The Daily Bongo

October 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Wild
The Pens played the Minnesota Wild this evening. Marc-Andre Fleury was in goal, and Petr Sykora was back in town, since he now plays with the Wild. Tyler Kennedy hasn't been playing for a few games, and Dan Bylsma was very vague on what was wrong with Kennedy. I'm not sure if it's an injury, a flu-like illness, or something else all together. Both teams played and won last night, but the Pens were acting like they were the only ones who has played. The Wild had four shots on goal in the first period, and scored on two of them. Pascal Dupuis scored one for the Pens so they were only one goal behind when the second period started, but neither scored into the third period. Sidney Crosby also got into a fight with Marek Zidlicky. Crosby got some good punches in and pulled Zidlicky's jersey over his head. There was also some antagonism between Sykora and Kris Letang. Both wound up in the box after high sticking each other in the third. Even though the Pens put up a valiant fight in the end of the third period, there were no more goals, and the Wild won with a final score of 2-1.

Lost Symbol

I finally got around to reading Dan Brown's Lost Symbol. It has been in my TBR pile since I got it in September, but I had other books in the queue. I have conflicted feelings about the book. Read my review for more information.

Friday, October 30, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Blue Jackets
The Pens were in Columbus tonight to play the Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets haven't been playing well after a good start in their first six games, but they do have a good record against the Atlantic division teams. Marc-Andre Fleury wasn't playing this evening because he will be playing tomorrow night when the Pens come home for the Minnesota Wild. Brent Johnson has been getting a workout in goal for the Pens. The Blue Jackets lived up to the statistics. Rick Nash got two goals for the Blue Jackets before Chris Kunitz got one for the Pens. The Pens seemed to really have some trouble jelling. Part of it is probably due to the injuries, and the call-ups, like Connor James. With Evgeni Malkin out, the lines needed to be shuffled. Things got exciting in the last three minutes of regulation when Ruslan Fedotenko scored for the Pens to bring them within one point. Then Alex Goligoski tied things up 29 seconds later. The turn around was amazing because the games wasn't really going very well. The game went into overtime. No goal in overtime, although both sides tried hard, so it came down to a shootout! The Blue Jackets went first with Antoine Vermette, but Johnson stopped him. Then Steve Mason stopped Kris Letang. Next up was Rick Nash, and he missed the net by a mile. Mason wasn't able to stop Sidney Crosby. He stopped the puck, but waited too long, and the puck trickled across the net. Johnson gloved Kristian Huselius' shot to give the Pens a win. Pens win with a final score of 4-3.
Tomorrow is Halloween, and a few houses have been decorated in my neighborhood. This is one of the best.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 -- Evening

Malkin Injured
Evgeni Malkin will be out for the nxt two or three weeks with a strained right shoulder. I noticed that Malkin really didn't appear to be playing well recently, and it seems that the problem was due to Malkin trying to play his way through the injury. Dan Bylsma put at end to that though and benched Malkin. Malkin will be watching the game from the stands with Sergei Gonchar and Tyler Kennedy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Canadiens
The Pens played the Montreal Canadiens this evening. Hal Gill, who now plays for the Canadiens, got his Stanley Cup ring this evening, and got to chat to some of his former teammates. Sidney Crosby was the first to score with a beautiful shot that went right past Jaroslav Halak. It was Crosby's seventh goal of the season. In the second period, the Pens were attacking the net. Alex Goligosky hit the goalpost, and then it rebounded around Crosby, who lifted the puck up into the net for his second goal of the game (eighth of the season). Mike Rupp scored goal number three for the Pens. Less than three minutes later, Crosby got his hat trick by just sticking to the puck in front of the net. Unfortunately, during a Canadiens power play in the third period, Marc-Andre Fleury knocked the puck over the glass and got a delay of game penalty. The Pens had to kill 53 seconds of a 5 on 3, and unfortunately, the Canadiens scored. No shutout for Fleury. Goligoski scored a power play goal, and Chris Kunitz, who had assists on all three Crosby goals, scored his own goal to have a four point night.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 -- Afternoon

Olympic Honor for Crosby
Sidney Crosby will carry the Olympic torch in a relay across Canada. On Nov. 18, Crosby will carry the torch in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Winter Olympics will be held in February 2010 in Vancouver.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 -- Late Afternoon

Steelers versus Vikings
Brett Favre was in Pittsburgh this afternoon as the Steelers played the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings were undefeated going into the game, and the Steelers haven't been playing the best so far, but I still picked the Steelers to win. There was a good deal of back and forth in the game, and some highs and lows. One of the highs happened in the third quarter, when Santonio Holmes ran the ball down the field, dodging tackles to get inside the 10 yard line. And the low happened on the next play when Rashard Mendenhall fumbled the ball. The Vikings recovered. Then Lamarr Woodley picked up the ball that Favre dropped trying on the Vikings 10 yard line to run the ball all the way down for a touchdown. The Steelers then had a 10 point lead, but on the Vikings ran the ball in for a touchdown on the kickoff return. There was only a three point difference, and the Vikings had the ball in the last two minutes. It was looking bad, when Keyaron Fox intercepted a Favre pass, to run it in for a touchdown with only one minute left in the game. The game ended with a James Harrison sack of Favre, who just laid there like a baby. Woo-hoo! It's great when the Steelers put Favre in his place! The final score: Steelers 27 - Vikings 17.

Saturday, October 24, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Devils
The Pens were back in action tonight against the New Jersey Devils. The Pens seemed to have more energy and synergy at the start of this game in comparison to last night, so it really sucked when Marc-Andre Fleury went to toss the puck behind the net and got it into his own goal. It sucks to score an own goal, especially when Martin Brodeur is in the opposite net. The Devils have been undefeated on the road so far this season, and tonight's game against the Pens was another win for them. The Pens were only able to get one goal in the third period, which unfortunately couldn't compete with the four Devil goals. The final score: Pens 1 - Devils 4.

Friday, October 23, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Panthers
The Pens played the Florida Panthers this evening here in Pittsburgh. Brent Johnson was in goal because the Pens are playing the New Jersey Devils tomorrow, and Marc-Andre Fleury needs a break with from the heavy schedule. Unfortunately, Johnson is not the best of goalies and, as the only backup we have, is sub-par. The Panthers got two unanswered goals in the first period. It looked like Jordan Staal hurt his leg in the middle of the second period. He left the ice and didn't return for the rest of the period. He did come back towards the start of the third period. Sidney Crosby celebrated his 300th game in the NHL by scoring two goals in the third period to tie things up. The game went into overtime. However, there were no goals in OT, so we had a shootout. First up for the Pens was Kris Letang, but Tomas Vokoun stopped him. Next up was Steve Reinprecht, but Johnson pushed the puck away. It was Sidney Crosby's turn. He shot, and he scored with a really nice misdirection move. Then it was Ville Koistinen who didn't score. Vokoun stopped Billy Guerin, and it came down to Johnson stopping Nathan Horton. Johnson gloved it and won the game for the Pens. Johnson made some really nice saves in the game and deserved a first star in the game. The goaltending was amazing in this game. It was basically a goalie battle. The pens won with a final score of 3-2. This was the first time in the Pens' history that the team won nine games in October.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 -- Early Evening

Gonchar injured
Sergei Gonchar of the Pens injured his wrist when he took a spill in the middle of the second period of last night's game. The injury is expected to keep Gonchar out for the next six weeks. It will be interesting to see if the Pens keep up their winning ways without him. On a side note, Max Talbot has been doing some skating with the team, but he's still not ready to come back.
A Little Drink Never Hurt 'cha
Jeff Reed was issued a citation for drunk and disorderly behavior after Sunday's game against the Browns. Reed seems to specialize in disorderly behavior, breaking a paper dispenser in a local convenience store bathroom a few weeks after the Super Bowl. It seems in this incident, a few of the players were sowing wild oats. Matt Spaeth was given a citation for public urinating at the same incident. Reed and Spaeth both apologized to the team, and Reed will be playing on Sunday. The problem with penalizing Reed is that the Steelers really don't have a good enough backup kicker. So heck with the disorderly behavior as long as you are indispensable.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Blue Jackets
The Pens played the St. Louis Blues this evening. The first period was an encapsulated view of the entire game. The Blues were even having problems getting a shot on goal, finally getting one in the second half of the first period. The Pens took advantage and got two quick goals from Tyler Kennedy and Evgeni Malkin. The Blues picked things up a tad in the second period, getting eight shots on goal and a getting one behind Marc-Andre Fleury. At that point though, the Pens already were up 4-1. Alex Goligoski got another goal in the third period to give the Pens a 5-1 win. Fleury becomes the first goalie in Pens' history to win eight games in October.

Sunday, October 18, 2009 -- Early Evening

Steelers versus Browns
The Steelers were back in town today to play the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have long been a joke here in PIttsburgh. Of course, there is a "rivalry," but I think that it is no longer based on a challenge. Although there were moments when the Steeler fan had to sit on the edge of the seat, there wasn't much doubt that the Steelers would win, and they did with a final score of 27-14. At times, it seemed that the Steelers wanted to compete in mediocrity with the Browns by exchanging fumbles and interceptions, with five in a row going back and forth between the teams. Willie Parker was in the game with his "turf toe" encased in a special shoe. Troy Polamalu was also back in the lineup. In general, the Steelers just don't seem to have jived well this year. Maybe things will get better as the season progresses. The Steelers have four wins and two losses, and are tied with the Cincinnati Bengals for first place in the AFC North division.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Lightning
The Pens were back in town this evening, playing the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Pens scored first with two goals in the first period. Billy Guerin got the first one, and Sergei Gonchar. In the second period, the Lightning stormed Marc-Andre Fleury during a power play, and got a goal, but two minutes later, Gonchar got the point back for the Pens. The Lightning weren't able to score again, and the Pens went on to win with a final score of 4-1. Fleury is now 7-0 for the season.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Hurricanes
It's only been seven games so far, but it seems as if there is a Pens game every day. Of course, there isn't, but there have been quite a few games scheduled this month. Tonight the Pens were in Carolina, playing the Hurricanes. Evgeni Malkin got an assist on a Bill Rupp goal in the first period and a goal in the second. The first two periods of the game were extremely boring. But the Hurricanes made things interesting in the third period by tying things up. The game went into overtime. No goals in overtime, so we had a shootout. First up for the 'Canes was Sergei Samsonov, who didn't score. Then it was Kris Letang for the Pens, but he didn't score. Next was Jussi Jokinen, and he scored. Then it was Sidney Crosby's turn. He scored with a roofer! Then it was Tuomo Ruutu, who was stopped by Marc-Andre Fleury. It came down to Billy Guerin, but he was stopped by Cam Ward. Next up for the 'Canes was Matt Cullen, but his shot hit the goal post. Next was Alex Goligoski, who was also stopped. Then the other Whitney, Ray Whitney took a shot, and missed. Evgeni Malkin took a slow spin to the goal and missed. Next was Eric Staal, but he was easily stopped by Fleury. Chris Kunitz was next, which was surprising because he has been cold in the regular games, but he beat Cam Ward, and the Pens won! Final score was Pens 3 - Hurricanes 2.

Monday, October 12, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Senators
The Pens were still in Canada this evening. This time, they were playing the Ottawa Senators. The Senators were the first to score, but Billy Guerin came right back to tie things for the Pens. This has been an ongoing theme for the Pens this season. The other team scores, and the Pens answer with a goal right away. The Pens were far superior to the Senators this evening. Marc-Andre Fleury and the rest of the team are playing with a confidence that I haven't seen in years. They seem comfortable and aren't easily flustered. I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that they are young players, and they have the onus of winning the Stanley Cup behind them. Tyler Kennedy got two goals in the game, and Jordan Staal got his third goal of the season. They have been very impressive. Now let's see how they are at the end of the season. I know that I'm expecting big things from them again this season after seeing their performance over the past few of games. Final score: Pens 4 - Senators 1.

Sunday, October 11, 2009 -- Evening

Steelers versus Lions
The Steelers played the Detroit Lions this afternoon. The Lions have been pretty crappy over the past few years and have only won one game in the past two seasons. So it was surprising to see how poorly the Steelers played against the Lions. The Steelers did win the game in the end, but it was closer than it should have been. It does make me wonder how they are going to do in the rest of the games this season. The Steelers won with a final score of 28-20.

Saturday, October 10, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Maple Leafs
The Pens were in Toronto to play the Maple Leafs for a Hockey Night in Canada game. Matt Cooke got the 100th goal of his career when he scored the first goal of the game. The Leafs have been struggling so far this season, and Vesa Toskala seemed to have trouble keeping the puck out of the Maple Leafs net. In the first period, the Pens had 14 shots on goal to the Leafs 2. In the second period, the Leafs got a goal, but then Sidney Crosby got one right back for the Pens. The Pens went on a scoring run, and when the Leafs got a second goal in the third period, Evgeni Malkin got the goal right back. Typical of a Leafs and Pens game, there were fights. I think that a good deal of it was caused by the frustration that the Leafs were feeling. The Pens won easily with a final score of 5 - 2.

Thursday, October 8, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Flyers
Tonight's game between the Pens and Flyers started out much different than last night's game. The Flyers took a penalty in the opening seconds of the game. In the ensuing power play, Evgeni Malkin scored a goal for the Pens. The Flyers got a goal midway through the first period, but Jordan Staal scored one right back less than 30 seconds later to keep the lead for the Pens. The game was basically a goal exchange. The best goal, though, was when Braydon Coburn chucked the puck out of the corner, and it caught Ray Emery's left skate and went into the goal. Ruslan Fedotenko, who was battling with Coburn, didn't know what was going on, and didn't realize there was an own goal. The Pens continued to be bothered by penalties in this game. Malkin was a huge culprit in taking penalties. The crowd seemed to have trouble getting into the game, and would only get energized to periodically chant "Crosby sucks." With just a little over one second left in the game, Mike Richards barreled right into Marc-Andre Fleury, knocking him down. Then Kris Letang got off the ice in a hurry. They called the refs over to look at his hand, and it seemed that Dan Byslema was saying that Scott Hartnell might have bitten Letang's finger. They don't call the Flyers the Broadstreet Bullies for no reason. But the Pens hold on to win by a goal in a high scoring game. Final score: Pens 5 - Flyers 4.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Coyotes
The Phoenix Coyotes were in town to play against the Pens. Because there are back to back games, Brent Johnson started in goal with the Pens. Tomorrow, the Pens are in Philly to play the Flyers. Then on Saturday, they play the Toronto Maple Leafs. Over the next eight days, there will be five games. That is a heavy schedule. The Pens were having a problem making penalties in the game. They paid for it when the Coyotes scored a power play goal in both the first and second period. The Pens played as if they were tired, and the game was an exceptionally boring one to watch. The Coyotes sealed the deal with an empty net goal, shutting out the Pens with a final score of 3-0.

Sunday, October 4, 2009 -- Evening

Steelers versus Chargers
The Steelers were in town this evening, playing the San Diego Charger. Some were wondering how the Steelers would do in the game, since Troy Polamalu is still out, and Willie Parker is out with turf toe. Last week Rashard Mendenhall was in the doghouse with Coach Tomlin because Mendenhall didn't have the playbook down, and messed up soem plays in practice. So last week, Mendenhall sat out. Mendenhall had to play tonight because Parker was out. Mendenhall proved that he was willing to work when he ran 80 yards for two touchdowns in the first half. In the fourth quarter, there was an incident where the Chargers grabbed the ball out of Stefan Logan's hands as he was being pulled down, and ran it it for a touchdown. Tomlin challenged the call but it stood. The best play though was when Mewelde Moore threw a touchdown pass to Heath Miller. The Steelers started to make some stupid mistakes, like muffing up an onside kick. The Chargers got 21 points in the fourth quarter. Fortunately, Jeff Reed got a field goal to give the Steelers a two possession lead with 43 seconds left in the game. Fortunately, James Harrison sacked Phillip Rivers and forced a fumble that the Steelers recovered, and the game was over. Final score: Steelers 38 - Chargers 28.

Saturday, October 3, 2009 -- Evening

Pens versus Islanders
The Pens were back in action tonight, playing the New York Islanders. Marc-Andre Fleury was back in goal for this game. The first period had a great deal of antagonism and fights, and a very nice goal by Sidney Crosby. Unfortunately, Ruslan Fedotenko got hit by Brandon Witt in the first, and he left the period early, and didn't come back for the second period. That hit caused some controversy because Witt targeted Fedotenko because Fedotenko had his head down. Evgeni Malkin and Jay McKee came to Fedotenko's defense, but McKee wound up with an instigator and 10 minute misconduct penalty. Both Dwayne Roloson and Fleury were doing their best at stopping the puck. The Islanders took a 2-1 lead in the second, and the Pens made a valiant attempt to tie things, finally succeeding in the third period with a goal by Mark Eaton. Sidney Crosby had an assist on the goal for his 400the point. Unfortunately, the Islanders came right back again to take the lead again. Fedotenko was back in the third and scored the tying goal with just a little over three minutes left in the game. Bill Guerin took a stupid slashing penalty with just a little over two minutes left in the game. It was really stupid of Guerin, and it was such an obvious slash, the refs had to call it. Fortunately, the Islanders weren't able to score and the game went into over time. Neither team was able to score in overtime, so it went to a shootout. Jeff Tambellini went first for the Islanders and didn't score. Kris Letang then went for the Pens, and he scored. John Tavares was next, and he was wide of the net. Then it was Sidney Crosby's turn, and he shot and scored to give the Pens a win. Final score was 4-3. Crosby went to get the puck after the shot because he wanted a memento of his 400 point night, as the sixth fastest person to make the mark. Kris Letang has also been playing well for these first two games. The Pens are looking impressive so far.

Saturday, October 3, 2009 -- Late Afternoon

Hello Stanley
Pens names on Stanley Cup
This weekend, the Pens gave their season ticket holders the opportunity to take a picture with the Stanley Cup. Each season ticket holder received one ticket for each seat in the plan. You were only allowed one photo, but the Pens' staff who were taking the pictures were liberal with the photo taking, just on their own initiative. It was a nice event. Granted, the lines were long, but a concession stand was open, and the crowd was pleasant.
Line to see Stanley Cup at Mellon Arena

Friday, October 2, 2009 -- Evening

First Hockey Night of the Season in Pittsburgh
The Pens opened their 2009-2010 season against the New York Rangers this evening. This was the last home opener game in Mellon Arena, since the new arena opens next season, and it was Stanley Cup banner raising night. The opening ceremony was a tad long. There was a video recap of the past season. Nice, but the detail wasn't necessary. The video was shown on a white cloth that was draped from the jumbotron. That dropped at the end to show the Stanley Cup at center ice. The Cup was brought over to stand by the other trophies: the Prince of Wales, Conn Smythe, and Art Ross. The 2008-2009 Stanley Cup banner was raised at center ice. Finally the game started, and the Pens were the first to score with a power play goal by Evgeni Malkin. The Rangers also scored in the first period, but the Pens scored two more goals in the second. The Rangers got a second goal in the third, but no more. The Pens won with a final score of 3-2. Marc-Andre Fleury did a great job in goal, and he got a ton of help from the guys in front of him, including Kris Letang who covered for Fleury when Fleury made a save out of the crease. Check out my pictures and video from the game.