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Pens-Bolts Postgame: McKee’s fan club

PENGUINS 4, LIGHTNING 1

The Trib’s Terrific Trio:

1 – D Jay McKee, Penguins

Key stats: 1 hit, 7 blocked shots

Rossi: A call now for Pens fans to form a fan club for McKee called the “McBlockheads.”

2 – C Sidney Crosby

Key stats: 4 attempted shots, 2 assists

Rossi: Rumors of his disappearing playmaking-ways were greatly exaggerated.

3 – D Sergei Gonchar, Penguins

Key stats: 5 attempted shots, 1 goal, 2 points

Rossi: One of Sarge’s favorite songs is “London Calling.” I have no clue why this is important. I just thought you should know.

SAY IT, SIR
“No controversy yet, huh? Somebody’s got to do something stupid.” — Penguins D Brooks Orpik after I attempted to argue the team’s 7-1-0 start was boring.

Rossi: You know, looking at the remaining opponents on this home stand, it’s hard not to figure on the Penguins owning at least 20 points after 12 games. How’s that for a hangover?

— BY ROB ROSSI (10/17/09)

THE NEW GUY

Occasionally I’ll turn parts of the blog over to Josh Yohe, the Trib’s No. 2 Penguins beat writer. So, take it, Josh…

You won’t often hear C Evgeni Malkin and McKee’s names uttered in the same sentence. C Mike Rupp, however, found a way.

Rupp, like the rest of the team, was blown away by McKee’s seven blocked shots against Tampa Bay.

“It’s like Geno in a way,” Rupp said. “Watching Geno skate with the puck is kind of like watching Jay block shots. They’re both extremely skilled at what they do and they look different than anyone else.”

McKee now leads the NHL with 28 blocked shots. He is a plus-6 on the young season while his defense partner, Alex Goligoski, is a plus-8.

The two have immediately displayed loads of chemistry.

“They are completely different hockey players,” coach Dan Bylsma said, “but they’re making a nice pairing right now.”

Goligoski has taken note of McKee’s unique shot blocking ability.

“He was ridiculous tonight,” Goligoski said. “He was making kick saves out there.”

Rupp, having played five of his seven NHL seasons in New Jersey, knows a thing or two about good defense. He said players like McKee are rare and more valuable than many realize.

“The guy is an amazing shot blocker,” Rupp said. “It’s not just about getting in lanes. There is a lot more to it than that. He is able to move his body and block shots that other people can’t.”

So, after blocking seven shots, is McKee ready for some hut tub treatment? No, he is fine. There are a few bumps and bruises, but nothing out of the ordinary for a player who specializes in blocking pucks for a living.

“Only one got me pretty bad tonight,” McKee said. “I’ll put some ice on it. No big deal.”

Through eight games with the Penguins, though, McKee has been a very big deal. The departures of Ds Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi left the Penguins without their best defensive pairing from last year’s Stanley Cup run.

So far, McKee and Goligoski look capable of filling their shows. McKee, in particular, has been outstanding killing penalties, the area where many feared Gill and Scuderi would most be missed.

“Everything has been great so far,” McKee said. “Working with Alex has really gone well. The kid has a ton of talent and you can see it coming out. I’m really happy to be here.”

— BY JOSH YOHE

YINZ TELL US: Thoughts and questions are always welcome. Send emails to hockeyday@tribweb.com. Emails without writers’ full name and current hometown will not be read.

Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi has covered the Penguins for parts of every season that Sidney Crosby has played in Pittsburgh. So, since 2005. He has led the Trib's NHL coverage since 2007, when he became the primary Penguins beat reporter. He joined the Tribune-Review in November 2002. Rossi, 35, is local chapter president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. He also dabbles in radio, as ClearChannel's "Penguins Insider," and TV, as "NHL Insider" for Root Sports Pittsburgh, and as a semi-regular contributor to The Final Word, a Sunday sports show that airs on WPXI. In 2012, Rossi was recognized nationally by Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism for his coverage of youth sports for a Trib series that investigated concussion protocol. In 2013, he teamed with Carl Prine for an investigative piece about athletes' charities what was honored regionally. A graduate of West Virginia University and Keystone Oaks High School, Rossi was raised in Crafton and Green Tree and currently resides in Brookline. He is currently working on the authorized biography of Evgeni Malkin. Follow him on Twitter: @RobRossi_Trib

Comments

  1. F. Joel Schwarzenbart says:

    The McBlockheads? That sounds awefully Gumby-like.
    Funny that I rescued a Gumby, Pokey, and two Blockheads from a garage sale at my sister’s house.
    They belonged to my late nephew, and I couldn’t see them go.
    Coincidently, they have a great view of the TV when Penguins games are on.

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