Just as the first part of the decade,
the last few years have taken so many insane turns, it makes your head spin just documenting them.
What is amazing about the whole thing is that it worked out. We needed a shit load to go right for us, and it did.
After the jump, a look at how we got from here:
If it wasn't for 2008-2009, this might be the strangest year of the decade. It all started that summer when the Penguins pulled the plug on Craig Patrick's tenure.
Was it Patrick's fault or was it just the sign of the times? Christ from what we were told, Craig Patrick didn't even have the Internet in his office.
After a month or so long search, the Penguins named their new GM:
"It's about more than one player or two players, because it's a team sport," said Shero, an NHL assistant GM for 14 years. "I recognize the fact we have Sidney Crosby, he's an unbelievable talent and a superstar. But he's going to need help.
Shero, went to work almost instantly. He drafted Jordan Staal with the number one pic, and made several moves.
He traded for Dominic Moore, and Nils Ekman. He signed Mark Eaton, Jarko Ruutu,Ronald Petrovicky, and much to our dissappointment Mark Reechi.
And then the fun really began.
Back in 06, blogs were just getting started. Hell, even websites were whatev. So we had to rely basically on newspapers and message boards for any word on Penguins 04' draft pick Evgeni Malkin. Everyday another story would surface, sometimes bad, sometimes good. We can remember being on LGP for hours, just looking for info.
This summary from ESPN is pretty decent recap of the events during the first weeks of August:
Malkin agreed less than two weeks ago to a one-year contract to keep playing for his hometown Metallurg Magnitogorsk. The deal circumvented a previous deal that ran through 2008, and apparently was agreed to
by Malkin under pressure during a late-night negotiating session.
After reworking that contract, with Russian agents who have long had ties to the Metallurg team, Malkin changed North American agents for the second time this summer in an attempt to get into the NHL immediately. Then, after arriving in Helsinki, he left his team, took his belongings and passport and joined Barry, and the two stayed hidden until a U.S. visa was granted Wednesday.
Malkin's agents had previously declined to reveal where he was staying to make certain the player remained safe. Malkin's disappearance was front-page news in Russia, where the Olympic team star is considered one of the country's top athletes.
Within hours of Malkin leaving his team, the North American agents faxed a letter of resignation Sunday to the Metallurg team. Under Russian law, Malkin can quit his job by giving two weeks' notice, even if he is under contract. He had also sent such a notice in July, before he negotiated the new contract.
Once the two-week period is up, it is believed that Malkin can sign an entry-level, three-year contract with the Penguins that could be worth close to $1 million a year, plus as much as $2.8 million a year in incentives, though Malkin's agents are still deciding what legal steps to take.
Malkin finally did make it the Mellon later that summer, and he signed shortly after all the mess was sorted out.
Malkin was all set to make his Pens debut in the preseason. And then John Leclair almost killed him:
All that drama was before the season. No one had any clue what we were in for. Hell, the drama started
But something we'll always remeber is the opening night win of that season against the Flyers. It is like everything was new. you could feel a direction.
But it was like a bad movie. With all the positive going on, behind the scenes things were happening. And they were not good.
In an imputuu press conference during intermission of the opening game, Jim Balsillie was announced as the suitor for the Penguins.
The arena issue would loom heavy over the last part of 06'. But, the Penguins play was picking up.
From our old blogspot, this is the complete post recapping the first part of 06'.
[Notice the first person speak]
It was a big year in 2006 for the Penguins. Other than Crosby's 100th point and the Kovalchuk incident, there's really not too much to dwell on in the early months of 2006. It was a fun year for us here at The Pensblog, too. As always, thank you for visiting the site. We wish we could personally thank everyone. It's time for the Season-in-Review. We will re-live some memories while also letting our game recaps and posts speak for us. We always miss something, so please help us all out in the comments. Links labeled 'video' take you to highlights. All other links take you to game recaps and posts.
Five Worst Moments of the Season
5. The Second Period of the Montreal game. [ 12.16
] — All season, the Pens have been highly competitive in every game. This one was the first time Pens fans really felt like "Well, maybe we aren't as good as we think." Montreal went nuts, scoring 4 goals in the second period and dominating the Penguins in every aspect of the game. No question that night we all felt like Tina Turner when Ike was around.
If you don't think Ike Turner played for the Habs that night, you're nuts.
4. The Ranger (as Michel Therrien calls them) win with seconds left in overtime. [ 11.25 ] — You're most likely thinking that this game wasn't that bad. Well, it was. Especially if the Pens lose out on a playoff berth by one point. To make matters worse, former Penguin Marty Straka ended the game by redirecting a pass from former Penguin Michal Roszival.
I knew it was you Marty. You broke my heart. You're dead to me.
3. Mark Eaton Gets Injured in a game at San Jose. [ 11.04
A lot of people, Pensblog Staff included, know this was a huge blow to the Penguins. The Pens' defense was much improved, and we were red hot at the time; coming in 7-3-0. But Jonathan Cheechoo nails Mark Eaton from behind. Eaton breaks his wrist, and the Pens defense goes into a free-fall.
2. Malkin is Injured in his First Preseason Game. [ 9.20
I still remember sitting in front of my TV and just staring in disbelief. After all the waiting, this happens? Looking back, this was cleary John Leclair's fault. I have no idea where the Pens would be without Malkin this year, but having to think about it until we knew he was coming back was horrible.
Our Sum Of All Fears
post captured the emotions of the moment (Derek's first post on The Pensblog). — VIDEO
1. Isle of Capri is Denied. [ 12.20
] — I didn't realize this till just now, but this was 3 months to the day of Malkin's Injury. Just an awful day, because this is something we had banked on for nearly a year. It still hurts because the situation is still unresloved, but we can only hope and pray that it does get done. That day will be the only thing that can erase December 20, 2006.
Top 10 Moments of the Season
10. Penguins crush Flyers 8-2 in Philadelphia. [ 10.28
] — It could definitely be higher than number 10, but this game was simply the Penguins beating up on a weak team. The fact that it was against the Flyers makes it that much more gratifying, though.
9. Evgeni Malkin scores in his first NHL game against New Jersey. [ 10.18
] — Kind of sad that his first goal wasn't one of the normal variety. For the rest of his career, Malkin has to remember his first NHL goal was cheap.
8. Nils Ekman hat trick against Tampa Bay. [ 11.08
The quickest three goals scored in Penguin history. After that game (and before it), Ekman hasn't made an impact other than being fast and not being able to finish. Koltzov, anyone?
7. Opening night. Fleury's shutout against Philadelphia. [ 10.05
] — A highly-anticipated opening night was something that made us think we were dreaming. But the Flyers turned out to actually be that terrible.
6. Malkin goes on a six-game goal-scoring streak to start his NHL career. — The arrival of Malkin onto the scene made NHL statisticians delve into the history books.
5. Penguins shootout victory
against Atlanta on December 9th. — A big match-up against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The Pens played a consistent, hard-working game and were awarded when Colby Armstrong scored in overtime.
4. Penguins starting the season 7-3-0. — Not in our wildest dreams did we expect the Pens to start the season 7-3. Penguins fever was somewhat palpable in that first month of the season.
3. Sidney Crosby's 6-point night in a 8-4 win over the Flyers. [ 12.13
] — Crosby goes nuts to attain first place in the points race. — VIDEO
2. Frantic comeback against Washington. [ 12.11
] — This game quickly turned from one of the worst games of the season to one of the most memorable.
1. Evgeni Malkin injects hope into Pens fans everywhere with an electrifying goal in a victory against the Devils on October 24th. This win also propelled the Penguins to first place in the Atlantic Division. The Pensblog's "We Are All Witnesses" post is one of my personal favorites that we've ever done. — VIDEO —
Five Biggest Goals of 2006-07
( Not the best; the biggest )
– In one of the best games of the season, Crosby denies the Rangers a point in the final seconds with a bank shot off a Ranger's defenseman. Madison Square Garden is stunned.
4. Gonchar scores overtime goal against Islanders
to begin a five-game winning streak in October. — Malkin scored halfway through the third to tie it up. A big, overtime win like this really instilled some confidence in the players…and the fans, too.
3. In the final game of that winning streak, Malkin scores in overtime against Los Angeles
. — In a game that I remember saying no one should have won, the Pens were given a gift power play in OT. A rebound lands on Malkin's stick and he buries it into an empty net.
2. Armstrong scores in overtime
to beat Atlanta. — The Pens have had four or five "must-win games" already this season. This was one of them.
1. Malkin scores in the waning minutes
to beat Philadelphia. — The game tied at 2, late in the third. Malkin rises to the occasion with a wicked one-timer from the circle. Worthy of number one on your list?
Top 5 Jobber Goals ( Goals by jobbers )
5. Jarrko Ruutu scores on opening night — The Mellon Arena crowd falling in love with Jarrko Ruutu.
4. Chris Thorburn enjoys ice-time with Malkin and Crosby, scoring a goal against Anaheim. — Easily one of the best jobbers the Pens have had in recent years. He found himself on Malkin and Crosby's line after a penalty and took advantage of it.
3. Alain Nasreddine scores in Montreal. — Using common sense at the end of a period, Nasreddine snuck in from the point and one-timed a Crosby pass into the net with 0.3 remaining.
2. Both of John LeClair's goals. — Yes, all two of them
1. Joe Melichar on opening night. — Future Norris Trophy winner Joey Melichar puts a puck in on a pretty decent shot.
Four Worst Games of the Season ( Devils games don't count )
4. Detroit bores the hell out of Mellon Arena. [ 10.07
] — This was easily one of the least entertaining games of the season. Pens managed 13 shots.
3. Ottawa shows up. Pens don't. [ 11.10
] — A big Friday night brought the fans out to the Arena, only to watch Ottawa have their way with our Pens.
2. Armstrong's hit on Trevor Letowski sparks Carolina in another Saturday night loss for the Pens. [ 10.14
– A freaky game that we all hope is lost forever when talking about the 2006-07 season. Kris Letang scored a freaky goal for the Pens while Carolina poured it on.
1. The Blues suck. [ 12.19
] — A simply frustrating game to watch. No comment.
Four Best Games of the Season
4. Penguins push Anaheim to the brink. [ 11.06
] — Against one of the top-tier teams of the NHL, the Penguins held their ground and made Anaheim work hard for a victory on their home ice. 3. Penguins crush Flyers. [ 10.28
] — One of our best games and one of our best moments of the season. Seriously, it felt that good.
2. Penguins earn a hard-fought victory over Atlanta. [ 12.09
] — Nothing much to say that our game recap didn't say for us. It still resonates as a huge win. — VIDEO
— 1. Penguins come from behind to beat Washington. [ 12.11
] — For the rest of the season, we can always fall back on this game when we're down 4-0 halfway through the second period. To be able to come back like that shows this team doesn't give up. — VIDEO
P.S. — What does it mean when you realize that these four games were all road games?
Five Things To Look Forward To ( In no particular order, except for number one )
5. The Playoff Push. –The Pens, for the first time in a long time, have a chance to at least be in a position to make the playoffs. 4. The Trade Deadline. — Everyone loves talking about trades. If the Pens can smell the playoffs, will Shero have the brass of a riverboat gambler?
3. The Malkin Man. — Can Geno Malkin step up his game to that next level that everyone knows he can? He has been inconsitent at times, but his flashes of brilliance far outweigh any of that. It should be fun watching Malkin in '07.
2. The Crosby Show. — If '06 was a flash of what is to come, we are going to be in for a spectactular '07. Can Sid lead the NHL in points the rest of the season? Can he lead the Pens to the playoffs? If he does both, then you can send the Hart Memorial Trophy to where you've sent it many times before: Mario Lemieux's house.
Can Bing continue going nuts?
1. The New Deal.
The Pens' Arena Deal will garner all the attention, and well, it should. Because the let's face it… if the Pens leave, we're all leaving, too.
Starting on Jan 1, 2007, the clock is ticking.
The second half of the season would bring all kinds of interesting shit. January kind of jobbed along. The arena issue was still hovering. Feburary came along, and tons of stuff happened. Including one of our favorite games, a Penguins 6-5 win in Toronto. It was one of the coming out game:
still one of the better pics of all time.
The Penguins were rolling. Towards the end of the month, however, they hit a bit of a wall.
That is when Ray Shero made one of the biggest trades, in our opinion, in Penguins history.
Gary Roberts was aquired Feburary 27, 2007. And life was never the same.
Roberts would quickly become a fixture in Pittsburgh hockey culture forever.
Meanwhile, off the ice, shit was thick. The 11th hour approached.
That youtube plays at our funeral.
With Roberts, and new enforcer BGL, the Pens clinched their first playoff spot in six years. [Looks Like We Made It
The arena issue was gone, the city was abuzz with playoff fever. The Pens were pitted against a veteran Ottawa Senator team.
And it was not quite what we had in mind. The Senators experience destroyed the Pens. But they did sneak out a great victory in Game in Ottawa.
But it wasn't their time. However the lessons of that spring would resonate.
But the pain would last all summer.
Luckily we were able to take our anger out on John Fedko:
Little did we know, Gary Roberts, and the Penguins would ascend to unreal heights in 2008.
The first order of business was early for the Pens. They named Bing the captain on June 1, 2007.
In mid-July they would lock him up to a five-year, 45 million dollar deal.
Probably the first time we ever noticed the 7.5 million dollar part in 2012. Cap room city.
Shero got to year two of his rebuilding phase, and made a solid splash in free agency.
In came the likes of Petr Sykora, and Sydor.
Funny, Ryan Whitney was also signed to a long term deal. Oops.
Before you knew it, it was time again.
5 BEST AND WORST SURPRISES
— Give it up for those people over at LetsGoPens and Faceoff-Factor for knowing what to expect before Tyler Kennedy was called up. He has contributed nicely and is a vital cog to the Penguin universe right now.
Ty Conklin — With Marc-Andre Fleury succumbing to injury, the expected collapse of the Pens never happened. Without him, the goaltending burden was picked by emerging back-up goalie Ty Conklin. He definitely hasn't been flopping around, making over-exaggerated gloves saves, but he is getting the job done. This isn't jinxblog, so we say no more.
Kris Letang — He was called up while the Pens were navigating the dark Atlantic Division seas in mid-November. After a couple of nervous games and bad mistakes, he has become a staple in the lineup and has won 3 games in the shootout, not to mention a huge shootout goal in the Winter Classic.
Jordan Staal — Everyone at this site issued an Amber Alert for Jordan Staal as early as four games into the season, and he still hasn't shown up. He's been solid on the defensive side all season, and he is inching closer and closer to being his 2006-2007 version. He's only 19 years old.
Mark Recchi — We were definitely on the fence when it came to Mark Recchi. But then he started becoming a hindrance rather than an annoyance. The surprise here is the way he couldn't recognize the direction the Pens were headed when he was released. With Recchi on the roster: 12-12-2 Without Recchi on the roster: 11-4-0 If we didn't have jobs, we would do a "Recchi in the lineup, not in the lineup" comparison. That's too daunting. Anyone have those figures lying (laying?) around?
5 MOMENTS WHEN IT WAS SOLID TO BE A PENS FAN
(If we had to recap these moments, then they shouldn't be on this list.)
December 8, 2007
— Letang beats Vancouver in the shootout.
[ The Day After Tomorrow. PENS WIN. ]
January 3, 2008 — Three goals in 48 seconds.
[ Make Like A Tree. PENS WIN. ]
5 WORST MOMENTS
October 5, 2007 — Pens lose season-opener 4-1. [ At Least They Got A Goal. PENS LOSE. ]
The only good thing from that game was the start of the cell-phone national-anthem pic. Thomes08 started it all. What a kick in the sac after a long off-season of anticipation.
October 17, 2007 — PenaltyGate Against the Devils [ Felon In The Mellon. PENS LOSE. ] The game where the Pens got that goal called back because of the too-many-men penalty. Jordan Staal scored the no-goal, summing up his season thus far. There were about 8 penalties in a row called on the Pens. A riot was about to break out.
November 3, 2007 through November 21, 2007 Atlantic Division craps on the Pens ——- 2-6-1 record Totally dark times of the first half. People were calling for Therrien's head.
December 20, 2007 — Pens blow 4-goal lead in Boston…but still win. [ Go Eat Some Wicked Chowdah. PENS WIN. ] It's frightening how many things you forget about until you go down memory lane. That Boston game could have been real bad.
December 29, 2007 — Roberts broken leg.
[ 2 Points. 1 Broken Leg. PENS LOSE. ]
A few other bad moments could have been here, but we're partial to Gary Roberts. Case closed.
5 BEST / BIGGEST WINS
November 5, 2007 — Pens over Devils 5-0. [ S For Shutout. PENS WIN. ] It just felt good defecating on New Jersey. November 22, 2007 — Pens battle with the Sens and win on Ruutu shootout goal. [ Come On Up For The Rising. PENS WIN. ] Coming off that Atlantic massacre in November, this game up in Ottawa entirely changed the outlook on the Pens season, as they went on a solid tear beginning with this game.
December 8, 2007 — Pens finish western Canada sweep. [ What It's All About. PENS WIN. ] All the crap about Crosby in Canada, the NHL spotlight on the Pens, and they sweep Alberta and British Columbia into the Pacific Ocean.
January 1, 2008 — Winter Classic
[ The Day After Tomorrow. PENS WIN. ]
January 3, 2008 — Maple Leafs are mud. [ Make Like A Tree. PENS WIN. ] Amidst the Pens winning streak, they show they can explode.
5 WORST / TOUGHEST LOSSES
October 17, 2007 — PenaltyGate [ Felon In The Mellon. PENS LOSE. ] After all the crap the Pens faced in this game, they still had a solid chance to win it until the Devils scored a goal late. It was early in the season and made you realize how much you missed hockey.
October 25, 2007 — Leafs own Pens in Mellon Arena. [ Your Mom...PENS LOSE. ] There's always a couple games like this every season at the Mellon. The oxygen was completely sucked out of the place.
November 1, 2007 — Avs get past the Pens.
[ A Tale of Two Periods. PENS LOSE. ] The Pens started their disturbing trend of giving up 2-goal leads.
December 11, 2007 — Flyers douche Pens. [ Ben Eager Is A Coward. PENS LOSE. ] It was a close game until it wasn't anymore. It sets the stage for the most anticipated Pens/Flyers game in recent memory on January 24th.
December 18, 2007 — Lundqvist shutout in MSG. [ Mistake on 34th Street. PENS LOSE. ] Frustrating.
5 BIGGEST DOUCHES
Jason Smith — Double-handed slash on Crosby
The Entire Philadelphia Flyers Organization
Ryan Hallweg — Jamming the butt end of his stick in Kennedy's face
Chris Simon — Cha Cha Slide stomp on Ruutu's ankle
A Select Number of Buffalo Sabres Fans
5 MOST ENTERTAINING GAMES October 6, 2007
— Ducks @ Pens
A big win against a somewhat fatigued Ducks team in the first home game of the season.
The Pens/Leafs tilts picked up right where they left off from last season.
November 22, 2007 — Pens @ Sens
In retrospect, maybe the biggest win of the season on Thanksgiving night.
A defensive game that was entertaining; a rarity. Ryan Malone scored on a shorthanded breakaway to tie it. Letang wins it in OT.
And we don't need to link it again. But the whole Winter Classic
was not only entertaining. It was life-changing.
The first half in pictures
Solid stuff that has happened here during the offseason and first half. JOBBERS If there is one thing we're ashamed of, it's not finishing the JOBBERS epic. We're so ashamed that we're not even going to link them. If the second half drags, expect it come out again, totally revamped.
NATIONAL ANTHEM PICS
What we've liked most about this season is the determination of readers in getting us national-anthem pics for games. We've only missed a handful of games, three of which were during the Western Canada swing, we think. Honestly, this has been pretty nice. Thanks, everyone.
[ The Origin ] Our laziness resulted in titling a post "WWGRD" for no reason after an obsession over Gary Roberts spilled into training camp. In the comments of that post, SnoopyJode says: "if they made one of those rubber bracelets with WWGRD on it, i'd buy 10 of them. that is a philosophy to live by." [ Don K. Show's Photoshop ] The comments section in this post is where it took off.
Also in those comments was when Skippy and his entrepreneurial spirit tried to take over the world. "WWGRD? Wristbands are now available on ebay! See link below! http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=250174830424" – Skippy [ The Voting Process ] [ The Press Conference ]
[ Skippy Gets Jobbed ] It all started with Don K. Show sending us a photoshop of a wristband. We'll be honest — the e-mail sat in our inbox for a few days until it was added to a post as an after-thought. After the overwhelming support of the idea, we got things going in timely fashion. The actual delivery of the wristbands was anything but timely. Nevertheless, we ended up sending out about 700 wristbands at $2 apiece. If you haven't received wristbands and you sent us money, please speak up and tell us. The Gary Roberts return from injury will be the biggest night in the history of this blog. Couple that with the anticipation of a playoff run and… WWGRD wristbands WILL be having a second go-around. It's just a matter of when. We know how to run things now. The price remains $2, but we wouldn't mind some solid donations so that we personally stay out of the red.
PENSBLOG CHARLIE Due to allegations that we're homophobic and that our references to a homosexual lifestyle are taken as offensive, we added open-homosexual Pensblog Charlie as a writer for the site. Any homosexual references have to go through him.
Ron Newcomer is this guy who has taken a picture with every celebrity and Pittsburgh sports star ever born. [ Ron Newcomer's Insane Site ] We fell in love with the man, arranging a Q&A with him, as well as a PhotoShop Expo. [ Behind The Photos: Ron Newcomer ]
ANGELFIRE, TRIPOD, AND GEOCITIES PENGUINS SITES
[ GeoCities, AngelFire, and Tripod. Oh My. ] On the internet one night, we got lost in Pens fans pages from the '90s.
You'd think the second half of the 2007-2008 season would be tamer then the first. Yea right.
Mid-January the sky started to fall:
Crosby goes down with a high ankle sprain against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
You'll remember the very next game, Malkin played out of his mind in Montreal.
Malkin would basically put the team on his back. Coupled with the surreal Ty Conklin, the Pens stayed afloat.
Speaking of the legend of Conkblock, who can ever forget this:
Still stunning to this day.
Make no mistakes, Conklin's effort in early 2008 kept the Pens afloat.
As the Pens approached the trading deadline, they were in a funk. It wasn't a slump, just kind of whatev. Then Ray Shero pretty much changed the course of history.
On February 26, 2008, he traded Colby Armstrong, EC, Angelo Jokpisto, and a first round pick to Atlanta for Marian Hossa, and Pascal Dupuis.
He also went out and got the USS Hal Gill.
The Pens now had the grit, and experience they had so sorely missed.
Of course in Hossa's first game he got hurt. But he returned in time for the stretch run. On April 2, 2008, the Penguins would win the Atlantic Division for the first time in like 100 years. [Lost City of Atlantic
Charlie also made his national debut that night:
The Pens would fix the last game of the season against the Flyers so they could play the Senators in the first round.
Anton Volchenkov, Shean Donovan, and Martin Gerber had their names called every night.
Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza should be embarrassed.
But we can finally put out Amber Alerts for both of them with no danger of repercussions.
Alfredsson came back, yeah, okay.
They most likely will lose Wade Redden to free agency this year.
Best of luck.
If the Pens did in fact tank their final game of the regular season in order to play the Senators, they look like geniuses.
10 different Penguins contributed to the 16 goals scored in the series:
Roberts, Malkin, Sykora, Malone Gonchar, Crosby, Hossa, Talbot, Staal, Ruutu.
The forward who didn't score a goal but was still a beast?
The Pens' defense looked composed the entire series,
something we haven't seen in Pittsburgh in a long time.
All six guys did their job.
Kris Letang has even stepped it up a notch.
For all Penguin fans who have seen every MAF start since 2003,
this series was sweet.
He made great strides last year, had a shaky start to the season, got injured,
and came back in a zone that few goalies can get in.
He has literally transformed into a primetime pressure goaltender before our very eyes.
It had to be disheartening during the handshake
for those Senator veterans to look into the eyes of the 23-year-old they couldn't solve.
Two unreal moments from this season.
One is Gary Roberts in game 1:
It is hard for us to not get choked up over that.
Second best moment:
Ryan Malone's winner in Game 2:
The Pens used those two games, and retard penalties to beat the Sens in four games.
Next up was an old friend:
Looking at the old gamedays…anyone remember this:
In the Ranger series, the Rangers blew a first period 3-0 lead, and that was about it. The won game four thanks to an unreal effort by Double J. In Game five, the Rangers tied it late and forced ot.
Hossa closed the door:
To win the East, the Penguins had to excercise their oldest ghost.
[Spit Shine Your Shoes]
Let's face it. The Flyers had a tremendous playoff season.
They beat Washington in what was easily the most entertaining series in the East.
They surprised Montreal and the hockey world in Round Two.
But when you get to the Eastern Conference Finals,
you can't sneak up on teams anymore.
Injuries start plaguing your roster and your weaknesses have become common knowledge.
You'd be in denial if you said you wouldn't want Mike Richards on your team.
What a hockey player.
We'll never know how games 1-3 would have turned out if Kimmo Timonen was in the lineup.
We joked around, ribbing Flyers fans on how much they praise him.
Timonen isn't Bobby Orr. But he was the Flyers' Bobby Orr.
But 30 years from now, when we look back on the 2008 ECF,
no one will mention Kimmo Timonen.
Where was big R.J. Jokeburger?
Where was Darlene Briere?
There's really nothing to say.
We're not gonna grandstand and shower the Pens with appreciation.
That is being done everywhere you look today.
We said it up top: What we're seeing doesn't happen every year.
We sat down and buckled up when these playoffs started,
talking about 3-OT games and being down 3 games to 1 in a series.
Through three rounds, we've seen nothing of the sort.
But a different monster altogether awaits in the Cup Finals.
And despite what has happened in the first three rounds,
we still gotta say buckle up.
4 Goals, 5 Assists
[ BnG66 ]
Hossa's performance in this series is exactly what was envisioned
by Ray Shero and the Pens brass in late February.
The MVP could have gone to Bing, since he is still atop the playoff scoring race.
But the tiebreaker between Bing and Hossa
was the Game 3 goal that pretty much ended the series.
SHINE 'EM UP
We heard the tales that sailors told; about the Red Wings they encountered on the high seas.
And you have to give credit where credit is due.
A team doesn't win the Cup by mistake.
They know the game. They know the rules.
The best part of their game is the support they get in the defensive zone.
Any time a puck was loose, a Red Wings player was on it, and it was gone.
The other frustrating facet of their game was their ability to keep the puck in the Pens zone.
Failed opportunities by the Pens to get the puck out are too much to count.
The Year of the High Ankle Sprain
That would have been our crutch if the Pens were ousted in the first or second round.
But Michel Therrien got the Pens to battle through the season.
Malkin emerged to become something other-worldly.
Ty Conklin is part of the reason we weren't typing this heartbreaking text in early April.
The Pens' run through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs was something to behold.
They were a bullet train.
But they were derailed when the bracket got whittled down.
It sucks. No two ways about it.
In the coming weeks,
our talk will be dominated by free agency and Ray Shero.
But that means nothing today.
Brian Rafalski and Nicklas Lidstrom
When they were on the ice, nothing was going on.
Worst moment of our sporting lives. Watching the wings lift lord Stanley in the Mellon. Horrible.
The only good to come from the Wings series was the epic Game 5 comeback by the Pens:
Little did anyone know those youtubes would be the only reason anyone would survive the summer of 2008.
Hossa would reject the Pens offer, and sign with the wings later in the summer. Pens signed Satan. But they were able to re-up Evgeni Malkin, and re-sign Brooks Orpik.