-We know it's only the preseason, but we can't help ourselves:
-Greetings from Mellon Arena. The postseason ended approximately 49 minutes ago. And now, we're here for the first game of the final preseason at Mellon Arena.
-A few pictures from our walk up from Downtown. The water fountain at PPG Place:
-Good they decided to rip up Market Square. It's not like there's a convention of the world's most powerful heads of state coming into town or anything that will cripple traffic next week:
-We realize Barack Obama probably wasn't planning on taking Nicolas Sarkozy over to the Original Oyster House for a fish sandwich or anything (the Secret Service wouldn't confirm the President's dining plan for security reasons, sorry), but why would you rip up one of Downtown's centerpieces right before an event that will grant the city a ton of international exposure?
-While in Market Square, we stopped off for some health food:
-One of our favorite structures downtown, the Grant Building:
-Apparently they're showing some Emilio Estevez movies in the arena after the game:
-We haven't gotten a look at Consol Energy Center in a while. They're starting to put up a lot of the exterior materials like brick and glass:
-This picture doesn't really illustrate it that well, by you can really see the formation of the concourses really well if you peer inside:
-And Penguins broadcaster Bob Grove apparently has a crane and is helping with the construction.
-Fans crossing Washington Place:
-The current facility:
-They still have chalk art up on the sidewalk:
-Dan Bylsma has repeatedly stated his team is trying to downplay the fact they are the defending Stanley Cup champions. The other day, he described his team as one of 30 trying to win the Cup. Well... we guess he doesn't enter the Arena through Gate 3 too often:
-Blue Jackets forward Jakub Voracek has at least one fan here:
-Some "When You Were Young" by the Killers is playing in the Arena at the moment. You enjoy the song while we go jersey-huntin':
-A few of you have asked. The game can be heard online here at the Blue Jackets' Web site and at WXDX-FM's site.
-A few sights around the Arena. A Rick Nash All-Star Game jersey from 2003-04:
-A Sergei Gonchar team Russia jersey:
-This was, to say the least, a rare find:
-This gentleman bought a Civil War reenactment uniform and dressed it up in Blue Jackets patches. Is that a military uniform foul? We don't know. That's not our jurisdiction.
-Kevin Stevens with a 1990 All-Star Game patch:
-We have this pretty sweet shirt. We're just waiting to lose the 30 or so pounds we've gained since we first acquired it:
-Your starting goaltenders are Marc-Andre Fleury and Mathieu Garon. The former Penguins goaltender gets a brief applause from fans. He does afterall have the lowest goal against average for any Penguins goaltender in a Stanley Cup final. Based on that scoreless period he had in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final last season.
-Fleury is expected to play the first two periods and give way to Brad Thiessen.
-New public address announcer Ryan Mill takes the mic for the first time. No offense to him, he seems like a fine announcer, but he's no John Barbero.
-No Jimerson for the national anthem. Just Alyonka Larionov. The weird thing was, she was simply introduced as "Alyonka." Even visually on the scoreboard. Is she like Prince or something with the one name?
18:35: Ruslan Fedotenko is sent off for boarding. Sergei Gonchar, Chris Conner, Joe Vital and Simon Despres are on for the penalty kill.
16:40: Mark Eaton whips a loose puck down ice and essentiall kills off Fedotenko's penalty.
16:16: Jay McKee gets his first chance with the puck and whips a wrister while sneaking in from the left point. It appears to get deflected away before it reaches Garon.
15:52: Eaton appears to get away with a bit of a trip Tomy Sestito.
14:35: Robert Bortuzzo snaps off a wrister from the right point that misses the mark.
14:00: Pascal Dupuis sneaks up the right wing against John Moore, Columbus' first-round pick earlier this season, and fires a wrister wide.
13:09: Chris Conner tries to do an inside outside move on
12:54: Conner has a chance in tight with a loose puck but can't lift it over Garon's left foot.
12:50: Derek Dorsett hooked someon during the scramble on Conner's chance. That's two minutes. Sidney Crosby, Gonchar, Eric Tangradi, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang are on for the power play. Sorry... the POOOOOWEERRRRRBALLLLLLLLL power play. Ugh.
12:24: From the left wing, Tangradi snaps off a wrister that gets by Garon on the far side but clanks off the far post. Tangradi can shoot.
11:39: Fedotenko gets sent in on a nice pass and has a mini-breakaway down the slot. He shoots low to the glove side and is denied.
11:24: Fedotenko dishes a pass to Jordan Staal in the slot. Staal lifts a wrister over a defender attempting a block. Garon knocks down the puck with his mid-section and smothers
10:50: Dorsett's penalty is killed. The Penguins looked fairly active with two patchwork power play units.
10:41: Fleury stops two Columbus shots and covers the second rebound. With a stoppage, we get our first notable skirmish to the right of Fleury. Fedotenko, who is an alternate captain tonight is seperated from the pack an is missing his gloves. No penalties.
10:24: Deryk Engelland wants a job. He drops the gloves with Doug Lynch and makes quick work of him. He lands about four rights, drops Lynch and just skates right to the penalty box. Eric Godard gets an instigator somehow. Columbus has a power play. Ryan Bayda, Dustin Jeffrye, Robert Bortuzzo and Despres are on for the kill.
9:28: Derrick Brassard has a wrister blocked from the left wing by Gonchar.
9:23: Fleury eats up a slapper from the slot.Mathieu
8:23: Godard's penalty is killed. Columbus generated a few opportunities.
8:08: Well if Godard's going to get an instigator, he might as well get in a fight. He drops the gloves with Sestito during a stoppage. Not much really to rave about with this bout. The mostly wrestle around and fall over. We'll give Godard the slight edge.
7:41: Tandgradi just completely plastered Jared Boll with a huge hit in the corner to the right of Garon. Tangradi is lucky he didn't get a charging penalty there as he left his feet. Mathieu Roy hits Tangradi after the hit and is called for cross checking. Tangradi, Crosby, Gonchar, Letang and Kunitz are on for the power play.
7:23: Crosby flies to the left of the cage and sneaks a pass to Kunitz across the slot. Kunitz has a wide open net to shoot at and manages to put the puck in the F balcony. Yeesh. He needs to bury that if he's on Crosby's wing.
5:41: Roy's penalty is killed. Other than Crosby's pass to Kunitz, there wasn't much going on there.
4:37: McKee is sent off for high sticking. Fire Ray Shero. Bortuzzo, Eaton, Conner and Zach Sill are on for the kill.
3:46: Columbust gets on the board. Grant Clitsome tosses a wrister into the slot. Jakub Voracek is there and deflects it by Fleury. Brassard and R.J. Umberger get assists. Blue Jackets 1-0.
2:42: Dustin Jeffrey works the puck up the left side and cranks a slapper on net. Garon fights it off despite a little interference from Ryan Badya.
2:02: McKee tosses a wrister on net from the left point. Garon fights it off. Crosby picks up the rebound and punches it on net. Garon makes another save and gives up another rebound. Crosby picks up the puck, scoots behind the net with a Blue Jackets defender trailing him. Crosby spins and dishes it to Tangradi who can't get a clean shot off. As a prone Garon covers the puck. Kunitz and a few Blue Jackets take a tumble.
1:49: Eaton chases down a loose puck on the left wing and strikes it on net. Garon gloves it.
0:33: Conner gets into the offensive zone with the puck after a pass from McKee. One-on-one, he shoots and has his shot deflected out of play.
0:21: Conner jabs Dorsett with a solid chek along the boards.
0:00: End of period. Blue Jackets 1 Penguins 0.
-Tough to really get a feel for anything team-wise there. Each team has a patchwork lineup out there and you really can't take too much from this outside of individual performances.
-We really like what we saw from Conner. He was really active and brought a ton of energy.
-Tangradi looks like he belongs. He doesn't seem overwhelmed by the speed of the game and he's plenty physical.
-Despres looks really mature for an 18-year-old. When he was drafted, lots of folks said he was maybe 2-3 years away. He might be a year away.
-No one else has really impressed.
-Garon has probably been better in this period than any time he was a Penguin. Fire Ray Shero.
-The Penguins have a 12-9 lead in shots.
-Kunitz, Fedotenko, Crosby, Michael Blunden and Andrew Murray lead the game with two shots each.
-Faceoffs are tied 10-10.
-Dustin Jeffrey is 5 for 6 (83 percent).
-Blunden is 2 for 3 (67 percent)
-Gonchar leads the game with 9:30 of ice time.
-Kris Russell leads the Blue Jackets with 9:25.
-Grant Clitsome lead the game with two blocked shots.
-Columbus general manager Scott Howson is next to us in the press box. Is it us, or does he kind of look like Fox broadcaster Joe Buck?
19:42: Antoine Vermette, who just signed an extension, rips a wrister from the left wing, Fleury fights it off.
18:43: Eaton has a wrister from the left point blocked by a cluster of bodies.
18:28: Fleury slides to his right and makes an acrobatic save. The puck pops up in the air. Engelland is behind Fleury and swats it away with his glove.
16:09: Sill blocks a slapper by Lynch from the right point.
15:53: Fedotenko is in midseason for as he passes up an easy shot for a difficult pass. As he moves in on net from the left wing, he forces a pass to Pascal Dupuis in the slot. It gets broken up before it gets to Dupuis.
14:46: Joe Vitale just put on a nice effort with some solid work on the forecheck.
13:21: Despres kneels down to block a pass. The puck hits him low. He gets up with a bit of a limp and lumbers to the bench.
12:09: After about ten minutes of dead silence, a "LET'S GO PENS!" chant starts.
11:39: Marc Methot rips a rising wrister from the left point. Despite traffic, Fleury traps it against his chest and freezes play.
10:36: Alexandre Picard generates two solid opportunities in tight by out-working McKee near the net. McKee did not look good during that sequence.
9:48: Staal leaves a drop pass for Bayda in the offensive zone. Bayda snaps off a soft shot which Garon boots out.
9:34: Clitsome is called for interference. Crosby, Tangradi, Kunitz, Letang and Gonchar are on for the power play.
9:03: On a rush through the neutral zone, Crosby hits Kunitz with a pass. Kunitz can't handle it and a Columbus defender dumps it down ice.
7:58: Bortuzzo tries to hit Eaton on the "Ryan Whitney Play" but Eaton's about 2-3 steps behind and can't get to the pass.
7:34: Clitsome's penalty is killed.
6:43: Fleury fights off a wrister by Methot from the left point.
5:55: "Don't Want to Lose Your Love" by The Outfield is used for Kiss Cam:
-Vitale is called for hooking. Eaton, Bortuzzo, Staal and Kunitz are on for hte kill.
5:47: Staal comes up ice on a two-on-two with Kunitz. He dishes the pass to Kunitz but the play is broken up.
4:39: Andrew Murray hammers a slapper from the left point. Fleury stops it despite a pretty nice screen in front but he gives up a juicy rebound. Maxim Mayorov is right in the slot and punches it high on Fleury. Not a great rebound for Fleury to give up. He can't win the big clutch preseason games. Murray and Nikita Filatov get the assists. Blue Jackets 2-0.
3:10: Tangradi gets a nice chance in front with his back to the cage. He has the puck all alone and forces a pass to Kunitz on the wing. He has to shoot that even with his butt facing the goaltender.
2:29: Gonchar contrls the puck on the right point for about 10 seconds. He surveys the situation and snaps a pass to Kunitz to the right of the cage. Kunitz then tries to dish a bang-bang pass to Tangradi but their timing is off and they can't connect. It was a nice idea though.
1:37: Conner rushes the net from the left wing. With a defender hounding him from behind, he is unable to control it long enough to get a shot off.
0:14: That was a bad goal. Mayorov gets his second goal. He works his way up the left wing and rips a nice wrister that makes its way through Fleury's equipment. Solid shot by Mayorov, but bad goal for Fleury to give up. He had a clear view of the shot and still gave up the goal. Blunden gets the only assist.
0:00: End of period. Blue Jackets 3, Penguins 0.
-We know it's preseason, but Fleury was not sharp that period. And he's not exactly facing Columbus' top lineup either.
-Really very little from a Penguins' perspective to be excited about in that period.
-Tangradi continued to look like a NHL player.
-McKee really hasn't blown us away.
-The Penguins have a 21-19 lead in shots.
-Blunden and Crosby lead the game with four each.
-Gonchar leads the game with 16:35.
-Russell leads Columbus with 16:26.
-Columbus has a 22-19 lead in faceoffs (54 percent).
-Blunden is 5-for-7 (71 percent).
-Staal and Jeffrey are 6-for-11 (55 percent).
-Clitsome leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Dupuis, Staal, Bayda, Sill and Vitale each have one.
-The Penguins' in-game entertainment folks are in midseason form with some "Banquet" by Bloc Party:
20:00: Brad Thiessen has replaced that bum Fleury. Dan LaCosta has replaced Mathieu Garon.
18:53: Staal dishes a feed into the slot. Dupuis is there but can't get a handle on it.
18:19: Conner gets dumped in the neutral zone on an iffy hit by Blunden.
17:03: Conner has the infection now too. He rushes up the left side and has a clean look at the net. Instead of shooting, he forces a pass to the slot that gets broken up. Roy is called for hooking Conner.
16:29: Gonchar hammers a slapper from the top of the slot. It hits a body in front. Kunitz is there with the rebound but can't get a shot off.
16:11: Gonchar backhand chips a loose puck away from the stick of a Columbus defender. It comes to Tangradi to the right of the net. He moves it to Crosby who punches it in behind an out of place LaCosta. Really nifty looking play. Nice pass by Tangradi. Tangradi and Gonchar get assists. The "Hey Song" makes its preseason debut. Blue Jackets 3-1.
15:54: The goal call for Crosby's score was disappointing to say the least. It was more like a goal scream than a goal call.
15:03: Engelland snaps off a wrister from the right point. It hits a few bodies before LaCosta kicks it out.
13:11: This Tangradi-Kunitz-Crosby line is working well. Crosby rushes it up ice through the neutral zone. He slide a pass to Kunitz on the left side. Kunitz snaps off a wrister. LaCosta fights it off. Tangradi swats it out of mid-air from in crease. It misses the net and riccochets off the backboards. Crosby collects it and brings it around the left side of the cage and sneaks it by LaCosta. Tangradi and Kunitz get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Blue Jackets 3-2.
12:29: Fedotenko and Dorsett are each sent off for roughing. Four-on four.
11:53: Conner makes a furious dash down the right wing and whips a backhander on net. LaCosta eats it up. Conner loses hsi skates and crashes into LaCosta and dislodges the net. Conner has looked good.
11:26: Brassard is sent off for slashing four on three for 57 seconds. Kunitz, Staal, Crosby and Gonchar are on for the power play. Crosby is on the point with Gonchar.
10:40: Kunitz dishes a nice backhanded pass to Staal in the crease. Staal can get a clean handle on the puck. It comes to Crosby in the left faceoff circle. He kneels down and rips a wrister wide to the far side.
10:30: Crosby smacks a one-timer from the left faceoff circle. LaCosta deflects it out of play.
10:29: Fedotenko's and Dorsett's penalties end. Five-on-for for 1:03.
9:26: Brassard's penalty is killed. The Penguins' four-man power-play unit looked nice.
8:45: Thiessen fights off a shot from Blunden. That was only the second shot Thiessen has faced.
8:33: Off a faceoff, Bortuzzo chips a shot on net from the top of the slot. LaCosta eats it up.
8:06: Staal tosses a wrister on net from the left wing. LaCosta fights it off.
7:03: Eaton smacks a one-timer from the left point. Kunitz is there in front and deflects it wide.
6:23: Conner just got run over by Roy in the corner in Columbus's zone.
6:16: Brad Thiessen is now your goaltender of record thanks to Chris Conner. Conner controls the puck behind the net, spins near the corner and whips a shot towards the net. It hits a defender's skate and deflects by LaCosta. Ugly goal but Conner will take it and so will his team. McKee gets the only assist. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 3, Blue Jackets 3.
4:14: Kunitz snaps off wrister from the right wing. LaCosta fights it off.
3:31: Despite a screen by one of his own defenders, Thiessen fight off a low wrister by Dorsett.
3:23: Conner tosses a rising wrister on net from the left wing. LaCosta eats it up.
2:02: And to the joy of more than a few folks in the press box, we probably avoid overtime. Picard grabs the puck from behind the net, moves towards the crease and jams it through Theissen with a nice effort. Murray and Roy get assists. Blue Jackets 4-3.
1:45: Or maybe we do get overtime. Eaton whips a wrister at the net from the left point. It hits a defender in front. Kunitz picks it up. With LaCosta out of place, Kunitz pushes it by him on the stick side with a backhander. Nice, classic Kunitz goal. Eaton gets the only assist. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 4, Blue Jackets 4.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 4, Blue Jackets 4.
-The Penguins have a 41-26 lead in shots. In the third period alone, they had a 20-7 advantage.
4:49: The Penguins get a little sloppy with the puck in their own zone and turn it over. Thankfully for them, Thiessen is able to deny Columbus' opportunity.
4:16: Kunitz' buries that chance from Crosby. Crosby steals the puck off Clitsome behind in the corner in Columbus' zone. He moves behind the net and dishes it to Kunitz in the slot. Kunitz grips and rips a wrister by LaCosta on the glove side. Really nice steal by Crosby and nice shot by Kunitz. Crosby gets the only assist. The Hey Song is played. End of game. Penguins 5, Blue Jackets 4.
-Forget that this was a preseason game and each team had lineups full of AHL-caliber talent. This was just an entertaining fray. The first period was pretty high-paced. The second was slow and the third was just tremendous.
-We've discussed this with some folks with the Penguins, but we can't fathom why FSN Pittsburgh doesn't put on a few preseason games. These things can be entertaining. We've been told that the potential advertising FSN Pittsburgh would get wouldn't cover the production costs, but we have a hard time believing that. A Penguins' preseason game would outdraw any Pirates regular season game. We can't believe any potential advertisers wouldn't want to take advantage of that audience.
-As Dan Bylsma pointed out in his postgame press conference that you really can't take a lot out of this from a team perspective. So don't get too worried or be too excited over anything like the power play or the team's transition through the neutral zone.
-Individually, there was a lot to like.
-Chris Conner did just about everything he could tonight to make this roster. Bylsma liked how he played with speed and went to the net. Conner only had 13:23 of ice time, but he made the most of it.
-Tangradi played as he's billed. As a power forward. He looked like he belonged on an NHL rink. He was physical and kept up with the pace of the game.
-Bylsma said Deryk Engelland's fight really helped his chances as did how he played defense.
-Despres wasn't really all that noticeable, but that's probably what you want from a player of his style.
-Fleury wasn't sharp, but it's the preseason.
-Jay McKee didn't blow us away, but given how physical he plays, we wouldn't blame him if he gave less than a full effort tonight.
-Not that he's battling for a roster spot, but Kunitz looked pretty good. We criticized him for missing a goal off a nice feed from Crosby in the first period. His shot was actually deflected by a Columbus player.
-That Crosby guy wasn't bad.
-Dan LaCosta might want to start looking for apartments in Syracuse. That's where the Blue Jackets' AHL affiliate is located.
-The Penguins ended up with a 42-28 lead in shots.
-Crosby led the game with seven. Kunitz had six.
-Blunden had five.
-Gonchar led the game with 25:53 of ice time.
-Russell led Columbus with 24:03.
-The Penguins had a 35-29 lead in faceoffs (55 percent).
-Staal was 14 for 21 (67 percent).
-Blunden was 6 for 11 (55 percent).
-Clitsome and Methot led the game with three blocked shots each.
-Dupuis, Staal, Godard, Vitale, Despres, Sill and McKee each had one.
-Correction. We accidently credited Godard with getting an instigator in the first period. It was actually a roughing penalty. Apologies. It's the preseason for us too.
-Brad Thiessen got the win. Time to bench Fleury.
-We have some quotes, but our recorder died. We'll take a look and see if anything survived.
-The three stars were 1.) Crosby 2.) Kunitz 3.) Mayorov.