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



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.


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 Please include your full name and hometown if you want your story printed in a future blog.


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 and Shawn “Styles” Roarke of, 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.




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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