Blogs | Sports | News
Chipped Ice

Next-day postgame thoughts from Pens @ TBL


Greetings from the Tampa airport, dear readers. I’m quite exhausted this morning, and not because of the long trip — though certainly that didn’t help; rather, I am confident I spotted my first bed bugs under the mattress. Yikes. I can say that for all the concerned that come with traveling, bed bugs have jumped to the top of my list. The worst part is that seeing one leads you to assume that there are hundreds, and even if you haven’t had your blood sucked — and there are no signs (yet) that I have — you tend to imagine bugs taking liberties with you. Anyway, this paranoia should serve me well going forward, no?

= So, I hope you’ve read my game story and discovered the alarming stat I dug up Wednesday night. If not: G MARC-ANDRE FLEURY has allowed a first- or second-shot goal in seven starts dating to the 2010 playoffs. Now, not all of these goals were on him, certainly not the ones he surrendered in his last two starts. Still. I asked Fleury about this, and his response was in my game story. (Plugs, plugs, plugs.) After our chat in the visiting dressing room at the St. Pete Times Forum he looked at me, rolled his eyes while tipping his head backwards, sighed and said, “It’s just frustrating, you know?” I think we’d all agree that everybody knows how it feels to be stuck on something that we can’t explain. What I don’t know — and after talking with coaches, management and teammates extensively about this, I get the feeling neither to they — is what has happened to Fleury. 

I’m often accused, correctly, of being an apologist for him. That is because he is: A) the most genuine athlete I’ve ever covered; but mostly, B) a goalie that was outstanding for the Penguins in each of their 16 wins during the 2009 playoffs, making big saves in critical moments to help them win the Cup. I presumed the confidence he gained from that run would help him elevate to a consistently elite level. It’s actually been a case of the reverse.

I am starting to wonder when this situation officially becomes a problem.

= Something that might help Fleury: Penguins defensemen not giving ground when opposing forwards enter the zone with the puck. Look at footage of Ds ALEX GOLIGOSKI and DERYK ENGELLAND on Tampa’s second goal. Just way too much space between them and the shooter, and this isn’t something that was exclusive to this game. Fleury is often back in his net these days, but take a look at where his defensemen are positioned.

= I’d be shocked if the Penguins don’t lead the NHL by a wide margin in quality shorthanded chances allowed. This power play seems to invite giveaways. The NHL, so far as I know, doesn’t keep a stat for shorthanded chances allowed, but the early eye test tells me they’ll be comin’ round the mountain.

= A birdie tells me C EVGENI MALKIN will be modeling those Winter Classic threads today. Maybe the new duds will help him find that goal-scoring touch.







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.

Other blogs
Sports:Steel Mill | Chipped Ice | Bucco Blog | iPreps | Pitt Locker Room | Penn State Sports
News: Backstory | Doug Oster on Gardening | Off-Road Politics | Flowback | ICycle  

» Top Sports
» Top News
» Top Breaking News