I was a big believer that Atlanta should get to keep that one for themselves, and that anyone else would just be copying--but Pittsburgh somehow proved tonight that they deserve it as much as anyone.
I'm not an avid Pittsburgh fan--I like them well enough, I'm impressed by them this season, but if you want good Pens commentating, you turn to Elly. That said, I like whatever hockey I can get my hands on, so when I heard they were playing the Caps tonight (and how could you not, with all the coverage Sid v. Ovech got--honestly I might have forgotten there were other players on the teams) I figured I'd tune in--and plus Elly had to work, so I promised frequent score updates.
I had to cringe over ever text message I sent for the first period and some. It's not like the Pens were even playing badly--they just weren't getting it done. And then all of a sudden these players I'd hardly even heard of before, not following the team that well, decided it was time to prove that hey, this is the Pittsburgh Penguins, not the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin show. Talbot and Christensen goals later, along with some spectacular Fleury saves, and we're back in the game. And from that point on, (running the Crosby/Malkin line clearly a brilliant idea at this point), there was some amazing hockey being played. This was one of the best games I've seen all season. My text messages got brighter in a damn hurry.
Right up until that shootout you had no idea who was going to pull ahead. I like both of these teams, but after closing a gap like that my heart was with Pittsburgh. I really don't know much about this team--and I have seen them play before, but never at this level--but all of a sudden I'm starting to understand just exactly why their future is looking so much brighter lately. These kids have talent.
(P.S. Ovechkin translating for Malkin during the intermission was really cute and clever on OLNSUSUS' part, considering how lackluster I usually think their efforts at broadcasting hockey are.)
There are a ridiculous amount of games going on tomorrow, but I'm realizing it's almost 3 am and I have finals tomorrow so brevity it is. Mostly.
- New Jersey/Buffalo broadcast tomorrow on the same network--I'll probably miss most of it but I'm rooting for NJ--not only is Marty Brodeur the savior of my fantasy team goaltending and pretty much amazing, but I love seeing their style of play--it's so unique compared to a lot of teams in the league, and it's always nice to see that rewarded. Buffalo plays some hard, fast hockey, and NJ focuses a lot on the counterattack, so this matchup should be interesting. I'm going to say NJ over Buffalo in a shootout 3-2, goals by Gionta and Parise for NJ, Briere and Afinogenov for Buffalo with Elly's favorite Langenbrunner being the deciding factor in the shootout. But I'm just pretending to have insight again (hey, my last prediction happened in reverse, don't trust me).
- The Team Who Shall Not Be Named is playing Tampa and earlier in the season I would have chalked that up as a sure win. For now I'll say I have a glimmer of hope.
- Wings vs Ottawa. Review Ottawa's last game and you'll know where I stand on this one.
- Edmonton vs Nashville is probably the most interesting of the mix, to me anyway. Roloson's been strong lately (His grandmother passed away before the last game--and lose they did, but he stood strong. Roli's a tough guy.), but after that loss in Chicago it's definitely possible for them to get stoned again, too. They're still down Smyth and Hemmer but they're making up for it as well as could be expected.
- San Jose at LA should really be a no-brainer.
- New York (Rangers) and Philly should be too.
- As should, unfortunately, Anaheim vs. Florida.
- Dallas at Columbus should be too--but hey, Edmonton just shut down the Stars, and Columbus is on their first winning streak in what has to be years.
- Vancouver at Phoenix--one team's been picking it up lately, the other's been slouching (but still beating Carolina). Your guess is as good as mine.
- Calgary at Minnesota again--this is an interesting matchup. I like where Minnesota's going this season, or at least I'm intrigued by it enough to follow a little since they've been such a wildcard. And hey, Roli used to play for them.
- St. Louis and their goaltending woes against the Blackhawks. I'd really like to say this is a team they have a strong chance against. Come back to us soon, Manny.
- Montreal against Boston. No idea.