Big Lead Sports Bar

10/24/2006

Meet the Fantastic Four

I'm sure you've heard of the Fantastic Four by now. They've been around since 1961. They were the subject of a movie that grossed $330 million worldwide. And they have an even bigger sequel coming out next June.
Tonight, a national TV audience was introduced to the new version of the Fantastic Four. But Jessica Alba and Michael Chiklis were nowhere to be found. That's because I'm talking about Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Jordan Staal - the "NEW Fantastic Four". The New FF led their team to an impressive 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils this evening, and Penguins fans should be absolutely giddy right now.

So where to start with the New FF? How about Fleury, the elder statesman of this group? On this evening, he bested one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, while raising his season win/loss mark to 5-3. He stopped 20 of 22 shots and lowered his season goals-against average to 2.50 in the process. After years of being jerked around by Craig Patrick, it looks like Fleury has finally found his rhythm in the league.

Next up is rookie Jordan Staal. The Penguins' latest #1 draft pick, Staal is making the team's decision to keep him or send him back to Juniors a very tough one (of which I would LOVE to hear your opinion). Tonight he scored his 4th goal, and his first of the non-shorthanded variety. He has been excellent killing penalties and has played with poise beyond his years. So should the Pens keep him on the big club, or return him postage due to the Peterborough Petes?

Now we shift to Sidney Crosby, who has lived up to all of the incredible hype we've heard since his early teen years. He's notched three goals and nine assists, many of the highlight variety. I don't know how many adjectives I can use to describe his awesomeness at such a young age. I can only thank the Hockey Gods for once again gracing this city for giving us the best player in the league yet again.

Of course, the best player in the league label could eventually apply to the fourth superhero: Evgeni Malkin. Malkin scored his 4th goal in as many NHL games, the first player since the Rangers' Steven King in 1992 to pull that off. His goal tonight is the stuff YouTube legends are made of. We can only hope that some Pens fan out there will post it so we can all watch it again and again.


Tonight, the rest of the hockey world got a glimpse of the future, and the game ended with the Penguins in first place. Get used to the view, Pens fans, because we will be there a long time. The Fantastic Four will only continue to improve, and the complimentary young players such as Welch, Whitney, Letang, Moore, Orpik and Armstrong will continue to grow with them. Unlike our baseball team, the Pittsburgh Penguins actually knock down the foundation and rebuild it in less than 14 years.

UPDATE: Thanks to reader "Banzai" who points out that the YouTube video is live!

14 comments:

Rave said...

Ive watched all the games so far this year and all the games have given me hope and joy for the future. But this game was different. This game didnt give me hope, It proved to that the hope has been rewarded. This game was beautiful in every aspect.

It was funny. I was having a serious conversation with a friend of mine, and I really wasnt paying attention to one part of the game. I could see it out of the corner of my eye. And I stopped mid sentence as soon as Crosby made the pass to Malkin and he made his amazing goal. I felt silent as I watched the replays, staring in dis belief that what I had just witnessed had actually happened. And by the Penguins.

It is so great to be a fan. It is so good to know the faith is pulling off. Im looking forward to this season.

BANZAI said...

Malkin's goal at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMh7XulunTQ

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

It almost doesn't seem fair that we horded all of that young talent onto one team.

The best part is it's only gonna get better from here on out!

Hahaha, all of my friends down here who teased me mercilessly about the Penguins downfall in the early 2000s are NEVER gonna hear the end of it from me this season! Do you know how shitty it was when the Lightning actually won a fucking STANLEY CUP?!?!

It just didn't seem right that in a place where it never snows and most people couldn't even tell me what the blue line was that they were all the sudden celebrating a title while the Penguins, one of the best teams of the 90s, could barely string together two wins.

Now no more, balance is restored to the universe!

Adam said...

Jordan Staal...

You really don't want to mess with the ebb and flow of this time right now. Sending Letang down to Juniors makes sense, because he's been a weak link on the blue line so far. It's not like he's not trying or that he doesn't have talent. He just doesn't belong yet.

The NHL is definitely a special-teams game. The Pens caught a lot of flack last year for having a lackluster PK, and here they are now, with a better than decent PK that isn't costing us games. Staal is a valuable part of the PK this year, as his three shorties indicate.

In the Devils game, he was our second line center...and his line accounted for two goals.
I know all about the ramifications regarding his contract and restricted free agency...but before you can worry about free agency in 2009, you gotta win Saturday's game in Philly.

Great post, by the way.

Sam said...

there's a 2-3 minute highlight reel of every game available within a couple hours of the game ending at NHL.com -- just click on scores and then look for the "300k" and "700k" links by each games' box score

also, here is the direct 700k link for last night's awesome game:

http://mfile.akamai.com/16532/wmv/nhl.download.akamai.com/16532/wm.nhl.na-central/20062007/02/0125/IH_NHL_2006_2007_125_2_700K_continuous.asx

Sam said...

nevermind... this comment format won't allow the full (long) url

so just check out the youtube link someone posted above or go to nhl.com and find the highlight link

Operation Shutdown said...

You have to keep Staal in Pittsburgh. Obviously if it was Terrien's decision it would be a no-brainer, he loves the kid. He has him on the #1 PK line with Moore as an 18 year-old, that shows how confident he is in him.

The Burgher said...

Did you see the sweet mullet on the one guy doing post-game analysis?

Nice to see Edzo there also.

dennis said...

If there were to send Staal down now then they'd be sending a bad message that they don't want to win right now. Hell who knows if they'll even be here in 3 years when they need to pay him again...Staal should stay.

NeckSnappedBack said...

If it were only that easy. GMs can't think about just this season, that is up to the coach. They have to worry about the long term future of the team. I've always maintained that the Penguins (management, not coaches and players) actually don't consider themselves Cup Contenders this year. Staal should be sent down for signability purposes. You do not want to sign he and Malkin in the same offseason. All that it would take is one owner to give some ridiculous qualifying offer to one of them and bye-bye. Don't forget, the season is only 8 games old. I would assume that come March, he might not be playing as good as he is now due to the rigors on the body and other stresses.

If he is kept I am fine with that too because he oozes talent.

Anonymous said...

As reported in today's PG, even though if Staal stays with the Pens for more than 10 games it counts as the first year of his entry level contract, he can play in up to 40 games without starting the 7 year clock for unrestricted free agency. Game 41 isn't until early January.

So it's the perfect chance to see how the team holds up. Right now, obviously everyone is giddy but needless to say there's a long way to go in the team's development.

I hope Shero and co. aren't so shortsided as to potentially put Staal and Malkin as UFA's in the same year. It's going to be challenging enough to keep this young nucleus (Fantastic 4) together in a salary capped market.

If the team kinda drops off, I'd send Staal back in time for the World Junior Championship tournament. What will be interesting is if they're still in a serious playoff chase come the holiday season.

russell lucas said...

At about 12:30, like some beacon from above, a co-worker gave me four tickets to last night's game. The crowd was smallish-- about 13,000-- but really into the game. The atmosphere is getting back to the 90s vibe, where every time you went to the Igloo there was the chance of something great happening.

We were in B15, so Malkin's goal was right in front of us. I just stood there gape-mouthed. Couldn't believe it. His deke and the backhand with his body twisted the other way is straight out of the 66 playbook. Mark Recchi made that comparison earlier, and while it's pretty heady, there are definite similarities. Plus, after seeing the way Aleksey Morozov (for his whole career) and even Markus Naslund (for the first year or so he played for the Pens) hung around on the periphery and waited for the puck to come to them, it's so different to see the way Malkin makes the play come to him, driving through the zone, seeking out contact, never giving up on a play. The guy's got all of four NHL games under his belt and plays with crazy poise.

Speaking of poise, I've seen Sid take penalties in both the games I've attended, and I think he's matured. He whines less, makes less of a huff and just goes to the box. It's still early, but that's a great sign that he's doing the things that a de facto captain has to do to get ice cred.

It's early, and there's no reason to get ahead of ourselves. It's probably more 88-89 than 90-91 ir 91-92, but this team IS going to contend for a playoff spot. They work hard most of the time and are going to hover at least at .500. To that end, they need to at least keep Staal until the 40-game clock, and for the rest of the season if they're in a spot or close to it when 40 games is up. We have no way of knowing what things will look like in seven years, and so many changing dynamics could make this a moot issue. But the team needs to get back to the postseason, and you'd have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to think that Staal isn't one of their top six forwards.

worstavid said...

Raul,

I think your naming of "The Fantastic Four" was pure genius...almost as good as your "Franco Harrahs" was!

I hope your dog Maddux is doing better. I heard from someone that he's not the sharpest tool in the shed,...knife in the drawer, razorblade in the box...etc. Is that true? Also,I still don't understand, how can a dog get kennel cough by bouncing a football off its' snout? Now I know where Maddux gets his smarts from!

Anonymous said...

I live in Sewer Jersey and the game wasn't on teevee so I had to tune in on the radio broadcast. I heard the call from Mike Lange and was totally wondering what that play looked like. He looked like a young Mario. We're going to be awesome this year!