banged around by the Thrashers, and he fought back the best way he scoring another goal to give the Pens the lead again. At the beginning of the third period during a four minutes power play on a penalty against Petr Sykora for high sticking (and causing bleeding), the Thrashers scored during a scrum at the net. Ty Conklin didn't have a chance.

Friday, January 11, 2008 -- Afternoon

Sergei Gonchar has joined Sidney Crosby on the NHL All-Star team. They are the only two Pens who have been named to the team.

Thursday, January 10, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens played the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening. The Pens haven't done too well against the Lightning in the past five years. The Lightning have won the last 12 meetings between the teams. Yep, you read that right, the last 12! The first period did not see any scoring. The Lightning were the first to strike, scoring a goal 4:11 into the second period. The Pens came back to score two in abit over two minutes. Both goals were credited to Jordan Staal who hasn't been scoring alot this season. Petr Sykora assisted on both goals. When they asked Staal about the goal during the intermission after the second period, he said that he didn't think he had touched the puck, but that the officials probably felt sorry for him since the puck almost hit him in the face. The Lightning were given a gift by the refs when Shane O'Brien was high sticked in the face by one of his teammates, Martin St. Louis. Unfortunately, the refs blamed Maxime Talbot, who got four minutes because O'Brien was bleeding near his eye. Too bad the refs don't review their plays in the NHL, and that there isn't a way to challenge the call. With less than three minutes in the game, the Pens scored again with a puck that came off of Staal's foot, and Ryan Malone put into the net. Staal had a hand, or should we say a foot in the first three goals. (Staal caught the puck with his foot on his second goal before he tapped it into the net with his stick.) Evgeni Malkin finished off the game by putting the puck into the LIghtning's empty net. The Pens have now won the last eight games, and finally beat the LIghtning for the first time in five years. The Pens have really been hot, over the past few games, and Ty Conklin has been exceptionally hot! Final score: Pens 4 - Lightning 1.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens played the Florida Panthers in a return match this evening. The first period was boring without any scores on either side. In fact, the only controversy in the period was when the Panthers thought they scored, but the puck had been kicked in. The second period was a scoring fest for the Pens, and Tomas Vokoun was pulled from the game after the third Pens goal in a little over two minutes. The scorers were Petr Sykora, Sidney Crosby, and Georges Laraque. Laraque is on a scoring spree this season, and this was his third goal. In the third period, it looked like Jarkko Ruutu might have had a goal in regulation, but it was called off because it wasn't clear if the puck crossed the line, or if the refs had blown the whistle. So the goal was called off. The Pens have been playing clean hockey lately, and in this game, Ty Conklin got the only penalty (a delay of game) when he cleared the puck, and it went over the glass. It was looking like another shutout for Conklin. However the streak was ended when Gregory Campbell scored a short handed goal with only a smidge over four minutes left in the game. The Pens won with a final score of 3-1. Crosby got the first star of the game, Conklin the second, and Malkin the third.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 -- Afternoon

Sidney Crosby has been named to the starting line for the 2008 NHL All-Star game. The game will be held in Atlanta on January 27. Crosby was the lead vote getter with 507,274 votes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 -- Morning

The Pens start their Florida road trip tonight, playing the Florida Panthers. The Pens don't have a very good record when playing in Florida, so if they come out with a couple of wins, that will be impressive. Maxime Talbot has been practicing with the team, and might be returning soon from his time off with a high ankle sprain. The big rumors swirling around the Pens deal with trade rumors. There has been alot of talk that the Pens are shopping around Jordan Staal, and the hot gossip is that they are looking at Marian Hossa. According to the Pens, that isn't true. We have until February 23 at 3 p.m. (the NHL trade deadline) to hear more rumors and maybe see a trade or two.

Sunday, January 6, 2008 -- Afternoon

The Pens have announced how they are handling the A that has been left empty with Gary Roberts out with the broken leg. Ryan Malone will wear the A at home. We already know that because Malone wore the A on Thursday and Saturday's games. Daryl Sydor will wear the A during away games.

I was really dismayed to hear that Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots was named Associated Press Coach of the Year. Now the guys who voted for him (50 sports writers with AP) picked Belichick because of the Patriots undefeated record in the regular season. I think that the honor should not have gone to Belichick. Sure the Patriots were undefeated, but the season has been tainted with the cheating scandal. The message that is being sent to one and all is that if you cheat, you can do well, and be rewarded for your cheating. If the Patriots were so good, why did they resort to cheating and spying on their opponents? The other question that obviously only occurs to me is how do we know the Patriots still aren't cheating? I don't trust 'em, and I don't like 'em, and I especially don't like Belichick. I can only hope that the Patriots don't win the Super Bowl this year.

Saturday, January 5, 2008 -- Late Evening

The Steelers played the Jacksonville Jaguars this evening in the first round of playoffs. The Steelers were not playing well in the first half, and Ben Roethlisberger threw three interceptions in the first half. At halftime, the Steelers were down by 14 points. The third quarter came and went, and the Steelers were down 18 points. Things were looking bleak. The fourth quarter saw a change when the Steelers started to intercept the ball and make plays. With six minutes left in the game, the Steelers got a one point lead. Things were looking hopeful when the Jaguars got the ball, and slowly marched it down to their end zone. After burning some time, and leaving the Steelers with less than a minute, the Jaguars killed a field goal to take a two point lead. Then, the Steelers had the ball, and Roethlisberger fumbled the ball with 20 seconds left and lost the game for the Steelers. Jacksonville goes on to the next round, and the Steelers get to go home. It was a good season, especially at the beginning of the season. However, in the past few games, the Steelers have been sucking, and no one really thought they would win this game. At least it was a good battle in the fourth quarter. Final score: Steelers 29 - Jaguars 31.

Saturday, January 5, 2008 -- Evening

The Pens played the Florida Panthers in a game played late this afternoon. The game time had been moved because of the Steelers playoff game this evening. The Pens came out fighting today. They scored first with two goals in the first period. Tyler Kennedy has been hot, and scored another beautiful goal. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby scored the other two goals in the 3-0 win. Ty Conklin has been hotter than hot, and scored another shutout. I hate to say this because I am a huge Marc-Andre Fleury fan, but when Fleury comes back from his high ankle sprain, I think we still need to go with Conklin. You go with the hot goalie. Check out my pictures of the game.

An update on the condition of Mark Bell. Bell plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs and fought with Ryan Malone on Thursday night. It didn't look like a serious fight, but Bell went directly to the locker room after the fight. I thought he just jarred something when he hit the ice. However, it appears that Malone rang Bell's bell, and broke Bell's orbital bone. It also seems that Bell has major swelling, and he's going to have to wait for the swelling to go down before they can do surgery. It's expected that he will have the operation early next week.

Friday, January 4, 2008 -- Evening

It seems that Mark Recchi has really been hot since he has gone to the Atlanta Thrashers. He has scored 12 points in the past 12 games. The thought that ran through my mind is that maybe Recchi's performance improved not because Recchi has improved, but the age of the team increased. I thought that I would check out the average ages of the team and found that my hypothesis does have some weight. The average age of the Thrashers team is 30.3 years while the average age of the Pens is 26.4 years. That's four years, and it possibly explains Recchi's improved performance. Eight of the Pens are over 30 compared to twelve of the Thrashers. Twenty of the 24 Thrashers are over 25 compared to fifteen of the Pens. So Recchi is doing better on an older team. That's not so surprising now, is it?

Friday, January 4, 2008 -- Morning

The Pens played the Toronto Maple Leafs last night, and it was quite a game. Whenever the Pens and Leafs play, there is always alot of action, on the ice and in the stands. Quite a few Toronto fans come to the game since it's so close, and they are extremely vocal. Well, of course, this ticks off the Pens' fans. Fights break out in the stands (someone was ejected a few sections over from my seat--I didn't see what happened). The Maple Leafs scored first, because as is typical of the Pens, they didn't show up to play in the first period. The Pens only had four shots on goal in the period. A great fight broke out between Jarkko Ruutu and Darcy Tucker in the second period. The fight was almost a minute long, and it was very reminiscent of Rock 'em, Sock 'em Robots. That was the kids' game where the two robots hit each other in the face until one of them knocks the other's head off. Ruutu and Tucker kept on punching each other in the face, and finally when they paused in the punching, the refs stepped in. It was a great fight. In the third period, the Pens scored three goals in a span of 48 seconds. The Leafs called a timeout after the third goal to let Scott Clemmensen get his act together. Ryan Malone and Mark Bell fought for abit, but nothing on the scale of the Ruutu fight. Evgeni Malkin got his first career hat trick in the game, and the Pens won with a final score of 6-2. The Pens have won 14 of the last 19 games which is not a bad stat. Let's hope they keep up the wins. However, they aren't going to get deep into the playoffs if they don't remedy the problem they have of not showing up to play for a period. This happens practically every game, and they usually wind up losing because of this behavior. Check out my pictures of the game. Links to the Ruutu and Malone fight are on the picture pages and my YouTube Channel.

Thursday, January 3, 2008 -- Morning

Pictures and game recap from tonight's Pens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs game will be posted Friday morning. Check the game recaps page for information on this season's home and away games.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008 -- Evening

I have become addicted to a website. It's PyramidCam. PyramidCam shows a view of the pyramids at Giza from the SIAG Pyramids Hotel. I have always been interested in Egyptology, and I find myself looking at the page every now and again throughout the day. I'm trying to see how it looks during the day, and today, the camera froze at a scene at 2:30 in the afternoon so I finally got a good look at the pyramids during the day. Usually when I look it has bee night so I mostly see shadowy images against a night sky. Sometimes I've seen the light show, but nothing to write home about. I hope to catch a sunset when the camera is back in functional shape.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008 -- Afternoon

Finally, it's here! It's time for the Ice Bowl (as it is being called her in Pittsburgh) or the Winter Classic as NHL. This is the game that the Pens and Buffalo Sabres are playing outdoors in Buffalo. I wish that I could be at the game because I know that it would be a great photographic opportunity, but what can you do? I'll be recording my impressions of the game as I watch it. Right now, it is snowing, and we are seeing the opening events. It's amazing how it looks with snow coming down and the players dressed in throwback clothes. The Pens are wearing the old powder blue uniforms that they wore years and years ago. Dany Sabourin is wearing the old style pads that I took pictures of during the last game. The announcers were just saying that the Sabre fans showed up early so they could snowball the Pens' bus when it came into the arena. It seems that everyone is really getting into a great spirit! The only thing that I would have to say is that people who are at the game probably won't have a good view of the game. It seems that the best seats are worse that the seats that have at Mellon Arena. The reason is because the rink is in the center of a football field (Ralph Wilson Stadium--where the Buffalo Bills play) with snow and other things filling in the rest of the field. Then the seats start. The players are now coming out, and they are entering through a tunnel at the same time with smoke and flames shooting out of the tunnel. Even though both teams are American, they are starting with the Canadian National Anthem. They have an Irish tenor, Ronan Tynan, singing God Bless America. Why don't they have the Star Spangled Banner?

First Period: Now it is time for the first period. Sidney Crosby is starting center, and Ty Conklin is in goal for the Pens. I feel sorry for Sabourin who was trying out the old style equipment on Saturday! 21 seconds in, and Crosby feeds the puck to Colby Armstong who scores! It is really hard to see, and i doubt that anyone at the game is actually seeing anything with all the snow. It seems that the puck is moving alot quicker on the outside ice. Ryan Miller looks funny with a toque over his helmet. Darren Pang, ice-side announcer, is saying that the snow is sticking on the ice and is maybe 1/2 inch. One of my friends is at the game, and he sent me a picture message from the game, and he can maybe see more than I thought. NBC is showing some neat commercials. The funniest so far was Ryan Miller and Jean-Sebastien Aubin competing in a "Yo Mama" competition. Miller wins when he does a Yo Mama in Japanese. Darren Pang is showing us how much snow is on the ice. The refs called a time out to resurface the ice. Now on to the second half of the first period. The announcers are talking about how some people may just be getting to see Sidney Crosby play for the first time. So far, the Sabres have been the only team to get a penalty. They have three with 7:43 left in the period. They have someone doing some ice repairs with a bucket as we wait for the game to resume. They are taking a long time to repair the ice with water, CO2 spray, and trowels. That would be another thing that would suck because the players are just waiting around for the ice to be fixed. Ryan Malone just missed making a goal, and the Sabres got the puck and almost scored. Now in the final minutes of the first period, the snow has slowed, and the ice is in better shape. The first period ends with the Pens leading by a score of 1-0.

Second Period: The Sabres came out in the second playing hard, and they scored in the first minute to tie things up. The Pens were making a line change at the time and only had four people on the ice. It would be nice if this game went to a shoot out! The snow has stopped, and it is now sleeting. Halfway though the period and the snow is back with a threat of higher winds to come. The second period has been much faster paced with lots of hits and entertaining play. The audeience has been making constant noise. The Pens finish the period without getting a shot on goal. They are given credit for two shots that didn't get anywhere near the goal. It seems that the ice is good at the beginning of the period, but the quality rapidly declines. That probably explains why both goals happened in the first minute of each period.

Third Period: The third period has started, and it would be important for the Pens to score as soon as possible since the ice condition deteriorates so quickly. Unfortunately, no one was able to score, and it is fast approaching the mid point of the period. When the 10 minute mark is hit, a horn will sound, and the teams will switch ends. That is to make it fair for both teams with the outdoor conditions. Neither team is able to score in regulation so the game goes into overtime. What a way to end a spectacle like this!

OT: OT will be played in two 2.5 minute halves. The teams will switch sides just as they did in the third period. No score again, so that means a shootout! What a way to end the spectacle!

Shootout: The shootout will all be on one side so things are fair and square. First up were the Sabres. Ales Kotalik went first and scored. Then Erik Christensen went for the Pens and was stopped. Then Tim Connolly came on for the Sabres and didn't score. Next up was Kris Letang. So far, he has scored in every shootout, and this time was no diffferent. Now both the Sabres and Pens have one goal in the shootout. Then Maxim Afinogenov came on for the Sabres, and Conklin stopped him! Now it was all down to Crosby, and he slid the puck between Ryan Miller's legs to score. The Pens won with a final score of 2-1. There was alot of celebrating and face rubbing with some of the players grabbing snow off the ice to rub in others' faces. The players really seemed to have alot of fun, and we get a win!

The time for the Pens' game this coming Saturday has been changed from 7:30 to 3:00. The reason is because of the Steelers playoff game that will be played in town at 8:00 the same night.