The Daily Bongo

December 2006

Sunday, December 31, 2006 -- Late Afternoon

I sat through three quarters of the most boring football game to see a rather exciting fourth quarter in the Steelers amd Cincinnati Bengals game. I didn't think that the Steelers would be able to beat the Bengals--especially since the Bengals had so much riding on a win in this game. However, the Bengals were their own worst enemy. They wound up losing in overtime. Here's the game summary. Final score: Steelers 23 - Bengals 17.

Sunday, December 31, 2006 -- Late Morning

The Steelers are playing the Cincinnati Bengals in the early afternoon, but there is already alot of talk about Bill Cowher's future. Ever since the Steelers won the Super Bowl last year, and Cowher bought a house in North Carolina, there has been talk that this is Cowher's last year. When talks between Cowher and the team broke down earlier in the season, I think that it was obvious that something was afoot. It seems that Cowher wants more money and wants to spend time with his family. The local sports folks are saying that they will be rushing to the after game press conference that Cowher gives to see if a statement is made. I don't think that it will be mentioned then. I think that Cowher will make the announcment in a few weeks time. The question is: Who will replace Cowher?

Saturday, December 30, 2006 -- Evening

No word yet on the extent of the injury that Nils Ekman suffered last night. The rumor is that the injury is going to require a lengthy recouperation time. In other Pens news, Mario Lemieux is going to meet with Ed Rendell this coming Thursday to discuss the future of the Pens in Pittsburgh. The question is whether the deal will be sweet enough to keep the Pens here. I know that I am not looking forward to a licensing fee to purchase season tickets. I was talking to some other season ticket holders last night, and they would not get tickets if there was a license fee. It seems that licensing fees are the way that teams go--making you buy a license or seating fee to get the right to buy season tickets. So you pay more money on top of the actual ticket fee.

Friday, December 29, 2006 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Mellon Arena this evening in front of a sellout crowd. 3000 Maple Leaf fans drove to Pittsburgh to attend the game. It's amazing to see, but from what I heard, it is cheaper for fans to drive from Toronto and attend a game in PIttsburgh than to get tickets in Toronto. The Pens fans were driven to frenzy because the Leafs fans were so vocal. This is the first game where everyone sang the Star-Spangled Banner because of the Leafs fans singing Oh Canada. Rally towels were given out and the fans used them liberal. Jean-Sebastien Aubin returned to Pittsburgh and started in goal for the Leafs. It was an electric atmosphere, and the Pens didn't disappoint. The Pens scored in the first with a goal by Erik Christensen. Mats Sundin scored for the Leafs in the second period, but the Pens came back with e vengence in the third period to pull ahead and win. Sidney Crosby got three assists in the game for a total of 58 points so far this sesaon. Marc-Andre Fleury had a great game with some really beautiful saves. Evgeni Malkin scored a goal today and had an assist, and Jordan Staal had a beautiful unassisted goal that I missed snapping because of the guy with the big head jumping up in front of me. I manage to get some nice pictures though. Check out my multimedia page for photos and video. The disappointing moment was when Nils Ekman got rammed into the boards and hurt his elbow. He hurried from the ice when that happened, and everyone in the audience thougth it was his wrist. However, I heard later that it was the elbow and isn't looking good. Final score for the Pens win was 4-1.

Thursday, December 28, 2006 -- Evening

This evening, my boyfriend and I went to Mallorca Restaurant on Carson St. in the South Side. The restaurant has a reputation as a high quality restaurant that specializes in things Hispanic. It's one of the few places in Pittsburgh that has paella. The restaurant is noisy and cramped. When we were placed at our table within inches of another porty of two, I was sure that we would not be able to have a private conversation. Surprisingly, I was wrong. Whoever designed the table layout managed to cram a huge number of tables into a small space while not making the patron feel cramped. The menu is filled with fish items. We passed on the appetizer because all the options were shrimp, crab, or lobster. For the entree, I got the garlic shrimp while my boyfriend got the filet mignon. A small salad came with the meal, and was full of a variety of greens with a Thousand Island dressing of which I wasn't very fond. When the entrees came, we were shocked. The filet was a huge, thick piece of meat, and the shrimp filled the plate. Separate plates were brought out with the sides that we shared: home made potato chips, steamed veggies, and a tasty rice. The amount of food was huge with the concentration on providing the patron with a healthy portion of entree. I was very impressed, and enjoyed the shrimp immensely. The filet was perfectly cooked and actuaally arrived mediuam well. I saved room for dessert and my boyfriend and I shared a chocolate cake which was not overly rich or sweet. We topped off the meal with an alcoholic coffee drink that was really very tasty, called the Mallorca. Although the meal was slightly pricy, I didn't think that it was too much for the amount and quality of the food. The wait staff were very attentive, and there was someone to make sure that we had plenty of drinks and received our food in a timely fashion. All in all, it was a very good experience, and I would definitely go back.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the Atlanta Thrashers this evening. The Pens played with alot of energy in the first period, and then gave a push in the third to put 20 shots on goal. You would think that there were no shots on goals to hear the fans complain. I have to admit that there are puck handling issues. Players pass the puck to no one, or they aren't able to corral the puck when it comes to them. Marc-Andre Fleury made soem sensation saves, but even that couldn't stop the puck from going in under the relentless action of the Thrashers. Sidney Crosby didn't get a point in the game, but Evgeni Malkin did. The Thrashers won with a final score of 4-2 with the last goal going into an empty net. As I was coming home, the callers on the after game radio show were calling for Michel Therrien's head. I will admit that I am quick to blame the coach, but in this case, I would give Therrien a chance. The team is playing much better than they were last season. Therrien hasn't even been a coach for a full season. I think that the problem is that most of the players on the team are average to sub-average. Only Crosby and Malkin at this point rise about that, and one or two players don't make a team. Of course, that doesn't address the lack of puck handling skills, but it could be that the team just isn't playing as a team all the time. I did get some pictures of the game.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006 -- Late Afternoon

I just had a rather disappointing afternoon tea at Sunnyledge, a hotel that provides afternoon tea. I went with my boyfriend. Since the cost was the same as that at Frick Cafe, I thought that the quantity of food would be the same. It wasn't. For $16 each, we got a medium sized pot of tea, and a plate that had four tinsy, tiny sandwiches, a scone so small it would fit under a stamp, a tinsy strawberry cream tart, and a very small, dried out gingersnap cookie. When the plates were put in front of us, my boyfriend and I were both in shock. His first question was would there be more food coming out, and the answer was no. I think what made it so disappointing was the scone. It was so small and so unremarkable in taste. The food in general was okay, but definitely not the type of food that makes the taste buds rejoice in eating. I think that the cost was so high because we were paying for atmosphere. The Sunnyledge is a historic landmark. It used to be the home of the person who founded Shadyside Hospital, Dr. James H. McClelland. If you want tea, go to Frick Cafe, and pass up the Sunnyledge.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006 -- Early Afternoon

I just finished reading The Rookie: A Season with Sidney Crosby and the New NHL by Shawna Richer. I was looking forward to reading the book because of the glowing reviews in the local media, but I was disappointed by the content of the book. I expected an insider's coverage of the full season, but the book only provides a superficial glance of the season for the most part. Read my review for more details.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006 -- Evening

The thing that I dislike the most about Christmas, is that everything is closed and there is nothing to do outside of the home. As a person who doesn't celebrate Christmas, that means eating in Chinese restaurants and sitting at home, watching football. Today, however, is a different story. Boxing Day, as it is known in the UK and Canada, sees all the stores open. I stopped in the local EB Games today to buy a new game for the DS. I have been playing Brain Age exclusively for the past several weeks, and although I enjoy it, I was looking for something that would give me puzzles and other mental challenges. With Brain Age, you can only do so much daily training, and have to just go back the next day. I decided to give Big Brain Academy a try. The concept is the same as Brain Age. The difference is that Brain Age is more math oriented. You have quick calculations, triangle math, and time lapse. With Big Brain Academy, it's more observations and memorization. I think that if you really want to train your brain, you should get both games since they provide different games for the brain. Brain Age gives your brain an age--and mine is close to my actual age. Big Brain Academy gives your brain a weight. The weight that is considered average is 1400 grams. Mine was unfortunately only 518 grams. Part of the failure the first time is trying to figure out the games. The other is in getting the brain to think in ways that it hasn't for years. I'm hoping that Brain Age and Big Brain Academy will help my brain to become more nimble.

The Pens played the New Jersey Devils this evening. Earlier in the day, there was a bit from Martin Brodeur in the Post Gazette today. Basically, Brodeur said that he thought that Marc-Andre Fleury has good potential. As Brodeur said, he watches other goalies, and there is alot that he likes about Fleury. He also thinks that Fleury realizes that he almost has the game down pat too. Goalies are the orchids of hockey, and they take careful handling to make certain that you don't ruin their mental game by making them doubt themselves too much. I hope that doesn't happen with Fleury because he is my favorite.
Now on to the game itself. Fleury was in goal for this evening's game. The first period went by with unfulfilled scoring opportunities on both sides. The Devils are intent on playing their system, similar to the neutral zone trap, and it is making it difficult for the Pens to score. The Devils came out in the second period and scored first with a goal by Travis Zajac at 1:23. The rest of the period was scoreless, and the Pens played with a frenzy that seemed to get them nowhere. The Devils scored twice towards the end of the third period, but the Pens couldn't score at all. Brodeur got a shutout, and he is now third in the stats with shutouts. The final score is 3-0.

Sunday, December 24, 2006 -- Late Afternoon

The Steelers played the Baltimore Ravens this afternoon. At first, I was planning on doing my usual game recap, but then I thought it would just point everyone to the November 26 game. The Ravens had the Steelers number, and the Steelers were just out there dazed and confused. The only difference between this game and the Nov. 26 was that the Steelers did manage to get some turnovers from the Ravens throughout the game (three times actually) and were able to get points on the board for one of them in the last two minutes of the first half after Mark Clayton bobbled the ball in the air and Deshea Townsend was able to come up with the ball. The Steelers turned that into a touchdown. Usually when the Steelers defence got the ball, the offense would do their usual flubbing. The Steelers were stlightly better in the second half than in the first, but Ben Roethlisberger was sucking up the field and kept on trying to act like various body parts were hurt. The only tood thing is that today's loss will finally silence those people who seemed to think that the Steelers actually had a chance to make the playoffs with their incredibly crappy play this year. The only teams that the Steelers could beat were teams that had more crappy or that had off days. Final score was Ravens 31, Steelers 7.

Saturday, December 23, 2006 -- Evening

Dan Onorato, the Allegheny County Chief Executive, has promised to get a deal done for an arena in Pittsburgh. According to Onorato, he believes that a deal can be made by February. Something has to happen soon because the NHL is going to need to know where the team will be in order to make up a schedule. For the financing part of it, Don Barden has pledged $7.5 million a year for 30 years, and there will be an additional $7 million from slots revenue. That comes to $435 million which would cover the financing costs of the $230 million that will be the government's portion. Now they want the Pens portion. The thing that irks me about it is that the arena isn't just for the Pens. It's for other shows--like the Ice Capades, NCAA basketball (if we can get it back during the tournament time), boxing matches, the circus, the Harlem Globetrotters, and other musical acts. The Pens should put in something, but this isn't like the baseball and football fields in the city that are used pretty much exclusively by the sports teams. There are alot of opportunities here that for some reason our elected officials are blind to. Even if the Pens leave the city, we will still need a venue for those events. As it is, the Mellon Arena is sorely deficient.

In other hockey news, the league is considering an overhaul that will change the structure of the conferences. Instead of having six conferences, officials are looking at consolidating to four. There will split up into two divisions with two conferences in each. Each division would send the top two teams to the playoffs (for a total of four teams) and then the top four seeds after that. The Pens, if they stay in Pittsburgh, could be in a division with Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Buffalo, and Boston. The restructuring plan is part of a scheme to look at ways to redo the scheduling. Right now I think the schedule sucks because here in Pittsburgh, we keep on seeing the same teams over and over again. I'm getting a little tired of seeing the same teams all the time, and would love to see more of the Canadian teams. I've been practicing O Canada, and so far, have only had one opportunity to sing it out of 18 games. I only will have six opportunities out of 41 games.

Friday, December 22, 2006 -- Late Afternoon

My boyfriend and I wen to see Happy Feet this afternoon. Since we were both off today, we wanted to do something that we usually don't get a chance to do. I thought of Happy Feet because we had talked of going to see it. The aninmation for the movie was fantastic. The fur on the penguins looked very realistic, and one would be hard pressed to distinguish the live action people at then end of the movie from the animated part. The plot of the story was positive and uplifting. A little penguin, Mumbles, who has an awful singing voice that makes him a misfit amongst all the other penguins has the ability to dance. Of course, that doesn't cut it with the stodgy elders who think that only having a heart song makes a penguin complete. In fact, the elders blame Mumbles for the lack of fish. However, Mumbles knows that it is because the "aliens" are taking away the fish. The aliens are humans, and Mumbles goes off with a band of misfit crested penguins to stop the aliens from depleting the resources. The movie was very good up to this point. When Mumbles dives into the ocean to chase after the aliens, the plot took a dive too. The music was excellent, and I would love to get the soundtrack. My foot was tapping throughout the movie. Yes, I would recommend the movie to others, even with the slightly disappointing final 15 minutes. Go out to see it while it is still in the theaters.

Before the movie, we went to La Cappella for lunch. It's a small Italian restaurant at the far end of the Waterworks Plaza. The atmosphere is plain and simple. It looks like a simple pizza place inside with the usual pizza parlor booths and tables. However, the food was excellent. We got zucchini strips for an appetizer. The zucchini was cut small and looked like french fries with their light batter. They were served wrapped in paper and stuffed into a spiral holder. A side of dijon horseradish and marinara came with it, and it was very good. Yes, the zucchini was greasy, but that's what I expect from fried foods. For the main entree, I had spaghetti and a meatball. The sauce was thick and spicy, and the meat ball was tender and juicy. All in all a good meal and highly recommended. I hope to go back again to sample the dinner menu.

Thursday, December 21, 2006 -- Evening

The Pens played the Atlanta Thrashers this evening. People were still talking about the situation with the Pens and the possibiilty that the Pens might leave the city. Jocelyn Thibault started this game because Marc-Andre Fleury has had a bad last two games and is letting it get to him. Unfortunately, Thibault isn't doing much better when he lets a goal in less than two minutes into the first period. Unfortunately, the Pens don't seem to be able to create any chances, and they give up a second goal to the Thrashers in the second period at 6:52. The goal was scored by Ilya Kovalchuck. One thing that the local announcers comment on is that Evgeni Malkin wasn't looking at the goal when he shot a puck, and he just missed the net. Perhaps if he looked, he might have gotten it in. The Pens were looking pretty lacklaster and were trying to kill a penalty when Jordan Staal scored his fifth short handed goal. Seconds later, it looked like Malkin might do the same, but he came up short. Unfortunately, the Thrashers took advantage of their power play and scored on Thibault. Thibault seemed to be clueless about where the puck was prior to the shot. There was a scary moment in the last minute of the second period when Bobby Holik took a cheap shot at Dominic Moore, hitting Moore along the side of his head. Holik used his elbow and stick end to land the blow. Holik is known for dirty, cheap shots like that, and someone should do something about it. The Pens come back fighting with a goal by Ryan Malone who was assisted by Sidney Crosby. Crosby has now scored in ten straight games. The third period was dwindling down. 15 seconds were left in the game, when Crosby chipped the puck into the net to tie the game. This is one of the few times when pulling the goalie, as the Pens did, actually works. The game goes into overtime! Even though both the Thrashers and Pens try their darndest, neither scores in overtime, and the game goes into a shootout! The Thrashers go first and Slava Kozlov scores. As the Pens wear their rally caps, Erik Christensen misses. Marian Hossa socres, and the game rests on Crosby's shoulders. He misses, and the Thrashers win. The Pens get a point at least. Final score is 4-3.

A new video of Barbaro has been released by his vets and played on Good Morning American. Dr. Dean Richardson was walking Barbaro outside, and there was no bandage on Barbaro's injured right hoof. He definitely does walk differently on that leg, and it seems to bend awkwardly, but it doesn't seem to bother him. Dr. Richardson said that Barbaro will be leaving the New Bolton Center soon because it will be in Barbaro's best interests to be in a place where he can be walked every day on soft ground. The majority of area around the New Bolton Center is covered by asphalt, which isn't the best for Barbaro.

Thursday, December 21, 2006 -- Afternoon

Bad news for all the Pens fans here in the city of Pittsburgh. Mario Lemieux has announced that the team is no longer up for sale. Instead, the current ownership is going to shop the team around to other cities. The possibility of relocation is looking like the only option left for the Pens. As Lemieux said in the statement, the team has been trying to get an arena deal for the past seven years, and they have to look at a long term solution for the team. I know that the people out in Kansas City are really eager to have a hockey team, and they have been trying to woo the Pens for awhile. I hate to say that next year at this time, we will probably be watching the Kansas City Pens every now and again on Versus. What else is the team to do?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006 -- Afternoon

Barbaro's left hoof was checked by a hoof specialist yesterday to find out how the healing process is going. That is the hoof that was affected by laminitis in the summer. A recommendation was given on how to trim to the hoof to achieve the best balance, but the main recommendation was wait for more healing. There isn't any news on when Barbaro will leave the New Bolton Center or where he will go when he does leave. The news release that the New Bolton Center posts about Barbaro should be available by tomorrow. In fun news, the Sir Barton Stakes that is run at Pimlico on Preakness day is being renamed the Barbaro Stakes. The race is a 1 1/16 mile race for three years olds.

The Pens are up in the air over their future in this city after this morning's announcement about the Pittsburgh slots license. Local officials have been assuring everyone that the head of PITG, Don Barden pledged $7.5 million for 30 years to Plan B which would build an arena for the Pens. The Pens press release isn't as optimistic, and I am afraid that my view point isn't optimistic either. If the city was committed to the Pens, a plan would have been developed years ago instead of waiting on the Pens to get involved with the Isle of Capri plan. Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner, has also released an announcement that the future is uncertain for the Pens and the team might have to relocate. It is a sad, dark day for hockey in the city of Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006 -- Late Morning

I was listening to the broadcast of the Pennsylvania Gaming board this morning, and held up my posting while I was waiting to hear what the decision would be about the slots license for Pittsburgh. It's amazing how much crap they go through that shows what a politicized thing the slots license awarding is. Sometimes I think that politicians just love to hear themselves talk and don't care if bore everyone. Their goal is just to do some self-promoting. The ironic thing is to hear the one committee member talk about being objective. I think that means being objective about how you line your pockets with cutbacks. After alot of mumbo jumbo, Majestic Star and the PITG group got the license for the North Shore area of the city. Isle of Capri is out, and the Pens are out in the cold. This probably means no arena and no team in the city after this year. I'll keep my ears open for comments from the Pens on the matter.

The Steelers have four players going to the Pro Bowl this year. The starters are Alan Faneca and Troy Polamalu. Casey Hampton and Willie Parker are on the reserves. This is Parker's first appearance in the Pro Bowl.

I just finished reading Michael Crichton's latest book, Next this week, and I enjoyed it. It wasn't as good as some of the others that he has written, but it wasn't bad either. Read my review for more details.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the St. Louis Blues this evnening. All I have to say is that it was one of the most disappointing displays that I have seen from the Pens in this season. After the game, as soon as I got home, I turned on the local sports show, and Michel Therrien gave news conference after the game where he expressed his displeasure in the Pens' performance this evening. As he said, the fans turn out in a sell-out (slightly over 17,000 fans today), and they deserve a better performance than the Pens gave. Evgeni Malkin did have a goal, but the team as a whole sucked. They couldn't handle the puck at all--there was so many opportunities where someone just let the puck go past them, pitched it into the wrong area, or just gave it away to the Blues. Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled from goal in the second period after letting in the third goal. The final score was 4-1, but it was an awful game. I didn't get as many pictures because there weren't alot of positive moments on the ice. The good news was that Sidney Crosby got a point (so far a point in nine straight games) and was named the first star for the week. Afterwards, in a question and answer period with the press, Crosby said that he made a few mistakes and that the team just didn't play good. it takes a man to admit his errors.

Monday, December 18, 2006 -- Evening

Mario Lemieux had a press conference this afternoon where he talked about Jim Ballsillie dropping the deal with the Penguins. Lemieux admits that Wednesday is the turning point because that is the day that the slots license comes out. As he said, the Pens are just going to wait until then to determine the future of the team. It's hard to explain to anyone why the slots folks would turn down a $290 million deal to build an arena that would be used not just by hockey, but other events. Check out the news conference.

Monday, December 18, 2006 -- Afternoon

I am still upset because poor Ozzy didn't win the million dollars on Survivor: Cook Islands last night. He did win the SUV prize that the public voted on that. The public had a chance to vote on the person who was most deserving to win, and Ozzy won that. The guy was great at the challenges, and when it comes down to survival of the fittest, Ozzy takes the prize. I think that Yul got too much strategizing credit. Ozzy had a strategy too of providing food for the losers who couldn't fish for themselves and for being honest and fighting for himself. Yul was overrated.

News on the Penguins front. Another player has thrown his hat into the ring as a prospective buyer. This time it's Toronto businessman Frank D'Angelo and a billionaire partner, Dr. Barry Sherman. They say that they will keep the team in Pittsburgh, and say that they can even help with the financing of the arena. It seems that D'Angelo owns Steelback Beer and would be willing to finance so he can call the arena the Steelback Arena. Also, he can supply the beverages for the arena. We'll have to see what happens. The announcement of who gets the slots license in Pittsburgh is scheduled for this coming Wednesday. Everyone seems to know that the Harrah's folks are the ones who the corrupt Pennsylvania government have promised the license. It will be interesting to see if that is actually the case on Wednesday. If so, I think that someone should start an investigation into our corrupt Governor and other Pennsylvania elected representatives.

Sunday, December 17, 2006 -- Evening

The final episode of Survivor: Cook Islands is titled This Tribe Will Self-Destruct in 5, 4, 3.... The big twist that we heard so much about was that instead of two people to chose from in the finale, there were three. it came down to a tie-breaker between Sundra and Becky when Ozzy won the final immunity. Becky won that, and that meant that the votes were between Yul, Becky, and Ozzy. No one voted for Becky--basically because she didn't belong there. it came down to four votes for Ozzy and five for Yul. That means that Yul won, but it was close. Read the recap for all the juicy details.

Sunday, December 17, 2006 -- Late Afternoon

The Steelers played the Carolina Panthers this afternoon. The second and fourth quarter Steelers were like the players of last year. They wound up winning the game which so far still keeps them in the playoff hunt. Read the game summary for more info.

I found out this morning that Carmelo Antony is a really wussy sort of guy. Yesterday, the Knicks and the Nuggets got into a fight at the end of their basketball game. The Knicks were upset and frustrated because as Isiah Thomas (the coach of the Knicks said) they had surrendered and accepted defeat. The Nuggets though, kept their starters in the game and wanted to rub the defeat into the Knicks face. After all the Nuggets were up 20 points with only one minute left. This didn't go over to well with the Knicks and one of the Nuggets got roughed up while trying to make yet another basket. Well, fighting broke out. The reason I call Anthony a wussy is because he threw a sucker punch at a guy and then ran off with his tail betwewn his legs quicker than a hungry dog running to a kid eating ice cream. What a wussy baby! Anthony'e probably going to get a hefty suspension for being a jerk for throwing the punch. The only thing surprising to me is that more people are calling him out for being such a chicken liver to punch and run.

Saturday, December 16, 2006 -- Evening

The Pens played the Montreal Canadiens this evening. Unfortunately, the team seemed to be out of it abit, and I'm not sure if was mental exhaustion from the two winning games at home, and the fact that they played last night or just that the Canadiens are really a good team. Evgeni Malkin got the first goal of the game. Unfortunately things didn't go well for the team after that. Although the Pens finished the first period with the lead, the Canadiens came back to score four goals while the Pesn were held to no goals. The four game winning streak that the Pens had was broken. Amazingly, the Canadiens had 23 shots on goal in the second period only. Sidney Crosby was held to only one point this evening, but is still the points leader for the season. Final score was 6-3.

Friday, December 15, 2006 -- Late Evening

It was a standing room crowd at Mellon Arena tonight. When I got to the arena, I was shocked to hear that Jim Balsillie had withdrawn his offer to buy the Pens. It seemed that Balsillie wanted to move the team out of Pittsburgh, regardless of what he was claiming. After talking to the NHL, it was clear that the support of the NHL was for the team to remain in Pittsburgh. Without a clear committment to the building of a new arena, he backed out. Everything is up in the air now, but the Pens are just going to sit tight and wait to hear what happens with the slots license.
Onto the game! All I have to say is wow! The seats I had were great. I was right on the center ice line, and was up so close that I could hear the players on the ice. The Pens had no problem taking care of the New York Islanders, even with Jocelyn Thibault in goal. Sidney Crosby was his usual awesome self. When I came home, I saw some really nice highlight reels of Crosby and his puck handling in the game. The Kid is really something else and he had four points in this game (one goal and three assists). Ryan Malone had a hat trick to help the Pens get their 7-4 win. Mark Recchi who is starting to win me over with his hard play, got his 800th career assist in the game. It was a great game, and I got some really great pictures.

Friday, December 15, 2006 -- Morning

Today is the first day of Hanukkah.

Barbaro might be released from the hospital in the near future. It seems that he has been doing so well that Dr. Dean Richardson thinks that he might be able to complete his recuperation from home. Also on the Barbaro front, a portion of the sales from a figurine of him have been given to the New Bolton Center. Here is a link to the statuette.

The Pens are playing the New York Islanders tonight at the Mellon Arena. I am really excited about the game because I have seats in the Igloo which is center ice. They are really good seats, so I am excited about it and my viewing opportunities. Also, there should more food opportunities--expensive, but what the heck.

Thursday, December 14, 2006 -- Evening

Thursday night's episode of Survivor: Cook Islands is titled I Have the Advantage...for Once. I was really rooting for Ozzy to win immunity because his supposed allies are against thim. Fortunately, Ozzy won immunity, so he is safe for a bit more. The final episode will be on Sunday. Parvati was voted out in this evening's episode. I really hope that Ozzy wins, and there isn't much farther to go before we find out. Sunday's episode will have three tribal councils. Go Ozzy! Read the show recap.

Thursday, December 14, 2006 -- Afternoon

Sidney Crosby has the lead in the points race for the NHL after getting six points in yesterday's game. For the season, Crosby has 47 points. Crosby is the talk of the print and air waves because of his six point game. It's not a common occurrence for a player to score six points in a game, and everyone is on the Crosby bandwagon. Crosby is a joy to watch, and I'm glad that I have the opportunity to see him play. It will be a shame if the team leaves the city.

In other Pens news, John LeClair was placed on unconditional waivers and is an unrestricted free agent. That means that the Pens aren't responsible for paying his salary even though it goes against their salary cap. Hopefully another team will pick up LeClair because he isn't ready to retire. The problem is--who will pick up an older player in his waning years? Not many, if any, teams.

There is news about another player that I like, Jeremy Roenick. It seemed he walked out on the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday. The Coyotes scratched him because of a "bad back", but Roenick said that he was well enough to play. So he just left the arena. Wayne Gretzky is going to make Roenick sit out tonight's game too as punishment.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 -- Evening

The Pens played the Philadelphia Flyers this evening at Mellon Arena this evening. The game was a thrilling one, with the Pens taking an early lead of 2-0 with Chris Thorburn and Sidney Crosby. Sid the Kid had a stellar night with five assists and a goal for a total of six points. There were some negative moments too, which is just what you would expect from the crappy Flyers. Right after the end of the first period, as the players were heading to the lockers, Crosby got a hit from one of the Flyers that started abit of a scrum. Then there was a low hit from one of the Flyers on Marc-Andre Fleury was knocked to the ice by Randy Robitaille. The blow even knocked off Fleury's helmet. Both incidents led to penalities for the Flyers. The final score of the game was 8-4, and it was a fun game even though there were moments when Fleury looked like he wasn't paying attention. Also we still were having problems taking proper advantage of power plays. With only six second left in the game, Jordan Staal made his fifth short handed goal of the season. I missed getting a picture of it because my camera chose that exact moment to turn itself off. I did get a few nice pictures of the game. Stars of the game were Crosby, Sergei Gonchar for his two goals and two assists (four points), and Ryan Malone with one goal and two assists.

Monday, December 11, 2006 -- Evening

The Pens are playing the Washington Capitals this evening, and there has been alot of talk about the Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin matchup. It appears this is going to be the first time that the pair have played in a nationally broadcast game. This one is on Versus. I have to admit that Ovechkin is a cutie. The big promo for the show is that Ovechkin is going to be interviewed with Evgeni Malkin and will be translating for him.
In the first period, the Capitals have come out shooting and have made alot of shots on goal, which have resulted in two goals. The Capitals have 17 shots on goal in the first period. Between the first and second period, Versus showed the interview with Ovechkin and Malkin. Ovechkin said that they are friends. Malkin said that they respect each other, but that if he had the chance to hit Ovechkin during a game, he would--Ovechkin added, "no chance." The second period starts with Marc-Andre Fleury under heavy attack. He beautifully fends off a shot by Ovechkin to only have Chris Clark taking the rebound to score. It is the second goal for Clark and the second assist for Ovechkin. Fleury gets beaten by another one--this time a short handed, and the Pens fall behind with a score of 4-0. The Pens have had a problem with the power play and the penalty kill, and the Capitals are taking full advantage of it. Finally the Pens score with a goal by Maxime Talbot. There is bad blood between the two teams with a long standing rivalry between the two. So it's not surprising when a fight breaks out amongst the players. With less than two minutes left in the second period, Erik Christensen scored. Then more excitement when Malkin tosses the puck from the boards to Crosby who rockets the puck past Olaf Kolzig. As the period ends, the score is 4-3. With the start of the third period, we are rewarded with a beauty of a goal. Crosby is on his stomach, shoves the puck in front of Kolzig, where it is picked up by Malkin who falls to his stomach, but somehow manages to get the puck past Kolzig. The score is now tied. No score during the rest of the third, but unfortunately, with three seconds left, Malkin elbowed a Capital. That means that in the start of overtime, the Capitals will have a 4 on 3 advantage. Overtime, and Fleury has to resort to making some spectacular saves. The Pens managed to kill the penalty. Darn! Overtime ends and the game is still tied. That means a shoot out, and we know how the Pens do in shoot outs! The only good news is that the Capitals seem to suck even more than the Pens do at the shoot out. First up is Christensen for the Pens. He scores! Whoo-hoo! then Mike Green didn't score for the Caps. Then Crosby went and missed. Ovechkin goes next and he scores to tie things in the shoot out. Then Malkin goes and he scores. It's now up to Clark for the Capitals. He has to score to continue the shoot out. Fleury gloved it to win it in the shoot out! That was some game! That shows you the mental attitude of the players! They don't think that when they are down they can lose--and they went from being down 4-0 to winning in a shoot out. What a game! The announcers on Versus seem to think that the Pens rally cap is what won the game for the Pens. Everyone on the Pens bench (except for the shooters) put their helmets on backwards.

Monday, December 11, 2006 -- Afternoon

Some random thoughts about the NFL. Has anyone other than me noticed how the Indianapolis Colts seem to fall apart at the end of the season? Last year the team had an undefeated record going into the final few games of the season, and then just fell apart and started to lose. Everyone said that it really didn't matter because the team already had the bye in the playoffs sewn up, but look at where it got them. An elimination in their first playoff game. Another thing that I have noticed is that the Steelers nation doesn't see to want to admit that the playoffs just might, maybe, be out of reach for the team this year. I keep on hearing everyone talking about how the team still isn't mathematically eliminated just yet, and there is always hope. I'm not saying that the team should just skulk around like beaten cats, but the fans shouldn't be getting so hot about still having a shot. There are so many other teams that have a better shot than we do. I mean really! In order to have a shot the Cincinnati Bengals would have all three of their final games while we win all three of ours. Not a very likely scenario considering that the Bengals have been hotter than the Sahara, but who wants to listen to reason.

Saturday, December 9, 2006 -- Evening

I missed half of the game, but the announcers have been saying that the first two periods of the game were among the best that the Pens have played all season. The score was tied in the first period, but the Pens pulled ahead in the second to have a 2-1 lead. Unfortunately, the thing that happens every time with the Pens is that the play gets abit sloppy. The Atlanta Thrashers tied things up early in the period, and the Pens fought back to again take a one point lead (3-2). However, with less than five minutes left in the game, the Thrashers came on to tie things up. The goal scorers for the Pens were Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Ryan Whitney. The Pens really put pressure on the Thrashers in the last minute of the game, but it didn't help. The game went into overtime. The Pens really put their all into the overtime, and there were some wonderful plays. They are all obviously hoping that the game won't go into a shoot out because they haven't done well in that area. Thank goodness! Malkin was trying to get a goal, and tried to get the puck in and was pushed into the goaltender. Colby Armstrong got the rebound and shoved it into the net. No shootout, and the Pens win in overtime--4-3. It's about time the Pens got a win, and hopefully this will be something that will energize them into getting even more wins. Malkin definitely upped the level of his game.

Saturday, December 9, 2006 -- Morning

I finally had a chance to watch Survivor: Cook Islands. Jonathan has finally been voted off, but the summary of next week's show has me worried because it seems that Yul and Becky may be turning on Ozzy. Ozzy is my favorite on the show, and I am really rooting him on. I hope that he wins. However, usually the person that I cheer on wins up losing. I hope that this season is different. The only two that I would really not want to win would be Adam and Parvati, especially Parvati. Read the summary of the show for more details.

The Pens are playing the Atlanta Thrashers this evening. It will be interesting to see how the game goes because for the first time, Michel Therrien has called out Evgeni Malkin for not producing lately. Just to make it clear, Therrien isn't saying that he is unhappy with Malkin, just that he has to pick up his level of play. Usually the line that sees the most results is whichever line Sidney Crosby is on. That can't continue because you can't have a successful team with only one line, or only one player who is able to elevate his game to a level that produces results. Crosby is really impressive. He always seems to have energy, and he always seems to really try to get the team a win. He is my second favorite after Marc-Andre Fleury.

Friday, December 8, 2006 -- Morning

I made it back from the frozen tundra known as Heinz Field with nary a sign of frost bite. That's more than the Cleveland Browns could say after their trouncing by the Steelers last night. It was amazing what the cold weather could do to the Steelers because they played better last night than they have all season. Of course, it could be because they were playing one of the worst teams in the NFL. It would be hard not to look good when compared to someone who is really bad. However, the win should be a big confidence boost to them, and they will have some extra time off before they play next Sunday to recover from injuries. As for my experience at the game, I have to admit that I can't give any details of the action because I couldn't make out the players well enough to see who was doing what (unless they weren't in a pack of people) and I was far to cold to think of anything other than the fact that my toes and fingers were aching from the cold. I kept on trying to wiggle toes and fingers in the hopes that I wouldn't get frost bite, and I had a strong envy of all those people who had those hand warming packs. My multiple layers and comforter didn't seem to have any affect against the biting winds that swirled around the upper levels of the stadium. The other thing that I noticed is that there were several really drunk people wandering around the stadium at the start of the game. It makes you wonder how they were still getting beer. The fan experience for me was a sobering one because I am much more used to the fans at Pens games. Although they get may get rowdy, they aren't obnoxious, falling down drunks. The ones who weren't drunk were elitist about not being first timers at the game, and were pretty much rude and obnoxious.

The Pens played the New York Rangers in an exciting game. Nils Ekman was tripped up in the first period and had a penalty shot that he made. Then Sidney Crosby made a beautiful goal in the second period against a bevy of Rangers. Everything imploded though in the third period with the Rangers tying up the game with 11 minutes left. The game went into overtime which ended with the game still tied. That means a shootout, which the Pens suck at! Evgeni Malkin was first up for the Pens, and he didn't get it past Henrik Lundqvist (who is has not let a single shoot out goal past him in 22 attempts this season). Brendan Shanahan scored for the Rangers. That was all the Rangers needed when both Ekman and Crosby came up dry. The Pens got a point, but they also earned a lesson about not holding onto a win that was within their grasp.

I obviously wasn't home yesterday to see the latest episode of Survivor: Cook Islands. I'll watch it tonight and have a recap of the action.

Thursday, December 7, 2006 -- Afternoon

Today should be a busy evening for me. My boyfriend and I have tickets to this evening's Steelers game. He is very excited because he is a huge Steelers fan, and it is usually difficult to get tickets to the game. This year, it has become easier because the season ticket holders aren't as keen on the team because they suck, so more are willing to sell off their tickets. Unfortunately, the game is tonight, which is supposed to bitterly cold with wind chill factors close to zero with snow forecast. I'm just hoping that we don't get frost bite anywhere because it appears it only takes 30 minutes to get that, and sitting for 3-4 hours in freezing temperatures isn't a good thing. We are going to wear multiple layers, and take blankets. I'm just hoping that we don't get wet because that will make it worse. The Steelers are playing the Cleveland Browns. I"m not going to take my good camera--I'm going to take the smaller one, so I will be taking some pictures, but they probably won't be as good as my Pens pictures.

The Pens are also playing an away game tonight against the New York Rangers. Michel Therrien has said that Jordan Staal will play tonight but there is no word on who will sit tonight. There has also not been any word on the future of John LeClair. Because I will be at the Steelers game tonight, I'll have to post my comments on the Pens game some time tomorrow.

The latest news on Mars is that water may indeed be flowing on the Red Planet. It seems that scientists have looked at pictures that were taken by the Mars Global Surveyor show signs of recent water activity in gullies. The scientists believe that the gullies were formed by flowing water and see signs of deposits in them that could be mud, salt, or frost. Some scientists don't think that what they are seeing was formed by water, but by liquid carbon dioxide. It appears that liquid carbon dioxide has a lower freezing point than water and could still be in liquid form at the -107 degree C that exists on the Martian surface. This is sounding eeriely like Percy Lowell's canals.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the Florida Panthers tonight at Mellon Arena. A meager crowd of 12,511 showed up to watch the Pens lose tonight against a team that broke a six game losing streak with the win. The Pens had serious problems with their power play. They were just unable to keep the puck in the Panthers zone. Jordan Staal was a scratch, and I think that the team missed him. Ryan Malone played this evening and had moments of energy. Sidney Crosby was his usual brilliant self and had an assist and a goal--a very pretty one that I just missed catching on film. Sometimes I am just too slow in getting my camera into position. Final score tonight was Panthers 3, Pens 2. I hate to say this, but the Pens are sucking up the ice of late. I hope that they get out of this slump soon. Check out my pictures of the game.

Monday, December 4, 2006 -- Evening

Finally, the Steelers have made the smart move of releasing Duce Staley from the team. The guy has been a non performer since he joined the team. Staley came into training camp out of condition and really wasn't interested in getting into condition and helping the team. I have an extremely low opinion of the lazy Staley, and if I had a Steeler jersey with Staley's name on it, I would burn it. Granted, I doubt that I would have ever purchased a Staley shirt because he just never struck me as a player who had his heart in the game.

Today was Jerome Bettis' father's funeral. A good number of current and past Steeler players attended Johnnie Bettis' funeral. The family wanted the event to be a celebration of Bettis senior's life, and from the reports, they accomplished that. Several players, including villified Cordell Stewart, had very nice things to say about Johnnie Bettis. All I know is that he seemed like a nice guy from what we all saw of him in the media. Both of Jerome's parents were team parents and took all the players under their wing.

Now on to Penguins news. John LeClair cleared re-entry waivers. That means that no team wanted him at even half price. What this means for LeClair's future is unclear because it will be his decision to retire at 37, or for the Pens to find some sort of role for him. I feel for LeClair because he isn't the one who is deciding that it is time to go. He's being told by the system that he's not wanted, and that would be hard to take.

The Pens have called up Micki DuPont and Alain Nasreddine from the Penguins and sent down Noah Welch. Also, Ryan Malone participated in a full contact practice today and it is thought that he is fully recovered from his forearm fracture. Malone is supposed to play tomorrow.

Sunday, December 3, 2006 -- Evening

The Steelers played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers late this afternoon. I picked the Steelers to win in my Beat Bob competition, and they didn't disappoint me. The final score was 20-3. I wasn't very interested in the game because it was rather boring, and was just playing in the background.

Sunday, December 3, 2006 -- Afternoon

John LeClair was placed on re-entry today. Any team has until tomorrow at noon to pick him up. If a team does, they only have to pay half of his salary this year. If more than one team wants to pick him up, he would go to the team who is lowest in the standings. Now the thing is that if he doesn't get claimed, he remains a Pen which doesn't help his situation.

Saturday, December 2, 2006 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the New York Islanders this evening. Before the game, I learned that Andre Roy was being called back up from the Baby Pens, and was claimed on re-entry waivers by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Because he was claimed on re-entry, it means that the Pens are responsible for a pro-rated portion of his salary for this year and half of his salary for next season. Now that part of it sucks.
Onto the game! There were alot of expectations on the backs of the Pens today. After having a loss yesterday, everyone was hoping for a win. The Pens came out fighting. Miroslav Satan scored first for the Islanders, but the Pens came right back with two goals in the first period. The first was a shot by Colby Armstrong practically into an empty net because Rick DiPietro was out of place. The second was a nice goal by Eric Christensen. That goal also was credited with an assist by Marc-Andre Fleury. After that the Pens seemed to go downhill. There were some bad penalties in the second period, and misses on shots on the net, even by Evgeni Malkin. The Islanders pulled ahead of the Pens with a score of 4-2 with goals by Mike Sillinger and Victor Kozlov (who scored two). One of the Islanders goals was called off in the second period because there was an Islander in the crease at the time, shoving Fleury around. There was a brief glimmer of hope when Mark Recchi scored to make the game a 4-3 one, but then Sillinger came on to score a second goal. There was another questionable call when it looked like the Pens scored one, but after a review, the goal was not awarded. It was a disappointing 5-3 loss in front of the 17,025 fans. The one bright spot was that I had a competition with my boyfriend on the attendance and guessed it spot on. The dismal bit, besides the loss, was that I kept on seeing the backs of the folks in front of me every time the Pens made a goal in the net in front of me. What is one to do? I did get a couple of nice pictures during the game.

Friday, December 1, 2006 -- Evening

Before the start of the Pens / Devils game, it was announced that John LeClair is going to be sent down to the Baby Pens. It seems that there may be three other teams that are interested in LeClair, at least according to Stan Savarin. I'm not sure if I believe that because why would they send him down--why not just trade him?
First period: The Pens scored in the first two minutes of the game with a goal by Erik Christensen. The Pens didn't have the advantage for long because Dominic Moore getting a penalty for goaltender interfernce. The Devils score to tie things up. The Pens got another goal when Patrik Elias deflected a puck off of Josef Melichar into the net.
Second period: Evgeni Malkin came out to send a slow puck past Martin Brodeur to score 42 seconds into the period. As the announcers were saying, there wee a few freaky goals in this game. Another flucky shot. This time, the puck was shot at Marc-Andre Fleury trickled in between his legs and over the line. New Jersey wasn't done, and they scored another. Michel Therrien pulls Fleury after that goal. As the announcers were saying, the Pens are playing again tomorrow, so it might be better to give Fleury a rest. Jocelyn Thibault is now in goal.
Third period: The Pens aren't doing well in this game. Brooks Orpik crunched a Devil into the boards (I didn't catch who it was), and the Devils came on to score a goal because of poor penalty killing in my opinion. Elias was on one of the net, and Thibault was facing him, and there with a huge expanse of open net and no one guarding him was Brian Gionta who just shot the puck into the vast open space. The score is now 5-2. The Pens are trying hard to get another goal, but Brodeur is playing well. The Pens don't score another, and the Devils win with a final score of 5-2.

Friday, Decemnber 1, 2006 -- Late Afternoon

Evgeni Malkin was NHL Rookie of the Month for November for the second straight month. This is the first time a rookie has won two months in a row since Ron Hextall did it in October and November of 1986. Also, it appears that John LeClair passed waivers without being claimed by any team. I thought that something like that might happen. Now no one is sure what will happen and if LeClair will be asked to go the Baby Pens or if he will continue to be on the Pens roster. It apppears that he can still do that. It's a sad story in a way because nobody wants to go through such a public display of diminished abilities.

Friday, December 1, 2006 -- Afternoon

I had some misinformation yesterday. Stan Savrin said on his local television show on Fox Sports that Michel Ouellet was sent down to the minors when actually it was Andre Roy who was sent down. That is alot more understandable because Roy has been a healthy scratch of late. Yeah, Roy is a goofy comedian who makes his teammates laugh, but that doesn't mean that he performs up to snuff on the ice. No word yet on the fate of John LeClair. Perhaps we will know more by this evening when the Pens play the New Jersey Devils in an away game.