Big Lead Sports Bar

4/09/2008

A Good Start

PENGUINS 4

SENATORS 0

As a Penguin fan, you couldn't ask for a better script than the one that played out on Wednesday night. The hockey sandwiched between two Gary Roberts goals was a dominating performance in every sense. Period.

Finally, Ray Shero's vision for his team played out before our eyes, as we could see a full squad (sans Mark Eaton) at full strength. This is a team that is strong in nearly every facet of the game: they have elite scorers, role players, tough guys, instigators, goaltending, defense, youth, veterans, depth, and chemistry. Their only perceived weakness could be the lack of a deep playoff run for most of these players, but I'm thinking they'll learn on the fly in this year's second season.

Sure, Ottawa is a team that backed into the postseason. But this is still the playoffs, the Senators still have Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza the last time I checked, and strange things have been known to happen in Lord Stanley's Season. The Penguins would have none of it. Their body language told the story: they looked loose and they played loose. It was a confident effort, with strong performances all around. It was pretty much the complete opposite of last year's game one.

Favorite moments? There were many: Gary Roberts' pace-setting goal 1:08 into the game; Gary Roberts' goal at 18:25 of the third; Gary Roberts' end-of-the-game scrap and subsequent refusal to leave the ice; and even a few non-Gary Roberts moments: Petr Sykora's goal to give the Pens a big 2-0 cushion; Evgeni Malkin's first-ever playoff goal to extend the lead to 3-0; Marc-Andre Fleury's weiner shot to Martin Lapointe, followed by Maxime Talbot coming to MAF's defense and tackling Lapointe; Sidney Crosby mixing it up with Wade Redden, followed by Ryan Whitney delivering the beatdown of his career to Redden; and Fleury skating off the ice with his first career playoff shutout. As Michel Therrien said in his postgame comments, "You can't ask for a better way to start the series."

Despite all of the good vibes, I did feel for two people: first, for Marian Hossa. It looked like there was a lid on the goal for him, as he was shutout on seven shots on goal. But eventually, they'll start falling, and he can put the postseason ghosts of seasons past to bed. He did get on the scoresheet with an assist on the second Roberts goal.
I also felt for Anton Volchenkov, the Senator who was bloodied after being hit in the head with a puck. You never want to see anything like that happen.
So the stage has been set for Game Two, Friday night at the Igloo. The puck drops at 7 PM, and the gloves shortly thereafter. This series will certainly have no shortage of bad blood, as evidenced on numerous occasions in Game One. I'm pretty confident that Senators coach/windbag Bryan Murray will come up with a dumb quote or 10 between now and then that will further stoke the fires of the Crosbys and Roberts of the room. And much like Wednesday night, I'm also confident that those players (and others) will make the Senators wish that the Penguins beat the Flyers in the regular season finale.

Game/playoff notes:
--Nice Trib story and photo gallery here
--Crosby was held scoreless
--17,132 was the announced crowd
--Murray was not optimistic about Daniel Alfredsson returning by the middle of the series
--Mark Recchi joined the NHL on TSN for the playoffs
--Some surprising news: the city of Pittsburgh has Cup Fever
--You can watch the game outside Mellon Arena on giant TV screens:

2 comments:

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

Gary's show at the end of the game with dropping his gloves and looking for one last scuffle was classic. He's the ideael vet to show the young guys what playoff hockey is all about.

Or all "aboot" as they'd say on CBC.

Jan said...

love the big screen outside...love the scuffle at the end with crosby and the other boys....it's a team effort! go pens!