Posts Tagged ‘Jaroslav Halak’

Blues 1, Penguins 0 (OT): Paul Martin Wears The Scarlet T

October 24, 2010

This was a fairly even game from both sides; the Blues absolutely dominated the Penguins in the first, outshooting them 7-3 with Brent Johnson turning aside the Blues’ multiple good chances, and the Pens responded by outshooting St. Louis 19-7 in the second, with Jaroslav Halak responding likewise. The game remained scoreless after a moderately wide-open third period, and the Blues finally cashed in in Overtime after Paul Martin committed a brutal turnover in the corner of the Pens’ defensive zone, which T.J. Oshie centered to a wide-open Erik Johnson for a game-ending wrister.

The turnover was unfortunate for Martin, who hadn’t played a particularly strong game to that point (he and Ben Lovejoy were the only Penguins who didn’t register a shot), but under most circumstances, the gaffe would’ve been merely one of several game elements we’d be discussing after a run-of-the-mill win or loss. In a 0-0 game, though, where both goalies were playing absolutely lights-out, Martin’s turnover directly gave the Blues their second point.

The game story would’ve been different if Halak had slipped up or if the Pens’ power play had managed a goal on their four opportunities or if the Blues had lost their legs in the third playing on back-to-back nights, but in the end, Martin had the puck cleanly on his stick, failed to make a play with it, and it ended up in the back of the Pens’ net. Pittsburgh still earned a point against a team that’s now won its last 10 home games, so the game wasn’t a total loss, but with the way Brent Johnson performed yet again, the Pens would’ve liked to have come away with two.

Fortunately for Montreal fans, Carey Price managed his first shutout in two years last night, so they didn’t have to see the Halak highlights and shoot themselves in the face while booing.

8 Obvious Observations Heading Into Game 3

May 4, 2010

Pens/Canadiens Game 3 is tonight. Skipping the long winded “there’s no reason the Pens shouldn’t crush this team” Game 2 recap, here are 8 very obvious things I’d like to see happen in the series:

1. Crosby needs to score.

2. Malkin needs to score.

3. Fleury needs to play better. He’s quietly allowed 6 goals on 52 shots this series for a Save Pct. of .885.

4. Guerin and Kunitz need to do anything, ever.

5. Brooks Orpik needs to not leave dudes open in the slot then take pointless holding penalties behind the net, directly resulting in two goals.

6. Alexei Ponikarosvky has been playing more noticeably this series than he did against Ottawa, but it’d be awesome if he ever found himself in the same zipcode as the scoresheet.

7. Hal Gill needs to not be allowed to randomly bear hug dudes.

8. Halak? Whatever. Fucking score on him.

Penguins Vs. Canadiens: The Unbearable Lightness Of Being Confident

April 30, 2010

I find every reason to be worried about the Penguins at all times. This prevailing mindset exists in all fans of all sports teams, regardless of the quality or recent performance of that team, for two main reasons:

1) As a devoted fan to a particular team, one is uniquely privy to that team’s subtle weaknesses.

Commentators and casual Penguin-watchers might remark that Marc-Andre Fleury is one of the best clutch goaltenders in the NHL, or that the Pens are loaded with offensive firepower on the blue line with Gonchar, Letang and Goligoski, and they wouldn’t be wrong. People who watch and root for the Penguins on a nightly basis, however, know that Fleury is capable of going into “Fleury…what??” mode and letting in unscreened wrist shots from any concessions stand on any given night, and that Gonchar, Letang and Goligoski all occasionally forget how to play the sport of hockey and become unable to stand in front of other human beings while in their defensive zone. These concerns aren’t extreme pessimism on the part of fans; they’re legitimate aspects that we notice and worry about because we’ve seen them happen hundreds of times.

2) Fans are always reserved about praising their own teams too highly for fear of jinxing them by celebrating prematurely.

Part of this is in a joking, supernatural “don’t want to jinx them!” kind of way, which people don’t actually believe (but dammit, we’re not deviating from it in the playoffs), but on a more practical level, fans also don’t want to appear overconfident and gloat and then have their team ultimately lose, which would make the situation far less digestible on all levels. By curbing our expectations in advance, we give ourselves an emotional safety net if our team loses, rather than the devastating free-fall we’d experience if we were positive the team was going to win and they didn’t.

Both of these reasons are completely legitimate and almost completely universal — you want to scream at Yankee fans when they get nervous when Mariano Rivera comes into the 9th inning of a game when the team’s up 3-1 in the playoff series, but that’s just what fans do. Who wants to be confident and rational about their own team? Douchebags, that’s who. Also rational people, I guess. No, only douchebags. There – proved it!

My point is, I am very much one of these always-worried people. I am extremely one of these people. And yet, having explained in depth all of this jargon about all fans making themselves worried at all times, I am extremely, almost dangerously confident about the Penguins heading into the Montreal series, and here’s why:

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OLYMPIC HOCKEY ROUNDUP: Pavol Demitra’s Ridiculous Shootout Winner Against Russia

February 19, 2010

Before we get to a couple quick points about Olympic Hockey so far, check out ( / rewatch) this clip of Pavol Demitra’s shootout winning goal in Slovakia’s 2-1 win over Russia last night (click on the pic below to watch – Demitra comes on at 1:55, but be sure to check out the amazing super slo-mo at 2:41):

Some thoughts on the first few Olympic games:

– During NBC’s postgame of Canada’s shootout win over Switzerland, one of the analysts (forget who) waxed poetic that Mike Babcock’s decision to re-use Crosby in the shootout was his statement to Crosby that “you’re gonna be the one who has to carry us to Gold.” I understand that Crosby’s become the personification of Canada’s ravenous Gold medal addiction, but the idea that Crosby or anyone else has to carry the goddamn Canadian Olympic Team — a squad comprised of 15 or so of the world’s top 25 players — is hilarious, and foreshadows exactly how bad the anti-Crosby firestorm is gonna be if this team loses in the Elimination Round.

For this reason, while I’d love to see the U.S. go all the way, I’m thinking it’d just be a lot easier on all of us if Canada wins so we don’t have to deal with a 3.8 million square mile chunk of land pissed off at the Penguin captain for the rest of eternity. The East Coast of the U.S. is plenty big enough.

Moving along…

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Penguins 6, Canadiens 1: Pens Manage To Contain Team Of Easily-Containable Dudes

October 29, 2009

Montreal appears to be right on track for their annual low-seeded playoff finish, early playoff exit, and consequent coach pressure and firing in December of 2010. The Canadiens have been playing better defensively lately, at least as far as I can derive from tickerbar scores, but the Penguins absolutely manhandled them; Montreal appeared to be playing no discernible system, the supposedly red-hot Jaroslav Halak turned in a pedestrian performance, and the Canadiens’ Gomez-Gionta-Cammalleri “Legion of OK Dudes” combination was far from terror-inspiring.

In short, Montreal resembles a better-coached ’08-’09 Tampa Bay Lightning: a suddenly high-priced roster of more than 50% new guys all frantically trying to mesh together to resemble a complete hockey team. I imagine they’ll still make the playoffs, though, because unlike the Lightning, they’ll be motivated by the fact that if they miss the playoffs, the citizens of Montreal will hunt down and murder their families. But I don’t see them going anywhere after that.

Other bright spots:

- Free agent splash Mike Rupp matched his goal total from last season (3 in 72 games) just 12 games into the season.

- I laughed pretty hard in the First when Malkin slipped a saucer pass to Dupuis for a mini breakaway and Steigerwald excitedly announced “Here comes Dupuis all alone…saved by Halak.” You’re not allowed to excitedly raise your voice if the person with the scoring chance is Pascal Dupuis. It’s the same as the old Kip Miller rule.

- I find myself rooting extra hard against Montreal these days solely because they took on Scott Gomez’s contract and helped the Rangers, making them guilty of some “Accessory To Team I Hate” crime. Beating them by 5 goals while Nonfactor-ezĀ  turned in a typical nonfactor performance was far sweeter than your standard Northeast Division win.

- Sidney Crosby is good.


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