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Put me down for 4-2, Pens, and one more cup of decaf

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YOU CAN’T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT

Trib photographer Chaz Palla and I spent most of Tuesday on planes and in airports attempting to reach the City of Champions. I had a few hours to consider that there could be only a few hours remaining in Pittsburgh’s return to City of Champions-status.

While chatting with Mark Madden on his Penguins HD Radio program today, I was struck by his first words, which were actually numbers: 1993 and 1996. I’m guessing those years are on the minds of Penguins fans today and will be tomorrow as Game 7 approaches.

Many a reader has sent in an e-mail asking if now, finally, I’ll endorse Penguins’ fans want to worry that Round 2 might not go their way. Other readers have sent notes inquiring my opinion on the possibility that history — Game 7 home losses in 1993 and 1996 — may be repeating itself.

My take on each subject is found in one word: No.

To any Penguins fans worried about Game 7, please consider that it will do no good or bad to the hockey club, and worrying probably won’t do you any good at all. They’ll drop a puck at Mellon Arena on Wednesday night and one team will see its season end. If that team is the Penguins, their reign as Cup champs will have been short-lived, and the long-lived-in tenure of Mellon Arena as Pittsburgh’s hockey home will have concluded.

So, am I against fans worrying about those possibilities?

The simple answer, and it is based off my feel for this group, is that they have a sickly need to make things difficult. They have with this Game 7. Still, I’ve seen the nucleus of this club win four of five from the defending champs to win a Cup. Blah, blah, blah, you say. That was last year, you say.

Indeed, but this season has been one during which the Penguins have responded to adversity (much of it of their own creation) — save for beating the New Jersey Devils. Maybe these Canadiens most resemble the Devils, but I’ll still take Cs Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin over G Jaroslav Halak in a one-game playoff. If I’m betting wrong, I can live with that come Thursday morning.

Go with what you know until it is proven false, I say. I know Crosby and Malkin are at their best in these spots, so I’m going with them.

Of course, there is no evidence from this series to hint at Crosby or Malkin making me look good; but I’ve not seen Halak look great, and I’ve always thought the Penguins would win at least two games against Montreal by a considerable margin of goals.

In this series a two-goal margin rates as considerable. So put me down for Penguins 4, Canadiens 2. Crosby crushes Canada with a pair of markers. He’s as big-game as big-game gets.

YINZ GONNA BRING IT?

I’m hoping to hear from Penguins fans that plan to follow game-day rituals in hopes of helping the club to a Game 7 win. Tell me your plan in 200 words or less at hockeyday@tribweb.com. Please include your full name and hometown if you want your story printed in a future blog.

ON THE BEAT ROAD: MONTREAL’S AIRPORT

Usually this spot is reserved for one of my encounters with a player, but I’m dedicating it today to two ladies that work the hard-shift at Second Cup in Montreal’s airport. Get there by 4 a.m. if you want to beat either Mimi Mendelson or Alanna Bowden Harper to the spot. They’re there by then and working until the afternoon.

I met these Coffee Pretties on Friday while awaiting my connecting flight to JFK. I’d asked for a large decaf, but Alanna couldn’t provide it unless I wanted to wait — and I didn’t want to wait.

Same situation today, as my flight schedule times were identical, and once again Alanna relayed word that a pot of decaf would have to be brewed. I opted this time to wait, and while my beverage was being brought to life I learned some details of these ladies.

Mimi is not a big hockey fan, but her two kids are, which is why they’re now the proud (horrified, same difference) owners of a Game 6 press pass with my name on it. Who says kids can’t win?

Alanna asked that I refer to her as “crazy Jamaican Second Cup worker” because she is Canadian, but she favors the NFL over the NHL and really hates the cold, hence her dream of moving to Jamaica. She also spent considerable time touting Montreal as “the best place in the summer,” because of a grand prix and several other events that I’m sure make for fun times but because of the mind-melt that travel has delivered unto me I can’t recall.

Unofficial Pittsburgh Tourism Talent “Uncle Scotty” Burnside of ESPN.com and Shawn “Styles” Roarke of NHL.com, looking bleary-eyed each, attempted to take mental notes of these summer activities that Montreal makes sweet; but I suspect they, like me, are failed by the details.

Oh well, if it’s 4 a.m. at Montreal’s airport, I’ll know where to go and who to ask.

Anyway, ladies — cheers to each of you. Also, congrats. It takes a strong push for any coffee story to get love in this blog that doesn’t relate to Tim Horton’s.

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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. Bobby O says:

    4-2 Pens? Sounds like a “fans” bet to me. You might want to drink real coffee Thursday morning, you’re going to need it.

  2. pensfan says:

    Rob

    I’m with ya on tonight’s game…..why the angst…..just look to last year and two huge game 7 wins….on the road no less….not to mention coming back against the Flyers from three down on the road and this year Ottawa…..if you told me before this series started that it would be a game 7 and I could pick the Pens at home or Montreal on the road to win….well…..obviously Pens at home…..and I don’t buy the hooey that Montreal has nothing to lose. They’re play and heroics have now put them in a position with their fans that they areexpected to win…just like we expect the pens to win. And for God’s sake we are the fourth seed….yes we are a better team and have more talent….but the gap between us and the Habs is not like it was between Washington and Montreal….of well anyway….Sid and Geno dominate, Halak is exposed…we win…bring on the hated Flyers…though I would sit Gogo and dress Mckee and bring Feds back…this is his kind of game…sit Kennedy or Letestu

  3. Barrett says:

    I agree with Rob…and with myself for that matter (as I have stated throughout that the boys [who are prudently pacing themselves] will use what energy they have left in the tank for the right moments — obviously tonight is one of those moments). They have arisen during critical moments of this series and will continue to do so. Montreal’s injuries will expose themselves tonight, and Flower will put on one of his typical big game focused performances as will Sid. No problem.

  4. Harry says:

    Rob,

    I agree with you that we win tonight – in spite of what the Canadian fans and some of our poor-mouth Pittsburghers have to say. Am I nervous – sure, but it’s one of those “good nervous” situations – in fact I cannot wait to get there. The Pens have too much going for them tonight. They WILL have the fans support – the roof of that old barn should blow off before the game even begins. Tonight will be the 166th straight sell-out – no small feat, but also note the number 66 in there. The hockey gods are smliing. And the biggest reason – well, it’s simple – Crosby will not allow them to lose. I think he takes the team on his back tonight. He may not even score, but I bet his presence and leadership is what moves us to the next round.

  5. George says:

    Not to be a nay sayer but….I am an anxious Nellie on this one. Karma is at work, Habs opened Mellon with a win 2-1 in 1967 and I see fate and the circle of life coming around – Karma is on the Habs side, I am sad to say. Looks to me we close the building tonight :(

  6. Frank says:

    NOW are we permitted to panic? Oops! Too late. Unbelievable.

  7. Paul M says:

    Maybe now you can stop being a fan and do some reporting. Somehow Sidney allowed his team to lose a game 7 against “inferior” competition. That could never happen! Hopefully Ovechkin is having a good laugh. To paraphrase Big Ben’s attorney, it looks like you and the idol worshippers got caught up in this Crosby thing. He’s a great player but he’s no Lemieux or Gretzky. And he’s still a crybaby. How dare he get called for a penalty.

  8. Burtfurt says:

    Ooooppppsss! So much for a dynasty! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA!

    GO WINGS!

  9. Bobby O says:

    So much cluelessness and false bravado here, you can cut it with a knife. “Sid won’t allow them to lose, blah, blah…”. Right, how’s that work for you all. Sid hasn’t been himself for the past 8 games, so why all of a sudden was he going to show up and dominate. In fact, I’d have been more pissed if he had because it would have been the ultimate example of procrastination and lazyness. He’s had all series to step up and allowed it to come to this.

    The fact is — and he won’t ever admit it — they ran out of gas, hit the wall, etc. They’re a tired, fatigued team and the way they were stumbling through the regular season, if they didn’t fail in round 1, or this series, it would have happened eventually, so at least they can get a little more rest this off-season and start the next with fresh batteries.

    Some better decisions by Shero could have possibly prolonged this post-season as well and hopefully he’s learned a lesson about how valuable the less than flashy defensemen can be to a team. He seems to have no problem applying the philosophy to aquiring wingers. Maybe Bylsma has learned something too. You can’t be aggressive up front without a safety net to bail you out. Heck maybe if they’re lucky they can work a deal to get old slow Gill back, sure is a better option than old slow Gonchar.

 
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