Despite a less than stellar effort, the Penguin beat the out-manned Coyotes, 3-1.
-We had an extra ticket to the game last night. We walked in once and got a Mark Recchi bobblehead. After we got to our seat and left our bobblehead with EN friend Jason Langer we exited the stadium and re-entered at another gate claiming another bobblehead.
-Holy Jyrki Lumme did Georges Laraque just kill the Coyotes? During a pregame interview with Dan Potash, Laraque explained that the Coyotes, his former team, didn't really play a system.
-Marc-Andre Fleury gets the start in net.
-Sergei Gonchar (groin), Mark Recchi (age) and Jarkko Ruutu (penalty-magnetism) are scratched.
-Another night without Jeff Jimerson belting out the national anthem?!?! Argh!
-As The Pensblog aptly pointed out, Jimerson's replacement, Sarah Marince is 3-1 this season.
-Pensblog also found her MySpace page.
-It looks like Bryzgalov is still wearing some of his gear from his days in Anaheim.
17:33: As he gets dumped in the neutral zone by Keith Ballard, Colby Armstrong leaves a pass for Crosby who tries to skate by Derek Morris. As Crosby tries to get a backhander on net, Morris hauls him down and the officials call a penalty. During the stoppage, Armstrong and Ballard decide to fight. Ballard pretty much controls the fight with a bunch of rabbit punches and then wrestles Armstrong to the ice. The Phoenix defenseman shows a lot of class by not punching Armstrong while he has him down.
14:44: FSN Pittsburgh flashes a pretty good graphic showing who has won the Pearson, Ross and Hart Trophies the most times in the same season:
Wayne Gretzky 5
Mario Lemieux 3
Guy LaFleur 2
Sidney Crosby 1
Phil Esposito 1
Jaromir Jagr 1
Martin St. Louis 1
12:06: Crosby's "butt" goal from last season is replayed:
11:37: Ballard must really have something against Armstrong. This time he elbows him in the face and gets two minutes.
10:38: Petr Sykora sends a cross-ice pass to Evgeni Malkin. His one-timer is denied by Bryzgalov's left leg.
6:25: With a faceoff in the neutral zone, Ryan Malone doesn't arrive at the circle in time and the officials drop without Malone being ready. Steven Reinprecht "wins" it easily.
2:36: Armstrong gets away with a diving penalty and draws an interference penalty out of his buddy Ballard.
0:35: With Zybnek Michalek and Nick Boynton wrestling with him behind the net, Laraque snaps a nifty backhanded pass to Maxime Talbot. The Penguins center easily fires the puck past a helpless Bryzgalov for an even strength goal. Penguins 1-0.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Coyotes 0
-Gretzky looks like he should be in charge of some school for gifted youngsters with the sweater vest under the sports coat deal he's wearing.
-Life was so much simpler when Ulf Samuelsson was hitting people for the Penguins:
-Cotton candy heeeee!!!! Cotton candy heeee!!!
18:43: Ryan Malone has shaved his beard. Scott Hall is speechless.
17:53: On a power play, Darryl Sydor blasts a slapper off the boards behind the net and the puck bounces into the crease. Bryzgalov jumps on top of it and freezes it before Sykora can poke it in.
17:18: Shorthanded Daniel Winnik feeds a backhanded pass to Mike Zigomanis whose one-timer clinks off the cross-bar.
14:11: Crosby feed Armstrong in the crease. Armstrong hesitates and fires a puck that hits the crossbar.
12:47: Malkin brings the puck through the neutral zone and through the Phoenix defense. He tries to go five-hole on Brzygalov, but the Coyotes goaltender isn't buying it.
11:43: On the power play, Malone makes a slick backhanded pass across the crease to Armstrong, but Boynton makes a nice play and has his stick on Armstrong's preventing him from even getting a shot off. Bryzgalov gloves the loose puck.
8:22: Armstrong races after a loose puck near Bryzgalov. As the Phoenix goaltender grabs the puck, Armstrong pulls up and sprays him with ice. Derek Morris takes exception and gets in Armstrong's grill. A scrum ensue but is quickly broken up. The Penguins defenseman wisely stay out of the fracas and keep the faceoff in the Phoenix zone.
2:52: Armstrong feeds a pass in the slot to Ryan Whitney. The Penguins defenseman fires a wrister high on Bryzgalov who knocks it away with his glove.
2:01: Kris Letang brings the puck into the offensive zone and spots Tyler Kennedy in open space. He backhands the puck to Kennedy who then fires a wrister that clanks off the goal post.
1:13: Here's something you don't see every day: a double-minor on the same player. Jordan Staal gets four minutes for hooking and tripping.
0:57: Talbot pushes the puck into the offensive zone. He uses a defender as a screen and whips a wrister on net. Bryzgalov has to stretch himself to get a glove on it.
0:00: End of period. The Coyotes will get 2:47 of power-play time on clean ice. As the teams go to their respective locker rooms, Laraque and the player he was traded for, Daniel Carcillo, exchange their thoughts on the writers strike in Hollywood. Penguins 1, Coyotes 0.
-The Penguins own a 19-9 edge in shots.
-Andre Savard is interviewed before the third period in lieu of a shot of Mike Yeo. Not cool.
19:59: Right off the faceoff, Martin Hanzal whacks Talbot in the face with his stick. No call.
18:34: Steven Reinprecht back hands a pass to the top of the slot to Shane Doan who fires a wrister past Fleury. Coyotes 1, Penguins 1.
14:59: The unuite of Malkin, Larauque, Erik Christensen, Sydor and Letang dominates play in the offensive zone for almost two minutes and draws a penalty. The crowd acknowledges their effort with a standing ovation.
8:14: Crosby feeds Letang three times on the power play and they finally score a goal with a man advantage. The Penguins captain fakes a slap shot and feeds a cross-ice pass to Letang who is able to bang it home for his first goal of the season. Penguins 2-1.
6:58: Laraque again feeds Talbot from behind the net. Talbot's one timer is stoned by Bryzgalov. Talbot playfully chides Bryzgalov in the corner for stealing his second goal of the night.
4:46: Staal forces the puck into the Phoenix zone and leaves a drop pass for Kennedy who fires a sick wrister over Bryzgalov's stick side. Penguins 3-1.
3:57: During a stoppage, Nick Boynton goes crazy. He breaks his stick over Talbot's back and then tries to rip his head off. Boynton drops his gloves hoping to fight Talbot, but officials keep them separated. Each player gets two minors a piece. Boynton leaves the ice.
2:41: On a two-on-one, Kennedy feeds a cross-crease pass to Staal. As the puck appears to get slowed down by a Phoenix defender, Staal tries to poke it by Brzygalov, but the Phoenix goaltender keeps the puck out.
1:33: Bryzgalov is pulled for an extra attacker.
1:07: Fleury corrals a loose puck and appears to be thinking about shooting for one of us. Whitney accidentally steals it off him though.
0:59: Gretzky calls a timeout to organize his squad.
0:43: Staal crosses the blue-line offsides and fires the puck into an empty net after the whistle is blown. The goal-horn goes off prematurely.
0:08: Fleury grabs a loose puck again and appears to be trying for the empty net goal but loses the puck.
0:00: End of game. As the team congratulates Fleury, Talbot and Sykora can be seen giving him grief for not scoring the empty netter. Penguins 3, Coyotes 1.
-Maybe it was because the crowd was kind of dead, maybe it was because they'll be going on a long West Coast swing this week. Maybe it was because the Coyotes aren't a team too many people get psyched to play. Either way, the Penguins looked lethargic last night. The only reason they won this game was because the Coyotes are so deficient in talent.
-The crowd was about as quiet as we've heard it since before the lockout. There was very little energy at all last night.
-The Coyotes might be the least talented team in the league. They have a few good players like Shane Doan, but there's not a player on there that would scare us in a clutch situation.
-The Penguins dominated the shot battle, 33-18.
-You've got to feel for Ilya Bryzgalov. He stopped 30 shots and played great but still got the loss.
-New flash: Sergei Gonchar is kind of important to the power play. The Penguins were 1-for-8 with the man advantage.
-The one thing the Coyotes aren't short on is effort. The a lot of these players
-The baby in this picture is awesome.
-Michel Therrien recorded his 150th career win.
-Coyotes forward Bill Thomas, a native of Fox Chapel, played his first NHL game in Mellon Arena last night.
-Gretzky's decision to coach this team might be his biggest regret since deciding to do this video camera commercial:
-Best jerseys we saw: Gilles Meloche Oakland Seals, Mark Recchi Flyers, Wayne Gretzky Team Canada, Gretzky Oilers and Gretzky Kings. Maybe it was because of the cold weather and people dressed appropriately, but there seemed to be a lack of jerseys last night.
NHL NETWORK AND CENTER ICE EXPLAINED
We chatted briefly with John Tortora, vice president, media for the NHL yesterday and he explained a few things for us in regards to Center Ice subscribers not being able to get games on NHL Network.
-It is by design. In other words, games on NHL Network are only available on NHL Network. Even if you subscribe to Center Ice, you need to subscribe to NHL Network in order to get any games broadcast there.
-NHL Network plans to broadcast up to 50 NHL games this season. Those 50 games will encompass a cross-section of the entire league.
-Center Ice is not intended to be an outlet for every game. To quote the Web page for Center Ice, "you will see up to 40 games a week (from outside your local viewing area) throughout the regular season and select games from the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs."
-The NHL feels it has done an adequate job of promoting the fact that these games aren't available to Center Ice customers.
-There are no plans to televise any playoff games at this time. The NHL feels Versus and NBC are doing adequate job of providing coverage.
-While being directed to Tortora, a media relations official with the NHL told us the situation was similar to the Packers-Cowboys game that was televised last Thursday on NFL Network.
-The NHL is essentially asking you to pay the same amount of money ($169 for first-time subscribers) for Center Ice even though it's now an inferior product in our opinion in terms of quanity. In the past, the only games you didn't get for the most part were games that weren't available on television at all anywhere(Blackhawk home games, for example). Now you will have potentially 50 games that won't be available to you for no other reason than them being on another network.
-If the NHL is going to offer less games for that simple of a reason, the cost for Center Ice should come down simply because it's an inferior product volume-wise.
-In regards to the "cross-section of the entire league" we have a hard time believing a bland uninspiring team like the Panthers will have nearly as many games shown on NHL Network as a sexy, entertaining team like the Penguins.
-If you are buying Center Ice to watch only one team, the official Web page for Center Ice pretty much tells you not to purchase the package. "Remember, if you ONLY want to watch your home team, then NHL CENTER ICE should not be purchased. NHL CENTER ICE is designed for the NHL fan who wants to see NHL games other than just those which involve their local team."
-This is another instance of the NHL squeezing dollars out of already taxed fan base. In addition to rolling out a line of more expensive but uglier jerseys and the slow rise of ticket prices throughout the league asking Center Ice customers, who are paying up to $169 in some cases, to pay more in order to watch games they were getting with their Center Ice package is disgusting.
-Saying this situation is as similar to the Packers-Cowboys game being on NFL Network is about as similar to Josef Melichar being similar to Sidney Crosby because they're both hockey players.
-The NFL is the most popular sports league in all the world. The ratings for the Superbowl are annually some of the highest all time in American television. The NFL has as product that is in demand.
-The Stanley Cup final meanwhile has produced some of the lowest rated programming in the history of prime time television in America. If the NHL wants to call itself "similar" to the NFL, it has a pretty warped sense of self-importance.
-The last thing the NHL should do is alienate the few fans in this country who are willing to pay a large amount of money to watch its product. Either offer the games on NHL Network or lower the price for Center Ice.
FLYERS PUT ON NOTICE, FINALLY
Steve Downie on Dean McAmmond
Jesse Boulerice on Ryan Kesler
Randy Jones on Patrice Bergeron
Scott Hartnell on Andrew Alberts
Riley Cote on Matt Niskanen
After Flyers goon Rile Cote was suspended three games for an elbow to the head of Stars defenseman Matt Niskanen, Gary Bettman finally issued a warning to the Flyers explaining that the organization will be watched by the league.
While we do appreciate that Bettman and company have stepped up and called out the Flyers for their actions, it's disappointing that they're basically waiting until another Flyers' opponent gets a stick or elbow to their noggin before they really get mad.
The Flyers will lose at least 52 man games to suspensions this season including Cote's punishment. Enough damage has been done by the Flyers to warrant a fine or the loss of draft picks or some other sort of punishment. If the NHL is serious about cutting down on head injuries, actions should be taken against any organization that regularly employs players who attempt to injure their opponents.
Bettman and company need to be proactive instead of reactive in this case. If you don't think enough havoc has been wrecked by Philadelphia to warrant a punishment towards the franchise ask Dean McAmmond, Ryan Kesler, Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Alberts or Matt Niskanen about what it's like playing this team. Hockey is already a rough sport to play. It doesn't need hacks like Riley Cote or Steve Downie intentionally attempting to injure other players.
EMPTY NETTER ASSISTS
-Mark Recchi was put on waivers.
-Is the Atlantic Division the toughest division in the Eastern Conference?
-With Sidney Crosby heading to Western Canada as a NHL player for the first time, things are going to be a little crazy.
-ESPN's David Amber lists the top 10 shootout specialists. Erik Christensen checks in at No. 3.
-Penguins prospect Angelo Esposito is cool with playing junior hockey this season.
-Esposito was one of 37 players invited to Hockey Canada's National Junior Selection Camp.
-While taking a swipe at Sidney Crosby, AOL's Greg Wyshynski makes a case for New Jersey forward Jamie Langenbrunner to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP.
-A Toronto radio station issued a retraction to its report that Rangers forward Sean Avery made cancer-related remarks to Maple Leafs forward Jason Blake. It doesn't appear that Avery is satisfied however.
-With the Rangers in first place with a payroll controlled by the the salary cap, why wouldn't they want to revert to the late 1990's and bring in some expensive, over-the-hill talent in exchange for cheap young talent?
-Tim Thomas made 33 saves and spurred the Bruins on to a 3-1 win on the road against the Islanders. It is Boston's first win on Long Island in 11 tries.
-The Canadiens have recalled goaltender Jaroslav Halak from Hamilton of the AHL.
-As Going Five Hole pointed out, twenty years ago yesterday Ray Bourque gave up his original jersey number with the Bruins so that it could be retired in honor of Phil Esposito:
-Cam Ward stopped all 28 saves he faced as the Hurricanes shut out the Rangers, 4-0.
-Predators forward Scott Nichol was suspended for five games for cross-checking Montreal defenseman Patrice Brisebois in the head. Anyone know where we can find a video of this hit?
-Attendance at Blackhawks games is up approximately 1,000 per game this season.
-Niklas Hagman's shootout goal lifted the Stars to a 2-1 win at Columbus. For some God-forsaken reason, someone thought a game between two of the most defensive oriented clubs in the league would be a good one to stick on Versus. Thankfully, no one has Versus and wasn't forced to watch it.
-Joe Thornton's two assists helped the Sharks down the Avalanche, 3-2.
-Sam Gagner's shootout goal gave the Oilers a 4-3 win in Los Angeles.
-The Stars put forward Jere Lehtinen on injured reserve with an abdominal injury. He could be out 8-10 weeks. Dallas activated defenseman Mattias Norstrom from injured reserve. Norstrom had missed 12 games due to facial injuries.
-Here's a video of that Zamboni that caught on fire in Aston, Pa. Sunday: