Bobrovsky and Co. Spoil Pens New Arena Opening

The building made famous by Jean-Claude Van Damme in Sudden Death, Melon Arena, is no longer the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  They opened a new building, the CONSOL Energy Center. So of course they had to do some sort of opening ceremony and get their fans hyped up. Near the end, owner and savior Mario Lemieux came out with a vial of liquid.  It contained some melted ice from the old building, which he proceeded to pour out for his dead homies ceremoniously onto the center faceoff dot.

No, it's not Crosby's tears. (Courtesy: ESPN)

More importantly, we had a meaningful hockey game for the first time since, well, you know. And starting in goal, for the Philadelphia Flyers, #35, Sergei Booooooobrovskyyyyyyy! Yes that’s right, the Russian rookie that nobody heard of until a few months ago was the opening day starter. For those of you who didn’t follow the team during preseason, and are a bit shocked by this news, don’t be. Anyone who paid attention to the preseason should have seen this coming.

The Flyers earned the 3-2 win to start things off, but it wasn’t that pretty.  They were completely dominated for most of the first period, but went into the break scoreless. After getting ripped apart during intermission by the coach, they came out a lot better in the second. While on the powerplay, Richards was on the point and fed a pass to Briere stationed down low, next to the net. All he had to do was redirect the puck, and we had the 1-0 lead less than 3 minutes into the 2nd period. After a Pens turnover, Briere went on a breakaway, but missed the top shelf when Fleury went down a bit early. In the final three minutes, Blair Betts double the lead when he knocked a rebound past a sprawling goalie.

The third period finally saw the Penguins score in their new building, when Bobrovsky was down and couldn’t scurry over in time to stop a sharp angle shot from Tyler Kennedy.  (Anyone else think Kennedy looks like a goomba from the Super Mario Brothers movie?) The goal came in the first minute of the third, and gave Pitt. new life. Claude Giroux gave us some breathing room when he picked off a weak drop pass from Kris Letang and broke in alone on Fleury. A quick backhand-forehand move, and he deposited the puck for a shorthanded goal and a 3-1 lead. Pittsburgh answered back 19 seconds later when Goligoski tipped a shot from the point as it came through a screen. The Flyers didn’t give up anything else after that, including shutting down a powerplay in the final 1:13.

Twins? (Courtesy: erolalkan.co.uk and Those Pucking Penguins)

Overall, the Flyers didn’t look great, but neither did the Penguins.  Each team hit some posts, each team had turnovers at their blue line, and each team had some defensive mistakes in coverage. It was pretty much what you can expect for an early season game, even if they had some time to get ready in the preseason.  There were a few big hits, but things never really got nasty.  Mike Richards lined a few guys up in the neutral zone but didn’t really connect. He was fairly quiet on the offensive end, similar to how he played in the Finals last season. Except for a play here and there, nobody on the team really stood out.  It seemed like a different guy would be good for a few shifts and then disappear. It’s ok, it’s early, we’ll pick it up.

As for Bobrovsky, I have mixed feelings. First, he stopped everything that he saw, and had near perfect rebound control.  His lateral movement was excellent, and he did a great job of picking up shots through a screen. My biggest gripe about him is that he seems a bit lost when he gets down. There was a huge flurry around his net in the first period, and he was just flailing around. He seems a bit slow once he’s down, not moving side to side as quickly as most other goalies.  It was most evident on the first goal that he gave up. I’m not saying he would have stopped it if he’d managed to get over quicker, but he would have had a better chance. Overall, he kept Crosbyand Malkin off the score sheet, something that doesn’t happen often by Flyers goalies. He stopped 29 of 31 shots, and earned the victory.

Notes

  • Chris Pronger didn’t play…should we be worried? Is the team hiding something? How serious is this? They say it’s day to day, and that it’s his call. Our top notch defense isn’t so great if he’s not a part of it.
  • Jody Shelley took a stupid penalty when he skated by Fleury and tripped him up for no reason. If this is the stupid play that we’re going to see all season, then this guy is a waste. We have plenty of guys racking up PIM’s, tiring out our penalty killers, we don’t need another one. If he’s not going to fight and contribute a bit to the team, we don’t need him.
  • Ian Laperriere is still having post-concussion problems since taking the puck to the face. Reports say that he might have to retire. If so, it sucks to go out the way he did. A guy with that much heart, that much determination, and that much respect for the concept of a team, deserves much more. Unfortunately, that’s sports, and things don’t always have a fairytale ending.
  • Every article about JVRmentioned that he’s noticeably bulked up.  They weren’t kidding; he looked a lot stronger out there.  He was hard to move off the puck, and used his body to shield the puck and make a few plays down low.  This will pay dividends throughout the season.

Next game is in St. Louis tomorrow. It’s going to be another home opener for our opponent, and another chance for us to spoil the party.

Thanks for reading!

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Topics: Blair Betts, Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, Goomba, Marc-Andre Fleury, Mario Lemieux, Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Season Opener, Sergei Bobrovsky, St. Louis Blues

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