NHL

Pens v Rangers – Live at the CONSOL Energy Center

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Well, as has typically been the way as of late, I have gotten a late start on getting the blog up and running for tonight’s game. I have been helping a co-media member buddy out with his STATS Inc. duties and we spent the past 45 minutes getting everything squared away that needed to be done for pre-game. Amazing to see how STATS gets all of the info that they need to pass on to clients around the sporting universe!

Anyway… as you all already know, Chris Kunitz is again out of the line-up and I am pretty disappointed about it. The kid was playing some of the finest hockey of his career right up until the final moment of his last game. I really hope that this doesn’t derail what has been a pretty special season for him. It is also worth noting that the absence of Kunitz has again led to Evgeni Malkin being paired with Sidney Crosby on the Penguins’ top line.

We shall see if the duo can generate any magic this evening, as much of their damage was done on the power play last night in Philadelphia. Those two together are still much better suited to be used in spots throughout the evening, rather than doing so all night long…

Overall, the early stages of this evening’s game have been much like we would have expected from these two teams. Each goalie has been forced to make a couple of big stops, each team has generated 6 shots on goal and their is still no score.

As usual, I will be sharing a variety of thoughts, comments, and observations live from the CONSOL Energy Center… stay tuned!

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I have said it before and I will say it again tonight… Sean Avery annoys the heck out of me! I spend every game in which he skates here in Pittsburgh debating his merits with our pal Angie Carducci from Inside Hockey. She thinks he is great for the game… me? Not so much… especially when he is knocking guys down in traffic with cross checks as he did to Geno Malkin earlier in the period….

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Interesting moment on the way up to the press box tonight…. I rode the elevator with Kevin Allen, uber everything hockey, and I said hello. We had met a couple of times before and I wasn’t sure that he would remember me so I said: “Hi Kevin… Brian Metzer… (shake hands)… how have you been.” He did remember me and said, “Great, how have you been? Are you living here now?”

That sort of caught me off guard since I am born and raised in Pittsburgh and I told him as much. He said that he was told that I moved out of town and was pretty surprised to see me… strange brew! Sounds like someone was getting their stories crossed, or at least spinning a couple of yarns!

Kevin mentioned where he heard it and it sounded like he got that info as an explanation for why I might have made some career decisions… tisk, tisk, tisk…

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After a masterful period by Hank Lundqvist, he surrendered a goal to Evgeni Malkin with :12 second remaining in the period. The goal was assisted by Sidney Crosby, who has now extended his scoring streak to a career high 20 games long. The duo entered the zone with Malkin carrying the puck, he slid the biscuit to Crosby, who quickly got it back to him and sent him in behind the defense… Malkin went to the net, made a backhand, forehand move and tucked the puck around Hank…

1-0 Penguins…

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Of all people, Zbynek Michalek is leading this game in shots with five. Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are tied with three a piece. Cy Young candidate Brian Boyle is leading the Rangers with two shots… (see what I did there… look at his stat line…)

Brent Johnson and Henrik Lundqvist have played very well thus far with Lundqvist seeing most of the action… the Rangers goaltender has faced 15 shots through one and allowed only the Malkin goal.

The tempers seemed to flare a bit a times during the period. It will be interesting to see how things play out as this game goes on…

Stay tuned…

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By the way, I have been meaning to mention… the ARE YOU READY Penguin that is shown on the Jumbotron during the opening of the game has been wearing holiday regalia! They now have him dressed in an elf’s outfit and IT IS GLORIOUS!

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Ryan Callahan is out of this game with a broken hand. He was injured by a Kris Letang shot early in the first period…

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The Penguins have come out flying in the second period… Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin almost immediately got a two on one break, but Geno Malkin somehow lost the puck. It was one of those situations in which you ask…”How did the Rags allow that to happen… ” only to ask yourself seconds later “How did Geno blow that?”

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Chris Conner is having another nice game… I really just love the kid’s effort. He flies all over the ice, fights for pucks and almost always makes something happen when his line is on the ice…

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Matt Cooke heads to the box for cross checking… Rangers PP hits the ice…

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The Penguins have sold out another one… 18,242 in the house tonight.

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Avery up to his tricks yet again…. this time he cross-checked Max Talbot from behind, something that he did to Malkin earlier… he was called for charging on the play giving the Penguins another power play… When Max Talbot got up and challenged him, some shoving ensued… Arron Asham came in to challenge Avery, but he would have none of it…

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Does Geno look less than 100% to anyone else out there? Not really fighting for pucks tonight etc… wonder if he was shaken up a bit when he was knocked down early in the game by Avery…

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Two periods in the books here in Pittsburgh and the Penguins are holding onto a 1-0 lead… the only goal scored by Evgeni Malkin. Though the Penguins have managed 22 shots on goal, this is very reminiscent of the defensive struggles between these two teams back in the middle part of the decade…

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Zbynek Michalek now has five shots on goal to lead the game. Letang and the Rangers Boyle are tied for second in the game with four shots on goal…

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Though Geno isn’t looking 100%, a I mentioned above, he is getting to shooting positions throughout the game. He did that last night as well. Great seeing him get into those key areas in which he has been successful in the past…

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The Rags have held the Penguins to one shot through the first four minutes of the third period.

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Well, Arron Asham finally got Sean Avery to toss the mitts… it was a very underwhelming battle, as many of Avery’s scraps are. Not a lot of punches thrown… unless you count the ones that Avery threw as Asham was falling to the ice. I swear, I would probably dislike him a lot less if he wouldn’t do things like throw punches while a guy is laying on the ice.

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The Penguins just dodged a bullet… Kris Letang made a rare mistake with the puck and allowed it to go through him. His partner wasn’t in the vicinity and the Rags got themselves in on a two on one… somehow Brent Johnson and Brooks Orpik got the the puck knocked away, but it deflected off of Johnson and almost in behind him. He was all turned around, but the puck flittered harmlessly into the corner…

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Brent Johnson just made the save of the evening… making a huge stop on Brian Boyle from point blank range right in front of the net and then robbing Marian Gaborik on the rebound… stops like that are precisely why he is one of the best back-ups in the league. Tremendous stuff from a guy who hasn’t laid skate on the ice of a “real” game in quite awhile…

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Matt Cooke just got whistled for tripping Derek Stepan… not sure that is the correct call, in that it wasn’t really a trip. Certainly there was a penalty there, but it wasn’t a trip…

Just like last night, an ill timed penalty by the Penguins results in something bad. Erik Christensen skated up the left wing with the puck and lashed that wicked wrister of his into the the short side corner… what a shot…

1-1

Then moments later the Birds did a poor job of clearing the front of the net and they allowed another goal off of the stick of Alex Frolov… he knocked the puck towards Johnson, a scrum of bodies was in front… when the rebound bounced free to him, he was the only one able to get a stick on it. He quickly flipped it past a fallen Johnson…

2-1 Rags… what a turn of events…

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Malkin was a man possessed on the last series and it resulted in a Penguins goal… albeit one that has been disallowed. He was all over the zone, stayed on once the puck was cleared and danced into the zone… he made a great toe drag around a Rangers defender and threw the puck to the net from a 90 degree angle… Sidney Crosby deflected the puck in the front of the net and put it past Lunqvist, though the referee almost immediately waived it off. Pascal Dupuis was bring pushed by Michal Rozsival but did make contact with Hank… done deal, no goal.

Another instance of the goalie interference call being made without a penalty… never cared for that one. If its interference on the tender, give him two…

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Things are getting very chippy here… scrums a plenty! Still can’t get my head around the fact that Engelland or Godard were not dressed for either this game or the one last night…

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The Rags have just put themselves up 3-1… crazy… Artem Anisimov just danced into the zone and fired a wrister across his body and in…

Stay tuned for more post game, as I am headed down to the rooms for post game reactions…

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About Brian Metzer

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Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Brian Metzer has been covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and National Hockey League since 2004. He is the host of Penguins Live Weekly, a show that airs Saturday mornings on 105.9 the X and iHeart Radio. He serves as the Pittsburgh Penguins correspondent for NHL Network Radio on SiriusXM, and is the NHL and Penguins correspondent for the Beaver County Times. Metzer is also a contributing writer for NHL.com and is the primary contributor for this site www.fromthepoint.com.

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