Greetings from the final home opener at Mellon Arena. Wow. Is that sobering to type.
The Penguins set up the big screen out front and well... guess what... it's drizzling on and off. Dick Ebersol must've stolen the Weather Dominator from Cobra.
Any way, here are a few shots from our brief, wet walk from downtown. One of the more underrated buildings in the Golden Triangle, the First and Market Building:
Out front on the Verizon Building, or the old Bell Telephone Building, they have this old fuzzy globe spinning around in a glass case with a clock on top showing the time:
-We're pretty sure you could find Yugoslavia on that globe.
-Fifth Avenue Place:
-Consol Energy Center:
-Up and down Center Avenue, there are Stanley Cup banners on the lamp posts:
-Some fans outside braving the elements for the big screen:
We don't know what to say about this. A Michel Ouellet jersey:
(No jersey foul by they way based on the hood being up.)
-EN reader Steve brought a Pensblog Mega Powers poster:
-Gary Bettman held a "state-of-the-union" press conference:
(We'll have more on that tomorrow.)
-Miroslav Satan still has at least one fan here:
-Hmmm... the first two Stanley Cup banners have been re-positioned and have a gap between them....
-A few more scenes from around the arena. The new individual trophy banner indicating Evgeni Malkin's Art Ross Trophy win last season:
(That picture stinks. Sorry.)
-A Rick Tocchet jersey:
-Here's a good one. An Alaine Nasreddine Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins jersey:
-Champions 09? We'll let it slide since it's a practice jersey:
-A Pierre Larouche autographed jersey:
-These were pretty much the only Rangers fans we could find. They're both wearing some pretty solid jerseys. Jan Erixon:
-The pregame ceremony begins with these four big white "screens" being dropped from the scoreboard. A pretty extensive video showing the Penguins run through all four rounds of last season's playoffs is shown:
-That photo doesn't really show it, but there are tons of flash bulbs popping.
-The video of Maxime Talbot fighting Flyers forward Daniel Carcillo gets the second loudest cheer. Marc-Andre Fleury's save on Nicklas Lidstrom is the loudest.
-All four screens drop to the ice revealing the Stanley Cup at center ice:
(It's in there with that big blob of white light. We promise.)
-Mario Lemieux, Ron Burkle, Ray Shero join Dan Bylsma and several other front office folks on the ice in the south end of the arena.
-The players skate onto the ice from the Zamboni entrance and line up at the red line.:
-Talbot even takes part in the ceremony in full uniform and equipment.
-Even before he's introduced, fans are chanting "FLERRRRRR-EEEEEE!!! FLERRRRRR-EEEEEEE!!!!!" for Marc-Andre Fleury. He's greeted with a thundering ovation.
-Then in the biggest anti-climatic scene, Martin Skoula skates out to a lukewarm applause.
-Your 2009-10 Pittsburgh Penguins:
-The new banner:
-Jim. Er. Son:
-The Penguins' scratches are Chris Bourque and Martin Skoula.
-The Rangers' scratch is Sean Avery.
-Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist are your starting goaltenders.
20:00: At 7:56 p.m. EDT, the Penguins' defense of the Stanley CUp officially begins with the first faceoff.
18:50: The Penguins' ingame entertainment folks hook us personally up with some "Search and Destroy" by Iggy Pop and the Stooges:
17:35: Enver Linsin moves into the offensive zone and from the left faceoff circle, he dishes a pass to Aaron Voros in the slot. Voros gets a shot off but it's not clean the puck goes wide the cage.
16:41: Vaclav Prospal tries jamming a puck by Fleury on the glove side but Fleury holds it out against the post. A large scrum ensues. The Rangers' defefensemen join the fray. That moves the faceoff out to the neutral zone.
15:53: Ryan Callahan slams Chris Kunitz into the boards in front of the Rangers' bench and drops him.
15:04: After some nice cycling between Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke in the offensive zone, Jordan Staal swats a one-timer from near the
14:32: Lundqvist eats up a wrister from the left point.
14:01: A shot by Marian Gaborik from the high slot gets deflected into the netting.
13:52: Sidney Crosby gets behind the defense . Marc Staal provides some pressure. Crosby cranks a slapper from the left wing that goes wide.
13:32: And the Penguins get their first power play of the season. Chris Drury is nabbed for holding. Crosby, Sergei Gonchar, bill Guerin, Evgeni Malkin annnnd Alex Goligoski... Hmm... are on for the power play.
13:10: Goligoski fires a slapper from the slot. It gets deflected wide.
12:53: After another shot by Goligoski, Guerin is in front battling for the rebound. Two Rangers players fight him off.
12:30: Fleury gets a little careless with the puck around his own net. A Rangers player pressures and the
12:12: Sometimes just doing the easiest thing works. Goligoski dishes a loose puck to Gonchar at the right point. Gonchar simply tees up and blasts a one-timer that appears to hit Lundqvist and deflects in. Goligoski and Crosby get assists. The "Hey Song" makes its season debut. Penguins 1-0.
12:03: Ruslan Fedotenko shoots a low wrister from the left wing. Lundqvist makes the save. Rupp is there for the rebound but can't get a handle on it.
10:05: Prospal hits Pascal Dupuis in the neutral zone with a check that staggers the Penguin.
9:54: Malkin is officially credited with the Penguins goal. He apparently deflected Gonchar's shot. Gonchar and Goligoski get assist.
8:36: Malkin blocks a slapper from the point by Matt Gilroy in the slot.
8:05: Eric Godard and Donald Brashear offer the first fight of the season. After some hesitation, the lock up. Brashear get the early advantage as he pops Godard with a nice jab. He lands a few more blows. Godard recovers and lands a few blows of his own. They eventually tire out and and officials step in. It was a pretty even fight all around. Mother by Danzig is played during the bout.
7:15: Brandon Dubinsky snaps off a wrister from the
7:01: Gaborik comes up the right wing, pulls up and snaps off a lowr srister which Fleury eats up.
3:59: The Rangers generate a nice play out of seemingly nothing. Gonchar and Jordan Staal have trough with the puck in their own corner. Christopher Higgins swoops in and steals it. He directs it to the slot. Chris Drury tips it in by Fleury. Callahan had a chance there too. Just a poor play all around by the Penguins in their own zone. Higgins gets the only assist. Penguins 1, Rangers 1.
2:58: Crosby is nabbed fo slashing. Gonchar, Staal, Brooks Orpik and Matt Cooke are on for the penalty kill.
2:36: Cooke pushes the puck up the left wing and draws a defender towards him. That frees up Staal in the slot. Cooke dishes a pass to him. Staal fires off a low wrister. Lundqvist is able to close his five hole and kick out the puck. Big save.
0:57: As Crosby's penalty expires, Artem Anisimov fires a wrister from the right wing. Fleury gloves it.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Rangers 1.
-That was a pretty up and down period for the Penguins. They started off strong, converted their power play and controlled the first part of it. The Rangers slowly got back into things and out-worked the Penguins to even the score.
-Lundqvist has been stronger than Fleury. The Penguins have gotten better scoring chances.
-The "new" power play with Goligoski instead of Kris Letang looked nice.
-Apologies for the blog being slow. The wireless access up here has been a struggle.
-The Penguins have a 9-7 lead in shots.
-Jordan Staal leads the game with two.
-Marc Staal leads the game with 8:16 of ice time.
-They're brothers by the way. Not sure if you knew that.
-Crosby leads the Penguins with 7:06.
-The Penguins have a 13-5 lead in faceoffs (72 percent).
-Crosby is 7 for 7 (100 percent).
-Brian Boyle is 2 for 2 (100 percent).
-Mark Eaton, Letang and Dubinsky each have two blocked shots.
-More solid music. "The Fixer" by Pear Jam:
19:06: Drury fires a slapper from the right point. Brooks Orpik kneels down and blocks it.
18:03: Malkin cuts in from the left wing against Gilroy. and gets a shot off Lundqvist makes the save. ,
17:38: Goligoski cranks a one-timer from the right point. It's wide of the net.
17:08: Dupuis pokes a quick shot on net from the right wing. Lundqvist fights it off.
17:03: Jordan Staal re-directs a feed from right wing on net. Lundqvist moves over to his left and covers the puck.
16:44: Fleury with the save of the year. And the year just started. Dubinsky coasts up the left wing on a two-one one with Prospal against Gonchar. Gonchar moves over a bit near Dubinsky. Dubinsky dishes a pass to Prospal. Prospal gets his shot off quickly. Fleury is able to slide over to his left and glove the rising shot. That was simply a spectacular save. Wow. Fleury's given a "Flerrr-EEEE! Flerrr-EEEE!" chant.
15:06: Gaborik controls the puck on the right wing in the Penguins' zone. He moves in towards the slot and dishes a pass to Dubinsky moving in from the left point. Dubinsky fires a writer. Fleury gets a piece of it and deflects it high. Letang looked really flat-footed on that play.
15:03: Dupuis is called for hooking. Staal, Cooke, Orpik and Gonchar are on for the penalty kill.
13:53: Ales Kotalik hammers a slapper from the left point. Fleury fights it off.
13:32: Gaborik makes a nice move by Letang in the offensive zone, moves in on net all alone and tries to sneak a shot five hole. Fleury just gets a piece of it and the puck scoots juuust wide of the post..
13:03: Dupuis' penalty is killed. The Penguins gave up a few chances there.
12:09: Attendance is announced as 17,132. It is the team's 119th consecutive sellout.
10:12: Malkin whips a puck on net from the left wing. It hits a body in front. Dupuis is in front and gets the rebound on net. Lundqvist eats it up.
9:18: Orpik sneaks a shot through traffic from the left wing. It goes wide of the cage.
8:54: Orpik again gets a wrister on net. Lundqvist has trouble with the rebound. Unfortunately for the Penguins, Eric Godard is the one there for the rebound and he's unable to do anything worthwhile with it.
8:38: Lundqvist struggles with another rebound and Godard is there again hoping for something. Lundqvist is able to regain control. A crowd of Rangers, including Brashear gather around Godard and give him the business.
8:33: Wow was that weird. Crosby wins the faceoff with Dubinsky , gets behind him and chips a shot on net. The puck hits off a stick and hits Lundqvist in the mask. It then pops straight up into the air and lands on the top of th enet. Officials freeze play. Lundqvist skates to the bench to get his helmet checked by the equipment manager.
7:35: Kunitz moves up ice on the left wing with Letang on a two-on-one. Instead of going to Letang, Kunitz gets the puck to Guerin trailing on the right wing. Kunitz throws a shot at the net. It gets deflected behind the cage. Letang is there, controls the puck and dishes it into the slot. Crosby is there and punches the easy goal by Lundqvist. Terrible coverage in their own zone by the Rangers. Letang and Guerin get the assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 2-1.
6:40: Malkin works his way up the ice up the left wing. He dishes a pass to Cook on the right wing. The puck is tipped by a Ranger. Cooke still gets a handle on it and sweeps a shot on net. Lundqvist slides over and gobbles it up. Big save.
6:27: Goligoski controls the puck at the right point and sneaks a shot through traffic. It gets through and appears to hit someone and deflects by Lundqvist. Cooke was there but it's not clear if he touched it. Goligoski gets credit for the goal. Jordan Staal gets the only assist. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 3-1.
5:54: A "Heeennnnn.... Rikkkkkkkk" chants gives way to "LET'S GO PENS!"
4:35: Fedotenko breaks into the offensive zone, catches Wade Redden off guard a bit and gets by the Rangers defenseman. Fedotenko rips a wrister which Lundqvist makes a save on. Fedotenko had some hop in his step there.
3:13: Orpik is calle for delay of game as he throws the puck out of play. Staal, Cooke, Gonchar and Eaton are on for the penalty kill.
2:03: Goligoski intercepts a pass in his own zone. Dupuis gets the rebound and gives it back to Goligoski who hustles up the left wing to kill some time.
1:13: Orpik's penalty is killed. The Penguins were pretty solid for that two minutes.
0:55: Prospal tries to dish a pass into the slot. Eaton slides down and blocks it.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 3, Rangers 1.
-That was obviously a good period for the Penguins. Especially late. They were attacking the Rangers in their own zone and catching a lot of New York's skaters flat-footed. That last 10 minutes was prototypical Dan Bylsma hockey.
-Fleury was really strong that period. He made quite a few difficult saves.
-Malkin looks like he's playing a playoff game at times tonight.
-Not a lot of the rough, extra-curricular stuff tonight. You'd expect more of that with these two rivals.
-Gaborik has been the Rangers' best player.
-The Penguins have a 21-19 edge in shots.
-Gaborik leads the game with five shots.
-Dupuis leads the Penguins with three.
-Gaborik leads the game with 15:45 of ice time.
-Gonchar leads the Penguins with 14:36.
-The Penguins have a 21-19 lead in faceoffs (52 percent).
-Crosby is 11 for 14 (79 percent).
-Boyle is 3 for 3 (100 percent).
-Who needs Rob Scuderi? Mark Eaton leads the game with four blocked shots.
-Letang, McKee and former Penguin Michal Rozsival each have three. Fire Craig Patrick.
20:00: Kennedy has been given credit for the Penguins' third goal. Goligoski and Staal get the assists.
19:08: Eaton cranks a slapper from the right point. Lundqvist makes the save despite traffic.
18:27: Higgins gets behind Letang and seems to have the makings of a breakaway. Letang is able to reach back and take the puck away from him. Really nice play.
17:34: Dupuis enters the offensive zone on the left wing and guess what? He cranks a 4,293-foot slapper. Lundqvist fights it off.
15:50: Kennedy works the puck along the boards behind the Rangers' net. Cooke grabs it and dishes a quick pass to Staal in the slot. Staal pushes a shot on net. Lundqvist appears to make a save on it.
14:40: Kunitz rams Rozsival with a solid check along the boards.
14:23: Rozsival and Kunitz collide again along the boards. Rozsival wins this battle and sticks Kunitz on his butt.
14:04: Dubinsky works the puck down the left wing and centers it to the slot. It hits off Pascal Dupuis' skate and bounces back towards the point. Gaborik comes flying in and pokes the puck by a helpless Fleury. That was a Petr Sykora goal. He just found the rebound, coasted towards it and cashed it in. The Penguins looked sloppy on that play. Dubinsky gets the only assist. Penguins 3-2.
13:20: Anisimov is called for hooking Dupuis. Goligoski, Gonchar, Guerin, Malkin and Crosby are on for the power play.
12:58: Dubinsky pushes the puck up ice and swats a shot on net. Gonchar deflects it out of play. Marc Staal has been awarded an assist on the Gaborik goal.
12:28: Gaborik generates another chance. He works the puck by Gonchar on the right wing, gets behind him and throws a wrister from a tough angle. Fleury hangs onto it to freeze play.
12:15: Kunitz moves into the offensive zone and cranks a slapper from the right faceoff circle. Lundqvist eats it up.
11:36: Malkin dishes a pass to Letang on the left point. Letang cranks a slapper. Lundqvist fights it off.
11:20: Anisimov's penalty is killed. The Rangers had the bulk of the chances it seemed like that two minutes.
10:33: You knew this was coming. The even-up call. Oprik is called for interference. Craig Adams, Dupuis, Goligoski and McKee are on for the kill.
10:09: Dupuis whips the puck down ice from the boards. That kills some time and allows for a change.
9:03: Marc Staal cranks a one-timer from the left point. It misses the mark and clunks off the back boards.
8:48: Adams gets a chance in deep on the right wing. He fires a wrister to the far side. Lundqvist pokes it away with his blocker.
8:33: Orpik's penalty is killed. Solid effort by the Penguins.
7:00: Eaton whips a wrister from the right point. Lundqvist pokes it away from the blocker.
5:37: Crosby rushes into the offensive zone, makes a dazzling spin move against Gilroy and whips a backhander on net. Lundqvist comes up with the tough save.
4:51: Lundqvist comes up with his own big save. SaveS actually. After a brilliant skate to stick pass by Malkin, Adams gets a chance in tight. HIs first shot is stopped by a sprawled out Lundqvist. He gets the rebound back and is denied once again.
3:20: Kennedy comes up on a two-on-one with Dupuis. Kennedy elects to shoot. His slapper is deflected wide by the stick of a Rangers defender.
1:42: Higgins tries to deke through a few defenders but Orpik is able to take it away from him.
1:21: Lundqvist is pulled for an extra attacker.
0:29: Redden has trouble keeping the puck in the offensive zone and allows it to cross the blue line.
0:00: Enver Linsin cross back over the blue line and is hounded by Kunitz. Time expires before Linsin can do anything with it. End of game. The "Woo-Hoo!" song is played. Penguins 3, Rangers 2.
-Heck of a way to start a title defense. The Penguins attacked, got a little bit lucky and got some big-time saves from Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Alex Goligoski looks 10-times more comfortable and composed than he did at any time last season. He looks like he's gained five years of experience in one offseason. His growth really stood out to us tonight.
-Bylsma on Goligoski:
"He’s been pretty confident throughout training camp just in terms of making reads, skating ability and feeling comfortable out there. The game in Toronto he played over 30 minutes and looked outstanding with his skating ability and his reads. Tonight he was playing the penalty kill and power play. On five on five, he was jumping up on the play and he looks like a confident player. That’s not always easy to do, playing defense in this league and as a young player. Tonight he showed he took a big stride forward in terms of confidence."
-Fleury looked sharp. The two goals he gave up were really the result of break downs by his teammates in his own zone.
-The "new" guys - Jay McKee and Mike Rupp - didn't really stand out that much. But they're in roles where they really aren't supposed to be noticed.
-Marian Gaborik might've been the best player on the ice tonight. He was everywhere for the Rangers. He generated their best scoring chances and just looked like a speed skater at times. He's an amazing player when healthy.
-Henrik Lundqvist was solid. He didn't really give up any soft goals.
-The Penguins' penalty kill was perfect going 4 for 4. That said, the Rangers did have a lot of trouble with the man advantage last season.
-The Penguins power play was ok. It was 1 for 3. It looked dominant at times but seemed to get outworked on occasion.
-Not too much rough stuff tonight. Neither team really took the body to the other all that much.
-The Penguins had a 31-27 lead in shots.
-Gaborik led the game with eight shots.
-Dupuis and Kennedy each led the Penguins with four.
-Gaborik led the game with 24:26 of ice time.
-Gonchar led the Penguins with 23:13.
-Faceoff were even, 28-28.
-Adams was 6 for 9 (67 percent).
-Crosby was 13 for 20 (65 percent).
-Anisimov was 4 for 7 (57 percent).
-Rozsival led the game with five blocked shots. Fire Ray Shero.
-Eaton and Letang each had four.
-Crosby's goal was his 398 career point.
-Tyler Kennedy has now scored the game-winning goal for the Penguins in two consecutive season-openers. He had an overtime score against the Senators in Sweden last season.
-We assume if Kennedy has been initially credited with the goal (instead of Goligoski), this would've been played:
-And yes we did see him: