Red and Black Hockey
Entries with the tag: pittsburgh penguins
By now, we’ve all seen the nasty hit delivered to the head of Ryan McDonagh by Matt Cooke. Just in case, I’ll post it after the jump. I think even the most dedicated Penguins fan will admit that the elbow was brought up intentionally and that he targeted McDonagh’s head. The “intent to injure” might not be as cut and dried, but the act itself is pretty clear. By now, we’ve all also heard the shots fired at the NHL by Mario Lemieux after the recent incidents from Trevor Gillies of the Islanders. We’ve also heard his proposal for a multi-tiered system of fines for clubs when their players get suspended and the doubling of fines for repeat offenders.
There’s something ironic about the fact that there’s an article in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about how some of the Penguins players, including Matt Cooke are in favor of the league’s efforts to firmly penalize head hits. At the GM meetings last week, it was reported that Penguins GM Ray Shero was hoping for a vote in favor of going beyond Rule 48—the “Matt Cooke” rule—to impose a blanket ban on all head shots.
Cooke doesn’t agree with going that far, but agrees that something has to be done. His quote from the article:
I think the biggest concern out of all of this at the meetings was: Something needs to be done, but without it being a knee-jerk reaction. It’s something that they’re aware of. They’re working at it. I think it’s a process. They’re going to do what’s best, or at least recommend what’s best, not only for the game, but also the players.
His actions, unfortunately, speak louder than his words, and not in a good way. I’m anxious to hear his comments and more importantly, Mario Lemieux’s comments on this matter.
On Thursday night, the Penguins and their mob of fans invaded Raleigh. They used blitzkrieg tactics to take a 2-0 lead just five and a half minutes into the game, and it looked like they would have their way with the host Hurricanes. However, the Hurricanes fought back and ultimately emerged with a 4-3 overtime win. The sea of powder blue sweater-clad fans, who were boisterous during the game, left in silence while the Hurricanes fans reclaimed their own barn.
Justin Peters, who faced 40 shots in the game, looked shaky at times. In the end, though, he earned his fourth win in five tries thanks to some outstanding work in the third frame.
Brian Pothier, who was part of the return on the Joe Corvo trade, scored his first Hurricanes goal to win the game very early in the overtime period.
Back in early October, if someone had told me that the Hurricanes wouldn’t pitch a shutout until March 7, I would have laughed. If someone had told me that Manny Legace would be the one to do it, I would have hit them. Thanks to poor play early in the season, a bout of injuries to Cam Ward and a dismissal of Michael Leighton, Manny Legace has pretty much found himself in the starting goalie’s chair in Carolina. And he got the team’s first shutout of the season on Sunday, a 4-0 win over the Thrashers.
On Thursday, Legace defeated the Senators 4-1, and this had quite a bit of significance for him. It was the first time he’d ever defeated the Senators and it means that he has at least one victory against all 30 active teams.
I’ve said a number of times, and I’ll say again: I hope some other team is taking note and I really hope that Manny gets a contract when he becomes a free agent on July 1. He deserves it very much, but it looks like the Canes won’t have any room for him on the big roster. Justin Peters has pretty much played himself into a situation where it’s his position (backup to Cam) to lose. He’s much younger and much cheaper. It sucks for Manny, but this team needs to get younger.
Peters, who has played very well in four starts, got his first NHL loss on Saturday, a 4-1 loss at Florida.
On Monday, there was a lot of contention amongst Hurricanes fans when rumors started to circulate that Rod Brind’Amour would be a healthy scratch for the Pens game. While some refused to believe it and some chose to have their feelings by it, the rumor had truth to it. Carolina’s 78 year-old Captain was exiled to the press box as a healthy scratch. The coaching staff finally decided that his five minutes of ice time should go to someone else.
On some teams, this might have made waves in the room, but it didn’t seem to upset the group in white tonight. When the final horn sounded, Carolina got its first road win of the season on their penultimate visit to the Mellon Arena.
Manny Legace managed not to get injured tonight, which disproves my theory about his health in the first seven days of December. Or at least it stops a bizarre trend. One other bizarre trend continued, and it was that Eric Staal registered zero goals and two assists for the third straight game.
On Tuesday night, the Penguins defeated the Hurricanes 4-1 to complete the series sweep. The Penguins will advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the second year in a row where they will most likely play the Red Wings. The rematch of last year’s final will probably pan out the same way, thanks to Sidney Crosby’s taunting of the hockey gods.
After the presentation of the Prince of Wales trophy, the Penguins captain lifted the prize and skated around with it a little. This is, of course, very bad in the eyes of the hockey gods. The Tampa Bay Lightning got away with that gaffe in 2004 and the New Jersey Devils just a few years before that, but it’s generally considered a Plexico Burris to lift the POW.
Hats off to the Pens, who were far and away the better team throughout the series. Even when Carolina was able to play their own game, and even when they were able to contain Crosby and Malkin, the Penguins were way too good. Especially M-A Fleury, who was absolutely remarkable tonight.
On Saturday night, the Penguins all but ended the Hurricanes postseason with a 6-2 whipping. Evgeni Malkin led the way with two goals and an assist and is looking very much like he could be the Conn Smythe winner. The Pens have a commanding 3-0 series lead in what was supposed to be a good series.
Despite scoring first and getting the home crowd going, the Canes were awful for the rest of the first period, allowing the Penguins to do what they do.
For the second game in a row, the story behind the story is that Carolina’s defense was horrible. On Malkin’s first goal, Tim Gleason made a pathetic attempt to clear the puck, putting it right on Malkin’s stick in the slot area. On Crosby’s goal, Joni Pitkänen let #87 just waltz right in, making no effort to stop Crosby or the fantastic pass from Billy Guerin. On Malkin’s second goal, it was again some sloppy play by Gleason.
Carolina gave up not one, but two goals in the last minute of the first period, and it seemed like the game was already over.
Late in Thursday’s 7-4 loss to the Penguins, Carolina’s Ryan Bayda delivered a cross-check to the face of Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang. The check sparked a mini-brawl that resulted in a total of 42 penalty minutes being assessed. Bayda was given a match penalty, which comes with an automatic one-game suspension pending review.
On Friday, the league reviewed the incident and decided to rescind the suspension. Instead, they fined Bayda $2500, which is the maximum player fine allowable under the new CBA.
This is the second time this postseason that a Carolina player has had an “automatic” suspension rescinded. Scott Walker had a suspension rescinded prior to game six of the CAR/BOS series. Walker eventually scored the series-winning goal in game seven. Will Bayda duplicate the feat?
On Thursday night, the Penguins and Hurricanes played game two of their series after 72 hours off. It was expected to be a great game, and it was for two periods. If you’re a Penguins fan, it got even better than “great” when Evgeni Malkin took control of the game in period three, leading his team to an easy 7-4 win.
The first period was complete chaos. Five goals and just two penalties. The second period, where the Penguins have traditionally sputtered, ended up being crucial in that they dominated the period in every way. The third period was all Malkin.
With each cryptic update of the injury situations with Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole, it seems more and more evident that neither will suit up for tonight’s game two at Mellon Arena. Ruutu’s
umm… “lower body” sounds like it’s worse than it looked and Cole’s
umm… “lower body” sounds like it might not be as bad as it looked.
The updates are cryptic, confusing and contradictory. One hour, they’re saying that Ruutu is definitely out and Cole is a gametime decision. The next, they say that Cole is doubtful and Ruutu is out. The next, they say both players are hopeful. No details have been released about the MRI results for either player. I’m going to assume that neither player will go tonight.
There are a load of different lineup options which have been outlined by Luke Decock. Here’s what I think:
For the third time in a row, and the fifth of the last seven, Carolina has lost game one of a playoff series. In every other series, Carolina has come back to win the series. More important than losing the game is that they may have also lost Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole to knee injuries.
Miro Satan, who wasn’t even in the lineup when the playoffs began, got things started for the Pens at 9:17. He stepped out of the penalty box, where he had been sitting for being found guilty of holding, accepted a pass from Matt Cooke, and was off to the races. He came in alone and ended up lifting a backhander past Cam Ward. Hal Gill picked up the secondary assist. Those kinds of goals are always a little more painful, and it was certainly a tone-setter.
In this season’s playoffs, I correctly picked seven of eight matchups in the first round and three of four in the second round. Cumulatively, I have 10 correct picks and only two incorrect. Interestingly enough, the only series that I missed in the second round was Carolina/Boston. As much as I love my team, I didn’t think they had enough to knock off the Bs.
The Conference finals begin tomorrow, and it’s time to get my picks out in the open. This time, I’ll give a little bit of analysis.
First, the West.
I’ll pick experience over innocence. Wings in six. The last time the Blackhawks made a playoff run this deep, Pat Kane and Jonathan Toews were six years old. Their roster is loaded with some very skilled, but very young players. None of us need a refresher about Detroit’s playoff history or the age of their roster.
On Saturday, Carolina extended their winning streak to eight games and their home streak to eleven games by beating the Penguins 3-2 in overtime. It was a hard-fought game, and in the end it was once again Anton Babchuk who scored the winner.
Babchuk’s goal from the top of the right circle went through a screen and past M-A Fleury for his 14th goal and his fourth game-winner of the season.
Cam Ward won his eighth straight game and his 38th of the season. The latter ties a franchise record set by Martin Gerber in 2006.
Most important, the win clinches a playoff spot for the Hurricanes. The way things are looking, there’s a fair chance that Carolina could even get home ice advantage in the first round. Sadly, due to budgetary restraints at La Maison du RBH I’ve exercised the right of refusal on playoff tickets. I’ll be watching from home, but I have an opportunity to rent a seat on a per-game basis.
On Saturday, Carolina will play their fourth and final regular season game against the Penguins. If the Canes can extend their winning streak to eight and their home streak to eleven, they will guarantee a playoff spot for the first time since 2006. An overtime win by the Canes would clinch a playoff spot for both teams. In the previous three meetings between the teams, the Pens have won two and the Canes won the most recent game. Both squads are on ridiculous tears in their last 20 games. Carolina is 15-3-2 and the Penguins are 15-2-3.
Today the Hurricanes will be wearing their alternate black uniforms, in which they’ve won four in a row. They’ve gone 8-5-2 wearing the alternate duds and will wear them once more in the regular season.
The re-emergence of Rod Brind’Amour has been a big part of the Hurricanes recent winning ways. Things were going very badly for him on the ice, and a lot of questions were raised about his ability to continue playing at this level. He was sent home while the Canes were on a western road trip, and the hot streak started soon after. He has points in twelve of the last thirteen games. In that span, he has 17 (7/10) points and is a +10. In that category, he’s climbed all the way from 875th in the league to 872nd in the league. He currently has a seven game points streak working.
As we hit the all-star break, it’s about time to start seriously thinking about the playoff picture. In the East, it’s clear that Boston, Washington, New Jersey, Montréal, Rangers and Philadelphia will be there. As of today, Buffalo and Carolina are in, while Florida and Pittsburgh are just barely on the outside of that playoff bubble.
While Toronto and Tampa are less than ten points out of a spot as of today, I don’t think they’ll be contenders come April. After viewing the remaining schedules for the four teams I figure to be the last contenders, I’m predicting that the final two spots will be held by Pittsburgh and Carolina.
I’ll start with Buffalo, currently in seventh, and work my way down to the tenth place Penguins.
On Tuesday, the Hurricanes used a 32-save outing by Cam Ward and Eric Staal’s 20th goal to outlast the Penguins 2-1 and catapult themselves back into the top eight in the East.
All season long, it’s been Good Canes/Bad Canes. Tonight, the “Good” Canes showed up and won their second straight game as they head into the ASG. Early in the game, it looked like Bad Canes, as they fell behind 1-0 early, then squandered a lengthy five-on-three in the first period. Carolina recovered with a gorgeous power play goal late in the first, then the game-winner by Staal at 8:01 of the second.
To finish the game, Carolina killed a four minute high-sticking minor that ended up being a six-on-four power play.
For the second straight night, Tuomo Ruutu did some of the unglamorous things very well, and deserves a boatload of credit.
On Thursday, the Hurricanes lost 4-1 to the Penguins. Carolina led though two periods, but things went very badly in a hurry for the Canes, and in the end Brandon Sutter’s first NHL goal was in vain. The game went from awesome to crappy in about two minutes. Unfortunately, a good portion of North Carolina was unable to see for themselves.
I live in Greensboro, which is about 70 miles from Raleigh. I have never had a problem with Fox Sports South. Unfortunately, I and a lot of other viewers had a major problem on Thursday. We were unable to watch the Canes because our game was replaced with the feed to the Nashville Predators game.
On Thursday, the Hurricanes will play the third of six straight road games when they travel to Pittsburgh. Carolina has been off since winning in Anaheim on Saturday, and they elected to spend that time in Raleigh rather than setting up shop in Pittsburgh. For some time now, Carolina has opted out of the morning skate when they’re on the road, but this time, they added a new twist to the itinerary. Rather than travel to Pittsburgh one day early, they flew out this morning, allowing the players to spend an extra night with their families.
The maneuver has been met with a lot of “whatever” and “it is what it is” comments.
Traditionally, Eric Staal would have had dinner with Jordan the night before the game and stayed with him. Instead, they won’t see each other until game time.
Carolina hasn’t made any roster moves to make up for the three injured forwards, so I expect them to dress seven defensemen tonight and double shift Staal a lot.