Live From Mellon Arena – Pens v Thrashers

I am live at Mellon Arena bringing you all of the action this afternoon. Please join in the conversation in the comments section.

Metzer's view from press row...

Let me be the first to tell you that it is definitely playoff weather in Pittsburgh. Walking up to the Arena this afternoon put me in mind of what we will be in store for in a few weeks. Tailgaters, shorts, no coats etc were the scene out front…great to see.

The Penguins and Thrashers are on the ice for warm-ups as we speak. Your starting goaltenders for this afternoon’s fray are Marc Andre Fleury for the Penguins and former Penguin Johan Hedberg for the Thrashers. Nice to see the Moose getting the call in what will be his final appearance in the old barn that made him famous.

Both Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar are taking part in the skate this afternoon and look fine. Great to see them back out there… as of the time I left the house this morning there was still some speculation about whether they would be going or not…

The tunes are blaring and everyone seems to be pumped…we just ran through the entirety of Master of Puppets, the Ace of Spades and no an old stand by from Rise Against… I have to say that all of it is inspiring me to put together the next Penguins Song Blog. I haven’t done one since early this season and it is high time for a new one!

For the record, the warm up was finished off with a tune called No Revolution by a band called The Explosion and one of my all time favs, Everlong by the Foo Fighters.

As I said, I am live at Mellon Arena and will be bringing you all of the action as it happens…

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The Penguins are presenting their annual awards this afternoon…

Here is the official release on the awards… which gives a far better description than I did on the fly this afternoon…

Baz Bastien Memorial “Good Guy” Award – Sidney Crosby & Marc-Andre Fleury

Presented by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association to the player who the local media of the PHWA want to acknowledge for his cooperation throughout the year.  The award is presented in memory of the late Aldege “Baz” Bastien, Penguins general manager from 1976-83.  Sponsored by UPMC Sports Medicine.

NHL Masterton Nominee “Comeback Player” Award – Bill Guerin

The Pittsburgh Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association votes for the Penguins’ Masterton nominee.  Each NHL team selects a Masterton candidate from which the overall winner is chosen. The Masterton candidate is nominated as the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.  Sponsored by Trib Total Media.

A.T. Caggiano Memorial Booster Club Cup – Sidney Crosby

Presented in memory of A.T. Caggiano, long-time Penguins’ locker room attendant & Booster Club supporter, the award is presented by Penguins Booster Club members, who vote for the three stars after every home game and tally votes at the end of the regular season.

Edward J. DeBartolo “Community Service” Award – Sidney Crosby

The award recognizes the player who has donated a tremendous amount of time and effort during the season working on community and charity projects.  Sponsored by Verizon Wireless.

Defensive Player of the Year – Brooks Orpik

This award honors the defensive skills of an individual player on the team.  Presented by Consol Energy Inc.

Player’s Player Award – Jordan Staal

The players hold a vote at the end of the season for the player they feel exemplifies leadership for the team, both on and off the ice, a player dedicated to teamwork.  Sponsored by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Most Valuable Player Award – Sidney Crosby

Based on the overall contribution the player makes to the team.  Sponsored by BNY Mellon.

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Jordan Staal, Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke are starting this one for the Penguins…

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Sidney Crosby is skating with Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz… Evgeni Malkin centering Bill Guerin and Alexei Ponikarovsky…

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As Seth Rorabaugh just pointed out to me, the Penguins could be in trouble today… the Thrashers are using Nic Bergfors and Nik Antropov on the same line against them. Both players have owned the Penguins over the years…

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The Penguins get the first power play of the day as Evander Kane was just whistled for high sticking… he was actually assessed a double minor giving the Penguins four minutes to work with…

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It took almost a minute, but the Alex Goligoski just fed Evgeni Malkin for a one timer from the high circle. Hedberg made the save…

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Bill Guerin just wiped out two minutes of the Penguins power play with a high stick of his own… four on four…

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Tyler Kennedy came very close to getting himself a breakaway, but just couldn’t get the extra stride he needed. The Thrashers caught up to him, he fanned on his shot and eventually knocked him to the ice.

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The Moose just got his pocket picked by Ruslan Fedotenko and Craig Adams had an empty net… the only thing that prevented a Thrashers goal was a great play by an Atlanta defenseman. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see who made the stop, but he knocked the puck out of harm’s way.

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Seth Rorabaugh comes through again… pointing out that Clarke Macarthur was the player who knocked Adams’ attempt away…

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Alex Goligoski was just down in behind the Thrashers net… luckily the play didn’t shift back the other way catching him out of position. He did take a big shot along the boards that knocked him to the ice before making a play to Fedotenko, who came close to pushing a puck past Hedberg.

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The action has suddenly gone end to end and the two teams have exchanged chances. Marc Andre Fleury made a big stop on Evander Kane before sending the play back the other way. Crosby then found Jordan Leopold with a great one time opportunity on the rush, but it went wide.

Teams still knotted at 0-0…

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Evgeni Malkin just made some slick moves to stick handle around Mark Popovic before powering towards the net and letting a wrister fly… Moose said no again…

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Billy Guerin just threw down with Jim Slater… very spirited match. Guerin eventually got the upper hand and took Slater down with a series of quick rights…

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Nik Antropov, Nic Bergfors and Max Afinogenov just worked a great breakout, which turned into a two on one give and go for an Afinogenov goal… they cut through the Pens defense with relative ease and made a pretty play… unsettling…

1-0 Thrashers…

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One period in the books here at Mellon Arena… the Thrashers are leading 1-0.

Overall, the Penguins probably got the better of the opportunities, but Moose Hedberg was up to the challenge turning away 12 shots. Unfortunately the Penguins again made a mistake which ended up in their net. There wasn’t much that they could do about the goal, based on the pretty passing display, however they did allow two Thrashers to go to the net…

The Penguins are leading in shots 12-6 but the Thrashers seemed to generate more through the neutral zone, which is typically a key to the Penguins attack. They are going to have to find a way to counteract that if they want to be successful this afternoon.

Evgeni Malkin looked to grimace a bit after taking a slash on his great individual play that resulted in his third and team leading shot on goal. He doesn’t look quite like he is 100%, but is playing well thus far.

Sergei Gonchar put in a hearty 6:58 of ice time and looks to be feeling pretty good. He did show a little rust at the point, but the PP should benefit from his return.

Stay tuned for more as it happens…

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The second period is underway…

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Sidney Crosby just made a nice pass to Alex Goligoski coming down the slot… he pushed the puck to the net, but Hedberg made a sparkling right leg save to keep his team in lead…

Unfortunately for the Thrashers Bryan Little went awkwardly into the boards and looks to have damaged his knee. He was down on the ice for quite some time before being helped down the runway by teammates.

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The two teams are exchanging rushes up and down the ice, which are producing chances, but no goals.

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Chris Chelios just took a whack at Evgeni Malkin after the whistle. The two teams blew came together for some pushing and shoving, but nothing much came of it.

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17.047 on hand here this afternoon…

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Jordan Leopold on the way to the box… Penguins short handed for the first time of the afternoon.

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The Thrashers are doing a nice job of moving the puck and keeping it in the zone. The Birds missed two opportunities to clear the puck during the first minute of the PP.

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Max Talbot came close to getting himself in alone shorthanded. He sort of overskated the puck, but got it to Matt Cooke. Cooke worked in and put a shot on goal. The Thrashers quickly answered and can back with several great chances of their own. Fleury robbed Rich Peverley in front on a rebound attempt and then made another nice stop on a point shot that he kicked into the netting in the right wing corner. He has been very sharp this afternoon…

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Wow is all that I can say about what Johan Hedberg just did to his former team. Sidney Crosby, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Chris Kunitz just kept the puck in the offensive zone for close to a minute… they were cycling and peppering him with shots. He used every part of his body and his stick to make no less than 5 great saves. Moments later Evgeni Malkin got in alone on his and he used a great poke check to knock the puck away from him. Insane performance thus far…

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Seconds after the goaltending clinic, a ten player scrum broke out at the Penguins blue line… bodies were everywhere, Malkin can out with his jersey over his head and Chris Thorburn got the only penalty. Crazy… but the Penguins are on the power play…

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The Penguin took the face-off and immediately worked a scoring play. Crosby won the FO, worked the puck back to Gonchar who slid across to center point. Sarge quickly slid the puck back to Crosby at the right point, who fed Goligoski breaking in from the left point. Go Go one touched a pass to Evgeni Malkin who had sneaked down to the goal line and he one timed it behind Hedberg. Great play… great goal by Malkin…


* * * * *

Marc Andre Fleury was just whistled for tripping… even up for :30 before the Thrashers go back on the power play…

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Birds within one second of killing off the power play when Matt Cooke was whistled for tripping. Thrashers back on the PP. They were working the puck around very well on this last PP, but the Penguins did a great job of blocking shots and getting in the lanes. Fleury also made more than a few saves…

* * * * *

The Thrashers have just pushed it to a 2-1 lead… Johnny Oduya just put a shot on from the right point that was tipped in front by Tim Stapleton…

2-1 Thrash…

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Two periods in the books and the Penguins find themselves down 2-1 after allowing another late goal. This time Tim Stapleton found the back of the net on a tip with 2:37 remaining in the period…

The Penguins still hold an edge in shots 21-17, but they are having a ton of trouble solving Hedberg. Now I realize that they have run into a hot goaltender, but they all tend to be hot in the playoffs and you have got to find a way to beat them. They have gotten some good misdirection in front of the Moose, a bit of traffic, but they aren’t getting it done. Hopefully that changes in the third period.

The Penguins are having a horrid day in the face-off circle winning only 39% of their draws this afternoon. Crosby and Staal, who are typically very good, are having particularly bad days. Staal is 5 -8 for 38%, while Crosby is 9-10 for 47%. Craig Adams is having a good day posting a perfect 3-0 record…

The Birds are also being outhit today 17-16… when they are tied or behind in hits, they are usually losing the game.

They have played a decent game this afternoon, but it just hasn’t been enough yet, especially with the Thrashers looking every bit as desperate as you would have figured them to be fighting for the last playoffs spot.

Stay tuned for more as it happens…

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A fan in the luxury boxes beneath us just went nuts leading a “Hey, Hey, Whatasay!” Let’s go Pens chant… pretty hardcore stuff… it went on about 8 times…

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The third is obviously underway… Pens had a couple quick chances, but couldn’t get much on the net.

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That is until Sergei Gonchar put a slapper on the net from the right point that popped free in the left wing circle to a streaking Tyler Kennedy… Kenndy…. who banged it in behind Hedberg.


* * * * *

Moments later, the Penguins won a deep face-off… Jordan Leopold tried to get the puck up the boards, but it took an awkward bounce. Neither Alex Goligoski nor Evgeni Malkin could get a handle on the puck. It came free to Evander Kane who put a shot on Fleury… the rebound went right to the blade of Rich Peverley, who buried it to give the lead right back to Atlanta.

3-2 Thrashers…

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Bryan Little officially has a lower body injury… will not return.

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The Penguins are in the process of urinating another one away this afternoon… once again, a couple of mistakes have killed them.

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Two teams are playing some four on four after offsetting penalties to Ruslan Fedotenko and Zach Bogosian.

Kris Letang actually put a nice shot on goal, but Hedberg kicked it away…

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The Penguins are buzzing, but don’t seem to have the same desperation as the Thrashers.

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I am calling for Jordan Leopold to notch his first goal as a Penguin to tie this one up… the clock was just stopped on 4:44… maybe Leopold from Brooks??? Or vice versa?

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With 2:33 remaining in the game the penguins trail 3-2… I will be heading down to the rooms momentarily… check in for more post game…

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The Penguins did just get themselves a PP… this would normally be a done deal… tie game. However, that hasn’t been the case this season. Can they get it done?


8 Comments on this Post

  1. jscullion

    Metzer!!! Love the site, dude. Sounds like the entire roster is healthy now. With the Pens putting in extra work as of late, hopefully they will bring some intensity to today’s game.

  2. Profile photo of Brian Metzer

    Thanks Joe! Spread the word! Appreciate the kind words and love seeing you here!

    Great seeing the boys healthy and back in the line-up today…

    B Metz

  3. Staal11fan

    Pens need to start crashing the net or getting more people around the net as these goaltenders have no pressure in front of them and most any goaltender can stop a shot he can see.

  4. Profile photo of Brian Metzer

    That is the truth Staal11fan. There have been moments today where they have gotten some traffic going, but it hasn’t been consistent… they have got to do a ton more, especially when playing a ‘tender who is having the kind of day that Hedberg is this afternoon…

    Disappointing… the Atlantic is slipping away. These were must get points… however, they were must get for Atlanta as well.

    Still 4:44 on the clock… I am calling for Leopold to get his first goal as a Pen to tie this up…

  5. Good call metz

  6. Evilpens

    NOT pretty again !!! But I’ll take the 2 points, BUT they Have GOT to STOP the RIDICULOUSLY STUPID Mental Mistakes

  7. Walshy

    are there anymore afternoon games through to game 82? these things are hell….. I actually got up for this one…

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