Different Lines, Same Story

Nov. 13, 2007

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Despite some reshuffling of the line combinations, the Penguins get the same result with a 3-2 loss to the Devils.

PREGAME

Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin will be teamed up on the same line.

-Dany Sabourin is the starting goaltender.

-In a surprising move, Kevin Weekes get the start in net for the Devils.

-The Penguins and their fans show off a lot of class by honoring veterans of the armed forces. It might seem like a cliched thing to do, but it's important to pay these men and women respect. They have the guts to put themselves in danger. You may not agree with the wars this country has fought, but you should agree that the men and women who've been brave enough to fight them are a special breed. If you know a veteran or someone currently in uniform, shake their hand or buy them a beer or something. You never know if you'll ever get that chance to do it again.

(Note: If I can get serious for a moment, drop the use of the editorial "we," and interject something very personal into Empty Netters, I lost a friend last week in Air Force Staff Sgt. David Wieger. He was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. About a year ago, while talking through MySpace, I kidded him about the awful beer we used to drink in high school. Stuff like Red Dog. I told him that the next time he was home I would buy him a good beer like Shiner Bock or Boddington's. Unfortunately I will never get that chance and I will regret not having that opportunity for the rest of my life. So seriously, if you know someone who has served, or is serving, buy them that beer or milk or whatever their poison is. Or just thank them.)

-Jeff Jimerson, whose butt-cut is getting out of control, pierces every ear drum in a 403 mile radius with the national anthem. He might want to grab one of those Super Cuts coupons they have in Ice Time.

-Paul Steigerwald saying the fans love Jeff Jimerson is like saying "Sudden Death" probably wasn't Oscar-worthy. In other words, it's an understatement.

-It was a classy move as well by FSN Pittsburgh to stick with the Veterans Day salute and the national anthem.

FIRST PERIOD

19:15: While playing the puck from in front of his net, Ryan Whitney has the biscuit bounce up on him and he misplays it. Zach Parise takes control of the loose puck but before he can shoot, Evgeni Malkin lays out and breaks up the opportunity but takes the shaft of Parise's stick in the side of his face. The officials halt play as Malkin lies in the corner. He's stunned for a few seconds, but returns to the bench.

18:53: The Penguins make it all the way until the first minute of play has passed before taking their first penalty of the night. They're improving! Mark Recchi goes off for slashing.

18:13: We've known that the Penguins have stunk on the penalty kill in the last two games, but we really didn't know how bad they've been until FSN quantifies it for us with a neat little statistic showing how the Penguins' penalty killing units have done the last two games compared to the first 15 games of the season:

First 15 Games60 for 6987.0%Last 2 Games8 for 1457.1%

Ick!

16:40: We get a look at the 3,845 different sets of line combinations for the Penguins this season.

Malone-Crosby-Sykora

Staal-Malkin-Recchi

Roberts-Christensen-Hall

Ruutu-Talbot-Laraque

-We've been quietly calling for Malkin and Staal to get reunited in order to get Staal going. He's a finisher not a creator. He's not capable of generating too much on offense by himself. At least not yet. Malkin is. Give Staal a chance to finish what Malkin creates. That said, we're not crazy about Recchi being on that line. We'd like to see a banger like Colby Armstrong or Tyler Kennedy up there.

-We like the first line. You have a playmaker (Crosby), a banger (Malone) and a finisher (Sykora).

15:20: Zach Parise outwrestles Darryl Sydor in the corner and feeds Travis Zajac in the right faceoff circle. Zajac has seemingly forever to choose his shot and beats Sabourin through the five-hole. It's a weak goal to give up. Devils 1-0.

12:51: During a stoppage in play, Sheldon Brookbank has words with Jarkko Ruutu. Ruutu responds by using the universal "chatter" hand sign. Ruutu also displays the entire hand gesture to the Devils bench.

12:25: The pairing of Staal and Malkin appears to be paying off somewhat. Malkin comes down the right side and feeds Staal with a nice pass. Staal fans on the shot, but it was a solid scoring opportunity for him and he hasn't had a lot of those this season.

9:27: The Penguins give up another power play goal. From behind the Penguins net, Brian Gionta sends a pass across the crease to Parise who easily fire the puck into an empty net. Devils 2-0.

4:35: While charging the net without the puck, Sergei Gonchar is upended by Andy Greene. No call.

2:34: Ruutu hits Dainius Zubrus nears the Devils bench and Zubrus reacts as if he's launched out of an ejection seat and lands on a teammate's lap on the bench.

0:00: End of period. Devils 2, Penguins 0.

FIRST INTERMISSION

-The Penguins gave up two goals on five shots. Weak.

SECOND PERIOD

19:34: Entering the offensive zone, Crosby leaves a drop pass for Malone. Malone the gives it back to Crosby who skates along the goal line, moves to the forehand and beats Weeks with a low shot. The Devils were seemingly surprised Crosby would try such a move and basically didn't contest the shot. Devils 2-1.

13:39: Gonchar. Hooking. You know the deal.

12:03: Brooks Oprik takes a hooking call as well and the Devils will have a two-man advantage for 24 seconds.

11:04: Shorthanded, Ryan Malone drives past Karel Rachunek and attacks the Devils net with the puck. He tries to go to the backhand but the puck sails off his stick and he collides with the net knocking off.

10:46: Behind the net, Mark Eaton, without his stick, hugs Zubrus against the boards. The officials probably could've called holding on Eaton.

10:03: The Penguins kill Orpik's penalty and dodge a big bullet.

9:45: Paul Steigerwald points out that there's three African-American players on the ice tonight: Johnny Oduya, Kevin Weekes and Georges Laraque. Hold it, hold it. Oduya's a man of Nigerian decent who was born in Sweden while Weekes and Laraque are both natives of Canada. None of them are from America. (We're nationality police, sorry.)

6:34: Gary Roberts is sent off for goaltender interference. We have no problem with the call. It's goaltender interference by the book. But we do have a problem with the inconsistency in the call. Roberts simply bumped into Weekes. There have been times throughout the season where goaltenders from all teams have been run over with nothing called.

1:39: Laraque checks fellow "African-American" Oduya with a check that staggers the Devils defenseman like he was hit with a taser.

0:00: End of period. Devils 2, Penguins 1.

SECOND INTERMISSION

-Maxime Talbot's fu manchu would put Joe Namath's to shame.

-If it's the third period, you know what that means... The obligatory camera shot of Mike Yeo.

THIRD PERIOD

13:53: After driving toward the net and getting a shot off, Crosby is tripped up by Patrik Elias. The Penguins will get a power play.

11:08: Malkin brings the puck into the offensive zone then cuts across the ice and leads Staal with a pass that he directs on net. As Weekes makes the save, Mark Recchi is spun into the net by Travis Zajac who is given two minutes for hooking.

9:26: Gonchar slides a pass over to Malkin who bombs a one timer from the left face off circle. The shot beats Weekes on the far side. Devils 2, Penguins 2.

8:23: FSN Pittsburgh comes through with another solid stat: The longest active scoring streaks in the NHL:

PlayerTeamGamesSidney CrosbyPenguins17Henrik ZetterbergRed Wings17Evgeni MalkinPenguins11Ray WhitneyHurricanes10

5:30: Laraque tries to send a pass from behind the net to a man in front. The only problem was Gionta was that man. The Devils forward takes the puck and rushes it from his teams' zone to the Penguins'. He sends a fantastic cross ice pass to a streaking Elias who snaps it high on a one-timer that beats a helpless Sabourin. Devils 3-2.

0:29: Sabourin tries to out play a puck in his own end but fans on it. Parise knocks his stick away and plays it towards the crease with a backhand. The puck kicks around Sabourin's feet and almost goes across the line. Replays show Zubrus head-butting Sabourin while trying to force the puck in. Yet nothing is call. The officials go to the replay in order to see if a goal is scored and it is ruled no goal.

0:00: End of period. The Penguins fail to even get the puck past mid-ice the last 30 seconds of the game. Devils 3, Penguins 2.

POSTGAME

-Dave Molinari's recap.

-Game Summary.

-Event Summary.

-Highlights:

EMPTY NETTER ASSISTS

PENGUINS

-Michel Therrien shook up the lines. In other news, the sun rose this morning.

-Ron Cook says Marc-Andre Fleury needs to play.

-Former Penguins center Ron Francis was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He went into the Hall along with Jim Gregory, Al MacInnis, Mark Messier and Scott Stevens.

ATLANTIC DIVISION

-Scott Upshall scored two goals in a 3-2 defeat of the Islanders.

-Rangers forward Sean Avery may have made fun of someone for having cancer. You read that right. Allegedly during the pregame warm-ups Avery ridiculed Toronto forward Jason Blake for having Leukemia. Blake's teammate Darcy Tucker then engaged Avery and players from both teams gathered in a scrum. Tucker and Avery eventually fought during the game, which the Rangers won 3-2 in a shootout.

-It doesn't surprise us that Avery is accused of something like this. After all he once allegedly called Georges Laraque a racial slur and was critical of former Coyotes defenseman Denis Gauthier's French Canadian heritage.

-When you consider some of the sports' biggest start like Mario Lemieux and Saku Koivu have had to deal with cancer and that the league is constantly raising awareness and funs for cancer research, we wouldn't be shocked if Avery is suspended over this if it's true. There's a point where you're an agitator and there's another where you're simply a bad human being.

-Toronto goon Wade Belak said someone will eventually "kill" Avery.

-Avery is threatening to sue a Toronto radio personality for libel over the incident.

-Islanders forward Bill Guerin is dealing with an eye injury.

-Peter King weighs in on the Barry Melrose/Newark/Mullet Controversy.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

-Cory Stillman and Justin Williams scored two goals a piece in Carolina's 4-3 defeat of the Panthers. Carolina's Erik Cole left the game late on stretcher after a collision with Florida's Tomas Vokoun.

-Cole was cleared by a doctor to join his team on a flight to Tampa Bay.

CENTRAL DIVISION

-Sports Illustrated's Darren Eliot says the 2007-08 version of the Blackhawks looks a lot like the 1991-92 version that went to the Stanley Cup final.

PACIFIC DIVISION

-Evgeni Nabokov set a Sharks record with his 25th consecutive start and led San Jose to a 5-0 win against the Coyotes.

-In case you didn't see Sharks center Jeremy Roenick score his 500th career goal Saturday, here it is:

Ick!

Northwest Division

-Oilers Fernando Pisani skated with his teammates for the first time this season. He's been out all season while he's dealing with ulcerative colitis.

Patrick Division

-If you want to scream at Gary Bettman directly, here's your chance. Bettman and other NHL executives will host a show on XM radio and will field phone calls and e-mails from listeners. If you ever here a "Walt from Brackenridge, Pa." on there complaining about the new jerseys, it's not us.

-You can now vote for the starting line-up for the All-Star game. The ballot can be found here.

-James Mirtle has every goaltender's record in the shootout all-time.

-Mirtle has a pretty good piece on Hall of Fame day in Toronto.

-We're not the only ones who think that the NHL made a mistake by not scheduling "off" day for the league the same day the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremonies were held. Would the Steelers and Cowboys be playing at the same time or even the same day Terry Bradshaw or Roger Staubach was being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame? No. Then why were the Devils and Penguins playing at the same exact time Ron Francis and Scott Stevens were being given hockey's ultimate honor?



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