Sunday, November 28, 2010

GTOPG: Pens Win Sixth in a Row; Home Crowd Still in Food Coma

By Artistry

There is no small measure of hypocrisy in what I am about say, as I don't currently live in Pittsburgh, have yet to attend a game at Consol Energy Center, and am much more of a silent and pensive game watcher than a shouter, or even a murmurer. Still, after watching the Penguins dominate the Saturday matinee against Calgary by a 4-1 margin, one thing stuck with me more than the game itself: our home crowd sucks.  These fans bring virtually nothing to the table.  They are so quiet as to render Consol a virtual neutral site.  No matter what's happening in the game, a great save, a momentum-turning goal, a Sidney Crosby penalty shot, they can't seem to muster more than a stunted "woo hoo."  Their "Let's Go Pens" chants fade away after like 1.5 rounds.  They offer no real enthusiasm, no inspiration, and no advantage.  Why?  There are a number of theories.

1) Penguin fans are spoiled.  Yeah, OK.  So it would be easier to cheer for a consistently bad team?
2) Higher ticket prices have driven away the true fans and left behind a muted corporate crowd.  I don't know about this one.  There are plenty of young people at these games, and I don't think they're white shoe types.  Besides, I know from my work experience that sometimes rich people yell, too.  At the very least, they know how to berate and make people uncomfortable.  They could easily use these powers on the referees.  They should do so.
3) Penguin fans are just more civilized than fans in Philadelphia or New York.  This happens to be true.  But no one is asking them to hang Mike Richards in effigy, no matter how much he deserves it.  Just cheer for the home team.  

Anyway, GTOG would like to see the media start calling out the people attending Penguin games.  We know that's probably not going to happen.  But we'll be vocal about it here.  Now, about Saturday's beat-down of Calgary.  Let's discuss, after the jump...

  • Watching Steven Stamkos has sent a thrill up our leg this season, but Sidney Crosby has been the best player in the league.  Alex Ovechkin is not even in the conversation right now.  Crosby's excellence has become so routine, who recognized during the game that, had he scored on his penalty shot in the first period, he would have (sort of) matched Mario Lemieux's feat of scoring a goal every conceivable way in a single game?  He had an even-strength goal, a power play goal, and a combination short-handed/empty net tally in the closing seconds.  Crosby sort of sneaks up on you, doesn't he?  Lemieux didn't sneak up on anybody.
  • The Flames are not a good team.  They have a terrible general manager in Darryl Sutter who is wasting Jarome Iginla's last productive years, gave Jay Bouwmeester a $7 million a year contract, and traded his own son because he couldn't keep him out of trouble.  But that's why when they come to Pittsburgh, we better dominate them.  They have a sometimes-elite goalie in Mika Kiprusoff, and the Penguins spent about 58 minutes around his net last night, making his life miserable.  Two games in a row of 40-plus shots, and it doesn't matter who the other goalie is.
  • Chris Conner was all over the puck, again.  Kudos to HCDB for sticking with the kid for a while. He is tiny and can be pushed off the puck, but that's offset to a large degree by his speed and tenacity.  He can draw a penalty unlike any forward on the team beyond Sid and Geno.  The Conner-Kennedy-Letestu line has been our most dangerous second power play unit this season, and it's not close.  
  • Paul Martin continues to impress on the top power play.  What a move by the Prime Minister to walk around a guy late in the first period and move in for the shot.  Silky smooth.  
  • Did Iginla even play?  Oh yeah, that was him underneath of Deryk Engelland.  The only guy that even scared me a little Saturday was certified, genuine Penguin killer Niklas Hagman.
  • Kris Letang Norris Trophy watch:  4 goals, 18 assists, 22 points, and a +11 in 25 games.  His 22 points leads the league among defensemen.
  • GTOG continues to wonder why any Penguin drops the gloves at the merest hint of a challenge, regardless of the circumstances.  There was no reason for Engelland to oblige Tim Jackman with a fight right after the Pens had taken a 1-0 lead.  The only reason Jackman wants to fight there is to get his teammates going.  Engelland has no incentive.  None.  No good can come of it in a game Pittsburgh is dominating.
  • Can we all do something together?  Let's look at the standings and promise ourselves we'll never again overreact to terrible, early-season, west coast road trips.
Finesse's Division Crown Jinx Countdown: 8 out of a possible 8 points.

1. at Florida: W 3-2
2. at Buffalo: W 1-0
3. vs. Ottawa: W 2-1
4. vs. Calgary: W 4-1
5. at New York Rangers
6. vs. Atlanta
7. at Columbus
8. vs. New Jersey
9. vs. Toronto
10. at Buffalo


  1. Nice review.

    It is easy to root for Stamkos. Not being a dick helps.

    I believe the general lack of crowd involvement is due to higher ticket prices but there is more to it during the holidays. The out-of-towners go to the holiday games and they aren't practiced in the ways of hockey fan behavior. I speak as one of those types of fans. I live in Virginia Beach and rarely get to a Pittsburgh game but do go to see all the Baby Pens games when they come here to play the Admirals. It is so great to follow a game in person that I forget to cheer and yell or murmur.

  2. Artistry,

    While I understand your request to keep things in perspective. It's not fair for anyone to make such a promise. Our winger's still "suck", for lack of a better word. (It's the main reason why Geno is on pace for the worst season of his career)

    And, the last 4 wins have come against opponents who aren't exactly the class of the NHL.

    So I'm not convinced we aren't overachieving at this point. But I am willing to temper my criticsm while the team is winning.

  3. Oy, David, you are tough. I submit to you that Geno may be on pace for the worst season of his career in large part because, despite leading the league in shots, he's only managed to find the net 8 times.