Big Lead Sports Bar


Pens Win, Pens Win

I have a message for all of you out there who ignore the Pittsburgh Penguins: you're missing out. I absolutely bleed black and gold, but to me, bleeding black and gold means loving ALL of the Pittsburgh sports teams. I must say, if you ever tire of debating how Ricardo Colclough screwed up a punt return for the 900th time, there is another interesting way to spend your time.
The Pens opened tonight with the Philadelphia Flyers, a team that I personally would rank right alongside the Bengals and Ravens as organizations I absolutely hate with a passion. The Flyers are like the Oakland Raiders in that their management always seems to live in the 1970s. Where the Raiders have Al Davis at the helm, the Flyers have had Bobby Clarke. He played on all of the "Broad Street Bullies" teams and in turn have always stocked the Flyers with a certain percentage of goonery. Unlike the Raiders, the Flyers have continually remained competitive. However, the same players Clarke seems to pick because he likes the cut of their jib have morphed into one of the biggest groups of underacheivers in sport over the last 30 years.
The Flyers last won the Stanley Cup in 1974-75. Since then, they have lost the NHL finals five times while winning 12 division titles in that span. They always play a great regular season, then fall apart when it counts the most. They're built to fail.
We've had many memorable playoff series with the Flyers, including the famous 5-OT game (which I attended, as a matter of fact) in 2000. But they hate us and we hate them. Witness the many "Phuck the Flyers" shirts and "Flyers Suck" chants in the arena each time they visit.
So what better team to kick off the highly-anticipated season with than these very Flyers? With new owner Jim Balsillie in attendance, following a 15-minute video/music/laser montage, the Pens and Flyers finally hit the ice. Michel Oullet scored the first goal of the game and of the season at 6:46 of the first stanza, and the Penguinos would never look back. Jarko Ruutu, Sidney Crosby and even Josef Melichar added goals, although one was all the Pens would need on this evening.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who almost started the season in the minors just days ago, played like a man possessed, with an amazing 40 saves, with many coming shorthanded as a result of the 10 powerplays the Flyers were awarded. He took home the #1 star award. I think the Pens will go as far as Fleury can take them this year.
The guys really mixed it up, with Colby Armstrong delivering a firm beat-down to Flyers agitator Nolan Baumgartner in the 2nd period. A great sign in the stands tonight..."Cheddar is better, but I prefer Colby".
One of the game's many highlights was a rare squaring-off of true NHL Superstars, as Sidney Crosby and Peter Forsberg mixed it up behind the net for a few minutes. These two are developing somewhat of a history, as evidenced by an on-ice dustup last year. Allegedly, Forsberg said "Crosby could talk to him when he'd put up comparable numbers". As the author of this article, Mark Madden, would point out, Crosby scored 39 goals in his rookie year last season. That would be 9 more than Forsberg ever scored in any of his 10 NHL seasons. Point, Crosby.
Another highlight was Jim Balsillie's appearance in the booth with Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey. Upon hearing that Errey was from Peterborough, Ont., Canada, Balsillie responded with an on-air "HOLY S**T!!!". Maybe he forgot that Mike Lange wasn't the announcer anymore and that they were actually on live TV.
By the way, a seperated at birth...triplets edition:

Jim Evil, Mark Evil, Dr. Evil
It was a very entertaining game, and I can only assume the eventual appearance of Evgeni Malkin in the lineup will only be a good thing. The next game is Saturday against perennial power Detroit, 7:30 PM start. But leave your octopi at home.
The Pens and Flyers will square off EIGHT times this season, the next coming on October 28. That's almost 10% of the 82 games the Pens will play this season. If you think the Steelers-Bengals was an exciting rivalry, give this one a try. There's a history of bad blood, fights, incredible energy, and most importantly, great, exciting play. With the arena/gaming license certain to be a hot policital issue, the Penguins need the community's support now more than ever. My message for the day? Don't be just a Steeler fan. Don't be just a Pirate fan. Don't be just a Panther fan. Don't be just a Penguin fan. Be a PITTSBURGH fan.


Anonymous said...

I saw a picture of Marc-Andre Fleury this morning and could only think that shooters may have been hypnotized by the bright yellow pads. Great game for the Pens, though.

Anonymous said...

Some casual observations from last nights game.

I hate Darien Hatcher.

It took roughly 7 minutes for the Pittsburgh crowd to adopt Jarkko Ruutu as the fan favorite. The history of our city's infatuation with players of his caliber dates back to the days of Louis Lipps (the crowd is not booing, they're Lou-ing). Give a venue full of Pittsburghers a reason to shout the "Ooooooo!" sound, and we're happier than a retard at Baskin Robbins. RuuuuuuTUUUUUU! has arrived. Penguin fans, we have found out new "Moooooooose!". I order my jersey tomorrow.

Big props to Jim Balsillie for dropping the S-bomb during the television broadcast. I like any exec that uses swear words at inappropriate times. Apparently he's watched Sudden Death a few times and must think that kind of language is cool to use in the Penguins broadcast booth. Either that or he was as suprised as I was to think that Bob Errey still has a job on FSN and Mike Lange doesn't.

I know this is too early to say, but today Ray Shero looks like a hockey genius. Maybe that Ron Francis trade last decade wasn't that big of a deal afterall. Patrick who?

Steeltown Mike said...

I think your Batman and Robin, photoshop edition, was especially prophetic. All the game needed last night would have been all the "WHAM!", "POW!" and "BIF!" flying at the screen during Crosby's and especially Armstrong's tussles last night.

And, of course, running the game at the radio station last night (read: didn't see it on the tube), I missed the Balsillie remark (how do you pronounce his name?) and didn't actually see anything live.

Statistically, they've still got to find a way to stay to get about as many (or more) shots on goal than their opponent. Scoring 4 goals in their first 11 shots is more on Robert Esche, even if the Pens shots were very quality ones.

Anonymous said...

When the refs give you 10 short-handed opportunities, you are going to be outshot. Do you realize steeltown, that the Penguins spent an entire period of the game killing penalties? A lot of those shots were blue line shots, or deep shots from the boards that any goalie can make look easy. When you get a 4 goal lead, you tend to take the foot off the gas and dump the puck. However, when Philly got in the high slot in prime position to score, MAF was more than up to task.

mondesishouse said...

Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for the Batman and Robin photo. That would go to one of Mondesi's House's favorite sites, the Pensblog, which the story was linked to.

Steeltown Mike said...

When the refs give you 10 short-handed opportunities, you are going to be outshot.

This argument makes sense to even the most novice of hockey fans. I'm not trying to take away from the job that the defense or the Flower did last night. But the vast difference in penalties as it applies to this game might not have made that much of a difference.

The Flyers outshot the Pens 14-4 during power plays. Four of the Flyers SOG came in the second period during a 5-on-3. The Flyers missed the net an awful lot during power plays, else the overall statistic (40-21) could have been much worse.

At even strength, the Pens were still outshot 24-16 (2-1 in shorthanded shots).

It's possible that without some of these Penguin penalties that the Pens would have shown higher in the SOG category, but they missed their share of nets, too.

Unknown said...

If I were the new Penguins owner, I'd simply tell the city that if I don't get Aisle of Capri arena that I’ll begin entertaining offers for a move to Hamilton or Kansas City. Period. I'd also be lobbying the NHL to come out behind me in a big way.

Gary Bettman saying stuff like "The NHL wants to keep a team in Pittsburgh" doesn't help the Penguins cause, believe it or not, because it tends to let the politicians off the hook. They then figure, "Oh good, they'll settle for plan B, now we can still get our slush money from Harrah's."

Bettman should instead be threatening a move and soon if the A.O.C. isn't approved by December 31st. He should become the boogeyman, not the new owner, who you want to only be beloved by the local fans, not seen as a threat in any event.

This is logical because the league shouldn't want to see the Penguins, no matter who the owner is, have to pay for part of an arena when they can get one for free. This then would only make their Pittsburgh franchise that much stronger (by about 100 mill) over the next 20 years!!!

True, Bettman doesn't want to see Pittsburgh without a team, because the fans here have really been supporting some gawdawful teams the last few years. But don't be surprised if very soon that he comes out swinging with some pronouncement that if the A.O.C. plan is not endorsed, that he will give authorization to the new owner to begin exploring a move by year end. Look for the NHL to REALLY turn up the heat on the fat cat politicians who "Louis Lipps is my Homeboy" correctly stated on an earlier submission that, "They're not getting as much cash from A.O.C. as they are from Harrahs."

I'd have to say that we could be looking at millions and millions of slush fund dollars hanging in the balance here. I'm sure A.O.C. is saying in their boardroom, "Hey, we're putting the money into the building, not to line some crooked politician's pants pockets. We can't pay twice."

Who can blame them for feeling that way?

If the NHL and the Pens play it this way, with as great of a young team as they have assembled, the pressure will be Gi-normous to go with the Aisle of Capri.

If the Penguins get off to a great start, there's no way the crooked politicians can mess with them. They'll get their free arena. Bad start? We won't even go there.