Blue to the rescue and other quick Pens@CAR thoughts…


Starting off, as my Saturday did around 3 a.m. with an evil alarm to ready me for travel to Raleigh: I hope Trib Total Media Steelers reporter Scotty “Franchise” Brown is prepped for a wild scene in New Orleans on Sunday night. I couldn’t help but notice what seemed like hundreds of Steelers fans at the Pittsburgh airport, all headed for New Orelans. I’d be impressed, but Steelers Nation travel well. That said, there were probably 1,000 Penguins fans inside RBC Center on Saturday night for the game at Carolina — so, maybe Pittsburghers just like getting away for the weekend.

= I informed G BRENT JOHNSON, who has apparently joined his guitar hero Jimmy Page in practicing the dark magic, that my game-story lede suggested Pittsburghers go as him for Halloween. “Oh, please don’t write that,” he said. Too late. The Penguisn won’t play at home for a while, but I’m calling on some creative fans to bring Led Zep-themed signs to Consol Energy Center for Johnson’s next start. By the way, would it be beneath me to suggest the puck looks like a “Tangerine” to him these days? Again, too late.

= Nice gesture by coach DAN BYLSMA after the game. Upon leaving the coaching room he tapped G MARC-ANDRE FLEURYon the pads, leading me to suspect Fleury will get the call Wednesday night at Dallas. Somebody at Carolina told me Johnson’s play is making Fleury “look bad.” I disagree. His play is making GM RAY SHERO look smart.

= If C SIDNEY CROSBYhas played a better game this season, I haven’t seen it. Two assists, and could have been three had RW PASCAL DUPUIShad his stick on the ice for a potential goal early in the second period. Not that Dupuis didn’t contribute; his four goals in six games is a great sign, especially because he’s going to the net as he did last season. Anyway, Crosby finished with eight attempted shots, a blocked shot and 13-of-18 on faceoffs. RW EVGENI MALKINwas out, and Crosby stepped up his game — a day after his team needed a meeting following a disheartening loss at home to the Flyers. That’s Hart Trophy-stuff, folks.

= Other standout games: RW TYLER KENNEDY (five attempted shots, a hit and a takeaway); C/RW CRAIG ADAMS(four hits, two takeaways, two blocks and three faceoff wins); D BROOKS ORPIK (four hits, two blocks); LW MATT COOKE(four hits and the rare faceoff win); C MARK LETESTU(six attempted shots, two takeaways, a block and eight faceoff wins); and D ALEX GOLIGOSKI (an assist, nine attempted shots and 24:33 of ice time). Also, the eye-test showed D PAUL MARTIN’S best game since his standout performance at Nashville.

= Some of my media friends were questioning Bylsma on Friday night. He isn’t perfect, but any doubt that he has control of this team shouldn’t exist after this game. This was the Penguins’ second finest performance of the season, behind only the wow-gosh effort at Nashville. Oh, and going 6-5-1 during a stretch when C JORDAN STAALhasn’t played; with Orpik, RW ARRON ASHAM and D ZBYNEK MICHALEKall missing big chucks; and with Fleury struggling –well, I’ll predict right now the Penguins holding their own during October will mean a top-3 playoff seed in April.

= Not everything is great for Bylsma, though. His power play is 0-for-22 in the last five games, and has scored only eight goals in 12 games. At least there is nowhere to go but up, and up at this point might be attained if blind passess became a thing of the past.

= Blue uniforms are 2-0-0, and they’ve stopped a three-game home losing streak AND a 0-2-1 stretch. Make the move now, MR. Team CEO/President DAVID MOREHOUSE: Next season the Penguins should wear the 2008 Classic uniforms at home and the 2010 Classic uniforms on the road. Blue will be the answer, let it be.