I'm heading to Pittbsurgh this Saturday and I had grand plans for Game 6. Head out to a drinkery, watch the game with a crowd, soak in that hometown atmosphere. But it looks like the Pens have put the kibosh on my grand scheme.
The game was heated early on, with the Rangers slowly but surely folding as time ticked away. In Sunday's game, Pierre McGuire between the benches said the chatter was going fast and furious, but of course he couldn't tell us what the players were saying. Not during an over-the-air broadcast, at least. I would pay very good American money to watch a pay-per-view special of a hockey game that's fully miked with live audio throughout. I know it would be an amazing viewing experience.
Though not in Game 4 Thursday, because the Rangers probably won't be doing too much talking. Jagr should be all screamed out after last night. He was barking so much during the game that his vertical mustache almost fell off. (SIDENOTE: Which mustache is more ridiculous? Jagr's up and downer or Ryan Hollweg's 19th century dockworker?)
Speaking of yapping, at the 6:00 mark of the third, Jagr drove the net with the puck, which led to a scrum around Fleury. This time Jagr did not sit on Fleury so the puck could go in. Not liking the early (perfectly on time) whistle, Brandon Dubinsky yelled at the ref and then gave him a dismissive wave. The ref was clearly heard to say, "Fuck yourself." Earlier, Dubinsky jumped a faceoff before the linesman even had the puck. When he was thrown out of the circle, he slammed the dot with his stick blade and bitched at the linesman until he was finally out of the circle. The linesman just shrugged at him. Lotta chirping for a rookie, but I guess nobody cares when you're not the best player in the league.
In fairness, I can see why the Rangers are so mad at the officials. After all, they've only gotten 15 power plays in the series. Every time a Ranger falls down, one of the refs draws attention to him by giving the Penguins a penalty. And that is embarrassing. But it's not the officials' fault the Rangers are 1 for 15 on the man advantage, it's their fault. And Hal Gill's fault.
And Jordan Staal's fault. During a 5-on-3 on three early in the second, Staal had one great clear from around the net and then completely bulled his way out of the zone through two Rangers to run out the 5-on-3. The first 5-on-3. The Rangers blew the second as shortly thereafter as well.
But the Rangers could've played this entire game up two men and still not won. A post for Gomez, 39 shots that weren't all that challenging, Straka trying to go five hole on Fleury even though he was out in the right faceoff circle. New York's offensive hex makes Marian Hossa look like he's on fire. (A goal and PP assist for Hossa last night, incidentally. God, he's so terrible! Let's get Colby back!)
So...I unno. What else can be said? Ovechkin will probably win the Hart, but Malkin is clearly better than him. A better shot, better defensively, better passer, better all around. Yes, a better shot. Ovechkin shoots 10 times a game from every where in the zone. When Malkin shoots, it goes in.
And the series is basically over. There was so much talk about the strong Ranger defense and Henrik Lundqvist. Who is good on that defense? Dan Girardi? Christian Backman? The ghost of Jeff Beukeboom? All I'm seeing is wave after wave of Penguins washing over Lundqvist with little to no resistance from the Blueshirt blue line. You tell me what's so good about this defense.
And to keep the metaphor going, Lundqvist collapsed like a sand castle last night. 12 saves on 17 shots? That's not going to get it done in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Or in a pickup street hockey game.
About the only two areas of concerns were on the last two Ranger goals. On their second goal, Scuderi was totally and completely pushed out of the way by Gomez. And on the third, Jagr beat Fleury seven hole, the second time this series a puck has slipped between his funny bone and ribcage.
Is that it? For the series, yes. For this post, no. There's still Sean Avery, remember? In the last two minutes, Rob Scuderi covered the puck along the end boards. Avery got on top of him and raked his face, fully knowing Scuderi hasn't had a fight in his NHL career. After the Pens won the following faceoff - a key faceoff - Scuderi cleared the puck down the ice. Avery chucked him in the back of the head.
You know, when Hal Gill is around, Avery hides behind a linesman and sticks his head down his jersey to complete the turtle effect. Rob Scuderi is around and suddenly Avery is JCVD. Totally fake tough guy. When he was in 8th grade, he played with 6th graders and threw his weight around to feel tough.
Sounds like he got his, though.
***UPDATE*** The Rangers announced that Avery will miss the rest of the season. AKA, one more game.