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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.

 

Cheers,

Rossi

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. Allie says:

    Sid looked great tonight, but he played much better in Nashville a few weeks ago. He was all over the ice in that game; best player from start to finish.
    The game tonight, however, was his second best game.

  2. Gary Curci says:

    If they would play like this most of the time (a complete game) there would be no worries except the power play and Fleury. He may be the number 1 goalie but its time to act like it. It seems as though he lets in 1 soft goal a game or at least a questionable goal which is still going on from last year. I hope he can snap out of it. How good is our goalie coach.

  3. SR says:

    Switching to blues would be a worse decision than the pigeon. We’re only city with all major sports teams wearing the same colors (or close to it). Should not change that.

  4. Doreen says:

    Sid better without Geno (visa versa) isn’t new. Last year when one was hurt the other stepped up. A team is only as good as the sum of it’s parts and it’s parts came together to make a great picture. The muckers and grinders go un-noticed on a team of super stars.It seems like Rupp and Talbot would have to do back flips and spit gold pieces before someone acknowledges their contributions.

  5. tomas says:

    Three Stanley Cups have been won in Black and Gold. Black and Gold forever!!!!!!!!!!! Bylsma still hasn’t figured out they still don’t have enough of “in front of the net traffic” on the power play. Need to call back up the the one player who was willing and able to do that job from the baby Pens.

  6. FJ says:

    2 cups in black n gold – 1 cup in black n beige. Screw the blue and the tan! This city is black n GOLD country.

  7. #4Orrfan says:

    In ancient times BM (Before Mario) the Penguins had trouble attracting fans. They decided to show they were Pittsburghers too by changing colors to Black and Gold (the colors of Sir William Pitt and thus of Pittsburgh). It was a good move even at a time when Pittsburgh was a larger market. Now as a small market, I think it’s better that the sports teams identify with the fans and not attempt to separate out. Someday they’ll stink again and I’ll prefer to think of them as our stinky team and not as that stinky team.

  8. Ryan says:

    Actually, the “gold” color that the Penguins wear now is considered “Vegas Gold”. And yes, nice gesture to Fleury by Bylsma (Fleury WILL snap out of his funk) but ride Johnson until he gives up more than 1-2 GA. His play is nothing short of stellar. In defense of Fleury, though, the team defense has more breakdowns in front of him IMO.

  9. espo33 says:

    Maybe it is now time to put Crosby and Malkin on different PP units. It is just ugly. If Staal is back then have it like this:

    1st
    Crosby-Kunitz (net)-Comrie
    Gols-Letang

    2nd
    Malkin-Staal (net)-Letestu (he has to face off b/c the others can’t win one)
    Martin-Gols/Letang

    Spare guys Rupp/Cooke/Talbot at the net and Kennedy at the wing.

  10. Shawn says:

    Actually, Ryan, the “gold” the Penguins wear now is actually gold. What most people in Pittsburgh refer to as “gold” the rest of the world knows as “yellow.” The Pens have the best uni’s in sports.

    I don’t know why I always hear this seperate Sid and Geno suggestion here…there is no other team that separates their top PP talent in such a manner.

    The best set up on the PP is this:

    Crosby
    Net
    Kunitz

    Letang Malkin

    Goligoski

    Gogo can feed either Letang or Geno for one timers on their proper hands. Sid and Geno can play catch or switch off. Letang can move back into the top spot and let Gogo move in a la Ryan Whitney for backdoor tap ins.

    The main change the PP needs is a sense of urgency. They seem to feel as if they have the full two minutes to develop a (single, perfect) scoring chance. F(orget) that. Start practicing 30 second power plays. Win the puck, pass to an open man, SHOOT it and go for rebounds.

    The Penguins seem to feel that with their skill level they have to set up pretty plays. Sid himself said “we aren’t a one timer power play.” And that’s why their PP is awful. Their superior talent will also allow them to react to rebounds and other havoc that is created by simply firing it.

  11. Shawn says:

    Reformatting has defeated the point of my post. I had spaced it out as if it were Bylsma’s inkboard.

    Basically, Gogo at the top of the umbrella (center point) Letang at the top of the left circle (Mario’s office) Geno at the top of the right circle (Geno’s office) with Sid down low and able to move around behind the net to keep the goalie guessing (Gretzky’s office) and Kunitz standing at the very edge of the crease.

  12. Mario Lopez says:

    fire bylsma, trade MAF to buffalo for ryan miller, trade for jagr, what else can be said about this team, guess they’d better have a “TEAM MEETING” after every game, just plain pathetic excuse for a team with so many expectations…

  13. GC says:

    The Penguins have been singing the same old song since last year. We were outplayed, out worked, not getting to our game, not acceptable. To talented of a team for this to keep happening. I can’t believe how they can play so good and bad from game to game. I think the roster is great. Hope than can turn it around soon. I think there one of the best teams in hockey and really do believe they can beat anybody if they play there game. Sound familar. I hope we KEEP Godard.

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