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Chicken Little: The sky is falling.

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DENIAL OF THE PENGUINS

WASHINGTON — Aside from D BROOKS ORPIK, who flat-out admitted he is “concerned” about the Penguins after another disappointing loss, their third in a row, words from the visiting dressing room at Verizon Center were mostly positive. Again.

C SIDNEY CROSBY…

= On the club’s play against Washington: “I think guys battled hard and created some chances. I think as the game went on it became more intense. They came hard in the third and we stuck with things. I would have been nice to get two points, but we did a lot of good things.”

RW BILL GUERIN…

= On the club’s play against Washington: “I thought we played well. We were ready to play. We did  a lot of good things, more than we’ve been doing. It was a good game. … It’s one game. We’ve got to keep moving forward. If we play like this the next eight games then I’ll say we’ve come out of it. Until then we’re still working.”

D ALEX GOLIGOSKI…

= On the club’s play against Washington: “We tried to play the right way, the way we want to play and not feeding into them with turnovers and things like that. For the most part we were able to do that.”

COACH DAN BYLSMA…

= On the club’s play against Washington: “For a lot of reasons that’s the type of game we expect from our team and the way we can play. From the way we started and played the first (period), to responding when things didn’t go our way and sticking with it and getting the goal we got from Jordan Staal. It was a big play. That’s the way you need to play.”

3 STATS

12 – Combined goal differential by the Capitals and Devils in the third period against the Penguins this season

0 – Goals scored by Crosby in 11 games without C EVGENI MALKIN this season

22 – Goals scored by Malkin in 37 games without Crosby the past three seasons

THEY SAID IT

Words from the Capitals after their victory against the Penguins:

C NICKLAS BACKSTROM…

= On his club’s third-period and shootout-rally: “This is a strong sign we have in our team. We never give up and that’s something good. Even if they score at the end there and then two in a shootout we know we can still win it. that’s a big thing for us.”

LW ALEX OVECHKIN…

= On his club’s heart: “We just keep going and keep playing hockey. It doesn’t matter what happens, we just want to win. I don’t think we played our best game. I don’t think our best players, our first two lines played great. We scored two goals, but still it wasn’t our game.”

COLD CAPPER

Readers of the blog know that I’ve often labeled Orpik as the Penguins’ conscience. Crosby is their heartbeat. Malkin is their blood. Fleury is their skin. Orpik, though, is the one player on the club who knows when to say what is needed.

It’s my opinion that every play on the team should pay close attention my first words with him after this loss.

RR: Is there any good that come out of starting the game so well and then rallying when you got down?

BO: Oh, sheesh. You know what, Rob – maybe I’m in the minority here, (but) I’m getting tired that we worked hard and maybe we deserved better. We’re not winning hockey games and that’s what it comes down to. It’s not… uh, I don’t know.

Since a 4-0-0 run out of the Olympic break the Penguins are 2-3-3. They’ve lost leads in four of these recent games. They have been held to less than three goals in four. They are 4-for-28 on the power play.

They are 32-28-7 since Nov. 1. Over the course of an 82-game regular season that level of success equates to about 87 points.

–BY ROB ROSSI (3/24/10)

rrossi@tribweb.com or hockeyday@tribweb.com

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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.

Comments

  1. Mario Lopez says:

    coach B seems to think things are fine & rosey, but any hockey person can see, the offense isn’t clicking, 5 on 5, PP etc, the defense making more mental mistakes, & when the those mistakes are made MAF isn’t making the saves he did last 2 seasons. I”m just gonna bite my tongue, & not watch the last 8 games, I only get mad & more frustrated that bylsma, yeo, granato etc seem to keep trying the samethings & expecting different results… INSANITY…. its seems like they know they have the BULLSEYE on them for being the cup champs, but don’t seem to care yet… cause every opponent seems to give there best efforts vs us….

  2. concernedpensfan87 says:

    You’re really reaching with your 3 stats. Not even sure what you are implying they mean. As Crosby pointed out, he and Malkin do not play on the same line, so the scoring when one or the other is out has little meaning. You could just as easily count the number of games Malkin has gone without a goal when he and Crosby have both played (for instance the 11 game stretch between Dec 27 and Jan 14 this season) and try to suggest that Malkin is unable to score when Crosby is in the line up. (see how silly this is?)

    On another note, Gonchar may have been sick, but his level of play and the amount of miscues he has had over the past few games deserved a healthy scratch. Neither his absence nor Malkin being out of the line up recently, has adversely affected the powerplay…it was as effective as ever. While still weak [it is the yeo pp] they have had good puck movement, and have scored three great powerplay goals [although one was 1 second after pp time expired] so you are really out in left field.

  3. Tim says:

    Look, I know these guys are tired. Who wouldn’t be. But there is more to it than that. I don’t know if it was you or somebody else I said this to, but please never play Goligoski and Letang together. Ugh. Why Goligoski waved off Letang and told him to take the off wing on Semin’s short handed goal, I don’t know. I’m with Orpik, moral victories are tiring. I like Bylsma, but somebody needs to stick a torch up the Penguins collective butt. They look soft.

  4. Frank says:

    At least Brooks Orpik is saying what Dan Byslma should be saying.

  5. Paul M says:

    I used to not like Orpik, but I respect him more each day. He’s the only guy affiliated with the Penguins who is willing (at least publicly) to offer negative assessments about the team when appropriate. I also think that the Penguins inconsistency is a byproduct of the current state of professional sports in that it seems almost impossible to effectively and actually “coach ” professional athletes for an extended period. The players (especially the superstars) make millions of dollars and are practically worshiped (Sid the Kid) by the media and public. This makes it extremely difficult for a coach (usually making less money and more likely to be fired) to (as Tim said in the prior comment) stick a torch up their butt or otherwise mandate a style of play, etc. This team has a history of running off coaches, including no less than Scotty Bowman. They ran off Therrian when they got tired of him yelling at them and brought in a more “player friendly” coach. Are they now tiring of Bylsma? How can any coach have any real authority when the star player is living with the owner. That doesn’t seem to be a healthy situation on any level. Maybe if Sid had to deal with the frustration of waiting for the cable guy he wouldn’t be such a crybaby on the ice and crosscheck Zetterberg fifteen times from behind (of course no penalty called-he’s the FACE OF HOCKEY!!!!) when things don’t go his way. Either Merrill Hodge or Tunch Ilkin said on the radio not long ago that they believed that Chuck Noll wouldn’t coach today because he wouldn’t put up with the athlete’s attitudes. That’s a shame.

  6. Lisa says:

    The Pens are a joke right now–other teams look forward to playing against them. They got 1 point, big deal. They need 95 to actually clinch a play off spot–forget about the top three seeds, it isn’t going to happen. Buffalo is playing great, the Devils will keep winning…I agree with Tim, that Gologoski is a joke–he is the reason Semin scored short-handed–he should not be paired with Letang. Then Fluery lost it for us in the shoot out. His stats are dismal, the coaching lax, Crosby is in a slump. I do not want to watch the reamining 8 games either. The Caps and dirty-minded Ovechkin are the only team I do NOT want to see raising the Stanley Cup in June. That would bother me more then the Pens not reaching the final. And the sports writers Rossi wrote about “some are concerned about his suspensions?”–still think Ovie deserves MVP?
    Orpik is right, at least he tells the truth and doesn’t sugar coat it. Some guys do not show up every night, then the next night, they do.
    Finally, what was Shero thinking in bringing in Leopold and Poni??? He traded our 2d round draft AND Caputi!?! That is unbelievable. They have worked out swell.

  7. Joe says:

    We seem to missing some small cogs off of the wheel. The chemistry just isn’t firing, and I’ve been waiting all year for things to click. Hoped that the trading deadline would bring in some of the magic we gained last year, but it hasn’t really helped. The young guys? Most of them were on the team last year and should be stepping up, but aren’t. Others who did work some of the magic last season seem to be off of their games. Other teams are really ready for the Pen’s system, and have the talent to neutralize Sid and Geno, then play everyone else even or be up on them. Other than Guerin we don’t have any real muckers and/or snipers that teams fear. And too many times Flower leaves soft goals in or the ‘D’ leaves him hanging out to dry. Reality-we have what we have and we’ll just have to see how far it’ll get us. I’d like to see us getting into playoff mode-NOW!

  8. su says:

    I’m not sure what the purpose of the 3 stats is either. The first stat I understand completely and it is clearly concerning. Even acknowledging that pretty much every other team has the same problem with the Caps in the third doesn’t make that one any better. It can’t happen. The other two are without context and imply linkages and cause and effect arguments that make no logical sense. Portraying them as a reason for the failings of the Pens doesn’t make sense and implies that Crosby isn’t doing his job. He has been one of the few people actually working hard every game. Admittedly, he hasn’t always been able to outscore, outshoot or outplay, but implying he can’t unless Malkin is there in nonsensical.

    However, I agree the Pens need to pick up the play consistently and not let down even a minute to succeed. I would like to hear more than Orpik being honest about that in interviews, but suspect that the honesty for the rest is behind the scenes; at least I hope so. That being said, they made errors last night (clearly) but I thought played a much more complete game in terms of effort and energy than they have since about November. I’ll look to the next few games to see if that will continue. They can’t win with just Crosby, Orpik and Staal playing with effort every night.

  9. Maria says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Tim and Mario Lopez….but do you think it’s time for Mr Mario Lemiuex himself to make his presence known in the Pens locker room–he really should be an involved owner–and speak to them, give them a pep talk, do something for the Pens to turn this mess around?
    Every one around the NHL knows the Pens are a mess–except the Pens themselves? Crosby needs to step up, and admit they played like crap–all of them. He needs to be his team’s leader and bite the bullet.
    If the Pens played in the Western Conference–where all the talent is–maybe they would have the drive and grit to do what is needed–because that conference is a real battle and the good teams seem to bring it every night. But then, if they played in the West, they might not make these playoffs….
    Finally, when are we going to have a GM to bring in some talent to play with Sid? Someone like Hossa?…and if Malkin plays as poorly next season as this season, I hope he is traded. Staal is priceless–he is really the best player–almost always, next to Sid–on the Pens. Malkin needs to grow up.
    Harsh, but true.

  10. Sandra says:

    I’m glad someone on the team is finally saying what I am seeing and feeling. Fleury is letting in goals he really should be able to stop. It tears my heart out to watch them play well, as they did vs the Caps, only to lose again b/c of soft goals being let in and don’t even get me started about that shootout. Is the D to blame? I’ve always been told the goalie is the last line of defense. If your team has to start worrying about whether on not the goalie can do his job, NO ONE is going to look decent out there. Seems like everyone has simply ignored the inconsistent play of Fleury this season but we’re getting to the point where we can’t simply ignore it and hope he’ll come around! If it bothers me to see games like that, I can’t even imagine what goes through the players’ minds.

 
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