So we’ve decided to show up to diarize tonight – does that mean the Pens will show up, too? Whatever happens, we can be pretty much guaranteed the presentation of it will suck, because it’s on NBC. We’d say something like, “Buckle your seatbelt, Gentle Reader,” but with the way NBC presents hockey, we’re afraid we’ll all be dozing by 9:00.
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! After Doc’s intro seems to imply that Sid invented the white-out, we then cut to an “outside the dressing room” interview with Marion Hossa (who we suspect didn’t bother going to Detroit for the first two games), and it’s Pierre McGuire doing the interviewing! Oh Pierre, how we’ve missed you! Of course, we take all our jubilation back if it turns out that Mike Milbury’s reign of terror reporting from between the benches hasn’t ended.
We ignore most of the rest of the pregame stuff as we try to figure out whether the HD picture is better on the cable or satellite. We decide we like the cable picture better, in case you’re wondering.
Comparing NBC to Versus, it’s actually hard to say which commercials for the network’s other programming are worse, Extreme Fighting and/or rodeo, or “Celebrity Circus”.
When we come back from commercial, Pierre and Milbury ramble on nonsensically about what the keys to the Pens winning are. The consensus at IPB Manor is that we have no idea what either of them is talking about, and that Pierre looks especially freaky tonight. Pookie: “It’s like he’s a little wooden doll or something.” When Milbury makes the wildly unpredictable statement that the Pens would like to get a lot of points from Sid, Pierre visibly salivates. Pookie suggests he says, like Robert Downey Jr. in Wonder Boys, “Sidney Sidney Sidney”.
We come back from another commercial to see Pierre on the ice interviewing Gary Roberts. Considering his proclivity for hilariously overpronouncing European names, we expect him to say the name “Gary Roberts” with some kind of Southern twang.
After yet another commercial break, we come back to discover the anthem has been sung off-camera. Nice, NBC.
19:46 Ah yes. This is why watching the NBC games on cable sucks. We’re not 15 seconds into the game, and our HD has been taken away while an interminable scroll at the bottom of the screen implores us to buy Flyers tickets. Not. Going. To happen.
18:56 Franzen gets called for a dumb holding penalty in the neutral zone. Edzo tries to tell us this might have been whistled because Therrien laid the groundwork by whining in the media about how much obstruction the Wings have been getting away with. We think it’s because it was a really obvious and stupid penalty.
18:08 Malone gets a chance to walk out in front of the net, and ends up shooting wide. Pookie: “If I was a Pens fan, I’d be calling for Malone to be benched right now.”
17:14 Things are going great for the Pens, as they ice the puck on the PP. By the way, Malkin looked terrible on the first unit, passing when he needed to crank a shot from the high point, and then dogging it to pursue a puck at the far point, leading to the Wings clearing the zone. Our official position on the “what’s wrong with Geno” issue is that we don’t think he’s injured. He just looks gassed.
16:55 The raucous crowd is hushed when Staal gets called for roughing shortly after the Wings win the offensive-zone draw. Pierre talks over the official’s call, and then NBC doesn’t offer a replay of the penalty. Our picture then falls apart, and we flip to the satellite… where a commercial for the Marines is playing. The fuck?
15:55 We finally get a replay of the penalty, and it turns out it was every bit as stupid as Franzen’s.
14:35 Our cable is having all kinds of difficulty, so we flip back to the satellite again and get to revel in what supergeniuses we are: we are deeply confused that Franzen has just taken another penalty identical to his first one, and then we realize the game on the satellite is four minutes behind the one on the cable. The delay between them didn’t seem that long during the pregame… Oh, right. Somehow we ended up rewinding on the DVR, and hadn’t caught up yet. We’re very, very smart.
12:35 Stuart is a bit lackadaisical playing the puck at the point in the Pittsburgh zone, and Sid pressures him hard, looking like he’s about to poke the puck past him and dart down the wing. But Stuart calmly holds his ground and pokes the puck back off Sid’s stick, recovering his own turnover and stopping the rush before it has a chance to happen. Schnookie: “I suppose Pens fans are going to call that trapping.” Pookie: “Well yeah. Whenever the other team beats you to loose pucks, it’s trapping.”
9:47 Edzo tells us all about how Therrien was “sending a message” to the league and officials about the crap the Wings are allegedly getting away with (one man’s “sending a message” is another man’s “whining and trying to deflect attention from your own shortcomings as a coach”, but we digress), and then Pierre pipes up excitedly, “Michel Therrien is sending another message right now, putting his top line against Detroit’s fourth line.” Oooooh. Pookie: “Yeah, he’s sending a message. And that message is, ‘Snore!’” We can hear all those new fans jumping aboard the NHL bandwagon right now.
7:53 Gonchar is caught flat-footed by Franzen trying to turn the corner down low, and he hooks him in response. Any old day the Wings want to figure out how to score on the power play is fine with us.
7:17 Doc informs us that Hall Gill has “never played better” than he is right now. That’s really damning his current play with faint praise, though.
6:19 The Wings move the puck around the zone with ease on the PP, but no one seems to want to shoot, except from terrible angles in close. Pierre pants about how “masterful” the passing is, but the unwillingness to shoot is just reminding us of all the things we hate about the Devils.
5:15 Therrien is now desperate to figure out how to get a second shot in this game, so he throws his three big guns onto one line together. The Sid/Geno/Hossa unit manages to muster a series of very soft shots from Hossa right on the doorstep. Osgood seems unimpressed.
4:18 The crowd has been roused from its slumber thanks to the unfamiliar sight of guys in black sweaters shooting at the goalie in the white sweater.
3:17 The Pens swarm a bit in the Detroit zone, but Lilja manages to clear the puck after some dogged man-to-man defense. The fans roar with displeasure, and Pookie snides, “See? Trapping.”
2:35 Just as Pookie is declaring the Pens’ first demonstration of sustained offensive-zone presence in the series will be too little, as the period will end without a goal, Stuart turns the puck over in front of his net by passing it into Zetterberg’s skates, and Sid is there to capitalize. The building goes up, and it’s 1-0 Pens.
0:40 Raffie trips up Malkin to break up a two-on-one, and the Pens go back on the power play. It’s a good call, but NBC’s replay of the infraction is framed in such a way that it looks like Malkin skated directly into a totally stationary Rafalski.
0:00 The period ends with Hossa missing a wide-open net off a great feed from Sid, which, because it was a great feed from Sid, gets the “what an amazing play!” treatment from Edzo, rather than the “you’ve got to put that puck in the net” treatment that it probably should have gotten. Oh well. The Pens are obviously doing a lot better so far in this one than they had in the first two games.
Pookie leaves the TV muted when she leaves the room, so Schnookie and Boomer are stuck without sound for the intermission show (and no, they can’t get up and get the zapper to turn the volume on, okay?). Boomer looks up to see Pierre and Milbury and says, “Ugh, these two guys? There’s no need to turn the sound on.”
19:15 As the Pens get some PP pressure, our screen suddenly condenses again. Pookie says dreamily, “I’m thinking about getting season tickets… to the Flyers…” The subliminal programming is working.
17:58 The “we don’t really want to bother winning this hockey game” Wings have shown up for this period, and Kronwall takes a hooking penalty on Malone behind Osgood’s net.
17:45 Malkin cranks a giant slapshot from midrange, and Osgood stops it. Malkin is left thinking, “That’s funny. Those go in against Biron.”
17:26 Sid is on the doorstep to bang home a sloppy rebound from Osgood (Pookie: “I think he just lost his Conn Smythe on that”) and even sloppier defense in front of the crease. 2-0 Pens, and Pierre crows, “The Skill is back in the game!” Pookie: “Because there was no skill in the games the Red Wings won.” Boomer: “Meh, it’s just setting the Pens fans up to be crushed.”
16:12 Zetterberg manages to make a shot out of nothing as he artfully stickhandles in the feet of a Pens defender, but then Fleury’s long rebound kicks out past an unprepared Datsyuk. Schnookie: “Where’s your head, Datsyuk?” Pause. “Is it in a candy corn dispenser?”
14:37 The fans are booing as Datsyuk rags the puck at center ice while waiting to regroup with his teammates after a change. Because he’s trapping, you know. (To be fair, they’re probably cheering Ruutu, but still.)
12:15 There is a bit of a scrum following a late hit by Kennedy on Lebda on an icing touch-up, and as the officials sort things out (no penalties are called), the commentary falls oddly silent. There are long breaks between exchanges by Edzo and Pierre. Pookie: “Does it feel like the broadcast just ground to a halt?” Boomer suspects Doc has left.
11:06 Gill gets called for cross-checking Holmstrom in front of the net, and as we watch him skate slooooooowly to the box, Pookie makes a startling realization: “The reason these last two playoffs have sucked is because the new Stanley Cup patches suck.” That’s got to be it.
10:44 The puck is deflected into the netting, and we have another interminable delay while waiting for the draw in the Pittsburgh zone. Schnookie: “This pace is torrid.” Boomer grumbles from the depths of her chair, “Mmmmmm hmmmmmm.”
10:35 The puck gets behind Fleury, but the net had been knocked off the moorings. Of course, we have no real idea of what’s going on because NBC is experimenting with a never-before-used-on-live-action camera angle from the jumbotron. Psst, NBC – no one else uses this camera angle for a reason.
9:06 It’s hard to say whether the Pens PK is good or the Wings PP is just sucky. Considering our vast expertise in sucky PPs, we’re going to go with the latter.
7:24 NBC gives us a “leaders of the game” stat screen, and Doc informs us proudly that on top of his two goals on two shots, Sid also has a hit. Schnookie: “A hit! How good for him!” Pookie: “Eight more of those and two fewer goals, and he’ll be just as good as Ovechkin.”
7:03 Gill takes another penalty for cross-checking Holmstrom in front. Because he’s really good at learning from his past mistakes. (Not that Detroit’s PP is any kind of deterrent for taking penalties.)
5:12 YOWZA! It looks like absolutely nothing is happening as the PP is winding down, and suddenly Franzen just methodically marches down the far boards, deftly stickhandling through the Pens d-man with a surgical economy of motion, and then walks to the net and pushes the puck over Fleury without the slightest difficulty. 2-1 Pens.
3:56 The Pens charge back for a good shift in the Detroit zone, and Osgood is forced to cover the puck and send us to commercial. That Coldplay song on the iTunes commercial sounds like the single most boring piece of music ever committed to recording.
3:51 Pierre reports with no small outrage that Gronk has just gotten away with a high stick on Lidstrom. “He got him but good,” he shouts, further proving that the Wings are getting all the calls in this series.
2:56 Osgood has to stop a Malkin shot after a Rafalski turnover down low (Us: “Oh right! That Brian Rafalski!”), and NBC shows us Lidstrom spitting out blood on the bench. Pierre sounds like he’s reporting on news of international import when he breathlesses, “He hasn’t taken a shift [since the high stick]! He hasn’t taken a shift yet!” Because it’s been an entire minute. He must be on death’s door.
1:28 Doc gets all excited as it looks like the Pens are getting a two-on-one with Dupuis and Hossa, but no sooner does he shout the words than Lidstrom calmly skates back, looking like he’s not even going at full speed, to turn it into a two-on-two that yields nothing more than a weak shot. There goes Pierre’s Pulitzer for reporting on the Split Lip Heard ’Round The World.
0:00 And so passes another period of scintillating SCF action. Pierre interviews Dallas Drake on the ice and, while looking not unlike a toilet paper tube with his brown suit and strangely cylindrical build, asks Drake how Lidstrom is doing. Drake seems puzzled that this would even be a question; “Uh… he’s fine.” Pierre tries not to sag visibly in disappointment.
While Schnookie is busy freezing her tongue to the ice cream scoop while doling out mojito sorbets for everyone, Pookie and Boomer watch Ovechkin’s appearance in the studio. Pookie gives him “major props” for admitting he “played like a dog” in the Philly series, but Boomer will give him nothing, as she is appalled at his choice of shirt.
17:00 Real life interferes for a moment here at stately IPB Manor; in cool television news, though, we discover that our new DirecTV dish gives us caller ID info on our TV screen. What a fascinating modern age we live in!
16:22 The Pens have Osgood beat on two occasions in one shift, but the first one hits the inside of the pipe, and the second one flutters to the goal line before Osgood falls back on it with his glove. Maltby takes the opportunity of this stoppage to exchange bitchslaps with Sid for a few minutes.
13:04 Things have now entered the “wide open” phase of the game, as the teams are wheeling from end to end, throwing flying checks and flinging all manner of shots at the nets.
12:42 With the Wings scrambling around their own net, Hall takes advantage of Osgood wandering in a panicky state behind the goal line and banks the puck into the net off his back. 3-1 Pens.
12:13 The Wings miss a chance at a wide-open net with a floundering Fleury; it’s the kind of missed chance that makes it very clear they are not a team that’s coming back in this game.
11:44 Well, if that previous chance wasn’t convincing enough, Holmstrom has the puck on his stick, plenty of time to calmly push the puck into the net, and not a goaltender in sight… and somehow he manages to shoot right into the diving paddle of Fleury’s stick. This one’s over. (And of course NBC doesn’t show a replay of the save.)
6:39 After going nearly two weeks without a stoppage in play, with both teams motoring back and forth up the ice, the Wings finally draw a whistle by touching up on a Pens icing. The stoppage gives NBC a chance to show us Pierre between the benches, and he looks so cylindrical and so like he’s made out of wood that it’s easy to mistake him for a Russian nesting doll.
6:23 This game continues to give us unwelcome reminders of the Devils; Samuelsson whips a shot from a moderate angle just below the hash marks, and it beats Fleury over his shoulder because he went down too early and lost the post. Schnookie: “It’s the Martin Brodeur special.” And just like Chico apologizing for Marty, Edzo stammers through the replays that he’s sure that shot deflected in off Orpik. 3-2 Pens.
5:17 Datsyuk is in the slot for a few rebound chances, but he either whiffs on them or shoots way wide. Pookie: “Datsyuk has his candy corn up his ass tonight.”
4:16 Malkin cleverly decides to hook a Red Wing in the offensive zone, and puts the slightly-less-ineffectual-than-earlier-in-the-game Detroit PP back on the ice.
3:35 Nope, never mind. The Detroit PP is every bit as ineffectual as ever. Raffie decides he needs to be keeping his fellow pointman company at the near point, and then dives helplessly as he watches a pass to his now-vacated point drift harmlessly to center ice. Pookie: “That’s the Rafalski we knew and loved. In fact, I’d go so far as to call that the Briiiiiian Rafalski Special.”
1:00 Zetterberg seems to be operating under the notion that if he can’t score with a snap shot from the high slot while he’s cutting across the zone, he doesn’t want to score at all. He’s, um, not going to score at all.
0:00 You can feel the enormous sighs of relief from the NHL league offices now that this series isn’t going to be a 12-period steamrolling by an unstoppable juggernaut.