All-Star caliber

Jan. 15, 2008

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Evgeni Malkin played like an all-star (even if he isn't) and recorded a hat trick in a 4-1 win against the Rangers.

"Marc Savard? Pfffffff..."

PREGAME

-The promotional item they gave away was this half-way decent ski cap.

-Cotton candy heeeee!!!! Cotton candy heeee!!!

-The Penguins scratched Erik Christensen, Ryan Lannon and Ryan Stone.

-The Rangers' scratches were Brendan Shanahan and Jason Strudwick. Shanahan was scratched due to various leg injuries.

-Mike Emrick and former Penguin Andy Brickley get the call for Versus.

-The ceremony they had for linesman Mark Pare appearing in his 2,000th career game was classy. Penguins fans booing Jaromir Jagr during that ceremony wasn't classy.

-Jeff Jimerson singing the national anthem is always classy.

FIRST PERIOD

19:53: Something as predictable as the script to a Jerry Bruckheimer movie occurs as Colton Orr and Georges Laraque decide to drop the gloves. It's actually one of Laraque's more entertaining fights. Laraque owns an early advantage as he has a hold of Orr's jersey and swings him around, peppering him with a few blows. Orr regains his balance and wrestles Laraque to the ice throwing a few punches. While Orr showed some bad form by throwing a blow after Laraque is on the ice, you have to respect him for being willing to go with Laraque on a consistent basis. Other "tough" guys like Atlanta's Eric Boulton or Chris Simon of the Islanders always seem hesitant to square up with Laraque on an even basis. Orr isn't. He'll tussle with Laraque in any situation.

18:54: Crosby takes a pass in the neutral zone and flies by Michal Rozsival. He loses control of the puck as well as his balance. He tries to reach his stick out to get the puck on net, but Henrik Lundqvist poke-checks it away.

16:29: On a power-play, Sidney Crosby passes a puck down along the right boards into he corner where Evgeni Malkin takes it. He then works it towards the crease untouched and lifts it past Lundqvist's blocker. Song 2 by Blur. Penguins 1-0.

15:22: Emrick is on his game tonight. He notes that there are three players from the Anchorage, Alaska area in this game: Scott Gomez, Brandon Dubinsky and Ty Conklin.

13:27: Rob Scuderi throws a nice pass from his own end into the neutral zone to Crosby. He takes the puck and again blows by another Rangers defender -- this time it's Dan Girardi -- and attacks the net. Just as Marc Staal makes a fruitless diving attempt to block Crosby, Crosby snaps a quick wrister. Lundqvist makes the save initially with his glove, but the puck plops right into the crease where a trailing Malkin jumps on it and bangs it home for a goal. Malkin does a fist pump along the left boards and falls on his knee awkwardly causing a few hearts to stop beating. He gets up fine as the celebrating continues. Penguins 2-0.

10:39: A loose puck streaks down the ice with Malkin chasing it. Lundqvist decides against playing it and covers it up. Malkin pulls up and sprays Lundqvist with ice shavings. Rozsival takes objection to Malkin doing that and yanks at his jersey. The officials separate the two without issue.

10:28: Rozsival plays the puck out of the corner and Malkin thumps him down with a nice thick body check. Several at Mellon Arena give Malkin a standing ovation.

9:08: On a power play, the Rangers clear a puck into the Penguins zone. Ty Conklin comes out of his crease to play it, but his stick snaps. Gonchar picks the puck up and swoops behind his net. Crosby skates up to Conklin to give his stick but Conklin declines. As Gonchar waits in the Penguins end, Conklin comes out of this crease and grab both parts of the broken stick. He takes the shaft part and puts it up on top of his net. He grabs the blade portion and decides to use it, which he is allowed to do. Penguins fans applaud the team work displayed.

8:26: The Rangers clear the puck again. It goes behind the Penguins' cage and Conlkin plays it with his broken stick. Penguins fans at first laugh then applaud Conklin's resourcefulness. It's a pretty funny site. It almost looks like he using one of those junky little kid's stick.

7:11: Behind the Rangers' net, Jagr lifts Jarkko Ruutu's stick and it clips Rozsival near the left eye and he immediately drops to the ice clutching his face and kicking his feet. Play is stopped and a Rangers trainer comes out to attend to Rozsival. After a brief delay, Rozsival is helped to the bench and is given a polite applause. If he's wearing a visor, he doesn't suffer that injury.

6:10: Cotton candy heeeee!!!! Cotton candy heeee!!!

3:23: On a power play, Darryl Sydor blasts a one-timer from the point on net. After a save, the puck gets loose and a scramble ensue, Letang pinches in and throws it on net with a backhander. Lundqvist covers it up and Letang gives Rozsival a slight shove in the back. Roszvial responds with a fore-arm shiver to the face. An official immediately throws his hand up and sends Rozsival to the box. As he goes to the sin bin, the beginnings of a nice little shiner can be seen on Rozsival's face. He's having one awful period.

3:12: The Penguins make Rozsival pay for his lack of discipline. From the corner, Letang feeds Gonchar for a one-timer at the point. Gonchar's blast beats Lundqvist. The Penguins will still get 1:50 of power-play time. Penguins 3-0.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 3, Rangers 0.

FIRST INTERMISSION

-Boy did Rozsival have a terrible first period. He allowed Crosby to blow by him for an early scoring opportunity, got pasted in the corner in by Malkin, took a stick in the face and took a stupid penalty on Letang. He needs a hug.

-During the intermission, Alexander Ovechkin's contract is discussed and we wonder who has a worse haircut; Ovechkin or Brian Engblom?

SECOND PERIOD

16:25: Scott Gomez enters the offensive zone and blasts a slapper on net. Conklin stones him with a fine glove save.

13:57: Conklin almost pulls a Brind'Amour when playing the puck behind his own net. Martin Straka steals it off him and backhands a pass in the slot to Gomez for the one-timer. Conklin is able to recover and make a nice save.

13:45: Emrick totally kills the Penguins fans who boo Jagr by saying, "Jaromir Jagr, accompanied by some booing here. They apparently forgot the two championships." Bravo Mr. Emrick. Bravo.

11:48: Cotton candy heeeee!!!! Cotton candy heeee!!!

9:59: Coming off a commercial break Emrick references John LeClair suplexing Malkin in the preaseason last season. We call party foul.

8:30: The Penguins control the puck for approximately 36 seconds with a series of sharp passing and a few nifty moves. The crowd applauds the display, but what's the point? Not a single shot on goal was generated. It was like the hockey equivalent of the And1 Tour. A lot of style, but no substance.

5:36: Blair Betts throws a soft wrister on net and Conklin snags it out of the air. Orr is standing in the crease and Sydor takes exception. They exchange shoves and a small scrum ensues. The Rangers defensemen again show a lack of discipline and jump in on the scrum. As a result, the faceoff will take place in the neutral zone.

3:44: It is acknowledged that Laraque is playing in his 600th career NHL game.

0:02: Shorthanded, Jordan Staal picks up a loose puck in the neutral zone. He enters the offensive zone with Straka guarding him. He slides a backhander to Adam Hall in the slot and he fires a shot low that Lundqvist makes a fine kick save on.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 3, Rangers 0.

SECOND INTERMISSION

-Kudos to who ever had the "Russia 3, Rangers 0" posted on the big screen via text message during the second intermission.

THIRD PERIOD

19:06: On a power play, Gomez comes in and blasts a slapper from the left side. The puck appears to get him in the mask or shoulder and he is stunned for a moment. As the puck is worked back down the ice, an official checks to see if he's OK. Conklin is fine and play continues.

18:22: Crosby out-races Paul Mara for a loose puck by diving for it and knocking it into the crease. Malkin claims it and tries to deke from one knee but the puck rolls off his stick. The cage gets knocked off its moorings and Malkin collides into the boards. Crosby comes around and is forced to jump over Malkin to avoid a collision. Crosby lands awkwardly and Penguins fans see their team's two best players lying in a heap on the ice. Both players get up without any injuries. That hit looked hauntingly familiar:

-Blame Emrick for bring it up earlier.

16:16: Someone at Versus must be paying attention as we get a shot of Mike Yeo on the bench. Quality.

13:51: Sidney Crosby is called for interference. Penguins fans boo, but replays clearly show him setting a pick on Girardi while Malkin skates with the puck.

11:40: As the power play expires, Malkin races for a loose puck in the corner with Girardi and knocks him to the ice with a shoulder check. Penguins fans boo again, but it's clearly interference.

10:44: It took them 40 shots, but the Rangers finally beat Conklin . Jagr takes the puck from behind the net and attacks with a wrap-around. Conklin makes the initial save with his stick, but Jagr is able to punch the rebound under Conklin for the goal. Penguins 3-1.

10:34: Crosby tries to skate around Rozsival and gets knocked to the ice. We had no problem with the hit, but the fact that Rozsival seemingly pinned him to the ice afterwards didn't strike us as being legal. In response, Michel Therrien dispatches George Laraque and the Penguins fans respond with applause.

10:24: Laraque responds by running over Ryan Hollweg on the back-check.

9:33: On a delayed penalty, Malkin brings the puck up ice, pulls up near the left faceoff circle and sends a pass to the slot. Sykora grabs it and rifles a wrister on net that Lundqvist makes a fine save on.

6:10: Several "fans" leave. It's only a two goal game folks. This thing's hardly over.

1:18: Lundqvist leaves the net in favor of an extra attacker.

0:23: Surrounded by Rangers in his own end, Sydor dives and sends the puck up to Malkin who takes it and shoots the puck from the red line for one of us. Many of those free toques that were given out rain down onto the ice. We tried throwing ours, but we have an arm that's about as weak as Chad Pennington's. It lands about 20 rows below us and hits some woman in the hand. We're pathetic.

0:05: Dubinsky checks Ruutu into the boards and gets his elbow up. Jeff Taffe trips up Dubinsky to defend Ruutu. Dubinsky gets up and drops his gloves wanting to fight Taffe but the Penguins center isn't biting. A crowd gathers and things are quickly broken up. For whatever reason, no one is penalized.

0:02: Right off the faceoff, Ruutu flattens Dubinsky with a body check and a line brawl ensues. Hall and Marc Staal separate from the pack and sort of fight. In all reality, Hall pretty much gave Staal some noogies. Players are separated. Hall, Ruutu and Staal are kicked out of the game.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 3, Rangers 1.

POSTGAME

-Best jerseys we saw: Tomas Surovy (an optimistic purchase to say the least), Paul Coffey, Rick Tocchet, Matthew Barnaby, Darius Kasparaitis, Ulf Samuelsson, Tom Barrasso and Mark Messier complete with the Stanley Cup final patch from 1994.

-The attendance was an even 17,000.

-Why in the world did the NHL put nine games on Sunday opposite two NFL playoff games then only put one game on the first Monday in almost five months without any football, college of professional? How much play were any of the Sunday games going to get nationally going against two NFL playoff games? With a relatively quiet Monday night, why wouldn't the NHL schedule at least a double-header on Versus? You could have the Rangers-Penguins as the first game and the Ducks-Sharks, which was played Sunday, as the second game. Both would be high-profile games by the NHL standards.

-The Cotton Candy Guy came through our section quite a bit. There must've been a gold mine of fat kids sitting around us or something.

-Conklin's 43 saves were a career high.

-TSN had a pretty cool Jagr vs. Crosby promo before the game:

-Glass is half-full: The Penguins have recorded at least a point in 10 consecutive games.

-Glass is half-empty: The Rangers nearly out-shot the Penguins by a 2-to-1 margin, 44-23.

-Dave Molinari's recap.

-Game Summary.

-Event Summary.

-Highlights:

EMPTY NETTER ASSISTS

Penguins

-The Penguins are popular.

-Sidney Crosby is in shape.

-Is Rob Scuderi the new Mark Eaton?

-Should Evgeni Malkin be going to the All-Star Game? You can vote on it here.

-The city planning commission approved the master plan for the new arena.

-According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, the Penguins and Blue Jackets have been scouting each other.

-Scott Erskine of the National Post says Ty Conklin was the best acquisition of the offseason.

Atlantic Division

-Devils center John Madden was cut by a skate Saturday, but did not suffer any ligament damage.

-The Flyers have talked to Peter Forsberg's agent. (Note at the bottom.)

Northeast Division

-According to TSN, the Maple Leafs approached former general manager Cliff Fletcher about re-taking the same position with Toronto. Fletcher is the father of Chuck Fletcher, the Penguin's assistant general manager.

-With Senators forward Dany Heatley injured, Bruins forward Marc Savard took his place on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

-Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell won't negotiate a new contract until after the season.

Southeast Division

-The Carolina Hurricanes' roster is all icky and stuff.

-In a phrase that has perhaps never been constructed before in history, the Thrashers are excited about going to Detroit.

Central Division

-The Blues assigned goaltender Hannu Toivonen to Peoria of the AHL. In his place, they recalled goaltender Marek Schwarz. Dark Helmet unavailable for comment.

Northwest Division

-The Flames signed free agent goaltender Curtis Joseph.

-Check out this sick goal Ales Hemsky scored Sunday against the Flames at 1:28 of this video:

Pacific Division

-The Ducks recalled forward Drew Miller from Portland of the AHL.

-Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet will re-join the team in two week. Tocchet has been away from the franchise for two years due to legal troubles.

Adams Division

-The Norfolk Admirals of the AHL did the pink ice thing last week.

-Today's sign that the world is screwed up: ESPN doesn't cover hockey for the most part. It will however cover video game tournaments from now on.



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