Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stanley Cup Final: Game Two Pens vs. Wings

Same Old Song – Four Tops

by Jan Snyder

We may as well dance to a little Motown music on our way out of Detroit.

Okay, who ticked off the hockey gods?? Somebody must have as we watched Geno, Sid and Guerin all hit the posts. Isn’t it enough that Osgood is playing out of his mind? But no, we have to have all the bad luck in the world too.

But the guys played well, had their chances, and Geno did what we all wanted to do at the end of the game – beat on Zetterberg! Not only did Zetterberg keep Sid from playing his game, he lay across the goal line to stop a puck from going in. Geno was given a bunch of penalties but the NHL has wisely decided that he won’t be given a suspension.

This game we got the early lead when Geno got credit for the power play goal that was actually knocked in off a Red Wing. Going into the second, we were up but Eriksson, minus his appendix, tied it up and Filppula made it 2-1.

In the third period it was just like déjà vu all over again as Abdelkader scored the goal to make it 3-1, just like in the prior game.
Sid had another great chance that Osgood thought was past him, but that pesky post got in the way.

The Pens sure earned an A for effort tonight, but it just wasn’t to be. But now, it’s home sweet home, the happy, vocal crowd at Mellon Arena, and the opportunity to win Games Three and Four.
I’m thrilled to say that I’ll be among that happy, vocal crowd at Mellon for Games Three and Four. I’ll be landing in Pittsburgh in the afternoon and I’ll be ready for the 8:00 p.m. drop of the puck. Thanks to my daughter, Jen, and her husband, Jim, I have a ticket to see a couple of more Stanley Cup Finals. After last year, I wasn’t sure this would happen again so soon, but I’m sure glad it did! Let’s crank up the noise and welcome the boys back to the ‘burg!

The Pens will be Back in Black, Alive and Kicking, and Living on the Edge for the next two games. They just need to keep on doing what they’ve been doing, working hard and feeding off the crowd. After all, we don’t want to hear that Same Old Song we heard in Detroit.

Let’s Go, Pens!!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Stanley Cup Final: Game One Pens vs. Wings

Feels Like the First TimeForeigner
By Jan Snyder

Isn’t it fantastic to be back in the Stanley Cup Finals? Isn’t it fantastic to have another shot at the Red Wings? Of course it is fantastic, but this first game feels a lot like the first game last year, just with more reasons for optimism.

The Pens stayed right with the Wings, watched some bounces go the Wings way, and kept on fighting right up to the sound of the buzzer. Don’t forget too that the Pens lost the first game against the Caps and that round had a happy ending.

After hockey legends Ted Lindsay and Gordie Howe dropped the ceremonial first puck and the last poor dead octopus was removed from the ice surface, the game began. In the first period there were some big hits, like Orpik on Hossa and Sid on Zetterberg, but Hossa got the last laugh as he pocketed the first goal. Not to be outdone, Fedotenko took advantage of Osgood being on the left side of the net and pushed the puck into the right side to tie it up at one. Things were looking up.

Okay, tied going to the second – here was the Pens’ chance to get out ahead and it almost happened when Geno had a breakaway – but Osgood was too good. Then there was a stampede to the penalty box as Lebda, Samuelsson and Adams all found their way to the sin bin, but none of the penalties resulted in goals. With just 55 or so seconds left, our old nemesis, Franzen, the kicking mule, put the Wings up by one.

Our boys never let up; they kept on fighting for the puck, for their space, for their try at scoring. Abdelkader (where did he come from?) scored again for the Wings and that wrapped it up.

But let me point out that last year, the Pens lost the first game by a score of 4-0, so we improved on that score this game! And in the immortal words of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, “Tomorrow is another day.”

The Wings are the defending champions for a reason and if the Pens want to take that big ol’ trophy back to Pittsburgh, they need to keep doing what they’ve been doing and do it even better! So let’s get Geno some of his mother’s soup, let’s get Fleury a little more help on those bouncy pucks, and let’s cheer on our team and hope they can head back home with the series tied at 1-1.

We liked that feeling the first time and it’s only getting better the second time!

Let’s Go, Pens!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Other Summer Movie: Flight of the Penguin Meets the Wing Dynasty

by Lisa Ovens

It’s a blockbuster, plot filled Stanley Cup Final and it all begins Saturday may 30th in Detroit. The plot thickens almost immediately because game two of the possible seven game series occurs on Sunday May 31st. Oooh, back to back thrills: stock up on your favorite beverages everybody! They'll have to last you all weekend.

It wasn’t too long ago the hockey world learned the finals might have begun on June 5th causing a lengthy delay and a late end to the season. And boy did everyone complain. Personally I was hoping for a delayed start because it would give the American sports media an opportunity to hype up what should be a thrilling end to the season. Because that’s what hockey needs more of in the United States: Hype with a capital H.

The Hype...

Sea of tranquility by Lisa Ovens

We have a rematch of last year’s Final: defending Cup champs Detroit Red Wings vs. last year’s runner up team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. This hasn’t happened since 1984 with the Oilers and the Islanders Final. It's safe to say that hockey now is just as exciting as it was then, with the added bonus of better hair styles and more tattoos!


We have a serious Karma issue with Marion Hossa. He lost the Stanley Cup last year when playing with the Pens. He signs for millions with the Detroit Red Wings thinking they are his best hope for a Cup. Now he has to play the Pens for the Cup. That Hossa, he’s sitting on a red, hot seat.


The Pens touched the Prince of Wales trophy when they won the Eastern Conference, whereas the Wings didn’t touch the Campbell Bowl when they won the West. Will the “Don’t touch the Conference Trophy” superstition prevail??

The Bosses

A Freshie coach vs. a Seasoned coach. It’s a Bylsma vs. a Babcock. A Dan vs. a Mike. The Wings Mike Babcock has been here before, and he obviously reall knows how to prepare his troups for battle. Injuries? No problem. Stupid calls from officials? No problem. Losing a Cup Final (with the Ducks) no problem. Winning a Cup Final with the Wings? No problem.

Dan Bylsma stepped in after the Pens fired coach Michel Therrien back in February. He turned the team around, brought them this far, and now has to push it a little more. He's young, a former player himself, so you have to wonder if he's pulling pranks on the road with the boys still. However, he did write a book about about hockey with his father, and you all know what they say about us authors...we're winners!

Elder Statesman

Every post season there is a token old guy people root for to win the Cup because he hasn’t won one yet. I guess this time around it would be the Pens Sergei Gonchar? He’s 35 years old. Please, if there is another old guy I'm missing, let me know.

Two REALLY Classy Guys Behind the Scenes

Steve Yzerman vs. Mario Lemieux. Who can forget these former superstar players performing the ceremonial puck drop during last year’s final. That’s about all I got here. Just like thinking about these fine specimens sauntering out from the benches in their nice suits...
Smile, pose, drop puck, smile and pose again, shake hands...Ahhhhhh.....

We can expect more stories will bubble to the surface. But for now let’s get ready for some serious hockey this weekend. Go teams GO!!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eastern Conference Final: Game Four Pens/ Canes

by Jan Snyder

Shout – Isley Brothers
You know you make me wanna (Shout!)
Kick my heels up and (Shout!)
Throw my hands up and (Shout!)
Throw my head back and (Shout!)
Come on now (Shout!)

This could be my favorite song ever to dance to and certainly expresses how we Pens fans feel about this great victory in Game Four! Eastern Conference Champions for the second year in a row!

Having survived a couple of real hurricanes myself, I thought this series was going to be tougher than it ultimately proved to be and that the Pens would have a harder road to hoe. Turns out the Pens blew into Carolina like a hurricane and left quite a swath of destruction in their wake.

Again the Canes started out well, with Eric Staal scoring just two minutes into the game as the fans went berserk. Fedotenko tied the game at 1-1 and a little later, Max scored a loopy goal that got away from Cam Ward and made it 2-1.

The Canes seemed to get to Geno tonight as he took two penalties in the first period. Hard to score from the penalty box, but no matter. If both parts of the two-headed monster aren’t scoring, the rest of the team will!

In the second, Guerin took a fantastic pass from Sid and scored and in the third, Sid graciously gave the empty-netter to Adams. A big shout out to Crosby who ended his evening with two assists and to Malkin, who had to cool down a little. He had no points, but laid out some big hits and made some fine defensive plays.

All in all, everyone did their thing, including Fleury who stopped all kinds of shots and had us up and shouting hooray! Ward did his part too, making plenty of nice saves.

So, Coach Cowher traded in his black and gold for red to support the Hurricanes, eh? That’s okay, we’ll take Super Bowl winning Coach Mike Tomlin who goes to Pens’ games dressed in his Crosby jersey! Only three years away from the ‘burg and Pittsburgh native Cowher switches teams? I’ve lived in Texas for 12 years and still follow all the Pittsburgh teams as closely as I did the day I moved away.

Christine Simpson expressed surprise that Superstitious Sidney touched the trophy. I confess to being absolutely flabbergasted! But it’s all good if they want to try to change their fortunes from last year. The team has certainly earned the right to do whatever they please!

Now the Hurricane warning is over, the Red was rocked, and the Orange was crushed. Only one more team stands in the way of the ultimate victory.

Remember the movie Rock Star? In it, Mark Wahlberg plays the part of a Pittsburgh guy who plays in a tribute band. He ultimately lives out his dream when the real band, Steel Dragon, invites him to be their lead singer. One of the songs he sings is Stand Up. They have been playing the song at Mellon Arena – just the first part: “Stand up and shooouuuutttt!” Let’s keep winning, let’s keep shouting, and let’s see who we play in the Stanley Cup Finals!


You know you make me wanna (Shout!)
Kick my heels up and (Shout!)
Throw my hands up and (Shout!)
Throw my head back and (Shout!)
Come on now (Shout!)

Let’s Go, Pens!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Eastern Conference Final: Game Three Pens/ Canes

Drive My Car – The Beatles

by Jan Snyder

Another Saturday night and time to do another happy dance! The Pens are up 3-0 in the series and they are certainly in the driver’s seat. “Beep beep and beep beep – yeah!”

As the team traveled to a city that is a NASCAR stronghold, they were met by a raucous crowd in Raleigh who certainly were intent on having a good time. I liked the way Max Talbot described the Hurricane fans. He said they create a great atmosphere, and unlike some other teams’ fans, they don’t say much to the opposition – they cheer for their own team and encourage them in every way. Good for them! They brought their cowbells and did their part.

That encouragement helped as the Canes’ Cullen tallied the first goal and ramped up the noise level in the building even more than it was before the game started. Having the Canes score the first goal was a change from the past games, so we had to wonder if this entire game would take a different turn.

But when the Pens went on the power play shortly after that goal, Geno and Sid, our beloved two-headed monster, steered things back on course. Geno scored, assisted by Sid and Gonchar. As the rapid first period moved along and with a mere 42 seconds left in it, Sid decided to make extra sure that they were traveling along the right road, and made it 2-1with a pretty goal. Geno’s half of the monster wanted to get in on the act too, so 31 seconds later, with only 11 seconds left in the period, he potted another and the first period ended with the Pens up 3-1.

*Time out for a U-Turn: How cool is it to see the terrific Ron Francis behind Carolina’s bench? Seeing him sure brings back great memories from the Cup years when he was such a huge part of the team, especially on the power play.

Although there was no scoring in the second period, there sure could have been, except that Cam Ward and Marc-Andre Fleury were both excellent. The lack of goals was not from any lack of trying on the part of either team. Each had the pedal to the metal!

The score was close going into the third and anything could still happen. As if to prove that true, Samsonov scored a nice, desperate goal while he was prone on the ice. Here they came, right on our bumper! We could see them closing in from our rearview mirror.

Not much later, Max sprung himself free and Geno hit him with a long, long pass. Max drove to the net with speed, but Ward veered the puck off in another direction. Nice try, anyway. Of course, Geno wasn’t finished yet. He made a nice pass over to Fedotenko who made sure it crossed the line and put the Pens up 4-2 making Geno’s point total three for the evening.

*Another U-Turn: Help me understand why the announcers on Versus and NHL Network are saying that Carolina had a lot taken out of them by playing two seven game series. Hello? The Pens played six tough games against the Flyers, followed by seven rugged ones against the Caps. My math skills aren’t great, but that seems to be only a one-game difference between the two teams.

Doing again what they do often, the Pens scored two more goals, just 40 seconds apart, and were now on cruise control. Adams won a faceoff and scored on an empty net from his own end. Then Guerin made a nice shot close in and made the final score 6-2. “Beep beep and beep beep, yeah!”

And now the Pens will spend two days in Carolina, resting and practicing, before the next game on Tuesday. The two Ferraris, Sid and Geno, can stay put in the garage for a couple of days and get tuned up and ready for Tuesday.

*U-Turns: Eric Cole’s beard is so full, so dark and so even that it almost looks like his face is covered in bees! Do you think Cam Ward will see Sid and Geno driving towards him in his dreams (or nightmares) tonight?

How absolutely fitting that Geno is playing in Pittsburgh. Maybe the Hockey Gods realized what an injustice was predicated on Mario Lemieux when his career was so often interrupted by injuries and serious illness. Maybe they thought to make up for that, they would send this great guy from Russia to be this generation’s Mario – at least in part because there will never be another Mario. But Geno’s flashes of brilliance, his loping style of skating, and his eye-popping goals, sure bring Mario to mind.

Let’s keep that motor tuned up and running like a champion for the next race on Tuesday.

Let’s Go, Pens!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Western Conference Finals: Game Three Wings vs. Hawks

Red Wings lead the series 2-1

By Lisa Ovens

Since Jan Snyder is brilliantly recapping the Pens/ Canes Eastern Conference Final games for Lisa's Hockey Lounge at h&, I figured I'd offer up some Western Conference Finals game three chat, because

a) I live in the West

b) one of the WCF teams knocked out my home team in round two and this is my opportunity to slightly dis them... and

c) I get to use this really crazy picture of Scott Stevens!

The Kronwall Hit on Havlat...What would Scott Stevens Say???

"Well, it's not figure skating. No one gets a free ride out there. Just ask Paul Kariya...and Eric Lindros...and Koslov...and, oh, Ron Francis...and that other guy. Yeah...that was My NHL."

Okay, Scott Stevens didn't say that. I just embellished some quotes of his. But couldn't you imagine Stevens being a go to guy on hits these days? Maybe he'd say stuff like..."skating with his head Mississippi...ooh it's a cleansie!!"

Yeah, Scott Stevens calling a hit a cleansie, Ha!

The first period Kronwall hit resulting in five and a game misconduct that ended Martin Havlat's evening in the wooziest of ways was just one tidbit of many from game three of the Wings/ B.Hawks series. The Blackhawks had a whopping 11 minutes of powerplay in the first period which translated into a whopping two goals for the young, fresh faced team.

NBA legend Michael Jordan was seen moving and shaking with Bobby Hull. Also seen was Chicago back up goal tender Cristobal Huet and a dressed "back up" back up goaltender Corey Crawford to start the third, as number one net minder, Nikolai Khabibulin didn't return because his "Bulin Wall" status became questionable, or one of the bricks is damaged, or both.

The Blackhawks loss control of the game and blew a 3 goal lead. The Red Wings fought back and forced the game to a 3-3 tie. One reason for the comeback? Adam Burish had words for Nik Lidstrom with five minutes left in the second period. yes, that's correct... words for Lidstrom. Of all people to "chat" at. Thanks to the CBC for pointing that out to me. The Wings Niklas Lidstrom is so smooth, so stealth, so classy of a player, you sometimes don't realize he's there, yet important things get done. Burish yapped at him, and during the next play Lidstrom scores. Man, he's the coolest. I heard Lidstrom once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels. (That's a joke. It's a spoof of the latest "Most interesting man in the world" Dos Equis beer commercial).

And speaking of the CBC, I am glad to watch a game with the Hockey Night in Canada gang for a change. I have a threshhold when it comes to TSN's playoff coverage, and this past week I reached it. That's another column.

So the sold out standing room only crowd at United Center (which for a little while was the "Quiet Center") were treated to a third intermission, and an overtime period that was abruptly ended by their very own Patrick Sharp who potted the OT winner: final score 4-3. Those Blackhawks, they're writing the book on over time period efficiency.

Soon we will learn details about fallen B. Hawk, Martin Havlat, and the situation with Nikolai Khabibulin. And maybe we'll learn more about the Red Wing's Pavel Datsyuk and his aching foot.

What we do know now is game four is set for Sunday, May 24th at 12 noon pst (nooner hockey games, can anyone get used to this, really?) and the Blackhawks are all excited thinking this like a really big series now, and in the other corner the Red Wings, well, it's business as usual for the defending Stanley Cup campions.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Eastern Conference Swag Off: Pens vs. Canes...The Captain Swag

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins lead the series 2-0

By Lisa Ovens

Let’s see, these two teams are even Steven when it comes to Staal Brothers. Jordan keeps the Staal stat on the Pens, and Eric has the Staal marker on the Canes. Another interesting stat about these teams: both fired their head coaches during the regular season. (Actually, so did the Chicago Blackhawks... can you say “trendy?”)

But, the Penguins do possess a very important statistic that none of the Conference Final teams have: they don’t wear red. And another important stat: the Pens goalie, Marc Andre Fleury is the only conference final net minder without a Stanley Cup ring.

The Hurricanes lost their first game two since the beginning of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Do you think they feel weird because of it? Nah, they are heading home to the legions of Caniacs for game three. Break out the chips, everybody!!

Enter the Brind'Amour Chips...look at the Carolina Captain celebrating the 2006 Championship. Imagine if the Edmonton Oilers had won it that year: It would be Pronger's image dwarfed by the cascading crisps!

Yep...I got a "C". I received this swag at the Penguins very first Hockey and Heels event in 2007, not long after Sidney Crosby had one sewn onto his jersey for the first time. May 31st will be Crosby's second anniversary as captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. It will also be Game Six...if necessary.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Eastern Conference Final: Game Two Pens/ Canes

Who Let The Dogs Out – Baha Men

By Jan Snyder

This is a great song to dance to and get rid of all that excess energy we built up watching fantastic Game Two! Who let the dogs out – woof, woof, woof!

While the crowd proudly wore their White-Out shirts that read, “The Real Eye of the Storm”, the teams both came out strong.
As usual, like it’s just what he’s been trained to do, Sid scored the first goal. This is becoming a tradition and I like it! Sidney Crosby is comparable to a Pit Bull when he’s on the ice. No one is going to stop him from his appointed mission, whether it’s scoring, checking – no matter. Just take one look at those eyes and you’ll find a determined Pit Bull staring back at you.

Quickly, though, LaRose tied it up. Not to be deterred, Geno put the Pens up again, but within minutes, Jokinen evened it up at 2-2. Then Seidenberg put the Canes ahead by one and the first period ended. Whew!

But as if to say enough is enough, the big dogs came out in the second and third periods for the Pens. Max Talbot, the gritty little yappy dog who is always nipping at your ankles, brought our team back into a tie, with a little help from his friends in the pack, Sid and Geno.

As the second ended with only seven seconds left, Chris Kunitz, that tenacious Springer Spaniel, finally scored again and put the Pens ahead 4-3.

While a fan dressed as a Hanson brother (wearing the foil, of course) cheered from the seats, so did a real life Hanson brother (Dave) and his son, a player for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They were sure enjoying the game.

In the third, Eaves captured the lead for the Canes again. But then someone made Geno, the big Russian Wolfhound, angry. You don’t want to do that if you are on the other team. The big dog decided to do it all himself after that and quickly scored two
more goals to earn himself a hat trick.

These weren’t just ordinary goals – they were spin around backhand shots. As the fans chanted, “Geno, Geno”, he scored as if by command. The next goal was so incredible that no matter how many times I’ve watched it, I still can hardly believe it! As the hats rained down, Mama and Papa Malkin took it all in and shared a kiss for the big screen, much to the delight of the fans.

Feisty little Tyler Kennedy, like a loyal, I-aim-to-please Beagle, scored the empty net goal, just for good measure.

There was still a little time left when all of sudden as if in tribute to Dave Hanson, a couple of fights broke out. No foil that I could see. Letang was tangling with a Cane and hanging on like a ferocious Pug. Meantime, Satan was all Boxer, going up against his opponent like a junkyard dog.

Cam Ward, who gave up seven goals, faced 35 additional shots and made some brilliant saves. Fleury, that big lovable Lab of a goalie, made a couple of tremendous saves, including one on Cole with just four minutes left. The complexion of the game could have changed drastically had that one gone in.

When all was said and done, Geno had a four point night and Sid had two. Four other Pens had multiple goal games – another real team effort – as they worked like a pack of Alaskan Huskies competing in the Iditarod! Good dogs!

So the big dogs are loose – let’s see what happens when they run in Raleigh. I hope we’ll be the ones to get a treat!

Let’s Go, Pens!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Playroom Project

by Jan Snyder

Every year, Nathalie Lemieux speaks at a fund-raising luncheon for The Playroom Project, part of the work lovingly done by the Mario Lemieux Foundation. Every year, Nathalie is brought to tears as she relates the story of how The Playroom Project came to be.

The Lemieux’s son, Austin, weighed only two pounds when he was born at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh. He subsequently spent 71 days in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit. Her husband was playing hockey for the Pittsburgh Penguins, her family was back in Canada, and she already had two daughters to care for while Austin was hospitalized.

On Mother’s Day, she went to visit Austin. She asked the nurses to look after the little girls so she could have time with her baby son. Of course, that’s not the nurses’ job, so this brand new little baby and his mother only had 15 minutes to spend together on Mother’s Day.

Austin and friends
Austin has grown into a perfectly normal 13-year-old but that experience during the first months of his life led Nathalie to devise the idea to raise money for playrooms at Pittsburgh area hospitals where siblings of other sick children had a place to engage their lively minds and provide a comfortable, calming environment for them. By the end of this year, 20 Austin’s Playrooms will be in full service for local families.

“Besides having them in Neo-natal Intensive Care and Oncology Departments, we’ve now started playrooms in ERs, too,” said Nancy Angus, Executive Director of The Mario Lemieux Foundation. “Austin goes to every ribbon-cutting for each of them. His parents are such normal people and they want to teach the kids the value of helping others.”

The newest to open are two playrooms in the brand new Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. One is on the first floor for well children and another is for in-patients on the sixth floor.

A fun place to be!

“Each playroom is decorated in primary colors. We try to include an aquarium, TVs, DVDs, and a computer kiosk with a Carnegie Mellon University-designed touch screen,” Angus said. “The kids seem to like the sand table. Magnets hold boats and cars in the sand and they can be moved around. This really is Nathalie’s pet project and she is involved in all aspects of the design of the room.”

The foundation was created in 1993. Mario was enjoying the greatest season of his brilliant career when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. After waging a successful battle against the disease, Mario has remained cancer free, but his experience led him to focus on ways to assist those not so fortunate. He devotes much of his time to the Foundation, raising funds to help reach the ultimate goal: a cure for cancer.

“Mario makes phone calls to children afflicted with cancer and does all he can to lift their spirits,” Angus said. “Whatever he can do, he wants to do. He meets and talks with cancer patients often.”

As Foundation Director, Angus is busy right now with preparations for the Mario Lemieux Celebrity Invitational to be held in June. The golf tournament annually draws sports stars from across all sports. The Steelers are always well represented, as are the Penguins. “Sidney Crosby always comes to play in the tournament.”

I want to thank Nancy Angus for her time and for talking about The Mario Lemieux Foundation with me. None of us is spared from the pain of the disease.

My brother, Paul, suffered from colon cancer. He was battling and we all hoped for a miracle. We were able to get Paul to a celebration for Penguins’ broadcaster, Mike Lange through the kindness of radio personality, Jim Krenn. Paul loved hockey and Mario was by far his favorite player. Mr. Lange knew of Paul’s illness and was so gracious to my brother and to all our family. At one point in the evening, he came over to Paul and said, “I want you to come with me for a few minutes.”

When Paul returned about 20 minutes later, I asked where he’d been. “I just met Mario Lemieux,” he said. Knowing how my brother liked to tease me, I replied, “Oh, sure, you did.” He looked at me; I saw how his eyes were lit up like they were on Christmas mornings when we were kids. He said, “I’m not kidding, I just met Mario.” I realized he was serious. Mike Lange had taken him to an upstairs room where Mario stopped in to offer his congratulations to Mike. So in character, Mario didn’t want to “appear” and steal the evening from the guest of honor, so he stopped by quietly.

Thanks to the kindness of Mike and Jim, one of my brother’s dreams came true that evening. Mario and Paul had a nice chat. Mario gave him encouragement, told him to be strong for his family, and to fight the cancer. They talked a little hockey too. That was in February 2002. Paul lost his battle on June 22, 2002, but none of us will ever forget what Mario did for him that night with just a brief conversation. For what he did, Mario will always be my hero. And just imagine how many times he has done something like that and touched people all over the city.

If you have a few minutes, visit and learn more about the good work they do.

We all thank Mario for great hockey memories but if you are too young to remember his playing days, also remember that this fantastic team we have probably wouldn’t be in Pittsburgh now nor would they have a new arena under construction if it weren’t for Mario. Maybe you can pay it forward with a donation to a cause that is so close to him, Nathalie and all their family.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Eastern Conference Final: Game One Pens/ Canes

Magic Man – Heart
by Jan Snyder

After this game, we can dance to the dulcet tones of Ann Wilson, thanks to our own Magic Man, Marc-Andre Fleury.

As in Chicago where voters cast their ballots early and often, Fleury cast his spell in Pittsburgh, stopping the Canes early and often. He started the game with a big save, made a couple of huge ones at the end, and threw in a couple of extra special ones in between. Facing only 23 shots, at least a third of them were spectacular.

Right at the start, the magic began. Fleury flashed his glove and poof! – the puck disappeared in his glove. He stopped one by folding himself in half – shazam! The puck disappeared again. A couple of times he fell to the ice covering the puck –presto chango! – no more puck!

To be fair, Cam Ward was doing his best at the other end, making some great saves as well. In the end, the Pens solved him three times and the Canes only solved Fleury twice.

Again the Pens scored two really quick goals to set the pace. On the first one, Satan was in the penalty box and just as the penalty expired, he flew from the box, took the puck and immediately atoned for the penalty by scoring a pretty breakaway goal. Just 84 seconds later, Geno did what he does so well and made towel-waving Mama Malkin, and all the other fans, very happy in the process.

LaRose scored for the Canes in the second period and they almost had another but that one was called back when Gill was interfered with and sent Fleury sprawling. Phillipe Boucher scored a power play goal that juuusssttt trickled ever so slowly over the goal line. That one, assisted on by Sid and Geno, proved to be the difference maker.

That’s when things got a little interesting. Orpik took a penalty with only about 2:30 left in the game and Joe Corvo quickly made it 3-2. If it wasn’t for the Magic Man in goal, it might have been 3-3 before too much longer.

So this wasn’t a perfect game on either side, but Game One is in the books as a win for the Pens. With the next game not being played until Thursday, each time has some time to study the other a little more which means we can probably expect more of the same magic from both goalies next time.

Hopefully we can go to Carolina with a 2-0 lead because we will have to face the jutted- out chin of Bill Cowher when we get there! Apparently after only three years away from living in Pittsburgh has turned him into a Canes fan and he attends each game three where he is the self-proclaimed “Game Three Guy” who cranks up the crowd. Big Ben Roethlisberger was at Mellon Arena tonight taking in the game from Mario’s box. Wonder what he thinks of his former coach rooting against Pittsburgh? Wish Christine Simpson would have asked him.

The Staal Brothers were not really factors in this game. Eric watched Fleury make a great save on him as he poked away at the puck trying to score. Jordan participated in some nice cycling with his line mates, but no scoring came of it.

We can hope the Fleury magic continues at the Igloo on Thursday.

Let’s Go, Pens!!

Conference Finals SWAG OFF!!!

by Lisa Ovens
It’s the final four, and we have some interesting swag competing to make it to the finals. It’s one thing to be a hot team, but to be an even hotter piece of hockey swag takes the game to another level. In the West...

Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Wings lead the series 1-0

The Detroit Red Wings are quite at home in the Western Conference Finals, and don’t they look good there. We are used to seeing them with beards. It’s very normal, very natural. Chicago’s Nikolai Khabibulin will be busy. He’s already faced 43 shots in Game One. This must be shocking after the shot challenged Vancouver Canucks, huh?

It seems like the only team everyone wants to talk about is the Chicago Blackhawks. They’re the kids. In Brady Bunch terms, they are the Cindy/ Bobby team even though they finished Peter/Jan in the standings.

Don’t get me wrong, the rebirth of NHL hockey in the Chicago's large market is great news. But we can’t forget the staying power and pedigree of the Detroit Red Wings. If the Wings can take Game two at home, don’t be surprised if the pundits and analysts start giving the Wings their due.

After watching the Blackhawks take out the battered Flames, and the melt down prone Canucks, they now have the big test: will their comeback skills see them through a series with the team that makes everyone suffer from “Wing Envy”?

It doesn't matter what DRW swag I show here: the Wings keep winning! I could take a picture of a red napkin, post it, and the Wings will win. But right now, I think this adorable little Red Wings Zamboni fits the bill rather nicely. Another score from my 2004 Detroit trip, this Zamboni was gifted to my good friend, Helen and it helps keep her desk nice and clean! This pic was shot at the bar of the Hockeytown Cafe, and the Zamboni sits on top of a real ice surface built right into the bar. Cool, in every way!

As I mentioned in the first round swag OFF, I took this Chicago Blackhawks beer cozy out for a night on the town. It was the first time I used it since the acquisition in 2004. Imagine how much B. Hawks swag is being used for the very first time right now in Chicago? It was just under two years ago I had a short layover at O’Hare International Airport and nary a B. Hawk logo could be found in the gift shops. (That’s my test for gauging an NHL team’s foothold in a city – by the amount of logo’d trinkets one discovers at the airport...try it out on your next trip!)
Up Next...The Eastern Conference SWAG OFF...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Canucks Post Season Epilogue: Fooled by Feelings of Destiny

By Lisa Ovens

After being pegged cellar dwellers by many a pundit at the beginning of the 2008/09 season, the Canucks managed to finish incredibly strong, and with a rookie general manager at the helm, to boot. Considering the melt down and failing to make the playoffs last year, how much more could fans have expected?

Let’s face it, if you are a Canuck fan, and someone said to you back in October, “Hey, you know what’s going to happen this year? The Canucks are going to start out great, but your prized goal tender will go down in a rare afternoon game in November and be out for a few months. They’ll hold on as best as they can, but eventually they’ll slide into the worst losing slump in the history of the team-oh man, they’ll lose at home over and over again and everyone will want the coach fired. It’ll be nuts. But, a winger, who in the previous season was challenged in the goals scored column, will score one short handed goal at home, igniting the team to turn it around and roll, clinch a playoff spot BEFORE the last regular season game, go on to win the division, and for the first time in Canuck history, sweep the other hottest team at the time, out of the first round, have a nine day break, and then lose the second round in six games to a team that finished higher in points from the regular season.”

Would you have believed them?

This is why we love hockey; often times, we just don’t know what’s going to happen, whether it be the events in one game, or a whole season. The other day, I heard Canucks Coach Alain Vigneault speak about destiny. He had a feeling the Canucks were destined to go deep into the playoffs, based on everything that had happened over the season. He wasn’t the only one fooled by that feeling of destiny. I was too, because darn it, it just felt different this year than other years we arrived at the post season. The team had its health relatively in tact. We had a “triplet”, in Alex Burrows that was working well with the Sedin twins. Mats Sundin was here. No one was taking the St. Louis Blues lightly, and in the end, they couldn’t beat us, because the Canucks found the ways they needed to win. It was looking very good.

What happened in Round Two versus the Chicago Blackhawks? Was nine days not long enough to prepare for battle against only a handful of potential opponents? Or was nine days just too long of a break between the action? As fans, we were sitting around, waiting. In hindsight, those nine days dragged on. It was fun though, watching the Canucks logo sprouting up all over the place like the blossoms of springtime in Vancouver. We were engaging in hockey talk with strangers in grocery store parking lots, while waiting in line, or on the phone with clients and contacts.

Perhaps destiny had other plans, and those plans involved the Chicago Blackhawks. The Vancouver Canucks faced a tightly knit team of young, talented dudes, who were often described by CBC's HNIC commentator, Craig Simpson, as the “they don’t know any better because they’ve never been here before” team. (And when you think of the Blackhawks long history it kind of makes sense for the original Six’er; only three Stanley Cups to their name, this franchise toiled away year after year in the shadows of the entire league, in the shadows of other sport franchises in Chicago, under an old school owner’s self imposed Harry Potter-like invisibility cloak... where else could they go but up?)

The Blackhawks beat the Canucks because they found ways to win when it mattered the most. Sure, there were questionable calls against the Canucks, putting them shorthanded against the highly skilled kids that “don’t know any better” and some of those calls really, really bothered me and everyone else on the ‘Nucks wagon. What are you gonna do?

As I said before, we don’t really know what events will unfold on the ice each night, and for most of the series, the round was anybody’s. But it would be game four that changed everything. Instead of going up in the series, 3-1, the Canucks lost in overtime (ouch), and the series became tied. Game six was a test for anyone’s heart condition. So much happened in that game: it was a blur of goals, answered goals, the big goal horn, THAT catchy Chicago goal song and red jerseys in the stands.

There I was alone in my living room, fooled by the feeling of destiny, as the clock wound down on the 7-5 score in favor of the Blackhawks. That was it. Just like it was it for the Blues, the Sharks, the Flames, the Blue Jackets, the Canadiens, the Devils, the Flyers and the Rangers. And, after this week; the Ducks, the Bruins and The Capitals. It’s the end, and it doesn’t really matter how the series went before the final game, when you’re out, you’re out.

Feeling like the Canucks could win the Stanley Cup is a feeling I ultimately want to feel every season because I refuse to try out the opposite in feelings. It just doesn’t work for me. Each year only one team can win it, and I already think the Canucks can do it next season. Call me crazy, but I won’t jump on the silly “blow up the team/ trade Luongo” bandwagon currently driving around the city. If a Canadian based team is going to win the Cup after what will be 17 years, it’s going to be the Vancouver Canucks.

I often use this quote at this time of year. I saw it written on a wall in a documentary about the 1998 Detroit Red Wings. The Wings won the Cup that year. I don’t know who said it but it makes sense to me...

“Faith is to believe in what you do not yet see. The reward for that faith is to see what you believe.”

(Either its that, or you play like “you don’t know any better” ;o)

Keep the faith, and enjoy the Conference Finals, everybody!

A Don Cherry Suit Fest!

No introduction needed...

Don Cherry’s life will be the subject of a new made for television movie titled “Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story”. Cherry’s son, Tim penned the script and is also the movie’s executive producer. The CBC-TV production begins filming in Manitoba next week.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Round Two Game Seven: Penguins/ Capitals

Takin’ Care of Business – Bachman-Turner Overdrive

by Jan Snyder

Penguins win the series 4-3

Let’s dance to a great song by a great Canadian group to celebrate this great hockey win! The Pens came out really determined to take care of business and they sure did.

As the red-clad Caps’ fans waved signs that read “Unleash the Fury”, the Pens were the team that did it. Scoring two in the first period, three in the second, and another in the third, the Pens made a statement. A big part of that statement was the welcome sight of Sergei Gonchar back on the ice, determined to play just a few days removed from that big hit on his knee. He didn’t wait long to make a difference, adding an assist to Sid’s first goal.

More determination? How about Marc-Andrea Fleury, who was determined to take care of his business as he made a huge save on Ovechkin early in the first period, perhaps setting a tone for what was to come? How about Crosby scoring two goals, one an unassisted breakaway, and adding an assist, not to mention taking a stick in the face? Wasn’t it fitting that he scored his breakaway goal on that four minute major? That’s determination.

Two goals in eight seconds was brutal for young Varlamov, but that was just a prelude to the onslaught he would face in the second as Guerin and Letang got to him again in short order. That was all for him in this game, but congratulations to him on a great series.

Jose Theodore fared a little better, but Staal and Sid scored on him too. Remarkably, the Pens didn’t take one penalty the entire game. On their two power plays, the Pens were able to score once.
Yes, the fury was unleashed, much to the delight of Pens fans.

Now we wait to see who we take on next. During the regular season, the Pens split the series 2-2 with the Bruins and the Hurricanes.

Wow, can you believe the two great series the Pens have played already? The Flyer series was tough, but not as exciting as the Caps series. Let’s hope the games just keep on getting better. No doubt the experience the Pens garnered last season going to the Stanley Cup Final is playing a part in their resolve this season.

Now we have a couple of days to get our heart rates back to normal before the next series, the Conference Final, begins. Whatever you’ve been doing as far as rituals go, keep it up.
Now the team has a few days to rest before they go on takin’ care of business!

Let’s Go, Pens!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Round Two Game Six: Penguins/ Capitals

Hold on Tight to Your Dream – Electric Light Orchestra

Series tied: 3-3

by Jan Snyder

Did any of us really think this tremendous series wasn’t going seven games? Let’s do a little dance and get ready for an exciting Game Seven while we hold on to our dream of moving on in the tournament.

Three overtime games out of six and in this Game Six, the goals were coming at a furious pace. The Pens took the early lead on a goal by Bill Guerin that stood up through the end of the first period.

In the second, Kozlov and Fleishman put the Caps on the board too. With just 33 seconds left in the period, while the Pens were on the power play, Eaton scored to even things at 2-2.

Then came the craziness that was the third period. In the space of just a few seconds, Letang, Semin and Kozlov scored in rapid succession. With time running out, Sid, who was determined he would score, popped in the one that tied the game.

Overtime – again! Would this be another short OT or was this the one that would go on into the night? Fleury made an incredible save on Ovechkin, but then a seemingly easy shot from Steckel got by him and that was all she wrote. As the Caps celebrated, weary white-out fans filed from the building.

But Sid had a goal and an assist. Malkin had three assists. No one had a bad game. This is just the way this round was bound to be. Two good teams, three great players, many talented others and somehow it seems right that after all this time, who moves on will be decided back in Washington in Game Seven. The team just needs to keep on working, keep on trying and make it happen.

So “Don’t Stop Believin’” because there “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” and we know that anything can happen in a Game Seven. Let’s be glad that we get to watch one more game in this fantastic, exciting series.

Hold on tight – to your dreams, to your rally towel, and to your sanity! Here comes Game Seven!

Let’s Go, Pens!!

So sorry to see Lisa’s Vancouver Canucks lose tonight. They had such a great year and everything was looking up. Lisa will need a few days to recover from this one! Better luck next year.

-thanks Jan :o) ...Lisa

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tough Day at the Office: Round Two Game Five: Nucks/B.hawks

By Lisa Ovens

Blackhawks lead the series 3-2

Oh to be a hockey fan in Vancouver during the playoffs! The roller coaster ride continues after the 4-2 loss last night. It was very apparent to me Canucks fans were still harboring some anger after the overtime loss in game four, and many of them were present in the crowd at GM Place. I’ll get to that stuff in a moment.

There were a few things I liked about the game: the anthem singing was fantastic, and set a very positive tone for the first period. Rick Rypien delivered some heavy hits when he activated his “hit switch”. I felt Mats Sundin played a very good game, and to see him score such a beautiful goal in the second period was a very sweet moment. The fans erupted after that one, and I know Sundin critics must have smiled and high fived anyone available during the celebration. If there’s one moment Mats could use to up his game to another level for next time, that goal surely must be it. He could call it the “I still got it” goal. Seize it Mats, take it and run with it as best as you can.

Now, onto the not so good...Alex Burrows paid some attention to B.Hawks goal tender, Nikolai Khabibulin, but chirping at him is not the kind of attention I’d like to see. The Canucks can beat this guy, but they have to take the shots to do it. I believe it was Wayne Gretzky who said “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” The shots on goal were 31-21 in favor of the B.Hawks. Khabibulin isn’t the better goaltender in this series, and the Canucks should be throwing everything, including the kitchen sink at him.

Kevin Bieksa, our delightfully, hot headed, pineapple juice drinking defenseman, needs to tone it down sometimes and last night he had me on my feet yelling “BACK OFF BIEKSA!!!” during the after whistle scrums. We just don’t know where the whistles are going to be next time around so he needs to reel himself in and channel the heat elsewhere, like ooh I don’t know, scoring a few goals because he was the Canucks highest scoring defensemen during the regular season, and they need scoring to win this series.

The ice. I bring this up because I saw lots of slips and falls last night, and I think they ought to check the ice, especially the ice in the Canucks offensive zone, to the right of the B.Hawks bench. (In other words I am looking to see a game seven, folks ;o) I called Pittsburgh Penguins correspondent, Jan Snyder to get her take on ice issues and she said, “Yes, the ice at this time of year...they are saying the ice in Washington is slushy, the ice in Pittsburgh is sticky.” In which I responded with “Then I guess our ice in Vancouver is too slippery – hahaha!!”

The good old hockey game. Perhaps it was a mixture of referee confusion and the Canucks mistakes, but the crowd in GM Place did not hide their feelings during the second and third periods. Is this a case of “we’ve heard far too much good call, bad call, and no call critiques in the sports media that we’ll snap at anything the moment confusion sets in”?

What I mean by confusion is the where are the whistles confusion, and if whistles have been firmly placed in the zebras’ pockets, will they stay there, or will they suddenly re-appear in the last ten minutes of the game?

The collective behavior of 18,630 people in one of these types of games, is an experience, and to quote Seinfeld’s George Costanza's line “The Sea was Angry that day my friends.” But instead of “an old man trying to send back soup in a deli”, one guy chucked a cup of beer onto the ice. And then another guy throws one and another and so on and so on. This is what happens when the passion for the team and the game can truly get the better of people. To say this city is desparate for a championship is an understatement.

The Chicago Blackhawks have plenty to bring to the table every night under the watchful eyes of the legendary Scotty Bowman. But on Monday night for Game Six, the Canucks are going to bring a new attitude: they’re on the road, they are healthier than the Calgary Flames were, and they’ve got nothing to lose. And if they play their cards right, the Canucks will be another win closer to the Western Conference Final.

Round Two Game Five: Penguins/ Capitals

Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett

Penguins lead the series 3-2

By Jan Snyder

“Monster Mash” has a good beat and is easy to dance to! Even though Halloween is far away, the song fits the show that unfolded before our eyes tonight because it’s about a monster.

If you watch the Penguin broadcasts, you know that the announcers, Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey, love to refer to Malkin and Crosby as the “two-headed monster” when they are on the ice together. Thanks to that monster, the Pens won another monster game in overtime!

Yes, the Red got Rocked – by the Black and Gold – in their own building. There is no denying this has been a monster series, filled with monster hits and monster individual efforts as well.

The game had such a frenetic pace that it was hard to believe that these same guys had played another intense game just the night before. From the drop of the puck, both teams gave their all, trying to get their team ahead. In the first period, the Caps and Pens traded power plays, but neither team was able to score. Both goalies, too, made some great stops. The first ended with a bit of a melee and the result took two Caps and two Pens to the box, including Malkin and Ovechkin.

So period two began without the two Russians, who had to wait for a whistle to get back into the action. That didn’t come until three minutes into the second. Before five minutes elapsed, Jordan Staal, who must be watching his big brother, Eric, handling the Bruins, decided he deserved some ESPN face time and scored his first goal of the season with a little help from Satan and Orpik.

But that lead was short-lived as Ovechkin evened things up just about a minute later. But when Gill jumped onto the ice too soon, the Caps got a power play and Backstrom took advantage and put the Caps ahead with just five minutes left in the second period.

The Pens played seven defensemen in this game – that’s right, it takes two others to take the place of Gonchar! Gogligoski and Bucher both acquitted themselves well.

As the hits kept coming and the pace stayed frantic, Ruslan Fedotenko scored another goal, on one of his 10 shots on goal in the game, less than a minute in. The third line of Staal, Kennedy and Cooke were monsters tonight too and after hard work by their line, Cooke deposited a puck in the net. Everything was status quo for the rest of the third – or so it would seem. Again, with just four minutes left, Ovechkin scored and tied things up.

Off to overtime again! Well, at least it was Saturday. Not too many people would have to get up for work tomorrow. Put on a pot of coffee and get ready to dig in for a long night of hockey! But that didn’t happen because the two-headed monster took matters into “its” own hands. After the Caps came close to scoring on Fleury, the ref called a penalty that gave the Pens a power play. No Gonchar? No matter tonight because Malkin and Crosby worked it and when Malkin swooped in on net, the puck bounced off the stick of the Caps d-man and trickled into the net! WOOHOO! Another exciting overtime win – and it only took four minutes! Malkin is a hero again!

Even though Crosby had no points, his play was outstanding and he handed out a few big hits. Geno added an assist as well as his great game winning goal and attempted six shots on goal. All told, the Caps handed out 39 hits and the Pens 30. Let’s get physical, indeed.

This was another team game, with everyone on the Pens chipping in and doing their thing. Each team had only two power plays and each converted on one.

In this monster series, filled with monster efforts, the two-headed monster proved more powerful as a tandem than Ovechkin by himself (although Backstrom sure had his back.)

Back to the ‘burg. Are you ready for yet another monster game? Be loud, Pens fans.

Let’s Go, Pens!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Round Two Game Four: Penguins/ Capitals

Mambo No. 5 – Lou Bega

by Jan Snyder

Series tied 2-2

Another great game at Mellon Arena! We can all dance tonight – except Sergei Gonchar, of course. Anyway, before he had to leave the game, and maybe the series, Gonch scored the first of the Pens’ five goals. A little Mambo No. 5 in honor of the five different goal scorers? Remember that catchy little song from a few years ago?

A little bit of Gonchar in my life
A little bit of Guerin by my side
A little bit of Ruslan is all I need
A little bit of Sid is what I see
A little bit of Talbot in the sun
A little bit of Fleury all night long

This game turned into a wild one early as Backstrom got the first goal for the Caps just 36 seconds into the contest. After the Caps gave the Pens a power play, Gonchar slammed an unassisted goal past Varlamov. Quickly, Sergei Federov (he of Anna Kournikova fame) came galloping up to Fluery and took a shot, but hit the post. In just another flash, Federov tried again, but Fluery was too good and snatched the puck with his glove.

The score stayed 1-1until Guerin was able to sneak another puck past Varlamov. Then came the bad news – Ovechkin and Gonchar collided knee-on-knee. As Gonch writhed in pain on the ice, the Pens beseeched the refs for a major penalty, but it was called a two-minute tripping penalty. You don’t often see someone who is tripped fly into the air, do a 360 and fall to the ice, but I guess that’s what the refs saw.

Fedotenko, perhaps to honor his fallen Russian mate, scored the next one putting the Pens in the lead, 3-1. And that was just the first period! Lots of Friday night excitement at the Igloo. If the Igloo is rockin’, don’t come a knockin’!

In the second, Chris Clark managed to score in close, closing it to 3-2 Pens. By the third, Sid made a goal-scoring appearance on a beautiful pass from…could it be…Satan, giving our team a 4-2 lead. Just to keep things interesting, Milan Jurcina made it 4-3. But the Pens would not be denied tonight.

Mad Max to the rescue! Max flew down the ice and whipped the puck into the net to seal the deal. 5-3 Pens, series tied at 2-2. The Caps kept on coming and hanging around, but they were never able to get back in the lead. This wasn’t the Sid Show or the Geno Show or the Ovie Show. This was a night for the team to show they can all score and spread it around.

Now it’s back to Washington for a quick turnaround and another game tomorrow night. Will Gonchar play? Sure looks doubtful from what we saw tonight. Big thumbs up to the Pens’ defense who never got down tonight. They sucked it up and played most of the game down a man. Malkin wasn’t a goal scorer tonight but he managed to play a very physical game and had some chances.

For his part, Ovechkin claimed innocence on the hit and said he never tried to hurt anyone. More kudos to Gill and Scuderi who kept #8 pretty much under control again tonight. But he’ll be feeling his oats back in his home arena tomorrow, so there is another big job ahead for the defensemen. Let’s hope they travel quickly to D.C., get a good night’s sleep, lots of ice bags, and are up for the challenge tomorrow night. Can they score five more goals?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Round Two Game Four: Canucks/ Blackhawks

Series tied 2-2

What’s G?

By Lisa Ovens

Gordichuk?? Darcy Gordichuk opened up the scoring in the second period during the Game Four of the Vancouver Canucks/ Chicago Blackhawks series: his first ever playoff goal. It was a beaut, too, thanks to a spin-o-rama pass from Rick Rypien.
And that was pretty much it for the scoring on the Canucks side of things. Maybe there is something amiss when Darcy Hordichuk is the Canuck player scoring the only goal. Our heavyweight enforcer, limited ice time guy is the ONLY scorer. Gedin Twins...where were you? Working hard to stick to the ALL defense game plan?

That’s what it was all about Thursday night in United Center. Once again, the Canucks ladled out the thick D –soup, and the Blackhawk kids had to navigate their spoons through it. And when they did get some shots through...they had him waiting for them.

What’s G? Goberto Luongo made some pretty sweet saves with his Glove, legs and stick, etc. “Great Save Luongo!!!” (As delivered by play by play man, Jim Hughson)

What’s G? Geez the Blackhawks tie it up late in the third. Oh oh...Going to over time thanks to Martin Havlat.

What’s G? Goal scored in Govertime by Blackhawk, Andrew Ladd. Game over.

What’s G? Good Grief, the series is now tied, 2-2.

Why do I keep asking “What’s G?” It’s that darn Gatorade commercial on serious rotation this post season!! I find myself asking What’s G and then standing up, looking up to the right, pointin' and bobbin' my finest hip hop moves...I’m so sick.

And as an after thought: did I hear HNIC’s Ron MacLean say “G-Spot” during Game Three’s broadcast??

Time to pack my Canucks playoff briefcase...I’m going to
Game Five!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Round Two Game Three: Penguins/ Capitals

Washington Capitals lead series 2-1

by Jan Snyder

I Need a Hero – Bonnie Tyler

I need a hero

I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night

He’s gotta be strong

And he’s gotta be fast

And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight

I need a hero

I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the morning light

He’s gotta be sure

And it’s gotta be soon

And he’s gotta be larger than life

This is not an easy song to dance to, but the lyrics sure fit exciting Game Three. Being back home agrees with the Pens as their white-out crowd urged them all on, but especially Geno, chanting his name, trying to get him fired up.

But the beginning of the game was not what any one of us was hoping for as Fleury got out of position when he went after his stick that had gotten away from him. The puck took a weird bounce off the old, old time-worn boards of Mellon Arena. Taking full advantage was the Great 8. Ovechkin plowed in, grabbed the puck, and put his team up 1-0, stunning the Pens and the crowd barely two minutes into the contest. The rest of the first period was pretty forgettable for the home team as they struggled to find their game.

In the second, the only highlight, and it was a big one, was Fedotenko scoring a goal to tie it up. Geno was starting to look like Geno again in the second and this goal proved to be an important one, considering what was yet to come.

As the third started, it was anyone’s game. Ovechkin laid a big hit on Sid, who hardly seemed to notice. But the “Awakening of 71” was in full flower as Geno pounced on a puck and put the home team ahead by one with a power play goal. Shortly after, Orpik and Ovechkin ran into each other like a couple of rams on a mountaintop and each went flying.

While Pens’ fans chewed on their rally towels, willing the team to hold on to the lead, the ref saw fit to call a penalty on the Pens and with only one minute and fifty seconds left, Backstrom threw the puck behind Fleury.
OVERTIME! How long would it last? How long could I last? Should I call in sick now? The pacing began and all I could wonder was who would be our Hero.

Rookie goalie Varlamov was incredible making 39 saves in the game, but he wasn’t quite prepared when Kris Letang (AKA, tonight’s Hero) boomed the puck behind him off the faceoff win by Crosby! There was our Hero! After the last game when Letang left with his shoulder hanging, we weren’t even sure he would play in this game. I called my daughter in Pittsburgh to see if she’d heard something I hadn’t about whether or not Letang would play. She hadn’t but I kept insisting to her and to anyone who would listen that we really needed Letang to play tonight. He sure proved my hunch to be right. Besides his game-winning goal, Letang added an assist.

Maybe all Geno needed was to be in front of the friendly fans again, including his mom and dad. He attempted nine shots and at times was very Mario-esque during this incredible performance. He seemed determined to do his part in this one. Crosby chipped in with two assists and in a nice change from the first two games, everyone was contributing. Sid didn’t have to do it all.

Now we are back in the series and looking ahead already to Game Four on Friday night. We’ll need another Hero. Who will it be in that one? I can’t wait to find out.

Let’s Go, Pens!!