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Pens-Kings postgame: Surprises all around



The Trib’s Terrific Trio:


Key stats: 2 goals, 9 attempted shots, 13-of-23 on faceoffs, 3 hits

Rossi: If he played for an Eastern Conference team more fans would realize what Kopitar showed the Penguins – he’s an electric talent, not to mention near impossible to deny a couple of quality scoring chances per game. Think: Penguins C Evgeni Malkin.


Key stats: 21 saves

Rossi: Don’t get caught up on the few shots he faced. He stole a page from Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury’s book by making some key saves at various points to keep his team within a goal, and the Kings rewarded him with a 10th victory.


Key stats: 1 goal, 2 points, 7 attempted shots

Rossi: Another player that would garner more cred if he played in the East. Actually, the entire Kings club is like that. The test for them will be to beat-down on lesser teams and not just get up for the so-called Big Games. Still, as statements go, the young Kings, captained by Brown, made a big one with this win.

“You expect teams to play well, to come hard. When you don’t execute against that you put yourself in situations where you have to deal with defensive-zone coverage and you put yourself back on your heels. They did a great job of that. We didn’t execute enough to put ourselves out of that pressure.”

Penguins HC Dan Bylsma, pretty much summing up what went wrong against the Kings

ON THE BEAT ROAD: Robert Hubbard

The Kings honor a “Hero of the Game’ for home contests, and their honoree against the Penguins was CECA Robert Hubbard, who was greeted with applause when he was announced during the national anthem and late in the second period while sitting in the stands.

Those second-period applauds soon became jeers, as Hubbard surprised the Kings faithful at Staples Center by pulling out a white towel that read “Let’s Go Pens!” and waiving it over his head.

Hubbard appeared to delight in the hockey fan equivalent of a pro wrestling heel turn, and his actions were met with noticeable approving noise from patches of Penguins fans inside the arena.

Incidentally, Hubbard’s actions came only a few hours after my conversation with Penguins SR director/team operations Frank Buonomo, who has previously worked for the Blues, Rangers and Predators. Buonomo – known to blog readers at as “Frank Ferocious” for his reaction to “The Great Finland Air Autograph Incident of 2008 (SLAP!)” – said he’d ever seen as many fans of the visiting club as he has as recent road games involving the Penguins.

“It’s amazing how our fans our everywhere,” Buonomo said, adding that the Rangers had a large contingent of fans at many cities, but nothing like the thousands wearing Penguins gear that have filled seats at arenas.

“You just don’t see this every night like we’re seeing it with our fans.”

Steelers Nation is impressive, but I ask what is more impressive: filling 10,000 seats in opposing stadiums eight Sundays every football season or averaging about 1,000 fans or placing 1,000 fans in opposing hockey arenas close to 41 times a year – not to mention about 4,000 inside Joe Louis Arena for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final?

It probably doesn’t matter. I’m not one to split one group of Pittsburgh fans against another, and I wouldn’t advise any fan fall into that trap.

–BY ROB ROSSI (11/5/2009, in Los Angeles)

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




Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

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