Archive for the ‘Game Recap’ Category

During Tuesday night’s game the Boston Bruins decided to frustrate their fans and then give them a comeback to be proud of. For the first time this season, a team came back to tie the game in the final minutes by scoring two goals with the goalie pulled. With goalie Tuukka Rask on the bench, the Bruins set to work against King Lundqvist with less than two minutes to go.

Though the Bruins would end up losing the game in the shootout, the two-goal comeback they mounted in the final 90 seconds brought smiles to Bruins fans, and even Jack Edwards, NESN’s commentator. But there’s something you should know about Edwards. He is just as excited when a goal is scored as a player on the bench. And considering how unlikely it is that a team comes back to tie a game in the final minutes, I would say well justified.

If you don’t want to watch the whole video, just fast forward to 3:20 and you’ll see what I mean.


 
For some perspective, teams coming back from a two-goal deficit in the final minutes only happened three times last season. And the Tampa Bay Lightning came back just like the Bruins did Tuesday as well.

After lack-luster performances where the team looked like a disorganized bunch of ants, the Penguins came back and reminded their fans why they should keep cheering.

Evgeni Malkin got the Penguins on the board early, and even got physical with Marc Staal. It looks like “Geno” is starting to return to his MVP form of last year.

Tomas Vokoun performed….well…is there really a word? Maybe the closest one is fantastic. As was the case in recent years, the Penguins fans have started talking about whether or not the starting goalie job should go to someone other than Marc Andre Fleury. Not that they wouldn’t be right to question Fleury’s play. In the past years he has played terribly and given up some horrific goals.

If Vokoun can keep up his current play, look for No. 92 on the ice between the pipes while No. 29 takes a seat on the bench.

 

When the Penguins finally managed to get the puck into the Islanders net, the cheers were hardly to be found. The 4-1 loss Tuesday night did more than make fans get up from their expensive seats and climb into their cars before the game was over. It landed the team tied for eighth in the conference. Not a bad place to be early in a regular season, but there are only a few months left of the season, and with teams like Boston and Tampa Bay leading the conference with strong performances, every loss counts.

consolThe look the Penguins gave last night was eerily reminiscent of their playoff performances of one year ago. A coach who struggles to motivate his team, goal scorers who can’t find the back of the net, a powerplay that is only recognizable because the other team only has four players to their five.

The Penguins have numerous issues needing to be addressed, and every member of the team needs to do some soul-searching, from the general manager all the way down to the newly called up player.

Marc Andre Fleury MUST be better in net. There are no excuses for letting in bad goals, or ducking when a shot comes toward you. You’re a goalie; goalies don’t duck.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have to get on the scoreboard. They both need to lead their lines into the offensive zone and create opportunities. These guys are supposed to be the best in the league, aren’t they?

Dan Bylsma has to find a way to motivate the guys on the bench. The flat play and lack of emotion cannot continue. There’s a reason for the phrase “in it to win it.”

General Manager Ray Shero has to sit down and look at the roster and decide what will happen next. It’s all too clear that a winger for Malkin’s line is badly needed. Bylsma Evgeni_Malkin-2008has tried every combination and nothing has solidified. Except for last year when Chris Kunitz played alongside The Real Deal James Neal and MVP Malkin. But now he plays on the top line, with Sidney Crosby. With all the line changes going on during games, that line remained untouched for the most part. Questionable?

When a team doesn’t have time to gel and linemates can’t get used to each other, the product is a disorganized mess, much like the Penguins of recent games. Puck management and timing have been huge problems for Pittsburgh, which could both be helped by some good line chemistry.

If the Penguins are to rebound at all in the next two games, each and every player has to make himself accountable on the ice and make the best of whoever their linemates happen to be for that shift. If they don’t, the Penguins will surely fail.

The Los Angeles Kings have taken the first game of the Stanley Cup Final and need three more wins to claim their first title.

The game stayed close the entire way, a tie forcing overtime between the Kings and Devils. A battle of the goalies as Martin Brodeur and Jonathan Quick traded saves throughout the game and overtime period, fans were not disappointed in the first of what could be a seven-game series. The game ended on a  beautiful play by Anze Kopitar as he unwrapped Brodeur eight minutes into overtime.

If this first game is any indicator of how the final will be played, each game could come down to one goal, or require more than 60 minutes. The desire to win the Stanley Cup burns inside the teams’ players because some have never won, and some want to win again. On the Kings side of the bench, their franchise has never won a Stanley Cup. On the Devils side, Brodeur is the oldest goalie to start a Stanley Cup game and many of the team’s players have never hoisted a cup. Ilya Kovulchuk is playing in his tenth season and just took the ice in a final game for the first time.

Game 2 Saturday in New Jersey should bring two teams ready to fight for the cup again. A win for the Devils means giving their fans something to look forward to if the team should win the next three and play the deciding game in the Prudential Center. On the Kings side, another win for them would give them a 2-0 lead in the series and a chance to hoist the cup in their city for the first time. If the Kings do win Saturday, they will tie an NHL record for most wins in a postseason (10).

This series will be one to remember regardless because of the goalies and all the different story lines coming in. The two teams playing in the final might be the least expected, but the match up is priceless.

“We want blood.”

Unfortunately for the Flyers fans, they did not get any blood, but they may have a player suspended.

Zac Rinaldo cross-checked Penguins Zbynek Michalek, and as Michalek tried to stand, Rinaldo viciously punched him in the face without provocation. The unnecessary, nasty play by Rinaldo may earn him the first Flyer suspension of this series. But if the on-the-ice antics weren’t enough, the fans booed when the Penguins player finally rose from the ice.

That is uncalled for.

Regardless of how much you hate the team you play against, seeing a player injured is horrible. I was in the Mellon Arena when Matt Cooke elbowed Marc Savard a few seasons ago. The agony of waiting to see if he was alright was excruciating. The arena was silent as fans both of Boston and Pittsburgh watched as Savard was taken off on a stretcher. He has not returned since.

But hearing the Philadelphia fans booing when a player gets up from a clearly vicious hit is ridiculous. It is not only a testament to the fans, but to the NHL of what the fans in Philadelphia believe in.

Illegal hits are illegal. They can cause injury, they can even, in extreme cases, cause death. In no situation is it OK to boo when I player gets up after a hit.

But that wasn’t all that happened during the game. Have a watch at what happens after Jordan Staal scores a goal.

Frustration will happen when your team is down by six, or more, goals in one game. But that does not give fans the go-ahead to act the way they did. The lack of class by Philadelphia both on the ice and off is disgusting. But I’m sure if there is a Game 6, it will be seen again.

Yes, the first game’s loss stings, but Pittsburgh can come back.

This isn’t like football, one loss and you’re done. There are still at least three more games left in this series and the Penguins came close in the first game.

The issue for the Penguins was simple, they didn’t play 60 minutes. If the game had been 20, they would have won easily. Pittsburgh can, and needs, to dominate Philadelphia Friday. If they do this, they not only get a win, but also the much-needed momentum heading into the set in Philadelphia.

The Penguins lost the game Wednesday because they failed to play a complete game, using the Flyer’s first goal as an excuse does not push under the rug the fact that they let them back in. It should have ended in regulation with a Penguins advantage in the series. Instead, now the Penguins have to fight back.

No one said Pittsburgh would win in four games, but being down 2-0 in the series against a team who kicked the fluffing out of Pittsburgh during the season, that doesn’t bode well for dreams of Lord Stanley.

A 60-minute team effort will be the Penguins key to win. But premature worrying and screaming that they’ll lose to the Flyers is not warranted. They weren’t blown out, they gave up a lead. That’s an easy fix for the talented team and the coaching staff.

When they get blown out or get down 3-0 in the series, then it’s time to panic. Pittsburgh has the talent, work ethic and ability to win this series. They just need to come out and do it.

A Saturday-night game in Ottawa became a nightmare to watch for Penguins fans. There would be no patting of the helmet with smiles following this game.

Before the game could even begin, there were smiles on the Penguins bench, though they wouldn’t last for long.  Take a short listen and watch as the players, especially James Neal, react during “O Canada.”

In Brad Thiessen’s first road start the end result can be called less than desirable. But to be clear, the Penguins gave up breakaways and allowed passing not previously seen by the squad. A total of 12 goals were scored during the 60 minutes, but unlike the Winnipeg game, it was Thiessen who felt the sting of loss after giving up eight goals because Dan Bylsma did not pull the rookie.

Many times during the game there were glimmers of hope that maybe the Penguins scoring would come through again. In the second period the Penguins would give up a goal to make the game tied at 2. Then they give up two quick goals and score one of their own, the score 4-3. But one more goal for Ottawa in the second put any hope of points a little further out. Even in the third period, after Sidney Crosby finally scored a goal, it looked like maybe, just maybe the Penguins could come back. But then the Senators put the nails in the coffin. The score went from 5-4 to 8-4 in a matter of minutes, placing the game, and any hope of points, out of the Penguins grasp.

Two things became very clear in this game. One:  Brad Thiessen is not ready for NHL action yet. Two:  Fleury’s talents are needed on nights when the defense leaves the goalie to fend for himself. At least Marc-Andre’s talent shines through even on bad defensive nights by the Penguins.