Sunday, May 2, 2010

Game Two Pens/ Habs: Hal Gill Gives Sid His Fill

Pens lose Game Two by a score of 3-1

by Jan Snyder

Last year at this time, we Pens’ fans were praising Hal Gill and his shutdown abilities against opponents. This year - not so much. Last season, Gill kept Ovechkin under wraps to some extent and did the same to other forwards in other series. This season, he kept Ovechkin under wraps again, so well, in fact, that Montreal was able to knock Washington out of the playoffs.

Now Crosby gets his turn to play against the much bigger defenseman. In this game, Gill did his job well, getting Crosby ticked off in the process and keeping him off the scoreboard. Not that Sid didn’t give as good as he got, but the battles with Gill didn’t help him score or set up plays.

Maybe that’s not all that went wrong today. The power play was sorely missing Jordan Staal. A new group has to learn to work together without his big physical presence in the mix. Staal is so big on the penalty kill too, and his absence might have played into the power play goal Montreal scored. He’s missed not just on the power play and penalty kill, but on the third line. That didn’t go too well today either. And Geno, although active, wasn’t able to contribute any goals nor much defense.

Could it be some kind of passive aggressive movement by the Pens against playing in the afternoon on NBC? The Pens don’t do well in these games, although they came out strong this particular afternoon, but that intensity didn’t last even through the first period.

Well, no excuses. The Pens lost and the Canadiens won.

The returns of Jordan Leopold and Tyler Kennedy boded well it seemed, but although each player did his job, there was no scoring from them. The line that did produce the Pens single tally was the determined trio of Cooke, Talbot and Dupuis, who worked like little demons throughout the game.

As the second period ended, the Pens finally saw their first power play chance, closely followed by two more in the third period, but all three looked disjointed and yielded nothing but frustration.

Let’s talk Halak. He looks like he is getting back on the road to being the goalie he was against Washington. He made some big stops today, as did Fleury, but so much is riding on Halak’s play that Montreal has to be thrilled with what he did in today’s game.

Mike Cammellari was the biggest difference maker for Montreal on the scoreboard, as he netted two goals. Their first went to Brian Gionta.

So now the Pens jet to the craziness that is the Bell Centre. I love the fans’ enthusiasm, their singing, and their “refereeing”, but I like it a lot more when we aren’t the opponent. Will they still feel any goodwill for Sid who just earned Canada a Gold Medal a few short months ago? Will they remember he played juniors in Quebec? Will they recall that he taught himself French to be able to communicate there? Will any of that make a hill of beans difference to them? Oh, no, no, no! They will sing-song Fleury’s name, furiously cheer on their team, and raucously sing Ole, Ole, Ole.

The Pens won’t let all that get to them though and will be ready for Game Three.

Let’s Go, Pens!!

Random Thoughts:

• Well, the Canucks made themselves unwelcome guests in Chicago, didn’t they? The blowout was a surprise. We’ll see how the rest of the series plays out.

• Good for Marc Savard! After missing two months or so because of a concussion suffered at the hands (or shoulder) of Matt Cooke, Savard played in his first game yesterday. All he did was win the game for the Bruins in OT! Great way to come back. That overtime period was intense and frenetic with both teams having great scoring chances before it ended.

• Last week, three of my good friends, none of whom would know a hockey puck it if hit them in the head, and I were trying to find a day to get together for dinner this upcoming week. One of them couldn’t do Monday or Friday, one couldn’t do Wednesday. I was hanging back on the emails to see what would happen. I finally had to weigh in and ask if they could wait until I saw the Pens’ schedule for the second round. The last email said, “If the Pens don’t play, we can go Tuesday or Thursday.” Of course, the Pens play both of those days this week. When I found out, I told them to go ahead without me; I’d miss them, but would catch up next time. Being great friends, they changed plans to lunch, which of course I could do! Even though they don’t “get it”, they put up with me and my hockeymania!

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