-It's a cold and chilly night in Pittsburgh. It's mostly clear, but it's in the mid teens. Brrr...
(We have no idea why we actually typed "Brrrr..." into a blog post. Our apologies.
-The Civic Arena:
-The current barn:
-A Marine Corp. color guard is on hand tonight for the national anthem:
-Some jersey sightings. Ruslan Fedotenko:
-Fans walking in off Centre Avenue:
-Dude, they're not even playing this weekend:
-That gigantic goaltending mask:
-A rare Craig Adams/Ulf Samuelsson double sighting:
-Sidney Crosby is popular:
-An old Pittsburgh Hornets jersey:
-The Marines have a stand set up here for folks to do pull ups:
-Mario Lemieux All-Star:
-Matt Cullen Wild:
-Speaking of Cullens... John Cullen:
-Marian Gaborik Wild:
-Ron Francis Whalers:
-Jersey of the Night: Chris Kunitz Ferris State:
-The Penguins' starters are Matt Cooke, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Deryk Engelland, Eric Godard and Sidney Crosby.
-Their Wild's starters are Andrew Brunette, Mikko Koivu, Chuck Kobasew, Brent Burns, Nick Schultz and Jose Theodore.
-Their scratches are Niklas Backstrom, Antti Miettinen and Jared Spurgeon.
-No Jimerson. No photo.
-The Penguins are wearing their "dreaded" blue throwback jerseys from the 2008 Winter Classic.
19:41: Play is halted early as a piece of glass on the right wing boards in the Wild's zone is knocked loose after Cooke hits Schultz.
19:04: Zbynek Michalek tees up and strikes a slapper from the right point. It hits a body in the slot and deflects wide.
18:28: Pierre-Marc Bouchard snaps off a weak wrister from the left wing for the first shot of the game. Fleury boots it away.
16:17: Paul Martin strikes a slapper from the left point. Theodore challenges the shot and knocks it down. Rupp is there for the rebound but can't control it enough to get a shot off.
15:23: Fleury and Brunette have a collision behind the Penguisn net. Both parties are fine.
15:14: Malkin snaps off a wrister from the slot. Theodore punches it away wit hi hsi blocker.
14:00: Goligoski snaps off a wrister from the left point. Theodore fights it off. Play is halted as Pascal Dupuis is sent off for high sticking against Cam Baker. Brooks Orpik, Michalek, Adams and Maxime Talbot take the ice.
13:54: Off a faceoff win, Burns rips a one-timer which appears to hit someone in blue and deflects away.
12:38: Burns one-touches a apss into the slot for Patrick O'Sullivan. The puck hits off O'sullivan and deflects on net. Fleury fends it off.
12:00: The Dupuis penalty expires. The Wild maintained possession in the Penguins' zone, but didn't really generate many chances.
11:30: Play is halted as Staal is met at the Wild's blue line with a stiff shoulder check on the right wing boards by Clayton Stoner. Play is halted. Malkin gives Stoner some grief. Replay's show Stoner's left knee colliding with Staal's right knee. Staal is a little slow to recover but eventually makes his way to his skates and returns to the bench. Andrew Brunette ends up taking a hooking minor. Mark Letestu, Kunitz, Malkin, Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski take the ice.
11:13: Letang takes a cross-ice pass from Goligoski at the left point. He moves in and cranks a slapper on net from above the faceoff circle. Theodore eats it up.
10:54: Off a turnover by Letestu at the Wild's blue line, Mikko Koivu drives a slapper from just inside the Penguins' blue line. Fleury eats ut up.
9:48: Kunitz deals from the right circle to Letang above the left circle. Letang grips and rips a wrister. Theodore fights it off.
9:30: The Brunette penalty is killed. Not a lot going on there for the Penguins.
8:49: By they way, feel free to keep score at home yourselves because Pascal Dupuis and Zbynek Michalek each used to play for the Wild:
7:48: Arron Asham rattles Schultz with a solid hit behind the Wild's net.
7:10: Chuck Kobasew snaps off a wrister from the left wing. Fleury boots it out.
6:37: What a fluky bounce. Koivu tries to settle a bouncing puck in the left circle and simply whips it towards the slot. Kobasew get behind Letang and is able to re-direct it behind Fleury on the glove side and into the net. A nice dirty goal. The Penguins were a little too loose in their own zone there. Koivu and Brunette each get assists. Wild 1-0.
5:39: Letang chops a slapper from the right point. Theodore eats it up despite traffic.
3:26: Letang tees up a slapper from the right point. It strikes Barker in the leg and deflects out of play. Barker tumbles to the ice. He's smarting a bit after that block but is able to recover to his feet and skates to the bench.
2:48: Orpik pushes a wrister towards the slot from the left point. Staal is in front battling for position and deflects it wide.
1:54: Off a faceoff win in the Penguins zone, the Wild strike again. Letestu win the draw but Martin loses possession. Bouchard immediately whips the puck on net. Fleury makes the save but allows a rebound. Martin Havlat beats Michalek to the rebound and swats it under Fleury's left leg and into the net. Once again, the Penguins just got out-worked in their own zone. Bouchard and Kyle Brodziak get assists. Wild 2-0.
0:00: End of period. Wild 2, Penguins 0.
-That was a pretty rotten period for the Penguins. They appeared slow and just kind off complacent. There wasn't a lot of energy or urgency to their attack.
-The Wild didn't blow the world away by any means, but it was pretty opportunistic. Its players jumped on any of the Penguins' mistakes.
-At some point, the Staal-Malkin-Whoever line needs to get on the score sheet. There's too much talent there for it not to happen. Especially with Crosby sidelined.
-The Penguins' blue line created a few chances. Letang got a few pretty good looks at the net.
-Shots are tied, 10-10.
-Goligoski, Martin, Letang, Burns, Kobasew, O'Sullivan and Bouchard each lead the game with two.
-Letang leads the game with 9:30 of ice time.
-Burns leads the Wild with 8:34.
-The Penguins have an 11-9 edge in faceoffs (55 percent).
-Koivu is 5 for 6 (83 percent).
-Letestu is 5 for 7 (71 percent).
-Greg Zanon and Orpik each led the game with two blocked shots.
18:54: Tyler Kennedy circles out from behind the Wild net to the left circle, turns and whips a wrister on net. Theodore eats it up.
18:33: More bad news for the Penguins as Talbot is sent off for boarding Barker. Michalek, Orpik, xxx and xx take the ice.
18:24: Off a faceoff win in the Penguins' zone, Cullen whips a one-timer on net. Fleury denies it.
17:55: Clutterbuck has two chances in tight denied by Fleury.
17:40: The Wild is really pressing the attack. Burns pumps a slapper from above the left circle. Fleury fights it off.
17:09: On a delayed penalty, Havlat snaps off a low wrister from the right circle. Fleury eats it up. Cooke is sent off for tripping Barker. Its a rough spot for the penguins as they have to kill a five on three for 36 seconds. Orpik, Adams and Staal take the ice.
16:48: Brunette has a chance in the slot but Staal interferes with his stick enough to prevent a clean shot.
16:33: The Talbot penalty is killed. The Wild still have 1:21 of a five on four power play.
15:33: Havlat snaps off a wrister from a deep angle on the right wing.
15:09: The Cooke penalty is killed. A huge effort by the Penguins' penalty killers.
14:54: Off a turnover rby the Wild it its own zone, Letestu sneaks in off the right wing and snaps off a wrister from the circle. Theodore eats it up.
13:11: Letang corrals a loose puck on the left wing and jabs it on net. Theodore fights it off.
12:41: Brodziak chops a slapper on net from the right wing to the far side. Fleury boots it out with his right leg.
12:17: Another penalty for the Penguins. Letestu holds up Brodziak behind the Penguins' net. at that's two minutes for hooking. Orpik, Michalek, Staal and Talbot take the ice.
12:02: Talbot gets loose up the right wing shorthanded. He fends off a check from Cullen and pushes a backhander on net. Theodore boots it away.
11:44: Another shorthanded chance for Talbot. He snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Theodore punches it away.
10:33: Off a shorthanded three on two (yes, really), Dupuis pushes a cross ice pass from the left wing to Talbot. Talbot guns a one-timer from the left wing. Theodore fends it off.
10:17: The Penguins kill off the Letestu penalty. What a wondeful effort that two minutes.
9:58: John Madden tosses a wrister on net from the right wing. Fleury says no.
9:22: Attendance is announced as 18,263. It is the team's 188th consecutive sellout.
9:02: Kunitz grips and rips a wrister from the left circle. Theodore is in perfect position and eats it up. Koivu is sent off for high sticking Malkin. Kind of an important opportunity here for the Penguins. Kunitz, Letang, Goligoski, Letestu and Malkin take the ice.
8:00: Goligoski sneaks in off the right point to the slot and rips a wrister on net. Theodore fights it off.
7:34: Off a turnover Golgioski at the right point, Cullen pushes the puck up ice and into the Penguins' zone. As Letang cuts him off, Cullen rips a wrister on net. Fleury eats it up.
7:02: The Koivu minor expires. The Penguins were barely a threat that two minutes.
5:26: Lovejoy gains the offensive zone with speed and pumps a slapper from the right wing. Zanon squares up and blocks it cleanly. Zanon is one of the best shot-blockers in the league.
2:26: After a pretty stagnant three minutes, Talbot smacks Brunette behind the Wild net with a solid check.
1:48: Rupp drops Stoner with a nice shoulder on shoulder check inside the Penguins' blue line.
1:30: Martin steps u on the left wing and cranks a slapper. Clutterbuck blocks it in the left circle with his left leg.
0:00: End of period. Wild 2, Penguins 0.
-There's one way to describe this game:
-Boring. This feels like a stagnant, slow Sunday game on NBC with a 12:30 p.m. start. The only things missing are the NBC "Light Bright" all, "Pierre" McGuire and the instinct to kick "Pierre" McGuire.
-The Penguins just don't have any urgency. Outside of a few occasional spurts, they don't have any urgency. They need a hit or a fight or something to set a spark.
-This power play looks pretty uncoordinated many nights with Sidney Crosby in the lineup. Tonight, without him, it looks like a loose association of players in blue jerseys. There's no rhythm and very little sense of direction.
-The Wild is pretty much playing its game. Even with a few power plays, Minnesota very rarely pushed the attack that period and just kind of sat back and absorbed what little attack the Penguins had.
-We don't know if Evgeni Malkin is totally healthy after he had that awkward fall in Montreal Thursday, but he needs to contribute something here.
-The Wild has a 28-20 lead in shots.
-Cullen, Burns, Koivu and Havlat each lead the game with four shots.
-Martin, Talbot, Kennedy and Letang each lead the game with three shots.
-Letang leads the game with 16:57 of ice time.
-Zanon leads the Wild with 14:15.
-The Wild has a 23-16 lead in faceoffs (59 percent).
-Koivu is 12 for 14 in faceoffs (86 percent).
-Letestu is 6 for 8 (75 percent).
-Zanon leads the game with five blocked shots.
-Adams leads the Penguins with four.
19:24: Dupuis tries to deke by Stoner in the slot but Stoner fends him off with a nice poke check.
17:10: Arghhhh.......! Michalek came thiiiiis close to getting his first goal as a Penguin. Asham taps a pass to him at the right point. Michalek cranks a one-timer to the far side. Theodore is screened by a Penguin and his own defender. The puck sneaks through traffic and clinks off the far post. Michalek looks up in frustration.
14:59: Lovejoy sneaks up the right win and snaps off a wrister from a tough angle along the goal line. Theodore fends it off.
14:42: Bouchard rushes up the left wing and pumps a slaper on net. Fleury punches it away.
14:28: Schultz strikes a slapper from the left point. Fleury eats it up.
13:49: Asham has a nice chance from the right circle denied by Fleury.
13:40: Game. Set. Match. The Wild rushes up the on a chance in transition. OSullvivan sneaks a cross-ice pass from the left wing to Clutterbuck. Clutterbuck moves in and from the right circle, he rips a wrister which burns Fleury over his left shoulder on the near side. What a shot. O'Sullivan and Cullen get assists. Wild 3-0.
12:13: Kennedy has a nice chance from the right circle blocked by Schultz.
11:46: Stoner chops a slapper from the right point. Fleury eats it up.
8:37: Michalek takes a drop pass at the right point and chops a slapper wide on the near side.
5:35: Staal is in deep on the left wing with the puck on his backhand. He can't turn the puck over though in order to get a clean shot off.
5:09: Brodziak has a chance in deep on the right wing but Fleury denies him.
4:50: Conner snaps off a wrister from the left wing. Theodore hops up and fights it off with his chest.
3:57: Michalek is sent off for high sticking Kobasew. Orpik, Martin, Adams and Dupuis take the ice.
3:20: Play is evened up as Clutterbuck is nabbed for goaltenders interference. Four-on-Four for 1:23. Fleury is pulled for an extra attacker.
2:59: That's pretty much the perfect way to end this dreadful game. Brodziak blocks a pass by Letestu in the slot and backhand flips it down ice. The puck trickles into the cage for one of us:
Havlat gets an assist somehow. Fleury returns to net. Wild 4-0.
1:18: The comeback starts now!!!! Stoner is sent off for holding Malkin. Kennedy, Malkin, Kunitz, Letang and Martin take the ice.
0:45: It's just that kind of night for the Penguins. Malkin snaps off a nice wrister from the left circle. It hits off the far post.
0:00: End of game. Wild 4, Penguins 0.
-That certainly was pretty awful to watch. Two things conspired here to create the dreadful 60 minute of hockey we just watched:
1.) Apathy. The Penguins just didn't look to be too interested in this game from the opening draw. There was very little urgency or aggression on their behalf. They didn't really attack the net a great deal. They played the body some, but not in a way which could've set a tone for this game.
2.) The Wild's defense. Jacques Lemaire may be long gone, but this is still a trapping team. The Wild took an early lead and just clogged utp the neutral zone. The Penguins got frustrated and just never could mount a sustained attack.
-Penalties hurt the Penguins quite a bit too. They burnt up a lot of the second period when the game was still manageable.
-Jose Theodore continues to own the Penguins. In 26 career games against them, he has 19 wins and four shutouts.
-Fleury was solid. You can reasonably put the the Havlat goal down as one he probably should've have saved.
-Evgeni Malkin needs to step up here at some point. When Crosby is out of the lineup, he needs to elevate his game. He did that quite a bit w hen Crosby missed much of the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. He needs to do it now.
-The Islanders have pretty much created a template on how to play the Penguins huh? They trapped, trapped and trapped their way to a 2-1 win against the Penguins Dec. 29. Since then we've seen the Capitals, Canadiens and now the Wild take on a similar approach in playing the Penguins.
-Sidney Crosby's absence is obviously huge, but that can't be an excuse. The Capitals win when Alex Ovechkin is out. The Red Wings win when Nicklas Lidstrom out out.
-We know he's still coming off a lot of down time, but some production out of Jordan Staal would be nice.
-The Wild dominated shots, 37-26.
-Koivu led the game with five.
-Talbot and Kennedy each led the Penguisn with four.
-Malkin had two shots.
-Staal had none.
-Brent Burns led the game with 28:15 of ice time.
-Letang led the Penguins with 25:48.
-The Wild dominated in faceoffs, 38-20 (66 percent).
-Koivu ripped it up 18 for 21 (86 percent).
-Letestu was 7 for 12 (58 percent).
-Zanon led the game with five blocked shots.
-Orpik led the Penguins with four.
-The Penguins were shutout for the second time this season. Jaroslav Halak made 31 saves for the Blues in a 1-0 home win, Oct. 23.
-This was the first shutout in Consol Energy Center.
-The last home shutout of the Penguins was a 2-0 win by the Lightning, March 31, 2010. Mike Smith made 27 saves in the victory.