Big Lead Sports Bar


Lord Stanley, Lord Stanley...

The Pens took their latest step in their quest for a third Stanley Cup on Tuesday night, as Crosby and Co. clinched a playoff birth with a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals. There was no champagne, no excessive celebrations...this is a team focused on a greater prize. If there are any Pittsburgh Pirates reading, pay attention: .500 is not the goal of a pro sports season, even for a young team.

The Pens got two goals from Ryan Whitney, one from Sidney Crosby, and the 18th (18th!) of Michel Oullet's much-criticized season, locking up their first playoff appearance since 2001.
So how are the Pens handling their first foray into playoff territory? Says Dave Molinari:
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said he was not aware the Penguins had clinched until a reporter mentioned it, although he allowed the accomplishment was "pretty cool."
I would expect nothing less of an answer from MAF.
The game featured a fight between Georges Laraque and Donald Brashear, which Fox Sports' Final Score described as "like a heavyweight fight between Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago."
This game also closed the book on another season of Alexander Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby storylines. Somewhere, a hockey TV exec is shedding a tear. The career head-to-heads look like this, after two seasons: the Pens have won 7 of 8; Crosby has 5 goals, 9 assists, and 14 points; and Ovie has notched 3 goals, 6 assists, and 9 points. That should quiet any "who's better" debate for a long time, if that even is a debate any more.
Tuesday's matchup was played before a crowd of 18,277 in Washington, but there was a Steeler-esque road following for the Pens on this night. Said Ryan Whitney: "In warm-ups, it was crazy. They were chanting, 'Let's go Pens.' It was a little unexpected. There's usually a good amount of Pens fans here but not that many."
The Pens are now 44-23-10 (98 points), currently 5th in the wild Eastern Conference standings. Next on the agenda is a Thursday rematch with Boston, who the Pens took down on Sunday afternoon. Five games to go (at Boston, at Toronto, Buffalo, at Ottawa, N.Y. Rangers) until playoff hockey hits the Burgh.


Hooks Orpik said...

I was at that game (from Richmond VA). It was ridiculous how many Pens fans were there.

You could see in warmups too how happy and encourage all the Pens were to see such a following. They were literally all beaming.

Actually I kind of attribute that to the slow start. I think they naturally relaxed a little too much, especially considering how Boston just rolled over and mailed it in, maybe they thought Washington would too.

Dirty Sanchez said...

I was there too. It had to be a 50/50 split, which is just ridiculous for an away game (or should we start considering these home games for the Penguins?).

Every time a "Let's Go Caps" chant started up, inevitably it was converted into a louder "Let's Go Pens" chant. Awesome.