Sunday, February 22, 2009

Busy Day In The Burgh

Sorry for the inexcusable lack of a post yesterday, but all sorts of stuff happening in the Burgh, in addition to the usual requirements of the college student's weekend (read: drinking heavily at the bar) made yesterday go by in a blur. So let's recap, in a sorta-chronological way what went down in the last 24 hours:

-The Penguins took the early shift, matching up with the hated Philadelphia Flyers. The game got off to its usual chippy start. The Pens were down 1-zip at the end of the first, but it was gonna take a lot more than that to win this game, so there was still plenty of hope. It was also good to see yet another Godard-Cote fight. Always a good old time there. The second period turned into a dandy, though, as the Pens threw up a 3 spot on the Cryers thanks to unanswered goals from Sid, Geno, and Russie. It was a hell of a period and you had to feel damn good. The Flower was looking good and the D was playing some solid puck. Maybe this Dan Bylsma is the right guy for the job after all.

In fashion typical of this Penguins season, though, this sucker was far from over. Ryan Whitney, who I think was victimized by some Body Snatchers and somehow his body ended up with the abilities of Josef Melichar, practically throws the puck into his own net when he tosses one to Mike Richards on the PK. The Flower gets pwned. The D craps the bed some more and after the Flyers get the game tied up at 4, the Kid has to go to work. Thanfully, Marty Biron momentarily loses his mind, tries to play a puck that comes into his own zone, for some dumb reason picks it up with his glove halfway out to the damn blue line even though Pascal and the Kid are charging and this would be a delay of game penalty. He then somehow only gets dumber, and instead of just taking a two-minute penalty he tosses the puck aside even though he's at least 20 feet from the goal and two Pens are in the zone. Dupuis pokes it to Sid who redirects it into an empty net. Sid goes bananas after scoring just to piss the Filthadelphia fans off a little more. I love it. 5-4 Pens. Ball game.

For the Pens this was a ha-yooge W. They are still 4 points out of 8th, but 8th is no longer the hot Florida Panthers or the tough Buffalo Sabres. Nope, its now the someone-needs-to-take-them-out-back-and-put-them-out-of-their-misery New York Rangers. I'm more worried about catching Carolina than New York. That team's a damn mess.

The Pens played again today in a game that literally just wrapped. We'll get to that in a bit.

-We had a nice little lull yesterday after the big Pens W until 7:00 when Pitt took on the DePaul Detroit Lions...I mean the DePaul Blue Demons. Hmm...let's see Pitt is 24-2, 11-2 in the Big East and number 4 in the country and playing at home in an arena that gives one of the biggest homecourt advantages in basketball. DePaul is 0-for-their-life in the Big East and probably couldn't beat some of the Pitt branch campus basketball teams right now. Needless to say, the expectations for a good game were quite low and they weren't even fulfilled.

DeJuan Blair was a one-man wrecking crew early. He had 50 rebounds in the first half. Maybe not, but it felt like it. The guy is an absolute beast, the best offensive rebounder I have ever seen in college hoops. The Grizzly Blair would play just 23 minutes in the game, putting up a disgusting 20-18 including an obscene 10 offensive boards. You know how many offensive boards the entire DePaul squad had? 4!?! What a mismatch.

This game got so out of hand they even let Gary McGhee play 13 minutes! Jamie emptied the bench at the end, getting minutes for interesting youngsters Ashton Gibbs and Nas Robinson and putting in Tim Frye, Sean Brown, and Ryan Tiesi in the game. This game was so lopsided I think Cassin Diggs could have even gotten in had he not, you know, bolted. The final score may only say a 19 point lead but Pitt could have won this by 50 had Jamie not called the dogs off in the first half. Pitt now travels to Providence for a Tuesday night game against a frisky Friars squad that shouldn't be slept on. But you're asking yourself after this game, where will the Panthers be ranked? 3 probably? Maybe they sneak up to 2? Well, the college hoops scene had a few surprises for us:

-The North Carolina Overrateds... I mean Tar Heels (man I'm having trouble with team nicknames today) took on the Maryland Terps in the Terps' home at the Comcast Center. UM may have some recent tradition but its only been a so-so year for Gary Williams and crew. Not last night it wasn't. Greivis Vasquez blew the doors off the Heels with a sick triple-double line of 35-11-10. And he's a swingman guard. Damn. DeJuan Blair would never allow an opposing guard to snag 11 boards. But Tyler Hansbrough is soft and wildly overrated and the Terps were clearly none too impressed by the Messiah's weak sauce 11-11 night. 11 points in 34 minutes in a game against an underdog on the road when your team needs you? What a stiff. Anyway this sucker goes to the OT and the Terps finish off the Heels 88-85 to slay one giant. What about the other, the Oklahoma Sooners?

-Blake Griffin got knocked silly early on by the Longhorns and you knew that was going to cause some serious issues for the Sooners. Turns out he had a concussion. I can't knock him for not playing through that, that's a toughie. Still the Sooners put up a good effort. Some dude named Willie Warren lays 27 on the Horns. I wasn't aware anyone else knew how to score for the Sooners, I thought it was just Blake. It wasn't enough though as AJ Abrams goes off for 23 points including some serious clutch-ness down the stretch. Longhorns take down the Sooners 73-68. You know what that means, folks. In almost all likelihood the Pitt Panthers will ascend back to the number 1 spot in the country come Monday afternoon. This will be the third week of the season that Pitt is at number 1, pretty amazing considering that it had never happened before in school history. Pretty exciting time to be a Pitt hoops fan.

-And then, there is the bad news. After a glorious day yesterday that left me feeling joyous and wonderful as I threw back a few Hoegaardens, this afternoon was not quite the same. I woke up only about an hour before the Pens game kicked off at 12:30. Perfect. Just enough time to grab a quick shower, call in my Pizza Steak Sub order to Uncle Sam's, trek through the snowy Oakland streets to pick it up and make it back to the apartment in time for the game. Unfortunately, that would be about as happy as I'd get.

Freaking Ovechkin buried one early for the Caps and whooped it up like a D-bag, like always. The Pens evened it up as the suddenly not-terrible Max Talbot tallied one, but the Caps took a 2-1 lead before the period wrapped. The second period would go downhill quickly. The Flower gave up 3 ugly goals in the second before being yanked for Matty Garon. Yikes. The Pens would get a weird goal from the Gonch, who has been very impressive since he returned. I didn't think Gonch would be able to come back so quickly and be so damned good, but he's already taken back his mantle of the top D-man on the squad.

Anyway, the Pens weren't able to get much accomplished in the third, although we did finally establish that, yes, Matty Garon is capable of making a save. He actually wasn't terrible and I could maybe see him getting a start in the next couple games, especially if Flower continues to be so underwhelming. All in all, not a bad couple day stretch, though if the Pens could have somehow managed to wrangle 3 points out of this weekend instead of just 2, that would have been nice. Still, the number 1 team in college hoops will soon call Pittsburgh home, and the Pens are at least keeping us interested and entertained with a more upbeat up-tempo hockey style.

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