Greetings from a simply dreadful day in Pittsburgh. Lots of clouds and freezing rain. It might be a great day for hockey but it's not a great day in any way shape or form.
-We are officially blaming The Clarks for the Penguins' recent skid by the way.
1.) We don't like The Clarks. They're just not good.
2.) The Penguins made a run at the Stanley Cup without them last season. Now that the they're telling us what a wonderful world it is with the same band that told us about pennies on the floor, they stink. Go ahead and try to question our logic, but the numbers back up our claim.
-We've been meaning to incorporate a new video for the Penguins' goals. Something to involve Mellon Arena's goal horn and the "Hey Song." Which do you like better?
The goal horn and "Hey Song" with the Penguins' logo:
-Or the standard Gary Glitter uncomfortably gyrating in his sparkly robe:
-Let us know down in the comments.
-For you really degenerate gamblers reading along, we will not be setting over/unders for "Colby Armstrong/Johan Hedberg/etc. are former Penguins" since we are watching the game in person this evening. Sorry.
-A few jerseys we've spotted:
-John LeClair with a significant jersey foul on account of the hood:
-Luca Caputi Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (with a friend in an Alex Kovalev which we cut off):
-Eric Godard t-shirt jersey:
-Colby Armstrong still has some fans:
(Jersey foul on the Lemieux)
-Pascal Dupuis needs some money:
(We took a bunch of other photos but we think we overloaded our BlackBerry trying to send them. We'll try to have them posted by tomorrow morning.)
-Marc-Andre Fleury and Kari Lehtonen are your starting goaltenders tonight.
-The Penguins' scratches are Alex Goligoski, Hal Gill and Tim Wallace.
-Atlanta will scratch Bryan Little and Zach Bogosian.
-Jeff Jimerson blew the roof off this dump we assure you. We'd post a picture but our phone melted down.
19:45: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
19:37: A puck gets played down to the Penguins' net. Fleury pulls it in with his stick and covers before an approaching Thrashers player can touch it.
18:48: Ruslan Fedotenko collects a puck in the slot and whips a backhanders on net. Lehtonen rejects it. Fedotenko grabs the rebound and whips a wrister on net. Lehtno
18:33: Colby Armstrong and Fedotenko decide to drop the gloves. That's kind of odd. They calmy agree to lose their helmets and then fight. Fedotenko actually smiles as he reaches in and pops Armstrong with a stiff jab that drops the former Penguin. Both players fall over and wrestle a bit as officials break them up. That was pretty one-sided. Armstrong actually skates to the wrong box initially. Fedotenko goes to the right box. He sits there for a moment before going to the locker room presumably for medical attention. Whatever is wrong with Fedotenko, it's not very obvious from where we are. That brawl energized what was already a pretty lively crowd.
18:26: Miroslav Satan chops a feed off the side of the cage.
17:14: Maxime Talbot works the puck down the left wing and dishes a feed to Godard. Godard directs it just wide of the cage.
15:17: Of all people for Sidney Crosby to hit with his high stick, it had to be 6-foot-7 Boris Valbik. At least Crosby hit him in a higher spot this time.
It's a double minor for high sticking. Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal, Mark Eaton and Scuderi are on for the penalty kill.
15:08: Fleury covers a deflected shot in the slot.
14:28: Kovalchuk controls the puck in the corner and is booed.
14:16: Kovalchuk rips a wrister well high of the net.
14:08: The Penguins clear the puck. Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Whitney, Brooks Orpik and Talbot take the ice.
13:39: Eric Perrin blasts a one-timer from the left faceoff circle well off the mark.
13:01: Whitney and Malkin come up ice on a two-on-one. Whitney pulls up, spins and throws a backhander on net which deflects off the post.
12:14: Kovalchuk takes a feed down the the slot and directs a shot low on net. Fleury closes the gates and makes a fine save.
11:47: Ron Hainsey blasts a one-timer from the top of the slot that clunks off the back boards.
11:31: Fleury gloves a slapper by Armstrong from the slot with ease.
11:17: The Penguins kill both of Crosby's penalties. Atlanta had some chances but Fleury played big. That had to be a confidence booster for the Penguins.
10:54: Crazy sequence there. Crosby leads a three-on-two up ice. He forces a pass that gets broken up but gets the puck back and tries to jam a backhander by Lehtonen. No dice. The puck bounces out to Philippe Boucher at the right point. He blasts a slapper which misses the mark. It hits off the backboards and bounces out. Armstrong and Crosby are tangled up behind the net and wrestling on the ice. Crosby loses his lid. Officials blow the play dead. Armstrong is nabbed for holding. Not even 10 minutes in and he has seven minutes in penalties.Crosby, Malkin, Whitney, Letang and Tyler Kennedy are on for the power play.
10:00: Letang tees up a slapper from the left point which hits a body in front and deflects away.
9:49: Crosby blasts a slapper which Lehtonent punches out.
8:54: Well the penalty killing might be better tonight but the power play isn't so far. Armstrong's penalty expires without much of an attack from the Penguins.
8:12: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
7:37: Armstrong drops Staal along the boards with what wasn't exactly the biggest of checks. Staal gets up and gives Armstrong a stiff shove from behind.
6:59: Tobias Enstrom corrals a loose puck behind his net and falls off his skates.
6:03: Whitney zips a wrister on net from the right point. Lehtonen kneels down to collects it.
6:01: Right off the faceoff, Petr Sykora claps down on the puck and fires a slapper which Lehtonen kicks out.
5:17: Sykora fires a wrister which gets blocked away.
4:44: Dustin Jeffrey floats a wrister from the righ wing which Lehtonen pokes away with his blocker.
4:04: Pascal Dupuis collects a puck and circles around intot he slot. He can shoot but elects to pass to Kennedy at the side of the cage. Kennedy shoots but the puck gets blocked away.
3:56: Someone already has the Fedotenko-Armstrong bout YouTubed:
(Kudos to EN commenter "Bones" for the idea.)
-Niclas Havelid is called for tripping. Crosby, Malkin, Whitney, Philippe Boucher and Kennedy are on for the power play.
2:50: Finally! Whitney collects a puck at the right point and tosses a wrister into the slot where Sykora tips it by Lehtonen on the stick side. That was pretty. It's their first power play goal since Sugar Ray was last popular. We think. Whitney and Malkin get assists. "Hey Song." Penguins 1-0.
2:14: Staal rips a wrister wide of the net.
1:54: Fleury stops a big blast from the slot.
1:03: Malkin knocks over Armstrong near the Penguins' net.
0:15: Crosby dishes a pass to Kennedy. Kennedy holds it and rips a wrister which Lehtonen fights off.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Thrashers 0.
-We don't know if its because Atlanta's a bad team or not, but The Penguins came out with a purpose and looked much more organized in that period.
-We haven't heard an official word on Fedotenko, but he never returned to the ice following his fight. A few EN commenters have mentioned the radio broadcast indicated he would not return tonight.
-We assume Fedotenko is ailing from some sort of "lower-body" injury.
-What a terrible way to leave a game. Good thing no one gets hurt in fights as Don Cherry would have you believe. Other than "Russians" that is.
-The Penguins have a 14-5 lead in shots.
-Someone must've said something to Sykora. He leads the game with four shots.
-Crosby and Kovalchuk and second with three each.
-The Penguins have a 13-9 lead in faceoffs.
-Staal is 3-for-4 (75 percent).
-Marty Reasoner is 2-for-3 (67 percent).
-Malkin leads the game with 8:11 of ice time.
-Hainsey is right behind him with 8:08.
-No one has more than one blocked shot.
-Our BlackBerry finally sorted itself out and sent our other photos:
-Wheeling Nailers jersey:
-A Senators jersey:
(Is that a jersey foul on account of the third-party rule? Or do the Senators qualify as a rival in these parts?)
-More warm ups:
-Jeff Jimerson doing what he does best:
-EN reader Dave Coutts got some pretty darn good seats at the last minute:
19:39: Staal coasts in towards the net from the corner. The tries to jam it by Lehtonen but the puck falls off his blade.
18:55: After a turnover, Fleury covers a loose puck that slides into his on end. Attendance is announced as 16,975.
18:25: Someone actually does have Armstrong and Fedotenko's fight on YouTube for real:
17:51: Armstrong appears to get Letang in the face with a stick or an elbow even. No call.
17:22: Fleury waves out a puck which deflects into the crease off an odd bounce from the corner.
16:34: An official standing near the Penguins' bench jumps out of the way of a puck that rocketed off the boards behind him. Some fans applaud his effort.
16;15: Lehtonen covers a loose puck near his cage.
15:58: Orpik shoves Joey Crabb off the puck near the boards with a solid check.
15:15: Sykora jumps on a loose puck in the offensive zone and whips a heavy wrister on net. Lehtonen kicks it out. Fedotenko's injury appears to have given Satan a second chance to prove himself as he's taken shifts with Sykora and Malkin. That's a nice line on apper.
14:37: Malkin dishes a backhanded pass to Sykora who blasts a one-timer from the right faceoff circle. Lehtonen kicks it out with a "thud."
13:56: Jeffrey whips a backhanded pass into the slot from the corner. Before Talbot can touch it, it gets broken up.
13:11: Slava Kozlov collects a loose puck on the left wing and whips a wrister wide of the cage.
12:01: A fan cheers "GO COLBY!" as Armstrong moves into the offensive zone. From the slot he dishes a pass to Mathieu Schneider on the left wing. Schneider, who's been quiet so far, whips a wrister on net which Fleury eats up.
11:03: Jim Slater falls but whips a wrister towards the cage. Mark Eaton is there to block it.
10:36: Erik Chistensen throws a feed into the slot. A Penguins defender is there to break it up. Quietly, the Thrashers have controlled the play here for about three or four minutes.
9:58: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
8:24: Apparently Senators forward and former Penguin Jarkko Ruutu bit Sabres goon Andrew Peters tonight:
(Kudos to EN reader Norb Klebanski for the heads up.)
7:17: Malkin wins a faceoff in the Atlanta zone and forces it to the net. He dishes a pass to Sykora who whips it by a prone Lehtonen on a backhand. Talk about making something out of nothing. Malkin gets the only assist. "Hey Song." Penguins 2-0.
6:39: Whitney whips a wrister from the right point. Kovalchuk is there to block it. Whitney needs to release that a little sooner.
5:56: This Malkin/Sykora/Satan line is making some things happen. Who knew it would take Colby Armstrong's iron nose to create it? Sykora tries to dish a feed to Satan streaking down the slot. Before Satan can touch the puck he gets dumped by Havelid. That's two minutes. Malkin, Crosby, Boucher, Whitney and Malkin are on for the power play. Why have they given up on Letang already on the first power play? It's hard to argue with the results so far tonight though.
5:08: Crosby gets dumped in the corner on a nice check.
4:33: Kennedy feeds a pass to Crosby who rips a wrister on net. Lehtonen fights it off.
4:19: This power play is the best.... Whitney controls the puck at the left point and slide a pass over to Malkin who hammers a one-timer from the right point which appears to beat Lehtonen on the far side. Crosby was there with a screen. "Hey Song." Crosby gets credit for the goal after he apparently tipped it. Malkin and Whitney get assists. Boucher was on the ice so uh.. don't pay attention to our little campaign for Letang. Penguins 3-0.
3:55: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
2:06: Chris Thorburn tries to enter the offensive zone but gets hit to the ice by Orpik.
1:39: Crosby goes down the right wing and zips a backhander on net. Lehtonen kicks it away.
1:23: Talbot tries to cross intot he slot with the puck and gets knocked over by Valabik's shoulder.
0:33: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
0:02: Jeffrey rushes up ice on a three-on-one. Instead of getting a quick shot off, he dishes a pass to Cooke. The horn goes off before Cooke can shoot. Jeffrey needs to take a shot there.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 3, Thrashers 0.
-Just about everything is going well for the Penguins tonight. Fleury is making all the saves. The power play is humming along. Everything is just clicking for them.
-Not to be a killjoy, but this is the Thrashers they are playing. This is a very bad team.
-That said, wins and power play goals are like oxygen for the Penguins right now. They need them anyway they can get them.
-Hopefully for the Penguins, they don't forget to play the third period.
-The Penguins have a 22-14 lead in shots.
-Sykora leads the game with seven shots. Crosby is second with six.
-Kovalchuk leads Atlanta with three.
-Atlanta has a 22-21 edge in faceoffs.
-Reasoner is 6-for-7 (86 percent).
-Staal is 5-for-8 (63 percent).
-Who would've ever thought this would happen? Boucher (15:44:) and Eaton (15:37) actually lead the game in ice time.
-Hainsey leads Atlanta with 14:47.
-Scuderi leads the game with three blocked shots.
-EN Reader "Curt" sent in a picture of his friend's Tyler Wright jersey:
17:55: The Penguins ice the puck. There's been a whole bunch of nothing this period so far.
17:43: Cooke weaves into the slot and fires a wrister which hits a body in front.
17:33: Christensen blasts a slapper from the left wing. Fleury gets a piece of it. Willams collects the rebound in the corner and dishes a feed to Kovalchuk in the slot. Fleury stones the Atlanta all-star right on the doorstep.
17:17: Kennedy fires a wrister from the right wing. Lehtonen says no.
15:23: Valabik body slams Crosby right at the Thrashers' blue line. No call. How's that not an interference penalty? Remember the "new" NHL? Godard challenges Valabik who wants nothing to do with the Penguins' enforcer.
14:23: "FLerr-EEE! Flerr-EEEE!"
13:22: Schneider fires a slapper. Fleury kicks it out.
12:09: Armstrong chips a backhander on net from the corner. It hits off Fleury and into the slot. Todd White jumps on the rebound but can't cash in.
11:33: Jeffrey feeds a puck into the slot. Crosby appears to touch it and tip it up over the net. Apparently, Pascal Dupuis has left the game with some sort of ailment as well. Atlanta has really pressed the issue so far this period. They have outshot the Penguins 10-1 so far this period.
11:23: Perrin comes up the left wing and zips a shot on net. Fleury closes the gates.
11:07: Crosby moves up on net and leaves a drop pass for... no one... Ugh... SHOOOT!
10:55: Crosby and Crabb have a discussion on Mercury-Redstone 4. We think.
9:58: Kovalchuk takes out Malkin with a check along the boards.
9:48: Valabik is sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct. Atlanta coach John Anderson is livid. Malkin, Crosby, Sykora, Boucher and Whitney are on for the power play. A goal here would all but seal the win.
8:59: Crosby is denied in front by Lehtonen.
8:15: Satan is tackled behind the net by Todd White. That's two minutes for holding. The Penguins will have a two-man advantage for 27 seconds. Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Kennedy and Whitney are on for the power play.
7:46: As Valabik's penalty expires, Malkin tees up a slapper. It hits a body in front. Lehtonen covers the rebound. Malkin, Sykora, Whitney Boucher and Crosby are on again for the power play.
7:32: Atlanta gets a break as Whitney is sent off for slashing. Four-on-four for 1:17.
7:22: Cooke comes up the right wing and dishes a pass to Talbot in the slot. Talbot moves from his forehand to backhand and tries to sneak one under Lehtonen. No dice. Talbot can't buy a goal right now.
6:15: White's penalty expires. Atlanta will have a power play for 43 seconds.
5:46: Armstrong whips a shot on net from the left wing. Fleury eats it up.
5:40: So much for the penalty kill being flawless tonight. Kovalchuk takes a pass at the left point and whips a wrister that gets through traffic and beats Fleury who didn't appear to see the shot. That makes things a little more interesting. Kozlov and White get assists. Penguins 3-1.
4:26: Nathan Oystrick dishes a feed to WIlliams in the slot. Fleury stands tall with a huge save.
4:21: Kris Letang is nabbed for hooking. Eaton, Talbot, Scuderi and Cooke are on for the penalty kill. Expect Atlanta to pull out all the stops here.
4:16: Eaton clears it right off a faceoff win.
3:54: Cooke outworks Kovalchuk for a puck along the boards and gets a clear. Jeffrey and Staal replace Talbot and Cooke.
3:33: Eaton golfs a loose puck down ice.Whitney and Orpik replace Eaton and Scuderi.
2:26: Cooke breaks up a pass in the slot and lunges to poke the puck out of his zone. That essentially kills off the rest of the penalty. That might've been the Penguins' biggest penalty kill all season long.
2:02: Kennedy comes up ice and whips a wrister right on net. Lehtonen eats it up. Armstrong gives Kennedy a shove after the fact. Officials break it up before anything develops. That was a battle of unfortunate noses there. "Cotton Eyed Joe" is busted out.
1:49: Talbot goes offsides. He exchanges shoves with Kozlov but nothing really develops.
1:34: Lehtonen is pulled for an extra attacker.
0:59: A shot by Kozlov in tight is blocked.
0:47: Kozlov is nabbed for cross checking. Lehtonen returns to net. Malkin, Crosby, Sykora are joined by Scuderi and Eaton? Huh?
0:00: End of game. We see a rare sight as the home team at Mellon Arena celebrates a home win. The "Woo-Hoo!" song plays. Penguins 3, Thrashers 1.
-Forget for a moment that Atlanta is not a stellar team. And forget that they controlled the third period. It was a win. And the Penguins claimed it through superior special teams. When was the last time that happened?
-This was a big win in so many ways for this team. First and foremost, it broke up a five-game losing streak. Second, it showed that the power play could produce. third, Marc-Andre Fleury played very well. And finally, it broke up a five-game losing streak at home.
-Fleury was sharp. After some shaky performances and being put on the spot by Michel Therrien Saturday, he needed this big time.
-Boucher impressed us tonight. Many folks, including us, questioned his place in the lineup. He got some time on the first power play unit and played well.
-Atlanta really controlled the third period, but we're not sure that was a product of the Penguins letting up. The Thrashers just played really urgent that period and had the pedal to the floorboard. Atlanta outshot the Penguins, 14-7 in the third period.
-We can't help but wonder though if the Penguins won more because of their efforts or the inability of the Thrashers. Atlanta doesn't have a lot of skill on its roster and appeared to have almost as little urgency to play this game. At least until the third period. This is not a good team.
-No official word on the status of Fedotenko or Dupuis.
-When asked if he was surpised at Fedotenko's fight with Armstrong, Michel Therrien said Armstrong seemed more surprised.
-Crosby led the game with eight shots. Sykora was second with seven.
-Kovalchuk, who almost looked as if he were going through the motions, led Atlanta with five shots. He doesn't appear terribly motivated to be an Atlanta Thrasher.
-The Penguins enjoyed a rare advantage in faceoffs, 33-29. Crosby was 13-for-23 (57 percent).
-Reasoner led Atlanta going 8-for-12 (67 percent).
-Enstrom led the game with 24:48 of ice time.
-Eaton led the Penguins with 22:41. Malkin was right behind him with 22:34.
-Scuderi managed to find a way to block seven shots. Geez.
-Staal was second with three.
-Thrasher coach John Anderson wasn't exactly sunny when talking about his team's first half of the season,
"I can't even describe it. There are no words to describe the disappointment."
-Sykora moved by a a few players into 79th place on the team's scoring list. He now has 94 points. He passed up Paul Baxter (94), Wally Boyer (94), Ulf Samuelsson (94), Bob Woytowich (93), Russ Anderson (92) and Randy Hillier (92). Sykora (43 goals) has more goals than Boyer (32), Baxter (25) and Samuelsson (11).