Greetings from another ugly day in Pittsburgh. Its in the mid 50s. Drizzling. Cloudy. Ugly. We love Pittsburgh, but this is one of those day were you wonder why you can't find a job in San Diego. They need hockey bloggers in San Diego right?
A few shots from our trek up from from the Chatham Center garage. Consol Energy Center on the FIfth Avenue Side:
-This is from this morning's skate. That gentleman in the red practice jersey is Sergei Gonchar:
-He's been sporting blue cast over his busted left wrist under his glove.
-Bloc Party's "Banquet" greets fans as they walk in:
-Unfortunate timing with IceTime tonight:
-We incorrectly wrote this afternoon that Jaroslav Halak has a 0-1-0 record against the Penguins in his career. We totally biffed on that. He has never played the Penguins.
-Hopefully for his sake, his encouter with the Penguins tonight goes better than this one with former Penguin and Slovakian teammate Tomas Surovy in last season's World Championships:
-Dan Bylsma mentioned this morning that he intends to used Chris Bourque a pretty fair amount on the second line with Evgeni Malkin tonight. Good. Bourque is not going to make it in this league if he's not given a shot as a first or second line type of player. He can't play on the fourth line with guys like Craig Adams and be successful at any level.
-Some sights around the arena. They have corn hole here now:
-Some Habs fans in the building. A Saku Koivu jersey:
-It must be tough guy night here for Penguins fans. Ulf Samuelsson:
-Bob "Battleship" Kelly:
-We'll have to double-check the jersey foul status on this one. Was Kelly around for this style of jersey?
-Mario Lemieux All-Star:
(We're not quite sure of the year. Sorry.)
-This guy's really going out on a limb and assuming Sidney Crosby's going to be on the Canadian Olympic team:
-The Penguins' scratches are Sergei Gonchar and Tyler Kennedy.
-Bad news for Georges Laraque fans. He's a scratch tonight along with Gregory Stewart.
-Marc-Andre Fleury and Jaroslav Halak are your starters in net.
-Two national anthems by Jeff Jimerson deserve two photos of national anthems by Jeff Jimerson. Canada:
19:13: Roman Hamrlik air-mails a slapper from the neutral zone on the Penguins' net. Fleury steers is away.
19:10: Bourque takes the ice along with Malkin and Fedotenko.
17:35: Jordan Staal coasts down the right wing and backhands a pass into the slot. Matt Cooke is there but can't get a clean shot off. Craig Adams has taken Kennedy's place on the third line. We guess Dupuis is stuck on the fourth line.
17:05: From the slot, Brian Gionta distributes a pass to the right wing. Cammalleri hammers a one-timer that appears to be going wide. Fleury slides to his left and still gloves it.
16:49: So much for Pascal Dupuis getting stuck on the fourth line all night. As he takes a shift with Malkin and Crosby, Malkin tosses a backhander on net. Halak eats it up.
13:45: Bourque (12) takes another shift with Malkin (71) and Fedotenko. Stick Mike Rupp (17) on the line in place of Fedotenko and you have the "Steel City Line" all over again. Malkin (71), Petr Sykora (17) and Ryan Malone (12).
13:08: This line seems to be working alright. Fedotenko moves down the left wing and backhands a pass into the slot for Malkin. Malkin fans a bit on the iitnail
12:43: Mark Eaton fires a one-timer from the right point. Halak boots it out with a "thud."
12:35: Matt D'Agostini whips a wrister on net from the right wing. Fleury kicks it out with his own "
11:52: Crosby takes a pass in the slot and shoots to the far side. Halak punches it away with his blocker.
11:27: This is why Chris Kunitz is on this line. He forces Gionta into a brutal turnover in his zone then dishes the puck to Guerin in the slot. Guerin quickly distributes the puck to Crosby to the left of the cage. Crosby immediately punches a one-timer through Halak's five hole from a less than ideal angle. Heck of a play by Kunitz to force that turnover. Guerin and Kunitz get assists. Gionta should get one. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1-0.
10:34: Adams mashes Kyle Chipchura into the boards with a hard check.
8:37: Kris Letang snaps off a wild wrister from the right point. It hits Crosby up high in the slot. Crosby bats the rebound wide of the cage.
8:18: Tomas Plekanec chops a wrister on net from the slot. Fleury punches it away with ease.
6:37: Max Pacioretty pushes the puck up ice and dumps it from the red line to get a change. As he turns to go to his bench, Matt Cooke gives him a jab in the back and drops him. Officials give Cooke two mintues for cross checking. That was kind of stupid by Cooke. It does give us our first opportunity for a television time out however. Pretty late for the first commercial break. The Penguins have an interesting penalty killing unit of Crosby, Dupuis, Eaton and McKee on the ice.
6:30: Hamrlik directs a shot at net from the left point. Eaton blocks it partially with the shaft of his stick. Fleury is still forced to make a save with his left leg.
4:47: Dupuis generates a mini breakaway. He lifts a wrister which Halak fights off.
6:36: As Cooke's penalty is killed, Maxim Lapierre pumps a wrister on net from the left wing. Fleury punches it away.
3:18: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
2:54: Gionta snaps off a wrister from the left faceoff circle. Fleury makes the save. The rebound deflects to Fleury's right and behind the cage. Gionta chases after it and flicks it into Fleury with a backander. Fleury goes into snow angle mode and covers the puck.
2:40: Officially, there are at least three Bourques in the arena:
2:18: Jaroslav Spacekputs a shot on net from the right wing. It appears to get blocked in front.
1:35: Fleury covers up a puck played into the crease.
0:19: Ahhh. there's the Hal Gill we remember. He accidently snaps the pcuk into the netting in his own end. That's two minutes for delay of game. Crosby, Guerin, Malkin, Goligoski and Letang are on for the power play.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Canadiens 0.
-That was a fairly even period of hockey. The Penguins just happened to convert on mistake while the Canadiens converted none.
-Bourque hasn't really distinguished himself on the second line. That said, he doesn't seem overwhelmed.
-The passing on Crosby's goal was really slick.
-Both goaltenders have been sharp so far.
-Scott Gomez is playing fairly well for someone who has laid up in his hotel room today with an illness.
-The Canadiens have a 9-8 lead in shots.
-Spacek, Lapierre, Hamrlik and Crosby each lead the game with two shots.
-Spacek leads the game with 8:02 of ice time.
-Eaton leads the Penguins with 7:57.
-The Canadiens have a 9-6 lead in faceoffs (60 percent).
-Crosby is 4 for 6 (67 percent).
-Gomez is 5 for 8 (63 percent).
-No one has more than one blocked shot.
-The Penguins will have 1:40 of power-play time on fresh ice.
20:00: Malkin, Crosby, Guerin, Goligoski and Letang take the ice for the power play.
19:14: Deep on the right wing, Crosby zips a cross ice pass to Letang at the left point. Letang cracks a one-timer on net. Halak eats it up.
19:10: Off a faceoff win, Goligoski fires a slapper from the slot that goes wide.
18:31: From the half wall on the right wing, Malkin whips a wrister at the cage. Halak absobs it despite a screen by Guerin.
18:20: Gill's penalty is killed. Very little going on for the Penguins there.
17:33: Plekanec chucks a half slapper on net from the right point. Fleury stops it with his left foot.
16:59: Adams hustles down the left wing and snaps off a wrister to the far side. Halak fights it off.
16:02: The "fake" Steel City Line of Rupp, Malkin and Bourque take the ice.
15:20: "LET'S GO PENS!" LET'S GO PENS"
14:52: Goligoski tosses a wrister at the cage from the top of the point. It hits the right post and bounces into the right faceoff circle. Kunitz immediately jumps on it and punches it back on net. Halak makes the save. The rebound kicks to his left. Crosby collects it, spins to fight off Spacek and lifts a backhander over the glove hand of a stretched out Halak. Nice dirty goal. See what happens when you just put it on net? Kunitz and Goligoski get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 2-0.
14:49: Off the ensuing faceoff, D'Agostini clips Matt Cooke in the face. That's two minutes for high sticking. Letang, Goligoski, Crosby, Guerin and Malkin are on for the power play.
13:47: Goligoski turns the puck over in the neutral zone. That creates a two-on-one with Gionta and Gomez going against Letang. Gionta moves up the left wing, elects to shoot and puts a puck off the far post. The Penguins dodged one there.
12:59: Goligoski snaps off a wrister from the top of the slot. It hits a body in front and deflects into the corner.
12:49: D'Agostini's penalty is killed. This power play is just not doing anything.
12:14: Crosby takes a pass from Malkin on the right wing, makes a nifty move on the right wing undressing Marc-Andre Bergeron and lifts a wrister on net. Halak knocks it down and covers. Attendance is announced as 16,969. It is the team's 125th consecutive sellout.
12:03: Dupuis blocks a slapper from the left point by Paul Mara.
11:32: Lapierre tosses a a wrister from the right point on net. Fleury eats it up.
11:21: Off a faceoff, Josh Gorges tosses a wrister on net from the right point. Fleury makes the save. Lapierre is there for the rebound but can't get a shot past Fleury.
8:48: Crosby takes another pass on the right wing and tries to put some fancy moves on Hamrlik. The veteran defenseman isn't buying them and mantains his position. That forces Crosby to the outside where he flicks a backhander on net from a tough angle. Halak fights it off.
7:47: Play is halted as officials hold off Lapierre away from Martin Skoula. Not sure what that was all about.
7:02: On a delapyed penalty, the Penguins strike. Eaton takes a pass at the left point from Malkin and slides towards the slot. He winds up and blasts a slapper. It hits something in front but still gets to the net. Halak makes the save. With Cooke in front causing all kinds of havoc, Rupp is able to reach in and poke the puck from under Halak into the cage. Another dirty goal. Fantastic effort. That's the secret to the Penguins' power play. Just score on the delayed penalty. Adams and Eaton get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 3-0.
5:02: With a stoppage, Lapierre appear to start something with Kunitz in front of the Penguins' bench. An official separates them quickly. The always underrated "Your Love" by The Outfield is used for the kiss cam:
4:27: This is why Chris Kunitz is on this line. Kunitz picks up a loose puck on the right wing and plays it down low to Crosby in the slot who is behind Gill. Crosby, takes the puck, spins, goes backhand to forehand and tries to jam the puck by Halak's left foot. Halak makes the inital save but the puck appears to bounce off Crosby's skate and into the net as Gill finally catches up to Crosby. Hats rain down. The "Hey Song" and the "Woo-Hoo Song" are played. Kunitz and Orpik get assists. It's Crosby's third hat trick of his career. Penguins 4-0.
-We're a little surprised the officials didn't review that a little bit more thoroughly to see if Crosby kicked it in. We don't think he did. We think it was coincidental contact with his skate. We're just saying the league tends to review those a bit more.
4:12: "CROSS-BEEE! CROSSS-BEEE!"
1:55: Adams taks a pass on the right wing and rips a wrister. A Habs defender slides to his stomach and blocks the puck out of play.
1:06: Halak stops a shot on net. A scrum ensues. Guerin and Plekanec seem to bein the middle of it with Plekanec throwing punches. Guerin seemed to pop Plekanec in the face with an elbow or forearm. Plekanec recovers and starts punching with jabs as a Habs defender holds Guerin by the neck. Each players gets two minutes for roughing. Each player goes to their respective locker room for the remainder of the period.
0:43: Malkin lifts a rister from the slot. Halak traps it against his chest.
0:07: Off a faceoff win in the neutral zone, Crosby almost gets his fourth goal. He hustles up the ice and snaps off a wrister. Halak makes the save. The rebound pops up over him. Halak is able to punch it away with his stick.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 4, Canadiens 0.
-Well this has turned into a pretty one-sided affair. The Penguins are just jumping all over the Canadiens in just about any situation that doesn't involved them having a power play. The Penguins have more jump, more effort and just seem to be more interested in playing this game.
-Kunitz is making every case in the world to show he belongs on Crosby's line. He's had a vital role in all three of Crosby's goals and has done a lot of other stuff that won't show up on the scoreboard. We agree he needs to score some goals, but he finds other ways to contribute than scoring goals.
-Could you imagine this team with an even average power play?
-The Penguins have a 23-19 lead in shots.
-Crosby leads the game with seven shots.
-Lapierre leads Montreal with five.
-Letang leads the game with 16:06 of ice time.
-Spacek leads the Canadiens with 15:51.
-Montreal has a 19-16 lead in faceoffs (54 percent).
-Chipchura is 4 for 5 (80 percent).
-Crosby is 11 for 15 (73 percent).
-Orpik leads the game with three blocked shots.
-It should be noted Crosby's hat trick was the third of his regular season career. He also had one in Game 2 of the second-round series against Washington last season.
-Apparently Bob Errey accidently wrote a bad word with the telestrator while trying to abbreviate the word "assists." You go ahead and figure out what that word was.
-Kudos to EN commetor Brando for the heads up.
20:00: Halak has been pulled for Carey Price. Price actually has good career numbers against the Penguins. He 4-2-0 all time against them. Halak wasn't sharp and he wasn't getting a lot of help. A bad combination.
19:06: The minors to Plekanec and Guerin expire.
18:43: Scoring change on Crosby's third goal. Kunitz and Guerin each get assists. Brooks Oprik might murder someone in anger of losing his assist.
18:18: Skoula smacks a slapper from the left point. Price makes the save.
17:19: Staal tries to cycle the puck along the boards in Montreal's zone. Spacek clips him in the face. Staal goes down. A scrum ensues. The last thing the Penguins need is another injury. Staal recovers but is a little dazed. Crosby, Malkin, Guerin, Letang and Goligoski take the ice to waste two minutes.
16:40: Travis Moen, a strong penalty killer, gets a chance all alone in the slot. He goes five hole with a wrister. Fleury keeps it out.
16:00: Price fights off a slapper from the right point despite some interference by Staal that knocks off Price's lid. Staal should've gotten two mintues for that.
15:43: Mark Eaton is called for hooking. Four-on-four for 24 seconds.
15:22: Mara takes a feed at the top of the slot and snaps off a rising wrister. Fleury traps it against his chest and freezes play.
15:19: Spacek's penalty is killed. Montreal will have a power play for 1:38.
14:37: Fleury whipped the puck out of play in his own end. That's his first mistake of the night. That's two minutes for delay of game. Malkin will searve the penalty. Montreal will have a two-man advantage for 54 seconds. A goal here is a must if the Habs have any hopes of a comeback. Adams, McKee and Orpik are on for the kill.
14:21: The Habs don't wast any time. Gomez controls the puck deep on the right wing. He centers a pass across the crease to Gionta. Gionta kneels down and seems to deflect the puck by accident with his right leg to Plekanec in the slot. Plekanec takes its and roofs a shot top shelf over Fleury's glove hand. So long shutout. Gomez and Gionta get assists. The Canadiens will still have 1:44 of power play time with a one-man advantage. Staal, Cooke, Goligoski and Eaton are on for the kill. Penguins 4-1.
12:37: Fleury's penalty is killed.
11:33: Errey's potty telestrator:
11:08: Malkin sneaks in from the left wing and snaps off a backhander from the slot. Price makes a solid glove save.
11:04: Orpik fires a one-timer from the top of the slot. Price fights it off.
9:59: Skoula knocks Moen off the puck on the right wing with a thick hip check.
9:20: Play is halted as Gill gets his second delay of game penalty. Rough return to Pittsburgh for him. He protests the call before going to the box. Malkin, Crosby, Guerin, Goligoski and Letang are on the ice to waste two minutes.
9:10: Greatest. Power. Play Ever! Goligoski takes a pass from Malkin at the top of the slot. He hesitates, then whips a wrister at the cage. The puck appears to hit something in front, clunk off the cross bar and into the net. Guerin had a wonderful screen in the slot there. Goligoski gets credit for the goal. Malkin and Guerin get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 5-1.
6:45: Malkin comes flying up the right wing and twists poor Roman Hamrlik around. As he approaches the left faceoff circle, Malkin rips a wrister wide to the far side.
5:37: Pacioretty flies behind the net from the left wing then comes around the side hoping for a wraparound on his forehand. Fleury is able to keep it out.
5:00: Staal charges the net from the left wing. Gorges grabs a hold of him and prevents a clean shot. That's two minutes. Malkin, Crosby, Letang, Goligoski and ERIC GODARD?!?! are on for the power play. Well that'll surely solve all the problems with the man advantage. Cotton Eyed Joe is busted out:
4:30: Letang rockets a slapper from the left point that goes wide. Price didn't seem to know where it was thanks to a decent screen by Godard.
3:59: Malkin snaps off a wrister from the slot. Price fights it off.
3:56: Play is delayed for a broken piece of glass behind the Montreal net. We think it was damaged on Letang's shot at the 4:30 mark.
3:29: And that's why Kunitz is on the first line. He picks up a loose puck in the neutral zone, races by Spacek, approaches the net and snaps a wrister through Price's five hole. What a night for Kunitz. He looked like he was shot out of a cannon on that play. Bourque and Goligoski get assists. The "Hey Song" is getting tired. Penguins 6-1.
0:47: Guerin snaps off a high wrister from the right wing. Price traps it against his chest.
0:16: Malkin hits Gorges behind the Montreal net and takes an awkward crash into the boards. He appears fine.
0:00: End of game. The "Woo-Hoo" song is played. Penguins 6, Canadiens 1.
-That was easily the team's best performance of the season. And it was still far from perfect. That's how scary the Penguins are right now. They aren't even close to playing their best right now yet they're still winning games with relative ease.
-Imagine the Penguins with Sergei Gonchar, Tyler Kennedy and Maxime Talbot in the lineup? Imagine the Penguins with a power play running at full efficiency. This will be an elite scary team if it gets everything running at 100 percent.
-You have to feel good for Chris Kunitz. He's been drawing a lot of heat for his lack of scoring. He didn't get a goal with Crosby tonight, but he still scored on the power play breakawawy. And helped create all three of Crosby's goals. He more than belongs on Crosby's wing due to a lot of attributes he brings beyond goal-scoring.
-Don't for get Guerin's effort too. So far this season, he's played like a guy who is still hungry to prove he's a first-line player.
-It's a big stretch to say Fleury was tested, but he made the save he had to, especially early on.
-It wasn't exactly pretty, but it was nice to see the power play get going a little bit. The goals were late and they didn't really have much impact on the final result, but they helped the power-play units generate a little momentum for future games.
-We're starting to think the Chris Bourque experiment was a worthwhile, but failed endeavor. He finally some legit minutes on the second line and contributed very little. He made a nice little chip to get the puck up ice to record the primary assist on Kunitz's goal, but that was the hockey equivalent of a quarterback handing off to a running back. Kunitz did all the work.
-The Canadiens came into this game with a solid four-game winning streak and they looked like an AHL team tonight. They seemed lethargic, slow and just overwhelmed by what the Penguins brought to the rink tonight.
-Every member of Montreal's lineup was on the ice for at least one goal. Yeoch.
-The Penguins ended up with a 37-24 lead in shots.
-Crosby led the game with nine.
-Lapierre led the Canadiens with five.
-Jay McKee and Matt Cooke were the only Penguins skaters who failed to record shots. Bums.
-Letang led the game with 23:46 of ice time.
-Hamrlik led the Canadiens with 22:24.
-The Habs had a 34-25 advantage in faceoffs (58 percent).
-Glen Metropolit was 7 for 10 (70 percent).
-Crosby was 16 for 24 (67 percent).
-Orpik led the game with five blocked shots.
-Spacek led Montreal with three.
-Did anyone see Mike Cammalleri?
-The Penguins' last regular season hat tricks were scored by Pascal Dupuis and Petr Sykora in the same game, a 9-2 drubbing of the Islanders at Mellon Arena, Dec. 12, 2008.
-Kunitz's four points were a personal best since he joined the Penguins. It also tied a career high.
-Kunitz's last goal of consequence came in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final, a 7-4 defeat of Carolina.
-Guerin's three points (all assists) tied a personal best as a Penguin.
-Guerin's last three assist game came was a member of the Islanders in a 6-4 opening night win at Buffalo, Oct. 5, 2007.
-Goligoski had his third two point night of the season
-Crosby speaks. On his linemates:
"Everyone played well. Especially (Bill Guerin) and (Chris
Kunitz). Did a great job on the forecheck, created a lot of loose pucks
and I was able to benefit from that a few times."
-On going for more goals:
"Once you get three, you go for four. I didn’t plan on letting up or stopping. I think our line wanted to keep doing well. I don’t think you ever stop. You try to score every shift."
-On Kunitz breaking through:
"Yeah. Big time. He’s been getting a lot of chances, especially
the last few games. To get one on a breakaway like that. He’s very
deserving of it. It’s a great way to cap off a big night for him. "
Kunitz speaks. On breaking his slump:
"You hope so I guess. You don’t want to go too long. You try to put pucks towards the net. You try not to squeeze the stick too much but put them on net anytime you can and good things will happen."
On how he approached his breakaway goal:
"Make a move. Try to freeze the goalie and where ever he opens up put it in or if he’s out too far, make a deke. "
On his steal to set up Crosby's first goal:
"I turned it over earlier. I didn’t want to panic. But didn’t want to let them have an odd man rush. Made a little bit of an extra effort to get it down. I just happened to get on to (Gueirin’s) stick and he made a good pass to (Crosby) for a good goal."