28 February 2008

Live blogging: ATL v NYI

4 - 5

"It's time again.... to start believing.... in Blueland." This is the commercial I've seen the most of during the game. Perhaps they should consider showing it in the locker room during intermission. And at the Ice Forum during practice. Over and over, ad nauseum. Until the boys in blue get it. I don't think we, the fans, ever stopped believing. The guys actually playing a game? That seems to be another matter entirely.

Here's the understatement of the day: "Kwiatkowski and Exelby have been paired together for two games now, and they haven't really ... gelled." Uh. Well it would be useful if one of them was actually a good defenceman. I hope that's the 3rd pairing, cause holy shit that frightens me. Darren actually just telestrated it and showed us how bad they're playing together. Communication breakdown like whoah.

So Colby and Erik are looking pretty comfortable out there. They were on Eric Perrin's wing ("that french guy" for PensBlog fans), but right now (1/2 way through the 2nd), Army's playing with Kovalchuk and White. Which, in reality, is likely where he belongs, considering how much and generally how well he's played with Sid in the past.

The first two goals by the Isles are both on Lehts. I missed the one by Feds, as well as Perrin's unassisted goal (was it a shorty?) HOLY CRAP IT WAS A PENALTY SHOT?! I MISSED A PENALTY SHOT?? MAAAAAN! Good thing I'm recording. Anyway, I missed Fedetenko's goal so I can't say. At this point it's anyone's call, and I'm not gonna be a dick and say Kari's given up on the team (although who could blame him if he did?), but the first goal he slid the puck over the line while it was trapped beneath his pads, and he should have known better. I mean he's been between the pipes for 17 years. It's not like it's news to him where the goal line is. The second, what the hell is he thinking, passing the puck to not-his-teammates? Big rebound, one thing. Blatant giveaway, whole other story.

Kenny puts up his first as a Thrasher. Play started by Holik, across ice to Perrin, who sends it to Army, and he dished it to Klee's tape as Kenny stormed the crease. Beauty play, and Army's first point as a Thrasher. Solid.

Also Colby and Perrsy seem to be getting on extremely well, and are just giggling (YES I SAID GROWN MEN WERE GIGGLING) together on the bench. Good sign. But I mean seriously, who doesn't like Army? Cept for some of those guys he's knocked the fuck out in the past couple years. I bet they'd like him if they hung out with him, though.

Zhitnik ties it at three, making this the first time 2 d-men have scored in one game (what a depressing stat). What I want to know is, who is this team and what have the done with the Thrashers of the past 4 games? Alexei and Holik play patty cake behind the net before Zhit smacks it in, and not only is this a GTG, but it gives us the all important momentum shift we've so desperately needed. I'm hopeful, and fairly confident, that we could see a fight in this game. Army throwdown? Ex? Dunno, but here's to hoping.

Bergenheim smashes White into the boards, then Kovy answers by taking Bergenheim out. Love it. Love seeing Kovy throw his weight around. Could it be? Could they have snapped out of WHATEVER THE HELL WAS WRONG WITH THEM? Dare I even hope?

Army almost got a beauty of a shorthanded chance, but tried to split the D while threading the puck between some legs and got shut down. But god love him for his effort.

I'm not sure if they're going to call it as such, but Brian Berard just earned 2 penalties in 1 shift. Unfortunately, he got the 2nd hook for free, and only got put in the bin for 2:00. 4-on-4 for :40 due to Rex's hooking penalty. FIRE WAGON HOCKEY! And Kari comes up huge with a big save. Right as Zhitnik takes another penalty. 4-on-3 for :16. FIRE WAGON LIKE WHOAH! Kovy comes storming in to end the 2nd with a huge shot on Dipi, and Army almost cherry picks the rebound into the goal but it was blocked away by the defending Isle. We'll start the 3rd with :37 left in the 4-on-4.

The Islander I hate the most puts up their 4th barely 4:00 into the 3rd. Direct result of a turnover, possibly by Army, but I couldn't really tell. But it went high on Kari's glove and that irks me. His glove hand is a lot better than this, but he's been a fraction of a second slow and a fraction of an inch low of late.

Thorburn gets a breakaway and bears down on Dipi, who makes a sliding-backwards pad save - best of the game for sure.

Power play, and Tobi with a beauty of a slapper on Dipi, who of course gloved it. Johnson's stick shatters seconds later, but once again, Dipi pounces. Kozzy had a gorgeous chance with Dipi overcommitting and falling on his ass, wide open net, but fanned on the shot. No conversion on the PP, but a lot of shots on it, which is NICE. Still we're being outshot 33-19.

Aaaaand they go almost right back on the PP. Rex leads the rush up ice and Crush puts them offsides right off the bat. I like having Rex and Crush on the PP together, a whole lot. I'll like it better when they don't have such miscues. Crush with two good shots, then one by Rex, Crush with the rebound, Tobi gets the big rebound following but no dice. A couple more quality chances by Perrsy and Zhit, but no conversion once again. 3 shots and 2 chances, which is pretty astounding considering how they've been playing of late. That's almost more shots than they had in the last whole entire game against the Isles!

4:25 to go and Rex is thrown out of the offencive zone faceoff, Kovy comes in and wins it, but the Isles get it somehow. Can't quite figure that one out. Someone was staring at their laces. Kovy flies in on Dipi, and gets the door slammed shut, then goes on to pound Hilbert into the boards, resulting in a lost helmet.

2:00 remaining and we're just playing back-and-forth, dump and chase. I'd say we're playing the trap but I don't think either damned team on the ice knows how to pinch. Heartstopping moment when Kari bobbles a shot by BFF Bergenheim. You know, it's funny when we're not down by one.

1:31 sees another damned giveaway by Blueland, Kari's watching the bench and HOLIK TIES IT WITH 1:22 REMAINING! HELLS YEAH! I can't believe Darren called that ten minutes ago. If I hadn't heard it, I wouldn't believe it. Way to be CAPTAIN CLUTCH!

:41 and Army and Crush storm the zone together, but Army loses it and the Isles turn up the ice with the puck. Kovy sends it out, then Rex dumps it from the neutral game for the change. Isles turn and dump it back for icing, and don't get a change.

Last regulation faceoff sees everyone falling on the puck somehow, and we get out of this with at least 1 point.

End of regulation, Crush has 17:49 with 2 shots and a -1, and Army has 16:13 with 0 shots, 1 hit and a -2.

OT : Hunter puts it in after a turnover on the faceoff 1:09 in. 7-hole on Kari's glove side, with Zhitnik and Kovy standing right there. Isles win. But we still walk out having played so much better, and we got a point out of it., putting us 8 back from Carolina, and putting us back in 3rd over the Panthers. I'll take it. Photos tomorrow.

After watching this game, it's like watching a totally different team from the past 5 games. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Blueland is close to finding its identity, and its identity is blue collar, gritty, and hard working. And I couldn't be any happier saying that because damn it if that's not the best hockey there is!

Three (3) Army interviews, 1 Crush interview, and 1 Lehts interview coming by the end of the night.

Scoreboard Watching
NYR 4, CAR 2

REMINDER: Saturday's game is @ 1pm (1300) and Sunday's is @ 3pm (1500).

And if anyone is interested, apparently Hoss was the recipient of a knee-on-knee hit (couldn't see which B hit him) and sat out the 3rd. Ray Shero is hating life right now, even though Dupuis put up the only Pens goal, and broke Thomas' shutout.

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