snickfic: black and white image of Sidney Crosby, text "Crosby" (sid)
That was an exceedingly satisfying weekend of hockey.

I mean, aside from Dumo getting injured, Rust getting boarded followed by like FIVE MINUTES of concussion protocol, and Sid getting punched repeatedly in the head bareknuckled while he was down on the ice and couldn't move.

But ASIDE FROM THAT, wow. That was great hockey. Without Geno, even!
snickfic: (Buffy close)
I am so sad, you guys. I'm really, really hoping it was less awful than it looked when he was trying and failing to get up off the ice. Latest news is that he was taken to the hospital on a stretcher.

(For context, including video.)
snickfic: close-up photo of Marc-Andre Fleury (flower close)
Goals! And Phil! And Bonino for the empty netter that just took the heart out of the Caps, I suspect (although not as much as if Beau's had gone in, too, instead of ringing off the post)! And FLOWER OMG.

Is this the turning point? Oh please, oh please.

This actually makes us 5-1 out of the last six games, which feels wrong. So many of this wins felt like luck and fingernails. But this one we earned. Well, Flower earned, and then some of the goal-scorers helped, too.

A stat: The Penguins have scored 16 goals. That’s the lowest total in franchise history after nine games, one less than the 17 they scored in 1970 and 2003. They’ve allowed 17 goals. That’s also the lowest total in franchise history after nine games, two better than the 19 they gave up in 2009. -- Jonathan Bombulie, Trib Live

Sounds about right.
snickfic: text: Sign number 23 that you're obsessed with hockey: you think the proper way to spell the plural of leaf" is "leafs" (hockey)
Be better, Pens. Meanwhile my secondary team (because apparently I have one of those now) lost 6-2, geez.

At least we now know that Olli cries at Pokemon, Geno cries at sad endings (because he's "emotional guy" BLESS HIS HEART), and Geno and Gonch diagram plays on walls. ALL is not lost.
snickfic: (fleury)
And our season is over. Goods:
* We barely scraped into the playoffs, but we went head-to-head against the best team in the league (by points, anyway) and fought them every inch.
* Every loss was a one-goal loss. We held them to two goals per game for all four of their wins, the second time in NHL history a series has been won this way.
* We did this with one top four defenseman, a bottom pairing, a seventh D, and two AHL call-ups.
* Fleury was spectacular. Apparently #fleurydeservedbetter was trending in Pittsburgh last night, and it wasn't a lie.
* We fought SO HARD. We made mistakes, and the Rangers made us pay, and we took so many more penalties than we should, but my gosh, we left it ALL on the ice. It's too bad we couldn't get another bounce or two go our way, because history is going to remember this series as NYR trouncing us 4-1, but SO MUCH is missing from that metric.
* Now we get to go heal.
* Next year: Letang, Maatta, Pouliot. Think about that.

Bads:
* That Lovejoy trade isn't looking any better than it did to start with.
* That Perron trade looks a lot worse than it did to start with.
* Poor Ehrhoff. Don't think he got out of this season what he'd hoped.
* Flower deserved better. Yeah.

That's a lot of good mixed in with the bad, but I'm still so sad that this how we went out. I'm going to keep being sad for a while.

I'm collecting post-game and post-season links that I think are worth reading (ie, not stupid).
ECQ Game 5 – This is the end. Pens lose 2-1 (OT), lose series 4-1, by Meesh Shanmugam
Losing always hurts, but the Penguins didn’t lose their “composure”, didn’t have to deal with a Fleury meltdown, and did keep the series close despite what a 4-1 series loss may suggest. These are all valuable memories and lessons moving forward for the team. For once, they will go into the next postseason not with thoughts of how they failed, or blew it, or melted down. Next postseason will be built from a hard-fought series despite not having the necessary pieces to win. In a transition year, the Penguins may have built a foundation for another franchise upswing. There are plenty of reasons for hope next year.

Penguins Season Ends With Fourth 2-1 Loss to Rangers, by Angie Carducci
A team that went into a month-long freefall down the stretch and snuck into the playoffs by beating the league’s worst team on the last day of the regular season found a way to compete within a goal of the Rangers for five consecutive games.

Penguins - Rangers - Game 5 postgame, by Seth Rorabaugh
-This was the best they could do. These Pittsburgh Penguins put everything they could into this series. They darn near played it perfectly within their limitations. But they were extremely limited. When Taylor Chorney, Brian Dumoulin and Scott Wilson are in the lineup instead of Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff and Pascal Dupuis, the same expectations simply can not be met. Yes, injuries happen to every team. But they simply crippled this team.

-One of the real shames of this brief but fierce five-game battle is that the brilliance of Fleury in this series will nearly be forgotten. He was the main reason this team got into the playoffs and he was the only reason they had a sniff at even beating the Rangers in any of these games. With two consecutive sturdy playoff seasons under his belt, there should be not doubt in his status as THE franchise goaltender for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Game 5 Impressions: Rangers 2, Pens 1 (OT), by Sam Kasan and Michelle Crechiolo
My biggest takeaway from Game 5 is that the Pens truly did leave it all out on the ice – especially in the third period and overtime. And while I know there are no moral victories in the playoffs and the fact remains that Pittsburgh’s season is over, with their backs against the ropes they fought valiantly and put forth one heck of an effort to try and extend this series.
snickfic: (fleury)
We're in the playoffs! My gosh, that Sabres game was so much work. But Flower got his shutout to lead the league, first time a Pens goalie has ever done that. I'm so proud. *sniff*

Honestly I just really wanted us to get in, and now we're here, so good job us despite everything. Now we have a solid four days of rest without any games, and when we get back we'll have a full six D again. And hey, at least we have no expectations on us, which is novel and maybe a kind of luxury. We're the underdog, for the first time in ages.

What follows are a bunch of links for my own encouragement; they all propose that maybe possibly the Pens aren't going to be a total disaster in round one against the Presidents' Trophy-winning Rangers. (Not included: the article whose writer thinks the Pens will get swept.)

Pittsburgh vs New York is Process vs PDO (hey, if ever-cranky Ryan Wilson is offering hope, that means something)
Stanley Cup Favorites: Who Are the Real Contenders - somehow the Pens are at the very top of this list, although it doesn't account for recent injuries at all
Switch Flipping Time
NHL Playoffs: 5 ways the Pittsburgh Penguins could pull an upset
Why Not the Pittsburgh Penguins?
Pens vs Rangers By the Numbers
snickfic: (fleury)
Okay, offense is dying, penalties are being called at historic lows, but as long as we still have Mike Smith in the NHL, there's still entertainment value to be had. Because Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, ongoing student of the butt goal in all its forms, scored an own goal last night off Brandon Sutter's butt:

GIF EVIDENCE )

It's just a really terrible attempt at clearing the puck by Smith, and yet it's so wonderful. My favorite part is definitely Sutter turning around, seeing the puck in the net, and going, "Oh yay! Goal for us!" Him standing there flat-footed with his arms in the air: best.

Post-Gazette David Molinari was on the scene after the game, and he reports, Sutter, on Mike Smith's clearing attempt that hit his rear end and landed in the Arizona net: "That’s my touch around the net."

Or his tushy. Whichever.
snickfic: close-up photo of Marc-Andre Fleury (flower close)
Apparently those are the two things I'm fannish about right now. Huh.

I finished Agent Carter's first season a week or so ago. Overall, I was utterly delighted by it; it's easily my favorite MCU offering. (Second would probably be CA:TWS.) With Peggy in particular it kept not doing exactly the thing I was afraid of it doing, and this pleased me quite a lot.

finale thoughts )

--

As for hockey, wow what a game last night. I am kind of cracking up that we lost to the Avs and then beat two of the best teams in the west on back-to-back nights. The last third of that game last night was super tense as it became clear that the first goal was going to be the only goal.

I cannot say enough about Flower. People were saying that was his best game of the year so far, and I have to agree. He looked so good, so calm, such great position and rebound control. None of those LA shots looked even close to going in, despite the Pens' defensive breakdowns.

All that, and he shut out LA both games this season. I am so smug.

Other things that happened )

And this after running all over the top of the Ducks the night before. Good work team.
snickfic: (fleury)
* I didn't think it was possible for us to get MORE INJURED, but behold, we are MORE INJURED. No Ehrhoff, no Martin. Three of our D were under the age of 23 (and that's not even counting Olli, who it looks like may very well be out for the season with his shoulder *sob*). Please note three of our top 4 D are out.

* On the plus side, we're getting to exercise all that defensive depth! Like Pouliot scoring a goal in his first NHL game.

* On the other hand, the defense's defense, hoo boy. Flower stopped 45 shots out of 46. ALL HAIL FLOWER, but dude, that is crazypants. We should not be making him do that, like, ever.

* But hey, Vezina, anyone? Fleury's 3rd in the NHL for save %, fifth for goals allowed, second in wins, and tops in the league with six shutouts. It's pretty much him and Rinne in the standings right now.

* In other news, Letang got in a fight (!), Downie got 17 more PIM, and Geno roughed up baby Panther rookie Aaron Ekblad, among the many, many crimes and misdemeanors of this game.

* In conclusion, FLOWER.
snickfic: close-up photo of Marc-Andre Fleury (flower close)
Pens 4, Tampa Bay 2. Wow, that was a game. We were SO TERRIBLE that first period, I really wasn't sure we were even going to get a goal. And then we got four, including a short-handed goal for Sutter and two first NHL goals, one for Rust and one for Dumoulin. Good job, kiddies.

But meanwhile in that first period Fleury was SO GOOD. Wow. As soon as a gif turns up of that one really spectacular head-to-post save, I will link. EDIT: Here it is. You finally get a really good look at about the 20 second mark.

I just looked up his numbers, and he's .926 for the season so far, which if he maintains will be his best season EVER - even better than 2007-2008, which all the naysayers call a fluke. There's evidence that suggests we're seeing more this season than statistical variance, however. Mike Darnay at Pensburgh calls it the Mike Bales effect, which includes a graph that shows both how much more consistent Fleury's play has been since Bales was hired as the goalie coach and how his play is on the whole trending upward.

I've seen discussion of the fact that Pittsburgh, cash-strapped as it was when Fleury arrived, never really found him a goalie coach in those early years, and how the guy who eventually filled the position before Bales was not so much a coach as a cheerleader. So what Fleury's getting with Bales may very well be the first NHL-level goaltender coaching he's ever had - and hey, it only took nine years in the organization to get it. It means he finally has someone helping him consciously develop his positional play, his puck playing skills, and similar technical skills to supplement the famous athleticism that even all the detracters agree he has.

(Just think if he could have gotten that kind of instruction five years ago. Ouch.)

So basically, Fleury's best years may very well be ahead of him. Certainly all signs point to him being in one of them right now. As someone deeply invested in the Fleury Redemption Story, I could not be happier.
snickfic: black and white image of Sidney Crosby, text "Crosby" (sid)
Everyone is injured. By the end of the game our top six wingers were Spaling/Downie and Comeau/Megna. Hornqvist went out after a hit in the second period and didn't come back. Also, Crosby missed an open net, the Pens got their first second-period shot on goal twelve minutes into the period, Greiss misplayed the puck on that last Vancouver goal, and the Pen with the most shots by the end of the game was Craig Adams.

Everything is terrible.
snickfic: close-up photo of Marc-Andre Fleury (flower close)
Not a typo. So, this was fun.

* Devils scored nine seconds into the game. We recovered.

* Seven Pens scored goals, including members of all four lines. (Downie scored his first as a Pen! Also: Adams!!) Twelve Pens got at least one point.

* Our power play was 3/7, and that's including the last one, which was played by the PP unit otherwise known as "the fourth line and bottom D pairing." (Announcers said Zach Sill was all grins when he came off the ice. Those were surely his first NHL PP minutes ever.) Sample sizes, regress to the mean, yada yada, but in the meantime our PP is sixteen percentage points ahead of the next PP in the league.

* And hey, our PK has killed of 18 in a row now, tying us for 12th! Not bad for a team that was worst in the league 4-5 games ago.

* All the goalies were bad. Flower was marginally less bad (0.842) than Schneider (pulled after second period, 0.783) and Clemmensen (0.700 - maybe should have left Schneider in, eh?). The difference was that our offense was having a heck of a lot more fun than theirs was.

* If we hadn't already passed the point of adding insult to injury, that final goal by Crosby on the breakaway surely did.

Kings on Thursday. I'd say they'll probably give us a harder time, but they've been losing to some pretty mediocre teams, so we shall see.
snickfic: photo, Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save (pens)
5-3 Flyers.

On the plus side:
* Our fourth line scored! Twice! There'd been some concern about our new, supposedly improved depth not scoring, but hopefully that concern's been put to rest. Also, first Pens goals for both Spaling and Goc.

* No Pens injuries (despite Sutter getting a puck to the cheekbone - betcha that'll bruise impressively).

* Our PK was at 100% again.

That's it. Those are all the positives. :PPP

As Anne Shirley says, today is a new game with no mistakes in it. Yet.
snickfic: black and white image of Sidney Crosby, text "Crosby" (sid)
* Another 3-point game for Sid. That puts him on pace for 246 points for the season. Ain't math great?

* Okay, I approve of this Hornqvist dude. I say we keep him. Both Thursday and tonight he was so active down low, it was fantastic. And he had a career-high SOG tonight, which bodes well for the "He's no Neal, but until Neal got to Pittsburgh he wasn't Neal either" theory.

* Speaking of Neal, here's my possible favorite commentary on the game: After Fleury freezes a puck, Clarkson tries to agitate Hornqvist by punching his shoulder. Hornqvist just smiled and skated away. We have doubts James Neal would have had the same composed reaction.

As a friend said, making fun of James Neal is always good.

* Goal for Geno! Two assists for Geno! He's looking much better than he did on Thursday (after which he gave this downer intervew).

* Playing the Leafs means we get a Steve Dangle reaction video tomorrow. Have you met Steve Dangle? He is a treasure.

HOCKEY

Oct. 9th, 2014 08:25 pm
snickfic: black and white image of Sidney Crosby, text "Crosby" (sid)
IT'S BACK

:DDDDDD

Duper comes back from knee surgery and gets 4 points, Olli comes back from shoulder surgery and gets 3 points, Crosby comes back an injured wrist and undisclosed preseason injuries and scores 2 goals (aka more than he got in last year's playoffs), newbies Hornqvist and Comeau got goals, and first-time NHL coach wins his first game! \o/

On the down side, ugh, Flower. Flower, I love you, now STAY IN YOUR CREASE.

Talk about a rip-roaring start to the season.

(Do people want me to spoiler cut game reactions, either because of spoiling or in order to avoid Even More Hockey? Otherwise I won't bother.)
snickfic: (Default)
* I will never stop being charmed that the whole team calls Fleury 'Flower.' FLOWER. And Beau Bennett is Sunshine, I am not even kidding. Hockey is a super serious, super tough sport, yo. (It is not a super serious sport.)

* Speaking of Flower, tonight was not as good as the two shutouts, but we will take it. And hey, 145 minutes of playing time without getting scored on is nothing to sneeze at. He set a Penguins record there. Even tonight, his save percentage was still better than Lundqvist, who is statistically a better goalie and considered one of the best in the league. Not in this playoff series, though. Lundqvist's defense is not backing him up.

* This was more a story of Rangers losing than Penguins winning, but again, we will take it. We did apply a lot more pressure than most of last game, where we pretty much sat back with our two goals and let Flower save our bacon. Geno had a great no-look goal this time, and we got a short-handed goal off a Rangers power play, too.

* Geno had a pretty great game in general. A goal, an assist, he was racing down the ice on the ice and making things happen all game, and he had thirteen (!) shot attempts. Yay, Geno.

* Brian Gibbons has been distinguishing himself, too. He is our representative tiny-but-speedy player, and he did a lot of speeding tonight, including a setup for another one of those goals.

* Orpik back after missing five games for an injury, only to go out again in the first period on a completely unrelated injury. Bummer.

* Letang looks really, really good out there for a guy who had a stroke four months ago. Letang looks good out there, period. Except for his hair; that's pretty unfortunate.

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