The Daily Bongo

May 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009 -- Evening

I have been rereading Elizabeth Peters' books. I really don't remember the earlier books in the Amelia Peabody series, and I can't remember if I read the standalones or not. Some of them I have memories of, but others I can't recall at all. I'm one of those people who don't mind rereading a good story, so I don't have a problem with reading something that I read years ago. This afternoon, I just finished a standalone, The Jackal's Head. It's Althea Tomlinson, nicknamed Tommy, who returns to Egypt in response to a note sent to her by an old Egyptian, Abdelal, who knew her father. Tommy has to confront her past from 10 years earlier when her father left Egypt in disgrace for trying to sell a fake statue. Shortly after leaving Egypt, he died, to leave 15 year old Tommy on her own. In Egypt, Tommy has to confront John and Mike, forner collegues of her father's. Abdelal died before Tommy made it to Egypt, but she finds that he was going to tell her about a location of an undiscovered tomb that he and her father found. The fake was actually the real deal. The interesting thing about the book are the characters. The book was published in 1968, and Tommy and John are very obviously early versions of Peabody and Emerson. John, especially! He has the gruff manner of Emerson, and strides about yelling, wearing no hat. Strong featured. I guess Elizabeth Peters tried out the character, and his persona must have stuck with her. She wanted to reuse him so she made some modifications (John has silver hair where Emerson has black) and went from there. The Jackel's Head is a good book, and I sped through it with enjoyment. If you get a chance to read it, you should. Very good story. Now I'm on to book four in the Amelia Peabody series, The Lion in the Valley.

The Pens were back in action tonight against the Detroit Red Wings in game two of the Stanley Cup. Pascal Dupuis was back in the lineup for the first time since game 4 in the Washington Capitals series. The Pens weren't getting many shots on goal for most of the first, but finally in the latter part of the first period, the Pens went on the attack and got a goal from Evgeni Malkin on a power play. Actually, they were just attacking the net, and a Red Wing may have knocked the puck in. In the first five minutes of the second period, the Red Wings scored with another goal to follow midway through the second to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead. At the start of third, it looked like the Red Wings just piled on their players on the crease behind Chris Osgood, and although it looked like Sidney Crosby might have gotten a goal, they really couldn't tell because Henrik Zetterberg was in the net covering the area where the puck. Just a short bit later, the Red Wings scored again when the Pens just didn't give any defense in their end. The Red Wings were up 3-1, and it definitely was not looking good for the Pens. They can't seem to get an edge on the Red Wings at all. The Red Wings fans were shouting Fleury's name, taunting him. There were a few opportunities for the Pens, but the clock was the enemy. Less than two minutes in the game, and Fleury was still on the ice. Finally with 1:36 left in the game, George McFly pulled Fleury. You have to wonder if the lack of performance in this series is due to George McFly being in over his head as a coach. Unfortunately, even though the Pens had a man advantage, they were unable to get the puck down into the Red Wings end. With only 20 seconds left in the game, there was a pile up in front of the net. Max Talbot knocked over Osgood. Then Zetterberg shoved Talbot, and Malkin went after Zetterberg, knocking off Zetterberg's helmet, and ripping off his shirt. Unfortunately, the Red Wings take game two to take a 2-0 lead in the series. This is not looking good for the Pens. Final score is 3-1. Next game is in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. This is very reminiscent of last year, where the Red Wings took a 2-0 lead.

Saturday, May 30, 2009 -- Evening

Tonight was the first game of the Stanley Cup. The Detroit Red Wings were the first to score in the first period off of a fluke goal. Brad Stuart shot the puck from the boards, the puck went behind Marc-Andre Fleury, rebounded off the boards behind Fleury, and then came up along the side of the net, and ricocheted off of Fleury's back leg into the net. It was really a fluke and I was starting to feel depressed, but five minutes later Evgeni Malkin took a shot at the net that Ruslan Fedotenko sunk in on the rebound. In the second period, Malkin got a breakaway in the early minutes of the period, but Malkin sucks at the breakaway, and Chris Osgood stopped the puck. In the last minute of the second period, Johan Franzen scored from behind the net when the puck, again, ricocheted off of Fleury's leg. Fleury was in the process of diving for the puck, when Franzen shot it back from behind the net and got it off of Fleury's leg. What a shame that both Red Wing goals have bounced off of Fleury. The Red Wings got another goal a few minutes into the third period to take a 3-1 lead. The Pens pulled Fleury with two minutes left in the game. Marian Hossa got the puck into the Pens' end, and almost got an empty net goal. The Red Wings gave the Pens some trouble for 30 seconds before the Pens got the puck back into the Red Wings' end. The Pens weren't able to score though. There were problems throughout the game with both sides turning over the puck in their own zone. The Red Wings capitalized on it, while the Pens didn't. The Red Wings won game one with a final score of 3-1.

Thursday, May 28, 2009 -- Evening

The Detroit Red Wings wno last night in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks to win the Western Conference. So this year's Stanley Cup matchup will be the same as it was last year. Now this is some drama, at least for the fans. Marian Hossa battling against the Pens. It would be really cool if the Pens won the Stanley Cup so they could skate around with the Cup while Hossa has to watch, full of regret at his decision to take the one year deal with the Red Wings. The first game is this Saturday in Detroit, with a second game on Sunday. Then the Pens will be back in the 'Burgh on Tuesday and Thursday. Tickets go on sale tomorrow for games 3 and 4 here at Mellon Arena. Exciting times!

Big Brother 11 starts on July 9. Boy, I can't wait for my summertime Big Brother fix. The show starts at 8 pm. ET on the 9th, which is a Sunday, on CBS. The shows will be held three times a week on Sundays, Tuesdays, and live eviciton Thursdays. I hope they have an interesting bunch of characters this time around. One of the things to note will be Julie Chen's expanding belly. She is pregnant with her first child, but that's not going to stop the Chen-bot from performing her regular hosting duties.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 -- Evening

The Pens and Hurricanes played this evening. Eric Staal got things started for the Hurricance with a goal 1:36 into the game. Ruslan Fedotenko tied things up half-way through the first period. Evgeni Malkin gave the Hurricanes an advantage when he took a penalty for grabbing a Hurricane stick. Malkin had lost his stick, either through breakage or something else, and he just grabbed onto a Hurricane stick like he wanted to take it off the guy. Fortunately, the Hurricanes weren't able to act. Then Max Talbot had a really neat goal that flew over Cam Ward's glove. In the second period, Billy Guerin got a goal off of a feed from Sidney Crosby. That's when the Versus announcers made the stupid comment that the Pens are like the East Coast version of the Red Wings. What the heck! Marc-Andre Fleury did a superb job in the game, and as the clock started to tick down in the third period, I started to become more nervous and anxious. Would the Pens hold off the Hurricane onslaught in the waning minutes of the game? Cam Ward was pulled with two minutes left in the game. The Hurricanes were desparate not to end their season. Guerin got the puck, and he and Craig Adams came down the ice to the empty net. Guerin passed the puck to Adams, and Adams got the empty net goal. That put the nail in the coffin. The Pens are the Eastern Conference Champions, winning the game with a final score of 4-1. It was Prince of Wales Trophy time, and this time, unlike last time, Crosby grabbed the Prince of Wales Trophy and held it. Then he skated over with it to Malkin and Sergei Gonchar. All three held it and had their picture taken. Crosby eventually handed off the trophy to one of the coaches. It was a shocking time becuase you aren't supposed to touch the Conference trophy. As Crosby said in his post game interview, no one touched it last time, and they lost the Stanley Cup. This year, they want the Cup so they are channging things up. Let's hope that the change does the Pens a world of good.

There was a ton of controversy here in Pittsburgh, because Bill Cowher, former Steeler coach, was working the hurricane siren before tonight's game. People were ready to lynch Cowher, calling him a trader. Bull! The guy lives in Carolina now, and as he told the Versus announcer, he got into the Hurricanes through Ron Francis (former Pen, current Hurricanes GM/assistant coach). Also Cowher said that Matt Cullen, of the Hurricanes, lives on the same street. What I was impressed with was how happy Cowher looked. Let him have his fun! It really means nothing. Cowher did say that he stopped to say hello to Mario Lemieux, and he also said that he would root for the Pens against the Red Wings or the Blackhawks. People in Pittsburgh need to take a chill pill

Monday, May 25, 2009 -- Evening

I went to see Angels & Demons, and I was very disappointed. I had heard that the movie was better than The DaVinci Code, but I think that my disappointment with the movie was that so much that was in the book was left out. In fact, my boyfriend, who did not read the book, was very confused by the plot. Yes, there Robert Langdon was there, and a few of the other characters, but some of the major characters were missing, like Max Kohler, the director of CERN. Spoiler alert! In the book, all four cardinals die. In the movie, Langdon saves the last cardinal from the fountain at the water chapel, and that cardinal becomes Pope. All four died in the book. Then Robert Langdon never went up in the helicopter with the Carmerlengo (granted that part in the book really strained the whole fiction concept--it was so far out of whack that it was hard to believe.) As I was watching, I was wondering if I really disliked the movie because I read the book, but as I said, my boyfriend hated it even more. Personally, I would say that this time, Ron Howard had a dud. Read the book (yeah, yeah, whatever about the poor writing claim) and skip the movie.

Saturday, May 23, 2009 -- Evening

The Pens were in Carolina to play the Hurricanes this evening. The Hurricanes scored first, but then the Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby show started. Malkin scored first, less than three minutes after the Hurricane goal. Then in the last minute of the game, Crosby had a beautiful goal off of a pass from Billy Guerin, and Malkin had another goal 31 seconds later. The Pens went into the first intermission leading 3-1. The second period didn't have any additional goals, and Marc-Andre Fleury was playing well. During the second intermission when the female announcer for Versus was talking to one of the Hurricane players, he exuded defeat. That's not a good thing because you can't give up. When you do, you lose. At the start of the third period, the Hurricanes pulled to within one with a goal by Sergei Samsonov. Malkin wasn't done though. He made a nice pass between his legs to Ruslan Fedotenko who trailed behind Malkin. Fedotenko wristed the puck into the net. The Pens have a two goal lead again. The Hurricanes pulled Cam Ward with more than two minutes left. Then on a face-off in the Pens' end, Craig Adams got credit for a shot that went from the face-off circle into the empty net at the other end of the nice. Cam Ward went back into the net, and then Billy Guerin got a goal. The Pens had a 6-2 lead at that point, and only one minute left in the game. The game ended with a fight with Philippe Boucher and Ryan Bayda. The Hurricanes just looked really at a lose and whipped. I think it's going to be hard for them to come back from the psychological let down. Pens take the first three games.

Thursday, May 21, 2009 -- Evening

The Pens were back on the ice after a two day layoff. It seemed to help them when Sidney Crosby scored within 1:51 of the start of the game. But the Carolina Hurricanes got the goal back a little than a minute later. The first period started to become a shooting gallery. Evgeni Malkin got a goal, and then Carolina got two. The score was 3-2 in favor of Carolina 12 minutes into the game! Max Talbot got a breakaway in the neutral zone at the start of the second period and fired the puck into the Hurricane net to tie the game. Finally at the end of the second period, the Pens got the lead with a goal from Chris Kunitz. Kunitz has been in a slum of late, so it was good to see him snap the funk. Unfortunately, the Hurricanes came back at the start of the third to tie things up. Neither team's defense was doing a great job in the game, and there was poor defense of the net and goalie. Malkin took the game into his hands then, and two goals back to back (separated by less than four minutes) to get a hat trick. The Versus cameras caught Malkin's mom and dad celebrating with the crowd. It was hilarious seeing his dad hugging some blonde girl who was sitting in front of the Malkins, while his mom was making a face at him. That's when dad Malkin grabbed mom to give her some kisses. The Hurricanes pulled Cam Ward in the last two minutes of the game, and that gave Tyler Kennedy the opportunity to get an empty net goal. With a little over a minute left in the game, the fist fighting started. Kris Letang and Miroslav Satan, yes, I said, Satan, got involved in a scrum. There was some question about starting a fight in the last minutes of the game when it was obvious that the Pens had won. Ryan Bayda of the Hurricanes got a match penalty, and might miss the next game. Kris Letang also got a game misconduct. The Pens won with a final score of 7-4. They have a two game to none lead. Next game in Carolina on Saturday.

Monday, May 18, 2009 -- Evening

Tonight was a hockey night in Pittsburgh with the Pens hosting the Carolina Hurricanes. The Staal parents did not come to the game because it was too stressful to cheer for both teams. The game started out all Pens. Marc-Andre Fleury made a copy of really nice saves, and then Miroslav Satan scored, followed 1 minute and 24 seconds later with a goal by Evgeni Malkin. The Pens were playing well, and Fleury made several nice saves. Unfortunately, the Hurricanes got a goal in the latter part of the second period. Then shortly afterwards, Hal Gill was shoved into Fleury, knocking Fleury down, and the puck went into the net. The refs called that one off and gave Eric Cole two minutes for interference. In the third period, Phillippe Boucher got a goal to give the Pens a 3-1. Bad news when Brooks Orpik got a penalty, then Eric Staal stripped Fleury of his stick and shoved it out of Fleury's reach. Instead of Staal getting a penalty for interference, the Hurricanes got a goal. Even the Versus announcers were complaining about that. Then Fleury made a great save: throwing his body on the puck, and scooting his whole body from where it lay in the net because he didn't want the puck to be anywhere near the goaline. The Hurricanes tried to score, but Fleury held them off. The Pens won with a final score of 3-2. Fleury deserved the number one star of the game, but he only got the number three. Boucher got the number one star, and Chad Larose of the Hurricanes got the number two star. Three more wins from the Stanley Cup! Let's go Pens!

Saturday, May 16, 2009 -- Evening

Today was the 134th running of the Preakness Stakes. There was a good deal of talk since the Kentucky Derby about Rachel Alexandra. Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks, which was run the day before the Derby, and won by 20 lengths. Although she is a filly, everyone has been saying that she is the best racehorse on the track. In face, Calvin Borel chose to ride Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness over Derby winner, Mine That Bird, because as Borel said, Rachel Alexandra is the best horse he has ever ridden. Rachel Alexandra started the race breaking from the 13th post position. We heard over and over again that no horse had ever won the Preakness from the 13th post position. Of course, that is until one wins. The race was held up while Mine That Bird acted up at post, but when the bell rang, Rachel Alexandra brokw well, and quickly moved into the lead. She held the lead the whole way. At the top of the home stretch, Rachel Alexandra had a four length lead. Mine That Bird and Musket Man came from behind, and almost caught Rachel Alexandra in the end, but she finished one length ahead of Mine That Bird. After the race, Borel seemed subdued and said that Rachel Alexandra couldn't get into her rhythm because she just couldn't seem to get into the track. There was Borel, subdued and apologetic for Rachel Alexandra's sub-par performance because he just felt that she didn't run her best race...AND she won! Very interesting outlook. The time for the 1 3/16th mile race was 1:55.08. Next up is the Belmont. We'll have to wait to see if Rachel Alexandra runs in the race.

Friday, May 15, 2009 -- Afternoon

With the release of the Angels and Demons movie this weekend and The Lost Symbol in September, people have been getting on Dan Brown's case again. "He can't write" is the mantra constantly proclaimed by the elitist group that probably buys and devours his book in secret. What the heck are they talking about? The guy can write, and he can tell a darned good story, keeping the reader ingrossed in the novel until late at night. To me, that's the sign of a good writer. I have read all four of his books and enjoyed every one of them. It irks me no end to hear people trashing Brown just because his books are popular. There was also a story in the news today about one of the actors in the movie, Stellan Skarsgard, saying that he thinks Brown is an awful writer, and the only reason he accepted the role was because the script was so good. I'd say it's because he wanted the money, but is too elitist to admit it. My favorite quote of Skarsgard's was ""It's like eating peanuts at a bar. You don't like them, but you keep on eating them anyway." Please, if I don't like something, I don't eat it or read it. I like both peanuts and Dan Brown, and I can't wait to read The Lost Symbol.

Friday, May 15, 2009 -- Early Morning

The Pens will be playing the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Hurricanes beat the Boston Bruins in an overtime game 7 last night. So that means that one of the Staal brothers will play in the Stanley Cup, since Eric Staal is on the Hurricanes. The first game is this coming Monday. That doesn't give us alot of time sell our tickets, but we will give it a try.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 -- Evening

It was do or die for the Pens this evening. Of course, the same could be said for the Caps, but I'm not a fan of theirs. Sergei Gonchar was back from his knee injury. i guess it wasn't as bad as people were making it out to be. I know that I banged a door into my knee last week, and it was very sore for the first 24 hours or so, but it was practically as good as new after three days. For the first time in the series, the Pens took a two goal to none lead in the first period. It all happened when Sidney Crosby scored at 12:36 to be followed eight seconds later with a goal by Craig Adams, who got his first playoff goal. The second period was the surprising one! Billy Guerin scored 28 minutes into the period, then less than two minutes later, Kris Letang scored to give the Pens a 4-0 lead! After the Letang goal, Bruce Bodreau pulled Simeon Varlamov and put Jose Theodore in goal. After the kid had performed so well, he was just abruptly pulled. Well, it was four goals within a 10 minute playing span. The Letang goal was something else. Varlamov had no idea where the puck went; it went flying into the net, and lodging in the goal cam area. The scoring didn't stop. Jordan Staal got his second goal of the playoffs to give the Pens a 5-0 lead. At this point, I started to feel abit more relaxed about the Pens winning. With 1:51 left in the second period, Alexander Ovechkin scored when Marc-Andre Fleury went behind the net to grab the goal, and Ovechkin sped around him and got the puck in the empty net. At the start of the third period, Crosby got a high stick to the face that drew blood. Brooks Laiche went to the penalty box for four minutes, and in the first two minutes of the penalty, Crosby scored to give the Pens a 6-1 lead. Four minutes later, Laich got the goal back by scoring one himself. The last few minutes of the game were just the players skating around in the neutral zone, not doing much. The Pens advance to the Eastern Conference finals with a score of 6-2.

Monday, May 11, 2009 -- Evening

It was a white-out in PIttsburgh's Mellon Arena as the Pens played the Caps. The Pens were the first to score with a goal by Billy Guerin at 5:55 in the first period. The Caps just seemed to be under-performing in the first period. They only had five shots on goal to the Pens 18. Sidney Crosby took a hit with the puck to his right shin/ankle area in the early half of the second period. While he was hobbling to the bench, the Capitals got a goal to tie things up. Seven minutes later, the Capitals score again, really putting pressure on the Pens and Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury tried to stop the puck, and even lost his stick with the effort. With 33 seconds in the game, Mark Eaton scored to give the Pens a tie. This is Eaton's fourth goal in this playoff run series. Early in the third period, the Pens got a power play opportunity, and Kris Letang took advantage of it to give the Pens a lead. Unfortunately, the Caps scored two quick goals in less than two minutes to take the lead. With 4:15 left in the game, Crosby scored to tie the game. The last minute of the game was a frenzied attempt for the Pens to score and for the Caps to stop them. The game went into overtime, yet again. These overtime games are getting to be too stressful for the fans. Unfortunately, Max Talbot broke his stick during the play, and the Caps scored in the first OT to take the game back to Washington for game seven. Final score: Caps 5 - Pens 4.

Saturday, May 9, 2009 -- Evening

The Pens and the Caps played back to back games. Sergei Gonchar didn't travel with the team, and is probably out for the rest of the playoff season because of the knee injury. Of course, the NHL didn't penalize Alexander Ovechikin, and as Gonchar's agent said, it sends a clear message to Ovechkin. He won't be penalized for dirty plays like intent to injure moves because he's Ovechkin. Well, it is what it is, but it shows what a farce the NHL organization is. Neither team was able to score in the first period. Finally, five minutes into the second, Jordan Staal scored for the Pens. That wasn't a good thing because the record for the team who scored first in this series hasn't been good. The Caps came back to score two answering goals from Ovechkin and Nikolas Backstrom. Fortunately, Ruslan Fedotenko scored the tieing goal 51 seconds into the third period. Matt Cooke scored to give the Pens the lead, but the Ovechkin scored one to tie it up again. The game went into overtime. The Pens had a power play due to a trip to Sidney Crosby. Evgeni Malkin was trying to pass the puck to Crosby in front of the net, and the Caps defenseman knocked the puck into the net to give the Pens a win. The Pens are now up 3-2 in the series. Final score for the game Pens 4 - Caps 3. Next game is Monday.

Friday, May 8, 2009 -- Evening

The Pens and the Caps are back at it again this evening. Petr Sykora was scratched for today's game, and Miroslav Satan was in. Unfortunately, the Caps were the first to score 36 seconds into the first period, with a goal by Nikolas Backstrom. Fortunately, at 3:55 into the first, Sergei Gonchar scored to tie things up with a powerplay goal. Halfway through the first, Billy Guerin scored to take the lead. Toward the end of the first period, Alexander Ovechkin stuck out his leg abit and caught Gonchar in the right knee. Gonchar couldn't get up off the ice. Ovechkin got a tripping call, although Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey thought that it should have been a kneeing penalty and intent to injure. Ruslan Fedotenko took advantage of the situation and scored a goal for the Pens. Simeon Varlamov just seemed to let the puck skip over his glove, and he looked really confused that the puck had gone in. In the second period, we heard that Gonchar's return for the game was questionable. That's good news because it's better than hearing he is definitely out. Even though Satan is playing, I just heard his name menetioned in the waning minutes of the second period. The Pens seemed to lose some of their momentum in the second period, and the Capitals took advantage by scoring a goal to pull within one of the Pens. After not being mentioned much in the first two periods, Satan got the puck near the start of the third period and made a nice pass to Sidney Crosby, who scored to give the Pens a two point lead. With only seconds left in a power play, the Caps scored a short handed goal. There were some questionable late hits right before the goal that distracted the Pens and weren't called by the refs. The Capitals were back within one of tying things up. The Pens really had a problem with focus. They shouldn't be looking around for the refs to make calls. They should continue to play. The other problem was that Marc-Andre Fleury allowed his focus to be distracted, and you just can't have that as a goalie. With 5:14 left in the game, Max Talbot scored a goal to give the Pens a two point cushion. The Caps pulled Varlamov with two minutes left in the game. The Caps couldn't score, and the Pens got the win with a final score of 5-3. The series is tied at two all. Unfortunately, the next game is tomorrow night. Mellon Arena is scheduled for other events, so they have to do the two games in a row, and then the Pens are back in town on Monday. Hopefully, we will see Gonchar back on the ice, and Ovechkin will get some sort of penalty (fine, suspension) for the intent to injure play.

I read a rather interesting piece in this week's digital edition of US News and World Report (released today). I subscribed to the print edition right before it became a really lame monthly magazine that concentrates on one topic. This past issue was about education. Really lame. I would cancel my subscription except for the fact that it enables me to get the weekly digital edition which has articles about current events, which is what I wanted in the first place. The piece I found interesting was part of a Take Two section that has a point/counterpoint on a topic. This week's topic was "Should Those Behind Torture be Prosecuted?" Clifford D. May took the point that they shouldn't. I thought his point that this is a politicized attack again a previous leadership's view point is a good one. As he said, what if President Eisenhower had prosecuted President Truman for the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan because Eisenhower may have felt there might have been another solution to the problem? Also, it makes it difficult for any person to give advice or a legal opinion to an administration because the next administration my prosecute him or her for having a different opinion about a situation. And it does come down to a difference of opinion. The "torture memos" were basically a legal opinion of what would constitute torture. I have to admit that if I knew that someone had information about a terrorist attack and refused to give information, I would do what I could to get the information out of the person. It's all fine and dandy to pretend to live in a utopian world where being nice and sweet to terrorists results in them turning nice and sweet, but that ain't how the human animal works. If you can, check out the digital edition of US News and World Report.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 -- Evening

It was do or die tonight for the Pens. Sure, even with a loss tonight, they still have game four, but you don't want to put yourself in that sort of position. There has been lots of talk over the past few days about the hit that Chris Kunitz put on Simeon Varlamov at the end of game two. The play was reviewed by the NHL, and Kunitz was fined $2500 and just escaped suspension. Meanwhile, the Pens were complaining about Alexander Ovechkin's stick, saying it was too curved. Both the Pens and the Caps were complaining about calls or non-calls by the refs in the last game. It has been nothing but media hype since Monday. In tonight's game, Kris Letang played, even though he had suffered an injury in the last game. Petr Sykora was scratched and Miroslav Satan was playing. The air went out of the fans' balloon of hope when Marc-Andre Fleury went to play the puck behind the net, lost his stick, and left an open net for Ovechkin to score the first goal, only 1:23 into the first period. The Pens picked up their level of play, and the announcers at Versus were saying that the Pens were playing better than the Caps. However, there wasn't much evidence of that in the score. Finally midway through the second period, Ruslan Fedotenko broke his slump to tie things up. Shortly after that, Sergei Fedorov either hurt his wrist or got a stick to the ribs. They kept on showing video of him clenching his wrist, and then sitting on the bench in agony. it really wasn't clear what he did though. In fact, the second period was so lopsided that the Pens had 15 shots on goal to the Caps 4. It was looking like an overtime game when Evgeni Malkin scored with five minutes left in the game. The Arena was jumping. But then three minutes later (less than two minutes left in the game), when I was ready to think we had won, Nikolas Backstrom scored for the Caps to tie the game. Unfortunately, the game went into overtime. The Pens have had a great deal of trouble with their power play, and they continued to not deliver when they have the advantage. Both came out playing hard in the first overtime. They needed to win, and just abit past the half way point of the first overtime, Kris Letang shot a blazer into the net. The Pens needed the win to get their mojo back and not be out of the series, and they did it. It was quite a thrilling game. Final score: Pens 3 - Capitals 2.

Monday, May 4, 2009 -- Evening

The Pens were back in action this evening in the second game of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Sidney Crosby was the first to score on a power play. The start of the first period was really hard played by both the Pens and the Capitals. The Caps kept on taking retaliation shots and getting caught. The Caps' coach, Bruce Boudreau, was asked during the game how he thought things were going, and he lambasted his team for taking stupid penalties and said that he was really ticked with them. The woman interviewer thanked him for his honesty. It was very obvious that Boudreau was pissed with his team. Hockey is amazing. Only in hockey to announcers scramble to the bench and ask the players and coach questions during the game. Unfortunately, Alexander Ovechkin scored at the start of the second period to tie things up. The Pens seemed to have the momentum in the first period, and that quickly switched to the Caps in the second. That said, more than halfway through the period, Crosby got his second goal of the game to give the Pens a 2-1 lead, but the Capitals tied things up five minutes later. Then Ovechkin got two goals in the third for a hat trick and a 4-2 Capitals lead. With just abit over 30 seconds left in the game, Crosby kept on banging the puck at Simeon Varlamov and got a goal for his first playoff hat trick, but it was too little too late. The Pens fell to the Capitals 4-3, and the Capitals have a two game lead in the series. It's going to be hard for the Pens to come back from 2-0 deficit in the series. Crosby really played his heart out, scoring all three Pens goals, but he can't continue to be the only scorer for the Pens. George McFly needs to light a fire under their asses. However, he is too busy being buddy, chum, and has no clue of how to coach a team. I think that the Pens made McFly the head coach too quick. They should have waited until after the playoffs. Since McFly was named head coach, the Pens haven't won. Interesting that! It's back to Pittsburgh on Wednesday for the next game in the series. And the players need to get their acts together. Michel Therrien was fired because of their tempermental play.

Saturday, May 2, 2009 -- Evening

The track was still sloppy for today's 135th running of the Kentucky Derby. The favorite was Friesan Fire, a horse that Larry Jones trained that was good on sloppy tracks. Jones, trainer of Eight Belles, who broke both front ankles in last year's race, is retiring after this year. As his wife, Cindy said, they aren't retiring because of Eight Belles, even though her death hit them hard. They are retiring because she taught them that life was short, and you don't know when it will end. Both realize that they have to live each day as if it is your life. Jones admited that he felt that he was becoming more of a racing manager, which really wasn't appealing to him. Since there are two hours of of television to fill before the race started, the announcers talked about how all the fatalities and injuries over recent years have made officials in the various states consider how to make things safer. One of the things that is being changed are drug regulations. Steriods are banned in Kentucky, for example, along with other drugs which mask problems like inflamation, such as Lasix. The interesting thing that should be noted is that Big Brown raced and won while on steroids. Eight Belles was steriod free. I think soemtimes people jump on what appear to be obvious causes without doing the research to find out if it is the actual cause. Jerry Bailey, former jockey who is one of the announcers on NBC, said that he used to think that the answer was the synthetic tracks are the answer. Tons of tracks have been converting to the synthetic bases in the hopes of preventing injuries, but the safety of the tracks have actually been questioned. More research is needed to find out how safe the tracks are, and what will make them better. What do I think might be the cause of the breakdowns? I think that the horses are being bred to be stronger and lighter so they can go faster and faster. Back in the early to mid 1900s, the horses used to run often, and run longer races. Nowadays, horses run less, but much shorter distances, and with much faster times. The breeders aren't breeding for stamina, but speed, and that's making the legs of the horses more frail. At least that is my opinion, and Sally Jenkins, who wrote an article on breeders breeding muscularly strong, but skeletally frail and light horses.

As for the race itself, it was great. As they were making the final turn, I saw a horse breaking out in the middle of the pack. It was Mine That Bird. He took off, weaved through the horses, expertly guided by Calvin Borel. Calvin guided Mine That Bird onto the rail, and Mine That Bird just flew down the home stretch to win by 6 and 3/4 lengths. Pioneer of the NIle was second with Musket Man third. The race was run in 2:02.66. Mine That Bird was a 50-1 longshot, and wound up paying $103.20, the second highest payout in Derby History. Friesan Fire wound up getting stuck in traffic in the 19 horse field, and then being forced out really wide. He wound up finishing next to last.

Saturday, May 2, 2009 -- Late Afternoon

The Pens were in Washington to play the Capitals in the first game of the Eastern Conference semi-final round this afternoon. The Pens were first to score with a goal by Sidney Crosby in the first four minutes of the game. Unfortunately, Marc-Andre Fleury misplayed a puck to give the Capitals an easy tying goal. The Capitals got a go-ahead goal towards the end of the first. The Pens weren't playing well for most of the second period, although they tied things up with a goal by Mark Eaton. Unfortunately, the Capitals scored at the start of the third period and held off the Pens to win the first game in the round. Final score: Capitals 3 - Pens 2. The next game is on Monday evening. Hopefully, the Pens will get their act together and play better on Monday. If not, things aren't looking good for a move beyond this round. One thing they do need to do is to not turn over the puck in their own zone so much. That was happening too much in this game and gave the Capitals too much of an advantage.

Saturday, May 2, 2009 -- Early Afternoon

The news this morning is that the favorite for the Kentucky Derby, I Want Revenge, is scratched because he has a warm spot on his ankle. There have been some heavy rains in Kentucky, and the Churchill Downs course is not in the best of conditions. So the owners of I Want Revenge thought it would be best to scratch their horse. The field for the Derby this year is fairly mediocre. No horses are standouts, and it is really difficult for anyone to pick a favorite. The field this year has been decimated by injuries and poor performance. The race is today: post time is 6:04 p.m. ET.